The Africa Charter for Transformative Research Collaboration Stream
Posted on 6th February, 2024 in News
Stream Proposal for ASAUK2024
Stream title: The Africa Charter for Transformative Research Collaboration
Stream convenors: Isabella Aboderin, Divine Fuh, Eyob Balcha Gebremariam, and Puleng Segalo
The Africa Charter for Transformative Research Collaboration inspires this stream. Co-created by Africa’s major HE constituencies and launched in July 2023 in Windhoek, the Charter is an Africa-centred framework for establishing a transformative mode of research collaborations that goes beyond present ‘equitable partnerships’ approaches, and that will serve to advance and uphold the continent’s place in the global scientific effort.
The conceptual framework informing the Charter asserts that Africa’s present, deeply unfavourable positioning in this effort is neither accidental, as it reflects multiple layers of power imbalance – at the level of epistemologies language, concepts/theories, the development frame, and institutional resourcing – that arise as legacies of colonial histories; nor harmless: as it undermines the continent’s economic and political prospects and deprives global scholarship.
The Charter understands that international collaborations – because they dominate Africa’s research efforts – are a critically important entry point for rebalancing the global scientific effort as a whole, ensuring that scholars, institutions and knowledges produced from the continent take their rightful place. To do so, such collaborations must embrace a transformative mode of partnership working. A mode that pursues not only greater fairness in concrete partnership arrangements but that actively redresses each of the multiple fundamental layers of power imbalance in the production of scientific knowledge.
The overall purpose of this stream is to stimulate wider, critical reflection and debate on the intellectual, moral and political arguments that underpin the Charter, on its key principles and aspirations and on the question of how to translate them into practice and action. A series of four roundtables will tackle these queries:
Roundtable 1 focuses on locating the Charter within the long history of Pan-African intellectual thought and engagement concerned with upholding and advancing the continent’s contribution to the generation of scientific knowledge. To what extent and how does the Charter build on- or diverge from key scholarly perspectives on the nature of- and approaches to correcting Africa’s marginal role in the scientific knowledge production ecosystem?
Roundtable 2 invites critical reflection on the conceptual framework of the Charter, where the multiple layers of power imbalances are identified. To what extent and how does the Charter’s conceptual framework inform- or require further intellectual inquiry, and what are possible implications?
Roundtable 3 deliberates on where and how higher education and science policy and regulatory frames in the UK need to be altered or expanded in order to ensure that a transformative mode of research collaboration is actively required, rewarded, and enabled. And what promising approaches or initiatives exist within the UK space that one might draw on? Speakers from key constituencies in the knowledge production ecosystem, including research funders, publishers, research assessment and government bodies, will be invited to consider these questions.
Roundtable 4 focuses on the question of how to translate the concept of a ‘transformative collaboration mode’ into practice – across the sciences. What could transformative collaborations entail across the Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, and STEM fields – and what major challenges and opportunities arise? Speakers will consider relevant learning emerging from existing Africa-‘global North’ cooperation experiences and initiatives and ways upon which these can be built upon.