June 17, 2.00 to 4.00 pm - ACC modalities session: ACC Rhodes - Doing research with society. The role of transdisciplinary, engaged research in re-configuring African studies

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Doing research with society. Africa Multiple Centers of Excellence
Doing research with society. Africa Multiple Centers of Excellence

Speaker:  Professor Nelson Odume, Institute for Water Research, Rhodes University (Academic Coordinator: ACC Rhodes University)
Moderation: Professor Uchenna Okeja, Department of Philosophy Rhodes University (ACC Rhodes University)  
Discussants: Katsia Paulavets (Senior Science Officer, International Science Council), Dr Akosua Amaka-Otchere (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana)

African Studies need to contribute theoretically to the scholarship of Africa, and the transformation of Africa’s political, economic, social, and environmental realities and the place of Africa and its people in the global arena. While we must resist the temptation of instrumentalising African Studies, we must also embrace the realities of the complex challenges that confront Africa and its people. The involvement of non-academic, societal and policy actors through science-policy-society interactions in the research process has been advocated to address complex societal challenges. One mode of knowledge co-production that is amenable to such science-policy-society interaction is transdisciplinary research (TDR). Lang et al. (2012:2) conceived TDR as “a reflexive, integrative, method-driven scientific principle aiming at the solution or transition of societal problems and concurrently of related scientific problems by differentiating and integrating knowledge from various scientific and societal bodies of knowledge”. What is evident from this definition is that TDR is i) conceptually and practically integrative, ii) acknowledges diverse knowledge sources and systems, iii) recognises the importance of collaboration beyond academia, and iv) aims at effecting solutions to complex societal and scientific challenges, thus emphasising the importance of contexts and responsiveness.

Careful co-identification of research problems, co-design of the research projects, co-implementation, and continuous co-learning and adaptation are essential TDR processes that ensure that research with society contributes to effecting solutions to complex societal and scientific challenges. In this seminar, I will reflect on these TDR processes concerning the idea of reconfiguring African Studies.  My reflection will touch on how TDR can contribute to the intellectual debate on re-configuring African Studies in ways that advance the theoretical development of the field and its impacts and new forms of collaborative knowledge co-production.  I will conclude by exploring the risks and implications of this mode of knowledge production for researchers, policymakers and funding organisations.

At the end of the presentation, the moderator will invite the two discussants to make short contributions/reflections.  The moderator will then open the floor for general questions and answer sessions.


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Topic: ACC modalities session: Rhodes - Doing research with society. The role of transdisciplinary, engaged research in re-configuring African studies
Time: Jun 17, 2021 02:00 PM Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Stockholm, Vienna
Meeting ID: 672 0114 6529
Passcode: 179860
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Source:  Dr N Odume

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