The aim to foster valuable relationships with Academies on the African continent ties in with the overall strategic objective of the International programme to promote the RSE on the global stage, through exchanges with highly reputable partners.

OBJECTIVES

The working group will formulate a well-defined strategy for engaging with African institutions and academies, outlining the scope, goals, and action plans for collaboration.

The working group will define the scope of engagement, identifying key areas of cooperation such as research and development, capacity building, and public engagement, under the overarching theme of science for society.

 

The group will explore and establish connections with reputable partners and organisations in Africa that share common interests and objectives with the RSE.

Facilitate joint initiatives, projects, and activities between Scottish higher education institutions and African universities and organisations. Promote knowledge sharing, mutual learning, and the development of innovative projects.

Compile a comprehensive directory of existing collaborations and activities between Scottish HEIs and African organizations. This overview will serve as a reference for future collaboration and coordination efforts.

The RSE will serve as a central hub for enhancing the value and importance of interdisciplinary research and international engagement. It will promote knowledge exchange, collaboration, and the practical application of research for the benefit of society.

ABOUT THE AFRICA WORKING GROUP

In October 2018, the International Committee highlighted the need for an official link or relation to be established with African institutions. Until that point, the RSE had not engaged with African countries, academies or learned societies. The Committee members agreed to a business objective to establish a working group to develop a strategy, define the remit, and consider potential partners across the continent.

The aim to foster valuable relationships with Academies on the African continent ties in with the overall strategic objective of the International programme to promote the RSE on the global stage, through exchanges with highly reputable partners.

The work has been developed through internal discussion of the working group 2019 onwards. This resulted in a working relationship with the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), based in Nairobi. The AAS formed a working group to start building the partnership with regular joint meetings since 2022 culminating in a visit to attend the AAS General Assembly, and to meet the President, Vice-President of Southern Africa, and the Executive Director of the AAS in December 2022 in Cape Town, South Africa. During the meeting in Cape Town, the idea of joint work under the general title of “Science for Society” was established, with three major portfolios: Research & Development, Capacity Building, and Public Engagement. Across these portfolios, there are many ongoing activities across the Higher Education sector in Scotland with African Universities and organisations. As Scotland’s HEIs continue to reflect on their past relationships with organisations in different parts of this vast and diverse continent, so too are they developing positive and innovative projects and partnerships with individuals and institutions across Africa.

During discussions, it has become apparent that there are many ongoing activities across the Higher Education sector with African organisations and there is no current coordination or directory of these activities. The Africa Working Group has identified a pressing need to create an overview to guide future collaboration with the AAS and its members. This project was conducted in the summer of 2022, and has generated a remarkable picture of teaching, research and broader engagement activities between Scotland’s main universities and a selection of professional and research bodies. The findings from this survey suggests it would be very helpful to establish more regular connections between Scottish institutions with significant ties to African institutions, to guide future collaboration, learn from each other, and identify common programmes. As the National Academy of Scotland, the RSE aims to act as a hub for enhancing the value and importance for interdisciplinary research and international engagement – promoting ‘knowledge made useful’.

AFRICA WORKING GROUP UPDATE

The RSE publishes its Africa Working Group scoping project report.
Professor Camilla Toulmin writes about Africa-Scotland relations and her work on sound policies and substantial action.

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CONTACT THE RSE AFRICA WORKING GROUP

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