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Foundations for the Future: Supporting Early Career Research in Africa

January 5, 2011

A workshop as part of the Nairobi Process on strengthening the humanities and social sciences in African universities – to be held on 16 February 2011 at University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Hosted by Higher Education South Africa (HESA), the British Academy and the ACU.

In 2008, the British Academy and the Association of Commonwealth Universities coordinated
a consultation process with colleagues across the African continent, which
culminated in a conference in Nairobi and resulted in the publication of the Nairobi
Report (which can be accessed online
One of the key strands running through the report was the need to develop new
opportunities to enable junior scholars to establish their research careers and to fill
the critical gap at the immediate post-doctoral level.

A lack of support or mentorship in the early years of their research careers is a
challenge which many junior scholars reported, and there did not appear to be
mechanisms in place in many universities, nor opportunities for them to connect with
peers nationally, regionally or internationally.

A successful workshop at the British Institute in Eastern Africa in March 2008
launched the Report in Africa, but also pointed to a range of initiatives, large and
small, which have either grown in response to the report, have used the report’s
arguments to feed into or bolster their own thinking and planning, or have simply
arrived at the same conclusions at a similar time.

It was felt that further workshops in Africa could build on this success. Given the
interest in the report demonstrated by the South African community and huge steps
taken by the country to improve provision in the humanities and social sciences, the
British Academy, working jointly with HESA and Association of Commonwealth
Universities have arranged a South African workshop to take a specific issue which
the report identified – the early career programme – and to engage in a deeper
discussion around how this might be tackled within South Africa and the sub-region.