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Unisan to lead Southern Africa region in "Building Equitable Futures Together" project

In a notable advancement for research in Southern Africa, Professor Ashley Gunter, from Unisa’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, has been appointed to lead a project entitled "Building Equitable Futures Together" for the Southern Africa region. This initiative, spearheaded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), a prominent UK-based funding body, aims to foster equitable research partnerships and enhance the impact of humanities and social sciences in the region.


Prof Ashley Gunter

Gunter's prestigious role involves setting the agenda for AHRC funding, working closely with partners from the UK and Africa, including Professor Parvati Raghuram (The Open University), Dr Melis Cin (Lancaster University), Dr Manu Lekunze (University of Aberdeen), and Dr Wycliffe Ong’eta (Kenyatta University, Kenya).

The AHRC has launched two scoping activities focusing on the Global South, with one centred on Africa and the other on Asia and South America. These activities will include in-country workshops designed to identify future research priorities and suggest funding opportunities and delivery mechanisms that the AHRC can support. Gunter will be instrumental in the strand focusing on Southern Africa, organising workshops across the region.

Gunter's role will involve collaborating with rights holders and stakeholders through multiple workshops to ensure a broad and inclusive engagement process. These workshops will involve diverse voices from various sectors, aiming to develop actionable recommendations for how the AHRC can support research in priority thematic areas such as digital humanities, ethical AI, women's and girls' rights, conflict and post-conflict scenarios, humanitarian protection, modern slavery, environmental humanities, and global public health.

A particular emphasis will be placed on targeting historically disadvantaged institutions (HDIs) in South Africa as key beneficiaries. This approach aims to address historical inequities and support institutions traditionally underrepresented in major research funding initiatives. Additionally, the workshops will ensure a regional approach to identifying and addressing research priorities across Southern Africa.

The project’s workshops will culminate in a final report summarising the identified priorities and providing actionable recommendations for fostering equitable research partnerships. This report will also outline thematic focus areas for future AHRC funding opportunities, ensuring that the needs and perspectives of Southern African researchers are effectively integrated into global research agendas.

Gunter expressed his enthusiasm for the project, stating, "This initiative represents a significant opportunity to reshape the research landscape in Southern Africa by building strong, equitable partnerships and addressing critical thematic areas. I am honoured to contribute to this important work and look forward to engaging with a diverse range of stakeholders across the region."

The "Building Equitable Futures Together" project exemplifies AHRC’s commitment to promoting equitable partnerships in research, ensuring that the voices of researchers in the Global South are heard and valued in global discourse. Through Gunter's leadership, the initiative aims to create a more inclusive and impactful research environment in Southern Africa.

* By Prof Ashley Gunter, Department of Geography, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, and Gugu Masinga, Communication and Marketing Specialist, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences

Publish date: 2024/07/04

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