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Humanities & Social Sciences

Humanities Indispensable – Experts

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By Hasifa Kabejja

In many countries and universities across Africa and around the world, the humanities are deemed to be in crisis as they face a barrage of epistemic and ideological assaults from politicians, businesspeople and the general public. According to Prof. Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, Vice Chancellor, United States International University – Africa, Nairobi, Kenya, the critics of the humanities often centre on their purported lack of “usefulness” and apparent inability to offer employability skills to graduates. In much of Africa, the dismissal and devaluation of the humanities is exacerbated by the omniscient and omnipresent discourse of developmentalism. The humanities bear the brunt of the purported failures of African higher education to serve as the locomotive of sustainable development.

Addressing participants at the Opening Ceremony of the National Humanities Conference held on 11th August 2021, Prof. Tiyambe, underscored the relevance of the humanities and social sciences despite the continued attacks.  In his keynote address titled “Rethinking the Place of Humanities and Social Sciences in the Post-COVID-19 Academy”, Prof. Tiyambe emphasized the strong linkage between the humanities and other branches of knowledge. “The pandemic and digitalization have underscored the necessity of the knowledge, skills, and literacies of the humanities. COVID-19 has not been confined to a crisis of physical health. It has also been a mental health crisis and a complex constellation of economic, social, cultural and political crises. Understanding the multidimensional nature and differentiated impact of the pandemic, devising effective containment strategies, and envisioning a better future requires the insights, imaginations and policies informed by the humanities and social sciences. Similarly, the transformations wrought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution are as much technological as they are social, and the rapidly changing jobs of the digitized economies of the 21st century require the cultivation of technical skills as much as lifelong learning skills that the humanities and social sciences are renowned for. The liberal arts are priceless repositories of intrinsic, intellectual, and idealistic values, skills, and competences,” Prof. Tiyambe explained.

He called for interdisciplinarity as one of the measures to revitalize the humanities and social sciences, and make them more relevant to the concerns and interests of the contemporary world. “All too often, humanities faculty and disciplines are trapped in antiquarian disciplinary specializations and try to fiercely defend the antiquated Eurocentric disciplinary architecture of the 19th century. The history of ideas shows that massive transformations have taken place since then in the systems of knowledge production, dissemination, and organization determined by the demands and diversities of historical geography and the configurations of prevailing institutional, intellectual, and ideological dynamics. Interdisciplinarity offers a creative space between disciplines where new questions are asked, new approaches developed, new understanding advanced, and new fields and disciplines emerge. It connects disciplinary insights to address questions that transcend disciplinary boundaries and enhances the problem-solving capacities of scholarship,” he advised.

Held under the theme, “Humanities and Humanistic Social Sciences Scholarship for a New Era”, the National Humanities Conference (HumanitiesCon2021), organized by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS), was born out of the “Historicizing the Humanities at Makerere University since 1922 (Humanities@Mak100)” research project supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The three-day virtual conference held on 11th-13th August 2021 and attended by humanities and social sciences scholars from across the region,  aimed to centre debates and discussions on how the Humanities and Humanistic Social Sciences can critically grapple with challenges in the era of globalisation, decolonisation, technological advancement and novel global pandemics. It was part of the activities to mark 100 years of Makerere University.

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Humanities & Social Sciences

French Govt. Donates Online Training Equipment to Mak

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Staff from the Department of European and Oriental Languages led by the Head, Dr Edith Natukunda - Togboa (3rd R) receiving online training equipment from the French Embassy FSPI Project. The handover event was witnessed by the Principal, Dr Josephine Ahikire; Ag. Deputy Principal of CHUSS, Dr Julius Kikooma (3rd L) and the Dean, School of Languages, Literature & Communication, Dr. Saudah Namyalo (2nd R).

By Hasifa Kabejja

The French Embassy through the French for Special Purposes and Innovation (FSPI) programme, has donated pedagogical equipment for online teaching to Makerere University.

Under the French for Special Purposes and Innovation (FSPI) programme, the French Embassy has signed an MOU with Makerere University to support Teacher re-training, Students online learning and French Club activities as well as improving  Pedagogical Technology. This was a programme from 2020 up to 2022. In the two years, the French government through its Embassy in Uganda and its Cultural and Educational Departments has supported these FSPI activities.

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Humanities & Social Sciences

Mak launches MA in French Language Studies

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Dr. Edith Natukunda - Togboa, the Head, Department of European and Oriental Languages, CHUSS, Makerere University.

By Hasifa Kabejja

Makerere University has launched a new Masters programme in French Language Studies. The programme was officially launched by the Deputy Director, Directorate of Research and Graduate Training (DRGT) at Makerere University, Dr. Wamala Robert on 15th September 2021.

The main objective of the Master in French Language Studies (MAFLS) is to build professional capacities in the mastery of the French Language, develop skills in the pedagogy of French and impart knowledge on the cultural and political relations of the Francophone world. The programme is hosted by the French Section of the Department of European and Oriental Languages, under the School of Languages, Literature and Communication, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS), Makerere University.

 The programme offers students historical, economic, political, linguistic, cultural and pedagogical perspectives to the Francophone world. It also engages the graduate students in the critical debates of topical issues and current development challenges relating to Francophone and other societies. It emphasizes comparisons and contrasts with other development scenarios and interactions with other stakeholders both within and outside Africa.

MAFLS is structured into two strands; PLAN A and PLAN B.  PLAN A is by coursework and dissertation/thesis and here emphasis will be put on using research skills and problem analysis to create knowledge mainly through investigation.  This option will enable institutions in the country and the region to train their staff for academic career development. PLAN B is by coursework, internship and research paper.  This alternative will be for students who require in-service language and practitioners’ training and not necessarily pursuing the traditional rigorous research skills but rather seeking the mastery of the French Language and grounding in functional competences.

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Business & Management

ECRLF Helping to Co-create the Future of African Academic Leadership

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Makerere University in partnership with University of Pretoria on 14th September 2021 hosted the Future Africa’s Early Career Research Leader Fellowship (ECRLF) Dissemination Workshop in the Central Teaching Facility 2 (CTF 2) Auditorium and virtually. ECRLF’s aim is to offer an opportunity for development of research leaders who will be able to fill a critical gap in the African research capacity ecosystem. This fellowship program is offered by the University of Pretoria with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

The Principal Investigator (PI) of the ECRLF program at Makerere University and Lecturer in the Department of Population Studies, Dr. John A. Mushomi, thanked Future Africa for the first-of-its-kind fellowship accorded to young African academics.

“We are used to taking leave from academia at a much later time in life, where we have professors taking their sabbaticals, but within five years of finishing my doctorate, I was given an opportunity to spend two years at the University of Pretoria and interact with academics from across different disciplines and universities in Africa” explained Dr. Mushomi.

The Principal Investigator (PI) of the ECRLF program at Makerere University and Lecturer in the Department of Population Studies, Dr. John A. Mushomi
Screenshot: The Principal Investigator (PI) of the ECRLF program at Makerere University and Lecturer in the Department of Population Studies, Dr. John A. Mushomi

In this respect, he thanked the Carnegie Corporation of New York for sponsoring the ECRLF and the University of Pretoria for hosting the fellowship. He equally thanked Dr. Cori Wielenga from the University of Pretoria for the mentorship accorded to him during the fellowship.

“We had the opportunity to interact with fifteen researchers from different disciplines and spent time learning and training together, and we have not been the same since. We were not just invited to participate but to also co-create what we think is the future of African academic leadership” added Dr. Mushomi.

Speaking on behalf of Future Africa, Rachel Fischer said, “In particular we see with this conference today our very important objective to work with a transdisciplinary mindset and engagement towards forming partnerships, and to collaborate across various disciplines.”

She added that the shift from physical to virtual and online collaboration is an active endeavour towards breaking down silos within disciplines, partnerships as well as across various countries on the African continent. The outcomes from such partnerships, she noted, would allow all stakeholders to have a peaceful and secure Africa that is stable and fully functional, while ensuring that the values and ideals of Africa are prioritised.

The Head, Department of Population Studies-Dr. Stephen Wandera represented the Dean School of Statistics and Planning.
Screenshot: The Head, Department of Population Studies-Dr. Stephen Wandera represented the Dean School of Statistics and Planning.

The Dean, School of Statistics and Planning (SSP), Dr. James Wokadala, who was represented by the Head, Department of Population Studies, Dr. Stephen Wandera noted in his remarks that SSP encourages staff to go beyond conducting research and publishing to mentoring students into the next generation of African academics by co-publishing with them.

In line with the workshop he thanked the University of Pretoria for the partnership, noting that “collaboration among African academics helps us to build more comparative studies across the continent, allowing colleagues to learn from each other the best practices and opportunities that can move us forward.”

He congratulated Dr. John Mushomi upon completing his post-doctoral research experience at UP, which culminated into the exciting workshop.

Screenshot: The DVCAA Dr. Umar Kakumba officially opened the ECRLF Dissemination Workshop
Screenshot: The DVCAA Dr. Umar Kakumba officially opened the ECRLF Dissemination Workshop

Officially opening the workshop, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs)-DVCAA, Dr. Umar Kakumba applauded the University of Pretoria supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York for the great capacity development for future academia and African leaders. The workshop was based on the theme, History Meets Demography: Multi-Disciplinary Inquiry on Poverty, Resource.

“I applaud the University of Pretoria on this move and demonstrating the great potential that Africa has, especially the academic institutions, in mobilising resources, bringing together the African scholars and giving them an opportunity to explore and forge South-to-South collaboration” remarked Dr. Kakumba.

He added that South-to-South collaborations help to build a solid academia across the continent, enabling them to find solutions to emerging problems of African societies. The DVCAA noted that COVID-19 had brought to light the vulnerability of Africa’s dependence on the global North to solve her fundamental problems as well as the greater role that universities ought to play.

“And we cannot play this role as Universities outside the shadows of partnerships between our institutions, and without building the huge capacity of early career researchers” he observed.

The DVCAA therefore noted that workshop’s theme and its concerns about issues of history and demography were source of great hope, especially given its transdisciplinary nature.

“We are able to dialogue on history and demography and see how we can address issues of poverty in light of our past experiences as well as interrogate the nature of our population and the characteristics that affect our society in various ways” he stated.

Screenshot: Prof. Cheikh Mbow, Future Africa Director at the University of Pretoria delivered his address virtually.
Screenshot: Prof. Cheikh Mbow, Future Africa Director at the University of Pretoria delivered his address virtually.

In his welcome message, Prof. Cheikh Mbow, Future Africa Director at the University of Pretoria noted that his organization had over the years been holding academic workshops on different topics across different African countries.

“The reason why were are trying to empower the early career scientists is actually to be able to close the loop in terms of availing science in order to package and deliver knowledge to everyone who needs it, particularly the stakeholders.

“Today’s topic is very timely. It’s about poverty in Africa, it’s about resources in Africa, and it’s about mobility in Africa. The poverty line which had come to be stable at some point or decreasing quite slowly over the projected years to come has just suddenly gone into a spike – Africa now has more than 50 million new poor people coming into the statistics of the World Bank” remarked Prof. Mbow.

He concluded by noting that research is not only about hardcore science but looking at all other aspects of life as contributors to knowledge production. “The transdiciplinary theme of the workshop is one of the most important discussions that ECRLF could have.”

The workshop featured four parallel sessions that covered;

  • Governance, Security, Peace and Conflict I
  • Mining, Resource, Extraction and Policy frameworks
  • Global Trends in Interdisciplinary Research and Governance, Security, Peace and Conflict II and
  • Education and Development and Resource extraction and Policy frameworks II

During the closing ceremony, Dr. Cori Wielenga on behalf of ECRLF thanked participants for the wonderful conference proceedings as fostered by Dr. Mushomi’s involvement with the University of Pretoria.

Screenshot: Dr. Cori Wielanga, ECRLF Mentor, University of Pretoria.
Screenshot: Dr. Cori Wielanga, ECRLF Mentor, University of Pretoria.

“The purpose of this fellowship and its collaboration is to promote interdisciplinary research as well as collaboration between institutions on the continent and in this regard Dr. Mushomi has made excellent use of the fellowship to meet its objectives including through this conference” she elaborated.

The program mentor from UP added that her collaborative work with Dr. Mushomi was particularly in the areas of resources, identity and migration, which remain a challenge to Africa and the entire globe.

Dr. Wielanga thanked Makerere University for supporting the event, and Dr. Mushomi as well as the coordination team for organizing a successful hybrid event. “We do hope that we will be able to meet in person in the near future as we deepen the collaboration between our institutions.”

Screenshot: The Principal CoBAMS, Dr. Eria Hisali called for the formation of policy labs to influence policy.
Screenshot: The Principal CoBAMS, Dr. Eria Hisali called for the formation of policy labs to engage policy makers and other stakeholders.

Addressing participants, the Principal, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Dr. Eria Hisali congratulated Dr. Mushomi upon successfully convening the hybrid workshop and extended his appreciation to the funding partners for supporting both the event and work of early career researchers.

In terms of providing sustainability to the collaboration, Dr. Hisali appealed to all the partners to regard the day’s workshop as a starting point and work towards strengthening their collaborations so that a lot more work can be done in other fields of research.

He equally appealed to the collaborating parties to use the findings generated thus far to engage policy makers, civil society and the private sector under a framework of policy labs, at least once every quarter. The Principal further called for the integration of students into research activities, as a way of creating multiplier effects that can continue to inform policy debates.

“As the College of Business and Mangement Sciences, we commit that out of our small grants research programme, we should be able to take up funding to further studies in some of these areas” concluded Dr. Hisali.

The Principal, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS), Dr. Josephine Ahikire applauded the re-centering of history in interdisciplinary scholarship.
Screenshot: The Principal, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS), Dr. Josephine Ahikire applauded the re-centering of history in interdisciplinary scholarship.

Delivering the closing remarks, the Principal College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS), Dr. Josephine Ahikire noted that interdisciplinarity increases the University’s relevance to society by bringing forth perspectives that enrich the understanding what is at stake in terms of development challenges.

“It is very exciting that we are re-centering history as a key perspective in whatever we do as a university. We know that in the past decade, history had been relegated as a study of the past but actually, history is not just a study of the past, it is the understanding of the totality of humanity for you to be able to actually craft a way forward” Dr. Ahikire explained.

The Principal noted that resource conflicts and contestations are at the heart of human existence. As such, she opined that issues such as citizenship, tribe and nation were very important and the workshop had commendably provided a space where early career researchers can try to provide answers to questions of the time on the African continent.

“A research-led university is one where the people engage intellectually. These engagements improve the academic environment for staff as well as students” she concluded.  

The abstracts and presentations from the workshop will contribute to an edited book to be published by Palgrave.

Please click the embedded video below to view proceedings from the Workshop

Opening Session


Early Career Research Leader Fellowship (ECRLF) Dissemination workshop, 14th September 2021, Opening Session

Session 1A: Governance, Security, Peace and Conflict I



Session 2A: Global Trends in Interdisciplinary Research and Governance, Security, Peace and Conflict II



Closing Ceremony



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