The Academy for African Migration Research (AAMR): supporting the development of the next generation of African migration scholars

Lead Research Organisation: University of the Witwatersrand
Department Name: Research Office

Abstract

Over a three year period, the Academy for African Migration Research will undertake two key activities:

(1) Four 'institutes' to provide capacity building for doctoral students and early-career researchers who are a maximum of 3-years post-PhD, to refine their research focus and promote professional development and scholarly contributions.
(2) A series of research visits/exchanges for established academics and postdoctoral fellows to support building research capacity and strengthening the intellectual project for migration research in Africa.

The Academy currently includes seven institutions in 5 countries [TBC]. Applications for the institutes will be accepted from doctoral students and early-career researchers from any African institute.

1. University of Addis Ababa and/or OSSREA, Ethiopia
2. University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana
3. Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda
4. Eduardo Mondlane University, Maputo, Mozambique
5. University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
6. University of Cape Town, South Africa
7. University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Institutes: A series of four 'institutes' will be held at different locations across the ARUA network, each focusing on a different thematic area: migration and urbanization; migration, health and wellbeing; belonging, difference and diaspora; and, the knowledge politics of migration research in Africa. These institutes will also incorporate professional development training, including the development of peer-support and mentorship mechanisms. A final event will be held in the final/third year. This will take the form of a conference for early career researchers and postgraduate students - including those who have participated in the institutes - working on migration and mobility in Africa.

The institutes will be designed to:

- Support African migration scholars to embrace theory building, engagement with migration/social theory, and the knowledge politics associated with migration research in Africa. Participants will benefit from rigorous theoretical and methodological foundations in inter-disciplinary migration studies in addition to disciplinary perspectives from resource persons.

- Offer practical professional advice/professional development including: academic publishing; project management; organising and managing data; consulting colleagues and others in the field; and the risks and benefits of interdisciplinary work in an academic universe still largely organised in disciplinary formations.

- Provide mentorship and peer support by facilitating engagements between doctoral students, early career researchers and established academics both virtually and in-person. These structures will provide support for the required outputs associated with the institutes, including written work; presentation skills; and the development of professional CVs and online profiles.


Research visits/exchanges: The Academy will fund various activities for established and early career researchers. Funds will be awarded on a competitive basis, and will be assessed by a review panel made up on their planned activities and outputs. Preference will be given to proposals aiming to support research capacity building and strengthening of the intellectual project for migration research in Africa. All proposals will need to demonstrate collaboration/partnership building as a central activity.
- one-week visits for established researchers to travel to another institution to undertake teaching/supervision/research exchanges;
- one-month visiting postdoctoral fellowships; and
- symposiums and/or proposal development workshops to support the establishment of new research partnerships.

Planned Impact

This proposal is designed to support the goal of the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) to enhance research and graduate training in member universities through a number of channels, including through Centres of Excellence (CoEs). The CoE on Migration and Mobility is a focal point for providing opportunities for graduate students from the region to build their research and professional development skills, and to support the development of collaborative research between institutions on the continent. Key impacts relate to building research capacity and professional development amongst the next generation of African migration scholars. These impacts will be achieved through a set of objectives, outlined below:

Building research capacity of the next generation of African migration scholars
- Foster more theoretically informed work on migration and mobility in Africa
- Incubate a network of emerging African scholars deeply connected to peers and colleagues across the continent, and with other global contexts
- Increase the visibility of African scholars in the scholarly/theoretically informed literature on migration in Africa

Supporting professional development of the next generation of African migration scholars
- Build professional development skills, including in teaching, supervision, writing research proposals, project management, peer reviewing, building professional CVs and online profiles
- Creating peer support and mentorship opportunities, including the pairing of doctoral students with ECRs and established academics
- Develop online resources and a networking platform

The proposed activities will enhance the impact of the project and deliver benefit directly to participating researchers and to the involved institutions. The needs of partner institutions will be reflected in the finalisation of the project workplan and in the development of the content of each Institute. The project will have a long-lasting and transformative impact by supporting the professional development and research capacity of the next generation of African migration scholars. These scholars will benefit from improved skills training and networking with other institutions across the continent. This will, as a result, support the development of research partnerships, including in the joint writing of collaborative research proposals that will be submitted for funding to relevant authorities.

Publications

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Description The African Academy for Migration Research (AAMR) has two overarching aims: (1) to build the research capacity of the next generation of African migration scholars (2) to support the professional development of the next generation of African migration scholars. These aims will be achieved through a series of activities, including regional thematic institutes, local workshops and individual research visits/exchanges. These events will be held across the continent to ensure an equitable distribution of resources and opportunities.

Our original application proposed four in-person institutes as the centrepiece of the AAMR. These intensive weeklong engagements would have brought together established and emerging scholars from across the continent for knowledge exchange in key thematic areas. Given the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, it is unlikely we will be able to move ahead with this plan, at least in the foreseeable future. Thus, we aim to deliver the first two institutes via an appropriate online communication platform. We believe it is critical that the institutes remain a central feature of the AAMR. Indeed, there is arguably even more urgency in hosting these types of regional engagements. For example, in there current geopolitical moment, there is demonstrable need for stronger research in the field of migration and health. As such, we propose that the first two institutes - that is, the institute on migration and health and the institute on migration and urbanisation - be organised as virtual engagements, while the feasibility of the two remaining institutes will be determined in mid-2021.

Delivering these institutes virtually will free up a significant amount of money previously allocated to international travel and accommodation. We propose that some of these funds be redirected to the development of an online learning and resource hub. This portal will not only assist in the delivery of future AAMR activities, but also provide a sustainable support mechanism for migration scholars once the current ARUA financing expires. The portal will serve two key functions: first, it will serve as a centralised learning platform available for use by AAMR core partners and other migration scholars; second, it will serve as a repository for training and learning tools.
Making resources available in this way will help to publicise the work and achievements of the AAMR, while also supporting the development of migration studies on the continent more broadly. Some of the materials available on the portal will be developed directly by AAMR grant holders, while others may be produced through a partnership with specialised agencies and/or service providers (for example, SciDev.net).

Whether delivered in person or virtually, the AAMR institutes will have the same objectives:
• To facilitate peer-learning through interactive engagements between participants from different research contexts
• To build capacity of participants (for example, by having senior scholars mentor emerging researchers
• To produce (popular) publications that can be shared on the AAMR's learning and resource platform.
Exploitation Route We are piloting the online modality for the first institute that will start in July 2021. We anticipate that the lessons learned will be of relevance to others. This is particularly relevant when thinking about contexts where the 'digital divide' is a real challenge, as is the case across the African continent. Our mode of training includes both synchronous and asynchronous interventions, options for 'audio only' downloads v's video, and ensuring time for as much asynchronous engagement in advance of concentrated online collective discussions.

All materials generated for the research and professional development training will be open access and shared via a dedicated online portal.

The institutes and all training materials will be shared as complete modules to allow for independent study.
Sectors Other

URL https://arua.org.za/centres-of-excellence/arua-coe-in-migration-and-mobility/
 
Description Partnership with African Universities 
Organisation Addis Ababa University
Country Ethiopia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Addis Ababa University is a partner in this project.
Collaborator Contribution Addis Ababa University is a partner in this project and has been involved in the development of the proposal and the project, including both thematic and administrative input.
Impact The AAMR.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Partnership with African Universities 
Organisation Makerere University
Country Uganda 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Makerere is a partner in the project.
Collaborator Contribution Makerere is a partner in the project. Individuals provide thematic and advisory inputs and have been involved in the development of the project and its implementation.
Impact Development of AAMR.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Partnership with African Universities 
Organisation University of Cape Town
Country South Africa 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The University of Cape Town is a partner in the project.
Collaborator Contribution The University of Cape Town is a partner in the project and has been involved in the development of the proposal and the project implementation, including in both thematic and administrative areas.
Impact The AAMR.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Partnership with African Universities 
Organisation University of Ghana
Country Ghana 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The University of Ghana is a partner in this grant.
Collaborator Contribution Members of the University of Ghana's Centre for Migration Studies are partners in the grant. Individuals provide thematic and advisory inputs and have been involved in the development of the project and its implementation.
Impact Development of the AAMR
Start Year 2018
 
Description Partnership with African Universities 
Organisation University of the Western Cape
Country South Africa 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The University of the Western Cape is a partner in this project.
Collaborator Contribution The University of the Western Cape provides thematic and advisory inputs and has been involved in the development of the project and its implementation.
Impact The AAMR.
Start Year 2018