Funders of social science in Africa must allow researchers to break away from a narrow focus on development-related issues if they are to maximise their contribution to the continent’s big challenges, experts say.
By largely ignoring more open-ended, or ‘blue-sky’, projects, funding agencies are preventing the more-nuanced understanding of African societies and their views on the wider world that is needed to tackle issues such as climate change, food security and inequality, says Fatima Harrak, president of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa.
Addressing a meeting of postdoctoral scientists who are funded by the Volkswagen Foundation earlier this month (3-4 October) in Hanover, Germany, Harrak called on funders to be more receptive to exploratory social science research – or risk the development gap between Africa and the developed world widening further.
“Social sciences are a basic ingredient and an indispensable part of science policy and the formulation of adequate responses to global challenges,” she told SciDev.Net on the sidelines of the meeting.
A thorough understanding of social issues in other countries viewed from an African perspective is an important component of this synergy, she added.
Knowledge of other societies, for example, could lead to …
Source: AllAfrica News: Africa