The University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Researcher Development Academy (RDA) has been appointed as a training partner for the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) second Commonwealth Futures Climate Research cohort.
This initiative by the ACU is centred on climate change mitigation and adaptation, providing an immersive applied training experience to researchers from selected Commonwealth countries and equipping them with the skills required to co-create impactful research projects in local communities.
The co-creation process, which the course focuses on actively, involves multiple stakeholders in building a deeper understanding of real-world challenges and co-developing solutions to address them. By facilitating international and transdisciplinary research partnerships, the Commonwealth Futures Climate Research project fosters an environment conducive to the co-production of influential knowledge and relevant societal outcomes.
“The Commonwealth Futures Climate Research Cohort is a novel and exciting initiative that seeks to support a pipeline of early-career researchers who can contribute to climate action in their context. Through their participation in bespoke training, and building connections across borders, disciplines, sectors, and generations, participating fellows have the opportunity to take that next step into becoming a research leader,” said ACU programme manager, George Lakey.
“It is testament to the excellent work of the UCT RDA team who are contributing so importantly on the international stage.”
“We are delighted to be working with the Researcher Development Academy at the University of Cape Town, a valued ACU member, to provide expert training to 20 early career researchers across 10 countries. It is testament to the excellent work of the UCT RDA to be contributing so importantly on the international stage.”
To this end, the UCT RDA team has been delivering a series of training webinars since April that upskill early-career researchers in areas of stakeholder engagement and co-creation towards impactful research that leads to tangible climate action and meaningful change. The training which ends in June, will enable participants to recognise the needs of climate-vulnerable communities and ensure that their concerns are effectively addressed.
The Commonwealth Futures Climate Research project is funded by the British Council’s Going Global Partnerships, and the UCT RDA joins an impressive list of partner institutions collaborating with the ACU, including Durham University, Queen Mary University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) University of London, the University of York, and the University of Warwick.
Twenty exceptional early-career researchers (Climate Cohort Fellows) will receive comprehensive training to enhance their skills and expertise in conducting climate-focused research that collaborates with multiple external stakeholders. One of the aspects of this initiative is that fellows will get to work together on projects, exposing them directly to the realities of transnational and/or transcontinental projects. The diversity of the Commonwealth is reflected in the composition of the cohort and the talented researchers participating are drawn from Bangladesh, Egypt, Ghana, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, and Sri Lanka.
Nurturing the next generation of research leaders
The UCT RDA programmes are uniquely designed to help cultivate a new generation of research leaders and cohorts of participants who will be equipped with a range of practical and applicable competencies that will empower them not only to make significant contributions to the advancement of knowledge in their field but also to bring about tangible societal change.
The UCT RDA, which will celebrate five years in existence in July 2023, grew from the solid foundation laid by the highly successful Emerging Researcher Programme that has been supporting UCT academics since 2003. The UCT RDA is now working on providing capacity development training to researchers whose challenges, particularly in low- and middle-income countries in different parts of the world, are similar to those faced by African researchers.
“At the UCT RDA, we recognise the importance of nurturing the next generation of research leaders.”
UCT RDA trainers will deliver a series of six webinars to the Commonwealth Futures Climate Research cohort, exploring collaborative knowledge creation and solution identification. Principles of stakeholder engagement and co-creation will be workshopped through the introduction of relevant knowledge frameworks and practical examples. The webinars are complemented by asynchronous activities where the cohort works in research groups to apply their learnings towards a co-creation project.
Dr Gaëlle Ramon, UCT Manager: Researcher Development, said: “At the UCT RDA, we recognise the importance of nurturing the next generation of research leaders. The UCT RDA mission is a testament to our commitment to equip these individuals with the tools and resources necessary to thrive in a competitive global research landscape.”
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The University of Cape Town is an internationally renowned hub for climate change research and training. Our work is a strategic response to urgent knowledge and capacity needs on the African continent – climate change impacts have severe implications for economic and social development, and Africa is particularly vulnerable. Greater expertise is needed to understand the challenges and to design, evaluate and sustain solutions. Engaged research can help society innovate and support effective climate policies and strategies.
This series of articles shows how UCT researchers are working with governments, civil society and the private sector to co-produce knowledge that is impactful, moving us towards a more resilient African society.