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Transformations Conference: Africa – ‘Philosophical Underpinnings’ in Decolonizing Research Methods for Transformation Towards Sustainability

June 18, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm EAT

Decolonising Methodologies to Sustainability in Africa 

In the Global South, ‘coloniality’ has long been associated with political rule over subordinated countries. Struggles for ‘decoloniality’ have evolved from the undoing of colonial rule to the even more fundamental challenge of freeing knowledge, practice, and culture from deeper worldwide concentrations of incumbent power. In keeping with the more expansive ambitions of the Sustainable Development Goals, a decolonization framework thus encompasses some of the most profound and pervasive critiques of globalizing structures and their conditioning effects in every setting. Accordingly, the neglected imperative to ‘decolonize methodologies’ in research and policy appraisal, embodies some of the most important and intractable challenges in this field – offering crucial opportunities for thinking, knowing, and doing alike. This year, 2021, the Africa Research and Impact Network (ARIN) and partners (ACTS Kenya, STEPS Centre UK, Umbela Mexico, and the Global Sustainability Hubs), are exploring what decoloniality would mean for research methods, and policy (engagement, co-creation, etc) processes globally (with experiences in Africa, North America, and the UK. )The focus of ARIN in the project is on “Decolonising Methodologies to Sustainability in the Global South”. The project will include seminars, and a book culminating in methods vignettes and video snippets, and an invite-only ARIN-ASH Summer School.

Webinar 4: Philosophical Underpinnings’ in decolonizing research methods for transformation towards sustainability

In contributing to the decoloniality imperative, the session focuses on different ontological and epistemological perspectives associated with decolonizing methodologies. The session will involve a brief introduction on the concept of decolonizing methods for sustainability research to transformation, followed by a tripartite (academia/research, practice/practitioners, policy) engagement to: i) explore what philosophical underpinnings in sustainability research means in the various contexts; ii) define the implications of decolonizing the dominant narratives that are associated with the cultural diversity in the way knowledge is generated, used, and passed; iii) develop indicators for practice and policy in decolonizing how evidence in the space may be applicable; and iv) deliver a three-point research agenda for decolonizing research towards transformation sustainability (anchored in the philosophical development of research and practice)


Dr Joel Onyango, Coordinator of the ARIN-ASH Summer School and Research Fellow, ACTSity.

Dr Joanes Atela, Director of the Climate Resilient Economies Programme at Africa Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) and Coordinator of Africa Sustainability Hub (ASH).


Prof. Andy Stirling is  Science and Technology Policy professor at the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex, where he co-directs the ‘STEPS Centre’. Working on issues of power, uncertainty and diversity in science and technology, he has served on a number of UK and EU governmental advisory committees.

Dr Jessica Cockburn, is lecturer in Environmental Science.  She recently completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Environmental Learning Research Centre at Rhodes University, where she further developed the research in the nexus of Landscapes-Linkages-Learning which she started in her PhD.

Laura Pereira, Researcher at the Stockholm Resilience Centre working on sustainability transformations and futures in the Global South and holds an honorary position at Stellenbosch University.

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June 18, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm EAT
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