In 2018, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS) with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in New York and Gerda Henkel Stiftung introduced the CHUSS Symposia series with the aim of fostering a vibrant academic environment to promote intellectual debate and knowledge production at the University. The annual symposium brings together scholars from across the region to deliberate on issues of national and international importance.
On 16th-17th September 2020, the College held the third annual symposium under the theme; "The Ivory Tower meets Jua Kali: Reflections on theorizing the Profound from the Ordinary". The 2020 Humanities and Social Sciences Symposium presided over by the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, sought to investigate how and with what successes the academy can centre the untapped node of knowledge that exists on the periphery of the Ivory Tower.
During the two-day blended academic engagement held at Makerere University, over 80 scholars from across the region presented papers on a number of topical issues including Institutions and Instability; Popular and creative Arts; Politics, Policy and Governance; Language, Translation and Transition; Identity and Belonging; Psychology and Wellbeing; Archives and Media; Subaltern Narratives; Pedagogy, Curriculum and Classroom practice; National Narratives and Construction; Archaeology Beyond the Ivory Tower; Languages, Gender and Ideology; Media Presentations; Gender Identity and Spaces; Violence, Peace Building and Democracy; and Performing Protest and Contest.
Delivering her keynote address, Dr Grace Musila who engaged in a virtual conversation on the theme with Mr. Isaac Tibasiima, emphasized the importance of ordinary knowledge in transforming society. She underscored the need for academics to move from the colonial style of conducting research and focus on the realities in their communities. “We need to always understand why we are conducting research and the impact it has on our communities. Much as our funders may have specific interests, we need to assert ourselves and focus on research that benefits our communities. Our research should be in position to address the challenges within our societies,” she noted. Dr Grace Musila is an Associate Professor in the Department of African Literature at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and Mr. Isaac Tibasiima is a Lecturer in the Department of Literature at Makerere University.
Launch of the CHUSS Centre of Excellence in Research, Teaching and Learning
At the opening ceremony of the symposium, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe launched the CHUSS Centre of Excellence in Research, Teaching and Learning (CERTL). The main objective of the Centre is to retool academics and graduate students at Makerere and other Universities across the region with skills to deliver quality teaching and research. The Centre will among other things conduct research in teaching and learning, and induct staff on how to manage big classes, grade students and handle lecturer-student relationships. It was established with financial support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Centre is headed by the Dean, School of Social Sciences, Dr Andrew Elias State (Director) who is deputized by Dr Pamela Khanakwa, Senior Lecturer in the Department of History, Archeology, and Heritage Studies.
In his remarks, Prof. Nawangwe said the Centre will largely contribute towards Makerere’s efforts of becoming a research-led University. He commended CHUSS for its contribution towards improving the research profile of the University. “I take this opportunity to appreciate the College of Humanities and Social Sciences for continuously writing grant winning proposals. The College is now a major player in the generation of cutting-edge research at the University. I urge you to continue in this direction, but also interest yourselves in research on bizarre issues happening in our society like the recent defilement and murder of a five-year old girl in Masaka,” he noted, emphasizing that historically, the humanities and social sciences led in the transformation of society. “Jesus and Mohammed were not scientists, they were philosophers but made great contribution towards the transformation of society,” he said.
Prof. Nawangwe thanked the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Gerda Henkel Stiftung for the enormous contribution towards the improvement of scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences at Makerere University. Besides the training of PhD students, the development partners are supporting many other academic activities aimed at improving the quality of training and learning in the Humanities and Social Sciences. These include the CHUSS symposia series, periodic academic workshops and mentorship of early career scholars.
The Vice Chancellor also expressed gratitude to the Government of Uganda for the increased support towards research at the University. In 2019, Makerere received a grant worth UGX30 billion under the University’s Research and Innovations Fund to facilitate local generation of translatable research and scalable innovations that address key gaps required to drive Uganda’s development agenda. He appreciated the keynote speaker for endeavoring to participate in the conference despite the challenging situation occasioned by COVID-19.
Addressing participants, the Principal of CHUSS, Dr Josephine Ahikire expressed gratitude to the Vice Chancellor for his support towards the College. She appreciated the development partners for the support rendered towards strengthening Humanities and Social Sciences scholarship, noting that they are currently supporting 39 fully-funded PhDs at CHUSS. The Principal thanked the Organizing Committee headed by Dr Patrick Mangeni, Dean School of Liberal and Performing Arts for the job well done in delivering a successful blended symposium.
The papers culminating from the symposium will be published in MAWAZO, a journal of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
See details on the presentations in the Symposium book of abstracts below.