PASGR Workshop at CORAT AFRICA Nairobi

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Elder Herbert Samuel Baligidde of Uganda Martyrs University Uganda was among the [approximately] 41 participants selected out of a huge number of applicants throughout Africa to attend the PASGR Advanced Training for the Multi-Method and Policy-Oriented Research Training which took place at CORAT in Nairobi, November 7-22, 2018.

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PASGR did not only stop at awarding him a full scholarship for the training but organized a grand birthday party and presented him with a cake which he shared with all the participants, gave him gifts and conferred upon him the honorary status of Masai/Kalenjin Elder while on the training course! Prof Ernest Aryeetey, Chairman of the PASGR Board and Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana traveled all the way from Ghana to officiate at the closing and certificate awarding ceremony.

The Partnership for African Social & Governance Research [PASGR] is an independent, non-partisan PAN-African not-for-profit organization established in 2011 and located in Nairobi, Kenya. Uganda Martyrs University participated in the drawing of the curriculum for the innovative professional Master of Research in Public Policy programme now taught in 12 partner universities and in the professional training of lecturers teaching various courses in it. Several of UMU Staff have like Herbert [Senior] benefitted from PASGR’s training workshops and programmes. Uganda Martyrs University was the first to successfully run the MRPP programme on an experimental basis in the East African region.  The programme has now gained robust stature and is running well in the School of Arts and Social Science. PASGR is currently engaged in 12 African countries and is working to enhance research excellence in governance and public policy that contributes to the overall wellbeing of women and men. It runs research-centered professional development and training programmes. The participants were competitively selected after calls for applications. The training followed an alternative pedagogy that used interactive learner-centered techniques such as group projects [as depicted in one of the photos depicting Herbert with 3 other participants trying to figure out the solution to a study problem], role plays, fieldwork and guided discussions by eminent professors coupled with peer learning.

The PASGR programme at CORAT employed universal academic rigor at professorial and Ph.D. levels, was offered in two consecutive blocks including a mandatory pre- and post-Workshop online engagement was residential. Uganda Martyrs University and Mr. Baligidde who describes the training as being extremely useful for Ph.D. students as well as those interested in updating their Multi-Method Research knowledge and skills in Social Science Research are thankful for PASGR’s generosity. The participants came mostly from several universities across Africa as well as a few from private research consultancy organizations as well as governmental institutions. The participants had a lengthy but rare classroom Skype conferencing interaction with Roger A. Pielke, Jr., Author of a book ‘The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics’, and Professor in the Environmental Studies Program and Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), University of Colorado at Boulder.

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The Honest Broker is a must read for Scientists seeking to play a positive role in policy and politics and contributing to the sustainability of the scientific enterprise have choices in what role they play. Pielke’s book is about understanding these choices, what considerations are important to think about when deciding, and the consequences of such choices for the individual scientist as well as the broader scientific enterprise. Rather than prescribing what course of action each scientist ought to take, the book aims at identifying a range of options for individual scientists to consider in making their own judgments about how they would like to position themselves in relation to policy and politics. Using examples from a range of scientific controversies and thought-provoking analogies from other walks of life, The Honest Broker challenges everybody; especially scientists, politicians, citizens to think carefully about how best science can contribute to policy-making and healthy democracies.

Pielke contended that honest brokering of policy alternatives is best achieved through a collection of experts working together with a range of views, experiences, and knowledge; the kind the composition of the IGAD Mediation Roster portrays. He explained that a characteristic fundamental to both Honest Brokers of Policy Alternatives and Issue Advocates is an explicit engagement of decision alternatives (such as choices, policy options, forks in the road, etc.). He maintains that in contrast, the Pure Scientist and Science Arbiter are not concerned with a specific decision, but instead serve as information resources. Ostensibly, the Pure Scientist and Science Arbiter do not seek to compel a particular decision outcome, but in practice often slip into “stealth issue advocacy.” The Issue Advocate seeks to compel a particular decision, while a (Highlight) Honest Broker of Policy Alternatives seeks to enable the freedom of choice by a decision-maker. It should also be obvious that as an expert one cannot simultaneously act as an Issue Advocate and an Honest Broker of Policy Alternatives at exactly the same time. This is food for thought not only for those in academic leadership and mediation but also for policymakers as well as policy researchers. But in a Nutshell, it can be safely and conclusively stated that the training programme enhances individual and institutional research capacity at an advanced level and the utilization of social and policy research and policymaking in the governance domain.

The Advanced Research Methods Course Structure consisted of the following:

Block 1: Advanced Research Design (11 training days: November 7-17, 2018)

Designing Social Inquiry

Multi-Methods Research Strategies

Critical Policy Engaged Research

Ethics for Social Science Research

Block 2: Elective Modules (4 training days: November 19-22, 2018)

Impact Evaluation

Engendering Social Science Research Methods

Block 2 modules electives were conducted concurrently.

It is strongly recommended that other UMU Staff participate in the training programme.

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