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UCU Vice Chancellor meets with Uganda High Commissioner to TZ

Uganda’s High Commissioner to the United Republic of Tanzania, His Excellency Col. (Rtd.) Fred Mwesigye, met today with the Vice Chancellor of Uganda Christian University (UCU), Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, who paid a courtesy call on him in Dar es Salaam.

The Vice Chancellor was accompanied by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration) Mr. David Mugawe, and the Dean of UCU School of Dentistry, Dr. James Magara.

The Vice Chancellor briefed the Ambassador on their study visit to the School of Dentistry at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS), which has one of the best-run teaching programmes and a vibrant dental practice in East Africa that earns revenue for the university. UCU’s vision is to run its Dental School and clinic along the Muhimbili University model.

The UCU team is also visiting Tumaini University’s campuses in Dar es Salaam and Arusha as well as Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University College in Moshi, to establish joint collaborative programmes. UCU and Tumaini already have a partnership with Hanze University of Applied Sciences in The Netherlands.

The Ambassador and the Vice Chancellor exchanged ideas on the possibility of the Ugandan High Commission organising an Education and Tourism Exhibition in Dar es Salaam in 2023 to promote Uganda’s higher education and tourism sectors in the East African region. The Vice Chancellor also requested the Ambassador to discuss with his colleagues in the East African Community (EAC) the removal of all barriers to free movement of students and lecturers, including charging East African students the same tuition rates paid by nationals, as is the practice in Ugandan universities.

The Ambassador commended the Vice Chancellor and his team for the good initiatives and thanked UCU for upholding a value-based education, discipline, and a good reputation among Ugandan universities.

The UCU team also held meetings with the Vice Chancellor of Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Prof. Andrea Pembe and Dr. Matilda Mtaya Mlangwa the Dean of the Dental School, with whom they exchanged ideas on collaboration in dental training and research between the two universities.

How conspiracy beliefs affect COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy

By Dr. Emilly Comfort Maractho

The outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in 2020 created substantial fear among communities and countries about the future. It seemed to have come from ‘nowhere’ even after China announced its arrival. Many questions arose as to whether it was deliberately created and released by scientists and their allies for some unknown reasons. 

Governments across the globe launched interventions to facilitate the public’s compliance with preventive and mitigative measures, also known as Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). The measures included physical distancing also known as social distancing, regular handwashing, wearing masks, and vaccination to boost herd immunity

Speculation soon became a common feature of COVID-19, about the cause, the effects, and the people behind it. Theories begun to emerge around these issues. 

Uganda enacted legislations, restrictions, policies and interventions to prevent and mitigate the spread and impact of COVID-19. These included, but were not limited to, the Uganda Public Health (Control of COVID – 19) Rules, 2020; guidelines on mass gatherings including social meetings such as burials and weddings; guidelines on meeting at workplaces, guidelines on use of public transport; among others.  

Whereas the world was relieved about the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, emergent concerns around safety and effects were prevalent. The concerns and doubts about vaccines were mainly driven by conspiracy theories related to COVID-19 vaccination, sometimes widely shared among the population.  

Conspiracy theories cannot be taken lightly. At Uganda Christian University, Prof. Kukunda Elizabeth Bacwayo, an Associate Prof. of Governance and Development in the School of Social Sciences, with a multi-disciplinary team of colleagues from UCU were awarded a research grant by the university to study how conspiracy beliefs affected COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy in Uganda. In a three-year project that covers a large-scale online and physical survey of over 1000 respondents, to be followed by in-depth interviews, the team aims at examining the conspiracy beliefs and their implications for COVID-19 vaccination in Uganda. 

The research is guided by five specific objectives, namely: 

(i) To measure the extent to which conspiracy belief about vaccination against COVID-19 is spread among Ugandans; 

(ii) To establish the relationship between conspiracy belief and vaccination hesitancy in Uganda; 

(iii) To explore the interaction between exposure to COVID-19 conspiracy theories and individual vaccination decisions; 

(iv) To examine the gendered impact of conspiracy belief on vaccination hesitancy; 

(v) To examine how the conspiracy beliefs of adults are likely to affect decision to vaccinate children for COVID-19.  

The researchers note that, whereas in developed countries studies have already established the significant relationship between conspiracy theories and decline in vaccination rates, such studies are very few in developing countries. For instance, Maftei and Holman in 2020, in their study, ‘beliefs in conspiracy theories, intolerance of uncertainty, and moral disengagement during the coronavirus crisis’ highlighted that conspiracy beliefs had significant impact on disobeying the social distancing regulations seeking to limit the spread of the SARS-CoV-2.

The researchers are aware that in countries like Uganda with a population highly characterized by low education and poor access to information, beliefs in conspiracy theories and impact are expected to be high.  Still, little is known and done to minimize the impact of misinformation on COVID-19 prevention. In addition, with more people owning smartphones, conspiracy theories are likely to flourish as a result of high exposure to various ideas. 

Some of the examples of conspiracy theories include:

  • The belief that the G5 cellular network is responsible for causing COVID-19,
  • Bill Gates’ plan to depopulate the world,
  • Vaccinations having microchips that can be used to monitor behaviour. 
  • Others include the belief that those who get vaccinated will die in a few years, and that the whole COVID-19 pandemic was a political stunt.  

The primary outcome of this study is to understand how conspiracy beliefs affect the individual willingness to get vaccinated. Findings from this study could be used to improve on the efforts geared towards pro-vaccine attitudes and interest in COVID-19 vaccination. The main outcome will be a change in behavior towards vaccination for COVID-19 despite the existence of conspiracy theories and management of future vaccination drives.

The research has gone through both institutional and national ethical clearance processes. The first phase has been completed and will soon be made public. 

NCC 2022: An insight into the role of Academia in digital transformation

By Mukalere Justine

Uganda Christian University (UCU) participated in the 7th National Conference on Communications (NCC2022) under the theme; “Inclusive Digital Transformation Through Innovation”, which happened between June, 21 -22, 2022.

The annual conference organized by; the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT), Makerere University in collaboration with the Uganda Communications Commission brought various ICT players on the same platform to discuss issues of inclusion through innovation in the digital era. Policymakers (Ministry of ICT, NITA-U), Academia (Institutions of learning), and the industry (RENU, HUAWEI, WUGNET, OUTBOX among others) graced the event.

With the discussions steered in the direction of digital inclusion through innovation, the need to bridge the gap between academia and the industry was very evident.

The question of how the academic institutions teach and train learners to equip them with skills to innovate and serve in the industry became too loud to ignore, requiring an urgent solution to the challenge of inadequate resources and skill gap amidst the various opportunities to light which can be utilized.

Inclusion, innovation, and skill gap is not a conversation to be exhausted in a two-day sitting; prompting the need for policymakers, industry and academia to come together in order to develop a practical, yet sustainable plan on how to support learners in both public and private institutions if the so needed digital transformation is to be realized.

A few proposed ways to encourage and support innovation:
  • Mindset change towards ICT and innovation
  • collaborations between and among academic institutions
  • involvement of the industry players in curricula development
  • development and operationalization of supporting policies
  • creation and equipping of accessible incubation hubs
Left to right; Mr. Kubanja Martin, Katumbire Bobm Kauta Marvin, Nandawula Maria, Akech Mary Francis, Wani Julius, Lukeera Micheal and Ms. Mukalere Justine (sitting)

UCU was physically represented by two lecturers (Ms. Mukalere Justine (Myself) and Mr. Kubanja Martin) and six students from the department of Computing and Technology, with another team of students attending the event online since the conference followed a blended approach (physical and online).

The author is a Lecturer at the UCU Department of Computing and Technology

Promoting Entrepreneurship to Reduce Graduate Unemployment: Book-Release

By Jimmy Siyasa

Just last year, a Daily Monitor report noted that ” At least nine in every 10 Ugandans who have completed any form of education are unemployed.” The same year the National Planning Authority released statistics showing that out of 700,000 that join the job market every year, their qualifications notwithstanding, only 90,000 of those get a form of employment.

With the devastating effect of COVID-19 on the job market, let alone the broader economy, the statistics may have gotten even worse.

Official Release

As a response to this big graduate-unemployment problem, Dr. Isaac Wasswa Katono, Senior Lecturer at the Uganda Christian University School of Business has published a book; the 363-page volume entitled Promoting Entrepreneurship to Reduce Graduate Unemployment for Over 30 Years has been OFFICIALLY RELEASED by IGI-Global, the Publisher.

The book covers a wide range of academic areas including, but not limited to:
  • Career Choice
  • Career identity
  • Entrepreneurial self-efficacy
  • Skills development
  • Social Capital
  • Upskilling graduates

The publisher notes that “Although it will not be a panacea for all the obstacles that impede graduate entrepreneurship, it is hoped that this book will illuminate the entrepreneurship career path, serve as a platform for further diagnosis for reducing graduate unemployment, and highlight areas in need of further research.”

Promoting Entrepreneurship to Reduce Graduate Unemployment seeks to expand understanding of the barriers that face graduates in becoming entrepreneurs in various countries, examining the role of educational institutions in promoting graduate entrepreneurship and evaluating governments as well as other schemes that promote graduate entrepreneurship. 

IGI-Global

Click here for the preface of the book, and here to buy and be able to access the full text.

About Author

Dr. Katono holds a Ph.D. in Business Science and Entrepreneurship from the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa. His Ph.D. thesis is entitled: “Cultural Predictions of Entrepreneurial Orientation and the Moderating Role of Entrepreneurial Competencies on Graduate Entrepreneurial Intentions: A Cross-Sectional Survey of East Africa: The research focuses on the impact of culture on entrepreneurial orientation. 

Love and Sex- Applying the Song of Songs in a Global Cultural Context: Research publication

By Jimmy Siyasa

If, ever, any Bible scriptures, conceivably held God guilty- in the eyes of many Christians and heathens-for ‘sexual perversion’ and/or a sheer lack of “Christian euphemism”, none testify better than the Song of Songs.

The Canticles of Solomon, as the book is sometimes called, uses such “graphic imagery” of romantic love and sexuality, as to trigger a measure of embarrassment or shyness, even among the clergy, let alone Christians, who read the Bible.

It is only until a few decades ago that Bible scholars began to render keen focus “on the themes of human sexuality and marriage,” as noted by the author, Rev. Emmanuel Mukeshimana, Ph.D., whose publication offers some answers…

A Review

The paper entitled “Love and Sex: Applying the Song of Songs in a Global Cultural Context” makes for a good and deeply insightful read for all; scholars, clergy and the most simple-minded of “sheep”, who often run the risk of erotically interpreting the Song of Songs. The chapter appeared in the first issue of the 2022 Volume of The Global Anglican.

In this publication, the author sets the stage for a healthy interpretation of the scriptures in question by noting that “The Song of Songs teaches that Love and Sex are to be seen as the Foundations of marriage.” He recognizes love and sex as complimentary gifts from God, which are indispensable ingredients for a functional marriage.

He argues that scripture does not teach that the spirit is good and the body is bad; rather, both the physical and spiritual are part of the Lord’s good creation

In a similar vein, he juxtaposes contemporary and conventional courtship, while appreciating the uniqueness of each. Mukeshimana asserts that “the progression of their [Love and sex] relationship is a model for courtship and marriage today, by contrast with the traditional practices in many African communities, and with contemporary secular ways of doing things.

He calls for the recovery of “this model” urging that doing so will be relevant to the church and to theological educators for marriage preparation.

The controversy of Song of Songs

The scholar attempts to clear the moral mustiness associated with popular Christian and secular interpretations of the Song of songs by offering a background of its carnal interpretation that is linked to ancient Greek teachings:

“Historically, many interpreters have been embarrassed by the sensual imagery from the Song, largely due to the assumptions left over by the Greek philosopher, who viewed the body and physical pleasures as evils, things to be avoided or escaped for the good of the soul,” he writes.

On the contrary- away from secular interpretation- Mukeshimana, presents the purpose of the Canticles… as follows: “Song of songs was written as an affirmation of the goodness of love and sex within marriage,” he notes, arguing that “the church must not shy away from addressing and teaching every generation about love and sex because they are such important experiences in everyday life.”

In sum, the publication, [available here] justifies God as the author of love, marriage, and the gift of human sexuality, just as much as it exposes the erotic, distorted human view of sex and romantic love: It goes ahead to offer a healthy, truth-orientated, well-elucidated interpretation of the Songs of Solomon.

Nuggets
  • God made a world that was originally “very good, commanding human beings to procreate and fill it (Gen. 1: 26-31)
  • Sex within the context of marriage is good and holy, and a gift for spousal enjoyment, the furthering of; physical, spiritual, and emotional intimacy between husband and wife.
  • Recovering this biblical model will be relevant to the church and theological educators for marriage preparation.
  • Young people seeking guidance on love, sex, and marriage would find it useful, and it will also be valuable for individuals who are in a rush to make decisions about whom and how to love.

The author, Rev. Dr. Mukeshimana is a Lecturer at Uganda Christian University (UCU) Bishop Tucker School of Divinity and Theology.

US departments recognize UCU’s research ethics committee

By Kefa Senoga
The Uganda Christian University-Research Ethics Committee (UCU-REC) has been accredited by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Office for Human Research Protection (OHRP) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Osborne Ahimbisibwe, the secretary of the UCU-REC, said the accreditation is a result of UCU-REC’s success in fulfilling its professional duties that include looking out for the privacy and protection of persons in studies. He said the ethics committee is listed on the HHS and OHRP website as the UCU Institutional Review Board (IRB), Number IRB00013492.  

Ahimbisibwe explained that funding agencies use the HHS and OHRP websites to verify that an Institutional Review Board (IRB) or Research Ethics Committee (REC) has an active registration. The OHRP provides leadership in the protection of the rights and well-being of human subjects involved in research conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services while the FDA protects public health by ensuring safety of human drugs.  

“The accreditation means that if someone is coming from the U.S to conduct research in Uganda and they get approval from UCU-REC, the findings of their study will be recognized back in the United States,” Ahimbisibwe explained.

There are a number of Research Ethics Committees in Uganda that include the Uganda Virus Research Institute Research Ethics Committee (UVRI-REC), Mbarara University of Science and Technology Research Ethics Committee (MUST – REC), Nkumba University Research Ethics Committee (NU-REC), and the School of Medicine Research Ethics Committee at Makerere University College of Health Sciences, among others.

Ahimbisibwe explains that the UCU-REC on average does 200 protocol reviews annually and it’s mandatory for postgraduate students and other researchers outside academia, for example, clinical trials. He adds that membership of the committee is comprised of scientific and non-scientific members who are made up of UCU community representatives and non-UCU-affiliated members. 

Commenting on the development, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs, the Rev. Prof. John Kitayimbwa, said that the accreditation is an important development for UCU, which intends to drive the agenda of research. 

A post-graduate student works in the UCU library, which is working to drive the agenda of quality research to increase global visibility and maximize impact of these studies.
A post-graduate student works in the UCU library, which is working to drive the agenda of quality research to increase global visibility and maximize impact of these studies.

“We are transforming the university from one that’s been majorly teaching to a research-led one,” he said. “However, in order to do research, especially where you have human subjects, you have got to do that work ethically.” 

Prof. Kitayimbwa noted that UCU’s REC ensures that the standards, which have been set in terms of the ethical considerations worldwide, are followed when dealing with human subjects in research activity.   

Dr. Angela Napakol, a REC member and senior lecturer at the School of Journalism, Media and Communication, said the accreditation was not only vital in science-related research, but also in other fields, such as social sciences and humanities. 

Napakol noted one example of a researcher who is going to the field to discuss mental health and could bring up sensitive topics that may trigger trauma because of a past experience. If information is not acquired properly, including with sensitivity and respect, the questions can trigger a breakdown. Thus,  it is important to ensure that ethical practices are followed. 

“So, as REC, we want to make sure that the discussions between the researcher and the participants don’t trigger episodes of mental breakdown,” she said.  “That is why we put emphasis on ethical standards.”

Health Crises and Media Discourses in Sub-Saharan Africa: New Book

New Book: Dralega, C.A., and Napakol, A. (eds). Health Crises and Media Discourses in Sub-Saharan Africa. Springer, Cham.

A Review

This is an open-access book that brings together leading scholars and critical discourses on political, economic, legal, technological, socio-cultural and systemic changes and continuities intersecting media and health crises in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

The volume extensively discusses COVID-19 but it also covers other epidemics, such as malaria, HIV/AIDS as well as “silent” health crises such as mental health—simmering across the subcontinent.

The chapters fill knowledge gaps, highlight innovations, and unpack the complexities surrounding the media ecosystem in times of health crises. They explore, among other issues, the politics of public health communication; infodemics; existential threats to media viability; draconian legislations; threats to journalists/journalism; COVID-related entrepreneurship, marginalization, and more.

This is a timely resource for academics, advocacy groups, media practitioners and policymakers working on crises and media reporting, not just in Africa but anywhere in the global South.

Foreword

…Some African responses on media and health issues are examined in this book by a whole new generation of public health communicators who are homegrown, African graduates, sometimes of international research and training collaborations, who are responding to their own particular national environments. Just as African scholarship and health campaign strategy can positively inform global approaches, the support of the big Northern publishers—in this case, Springer—is just as important. Where the earlier generation cut their teeth on HIV/AIDS, the new generation seems destined to deal with successive and increasingly intense and interrelated crises: health, climate change and environmental degradation. Thus this is one book that can speak intelligently to these issues from the perspective of the Global South. And, the task that they are taking on is herculean.

Foreword by Keyan Gray Tomaselli– University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa

The book cover and contents can be accessed here: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-030-95100-9

About the Editors

Dr. Carol Azungi Dralega is an Associate Professor and Head of Research at the Department of Journalism, Media and Communication, NLA University College, Kristiansand, Norway. She holds a Ph.D. in Media and Communication Studies from the University of Oslo, Norway.

Dr. Angella Napakol is a researcher and Senior Lecturer at the School of Journalism, Media and Communication, Uganda Christian University. She holds a Ph.D. in Mass Communication/Media Studies, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Pictorial: Vice Chancellor Prof. Mushengyezi visits Hanze University…

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, recently paid a visit to Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen, Netherlands with the objective of enhancing the partnership between the two universities.

During his visit, Prof. Mushengyezi interacted with some of the six Uganda Christian University (UCU) students who traveled to the Dutch institution early this year for a six-month exchange programme, to pursue a Diploma in International Marketing Management. The students include Martin Wakabi, Mirembe Faith and Musa S. Agakhan, among others. All these are from the UCU School of Business.

Prof. Mushengyezi (L-3) poses with staff at Hanze University… and some of the UCU students on the exchange programme. Photo/ Courtesy.

UCU prioritizes exchange programs because they “expose our students to new challenging environments and ways of doing things and cultures,” as noted by Prof. Mushengyezi, when flagging off the students to the Netherlands in January, 2022.

UCU intends to continue venturing into such partnerships with universities world over with a sole purpose of availing students as multicultural experience and exposure as much exposure as possible.

The Vice Chancellor interacting with staff members at Hanze University… Photo/ Courtesy.

Disclaimer: Mobile phone photos used.

UCU signs MoU with UNBS to standardize academic products

By Jimmy Siyasa

Uganda Christian University (UCU) and Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at collaborating on the formulation and promotion of quality standards in Institutions of Higher Learning.

According to the MoU signed on Wednesday, UCU will operate in the core capacity of a ‘research agency’, and supply the Bureau of Standards with the necessary research data that will inform the standardization of curricula, short courses, student internships, and training, among others, nationally.

In return, UCU students will be attached to the internationally accredited laboratories of UNBS and trained on how to undertake quality analysis of product samples, in order to establish safety features UNBS considers before certifying a product. 

“Part of our mentoring and coaching of the university students will involve attaching them to our international standard laboratories,” said David Livingstone Ebiru, the Executive Director of UNBS, who further noted that it is important that students are initiated into a “quality culture” while they are still university.

“The students are future manufacturers, innovators, and entrepreneurs. Therefore, it is important that we try to create awareness on quality standards before they go out into the business world,” he said.

The recruitment of UCU trainees in the laboratories will in the long run enrich the manpower at UNBS, easing the problem of “understaffing”, which was cited as a major challenge in the agency’s 2020/2021 Annual Report to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives.

“The university takes excellence as its mark and this is what we hope for in what we do. So we are very excited for this opportunity since we are at a point where we are transitioning into a research-based university,” said Assoc. Prof. Elizabeth Balyejusa Kizito, Director of the Research, Partnership and Innovations directorate. “

UCU’s Vice-Chancellor Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi welcomed the initiative in his speech. “We are ready to work with you on developing standardization curricula, quality assurance courses, teach standards to students and our staff, and other people out there,” Mushengyezi said, after signing the MoU, during the ceremony held at the UCU Principals’hall.  

The UNBS team led by Executive Director David Livingstone Ebiru (Front row- 2nd Lt) and UCU top management staff led by the Vice-Chancellor Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi ( Front row- 2nd Rt)pose after the signing of the MoU. Photo/ Jimmy Siyasa

This is the first Memorandum of Understanding that the Bureau gets to sign with a Ugandan University for this cause; UCU has been prioritized as a piloting ground for the project before it can be extended to tertiary institutions and other universities- both private and public. 

SSRC Symposium at UCU: Scholars speak out on experience

By Jimmy Siyasa

“It can be scary for your work to be criticized by other scholars; you never really outgrow that fear. But we have to be okay with others finding loopholes in your research work.”

Those words constituted the closing remarks of Dr. Emilly Maractho, convener of the 2022 Social Sciences Research Council (SSRC) symposium themed “Ideology, Identity and State Formation in East Africa”, held at Uganda Christian University (UCU). Emilly is the Director of Africa Policy Centre (APC) at UCU. She noted that the debates and discussions- laced with incisive criticism of some papers- that ensued during the symposium were crucial and relevant, especially to the scholars who had presented.

Emilly also reminded fellow scholars that academic criticism and/or rejection of one’s research should not be taken in bad faith, but instead, embraced as “cause” for the researcher “to go back and revisit your research”.

The two-day symposium started on February, 24-25, 2022, and attracted scholars from at least four universities including: Makerere, Kyambogo, Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) and Uganda Martyrs University. They presented various papers, both complete studies and those underway; 14 papers were presented all together, on divergent topics, but all converging at the general theme.

Day two of the symposium started with a percipient keynote address by Prof. Apuuli Phillip Kasaijja, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Makerere University. He dissected the sub-theme “Resource-based Conflicts in Uganda”, crowning his presentation with a call upon the scholars in attendance to work hand in hand with policymakers in order to ensure that their research findings eventually, directly inform policy in the country.

Prof. Apuuli Phillip Kasaijja was a keynote speaker at the symposium. Photo/ Andrew Bugembe.

“People are doing a lot of original research. But it will not be helpful if it does not influence policy. It should be able to…,” said Prof. Kasaijja, arguing that part of the cause of this trend is an ‘unhealthy’ division between academics and politicians. He urged the two to forge common ground for coexistence because the former do research that the latter [ who don’t do research] need [because it is backed by empirical data] to make informed policies make policies.

The air inside the UCU Principals’ hall was rife with upbeat intellectual discourse as the different scholars presented their studies for peer-review, and therefore, scrutiny.

Jimmy Siyasa caught up with some of the scholars to learn their experience from the symposium and reflections on its significance and relevance to Uganda’s academic and policy landscape. [Photos by Andrew Bugembe]

This is a very important conference. I am very grateful to the convener because it is very important for us scholars to meet and share our experiences on our journey as academics, but also on how to impact policy and practice in our country. Other scholars [from other universities] should take the initiative to be part of such arrangements because it is one of the best ways to mentor the younger generation of scholars.

Dr. Resty Naiga, Lecturer in the Department of Development Studies, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, at Makerere University

The symposium was fantastic and a great opportunity to meet some of the scholars we had taken long without meeting. It was also a good introduction to the research of other scholars and insights from their fields of study. It really rejuvenates and helps us to also shape our own thoughts. I noticed that some of the people here are rich in methodology and different things, although, interestingly, much of the work presented was related. Generally, there was a lot to learn from each presenter. We have left different people challenged to revisit their work and to work harder, while encouraged that they are on the right track. We hope these papers will be published eventually, and the knowledge disseminated because we have agreed on polishing the works for publication.

Dr. Robert Ojambo, Senior Lecturer and Head of Department of History and Political Science.Kyambogo University

First of all, I love the UCU environment. Perfect. I thought Makerere was the highlight of everything [a University should be in Africa], but this is a beautiful space [for thinking and studying]. As far as the conversation in the symposium is concerned, I felt at home because the scholarly topics and faces I interacted with were familiar. The debates were top-quality debates. So, I am happy, I enjoyed every bit of it and was not disappointed at any point.

Yosef Sintayehu Jemberie, Ph.D. Candidate at Makerere Social Research Institute (MISR)

Fascinating papers! Fascinating presentations. The keynote today [Day two] was on-point for me. High-level engagement! I was inspired by some of the young people, the students inside the room who were asking very critical questions without feeling intimidated by the PhDs and Professors present. It was good watching some of the students I mentored present papers. When we come together from different backgrounds, we have a larger conversation, otherwise, we are always talking to each other and there is nothing new. For me what excited me was hearing from people coming from elsewhere [other universities]. We should think about organizing research panels in order to generate synergy that often comes in handy when writing grant proposals as a panel as opposed to individual effort.

Dr. Pamela Kanakhwa, Lecturer Department of History, Archaeology, and Heritage Studies at Makerere

This symposium was excellent because it has brought us together, and the focus on “State, security…” was very clear and relevant. The presentations were great and everyone participated. This symposium is going to take us a long way into academia, specifically exiting gaps in the available literature. Most researches were empirical, others desk studies, but were all informing policy and existing gaps we have in knowledge as a country.

Dr. Specioza Twinamatsiko, Lecturer, MUST

For me, this was a fascinating experience. I would like to thank the Africa Policy Centre at UCU for organizing this symposium. My major highlight is the experience of sitting in an interdisciplinary conference: People have different approaches to research. So, this was very fascinating and exciting for me. Secondly, I am happy to have disseminated my finding about the experiences of children living with violent caregivers. I am grateful that I was able to attend.

Herbert Twinamatsiko, Ph.D Candidate, MUST

The symposium brings to us the academic engagement that we have been missing for a long time. It has enabled us to; sit down, discuss, theorize, and think beyond the boundaries, and critic one another’s work. That is my major highlight. It was an opportunity to interact with fellow scholars and I think we should have it more often. It is a platform to speak a common language; when you speak to most of the people out there sometimes, it is like you are speaking Greek; because you are talking about theory, methodology, informing policy, etc. It is like you are speaking to the wrong audience. But here, you are able to engage, wrap your head around concepts and how they can be applied in real life, societies and our community for their betterment.

Dr. Ronald Kalyango Sebba, lecturer in the School of Women and Gender Studies Makerere University

As Africa Policy Centre, this is why we exist; to do research that informs policy and therefore, these were insightful and relevant discussions. I am happy with this meeting and that it happened. I have gotten to meet and know people who are passionate and knowledgeable about their field. I hope that we are not going to stop this conversation here and I look forward to the time when we can have an annual symposium.”

Dr. Emilly Comfort Maractho, Director, APC, UCU

Background

The symposium convened the inaugural Uganda Fellows of The Africa Peacebuilding Network (APN) and the Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa (NextGen), both programs of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), courtesy of APC, UCU, which collaborated with the former institution(s). The APC is a Think Tank at UCU which aims at advancing research and evidence-based policies in Africa, whereas the SSRC is an independent, international non-profit organization that fosters innovative research by supporting scholars through its Africa-related programs.

The symposium brings together former Uganda-based grantees of the two programs to present and receive feedback from their peers on their latest research projects. Open to the wider university public, the symposium shall involve paper presentations from the alumni.

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