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New Africa-Europe Clusters of Research Excellence launched

25th September 2023

The African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) and The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities (The Guild) have launched three new Africa-Europe Clusters of Research Excellence (CoRE).

This is a direct response to the formal launch of the AU-EU Innovation Agenda, which acknowledged the importance of research and education – including in the social sciences and humanities – for achieving the EU’s Global Gateway strategy and the AU’s Agenda 2063. The three new Clusters join the Africa-Europe CoREs launched by both networks last June, bringing the total number of Clusters up to 20, now involving over 250 researchers in 60 Universities as well as research institutes.

A new CoRE on ‘Creative Economies: Cultures, Innovation and Sustainability’ aims to support the development of more equitable, innovative and sustainable creative economies, in a sector that has been recognised for its potential to contribute up to 10% of global GDP by 2030. Co-led by Duro Oni (University of Lagos), Jen Snowball (Rhodes University), and Roberta Comunian and Eka Ikpe (King’s College London), the Cluster brings together cultural policy organisations and university researchers from across Africa and Europe.

In the CoRE ‘Engineering for the Future’, researchers co-led by Wynand Stein (University of Pretoria) and Barbara Shollock (King’s College London) will establish an engineering teaching and research ecosystem to train future engineers how to play a key role in mitigating complex challenges including climate change and food security. With a clear focus on the African Union’s Agenda 2063, this CoRE is deeply committed to collaboration with government and industry.

In ‘The Politics of Sustainable Development: Squaring the Circle of Science and Democracy’ CoRE, researchers from the social sciences and humanities, as well as the natural sciences and law, will uncover the nature of politics around sustainable development, how it affects political decisions (and discourse), and how these are contested. Researchers led by Heide Hackmann (University of Pretoria) and Dan Banik (University of Oslo) will also develop innovative PhD programmes, focusing on leadership for sustainable societal transformation.

Commenting on the launch, Jan Palmowski (The Guild) said: “All three Clusters are committed to ensuring that scientific excellence, developed through equitable long-term research collaborations, will serve students, the economy, and policy alike. At this particular time, when European discourse about Africa is increasingly dominated again by migration and crisis, it is more critical than ever to show how Europeans and Africans can only progress by addressing our common challenges together, in real partnership; and this is what all three Clusters do”.

Ernest Aryeetey (ARUA) noted at the launch that “These three additional clusters are a good indication of the ambition of CoRE to present a more diversified portfolio of academic disciplines. They bring in more of the social sciences and humanities and provide an opportunity for greater interdisciplinarity in the work of our institutions. They reflect an essential departure from the status quo at many institutions and a readiness to be more creative and innovative. CoRE provides African and European universities a new opportunity to confront the challenges of our time differently and more purposefully”.