Engaging with communities
During the year under review, AISA engaged with a number of publics and constituencies. The following snapshots are worth mentioning:
(i) Year of China in South Africa Conference
On November 11-12, 2015, AISA-HSRC partnered with the Department of Arts and Culture to host a Cultural Diplomacy conference which fell under the theme of “The Year of China in South Africa” which was pronounced by South African President Jacob Zuma and Chinese President Xi Jinping on 26 March 2013. The conference was designed to determine how both countries could promote a win-win partnership in cultural diplomacy. The event addressed questions such as “whether cultural heritage and cultural goods could be translated into economic gains, or used to foster skills transfer and development? Moreover, could there be sustainable cultural diplomacy initiatives that can promote growth and development?’’. The impact of the conference can be measured through the conceptual framework that was provided by AISA-HSRC on cultural diplomacy best practices, and the cultural diplomacy policy analysis that was provided for the Department of Arts and Culture. Moreover, there was quite a large turnout of South African and Chinese government officials at the event. Scholars from both countries inclusive of the HSRC, also presented papers. Finally, the conference also facilitated possibilities of future project participation between HSRC and the South African Department of Arts and Culture.
(ii) “One-Belt-One-Road” for a prosperous Africa
In partnership with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, China Institute of International Studies, Durban University of Technology and the Confucius Institute, AISA in the Human Sciences Research Council successfully organized a conference titled One Belt One Road and a prosperous Africa. The conference was held on the 19-20th of November 2015 at Durban University of Technology. The conference served as a built up for FOCAC meeting to be held in South Africa. Its main objective was to carve a continental wide approach on One Belt One Road Strategy that has been developed by China. The conference succeeded to bring together specialists in China development strategies. The long term intention was to consolidate specialists’ presentations into a publication that will be used to further solicit inputs from African countries and scholars on how Africa should participate in China’s One Belt One Road initiative.
(iii) Membership of APSTA
AISA has continuously sought to deepen its impact and footprint on the continent. In 2014 AISA applied and was officially accepted as a member of APSTA in 2015. APSTA is the independent premier Pan-African association with legitimate and close working relations with the AU Commission and Regional Economic Communities, as well as other regional and international partners and stakeholders. Through this membership, AISA is making measured debate and efforts towards peacekeeping capacity-building in Africa through education, teaching, training, research, and policy implementation support and advocacy on the African continent.
(iv) AISA Campus lecture Series and seminars
AISA’s campus lecture series is an annual event that seeks to share our research experiences and methodologies with university students and the public in South Africa. In 2015/2016 a total of 624 students were reached at the University of Johannesburg; Mangosuthu University; University of Fort Hare, University of Limpopo; University of the North; and University of Western Cape. Lectures were also presented at the University of Venda from 12 to 15 October 2015 and the South African National Defense Forces on 18 June 2015.
(v) MOU with the University of Colorado Boulder
In recognition of the common goals and objectives for making a contribution to the development of human and social science through effective use of research, in 2015/16, AISA concluded and signed a MoU with the University of Colorado Boulder. The objective of this Memorandum is to provide a framework within which the Parties can develop and undertake collaborative activities and projects. AISA and the University of Colorado Boulder intend to consider ways in which they can: (a) Share agendas, knowledge and ideas, and plan joint activities in areas of common interest; (b) Utilize and leverage their existing resources and facilities to mutual advantage and benefit; and, (c) Maximize impact through working in partnership. Currently, under this MoU the parties are developing a chronic violence and implementation science multi-year project proposal.