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Addis Ababa

From January 29th to February 1st, 2024, the African Peacebuilding Network (APN) and Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa (Next Gen) program of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), in partnership with the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) of Addis Ababa University (AAU), hosted a Writing and Dissemination Workshop for the 2023 cohorts of APN Individual Research Fellows (IRF) and Next Gen Doctoral Dissertation Proposal and Research Fellows at the Ethiopian Skylight Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. APN and Next Gen Writing and Dissemination workshops provide fellows with the opportunity to meet with mentors and peers to refine their writing skills and explore avenues for publishing their work.

On Monday, January 29th, the workshop began with opening remarks from Dr. Samuel Kifle, President of Addis Ababa University. Dr. Kifle welcomed the participants to Addis Ababa and expressed optimism at the opportunities for mutual learning, while also emphasizing the need for scholars to decolonize their research and apply its relevance to impactful policymaking. Dr. Kifle’s full speech is available to read here. Dr. Fred Palm, Vice President of Administration and Operations at the SSRC, then explained the origins of the SSRC and the public policy challenges that it was founded to address. He highlighted how the APN and Next Gen fellows’ work, from analyzing data to influencing policy, is the embodiment of the SSRC’s mission. Dr. Palm’s full speech is available to read here.

Following Dr. Palm, Dr. Cyril Obi, Program Director of the APN and Next Gen, welcomed all participants and spoke to the opportunities for personal and academic growth that the coming days held. The final opening remarks were delivered by Dr. Fana Gebresenbet, Director of IPSS and chair of the workshop’s Local Organizing Committee. Dr. Gebresenbet, a two-time APN fellow, expressed excitement for the workshop’s deliberations and discussed the importance that APN and Next Gen workshops held in his development as an early-career scholar.

Prof. Kenneth Omeje then delivered the workshop’s first keynote lecture, titled “African Perspectives to Peacebuilding? Reflections on Normative Principles and Paradigmatic Imperatives in Research and Publication.” The lecture traced the history of the peacebuilding conceptualization and practice debate and its theoretical groundings, noting the emergence of an African perspective on peacebuilding. Prof. Omeje concluded with several recommendations for improving peacebuilding research through triangulation and the development of strong, well-funded peacebuilding journals based at African institutions.

In the afternoon, APN IRF fellows meet with peers and mentors in their working groups, while Next Gen Doctoral Dissertation fellows met in thematic groups, which are organized around commonalities between the mentor’s area of expertise and the subject of the fellow’s dissertation.

On Tuesday, Dr. Linda Darkwa delivered a keynote lecture titled “Decolonizing knowledge production praxis: critical pathways for governance, Peace and Security Research in Africa.” The lecture reflected on the legacy of Eurocentric research and knowledge production methods in Africa, offering a set of recommendations for decolonizing knowledge production including promoting Indigenous languages and critical reflection, reforming educational curricula, shifting the dynamics of research and academic engagement, and additional investment from African governments. Dr. Darkwa then concluded by discussing steps towards decolonization of governance, peace, and security research in Africa. For the rest of the day, fellows and mentors met in workshop groups and discussed their work, research, and plans for disseminating research findings.

Wednesday began with the continuation of workshop group discussions, followed by the commencement of one-on-one sessions, which give each fellow the opportunity to have the dedicated bilateral attention and guidance of their group’s mentors. In the afternoon, workshop participants had the opportunity to visit the African Union (AU), the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (SSRC) offices at the campus of Addis Ababa University (AAU), and the Adwa Victory Memorial Museum. In the evening, participants had dinner at the Addis Ababa Mayor’s Office complex and enjoyed traditional Ethiopian food, coffee, and cultural dances.

On Thursday, workshop participants engaged in their final one-on-one meetings, followed by a fellows and mentors panel titled “Strategies for Overcoming Hurdles to Coherent Scholarly Writing and High-Quality Publications.” The panelists were as follows: Rita Abrahamsen, Steve Akoth, Stanley Elias Kiswaga, Medina Moosa, Hakeem Onapajo, and Alice Wabule. This panel gave fellows and mentors the opportunity to discuss and debate the successes and challenges that they have encountered in the writing and dissemination of their research from the perspectives of early-career and senior academics. Following the panel, Dr. Obi and Dr. Gebresenbet closed the workshop by reflecting on the value of the discussions and progress made over the course of the week. Thursday afternoon ended with two optional visits to some local markets and the Addis Ababa Unity Park.

The APN and Next Gen program would like to thank all of the fellows, mentors, keynote lecturers, guests of honor, and the members of the local organizing committee from the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) for their participation, enthusiasm, support, and commitment to the program.