In April, more than eighty-five university leaders and researchers gathered in Kampala, Uganda to support higher education institutions across sub-Saharan Africa. The “University Research Engagement Capacity Strengthening Workshop” brought together key stakeholders from eleven countries including Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana, Somalia, and South Sudan.
IU’s Office of International Development sent Dr. Teshome Alemneh and Dr. Theresa Kang to oversee and facilitate this event. “Being able to coordinate capacity building workshops in Africa is a rewarding experience,” Kang said. “We are able to connect the world-class research and administration of Indiana University with emerging leaders throughout the continent. Workshops like this enhance both the abilities of partner universities and affirm IU’s place as an international innovator.”
This two-day event was organized through the Long-term Assistance and Services for Research: Partners for University-Led Solutions Engine (LASER PULSE) and marked an important milestone in this grant-supported initiative. The LASER PULSE program is funded by United States Agency for International Development’s Innovation’s Technology and Research (ITR) Hub and led by Purdue University in collaboration with Indiana University, University of Notre Dame, Makerere University, and Catholic Relief Services. Indiana University’s Office of International Development (OID) is responsible for funding over $4 million dollars in grants for LASER PULSE to connect IU expertise with local, evidence-based solutions to development challenges spanning all USAID technical sectors.
One of the core objectives of LASER PULSE is to strengthen the capacity of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and practitioner institutions so that they engage as equal partners in the development of research activities. This workshop in Kampala, Uganda connected university researchers and leaders in sub-Saharan Africa with tools to strengthen the capacity of these institutions and empower them to become central actors in development.
Participants focused on strengthening research and administration capacity by developing effective evidence-based best practices. With these proven methods, higher education institutions can engage in locally-led development, multiplying the impact of the USAID’s investments. Higher education is uniquely placed to lead those development initiatives with employment-oriented teaching and learning, problem-solving knowledge, and a university’s unique position as a technological innovator and community hub.
After opening remarks delivered by Ms. Pallavi Gupta, the program director of LASER PULSE, participants attended a series of focused panels and group discussions that covered topics like project implementation (Betty Bugusu), finance management (Stella Kakeeto), grant writing (Anne Nangulu), and the Transformative Leadership Challenge Model (Roy W. Mayega). In his closing remarks, Hon. Dr. John Chrysestom Muyingo, State Minister for Higher Education in Uganda, reaffirmed LASER PULSE’s mission, saying, “Research is a cornerstone to the development of a nation.”
Participants left this workshop with a clearer sense of how they can foster collaboration, strengthen innovation ecosystems, and promote expert-facilitated peer-to-peer learning at their own institutions.
The Office of International Development works in collaboration with higher-education institutions, government entities, and nongovernmental organizations all over the world through primarily grant funded initiatives. To learn more about their current projects, visit the institutional development page of our website.