The African Universities’ Research Approaches programme (AURA), funded by UK Aid and led by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in partnership with the Information Training and Outreach Centre for Africa (ITOCA) and Dr Mark Hepworth at the Centre for Information Management (CIM), Loughborough University, will work with up to nine universities in Sub-Saharan Africa to enrich the research and teaching practices of academics working in health, agriculture and the environment.
AURA’s overarching aim is to address the continent-wide goals of supporting universities to transform Africa through investments in people-centred innovations that will bring about economic prosperity and democratic and responsive governance.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to work with African partners to develop an approach whereby academics’ capacity to undertake research is strengthened and at the same time students are enabled to become more effective critical thinkers, independent learners and future researchers,” explained Mark.
“This is something both universities and employers aspire to. In Africa, the challenge is particularly demanding due to pressures relating to infrastructure and staffing. We want to collaboratively develop a strategy that can meet these challenges and can be applied elsewhere. My aspiration is to see these universities take a lead, globally, both in cutting-edge research and their ability to engage students in independent learning and develop research capacity.”
Mark has spent the last 15 years researching people’s ability to use and handle information, and his research with the IDS directly contributed to the AURA programme. In particular, this included research with the University of Botswana, Mzuzu University in Malawi and the University of Zambia on academic staffs’ aspirations and the challenges associated with fostering critical thinking independent learners.
The AURA programme is an exciting opportunity for CIM and Loughborough University as a whole to work with international partners, share knowledge and expertise and contribute to a sustainable future.