In its initial phase, the Next Generation Social Sciences model operates in six countries in Africa: Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. In phase two, the Social Science Research Council anticipates the possible expansion of this work to additional countries in Africa as well as Asia.
Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda
The Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa Program responds to a shortage of adequately credentialed and trained faculty within these countries that erodes the capacity of universities to produce new generations of local leaders, practitioners, and researchers.
With the emergence of a global knowledge economy, higher education stands as an increasingly important driver of social and economic mobility. In this context, governments have committed enormous sums of money to increase the pipeline of youth into university undergraduate programs but they have not made proportionate investments in faculty training.
With university enrollment soaring across the continent and insufficient faculty investment, universities hire faculty with only a MA degree or even a BA degree to compensate. Today fewer than 50 percent of faculty members in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda hold a PhD, a pattern seen across much of the global South.
This situation threatens the ability of university faculty to reproduce their ranks across generations or even to produce research on pressing economic, social, or political issues.
Issues Addressed by Program Activities
In fostering promising early-career faculty and encouraging the development of research communities that span university systems in Africa, the Next Generation Social Sciences Program strengthens research capacity in fragile university systems, trains the next generation of social scientists in university systems that otherwise have been depleted, and effects multi-generational and lasting change.Insufficient production of new faculty amid rapid expansion of universities
- Undergraduate student enrollment has doubled in the last decade, increasing across Africa at an average rate of 8 percent each year.
- PhD production has remained at a near constant rate or dipped in some countries over the same decade even as a significant percentage of faculty with PhDs are about to reach mandatory retirement ages, which will further deplete faculty ranks.
- Universities increasingly hire faculty members with only a master’s or bachelor’s degree, such that on average only 42 percent of faculty in Africa hold a PhD.
Early-career faculty are underfunded and overloaded, preventing progress on the doctoral degree
- Early-career faculty holding a master’s degree in these countries face an overwhelming teaching load, frequently with upwards of five hundred students per class, leaving them with little time to make progress in graduate studies.
- With few funding opportunities, faculty are unable to take time off from teaching in order to continue their research or to write up their research findings (and successfully securing research funds does not guarantee time or funding to write up research results).
- The majority of faculty thereby are caught in a vicious circle, unable to progress in their doctoral studies, which prevents them from advancing to more senior research or leadership positions in universities.
Absence of reliable research communities and networks
- Early-career faculty too often are isolated, frequently facing inadequate mentoring and a lack of peer support.
- Faculty often lack access to shared research and writing strategies, publishing opportunities, and other vital career building practices.