Call for abstract

Vitalizing partnerships: moving forward to a sustainable future

Global partnerships are key for the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development. We need to move forward, and we need to strengthen and consolidate our partnerships to achieve the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals – the SDGs. The SANORD-network is one small piece in the puzzle, however, our respective partnerships should be configured in such ways that we contribute actively to the 2030 agenda.

The conference aims first and foremost to focus on strong and vital partnerships through the joint research, knowledge and concrete collaborations that has been formed through the variety of disciplines and institutions throughout the SANORD-network.

In order to move forward, we aim to organize a true inter- or transdisciplinary conference to learn from each other across regional and disciplinary distances. Interdisciplinarity is not necessarily easy, however, the SDGs, as we have learned since its inception in 2015, requires truly interdisciplinary efforts, and can only be achieved if different disciplines and sectors communicate and act together. As a research community from Southern Africa and the Nordics, we have a responsibility to bridge knowledge and expertise across disciplines, not only across geographical space.

In addition to key notes and workshops, we will encourage abstracts, posters and Pecha Kucha talks where we challenge ourselves in crossing bridges and thereby making our research findings available for a broader public.

We have identified issues that are already well established within the SANORD-network (at least most of them), and we in particular encourage contributions within:

1. Climate and climate impacts on humans

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2019 “Global risks” report, two risks are singled out as having both a high likelihood and dire consequences. These are “extreme weather events” and “failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation”. Failure to adhere to the Paris agreement and to adapt to climate change can potentially spell ruin for millions of people worldwide. This calls for cooperation between disciplines.

At the Centre for Early Sapiens Behaviour at the University of Bergen, researchers in archaeology, climate reconstruction and modelling, and the cognitive and social sciences work together to understand the origins of humanity. Here we hope to encourage similar collaboration across disciplines. A tentative list of sub-themes includes: Climate risks and impacts; Climate adaptation; Climate mitigation; Climate in education; Climate prediction; and Climate impacts on health. Many of the sub-themes are connected. For instance, the 2019 cyclones Idai and Kenneth in Mozambique were climate impacts that were poorly predicted, the infrastructure was not adapted to such cyclones, and they had devastating impacts on health.

2. Higher education: Shaping the SDG curriculum

How do we develop and include the SDGs in university courses and the curriculum as well as increase use of relevant research in our teaching and learning?

The UN 2030 Agenda represents a new global strategy. It asks for a transformation of our economy in line with social and environmental demands expressed in the Agenda’s 17 goals and sub-goals.

It is a huge task for higher education to contribute to this new development. A curriculum must be developed showing how we can achieve sustainable development for humans, nature, plants and animals alike. All subjects and fields in Higher Education as well as other levels of education need to be involved. We invite contributions that address awareness of the SDG issues in education, the UN 2030 Agenda and how to include the SDGs in Higher Education, both in how we teach students, and through our candidates, other levels of education.

3. Health: Addressing complexity in health

Universities are involved in North-South Global Health partnerships through research projects, teaching, digitalization, capacity building, programme development and practice. Partnerships at all levels (government/civil society; elected government/customary leaders) are important for ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages.

To address health and well-being, partnerships may focus on a range of settings including the health system, health education and creating a healthy environment. SDG 3, good health and well-being, interacts with various other SDGs, for example, clean water and sanitation (SDG6), life below water (SDG 14), life on land (SDG 15) – to name a few. Interdisciplinary approaches can promote understanding of connections, settings, context and other aspects of complexity in health. We encourage contributions that explore: i) the interaction of health with other SDGs; ii) how partnerships help unravel the complexities of achieving health and well-being; and iii) the significance of context and settings.

4. Innovation and entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship and innovation are significant sources for economic growth and job creation. Mobilization of responsible innovation throughout intra- and entrepreneurship is essential due to economic, environmental and social challenges. We also ask: can professions be innovative? Circular economy can provide a direction for the innovation journey to solve each of the SDGs and a new growth engine due to market dynamics and technology. Innovation and entrepreneurship are often included in the public mission for Universities, and to develop students’ entrepreneurial attitude, skills and knowledge is an important part of entrepreneurship education. The results of social innovations, new ideas that solve social goals and meet unmet needs, are omnipresent. We are in particular interested in contributions that addresses responsible innovation; how professions can be innovative; Circular economy/Green Entrepreneurship including Zero Waste; Sustainable education with eLearning and experience with labs, and Social entrepreneurship. We welcome cross- and inter-disciplinary contributions and strive to make each session relevant for researchers in other disciplines.

5. Epistemic challenges, intellectual labour and South-North partnerships

A number of recent works, including the book Epistemic freedom in Africa (2018), calls us to fundamentally re-think knowledge regimes and epistemic traditions in Southern Africa, as well as to challenge problematic colonial and postcolonial relations between the so-called South and the so-called North. In an age where Agenda 2030 compels us to re-think global politics and partnerships, such critiques are directed at challenge long-standing, hegemonic understandings of (academic and other) knowledges and global academic hierarchies. This session will critically engage and examine such calls for what we could call ‘intellectual emancipation’ or ‘epistemological liberation’ of, for instance, Southern Africa and ask: What can the nature of trans-continental research and academic partnerships be in light of such perspectives? What will such a more Africa-centric move towards an other form of the epistemic mean in terms of partnerships, i.e. shared intellectual labour, within the SANORD context? What are the ethical, political and moral dimensions important to redefine so-called South-North partnerships—both institutionally and between researchers/research communities?

6. Moving forward: Music and arts

The Global Science Opera (GSO) / Global Hands on Universe (GHOU) / Galileo Teacher Training Program (GTTP) conference and festival will be realized in Bergen in September, 2020. During that conference/festival, HVL researchers will arrange an ART/SCIENCE workshop in Bergen, in collaboration with the European Space Agency’s “EuroMoonMars” initiative. We merge forces and invite SANORD participants to take part in the workshops. The workshop themes are: Global energy, climate challenges, sustainability and the arts.