This project on “Curriculum Development at African Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)” builds on scientific collaborations established and maintained within the DFG Special Priority Program “Adaptation and Creativity in Africa. Technologies and Significations in the Making of Order and Disorder” (SPP 1448) since 2010. We work on the transfer of knowledge generated by the SPP, focusing in particular on knowledge about the social and cultural dimensions of science and technology developed and/or deployed in African contexts. We believe that this knowledge is needed not only in the field of the humanities and the social sciences but also in the field of engineering and medicine. Our practical task is to develop a syllabus for a course that draws from the Science and Technology Studies (STS) but is fully adapted to the needs of particular curricula at the five partner universities in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Chad, Uganda, and South Africa.

We start from the observation that university capacity building constitutes a travelling technology. The concept of travelling technologies has been intensively studied by various projects of the SPP. Drawing on this empirical research, we stress the creativity that emerges from the translation of a circulating model—in this case models for scientific capacity building—into a localized context. In doing so the project introduces a reflexive understanding of the production, institutionalization, and transformation of higher education at African HEIs. This reflexive understanding will be systematically elaborated and used in the development of the syllabus. Following our concept of translation, we develop the syllabus in close collaboration with our application partners at the collaborating universities. Together we have the ambition to make the challenge of teaching social studies of science and technology at African universities an innovative contribution not only to curriculum development but also to STS beyond the African continent.

The project does not only aim to adapt existing syllabi of STS courses to the contexts of the five African partner universities. The project intends to go beyond this already challenging step and learn systematically from lay practices, citizen science and politics in relation to acute problems like pandemics, rapid urbanization, unreliable infrastructures, resource extraction, changing statehood. In doing so the project addresses the crucial question how students can learn (from) STS in contexts, that are strongly affected by everyday experiences of tensions between the requirements of specific methods (e.g. participation) and local challenges to those requirements. One of the specific outcomes will be the development and maintenance of a stand-alone e-learning tool that can also be adapted and integrated into existing curricula in the natural sciences, medicine, and engineering.


Collaborating Academic institutions, Principal Investigators and Project Members:

Prof. Dr. Richard Rottenburg (Martin-Luther University Halle)
Dr. Sung-Joon Park (Martin-Luther University Halle)
Dr. René Umlauf (Martin-Luther University Halle)
Prof. Dr Keith Breckenridge, Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research at University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (WISER, South Africa)
Dr. Remadji Hoinathy Centre for Research in Anthropology and Human Sciences, N’Djamena (CRASH, Chad)
Prof. Debey Sayndee, Kofi Annan Institute for Conflict Transformation at University of Liberia (Liberia, Monrovia)
Dr. Herbert Muyinda, Child Health and Development Centre at Makerere University, Kampala (CHDC, Uganda)
Dr. Sylvanus Spencer, Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone (Freetown, Sierra Leone)

The project is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) 2017-2019.