Building Sustainable Futures in Africa: Using Capacity-Strengthening Activities to Design and Pilot Methods for Cross-Disciplinary Research

This project designed and piloted a range of activities that: (1) addressed the need for innovative methodologies that cut across the natural and social sciences, arts and humanities; (2) translated existing ODA-focused projects into opportunities for new networks of trust and commitment, and new lines of inquiry; (3) shaped new opportunities for impact that address locally-articulated socio-ecological problems and challenges; and (4) underpinning all of this, generated research that critically acknowledges and works with all manner of academic, political, economic, and cultural distinctions between the ‘global north’ and the ‘global south’.

PI and Co-Is - International Collaborators

The PI from Glasgow is Prof. Deborah Dixon (University of Glasgow, Geographical and Earth Sciences).

Other Co-Is are Dr. Daniel Koehn (Geographical and Earth Sciences); Dr. Neil Burnside (Engineering); Dr. Brian Barrett (Geographical and Earth Sciences); Prof. Adrian Boyce (SUERC). 

There are a number of other external and internal collaborators. In addition to the core members noted above, Glasgow collaborators include: John Briggs, Joanne Sharp and Emma Laurie, Human Geography; Susan Waldron, critical zone management; Jaime Toney, environmental geochemistry; Marian Scott, environmental statistics; Richard Williams, geomatics; Margaret Smith, fine arts; Ian Watson, engineering. Collaborators in Botswana: MmaB Modise and Rebecca Lekoko, education, University of Botswana; Olekai Thakadu, environmental communication, University of Botswana. Collaborators in Malawi: Boyson Moyo, soil science, Bunda College of Agriculture; Deepa Pullanikkatil, environmental management consultant, LEAD and ABUNDANCE; Elson Kambalu, artist and community leader. Collaborators in Ethiopia: Dr Elias Lewi, tectonics and geothermals, Addis Ababa University; Mauricio Fernandes, Planet Earth Institute; Collaborators in Uganda: Kevin Aanyu and Andreas Schuman, geology and petroleum studies, Makerere University; Twine Bananuka and Joseph Watuleke, education, Makerere University.

Start and End date

Started in 2016; this particular funded project was completed in 2017, but has fed into a number of subsequent projects under the umbrella of the Sustainable Futures in Africa Network.

Funder and Funding amount

Scottish Funding Council, £36,000

Related Publications

Perry, M. (2020) Unpacking the imaginary in literacies of globality. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 41(4), pp. 574-586. (doi: 10.1080/01596306.2018.1515064)

Modise, O. M., Lekoko, R. N., Thakadu, O. T., & Mpotokwane, M. A. (2018) Toward Sustainable Conservation and Management of Human-wildlife Interactions in the Mmadinare Region of Botswana: Villagers’ Perceptions on Challenges and Prospects. Human–Wildlife Interactions, 12(2). (

Koehn, D., Steiner, A., & Aanyu, K. (2019) Modelling of extension and dyking-induced collapse faults and fissures in rifts. Journal of Structural Geology, 118, 21-31. (doi:

Nicholson, P. J., Dixon, D., Pullanikkatil, D., Moyo, B., Long, H., & Barrett, B. (2019) Malawi Stories: mapping an art-science collaborative process. Journal of Maps, 15(3), 39-47. (doi: 10.1080/17445647.2019.1582440)

Project News

The Network’s current infrastructure includes a website ( and social media platforms; a growing base of research, funding to support knowledge sharing and capacity strengthening (ESRC, EPSRC & SFC); and a core group of scholars, practitioners, and support staff who are providing the leadership and administration of this initiative.

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