The previous selected thematic areas Agricultural Value Chains, Agro-Ecology, and Aquaculture, are all important areas in the further development of the agricultural sector in Tanzania in terms of value creation, enhanced livelihoods of rural communities, and environmental protection – while at the same time matching global trends in research and education.
To ensure consolidation and sustainability of the results already achieved in BSUII, BSUIII will maintain its focus on specific topics within these three selected thematic areas and continue to prioritize an equal gender balance in student intake and researcher involvement. The ambition is to consolidate the educational programs on PhD and Master level that have been established in the previous phase and to implement concerted research and outreach activities that involve PhD candidates and younger researchers in their early career stages.
In addition, BSUIII will continue to support the improvement of services and facilities that support research, notably
- The improvement of administrative systems for monitoring the allocation, use and accounting of funds for research activities, and
- The upgrading of laboratory and experimental facilities that are attached to the thematic areas.
The basic premise of the partnership’s ‘theory of change’ is that this package of activities – consolidation of PhD programs and generic courses, collaborative pilot research integrated with new outreach and training practices, and improvements of crosscutting administrative procedures and experimental facilities – will lead to higher quality of academic training of PhD candidates and junior staff, and a stronger societal embeddedness of research. Incorporating outreach and training in research practices as planned will open new and hitherto unexplored avenues for a combined progression of all three components. Research activities will be conceptualized, designed, implemented and disseminated in innovative ways that will assist SUA to gain international reputation as one of the highest-ranked agricultural universities on the African continent.
The contribution of the partnership under BSUIII to capacity enhancement of SUA is obviously partial in the sense that efforts are focused within the three thematic areas. Nevertheless, what may have a relatively limited impact on the general university level in the short to medium term will be counterbalanced by scope and depth at the three thematic area levels, and lessons of a detailed nature are easier to adapt and adopt by other scientific disciplines. Thus, the three thematic areas will serve as a breeding ground for best practices in PhD training, research capacity building and outreach. Efforts will be made to ensure that experience from the three thematic areas and the endeavors to explore synergies between them will be adopted across the university.
The purpose of maintaining the three thematic areas and to align them at outcome and output level (see section 3) is to enable a rigorous accumulation of experiences and systematic exchange of knowledge between them. This will increase the effect of the partnership while at the same time create a better basis for future cross- and multi-disciplinary research and outreach projects. It is necessary to adopt these multi-disciplinary approaches in addressing many of the complex challenges that society is facing. This will require new ways of organizing and implementing research as well as interaction with external stakeholders. These new forms of collaboration will also provide a changed institutional framework for delivering courses and supervising postgraduate students so as to renew and strengthen the linkage between teaching and research.
In more concrete terms, the new strategic direction of BSUIII is to consolidate the BSU II efforts through the following actions:
- Upgrade research administration procedures (primarily financial management systems), laboratory and experimental facilities that are required to implement state-of-the-art research within particular and carefully selected fields of the thematic areas. Newly installed systems (e.g. the document management system) will be made operational and possible bottlenecks or malfunctioning parts will be identified and amended. Based on an assessment of their conditions, relevant laboratories will be refurbished and local staff will be imparted with relevant skills. In order to upgrade service facilities, allocations will support acquisition of selected hardware and training of human resources so that local staff is able to adapt and use new equipment and facilities.
- Activate the research based teaching developed within the frameworks of the three postgraduate programs developed with support from BSUII including application of improved delivery methods. In addition, high interest on the eight generic courses developed and tested during BSU II indicates the need to incorporate the courses into other SUA curricula for ensuring sustainability. Strengthening of pedagogical aspects of the courses is envisaged to take place via more emphasis on training in supervision, publishing and teaching for PhD students, for instance by interacting with SUA’s University Teaching and Learning Improvement Program (UTLIP). In order to kick-start and popularize the research-based teaching, allocations will be used to continually develop both specialized and generic PhD courses and to mainstream the latter into SUA post-graduate curricula.
- Develop the research capacity of SUA staff with special emphasis on junior scientists and their competence to undertake research and outreach. This will be carried out through the inauguration and strengthening of six relatively small research teams including the six SUA staff members that are selected for the PhD studies, other junior staff members and more experienced North and South researchers. The research teams will implement innovative and strategically selected pilot projects that integrate research practices and dialogue with external stakeholders. Since the formation of more comprehensive research groups is at different stages in the various SUA departments, the smaller and focused BSUIII research teams are envisaged to constitute an important learning component for the future organization of research at SUA. Particular attention will be paid to a possible alignment of research topics within the research teams with the existing DANIDA programs in Tanzania, e.g. the activities of the Agricultural Market Development Trust. In order to build the research teams – thereby stimulating research group formation – allocations will be used to ensure the participation of both junior and senior researchers from SUA and the Danish University Consortium.
- Interact with external stakeholders by constructing effective communication channels to public authorities, private businesses and civil society organizations. The aim is to improve the transfer and exchange of knowledge from each of the three thematic areas that may have significant (potential or proven) social and economic impact. Furthermore, the aim is also to use the channels to identify knowledge gaps ‘in real life’ that may be translated into tangible research projects within the thematic areas, for instance by a systematic review and knowledge sharing of experiences from internship placements linked to the PhD programs.
In order to ensure effective channels for knowledge transfer and exchange, allocations will be used to identify mechanisms to strengthen existing stakeholder involvement before, under and after pilot project implementation and to construct new forums for interaction between all the involved parties.