The research grant will pair each of the 15 cohorts with a senior researcher who will act as mentors
The Makerere University College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS) has won a research grant worth sh2.8b to sponsor 15 early career research scholars in the arts, humanities and social science disciplines.
The financial grant is from the Andrew Mellon Foundation to fund a cohort of 15 scholars, whose PhDs are not older than 10 years, to pursue cutting edge innovative research that will enable them establish themselves as leading scholars in their respective disciplines.
The grant was offered under the Early Career Scholar's Program (ECSP) in the College. The program seeks to build research capacity and nurture academic leadership in the institution.
Speaking at a ceremony organised to unveil the program, on Thursday, Dr Edgar Nabutanyi, revealed that each of the 15 beneficiaries will get sh73, 000,000 for the research.
This will cover baseline study, data collection, analysis, report writing, computing costs and field work.
He said there will also be US$700,000 (about sh2.5b) to cater for their accommodation at one of the international centres of excellence for research. The scholars will be allowed four months to stay at the overseas academic centres of their choice.
Sh374m (US$100,000) has also been given to cater for the costs of buying scholarly materials and attending atleast one international conference relevant to their field of research.
Nabutanyi said that the successful research scholar's travel will also be catered for by the foundation.
The research grant, which will be offered after every two years, will pair each of the 15 cohorts with a senior researcher who will act as mentors. This year's cohorts are expected to start their research in October 2018 and end in October 2020.
He explained that this program will help the staff acquire skills for developing innovative projects of their own choice, increase innovative thinking, nurture emerging leaders and create an intellectual community of Arts, Humanities and Social Science scholars.
"It is important for us to take this program seriously and produce cutting edge research," he told fellow academics gathered at the faculty of Arts lecture room one for the unveiling ceremony.
Associate Professor, Josephine Ahikire, the deputy Principal CHUSS noted that the grant opportunity comes at a time when they have been looking for a solution to through the barriers that have been standing in the way of research at the college.
"We are excited about the program. We have always made a case about early career scholar's program because we don't seem to make a breakthrough as scholars," she said.
She said that for long their researches have always been a response to particular calls due to lack of funding.
She noted grant comes in as a solution to the financial incapacity that has always rendered them unable to do research that is grounded within their interests.
The Director of Research and Graduate Training at the University, Prof. Makandasi Buyinza, noted that with this grant and many more that have been awarded to the college, the myth that research is a thing for scientists has been broken.
He said the program will build the college's research capacity and nurture a robust academic community with new generation skills.
He said that on top of the university enjoying dividends that come with such programs, the grant will also give it visibility and an international gesture.
"Internationalization is an important pillar of this university and for some time we had not really built a formidable team to carry the flag and now it's coming through ECSP. These scholars will become independent critical thinkers that will form networks and attract more funding. I see a future in all these engagements," Buyinza said.
However, he noted that for the college to be able to build a robust and vibrant research team, they need to change their attitudes and trust in the institution.
The Andrew Mellon Foundation is a private foundation with five core areas of interest including Higher Education, Museums and art conservation, Performing arts and Conservation and the environment.
The foundation is endowed with wealth accumulated by Andrew W. Mellon of the Mellon family of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is the product of the 1969 merger of the Avalon Foundation and the Old Dominion Foundation.
Prof. Edward Kirumira, the Principal CHUSS, said this is the first time the foundation is in Uganda but it has been funding researches in South African Universities such as Stellenbosch.
He said the program will also support the purchase of equipment at the college and also support supra national projects that will link MAK to other top universities in Africa.