PASGR does it again!

Design of a Doctoral Programme in Pursuit for Academic Excellence: Another First from PASGR to Africa

In the world that is becoming, there are no trades. There are just problems to be solved, opportunities to be taken advantage of and to disrupt: to be critically evaluated, and then to be ignited by an idea that strikes the status quo like a bolt from the blue. A university education that equips graduates for this reality is crucial.

The Partnership for African Social and Governance Research (PASGR) has commenced the process of designing a new doctoral initiative with a multi- disciplinary focus on public policy as well as social science research methods. The doctoral initiative will pay special attention to the capacity deficits, gaps and erosion of quality among the current generation of early to mid-career academics, researchers whose goals are to produce high quality social science research that addresses key development problems for public policy. The purpose will be to enhance the capacity of doctoral candidates to effectively and creatively deploy rigorous mixed method research strategies not only to produce quality theses/dissertations but also to mentor young researchers and to contribute increased research output on the continent.

The need for a doctoral programme in public policy cannot be overstated. In the recent past, two scoping studies on the doctoral landscape in African higher education undertaken for PASGR in 2010 and 2016 revealed that there is no single doctoral programme that provides solid grounding in research methods and its integration in multiple social science disciplines while facilitating the development of competencies to analysing and addressing key public policy issues. The current focus has been on integration of public policy with public administration and management. Only five of such doctoral programmes are captured in the 2010 HERANA survey; an example is the PhD in Public Policy and Administration offered by the University of Cape Town. Notably, these programmes are not collaborative but offered by individual universities and therefore, the design of a new doctoral initiative will offer and embed a new knowledge as well as an evidence based approach to public policy on the continent.

PASGR is interested in working with a consortium of African universities to design this new doctoral initiative. The proposed doctoral programme will provide a remarkable and unique opportunity for expanding the breadth and depth of an existing initiative: the collaborative Master of Research and Public Policy programme (MRPP). The consortium from which this partnership built is already well-functioning, visible and widely recognized for networking higher education institutions and enhancing their capacities to deliver a high quality and relevant postgraduate programme. Underpinning the MRPP is mutual and respectful collaboration and synergies that are driving the partnership to produce the next generation of public policy leaders and researchers. In three years, 28 students have graduated while 370 are in the graduation pipeline.

The programme has sparked the interest of 15 universities from across Africa namely: The British University in Egypt, University of Pretoria, University of Botswana, University of Jos, University of Sierra Leone, University of Ibadan, University of Lagos, University of Ghana, University of Dar es Salaam, Mzumbe University, Uganda Christian University, Uganda Martyrs University, University of Nairobi, Egerton University and Maseno University.

The doctoral design workshop will be funded by Bosch Foundation.