The School of Social Sciences in the College of Humanities has concluded a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London.
Under the guidance of Acting Dean, Professor Vivian Ojong, the Academic Leader of Research in the School Professor Maheshvari Naidu began discussions with the Director of the International Unit and the Manager of Global Engagement from SOAS.
‘The discussions began in the latter part of 2019 and culminated in a meeting with colleagues from SOAS,’ said Naidu. ‘From the outset of my initial contact, they had indicated interest and were extremely keen to meet in person to discuss the terms of engagement.’ Naidu was in turn hosted by SOAS in November 2019 where she met with the Director of the Unit and other staff who shared their research backgrounds and discussed the context of the collaboration and the terms of engagement.
Just before Lockdown, the MOU was finalised after going through the various structures and legal departments of both universities.
SOAS is one of the world’s leading institutions for the study of Asia and Africa. ‘We chose to partner with SOAS for, not only what it could offer us, but what we can offer SOAS; this is a strategic partnership that makes intellectual sense,’ said Naidu. ‘In turn, SOAS is excited by the expertise we can offer them and the networking and rich ethnographic and situational African research and researchers that they can connect with, through our school and staff.’
Ojong commented that ‘it is important to partner with institutions on an equal footing in the interests of intellectual mutuality and this was a wonderful opportunity for staff and students in the School. Post COVID-19, we are looking at staff mobility, especially for our early career staff,’ she said.
The School of Social Sciences is currently planning the first joint activity in the form of an online virtual international symposium in late November 2020 that will bring together experts from both institutions to discuss shared interdisciplinary research themes. We are working with a wonderful team from SOAS to plan the event said Naidu.
The symposium will provide a platform to share ideas and identify further research collaborations. SOAS and School of Social Sciences will curate a number of panels and there will be keynote addresses from experts in the field.