|Using Research Uptake as a Strategic Tool to raise KNUST’s developmental university profile|
|Friday, 10 July 2015 11:42|
Public universities’ responsibility to contribute to social and economic development nationally and regionally in Sub-Saharan Africa is as much a crucial task for survival as it is for the economy to stay competitive and grow in order to ensure the welfare of society. This essential objective has impacted on strategies adopted by public universities towards meeting their national mandate. The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) is no exception.
In this opinion piece Courage Julius Logah considers the ways in which Research Uptake can be used by universities as a function to heighten their profile and their contribution to national development goals. In doing so universities may be able to use their Research Uptake activities as a way to show societal impact. It is important to achieve the aspired goals as institutions of higher learning/education and scientific research and to achieve the respective dynamic missions and visions in fulfilment of their national mandate. [(Stephan, 1996); (UNCTAD-Ghana, 2011)].
In recent times KNUST, through the Development Research Uptake in Sub-Saharan Africa (DRUSSA) project, has been supported (through for example change programme, training and the RUC Campaigns) in engaging in research uptake activities, including finding ways to disseminate developmental research to its intended users through the university website and other engagement platforms.
The Strategic Angle
Prof. Samuel Nii Odai, the Pro Vice-Chancellor of KNUST and Professor in Water Resources and Hydraulics, was kind enough to share his thoughts on this question. He was of the opinion that considering the focal thrust of the strategic mandate of the University, which is to provide higher education, undertake research, dissemination of knowledge and fostering relationships with outside persons and organisations, Research Uptake could have a strategic function.
Beyond initiatives taken up through the DRUSSA programme, the University has a number of other Research Uptake initiatives and an on-going institutional commitment to impact the communities and the nation with its knowledge through its Community Impact Programme (CIP) and continuing online through the DRUSSA page on the KNUST website and radio research information dissemination efforts.
For the audience, Prof. Nii Odai explained, in a context where superstition and tradition is held superior to research evidence, these Research Uptake initiatives go a long way towards creating some enlightenment and changing of mind-sets leading to better livelihoods and better support for the right national developmental policies.
The mentoring of young researchers in the University, he added, would need to focus more on the importance of research and its impact on social and economic development as opposed to being undertaken largely for the purpose of getting publications for career progression.
With all these initiatives in the University Research Uptake will thrive. Strategically as an institution, this contributes towards fulfilling part of its mandate to disseminate knowledge and foster relationships with outside persons and bodies.
Successfully using Research Uptake capacity strategically would help the University demonstrate its role and capabilities as a research-active institution and impact positively on the national developmental agenda as well as the University’s profile. This in turn could support future grant applications for research.
1. (Stephan, 1996) Stephan, Paula E. The Economics of Science Journal of Economic Literature Vol. 34, No. 3 (Sep., 1996), pp. 1199-1235
2. http://www.knust.edu.gh/about/knust/mandate: The Strategic Mandate of the University [Accessed 29/06/2015]
3. (UNCTAD-Ghana, 2011) United Nations Conference on Trade and Innovation Policy Review, Ghana. United Nations, New York and Geneva 2011.
Courage Julius Logah is the Systems Analyst/ DRUSSA bursary holder and M Phil candidate in Science and Technology Studies, based in the Vice-Chancellor’s Office at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)