CODESRIA Meaning-making Research Initiatives 2018


The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) was established in 1973 to promote research by African and Diaspora scholars in the Social Sciences and Humanities that can contribute to a better understanding of Africa and its place in the world. This is motivated by the belief that sound knowledge of the continent is invaluable to efforts to make Africa a better place for its peoples and societies.

In 2017 CODESRIA introduced the Meaning-making Research Initiative (MRI) as its principal tool for supporting research. Like previous tools, MRI focuses on supporting research that contributes to agendas for imagining, planning and creating African futures. MRI replaced five tools that CODESRIA had deployed in previous years to support research. These were National Working Groups (NWG), Multinational Working Groups (MWG), Comparative Research Networks (CRN), Transnational Working Groups (TWG) and postdoctoral grants. One goal of this move is to increase the legibility and visibility of the research supported by the Council by collapsing previous tools into a single initiative for supporting research.

The adoption of MRI marks a recommitment to the tasks of interpretation and explanation that saw CODESRIA produce ground-breaking work on thematic issues such as democratization and economic reform in Africa. MRI aggressively pushes scholars to build on the close observation of African social realities to grapple with the tasks of explanation and interpretation. The initiative will reinforce support for researchers. It will also better integrate these scholars into the Council’s work. Further, it will offer scholars more varied ways to present their work, including through books, journal articles and policy interventions.

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The Council offers up to USD 15,000 for initiatives of individuals and USD 35,000 for initiatives of groups.

Thematic priorities

All applications must engage with CODESRIA’s 2017-2021 thematic priorities and cross-cutting issues:

1. Democratic processes, governance, citizenship and security in Africa : Security challenges and ways of grappling with them, transitional justice, democratization, citizenship and migration, the rule of law and human rights, governance processes and mechanisms at local, national and international levels, language, the changing boundaries and configurations of states and communities

2. Ecologies, economies and societies in Africa : Land, natural resource management, climate change, demographic change, urbanization, food security and poverty in Africa and technological innovation as well as the interaction of human populations with the rest of the environment in Africa, the forms it takes, its histories and trajectories and its impact on a broad set of sectors including the continent’s burgeoning economies

3. Higher education dynamics in a changing Africa : The role of higher education in economic and political transformation in Africa, the rapid transformation in the African higher education landscape, the reform of African higher education and innovations in higher education leadership

Cross-cutting themes

Applications should indicate the ways in which some of these cross-cutting themes are integrated in their proposals: these are gender, generations, inequality, rurality and urbanity, memory and history, as well as futures and alternatives.

Individual and group initiatives

MRIs could be either individual initiatives or the project of groups of researchers. Groups may be constituted by researchers from one country or multiple countries and must have between 3 and 5 members. Groups should take into account CODESRIA’s core principles of gender, linguistic, intergenerational and disciplinary diversity. All members of a group should have a demonstrated ability to contribute meaningfully to the work of the group.

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Selection Criteria

Projects funded under this initiative should meet most of the following criteria:

  • Propose research on important aspects of African social realities that fall under CODESRIA’s priority themes as outlined in the CODESRIA Strategic Plan;
    Be guided by clear questions that explore puzzling aspects of the social realities of Africa and its position in the world while at the same time reflecting an interest in questions of diversity including the gendered one;
    Be grounded in the thorough exploration of the continent’s social realities and history;
    Engage constructively and rigorously with African futures;
    Be theoretically ambitious with a clear goal of providing new and innovative ways of understanding and making sense of African social realities;
    Explore multiple spatial, temporal and sectoral settings where this contributes to the process of meaning-making;
    Demonstrate familiarity with knowledge already produced by CODESRIA on the subject researched.

Guides for Applicants

Interested applicants for group and individual grants should submit application packages containing the following required materials as Word documents. Please note that applications that lack any of these elements will be discarded.

  • A proposal with the following clearly titled sections: an introduction; statement and contextualization of question(s) around which the project is centered; brief review of literature and/or competing hypotheses; study design and research methodology; theoretical and practical significance of the study and research plan. Proposals must be submitted as Word documents and should not exceed 10 pages long (font type: Times New Roman; font size: 12; line spacing: double).
    Budget : The budget should employ the template attached to this call and should take into consideration the fact that these grants have strict 16-month lifespans. CODESRIA will directly fund launch and completion workshops.
    Annotated plan of deliverables : One-page annotated plan of scholarly articles to be produced as deliverables of the project.
    A cover letter listing full details- names, email and physical addresses and telephone number
    CV of the scholars , including full contact details
    Identification sheet: A completed version of the identification sheet attached to this call. Please leave the document as an Excel file.
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Notification of the result of the selection process will be done by June 30, 2018 and applicants who will not hear from us by then should consider their applications unsuccessful. All applications should be sent by email to “2018 Meaning-making Research Initiatives,” CODESRIA at . When sending your email kindly use the subject line ‘ MRI 2018’ to facilitate the processing of your application.


15th April, 2018

Award Providers


Further Information

Visit the programme webpage.

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