International Development > African Studies
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The city of Bristol, UK, set out to pursue a just transition to climate change in 2020. This paper explores what happened next. We set out to study how just transition is unfolding politically on the ground, focusing on procedural justice. Over the course of a year, we conducted interviews and observations to study decision making at three levels – public sector, private sector and civil society. We found that not only is it difficult to define what just transition means, even for experts, but that the process of deciding how to pursue such a transition is highly exclusionary, especially to women and ethnic minorities. We therefore argue there is an urgency to revise decision-making procedures and ensure that there is ample opportunity to feed into decision-making processes by those who are typically excluded. Inclusive decision making must be embedded into the process of just transition from the beginning and throughout its implementation – it is not a step that can be ‘ticked off’ and then abandoned, but rather an ongoing process that must be consistently returned to. Finally, we conclude that cities have the unique opportunity to pilot bottom-up participatory approaches and to feed into the process of how a just transition might be pursued at the global level – for example, through their participation in the United Nations Framework for the Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) processes.
The legacies of eugenics in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and their connections to global colonialism remain uncharted. Therefore, it is worth pondering over this relationship, which requires a historical perspective and a repositioning of the recent postcolonial ‘turn’ in CEE to include the history of eugenics. For the most part of the 20th century, eugenics took shape within both colonial and nation-building projects. Eugenic strategies devised to preserve the colonial system outside Europe have always coexisted with programmes designed to improve the well-being of nations within Europe. This convergence between colonial, racial and national dimensions of eugenics requires a critical rethought. While this key line of inquiry has been a major focus in Western Europe and the US, it remains under-theorised in CEE. By highlighting the colonial implications of nation-building in the region, we attempt to destabilise the all-too-pervasive historiographic misconception that CEE nations are largely untouched by the global circulation of eugenics and scientific racism.
Conventional approaches to vocational education and training (VET) globally are inadequate to meet either present or future needs. They are based on assumptions about VET being inferior to academic education and that only those who cannot get into academic education would pursue vocational learning. They assume that formal vocational learning is the only or main form of vocational learning and that formal VET graduates will transition into formal sector jobs concentrated largely around metals, motors and manufacturing. None of this is true. In Africa, most people are working and learning in informal settings. Many have a powerful vocational impulse. Even many of the poorest are using digital technologies for their learning. Moreover, a focus on skills to produce more is pushing us further and further beyond the boundaries for the safe operating of this planet. In response, this book focuses on social skills ecosystems in which a range of actors come together to negotiate skills needs, including in informal and rural settings and in the production of skills for the maintenance and replenishing of the natural resource nexus. This focus highlights the complexity of interactions in local and horizontal relationships between actor-citizens in a place and the often top-down and disabling actions of states trying to do development to subject-recipients.
This chapter continues the broadening of the social ecosystem approach by looking at the experiences of young people as they seek to move through life, work and learning towards better imagined futures. This is approached through examining the literature on transitioning from learning to working. It is important to note at the outset that this account of transitioning is different from the just transitioning one introduced earlier in this book. However, it is important to locate the transitioning individual within a wider just transitions framework if we are to break out of the current productivist assumptions of the dominant literature and practice.
In spring 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, research projects funded by the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) were subjected to budget cuts. The cuts were the result of UK government’s decision to reduce its Official Development Assistance (ODA), which had devastating effects for humanitarian, development and research work. This article draws on focus group discussions with project teams working on three large GCRF-funded projects to explore the effects of these cuts. The article documents how the cuts curtailed project aspirations and impact, had a negative toll on the mental health of researchers, and imperilled the trusting relationships upon which international research collaborations are built. The article argues that the cuts expose the shallow commitments to research ethics and equitable partnerships of powerful actors in the UK research ecosystem, including research councils and government. In ‘doing harm’ via these cuts, the article explores the failure of research governance structures and the continued coloniality underpinning the UK’s approach to researching ‘global challenges’.
Summarizing the arguments of the book, this chapter reviews the effort to expand the social ecosystems for skills model. It considers some limitations to this approach. It then considers implications for vocational education and training (VET) policy and practice. Finally, it points to a new language for thinking about VET policy and practice.
This chapter introduces the main themes of the book. It justifies a concern with how the current policy and practice orthodoxy is not working despite the efforts of educators and learners. It is driven by a realization that the futures for which vocational education and training (VET) is intended to prepare people are ever more precarious at the individual, societal and planetary levels. And it is motivated by a sense that while better futures are possible, VET is poorly positioned to respond to the new skilling needs these will require. It introduces four cases from two Anglophone countries, Uganda and South Africa.
The book provides an immanent critique of the current state of VET and what underpins it being this way, and a vision of what a future, better VET might look like based on emerging visions of a better world and the first stirrings of new VET practices that are aligned with this vision. Thus, the book is intended to be part of an opening up of a new phase of VET research.
This chapter focuses particularly on the mediating role of the university, in close connection with vocational institutions and informal community actors, in developing an inclusive approach to vocational education and training (VET) through an expanded social ecosystem for skills model. It draws upon lessons learnt from the Alice and Gulu cases on community-based approaches to establishing an expanded skills ecosystem approach to VET in Africa. The main question guiding this chapter relates to the possible mediating role of the university to enhance a regional expanded ecosystem for supporting quality vocational education that is also relevant to its context, including emergent possibilities to build skills and livelihoods linked to just transitions.
Eighty per cent of Africans work in the informal economy. This chapter considers the highly informal, unregulated and often marginalized contexts that form the majority experience of living, working and learning. Situating the praxis of horizontal learning within these very normal contexts of informality demands renewed analysis into the questions of how horizontal learning is facilitated, by whom, with what resources, and why. This is explored through two empirical case studies offering distinct lenses on to the informal sector. In Gulu, the current dynamics of learning and inclusion among informal traders at a local market and in a set of food and clothing initiatives are considered. In Alice, the reflection is on an intentional effort on behalf of established, formal institutions to explore new approaches to teaching and learning through support of expansive informal learning in the context of food growing.
Following the 2008 global financial crisis, Digital Fabrication Laboratories (Fab Labs) have become a common feature of the urban landscape in cities throughout Europe. An emerging body of literature suggests that Fab Labs go beyond providing access to digital fabrication tools, and function as ‘third places’ as they enhance social connectedness. Drawing on a case study of a Fab Lab in the English city of Coventry, this article utilises the concept of ‘austerity urbanism’ to understand the changing nature of third places in England since the 2008 global financial crash. In doing so, we argue that a confluence of austerity urbanism and digital advancements has influenced both the emergence of new third places (such as Fab Labs) while simultaneously undermining long-established third places (such as libraries). As a result, vital aspects of social infrastructure are being shaped and reshaped in the contemporary era. The article reflects on what these changes mean for individual and community well-being.