Who we are
Established in January 2020 by a generous donation from the Perivoli Foundation, PARC represents the University of Bristol’s cross-disciplinary commitment to championing transformation in research and partnership to advance Africa’s achievement of its own aspirations.
Our point of departure is a recognition of the historically-rooted inequalities in the international research ecosystem and enduring power and epistemic imbalances in much global North – Africa academic collaboration and partnerships.
These inequities have imposed limitations not only on African research institutions and actors but also, as importantly, on the relevance and use of generated knowledge for innovation and positive social and economic change. In short, the imbalances have harmed Africa’s pursuit of its own development objectives.
The need for a systemic shift through which African institutions, constituencies, interests and terms take their rightful place in knowledge production globally, and in and for the continent is PARC’s core concern.
Our mission is to help envision, model and champion a different mode of doing research with Africa that advances such a transformation. Our quest reflects the University of Bristol’s wider culture of social responsibility, alternative thinking and activism and draws on its vibrant work on tackling the challenge of decolonisation. The success of our work will be derived from how well we are able to frame a transformed approach to Africa research and partnership, and promote its wide adoption and application in practice.
What we do
In pursuit of its mission PARC seeks to act as:
A connector of people and constituencies within the University, the continent and globally who are invested in the generation and use of knowledge to accomplish Africa’s priority agendas.
A catalyst and forum for interdisciplinary inquiry, practice and learning predicated on mutual respect and inclusion.
Our work spans four focus areas:
1. Inquiry and thought-leadership on transforming research cooperation
We seek to bring together existing voices and strands of debate, foster inquiry and advance thought-leadership on the multi-layered imbalances in global-North Africa research, and on holistic approaches needed to redress them. The development of a framework to guide, and to capture and promote institutional commitment to transforming ways of doing research with the continent is a key focus of this work.
2. Capstone programmes of research and policy engagement
We seek to promote the application of, and learning on, such new cooperation modes, in a set of interdisciplinary capstone programmes of research and policy engagement that are regional in scope and focused, initially, around three substantive areas:
– care systems and economies to harness Africa’s demographic transition
– sexual and reproductive health and the rights of the continent’s young people and women
– innovations in future management of water, sanitation and hygiene
Future capstone programmes are envisaged on the issues of education and sustainable agriculture.
Across all areas we aim to bring to bear critical perspectives on migration and mobilities, cities and urbanisation, the climate emergency and poverty.
3. Mutual knowledge sharing and capacity strengthening
We seek to promote mutual knowledge sharing and capacity development to embed new modes of global-Africa research cooperation among the next generation of scholars and academic leaders. Fostering the University’s active involvement in Africa-led research capacity strengthening initiatives, such as CARTA and PASET-RSIF, and facilitating tailored exchange schemes are key foci of this work.
4. Community of interest
To inform, underpin and disseminate its work across the three other focus areas, PARC seeks to nurture a global community of interest. The community aims to engage stakeholders from the University and the city of Bristol, the continent and beyond using the PARC website as its key platform for exchange, debate and information sharing.
The Centre’s work spans three core functions.