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Hola Colombia!

AbdulElmi17 August 2017

abdul-elmi_testAbdul is a fourth-year UCL medical student and President of the UCLU Somali Society

I’m sitting here writing my first ever blog thinking about where should I start. I suppose the logical place to start is the point at when this opportunity became a reality.

A few weeks ago, I was in Saudi, trying to withstand the blazing heat, feeling tired, fasting and doing all of this without Wi-Fi. I returned to my hotel room from the Great Holy Mosque of Saudi to an email notifying me that I had been selected to represent UCL at the One Young World (OYW) Summit in Bogotá, Colombia in October.

One Young World

Attending the summit has been a burning desire of mine this past year. One Young World brings together young leaders from around the world, empowering them to make lasting connections to create positive change. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and with this in mind I would like to take this opportunity to thank UCL for making this possible.

February Fundraiser

My desire to effect positive change in the world really took flight earlier this year when I became heavily involved in a range of fundraising initiatives and events to raise money for the Somali Drought Appeal. Through the February Fundraiser, a student-led initiative organised by Somali Youth for Integrity (SYFI) bringing together Somali societies from different institutions, including UCL, we managed to raise £120,000 for the Somali drought. The organisations united under a common goal, to provide aid to those suffering at the hands of the worst humanitarian crisis since World War Two.

UCLU Somali Society, in particular, organised a series of successful fundraising initiatives for the February Fundraiser. The highlight was Inspire, where we managed to raise £40,000, in collaboration with Elays Network and Bright Education Centre. After this event, I was surprised to see how many UCL students got involved with the cause.

The UCL BME (Black & Minority Ethnic) Students’ Network allowed the Somali Society to fundraise at the end of the Black Lives Matter events. As a result of this opportunity, we managed to raise an extra £2,000. This was an eye-opening experience as it allowed me to see first-hand the potential we possess as students and that if we work together we can achieve anything.

Copyright Human Appeal, which ran the provided emergency food relief to drought affected internally displaced people
The outcome

The money raised during the February Fundraiser, in collaboration with UK charity Human Appeal, provided emergency food relief to drought affected internally displaced people and host communities. It also provided clean and safe water to vulnerable households in Dolow and Luuq districts. The project will rehabilitate community owned water infrastructure to improve suitability and ownership as well as improve hygiene awareness and enhance the food security of vulnerable households.

One thing that is clear from all the amazing work done by students on campus is that more and more young people are discussing important global issues. Not only with regards to humanitarian affairs, but also political matters such as the current debacle regarding university tuition fees and the NHS.

The future

My hope is that I will return from the summit with a clear vision of how I would like to use my newly elected position, as the next President of the UCLU Somali Society as well as the Vice-President of SYFI, to start discussions regarding some of the world’s most pressing issues. I would also work to provide plenty of opportunities for individuals to make a difference.

I feel that it is of utmost importance to involve students in these discussions so they can provide a unique insight into potential solutions. I want to inspire students to do more for those in need. I would like more people to become motivated and involved. We are the generation that should solve a lot of the world’s issues so it is really important for us to work together effectively to make strides to overcome them.

Last but not least, I’ve enrolled myself onto a Spanish language course and have already started to practise my salsa dancing with ‘Despacito’ on loud. Hola Colombia, I’m ready for you!

Images © Human Appeal

UCL in Africa: strengthening collaborations

ClareBurke24 May 2017

Drummers welcome delegates at the first conference of the African Universities Research AllianceIn line with the Global Engagement Strategy (GES), UCL is intensifying its engagement in Africa. In April 2017, UCL colleagues conducted visits to Ghana and South Africa to strengthen existing partnerships and to facilitate the development of further avenues for collaboration with current and potential partners.

Africa Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) launch

The Pro-Vice-Provost (Africa and Middle East), Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu, travelled to Ghana to attend the inaugural African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) conference held at the University of Ghana.

ARUA was inaugurated in Dakar in March 2015, bringing together sixteen of the continent’s top institutions with a common vision to leverage their resources for greater impact, similar to the Russell Group in the UK. Under the theme ‘Research in Africa Rising’, the conference was attended by over 100 delegates and marked the official launch of ARUA.

The event also served as a platform to announce ARUA’s strategic objectives which will focus on increasing Africa’s contribution to global cutting edge research output, the number of PhD graduates working on the continent and increasing the number of African universities in the top 200 universities globally over a ten year period.

UCL was one of two non-African institutions invited to speak at the event, and Professor Uchegbu joined a panel to present on: “New Trends and Developments in Global Scientific Research and the Role of Universities.” She gave an overview of UCL’s multidisciplinary approach, particularly in light of the Global Challenges Research Fund as well as the importance of translational research.

In the margins of presentations Professor Uchegbu met with key colleagues at ARUA institutions to discuss strengths within their institutions and identify possible areas for future collaboration with UCL.

The synergies between the key challenges that ARUA seeks to address and the GES strategic drivers allow for potential bilateral collaboration between UCL and ARUA. Current priority areas for ARUA will focus on collaborative research, training and support for PhDs, capacity building for research management and research advocacy.

In terms of next steps, ARUA will pursue a number of large multi-institutional projects in both the natural sciences and social sciences/humanities under the thirteen themes they have identified to take forward collaborative research.

University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) visit

Led by Dame Nicola Brewer, Vice-Provost (International), a UCL delegation carried out a two-day visit of UKZN. The visit served as an opportunity to strengthen the partnership between the two institutions, and to evaluate potential channels for wider-collaboration and increased impact.

The delegation outlined UCL’s support for collaborating with UKZN beyond existing health-related collaborations, such as the African Health Research Institute (AHRI), and highlighted how AHRI’s aims and vision align to the GES. The inclusion of the Vice-Dean (External Relations and International) Population Health Sciences and the Director of UCL Institute of Advanced Studies enabled colleagues to explore academic collaborations within disciplines that were not previously discussed, such as Arts and Humanities and Laws.

During the visit both institutions agreed to hold a data sharing day, which would be hosted in London at UCL. This would enable UKZN colleagues to meet with UCL colleagues and to build on the initial discussions in South Africa. Held on 18 May, the event enabled UKZN colleagues to meet with UCL colleagues and facilitate discussions on potential collaborations and possible fundable research topics, accessible through funding such as GCRF.

Ask GEO: Clare Burke, Partnership Manager (Africa and Middle East)

JasonLewis24 May 2017

Clare_5901_SquareClare is GEO’s Partnership Manager for Africa and Middle East. She gives us an update on her work and recent visit to Ghana and South Africa.

Tell us more about your role in GEO and activity in your regions.

Since GEO was established in November 2015, I have spent time developing links with UCL colleagues who are working across Africa and the Middle East and have learned (and still continue to learn) about the type of collaborations that colleagues are engaged with. I have been amazed with the breadth of collaboration taking place across both the institution and the number of UCL Faculties and Departments who are working across these regions.

To date, I have information on almost 200 collaborations taking place on the African continent and around 45 collaborations taking place across the Middle East but I have just scratched the surface of this work and I plan to build on this data over the summer.

In terms of intensifying our engagement, UCL is exploring how we can strengthen our existing partnerships with a number of institutions including the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) , the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), and the African Health Research Institute (AHRI).

You recently returned from a visit to Africa. Could you tell us what countries you visited and how the trip went?

I recently visited Ghana and South Africa as part of a larger UCL delegation to meet with universities and to learn about their research strengths and to identify potential areas of collaboration.

In Ghana, together with the Pro-Vice-Provost (Africa and Middle East), Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu, I attended the inaugural ARUA Conference. The African Research Universities Alliance or ARUA , as it is more commonly known, comprises of 16 of the top research intensive universities from 9 countries across the African continent. Led by Professor Ernest Aryeetey, ARUA’s Secretary General, this ‘Russell-Group type’ alliance will boost higher education across the continent and encourage more Western collaborations with African universities outside South Africa.

In South Africa, the delegation led by the Vice-Provost (International) visited the University of KwaZulu-Natal to strengthen the existing partnership with the university in relation to the wider African Health Research Institute (AHRI) collaboration and to explore collaborations within other disciplines (beyond health) including Arts and Humanities and Laws.

What’re you working on at the moment?

At the moment, I am following up on post-visit actions. For example, the UCL delegation met with over 40 UKZN colleagues in South Africa so I am identifying possible areas of synergy and facilitating introductions between UCL and UKZN colleagues to see if there is scope for future collaboration.

Similarly, we held a data-sharing day with UZKN colleagues here in London to build on some of the initial conversations held in Durban so that UCL and UKZN colleagues could meet each other face to face.

I am also working with SLMS colleagues on the AHRI collaboration, while we explore if this type 2 partnership could become one of future strategic partnerships given its close alignment to a number of the Strategic Drivers of the Global Engagement Strategy (GES).

Finally, over the summer, I will continue to build on the regional data mapping exercise and will capture more information on UCL’s activities and collaborations across the region so that we can share this across the institution. If your work is not included, let me know!

How can people keep up to date with UCL’s activity in Africa and Middle East?

I regularly circulate details of upcoming regionally-focussed events and funding calls as well as our termly newsletter which includes regional highlights and success stories. Together with the Pro-Vice-Provost (Africa and Middle East), I also coordinate termly meetings which all network members are invited to. We hold region specific events each year; our successful Knowledge Africa 2017 – Africa Unheard event took place in February and the next event, UCL in the Middle East 2017: The Middle East re-mapped will take place on 5 June. Network membership has increased significantly in the last 12 months and I would encourage colleagues with an interest in the region to sign up to our mailing list.

 

Contact Clare on:

clare.burke@ucl.ac.uk
+44 (0)20 3108 7776 / internal 57776

Knowledge Africa 2017 – Africa Unheard

SophieVinter13 January 2017

This year’s Knowledge Africa Day will showcase UCL research that is informed by Africa, representing a cognisant shift in position from sharing knowledge about the continent.

The half-day Africa Unheard event on Wednesday 15 February is the second of its kind, open to staff and students from across UCL including members of the Africa & Middle East Network.

Diverse speakers will explore the ideas of African thinkers, research and research methodologies informed by African perspectives and context, and research that engages with Africa and Africans (including African Diaspora) to create knowledge about places outside of Africa and about non-Africans.

Keynote speaker will be Professor Graham Harrison, Director of Postgraduate Research, Department of Politics at the University of Sheffield, who will explore the variegated ways in which discourses and imagery of Africa are transposed through acts of mediation into the milieux of British national identity.

Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu, Pro-Vice-Provost (Africa & Middle East) said: “Africa Unheard will explore the idea that ‘Africa’ or ‘Africans’ are often framed as the subject of research and the point of enquiry, potentially silencing the multiple ways in which Africa informs research. It will help to build a platform for staff and students to listen, learn and engage with other ways of knowing Africa.”

Knowledge Africa presents…

ClareBurke22 June 2016

Guests network at the inaugural Knowledge Africa eventThe inaugural Knowledge Africa event was held at UCL on 16 June, marking the International Day of the African Child and the 40th anniversary of the Soweto Uprising.

The event, organised by Regional Pro-Vice-Provost (Africa & Middle East) Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu and the Global Engagement Office, brought together key academics from UCL working on Africa-relevant research with a view to fostering interdisciplinary work.

A series of lectures focused on healthcare, infrastructure and social questions relevant to a number of African countries. Highlights included:

  • Deenan Pillay, Director of the Africa Centre for Population Health, presenting his vision to build the world’s leading global human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and tuberculosis research centre
  • How healthcare budgets may be prioritised to achieve the best outcomes for their HIV patients, demonstrated by Jolene Skordis-Worrall of the Institute for Global Health
  • Using data from the iSense programme, presented by Rachel McKendry of the London Centre for Nanotechnology, to improve disease diagnosis in rural South African communities
  • Yacob Mulugetta of the Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP) describing innovative methods of bringing energy to households
  • Richard Taylor of the Geography department presenting work on improving rural access to water supplies
  • Governance issues being highlighted by Michael Walls of the Development Planning Unit, who outlined the electoral challenges facing Somaliland
  • Kamna Patel defining the notion of inclusive citizenship; a concept that focuses on the most disadvantaged individuals in any society
  • Hélène Neveu Kringelbach giving an insightful presentation on the use of dance as a form of protest
  • Details of funding streams available for work in the region from Carlos Huggins of UCL Consultancy.

Dr Kamna Patel looking at the poster boardsA panel discussion raised interesting questions on the role of Western institutions in setting and delivering the African research agenda.

Attendees networked during a poster session and photographic exhibition that showcased research projects across the university.

Naomi Britton, Professional and Executive Education Coordinator at UCL STEaPP, said: “I found the event really helpful and enlightening, seeing all the different activities underway in the Africa region. It’s definitely highlighted research in different departments that we could look at partnering with in STEaPP.”

Knowledge Africa: Join us to celebrate UCL’s work in the region

SophieVinter3 June 2016

Audience members pose questions to the panel at the African Voices 'Question Time' eventThe Africa & Middle East Regional Network is excited to be hosting its first “Knowledge Africa” event, to celebrate UCL’s work in the area.

Taking place on Thursday 16 June, the event will cover topics ranging from UCL’s frontline stance in the fight against HIV to connecting East African households to electricity supplies.

There will be the opportunity to find out more about different initiatives and opportunities through a series of presentations and a photo exhibition. Students are also encouraged to take part by submitting a poster illustrating their work for display on the day.

Find out more about speakers due to take part here.

Knowledge Africa was established following feedback from members of the Africa & Middle East Regional Network, which meets once a term, who wanted to find a new way to engage colleagues from across the university in the latest initiatives.

Ijeoma Uchegbu, Pro-Vice-Provost for Africa & the Middle East, said: “UCL has a great range of collaborations underway with partners across the continent and we’re really looking forward to bringing together academics and students to showcase these and celebrate their work.”

Knowledge Africa will take place from 9.00 – 13.00 in Roberts 110. Register to attend on Eventbrite here.

UCL Professor conferred Honorary Doctorate recognising partnership work

SophieVinter27 April 2016

Professor Alimuddin ZumlaUCL Professor Alimuddin Zumla has been awarded the title of Honorary Doctor of Medicine (MDhc) by Sweden’s prestigious Karolinska Institutet (KI), in recognition of his partnership work and research into infectious disease.

The professor in Infectious Diseases and International Health at UCL’s Faculty of Medical Sciences has made seminal contributions to the understanding and advancement of knowledge of the epidemiology, transmission, pathogenesis, rapid diagnosis and treatment of respiratory tract infections, particularly tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

He was distinguished by the KI Board of Research for establishing equitable research partnerships between Europe, USA, Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, as well as effectively aligning these to capacity development and training activities.

Tackling global emergencies

Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS were declared global emergencies by the World Health Organization in 1992 and Prof Zumla’s data have been used for developing new global diagnostic, prevention and treatment guidelines.

Working closely with KI researchers on numerous high impact publications, including Professor Markus Maeurer with whom he has collaborated over the past seven years, Professor Zumla co-established the Host-Directed Therapies network consortium of 64 international partners.

Its objectives include evaluating new clinical trials, developing high quality laboratory infrastructure at African partner sites and empowering a high calibre cadre of African researchers to lead future investigations.

Driving force for training

Alimuddin Zumla, Honorary Doctor of Medicine with members of the Host-Directed Therapies networkA statement on KI website reads: “Alimuddin Zumla has been awarded numerous honors, medals and prizes not only for his scientific excellence, but also for his contributions to international policy development and advancement of public health agenda on infectious diseases with epidemic potential.

“He has also been a major driving force for training of young developing country physicians, scientists and laboratory personnel.”

Each year KI confers honorary doctorates to individuals for their “vital scientific achievements or significant contributions to the university or humanity at large.”

Professor Zumla will have his doctorate formally conferred at a ceremony in the Stockholm City Hall on 13 May 2016.

UCL academics supporting developing countries to tackle corruption

SophieVinter19 February 2016

UCL academics helping developing countries to combat corruption have secured British Academy funding to support their research.

Professor Alena Ledeneva (School of Slavonic and East European Studies) and Dr Christian Schuster (Department of Political Science) are part of teams that recently secured grants from the Academy’s £4 million global anti-corruption research scheme.

Run in partnership with the Department for International Development (DFID), the scheme funds projects that will identify new initiatives that can help developing countries tackle corruption and the negative impact it has on millions of people’s lives.

Professor Ledeneva is working with academics at the Basel Institute on Governance (Switzerland) and SOAS on a project proposing to emphasise the role that informality plays in fuelling corruption and stifling anti-corruption policies in East Africa.

Drawing on a global network of scholars, Dr Schuster is co-investigator on a project researching civil service reform and anti-corruption in developing countries. The initiative will obtain tools and evidence from eight countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe, investigating the impact of civil service practices in key areas such as recruitment, dismissal and integrity management.

Their research will provide new evidence for use by DFID and its partners.

Lord Stern, President of the British Academy said: “Endemic corruption is an enormous international challenge that blights far too many countries and research such as this is one of the most worthwhile ways that the UK can offer practical support.”

School pupils give entrepreneurship a global squeeze with Citrus Saturday

KerryMilton3 July 2015

School pupils around the world will be starting their first enterprises on Saturday 4 July as part of Citrus Saturday, a UCL initiative to get young people thinking about entrepreneurship. The programme gives teams of young people aged 11 to 15 years a taste of running their own businesses through setting up and managing lemonade stands for the day.

Over 200 young people are due to take part in this year’s event, with participating countries including the UK, Ireland, France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Poland, Armenia, Swaziland, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Niger, Kenya and Tanzania.

Media are invited to attend the formal launch at the British Library where Timothy Barnes and Jack Wratten will be available for interview from 11:30am, while local and international media can also attend local stands – for a full list of where Citrus Saturday is happening please visit the website

Citrus Saturday, which is in its fifth year in the UK and second internationally, is a hands-on education programme developed by UCL to provide an introduction to entrepreneurship for young people.

Each team will run their stand as closely to that of a small business as possible, having been provided with seed funding from UCL to buy fruit and materials for the day. Any profits made are kept by the teams to reinforce the link between hard work and earning money.

Jack Wratten, Citrus Saturday Manager, said: “Our mission is to ensure that every young person in the world who wants to learn about business and experience entrepreneurship first-hand gets the opportunity to do just that.

“Citrus Saturday helps to fulfil the need for enterprise education in a fun and easy way, students directly learn skills not only valuable for entrepreneurs but for the entire workforce of tomorrow.”

Participation in the programme, which was established in 2011 by Timothy Barnes, Director of UCL Enterprise Operations, has tripled since last year and aims to engage with 1 million young people by 2020.

The programme is designed for small teams of pupils, with the Citrus Saturday Toolkit available to any organisation that works with young people. The Toolkit includes all materials needed to run workshops covering the basics of being an entrepreneur.

The teams will be supervised by volunteers from UCL and the wider community, who will provide support on the day and at introductory workshops, teaching the teams everything from business planning to food hygiene.

The stands have been generously supported by partners including The British Library, Spitalfields Market and Network Rail, with supplies provided by Booker.

Three new MA programmes in African Studies to launch

KerryMilton23 June 2015

In the 2015/2016 academic year UCL will launch three new masters programmes in African Studies, with pathways in Health, Heritage and the Environment.

It is perhaps remarkable that UCL has not pursued African Studies until now. For many years UCL has been the centre of Africanist scholarship in Anthropology and Geography and became the UK’s first venue for the study of African Historical Archaeology and Heritage in the 1990s. In terms of full-time, permanent scholars whose primary area of research lies in the African continent, a total of 37 academic staff, we are on a par with SOAS. Unlike SOAS, our expertise ranges principally across the Social and Natural Sciences.

The African Studies Masters programmes are set to take advantage of UCL’s traditional strengths in the anthropology and geography of African environments, research into regional health, epidemics and medical infrastructure, and the cultural and archaeological heritage of the continent and its management. This is NOT a typical approach to African Studies. Historically, African Studies has been deeply embedded either in the Humanities (with strong linguistic leanings) and/or in areas of political science and international policy. Its post-colonial creation as a discipline was largely shaped by the needs of the Foreign Office and Commonwealth NGOs.

We are proposing a new concept of African Studies at UCL as a fully inter-disciplinary nexus point for collaboration and information sharing across the sciences, social sciences and humanities. This approach will have utility both for international policy making and business bodies, as well as enhanced relevance for those working within African national infrastructures.

The initiative to launch African Studies at UCL was put forward by Anthony Costello, Mary Fulbrook, Jonathan Wolff, and Kevin MacDonald. The academic lead of this new programme, MacDonald, is a senior scholar in African Historical Anthropology and Archaeology, with inter-disciplinary research on ethnic ambiguity in Africa, slavery and memory in West Africa and the Diaspora, pre-colonial West African political systems, and heritage management.

The programme as a whole is coordinated by a steering committee of Africanists, drawn from across a range of disciplines: Ben Page (Geography) Sara Randall & Jerome Lewis (Anthropology), Michael Walls (DPU, Bartlett), Paul Basu (Institute of Archaeology), and Anthony Costello (Health). This summer two new Lecturers in African Studies will join UCL: Hélène Neveu Kringelbach (formerly of Oxford) and Matthew Davies (formerly of Cambridge).

Expect a range of African events next year at UCL, including major guest speakers from the continent, new seminar series, photographic exhibitions and concerts.

UCL African Studies is situated within the Centre for Multicultural and Interdisciplinary Inquiry and the Institute of Advanced Studies.