Capacity Building in Social Science Education and Research

This project, funded by the British Council’s England-Africa Partnerships in Higher Education, seeks to build the capacity of two higher education institutions in Africa: Ashesi University College in Ghana and the National University of Rwanda (NUR). The project aims to build the capacity of faculty in these institutions to conduct professional social science research.

The project also seeks to build Ashesi’s faculty’s capacity to teach, and continue to evolve an innovative curriculum tailored to their Ghanaian context. In addition IDS will assist Ashesi to map out strategies to sustain the institution’s capacity to support faculty research and training.

The specific objective of the project is to build the capacity of Ashesi and NUR faculty to: publish in academic peer reviewed publications, effectively solicit and manage research funding and to prepare and provide world class teaching.

Furthermore, this project will open up new opportunities for the development of longer-term professional research networking between Ashesi, NUR and IDS faculty, and thus pave the way for future collaborative work between the three institutions.


The purpose of the project is to both communicate and facilitate the embedding of some of IDS’s key learnings in the areas of: research methods; graduate teaching and financial and information management. The project is divided into two components: the organization of a series of intensive Research Methods workshops and a series of faculty exchanges.

Research Methods workshops:

  • Six faculty from Ashesi and NUR attended a week of Research Methods workshops at IDS (June 2007)
  • IDS faculty will work with local colleagues to deliver a series of Research Methods workshops at Ashesi and NUR (March and May 2008)

Faculty exchanges:

  • Faculty exchange: two Ashesi faculty visited IDS for a week to evaluate IDS teaching methods (November 2007)
  • Faculty exchange: two senior IDS administrators, one managing the Electronic-library resources (BLDS) and one currently in charge of financial management, visited Ashesi to support its leadership in developing a ‘roadmap’ for continuous faculty development (November 2007)


1. Research Capacity Participation in IDS’s Research Workshop will expose Ashesi and NUR faculty to ‘cutting edge’ social science research methods. They will provide the beginnings of a cadre of advanced methods instructors, who will eventually serve as conduits for institutionalizing the changes brought about by the project. It is intended that following the end of this project funding period participating institutions will be able to autonomously organize follow-on research methods training, using materials produced and personnel trained in the course of the project.

2. Improved Teaching Classes in traditional Ghanaian Universities often have hundreds of students who are lectured using rote learning. By limiting class size to 50 students, Ashesi aims for more participatory and interactive classes. Lecturers unfamiliar with this teaching format often struggle to use student interaction effectively. The opportunity for Ashesi instructors to work with peers at IDS and experience how seminar classes are taught in the UK will help improve instruction.

3. Improved Curriculum IDS’s graduate programmes in development studies are widely regarded as being amongst the best in the world. Through this project Ashesi faculty will experience education at IDS and work with IDS faculty to develop courses suited for Ghana. We envision several new courses tackling issues specific to developing economies resulting from this collaboration.

4. Institutional Support for Faculty Development Working with senior financial and information managers from IDS, Ashesi’s leadership will explore ways to structure a roadmap to support ongoing faculty development. This will result in a roadmap for building a sustainable faculty development programme which will ensure that support for faculty training and research.

Key contacts

Project details

start date
22 December 2008
end date
30 June 2008


Supported by
British Council

About this project