Australia’s relationship with Africa will be boosted by the launch of an Africa Research Cluster at The University of Western Australia next week.
The inter-disciplinary research group brings together UWA expertise on a range of issues relevant to Africa including climate change, development, governance and law, natural resources, heritage, migration and agriculture.
The research group will be coordinated by Dr David Mickler, from UWA’s Political Science and International Relations program. Dr Mickler’s research focuses on Australia’s engagement with the diverse and resources-rich continent.
He said UWA’s location in Perth, facing west towards Africa as Australia’s Indian Ocean capital and hub of Australia’s mining industry, made it well placed to develop a strong research focus on Africa.
“Africa-related research in Australia is an emerging field, reflecting a growing and diverse African diaspora here, a deepening of diplomatic and commercial relations and a recognition of Africa’s rising influence in world affairs,” Dr Mickler said.
“With a combined population of more than one billion, a quarter of the world’s states, a natural resources boom and rapid economic growth in many countries, Africa is attracting global attention. Coupled with Africa’s important governance, development and security challenges, there is an imperative to collaborate with African and other researchers to study the continent’s social, political, economic and scientific dynamics and investigate a range of responses and relationships.”
UWA’s Energy and Minerals Institute is supporting the work of the research cluster. Director Mark Stickells said UWA had a long history of supporting African studies with centres such the Australian Centre for Geomechanics and the Centre for Exploration Targeting providing education and research programs during the past decade.
“More recently, UWA centres such as the International Mining for Development Centre and the Centre for Social Impact have turned their efforts to understanding and supporting economic development in Africa through the mining sector,” Mr Stickells said.
The new research cluster will be launched on international “Africa Day” next Monday 25 May, with a free public lecture: “Understanding structural vulnerability to climate change in Africa” by UWA Centenary Professor in Rural Development Petra Tschakert.
For more information and to register to attend the launch, visit Eventbrite.
Photo: Professor Petra Tschakert with miners of Subin, Ghana, as part of an interdisciplinary research grant on gold mining and Buruli ulcer, an environmentally-induced disease, funded by the National Science Foundation.