Breaking silos in poverty-related research focused on Sub-Saharan Africa

On the second day of #SocialJusticeWeek at ISS, Professor Wil Hout shares his latest project, ‘Eradicating Poverty: Pathways towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (ADAPTED).

Four new and exciting research projects have kicked off within our Global Development & Social Justice research programme. We spoke to Prof. Wil Hout to learn a little more about his latest project, ‘Eradicating Poverty: Pathways towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (ADAPTED), which falls under the Social Protection and Inequality research theme at ISS.

What does social justice mean to you?

I was responsible in 2017 for the writing of our framework document on the ISS research programme Global Development and Social Justice. In that process, we focused the understanding of social justice on what we called the full and unfettered development of individuals and communities. Social justice in this regard is about access to equal opportunities, irrespective of where you live and of your background, gender, race and ethnicity. This notion is therefore very much linked to individuals’ rights.

How does the theme of social justice fit into your current research project?

ADAPTED is an innovative training network. It's funded by the European Union through the Marie Curie framework and it focuses on research to be done by PhD students, which hopefully will provide insights that can contribute to the process of poverty eradication with a specific focus on Africa. The project was inspired by the rights-based approach of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as agreed upon by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2015. The implication of this set of goals is that individuals in all countries of the world should have equal access to instruments, knowledge and goods that they can use to free themselves from poverty.

The ADAPTED programme focuses on research that seeks to identify social protection mechanisms and job creation schemes that assist people to escape from poverty. We also study what social and political mechanisms operate in societies in Africa and some other parts of the global South that limit the effectiveness of social policies and job creation. The project tries to break existing silos in poverty-related research by also analysing interactions between poverty reduction as well as other policy areas.

“Social justice is about access to equal opportunities, irrespective of where you live and of your background, gender, race and ethnicity”

The project seems very interesting since it will involve 15 different PhD researchers from diverse backgrounds and settings. How will they contribute to the ADAPTED programme?

This is quite a unique set-up because it’s not just a group of 15 PhDs, but they will also be embedded in what is called the innovative training network (ITN). So a lot of emphasis in the programme will be on their training. Of course, any PhD programme is about training but this is very specific in the sense that we will build skills with them in a collaborative way.

Every six months they will meet up, despite them being placed at different institutions spanning across Europe and Africa. During these interactions, tailor-made interdisciplinary research training sessions will be offered by eleven academic and four non-academic consortium partners from The Netherlands, Germany, Turkey, France, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana and South Africa. Another aspect which makes it quite special and I think also exciting, is that this is a European joint doctorate. So everybody who completes the program successfully will end up with a joint doctorate from two of the European universities involved. These additional elements differentiate this programme from the regular PhD programmes.

Each PhD student will have a visiting position at one of our African or European partner universities or with one of the nonacademic partners, so they would garner many different experiences which are quite unique, I think.

Are you interested in pursuing a PhD as part of the ADAPTED project? Applications are currently open.

More information

ADAPTED is funded by the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions and will be embedded within the innovative training network (ITN) aimed at skills and capacity building through interdisciplinary training sessions. The project concentrates on low and middle-income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.