Universität Bonn

Negotiating the Fabric of the African University

Global Trends and Local Realities

International Conference & Book Project


Global Trends and Local Realities

Date: 12–14 September 2023
Place: University of the Western Cape (UWC), University of Cape Town (UCT)
and Stellenbosch University (SU)

If interested in participating virtually, please register for the conference here:


The following events are livestreamed:

Tuesday, 12.09.2023 @UWC

09:00 Welcome
10:00 Public Keynote by Anna Kosmützky: "Is the University a Global Institution? Varieties of the University as Organization and Institution"

Acces via Zoom Webinar. Registration link:

Keynote Speaker Anna Kosmützky

Wednesday, 13.09.2023 @UCT

09:30 Welcome
10:00 Public Keynote by Teboho Moja: "Emerging Operating Modes in African Universities: Innovations in Teaching, Research, and Community Engagement"

Access via Zoom Webinar:

Meeting-ID: 619 7051 2283
Passcode: 467895

Keynote Speaker Teboha Moja

Thursday, 14.09.2023 @SU

09:00 Welcome
09:30 Public Keynote by David Mills: "Restitching Africa’s Research Infrastructures: Research Publishing Beyond 'Global' Bibliometrics"
10:30 Book Launch: David Mills et al., "Who Counts? Ghanaian Academic Publishing and Global science", published by African Minds.

Access via Microsoft Teams meeting:

Meeting ID: 366 203 099 763 
Passcode: 95oGvd

Keynote Speaker David Mills

The Rationale for the Conference

A ‘global’ model currently shapes our imagination of universities in the 21st century. This prototype responds to global trends in policy discourse and practices, including the embrace of Research Excellence Initiatives,University League Tables (rankings), Market-driven Funding Models (e.g., Cost-sharing), Climate change andother Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In addition, there are growing concerns with Quality, Diversity,Employability, Decolonisation, and Emancipatory agendas. Against this backdrop, African universities arebraced with existential challenges at regional and national levels. These universities have to negotiate theircharacter between the pursuit of excellence and difficult political and economic conditions. In theconvergence of global trends and local realities, the modern African university’s character and fabric emergeand gain specific forms.

Against this background, we are excited to welcome the second international conference on the theme“Negotiating the Fabric of the African University” to be held in Cape Town from 12 to 14 September 2023 atthe University of the Western Cape (UWC), University of Cape Town (UCT), and University of Stellenbosch(SU). The program builds on a first conference, which took place in Maputo, Mozambique, and was alsoorganized at three sites, namely, Eduardo Mondlane University, Joaquim Chissano University andPedagogical University of Maputo. The conference in Cape Town is jointly organised by Patrício Langa andDavid Kaldewey with the assistance of colleagues from various institutions including the University of Bonn,(Lea Weigel, Berit Stoppa), Goethe-Institute Johannesburg (Philina Wittke), UWC (Seamus Needham, IbrahimHarun, Nigel Prinsloo, Jamey Santon), and UCT (Divine Fuh).

The conferences are partially funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and aim to bring together selectedscholars from different geo-epistemological locations and traditions, providing a unique opportunity formultiple academic and intercultural exchange, engagement and networking while reflecting on the characterof the university in Africa. The 2023 edition is intended to consolidate the reflections started in Maputo lastyear as we re-examine and enquire into the global multilayered trends shaping and reshaping the fabric of themodern African university, including teaching and learning, research and innovation, engagement, outreach,and governance – with a renewed attention to emerging local models.

We hope the discussion will provoke some new foci for enquiry and help to understand more deeply thecharacter of contemporary changes and (dis)continuities in the various African higher education settings. Todo so, the salient sociological understanding of the university as a unified global cultural reference systemwill have to be interrogated and recalibrated. What are the peculiarities of African universities and howshould they respond to the push for global standardisation? Finally, from a political standpoint, theconference aims to enrich the debate and strengthen the development of the higher education systems inwhich African universities are located.

We expect to unearth the defining and emerging features of the current university in Africa as we begin thesecond quarter of the millennium. We will examine the different lines of inquiry and understanding of Africanuniversities’ organisational, institutional, and systemic features.

Patrício Langa (University of the Western Cape) and David Kaldewey (University of Bonn)

Funding Information

The conference is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation

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