The Higher Education Support Programme (HESP) is one of CODESRIA’s initiatives in the framework of collaborative programmes. This project which focused on "the development of curriculum and innovative teaching of social sciences in Senegal", was funded by the Open Society Foundation (OSF). The initiative aims to highlight the contribution of higher education to the construction and reinforcement of an open and democratic society. This is among other innovations to explore avenues for the development of Senegalese higher education. The project in general, encourages innovative programmes and efforts aimed at the revision of curricula in Senegalese universities. It also tries to assess how certain concerns of democratic and open societies are addressed in teaching and research.
A first training workshop attended by some teachers and researchers from various Senegalese public universities, took place in Saly, Senegal from 24 to 28 August 2015, under the direction of Professor Souleymane Bachir Diagne and Professor Mamadou Diouf (Columbia University, USA). This workshop followed the project planning meeting that was held in May 2015. The purpose of this meeting was to share the inventory of social and human sciences in Senegal which is the outcome of the critical review submittted by Prof Mame Penda Ba of Gaston Berger University (UGB) and Prof Jean Alain Goudiaby of the University of Ziguinchor.
The objective of this first training workshop, dedicated mainly to young researchers or teachers in mid-career in Senegalese universities, is to build their capacity to innovate in terms of content and pedagogical approaches. This activity also aims to create a new network of teacher-researchers on these issues by facilitating connections with researchers from other African countries. The purpose of this activity is to enable the 15 selected teacher- researchers, in a spirit of educational innovation, to produce articles or textbooks on the selected themes of the workshop.
The main theme of the workshop focused on "Social dynamics in Senegal." The first group of teacher-researchers had the opportunity to deepen reflections on three themes identified as having close links with the main theme. The presentations dwelt on the following topics:
Knowledge and society: (endogenous knowledge, indigenous knowledge, Epistemology of Social Sciences, and SSH STEM)
Rights, Democracy and Corporate Dynamics (Rights of vulnerable people; family rights; democracy and civil liberties in Africa; Power and Democracy at the local level; social, economic and cultural inequalities in Senegal; regional and continental integration)
African Modernity (Religion, religiosity and religious radicalism in Senegal; identity, otherness, memories, urban cultures, contemporary art, sexualities in Senegal and in Africa)
The discussions focused on methodological, theoretical and epistemological issues relating to the subject matter. Several pertinent questions were also raised, such as: Which social sciences for African societies? Which social science for STEM? What relationship between STEM and SSH? How to put the social sciences in the centre of STEM? How does modernity fit in the cities? How to understand the artistic and global modernity? How to think about languages in the urban space? How to think of religion in the university space? These questions were addressed by the resource persons and the participants. The responses underscored the need to avoid the trap of creating barriers. The workshop report is being finalized