CODESRIA’s institutes are designed to play an important role in the Council’s strategy for charting new reaserch terrains and building a strong community of researchers in Africa who are well-versed in addressing complex questions connected to that terrain. The Council also has an experimental function because it serves as a framework within which the viability of some research tracks are explored in an open, critical spirit. Close attention is always paid to the selection of the topics that are addressed and the resource persons brought in to help energise discussions around them.
CODESRIA’s institutes were conceived as a forum through which mid-career scholars in African universities could organise to work togerher around a common research topic with a view to generate knowledge that could be disseminated in the Council’s Book Series. Each institute is organised around a topic which is advertised widely in a call for proposals and applications. The call also includes invitations to senior scholars interested in serving as resource persons and director to send in their dossiers in accordance with the eligibility criteria and requirements spelt out. A typical institute runs over a period of four weeks under the leadership of a designated Director and with the assistance of up to five resource persons who, like all other participants, go through the screening of a selection committee. Up to 15 mid-career researchers are invited to participate in the institute as laureates, the invitation being cointingent on the quality of the proposals which they submit on the theme of the session in which they wil participate. The laureates and resource persons are drawn from different disciplinary, linguistic, gender and geographical backgrounds, making a lively atmosphere for debates and discussions. The mixture of senior and mid-career scholars in each institute also allows for an inter-generation exchange and mentorship.