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Monday 15 January 13:53

Looking for the equitable collaboration

News: Nov 22, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed global inequalities in many ways. Despite the world-wide spread, vaccines have mainly been distributed in high-income countries. The need to reconnect and rethink priorities in research and higher education was the topic of the Global Sustainable Futures (GSF) annual online conference on 16 November.

Two keynote talks, 12 collaborative research or capacity building projects were presented at the conference called “Collaboration in a (post-) pandemic world – the need to reconnect and rethink priorities”. Furthermore, a panel discussion added a wide range of aspects, comments and ideas for the future. Professor Magdalena Eriksson, GSF platform leader, presented the baseline: of all the internationally co-authored publications of Chalmers and University of Gothenburg less than two percent include partners in low- and lower-middle income countries.

Professor Swati Parashar, at the School of Global Studies at the University of Gothenburg, talked about the need to reconnect with the Global South as the first of two keynote speakers. In the post-pandemic world, geographical location has become more important, and the state has come even more in focus. Responses to the pandemic have been very national, rather than based on international collaboration. Nationalism has emerged and captured the interest of people; Prof Parashar argued.

Clockwise from top left: Swati Parashar, Zesizwe Ngubani, Nuria Majaliwa and Magdalena Eriksson

Clockwise from top left: Swati Parashar, Zesizwe Ngubane, Nuria Majaliwa and Magdalena Eriksson

“It is about seeing low- and middle-income countries as sites of knowledge, often hidden behind global indicators,” she said.

Agency and co-producers of knowledge forgotten

A specific challenge is the invisibility of contributors to research projects; interpreters, inerlocutors, assistants and others who are “co-producers of knowledge” but not mentioned or acknowledged in the final publication. The interaction with local facilitating researchers needs to be part of the discussion.

“We need to think about how we can include or compensate local researchers who make our research possible at various locations. We need to build new collaborations across and ask ourselves if we do enough to include voices. People of the global south have their own agency and we need to see that”, Swati Parashar said.

There is also the issue of publishing; it is expensive and there is the risk of not being seen as a trustworthy author from a low-income country.

“Publishing an article is really an issue”, said Amra Riaz at the Institute for Medical Sciences in Pakistan, who presented an article co-authored with a colleague at University of Gothenburg.

Facilitators and brokers are needed

Building equitable collaborations between researchers, for example, in Gothenburg and partners in low- and middle-income countries will benefit from working with facilitators or brokers, and field sites will not be easily accessible in the future. Global Sustainable Futures, a joint platform for Chalmers and University of Gothenburg for such cooperation, could serve as such a function.

“It’s also about how we frame questions and make sure that we pay attention to old colonial practices that are unconsciously influencing our work”, Professor Sharon Fonn said, mentioning the “CARTA approach,” in her keynote presentation.

CARTA is an Africa-based initiative to enhance the research environments at African universities and to support junior researchers to be internationally renowned researchers in their fields. CARTA means Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa and it is supported, e.g., by British Council, the Ford Foundation and Sida.

The combination of keynote talks and research presentations was appreciated by the participants, according to the brief evaluation that was carried out after the conference. However, there are always things to improve to meet expectations and deliver useful knowledge and information. The GSF team will use the input not only for next year’s conference but also the ongoing series of webinars on various topics connected to collaboration colleagues in low- and middle-income countries.

Read more

Visit the conference webpage


Introduction by Magdalena Eriksson

Keynote Speaker Sharon Fonn

Keynote Speaker Swati Parashar

Parallell sessions summaries




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