"Recent decades have vividly shown that traditional definitions of research excellence and training do not automatically resolve the complex problems facing the future of society and the planet. This situation has been called a ‘crisis of research effectiveness’, considering the lack of progress on a number of critical issues, such as climate change, biodiversity loss and environmental degradation, over the past two decades.

This ‘crisis’ highlights the need for transdisciplinarity as a new frontier for research communities. Transdisciplinarity ‘starts with tangible, real world problems’ in a joint endeavour through which ‘solutions are devised in collaboration with multiple stakeholders’.

Transdisciplinarity will require a fundamental institutional and cultural reorientation at research universities... both institutional innovations and structural optimisations will be critical in achieving these goals, while at the same time it is necessary to preserve the traditional strengths of disciplinary excellence and scientific rigour."

-  Bernard Slippers, Coleen Vogel and Lorenzo Fioramonti, Global trends and opportunities for development of African research universities, SA Journal of Science, 2015:111

There are a multitude of complex challenges that face the world and Africa. They include diverse issues such as climate change, food security, biodiversity loss and water resource management. Due to their complex nature, the traditional singular, linear approaches to science are no longer appropriate.

There is still a shortage of spaces that encourage and enable collaboration of scientists from different disciplines. Future Africa addresses this need by positioning itself as hub for African and global research networks.

To address these problems, a transdisciplinary approach is required which integrates perspectives across disciplines, scales and sectors. Although the need for transdisciplinary research is being recognised globally, there is still a shortage of spaces that encourage and enable collaboration of scientists from different disciplines.

We believe that Future Africa addresses this need by positioning itself as a hub for African and global research networks. At the University of Pretoria, we are convinced that the initiative will contribute to Africa’s critical shortage of skills and accelerate progress in science, technology and innovation. Just as complex problems cannot be resolved through linear thinking, the gap in skills development requires a generation equipped and ready to accelerate the scientific capacity development on the continent.

Future Africa will host a community of fellows and will attract local, African and international scholars, representing a range of disciplines. It will also be home to a number of postgraduate students as well as postdoctoral and research fellows. Through the development of a culture of transdisciplinary engagement and creative project design, Future Africa will develop novel ideas and build scientific capacity around them. It will also help to shape a new generation of researchers and academics through mentorship and science leadership development programmes.

In providing a platform to promote the very best research and innovation, we believe that Future Africa will assist Africa to leap its current development trajectory in the technology and science sectors and nurture a new generation of world-class scholars on the continent.