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Prestigious British grant for Witsie

- By Vivienne Rowland

Dr David Hornsby, Wits senior lecturer in International Relations and Assistant Dean at the Faculty of Humanities, will soon collaborate on new academic work with several scholars from University College London.

This comes after Hornsby, co-author and author of several books, was awarded a prestigious British Academy Newton Mobility Grant to undertake collaborative work.

The grant, which is valued at approximately R182 000 (£10 000) is shared between Hornsby and Dr Michele Acuto, also a senior lecturer and the research director for the Department of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Public Policy (STEaPP), an interdisciplinary department at University College London (UCL). The monies will facilitate the development of a joint research project and the publication of a number of studies on the role of science in international governance.

“I am really excited at the opportunity to collaborate with Dr Acuto and others at UCL as I want to explore how science impacts international negotiation and decision making in international institutions and, even more broadly, international diplomacy. STEaPP will be an excellent space to explore this research topic,” says Hornsby. 

Hornsby, winner of the 2013 Vice-Chancellor’s Individual Teaching Award, is an accomplished academic author with several publications under his belt: Large-Class Pedagogy: Interdisciplinary perspectives for quality higher education which he co-authored with Professor Ruksana Osman and Dr Jacqueline De Matos-Ala in 2013; and Risk Regulation, Science, and Interests in Transatlantic Trade Conflicts, published last year.

He says that the new grant will aid him in expanding his research into looking at international standard setting institutions, which are primarily comprised of scientists and how they impact and operate in the circle of the diplomacy context, international diplomacy and international governance.

“I will look at how they negotiate, how they arrive at decision making and the circumstances thereof. A few workshops with my UCL colleagues are also in the pipeline, which will focus on science and international governance, bringing together a group of scholars beyond Wits and UCL,” says Hornsby.

Reflecting on the importance of such a research topic, Hornsby noted: “I read a report recently looking to articles published in international relations that focused on science and technology between 1990 and 2007. Out of approximately 21 000 articles across 13 different journals only 0.7% of those related to the role of science, scientists and technology in international affairs. This, to me, is surprising due to the fact that such technologies as nuclear weapons or genetically modified foods have such a big impact on international affairs. So why are so few people looking at the role of technology and science?” he asks.

The British Academy Newton Mobility Grants generally last for one year and are intent on building collaborations between academics from the UK and emerging economies. Hornsby will travel to the UK later this month to begin work with his UCL collaborators.