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Research projects

Tracking local councillors

Closing the Feedback Loop in South African Local Governance: A Longitudinal Study of Local Councillor Performance in Urban and Peri-Urban Municipalities

Given the growing importance of local government in the South African case, this project will focus on understanding the roles of municipal councillors in accountability and governance at the local government level in South Africa.  The study will consist of a longitudinal panel study of councillors in the eight metropolitan municipalities, and 20 to 30 additional municipalities, and a series of in-depth interviews with selected ward and PR councillors.  

The project will be directed by Professor Evan Lieberman from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, working in partnership with Professor David Everatt and Dr Caryn Abrahams at the School, and the Centre for Social Science Research at the University of Cape Town.

The GLOBUS research project: reconsidering European contributions to global justice

GLOBUS is an EU-funded (Horizon 2020) research project whose main task is to assess the EU’s impact on justice. It defines a new research agenda for the study of the EU’s global role. The envisaged research agenda directs attention to underlying political and structural challenges to global justice that are prior to the distributive problem, as well as to the fact that what is ‘just’ is contested by both theorists and policy makers.

GLOBUS’s research agenda will focus on how the EU promotes justice within the specific fields of climate change, trade, development, asylum/migration, and security while also speaking to the horizontal issues of gender and human rights. Three conceptions of justice are identified, as ‘non-dominance’ as ‘impartiality’ and as ‘mutual recognition’.

The project is led by the Centre for European Studies (ARENA) at the University of Oslo and includes four other universities: Bologna (Italy); Tubingen (Germany); University College Dublin (Ireland) and Wits University (SA). Other partners include the State University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil); O.P. Jindal Global University (India) and Renmin University of China.

WSG’s Professor Pundy Pillay is leading the research initiative (formally titled Work Package 4 [WP4] on ‘Trade, Development and Global Justice. Professor David Everatt and Associate Professor William Gumede are also involved in WP4. Sarakinsky and Professor Anthoni van Nieuwkerk will contribute to the security and climate change work packages, respectively.

WP4 focuses on two broad themes, namely, EU trade policy (moving from Preferential trade Agreements to Economic Partnership Agreements); and EU Development Policy (aid effectiveness; partnerships; respect for human rights and democratic principles).

Key questions in this area of research include the following:

  • Which conception of justice (non-domination/impartiality/mutual recognition) underpins EU trade and development policies?
  • How does the EU contribute to global justice in the area of trade and development through this conception?
  • How does the EU approach compare with other trade actors and providers?

WSG will be hosting a workshop in April 2017 on ‘Trade, Aid and Justice in the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Regions’.

Life in the City

Life in the City is an applied complexity research project that provides PhD and postdoctoral bursaries to students undertaking innovative, multi/transdisciplinary research focused on real world problems in Johannesburg.

Johannesburg is grappling with a daunting set of policy challenges such as migrancy, poverty, unemployment, uneven levels of economic growth, inequity, violence, informal settlements and service delivery. The resulting health and social problems that these conditions produce and reproduce make Johannesburg an ideal ‘laboratory’ for a project combining different disciplines and methodological approaches to find solutions to these complex challenges. The focus and purpose of the Life in the City project is to develop a deeper understanding of inequality, exclusion and marginalisation.

WSG is coordinating this project, and released two calls for proposals in 2016. WSG is proud to announce that ten PhD and six postdoctoral bursary awards have been made.  

Call for Proposals - WSG Life in the City

Centre for Sustainable, Healthy and Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods (SHLC)

The Centre for Sustainable, Healthy and Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods (SHLC) is funded via UK Research and Innovation as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund.

SHLC aims to strengthen capacity to address urban, health and education challenges in fast-growing cities across Africa and Asia. SHLC is an international consortium of the following research partners: University of Glasgow, Human Sciences Research Council, Khulna University, Nankai University, National Institute of Urban Affairs, University of the Philippines Diliman, University of Rwanda and the University of Witwatersrand.

Documents to download (South Africa: National Urban Policies and City Profiles for Johannesburg and Cape Town)

WSG contributors: Dr Caryn Abrahams, Professor David Everatt, Adjunct Professor Alex van den Heever, Professor Pundy Pillay

Executive Summary 

SA: National Urban Policies & City Profiles for JHB & CT  - Full report 

Community Based Planning initiative

The City of Johannesburg, specifically the Group Strategy Division, has commissioned WSG to undertake an evaluation of their Community Based Planning (CBP) initiative.

CBP currently involves consultations with communities in the city’s seven regions to discuss their needs. Funding is then provided for a series of projects. The purpose of the research is to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the current programme and to determine whether and how it can be linked to the Integrated Development Planning and budgeting processes of the city. The research involves a review of the international literature on CBP, a review of what other SA metros are doing in this regard, and a series of interviews with senior CoJ staff, regional office directors, and CBP beneficiaries in the community.

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