The University of Botswana (UB) through the department of Sociology together with the Technical University of Berlin in Germany organized and held a very successful “Spatial Methods Training Week” which was hosted online from Monday 25th to Friday 29th October 2021 and Friday 19th November 2021. As another GCSMUS initiative following a successful September 1st RC33 Regional Conference; Africa Botswana, the methods training week aimed at providing junior scholars (Ph.D. and masters students, as well as advanced scholars) with the opportunity to meet international experts to train them in current advanced research methods.
The methods week boasted an impressive mix of international experts who enthusiastically came aboard to share their diverse expertise. To kick start the training was Prof. Dr. Gabriela Christmann from Germany who offered a course on Network Research and Analysis which provided various forms and contents of network analysis and its main features. Then followed a course on ATLAS.ti for Qualitative Data Analysis by Dr. Daniel Rakgoasi from Botswana, and Case Selection and Sampling in Spatial Research course offered by Dr. Ariane Sept from Germany. The former was a hands-on course from which participants learned how to create, apply, and manage codes in Atlas.ti while the latter focused on the fundamental pre-sampling considerations and different sampling strategies to select cities, villages as well as regions. One of the Directors of GCSMUS, Prof. Dr. Nina Baur from Germany taught on Visibility in Scientific Research and Funding where participants were introduced to ways in which they can access funding opportunities in Germany. Thereafter was Prof. Munyae Masai Mulinge from Kenya offering training on Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Research Methodologies, which involved a discussion on the nature and importance of Indigenous Knowledge Systems, differentiating them from Western (scientific) knowledge systems. Dr. Eric Yankson from Namibia introduced scholars to the concepts/principles and methods of Applied Spatial Analysis. Lastly, was Prof. Hubert Knoblauch from Germany, on Videography and Focused Ethnography, a course which focused on videography as a social scientific method to collect and analyse data in ‘natural’ social situations.
It was during the welcome remarks that all participants were welcomed and encouraged to freely engage as they learn. “Thank you to each and every one of you for being here with us today. I believe that this training will be of benefit to you as early career researchers and help you advance in your various research fields,” said Prof. Gabriel Faimau, GCSMUS Lead Partner as he welcomed attendees across the globe. The methods week attracted a total of 135 participants from across the world, with the highest percentage (72%) coming from African countries. Other countries represented include the United Kingdom, Germany, Iran, and Indonesia just to mention a few. Participants were ready and eager to be skilful in advanced research methods as the highest attendance recorded in some of the sessions was 75.
Given the opportunity to comment and ask questions, some participants seized the moment to express their gratitude to method trainers. “I cannot believe I have been struggling with analysing huge qualitative data I collected few months ago for my study, this course really came in handy for me, I am very happy to learn about this software.” “This is very informative.” “Some of these methods are very new to me, I am so proud I registered to attend.” The trainers were also happy to have been part of the remarkable methods training. “Thank you for organizing everything so smoothly! It was a pleasure to work with you and I wish you every success for the training week,” said Prof. Dr. Gabriela Christmann.
In closing, Mrs Esther Nkhukhu-Orlando (SMUS Botswana Coordinator), thanked the participants for their extreme active participation during the training. “To the Methods Training Week coordinator, Mrs Tumisang Tsholetso, you and your team have done an exceptional job in putting this together. And of course, our moderators, Prof. France Maphosa and Dr. Lesedi Mashumba, thank you for an excellent work in smoothly directing the training each day. We are indebted to the GCSMUS, the Technical University of Berlin for a good partnership and the DAAD Exceed program for funding the “Spatial Methods Training Week,” said Mrs Nkhukhu-Orlando in rounding off her remarks.