Meaning-making Research Initiatives (MRI) 2018

Application deadline: April 15, 2018


Established in 1973, the Council for the Development of Social Science Research 
in Africa (CODESRIA) promotes research by African and Diaspora scholars in the 
Social Sciences and Humanities that can contribute to a better understanding of 
Africa and its place in the world. This is motivated by the belief that sound 
knowledge of the continent is invaluable to efforts to make Africa a better 
place for its peoples and societies.

In 2017 CODESRIA introduced the Meaning-making Research Initiative (MRI) as its 
principal tool for supporting research. Like previous tools, MRI focuses on 
supporting research that contributes to agendas for imagining, planning and 
creating African futures. MRI replaced five tools that CODESRIA had deployed in 
previous years to support research. These were National Working Groups (NWG), 
Multinational Working Groups (MWG), Comparative Research Networks (CRN), 
Transnational Working Groups (TWG) and postdoctoral grants. One goal of this 
move is to increase the legibility and visibility of the research supported by 
the Council by collapsing previous tools into a single initiative for 
supporting research.

The adoption of MRI marks a recommitment to the tasks of interpretation and 
explanation that saw CODESRIA produce ground-breaking work on thematic issues 
such as democratization and economic reform in Africa. MRI aggressively pushes 
scholars to build on the close observation of African social realities to 
grapple with the tasks of explanation and interpretation. The initiative will 
reinforce support for researchers. It will also better integrate these scholars 
into the Council’s work. Further, it will offer scholars more varied ways to 
present their work, including through books, journal articles and policy 

Key selection criteria: Projects funded under this initiative should meet most 
of the following criteria:

• Propose research on important aspects of African social realities that fall 
under CODESRIA’s priority themes as outlined in the CODESRIA Strategic Plan;

• Be guided by clear questions that explore puzzling aspects of the social 
realities of Africa and its position in the world while at the same time 
reflecting an interest in questions of diversity including the gendered one;

• Be grounded in the thorough exploration of the continent’s social realities 
and history;

• Engage constructively and rigorously with African futures;

• Be theoretically ambitious with a clear goal of providing new and innovative 
ways of understanding and making sense of African social realities;

• Explore multiple spatial, temporal and sectoral settings where this 
contributes to the process of meaning-making;

• Demonstrate familiarity with knowledge already produced by CODESRIA on the 
subject researched.

Thematic priorities: All applications must engage with CODESRIA’s 2017-2021 
thematic priorities and cross-cutting issues:

1. Democratic processes, governance, citizenship and security in Africa: 
Security challenges and ways of grappling with them, transitional justice, 
democratization, citizenship and migration, the rule of law and human rights, 
governance processes and mechanisms at local, national and international 
levels, language, the changing boundaries and configurations of states and 

2. Ecologies, economies and societies in Africa: Land, natural resource 
management, climate change, demographic change, urbanization, food security and 
poverty in Africa and technological innovation as well as the interaction of 
human populations with the rest of the environment in Africa, the forms it 
takes, its histories and trajectories and its impact on a broad set of sectors 
including the continent’s burgeoning economies

3. Higher education dynamics in a changing Africa: The role of higher education 
in economic and political transformation in Africa, the rapid transformation in 
the African higher education landscape, the reform of African higher education 
and innovations in higher education leadership

Cross-cutting themes: Applications should indicate the ways in which some of 
these cross-cutting themes are integrated in their proposals: these are gender, 
generations, inequality, rurality and urbanity, memory and history, as well as 
futures and alternatives

Individual and group initiatives: MRIs could be either individual initiatives 
or the project of groups of researchers. Groups may be constituted by 
researchers from one country or multiple countries and must have between 3 and 
5 members. Groups should take into account CODESRIA’s core principles of 
gender, linguistic, intergenerational and disciplinary diversity. All members 
of a group should have a demonstrated ability to contribute meaningfully to the 
work of the group. The Council offers up to USD 15,000 for initiatives of 
individuals and USD 35,000 for initiatives of groups.

How to apply

Interested applicants for group and individual grants should submit application 
packages containing the following required materials as Word documents. Please 
note that applications that lack any of these elements will be discarded.

• A proposal with the following clearly titled sections: an introduction; 
statement and contextualization of question(s) around which the project is 
centered; brief review of literature and/or competing hypotheses; study design 
and research methodology; theoretical and practical significance of the study 
and research plan. Proposals must be submitted as Word documents and should not 
exceed 10 pages long (font type: Times New Roman; font size: 12; line spacing: 

• Budget: The budget should employ the template attached to this call and 
should take into consideration the fact that these grants have strict 16-month 
lifespans. CODESRIA will directly fund launch and completion workshops.

• Annotated plan of deliverables: One-page annotated plan of scholarly articles 
to be produced as deliverables of the project.

• A cover letter listing full details- names, email and physical addresses and 
telephone number

• CV of the scholars, including full contact details

• Identification sheet: A completed version of the identification sheet 
attached to this call. Please leave the document as an Excel file.

The deadline for submission of applications for both individual and group 
grants is April 15, 2018. Notification of the result of the selection process 
will be done by June 30, 2018 and applicants who will not hear from us by then 
should consider their applications unsuccessful. All applications should be 
sent by email to “2018 Meaning-making Research Initiatives,” CODESRIA at<>. When sending your email kindly use 
the subject line ‘MRI 2018’ to facilitate the processing of your application.

To learn more about CODESRIA’s Meaning-making Research Initiatives please 

Research Program
BP 3304, CP 18524
Dakar, Senegal
Tel: +221 - 33 825 9822/23
Fax: +221- 33 824 1289

   MRI Budget 
  Excel   31.4 kb
      Excel   11.9 kb

The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa is 
headquartered in Dakar Senegal. It was established in 1973 as an (...)
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