Thembani Mkhize participates in BIARI at Brown University

  • GCRO
  • Date of publication: 30 June 2018

From the 2nd to the 16th of June 2018, Brown University hosted its annual Brown University International Advanced Research Institutes (BIARI). BIARI convenes early-career participants from around the world to address pressing global issues through collaboration across academic, professional and geographic boundaries. Based at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, BIARI comprises three intensive, residential two-week institutes – Governance and Development in the Age of Globalization, Forced Population Displacements and the Making of the Modern World and Social Entrepreneurship within Health and Humanitarian Innovation. Thembani Mkhize applied was accepted into the Governance and Development in the Age of Globalization Institute. Convened by Professors Peter B. Evans, Patrick Heller, Richard M. Locke and Prerna Singh, the Governance and Development also comprised leading scholars from various disciplines and from acclaimed institutions across the USA and globally giving lectures. The interdisciplinary institute brought together academic and practitioner specialists in different domains – politics, planning, economics, urban studies, to mention but a prominent few – from different countries, to focus on efforts to expand the regulatory capacity, institutional efficacy and democratic legitimacy of governance institutions that shape development. Areas of focus included labour standards, democratic participation, social provisioning and urban transformation. Aimed at developing a critical understanding of the aforementioned issues by exploring the latest theories and empirical work through comparative lenses, the institute was heavily reliant on a comparative analysis of such issues/processes across different nations.

The institute allowed for a further comparative analysis of governance and development-related issues via thematic group presentations. Categorized under five different-but-intertwined themes - democracy and social rights, community politics and accountability, urban governance, political economy of globalization, and urban inequality – the groups and the subsequent presentations were formulated following the various participants’ submission of articles on pressing governance and development-related challenges in their respective countries, as per the requirements of the conveners. Following his submission of a paper based on challenges and controversies related to place and street renaming in South Africa, Thembani was placed in the urban governance group with three BIARI participants from Nigeria (Oluwafemi Ayodeji Olajide), India (Aarathi Gangalekshmy) and the People’s Republic of China (Du Shenghong). Mkhize’s participation in the group, as well as sharing of ideas with the three group members, culminated in a paper titled Making ‘World Class Cities’: The Politics of Urban Development in the Global South. The paper explored the processes, politics, mechanisms and implications of urban development in the developing world via a comparative multiple case study analysis that included four fundamentally different urban development initiatives in Nigeria, India, South Africa and the PRC. Following the presentation, the group received positive feedback from the course conveners who saw great potential in the project and encouraged the presenters to take it further with the promise of funding should the project be taken forward.

Following the end of BIARI, all participants were awarded attendance certificates and were encouraged to not only take their group presentations/projects further but to apply for seed funding for longer-term research, teaching, and outreach collaborations that are outgrowths of BIARI initiatives.


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