The research funding programmes across the BRICS sub-directorate are guided by two strategic objectives, to “Foster international research collaborations between South Africa and countries of the Global South”, and to “Act as a dynamic broker between the worlds of knowledge and policy action on behalf of South Africa as the South African BRICS Think Tank”. The National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, in accordance with the visioned outlined in the Charter for the Humanities and Social Sciences has implemented cross-border study programmes for the BRICS countries, in the form of the Teaching and Learning Mobility Grants, and Joint Institutional Research Collaboration projects, as well as the BRICS Cluster projects (which include the Economic Cluster projects, and the BRICS Research Institutes). Furthermore, the South African BRICS Think Tank (SABTT), which resides within the NIHSS, coordinates and facilitates the South African participation and engagement in the annual BRICS Think Tank Council (BTTC) Academic Forums.
The NIHSS supports, strengthens, and monitor project research clusters, led by South African academics (with team members across HEIs in SA), who partner with fellow academics across the country and with counterparts in the rest of the BRICS member countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China). The objectives of these projects are to develop initiatives that contribute towards a better and safer world order through peaceful diplomacy and multilateralism. As part of the research clusters, project leaders enter into agreements with the NIHSS and are expected to deliver published research outputs. While cluster themes can vary, they are in line with the BRICS Long-Term Strategy, which entails the following:
- Promoting cooperation for economic growth and development,
- Political and economic governance,
- Social justice, sustainable development and quality of life,
- Peace and security, and
- Progress through sharing knowledge and innovation.
The cluster projects are 12 month projects.
As part of a renewed focus on streamlined research foci for the BRICS, and as part of the BRICS research clusters, an enhanced network model is envisioned. The SA BRICS Think Tank, through the auspices of the NIHSS, currently supports four projects that will establish BRICS Research Institutes. Each institute has its own dedicated regional and thematic focus and conducts research on a full-time basis over a two-year period, producing policy briefs and various research outputs, and host seminars and workshops. Research networks with the respective BRICS countries will be facilitated by the SABTT, through the BRICS Think Tank Council.
The NIHSS provides support to researchers engaging in the exchange of ideas with their counterparts outside South Africa, through research and/or teaching. Mobility grants are awarded annually for projects focused on exchanges between SA and countries across BRICS and the Global South. In line with the Institute’s prioritisation of the of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the Digital Humanities (for thematic and methodological perspectives), priority will be accorded to projects that incorporate these thematic aspects and modalities. These projects are implemented over the course of 12 months.
The residency fellowships programme entails bilateral exchanges of academics and researchers based at South African higher education institutions, research institutes, think-tanks, with those based at public universities, research institutions, think-tanks in countries across the Global South. The programme will target recent doctoral graduates and senior scholars to undertake short-term residencies at an identified public university wherein they will conduct research, curriculum development review or any teaching and learning initiative. Recipients of the Residency Programme produce research outputs that will be disseminated to a wider audience. Funding towards these fellowships will cater for travel and subsistence, fellowship work-related costs and any research-related expenses including academic journal page fees for any published articles. This grant will be disbursed to fellows by NIHSS through the host institutions.
The objectives of the institutional collaborations are for the establishment of joint projects between South African researchers and researchers from across the Global South, based at institutions of higher learning, are to expand and strengthen networks and collaborations between SA researchers and academics and those across the Global South; and engage in mutually beneficial collaborations that fund movement of researchers between South Africa and the Global South. Grant recipients will undertake joint collaboration initiatives in the form of joint seminars, joint research initiatives and workshops. Research outputs are expected from the collaborations. From a thematic perspective, priority will be accorded to proposed collaborations that fall within academic disciplines across the humanities and social sciences, creative and visual arts, as well as interdisciplinary projects that are aligned to the themes outlined in each Call for Funding. Among the criteria, it would be obligatory for researchers in a joint project to conduct a research exchange, joint fieldwork in both countries, and co-host events as well as co-author research outputs. In terms of implementation, Funding Agreements and MoUs will be entered into with partnering institutions. Researchers based at institutions outside South Africa and in South Africa will receive grants to undertake joint collaboration initiatives in the form of joint seminars, joint research initiatives and workshops.