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1. Our Vision/Mission

CARTA's mission is to promote the health and development of African populations through highquality research on policy-relevant priority issues. The initiative will foster the emergence of vibrant and viable multidisciplinary research hubs of locally-trained internationally recognised scholars. It also seeks to enhance the capacity of African universities to lead globally-competitive research and training programs. The sustainability of this initiative therefore depends considerably on: building a critical mass of research capacity over time in the participating African institutions, the retention of trained scholars within these and other African institutions, and the creation and sustenance of vibrant research programs that will in turn attract further capacity.

In tandem with this, CARTA includes universities and research institutions with active ongoing research agendas that can host PhD candidates, offer post-doctoral research opportunities, and provide role models for graduating Upon graduation, CARTA fellows are expected to continue to work at their home universities, and to contribute to rebuilding the foundations for quality research and teaching in African universities. They will be expected to embed and perpetuate the model at their home institutions and, possibly, propagate it to other emerging institutions.

The majority of these candidates will be expected to remain in the region and provide the essential leadership to strengthen higher degree training, research, policy and planning work in the region. Statistics available from the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), which uses a similar model for Masters and PhD training in economics, shows impressive rates of retention in the continent. A review of Wits School of Public Health's MSc in Epidemiology of 70 graduates from 2000-2005 also shows that all but 2 have remained in Africa. The networks created during their training will enable CARTA fellows to work Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA) 10 collaboratively to develop multidisciplinary research programs.

Beyond the initial eight years, the program is expected to become increasingly more self-sustaining as these emerging research leaders generate grants to which new doctoral students can be attached and which will enable such students to participate in future CARTA programs. As CARTA graduates prove their worth in different settings, the program will be able to attract private students and funds from both the private sector and African governments. Institutions outside the Consortium may elect to fund their junior faculty/researchers to participate in CARTA's JAS, and specific aspects of JAS may be developed as short courses targeting senior and mid-level government and NGO employees.

Further, the institutionalization of the JAS module will occur as the development and facilitation of each JAS will involve Africa-based senior and junior academics, who, over time, will form a greater proportion of the facilitators. Making the curriculum, reading lists, and teaching materials available online will allow participating universities to introduce similar seminars in other doctoral training programs at their institutions. As the initiative gains prominence, the CARTA model is expected to inform efforts at improving graduate training using an approach that is immediately attainable, scalable, reproducible, and economically sustainable.

Overarching Goal.
CARTA's high-level objective is to promote health and development of African populations through high-quality research on policy-relevant priority issues. The initiative aims to foster multidisciplinary research hubs at African universities that are vibrant and viable; create networks of locally-trained internationally recognised scholars; and enhance the capacity of African universities to lead globally competitive research and training programs. These goals will be achieved by providing model doctoral training programs with strong supervision and mentoring components; strengthening of infrastructure, skills and faculty commitment to lead and manage research initiatives within African institutions; and hence, enhance, the retention of skilled researchers within the region.

Specific Aims
CARTA aims to train and retain a critical mass of networked African researchers with complementary research skills, able to work in multidisciplinary research environments. CARTA will:
  • Locally produce quality researchers and scholars in population and public health through a regional, collaborative doctoral training program that will:
    • Run annual joint advanced seminars (JAS) to equip doctoral students with strong conceptual, technical, analytical, writing and professional skills;
    • Create a culture of research among student cohorts by facilitating contact among them and between them and global experts; increasing their exposure to current debates and literature in the field; and supporting their participation in scientific meetings to enhance networking and decrease professional isolation; and
    • Consolidate research skills through post-doctoral fellowships and/or re-entry research grants.
  • Support the capacity of African universities to conduct and lead high-quality research through;
    • Short courses in supervision, grant-writing, and research management;
    • Mentoring of faculty and other university staff by way of their participation in JAS curriculum development workshops and co-facilitating the JAS;
    • Building physical research infrastructure;
    • Facilitating the development of coherent and policy-relevant research agendas; and
    • Ensuring that doctoral students contribute to their institutions by running seminars following each JAS.