FAR-LeaF Fellow a CCNY Outstanding Scholar

FAR-LeaF Fellow Dr David Ssekamatte was recently recognised as one of 10 outstanding scholars by Carnegie Corporation New York at the African Studies Association (ASA) annual conference 2022 held in Philadelphia in the United States.

Dr Ssekamatte, a lecturer at Uganda Management Institute (UMI) in Kampala, Uganda, was awarded a fellowship for presenting his work at the ASA conference. His paper entitled “Universities’ ethical and ecological responsibility: innovative institutional practices and engagement of policy actors to reduce climate footprint and promote sustainability” emerged among the outstanding papers.

The paper was presented on Friday, 18th November, under the theme: Building Sustainable Futures: Climate Change, Policy & Urbanism. It highlighted how universities in the African context could contribute to climate action and the innovative practices they can adopt to enhance sustainability at their campuses.

The paper also highlighted the need for university management and governance to take the lead on interventions for climate action and promoting sustainability within the university by embedding the issues in the university organisation’s strategy and policies.

Dr Ssekamatte says climate change and sustainability remain huge issues among scholars, practitioners, and decision-makers across the globe and in Africa. The call for action to develop interventions for mitigation and adaptation by formal, informal, and non-formal education is now urgent; the need is to explore how higher education in Africa can significantly play a key role in mainstreaming these concepts.


What is your research about, and why is it important?

My research interests are mainly on the nexus between universities and sustainability. Over the last five years, I have been working on research projects investigating the role of universities in climate mitigation and adaptation and how they can be handy in promoting sustainability and the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For the FAR-LeaF fellowship programme, I am working on a study to examine the integration of sustainability and climate change education in business and management training at higher education institutions in Uganda. I am exploring the various approaches to integrating sustainability into the curriculum, the institutional practices to reduce the climate footprint and the challenges and opportunities they face in integrating sustainability into their training and research interventions.

What challenges do you face (specifically in your geographical area or discipline)?

Universities face climate change like any other individual or institution. As entities, they contribute to climate footprint through unsustainable practices regarding water usage, energy use, travel or transportation systems within the campus, and general environmental management systems. The behaviours and practices of individuals within the entities which are not sustainable significantly affect the environment and contribute to the climate footprint. This implies that universities can actively adopt climate-friendly and sustainable practices to avoid many of these challenges by reviewing their governance and management systems and organisational policies and integrating these aspects into the curricula, research and community engagement or transfer functions.

What would those be if you had to explain the core and take away messages for the public?

Universities have an ethical and ecological responsibility as entities to adopt climate-friendly and sustainable practices and support their students and other entities, including governments, to adopt these in their operations and management systems. With the vast number of students and the university’s influence over other entities, behavioural change against unsustainable practices can be achieved on a large scale.

What advice would you give to early career researchers?

Early career researchers (especially those in climatic sciences) should pick an interest in researching issues of climate change and sustainability education at various levels of education. The potential for promoting climate change mitigation and adaptation as well as sustainability is massive with education. Many universities and schools have yet to realise their role, and research on these aspects can play a crucial role in awakening them to integrate these issues into their learning and other programmes.

What did the CCNY accolade mean to you/ your research?

The financial support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY) through the FAR-LeaF programme is instrumental in supporting me in conducting my postdoctoral research and enabling me to disseminate my research at international conferences and through publications. I am grateful to CCNY and the FAR-LeaF programme at the University of Pretoria for their support.

Heidi Sonnekus | FAR-LeaF Program


The Future Africa Research Leader Fellowship (FAR-LeaF) is a fellowship programme, focussed on developing transdisciplinary research and leadership skills, to address the complex, inter-linked challenges of health, well-being, and environmental risks in Africa.