Resilient Urban Communities

Social Enterprises and Nonprofits as Service Providers and Vehicles for Participation in African Megacities

At the heart of RUC, lies the set-up and consolidation of long-term German-African and inner- African cooperation. Sustainability is guaranteed through international, trans- and interdisciplinary educational programs. This translates into the establishment of a German-African student exchange program, and the promotion of transdisciplinary and inter-sectoral exchange between academia and local professionals and stakeholders in the field of public and nonprofit administration, corporate social responsibility, civic engagement and philanthropy in Africa.

Globe with focus on AFrica with the project title "Resilient Urban Communitites"

Therefore, two phases of field research will be conducted at Johannesburg, aiming at empirical data concerning the work and work environment of social enterprises and non-profit-organizations in vulnerable urban communities. Throughout the project several instances of long-term cooperation (yearly PhD seminars, a training program for current and future social entrepreneurs and civic leaders, a German-African study exchange program) will be established and continued after the project is completed. RUC intends to build on the existing networks and infrastructure of the professional international and African associations involved in the project, to deepen and escalate exchange and mutual benefits between them.


RUC Consortium at AUC
RUC Consortium at AUC

The multi-stakeholder event also featuring representatives of international institutions, Egyptian civil servants and diplomatic missions to Egypt was attended by academics and PhD students from European and African universities with background in the social sciences and architecture. One of the keynote lecturers, Dr. Youssef Nassef (Climate Adaptation Director with UNFCCC) mentioned the detrimental effect of “nonsensical publishing”, denialism and “escapist” tendencies (aka climate adaptation) that hamper efforts to tackle the climate crisis. About a dozen PhD students whose theses focus on various aspects of resilience exhibited by urban communities presented their research projects. These projects referred to issues like the circle economy, urban planning, measures to mitigate urban floods and urban fires, the quality of indoor air for academic performance, the water energy food nexus, but also domestic violence, digitalisation of philanthropy, students’ self-organisation, etc.

Conference participants had the unique opportunity to visit two Egyptian non-profits supporting slums’ residents in Cairo: the Association for the Protection of the Environment “APE” (est. 1984), an Egyptian NGO working in the waste collector’s community to promote recycling and the empowerment of women and children, and Tawasol Egypt (est. 2008), an NGO registered with the Ministry of Social Solidarity to serve the low-income communities in three of Cairo’s informal slum areas. Special thanks to the hosts and specifically Prof. Dr. Ali Awni (AUC) for organising these memorable visits and making possible for us to witness results of these social enterprises’ efforts to empower vulnerable and marginalised urban communities.

The program can be found here:

Program Conference Cairo Oct 12.23

RUC PhD Seminar Participants at AUC
RUC PhD Seminar Participants at AUC

American University Cairo, AUC Avenue, New Cairo 11835, Egypt.

October 10th – 11th 2023, 1.5 days.

The RUC PhD/ECR Seminar at the American University Cairo is part of a series of PhD seminars, workshops, and conferences within the African-German project “Resilient Urban Communities” funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education. RUC is a collaborative African-German project that addresses the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals “sustainable cities and communities” and “quality education” through research and dissemination of knowledge related to the subject areas “good governance” and “local government”. Encompassing a research, networking and education component, RUC aims to improve urban supply systems and infrastructure for vulnerable groups in deprived local communities and enhance the governance of African megacities. The research program of RUC focuses on social enterprises (SEs) and nonprofit organizations (NPOs) as subsidiary social service providers and vehicles for participation and integration that contribute to the resilience of urban communities. RUC meetings and adjunct PhD-seminars are stepping-stones for the development of a network of current and future experts (scholars and practitioners) on social economy, good governance, and philanthropy in Africa.

PhD Seminar Call:
The PhD/ECR seminar aims to improve the research and careers of current PhD candidates and early career researchers (post-docs) by giving them the opportunity to discuss their work in a supportive environment. Participants receive feedback from peers and leading senior researchers as well as advice on career strategies and an opportunity to network with the international RUC community. The call 2023 is open to all enrolled doctoral candidates and ECRs doing research in social entrepreneurship, non-profit studies, urban studies, development economics, philanthropy, or related fields.
The key themes for seminar include discussions on types of research approaches and designs, managing the relationships with supervisors /receiving feedback and the
publication of high-quality academic articles. The central attraction to this seminar are the small group sessions: each student is allotted time to discuss her/his work and obtain feedback from peers and faculty.  The seminar also includes opening   and   closing   plenary   sessions and   at   least one professional development session with presentations by leading scholars in the field. Additionally, the PhD seminar shall feature the 3-minute Thesis Competition.
RUC shall provide limited financial support to attend the seminar.

PhD Seminar Applications:
Each application for the PhD seminar must include:
•    A research paper not exceeding one 750 words that refers to the stage of your thesis.
•    A personal motivation statement of about 400 words explaining what you hope to get from the seminar.
•    An official document confirming your status as a doctoral candidate or a post-doc researcher at your University or similar institution.

Eligibility criteria for PhD applicants:

•    Applicants must be researchers (Ph.D. candidates or postdoc scholars) with at most five years Ph.D. qualification.
•    Applicants are expected to conduct research connected to the fields of non-profit studies, social entrepreneurship, urban studies, development economics, or civil society studies as well as to the local context of Africa.
•    Applicants should be able to participate in the entire Ph.D. seminar to be held in Cairo, Egypt.
•    Applicants should be prepared to present and discuss their work with peers and faculty, and to actively participate in group discussions.

•    Submission of Abstracts Deadline: July the 1st 2023
•    Acceptance of the Abstracts Deadline: August the 1st 2023

Conference and Seminar Inquiries/Submissions:

Download: Call for Papers

On August 28th 2023 Beatrice Hati held the lecture “(Re)negotiating boundaries in a transitioning world: Grassroots organizations (GROs) in complex governance assemblages” at the Institute of Political Science, University of Münster.

Beatrice Hati (Bea) is an urban planner working as a research and urban development associate at the Kenya Hub of the International Centre for Frugal Innovation (ICFI). She is also a PhD researcher at the International Institute of Social Studies.

For more information see the flyer for the lecture.

Flyer Lecture Hati

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