The John & Elnora Ferguson Centre for African Studies (JEFCAS) was established in August 2002 as the African Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (Africa Centre), based in the world-renowned Department of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford. The African Centre was the first ever specialist and area studies Peace and Conflict Research institute established in Europe and North America. It was established as part of the strategic expansion of the Department of Peace Studies and as an integral part of the Department’s specialised research and capacity building centres.
In February 2005, the Africa Centre was awarded the Allan & Nesta Ferguson Trust Project Grant of £1.75 million to strategically support the expansion of the Africa Centre and its core activities. After the death of the benefactress, Mrs Elnora Ferguson, and in recognition of the academic/research work that Professor John Ferguson had done in Africa, the Ferguson Grant Project Management Committee decided to change the name of the Africa Centre to the John and Elnora Ferguson Centre for African Studies (JEFCAS) in January 2009.
JEFCAS is a product of the demand for African specialism in the area of Peace and Conflict Research and, in particular, understanding the nexus of peace, security, conflict and development in contemporary Africa.
Importantly, the 1990s saw an exponential increase in Peace Research teaching and learning focus on Africa. Available statistics show that out of a total number of 83 postgraduate research applicants to the Department of Peace Studies between October 2001 and July 2002, 38 were either from Africa or had proposed research topics on Africa.
In addition, due to Peace Studies’ international profile, key western governments, intergovernmental organisations such as EU and UN, Africa regional institutions, educational foundations, Non-governmental organisations (NGO) and media institutions such as the BBC, have inundated the Department of Peace Studies with a variety of requests on African specialism.
Through the study and proactive engagement with African peoples, societies, states, governments and their institutions, politics and development, JEFCAS is committed to working for a durable peace and sustainable development on the continent. The JEFCAS’ mission is therefore:
- To promote policy-relevant and action-oriented research for shaping international and domestic discourse on African peace, security and development issues;
- To promote knowledge of the pivotal role of African organizations, indigenous institutions, agencies and civil society organizations in conflict prevention, management, peacebuilding and resolution;
- To build partnership for the advancement of durable peace through the development and integration of context specific Peace and Conflict Studies programmes and course modules into the curricula of partner universities and specialized institutions (including military and police academies) in Africa;
- To function as a national and international Centre of Excellence.
In pursuit of its mission, JEFCAS maintains a broad range of institutional partnerships with other Africanist Centres in Africa; the United Kingdom; Europe; North America (USA & Canada); Latin America; China; South East Asia and the Commonwealth.
The primary objectives of JEFCAS are:
- To create an international specialism of the Department of Peace Studies’ existing research, teaching, learning, knowledge transfer, capacity development and training expertise on Africa.
- To provide a focused, analytical and empirical understanding of the nexus between peace, security, conflict and development in contemporary Africa. Additionally, a key emphasis is on the interface between the theory and practice of these inter-related fields.
- To develop JEFCAS as a leading policy research institute with sound academic publication record and the capacity to influence national (UK) international policy processes and responses on Africa.
Philosophy & Guiding principles
As an Africa-focused Centre based within an academic institution in Europe, JEFCAS is strategically located to contribute positively to the understanding, interpretations and policy processes prescribed for Africa by the Global North. JEFCAS’ interactions with institutions and partners in both the Global North and the Global South are guided by the imperative to maximize its contributions and achieve its stated objectives. JEFCAS is therefore guided by the following principles:
- JEFCAS partnerships are based on equal and mutually beneficial collaboration based on local ownership.
- JEFCAS is committed to influencing and shaping the debates on international policy, development and crisis intervention in Africa.
- Offer sound and rigorous analysis of contemporary African affairs as a basis for understanding and formulating informed international policies.
- JEFCAS emphasizes the primacy of African institutions, agencies and civil society actors in the ownership of conflict prevention, management, resolution and peace building processes in their countries.