Why the book still carries the day in the global south

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The Source
By: Lucy Frisch, Wed Mar 25 2020

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Lucy Frisch

Author: Lucy Frisch

As an extension of this year's Academic Book Week* theme, 'The Environment,' we asked our book authors who have published research in related fields to share their thoughts on the future of the academic book as it relates to climate change, how they engage with audiences beyond their scholarly circle to make an impact, and much more.

Read our interview below with Godwell Nhamo, editor of two titles in the Springer Sustainable Development Goals Series, Scaling up SDGs Implementation and Sustainable Development Goals and Institutions of Higher Education.

Why did you chose a book as the medium for publishing your research?

From my perspective, the book remains a powerful instrument in delivering a long-lasting and more comprehensive message compared to a journal article. In addition, given the magnitude of the academic work ahead of us generated by the new global development agenda – the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its indivisible Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), journal articles may not be able to finish this work. A book also provides a one-stop shop for a subject matter. This is an aspect that may not make much sense for readers from the developed global north who have many online platforms, including libraries where reading material can be found and downloaded cheap or for free. However, to many more global citizens in off-line locations, including many in some parts of Africa, the book in a library still carries the day.

What do you think the future of books looks like, especially those on topics related to climate change and the SDGs?

Given that climate change action is embedded in the new global development agenda as SDG 13, books presenting a holistic picture on the subject matter will remain relevant for some time to come in the future. Both the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction, the Habitat III New Urban Agenda and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, present a case for authors to focus on climate change research. At the epicenter of the world’s challenges today, are issues to do with the increasing hardships caused by this layer of climate change. Hence writing about climate resilient (inclusive of adaptation) and mitigation gives me satisfaction that ‘I have made a meaningful contribution to society’. Extreme weather events, including droughts, floods, tornadoes, cyclones, extreme frost, heat waves etc. are all additional burdens for the world that are here to stay. It is therefore my calling to document such from an ethics perspectives. In fact, there is still a long way to go in raising awareness as well as writing for community climate and other related positive action to be excited. 

What impact would you like to see your book have?

I expect my book(s) to change the manner in which the world, especially those in positions of authority do things. Be it from the educational, entrepreneurship, innovation, developmental, political, community or any other known angles. It cannot be business as usual when masses die in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe out of one extreme weather event – the March 2019 Tropical cyclone Idai. One would then need to document this, not in one or few journal articles, but in a series of books that present detail on the impacts and how these can be addressed in the future. Hence, the books written should provide hope to least privileged communities, the perishing and articulate positions that will save lives in the future.

How can publishers work with you to make sure your research can make a difference on development and environmental issues?

It will be great for publishers to consider true open access of my books to global citizens from developing countries. It is of limited contribution for my book(s) to be published and attract a punitive foreign denominated cost. Just to think of a Euro 24 per chapter is difficult for me as an author. This presents an immediate reality of a family or academic or student in a poor country, battling to make ends meet and also sleeping on a hungry stomach. Parting with such a huge amount will not be possible and therefore automatically left behind. Such is the pain I feel each time my book(s) or any publication is locked in subscription consumption closing out the poor as well. Worse still, are the huge fees required to make the books and chapters ‘open access’, which really is closed access. So, what am I saying in brief? I will be grateful if my publisher truly make my work open access to global citizens from less privileged and developing countries.

How do you engage with practitioners, policymakers and/or the general public to make a difference through your research?

I have fully embraced the notion of academic service to communities. My research is embedded in finding shared solutions together with governments at national, state/provincial and mostly, local level. As I was writing this piece, work was going on in assisting municipalities in South Africa to localise the SDGs and moving the journey together. I wish to see the world a better place.

All our interviews reflect the views and opinions of the author(s). For more information about the work Springer Nature is doing with Low and Middle Income Countries please see here

Learn more about publishing an open access book at Springer Nature

About Godwell Nhamo

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Godwell Nhamo is a Full Professor and Exxaro Chair in Business and Climate Change at the University of South Africa (UNISA). He is a National Research Foundation (NRF) C-Rated researcher undertaking research in the fields of Climate Change and Governance, Green Economy and Sustainable Development. Prof Nhamo has conceptualised and successfully completed eight (8) edited book projects. The most recent being: The Green Building Evolution published by the HSRC Press (2019); Scaling up SDGs Implementation: Emerging cases from state, development and private sectors published by Springer (2020); and SDGs and Institutions of Higher Education published by Springer (2020). Prof Nhamo has also published over 80 journal articles. Since 2013, Prof Nhamo has graduated 10 PhDs and hosted 10 postdoctoral fellows. Currently, Prof Nhamo is leading two mega research projects on Cyclones and Floods in the era of SDGs in Southern Africa as well as SDGs for Society. Professor Nhamo sits in a number of both international and national boards and has received several awards and recognitions for his outstanding work both locally and internationally. Finally, Prof Nhamo is one of the four-member African Union High Level Panel drafting the Green Innovation Framework for the continent.

Lucy Frisch

Author: Lucy Frisch

Lucy Frisch is a Senior Marketing Manager on the Outreach and Open Research team, based in the New York office. She has a passion for storytelling and works to humanize the research published across Springer Nature with a focus on the researcher experience.