Human Sciences Research Council

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The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), South Africa's statutory research agency for the humanities, conducts research that generates critical and independent knowledge relative to all aspects of human and social development


Founded in 1968, as an offshoot of the national Buro for Social Research and was intended to be South Africa's statutory research. Over the years it has grown to become the largest dedicated research institute in the social sciences and humanities on the African continent, doing cutting-edge research in areas that are crucial to development.

The Council conducts large-scale, policy-relevant,social-scientific research for public sector users,non-governmental organisations and international development agencies.

It had a number of institutes, including an Institute for Languages, Literature and Arts, which housed the National Documentation Centre for the Performing Arts (later the Centre for South African Theatre Research) and an Institute for Communications Research.

In 2019 the HSRC launched a 50/90 archival and history project, to celebrate its first 50 years of existence. The researcher on the project is cultural researcher Astrid Schwenke.

The new HSRC

In the late 1980s the HSRC was reformed, and now has 6 research programmes and 3 Centres.

The research programmes are:

Education and Skills Development Economic Performance and Development Population Health, Health Systems and Innovation HIV/AIDS, STIs and TB (including the Africa-wide research network, SAHARA) Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery Human and Social Development

The Centres are:

Centre for Africa's Social Progress Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators Centre for the Study of the Social and Environmental Determinants of Nutrition


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