Major and Sub-thematic Areas of the Various Sectors of the University


St. Mary’s University (SMU) identified eight major research thematic areas in 2015, with the aim of guiding and advancing knowledge creation and dissemination efforts of the University. The research thematic areas focus on Institutional Development and Improvement, Business Development and Management, Higher Education Provision (access) and Quality of Education, Sustainable Development in Ethiopia [and beyond], ICT for Sustainable Development, Open and Distance Education and Life-long Learning in Ethiopia/Africa, Gender, Student Wellness and Support System, and Social Work Research. The prioritized research thematic areas have directed SMU’s in-house research undertakings and its annual research conferences’/seminars’ discussion areas since 2015.

Several changes have taken place after the identification of the aforementioned thematic areas. These changes require revising the thematic areas in place in order to work on research that would address the emerging issues. In addition, the University should consider and respond to the dynamic changes taking place at local, regional and international levels. It has, therefore, become relevant to revise these thematic areas to make the research undertakings of the University proactive and responsive to the current developments in Ethiopia and beyond.

Accordingly, a university-wide task force was organized to steer the revision process. Members of the task force, along with previously appointed research team leaders/members, revised in the major and sub-thematic areas; relatively significant change has been made in the sub-thematic areas than the major ones. Various documents were consulted in the revision process (SMU’s 3rd Strategic Plan, Ethiopia’s 10-year Development Plan, the SDGs etc). The following are the revised thematic areas:

Major Thematic Area 1: Research on Institutional Development, Improvement and Sustainability

Sub-theme 1: Employee Satisfaction for Institutional Development

Sub-theme 2: Customer Relationship Management and Communication

Sub-theme 3: Organizational Culture and Work Ethics

Sub-theme 4: Service Quality Assessment and Improvement

Sub-theme 5: Training and Human Capacity Development

Sub-theme 6: Financial Management Systems: prospects and challenges

Sub-theme 7: Institutional Reform and Change Management

Sub-theme 8: Institutional Competitiveness, Branding and Partnership

Sub-theme 9: Entrepreneurial Decision, Growth and Expansion

Subtheme 10: Management and Leadership: practice and challenges

Major Thematic Area 2: Research on Higher Education

Sub-theme 1: Curricular Reforms and Quality Education Enhancement

Sub-theme 2: Integration of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and Promotion of Quality Learning

Sub-theme 3: University-Technology Transformation: challenges and opportunities

Sub-theme 4: University Industry Linkage: challenges and opportunities

Sub-theme 5: Digitalization of Academic Disciplines and Enhancement of Virtual Learning

Sub-theme 6: Curriculum and Labor Market Demands

Sub-theme 7: Digital Skills, Employability and Development of Alumni Communities

Sub-theme 8: Quality Management System and Quality Enhancement Initiatives in Higher Education

Sub-theme 9: Private Higher Education Provisions: practice and challenges

Sub-theme 10: Higher Education Exit Exam and Student Learning, Certification and Career Outcomes

Sub-theme 11: Internationalization of HEIs

Sub-theme 12: Research Publications in HEIs: practice and challenges

Major Thematic Area 3: Sustainable Development in Ethiopia [and beyond]


Sub-theme 1: Sustainable Development Goals in Ethiopia: progress, challenges and the way forward.

Sub-theme 2: Poverty, Vulnerability and Social Protections in Ethiopia

Sub-theme 3: Digital Agriculture, Sustainable Food Production, and Agricultural Investment in Ethiopia

Sub-theme 4: Rural-urban Integration, Industrialization, Innovation and Infrastructure Development in Ethiopia

Sub-theme 5: Sustainable Cities and Communities in Ethiopia: practices, challenges and prospects

Sub-theme 6: International Regional Trade and Development Cooperation

Sub-theme 7: Clean Energy Practice in Ethiopia: access, affordability, reliability and modern energy services

Sub-theme 8: Green Legacy and Climate Change Actions: resilience, adaptive capacity and hazards

Sub-theme 9: Tourism Development

Major Thematic Area 4:  ICT for Sustainable Development 

Sub-theme 1: Digital Economy

Sub-theme 2: ICT for Health and Social Care

Sub-theme 3: ICT for Education

Sub-theme 4: ICT for Infrastructure Development and Community Use

Sub-theme 5: Digital Literacy, Digital Governance and Value Chain

Sub-theme 6: ICT for Climate & Environmental Justice

Sub-theme 7: Digital Innovations for Humanitarian Response and Supply Chain

Sub-theme 8: Cyber Security, Cyber Warfare and Cyber Sovereignty

Sub-theme 9: ICT for Proactive Response of Pandemics and Hazards

Sub-theme 10: Natural Interface and Emerging Technology

Sub-theme 11: ICT for Agricultural Development

Sub-theme 12: ICT for Knowledge Management and Business Intelligence

Major Thematic Area 5: Research on Open and Distance Education and Life-long Learning

Sub-theme 1: Research, Knowledge Transfer and Outreach Collaboration

Sub-theme 2: Governance and Management in ODL Institutions

Sub-theme 3: E-Learning Prospects, Practices and Challenges

Sub-theme 4: Relevance, Access and Quality of Education

Sub-theme 5: Life-long Learning: practices, challenges and prospects

Sub-theme 6: Students’ Enrollment, Support System, Evaluation and Career Development

Sub-theme 7: Design and Development of Institutional Learning Materials

Sub-theme 8: National and International Policy Directions on ODL

Sub-theme 9: ODL Response to Emerging Issues

Major Thematic Area 6: Business Development, Management and Finance

Sub-theme 1: Change and Innovation Management: practice, challenges and prospects

Sub-theme 2. Strategic Management in Business and Finance

Sub-theme 3: Business Development, Competitiveness and Sustainability

Sub-theme 4: Project Development, Management and Administration

Sub-theme 5: Digital and International Marketing

Sub-theme 6: Human Resource Management and Development: practice, challenge and prospects

Sub-theme 7: Finance: Financial technology (Fin Tech), Financial Inclusion

Sub-theme 8: Financial Reporting and Accounting Fraud

Sub-theme 9: Monetary and Fiscal Policies

Sub-theme 10: Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility

Sub-theme 11: Business Leadership and Corporate Governance

Sub-theme 12: Business Intelligence and Data Mining

Sub-theme 13: Emerging Issues in Business and Finance

Major Thematic Area 7: Research on Gender and Inclusiveness 

Sub-theme 1: Policy, Practice and Monitoring Schemes in Gender Related Services

Sub-theme 2: Gender Differences and Academic Performance in Higher Education

Sub-theme 3: Gender Sensitiveness of University Policies and Services

Sub-theme 4: Gender inclusiveness: policy, practice and challenges

Major Thematic Area 8: Social Work and Sociology Research

Sub-theme 1: Social Protection /Social Security

Sub-theme 2: Migration, Displacement, Integration and Durable Solutions

Sub-theme 3: Social Policy Awareness and Practice

Sub-theme 4: Social Capital & Development

Sub-theme 5: Community Empowerment and Development

Sub-theme 6: Social Work Field Practice in Different Settings

Sub-theme 7: Disaster and Risk Management

Sub-theme 8: Indigenous Conflict Resolution Mechanisms

Sub-theme 9: Good Governance: Practice and Challenges in Ethiopia

Sub-theme 10: Social Work in the Digital Age

Sub-theme 11: The Role of Civil Society in Social Development

Sub-theme 12: Emerging Issues in Social Development