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UWC-Penn State University (PSU) engage in the initial phase of a Prevention Science Collaborative (PSC) Programme

For the past few years Prof Lisa Wegner, from the Department of Occupational Therapy and Mr Joachim Jacobs from the HIV and AIDS Programme at UWC, have been attending the Prevention Research Conference which is hosted by the Society for Prevention Research (SPR), in the USA. The engagements and networking at these conferences created an interest amongst UWC staff to initiate collaborations around prevention science particularly with Penn State (PSU) colleagues.  

Mr Joachim Jacobs and colleagues from the UWC HIV and AIDS Programme, together with UWC students and Profs. Ed Smith and Linda Caldwell from PSU,  co-ordinated the logistics of the visit by Penn State colleagues to UWC.  UWC hosted nine PSU prevention science researchers from January 26 to January 30, 2014. The visit commenced with the Rector, Professor O’Connell and Deputy Vice- Chancellor, Prof Bharuthram, providing the context of the importance of community engagement and research, as crucial components of the academic project as aligned to UWC’s vision and mission. Twelve UWC staff members representing two faculties, two centres and seven departments participated in the programme on Day One. The PSU colleagues met UWC colleagues from the UWC HIV and AIDS Programme, Centre for Excellence in Sports Development, and from the Departments of: Statistics; Occupational Therapy; Sport Recreation and Exercise Science; Physiotherapy;  Psychology and Social Work.

On the second day, the format of the programme was a ‘mobile conference’. On this occasion, the American delegates visited selected sites in Mitchell’s Plain, Khayelitsha and Nyanga. During these visits the delegates actively participated by engaging and interacting with community members and workers at the various sites. A graphic harvester developed graphical representations that succinctly captured the spirit of each site that was visited. (See some of the representations below.)

The programme for Day Three entailed discussions on the previous day’s activities by using material developed by the graphic harvester. The discussions focused on the potential for community partnerships to build prevention science initiatives in South Africa.  After the reflection and discussion session, UWC and PSU staff met again individually to further discuss potential collaborative projects.

According to Prof Lisa Wegner ‘We see this collaboration as the start of a growing initiative and we envision colleagues from other South African, African, American, and other universities joining the PSC Programme. The possibilities for real impact seem high and we are confident that we can continue to expand the great partnership already established between UWC and PSU around prevention’.

Various projects have already been identified to initiate the UWC-PSU collaborative work. UWC looks forward to seeing the fruition of these projects which are anticipated to strengthen prevention research and community engagement initiatives, and to provide opportunities for staff and postgraduate involvement as well as publications.

Some of the representations developed by the graphic harvester:



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