(Published - 20 May 2019)
The South Africa - Sweden University Forum, or SASUF, brings together universities from the two countries to support the development of research collaborations and networks.
Professor Josè Frantz, UWC’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, said: “At the University of the Western Cape we focus on the Boyer’s Model of scholarship - the scholarship of discovery that focuses on original research that advances knowledge; the scholarship of integration that involves the synthesis of information across disciplines and topics. It is the scholarship of teaching and learning that is systematic in how we teach and engage with our students, but more importantly, we focus on the scholarship of engagement that goes beyond being a researcher.”
Frantz explained that engaged scholarship is governed by two key values, namely social justice and citizenship. Within these values researchers are expected to focus not only on the individual, but also on social wellbeing and addressing community needs.
Prof Frantz said tackling the complex challenges of society requires bringing about change, and institutions should have different views and different perspectives on how to tackle challenges.
One of the workshops hosted by Professor Per Assmo, an Extraordinary Associate Professor at UWC, involved presentations and discussions around the success and relevance of Work Integrated Learning (WIL) at universities. The workshop was centred around WIL in theory and practice. WIL assumes and requires cooperation between stakeholders, namely the university, students and society. Professor Per Assmo also shared his experiences around the development of a postgraduate Work Integrated Masters in Political Science between the University West in Sweden and UWC.
Dr Henri Jacobs - Deputy Director of Work Integrated Learning at Bloemfontein Central University of Technology - said WIL approaches develop new knowledge and skills related to an ever-changing societal context and global citizenry. As a curriculum matter, WIL is thus a vehicle that is ideally suited to transform the curriculum and bridge divides that could also enable one to find international answers.
UWC’s Professor Lawrence Piper said WIL benefits students’ academic performance. “It impacts their careers and academic work because it makes the world of work real for the student. It also teaches the student softer skills when dealing with research. We have experienced challenges too. Some students were not prepared to work in the field and we also had logistical issues such as funding and transportation,” he said.
UWC’s Research Niche on Migration and Mobilities led a workshop on Engaging with Civil Society in Collaborative Research and Innovation. Project leader, Dr Leah Koskimaki, said: “We are able to make this research niche possible because there are so many scholars at UWC who work in this field, focussing on issues such as the rights of refugees and migrants, the role of remittances, the relationship between migration and development, mobility and inequality, xenophobia and so much more.”
UWC’s Professor Daniel Tevera discussed the issue of Zimbabwean migrant entrepreneurs and xenophobic violence in South Africa. “In the early 2000s Zimbabwe experienced political economic crises which deepened urban and rural poverty and food insecurity. Farm invasions led to extensive displacement of both farmers and farm workers. Also, when the government launched Operation Murambatsvina (Restore Order/Clear the Trash) thousands of urban informal housing and livelihoods were destroyed,” said Prof Tevera.
He said that as a result of these crises there has been an increased wave of Zimbabweans migrating to SA, and in 2014 more than 2 million legal Zimbabwean entries were recorded. “However, with the increase of Africans seeking employment and better opportunities in South Africa, violent xenophobic eruptions, mostly targeting Africans, occurred. The year 2008 was particularly bad because attacks occurred in many urban areas. In recent years explicit targets of the xenophobic attacks were informal businesses operated by migrants and refugees. However, research reveals that because of recurrent episodes of xenophobic violence, South Africa has not provided a safe space for refuge and rebuilding for many of these migrant entrepreneurs”, Tevera said.
Other speakers included Prof Mulugeta Dinbabo, Acting Director of UWC’s Institute for Social Development (ISD); Fr Filippo Ferraro, Executive Director of Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa (SIHMA); Prof Gabriel Tati of UWC’s Department of Statistics and Population Studies, and Prof Cecilia Christersson, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Global Engagement and Challenge Based Learning at Malmö University, in Malmö, Sweden.