(Published - 2 August 2019)
“Great things happen when people come together. We cannot innovate alone – it takes an ecosystem.”
That quest for collaborative innovation brought Provost Prendergast from Trinity College to the University of the Western Cape last week, where he delivered a presentation on their E3 (Engineering, Environment and Emerging) Project, and called for continued partnership between the two institutions.
“Climate change, water shortages, migration, inequality, biodiversity loss, the ageing population and conflict resolution - these are the defining issues of the age,” he said. “If we can’t come together to agree on how we will tackle these vital issues, then our future looks compromised.”
Trinity’s E3 Institute – which the College hopes to have ready by 2022 – will be a “game-changer” in educating students to address these challenges.
The E3 project hopes to develop new teaching methods and will integrate engineering, technology and the natural sciences in a student-managed, flexible, smart and innovative approach.
UWC shares Trinity’s passion for greening. The University has thrice been crowned Africa’s Greenest Campus, and is the only South African University to be named among the top 200 universities in the world in the recent Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings, measuring higher education’s commitment and contributions to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The University has also committed itself to the recently-launched Green Good Deeds programme,.
“The partnership with Trinity College is a long-standing one,” noted the UWC’s Director of International Relations, Umesh Bawa. “We share common values, a commitment to human rights and the advancement of knowledge in service of humanity.”
Trinity College’s Kader Asmal Fellowship honours Minister Kader Asmal, who taught at Trinity College while in exile - before returning to UWC, where he joined other exiles like Constitutional Judge Albie Sachs and Dullah Omar, who were committed to the liberation struggle in South Africa, and worked on the Constitution of South Africa at UWC. In addition, UWC holds the Irish anti-apartheid papers in the Mayibuye Centre.
”UWC’s proud history of engaging the community to enhance the quality of life among the vulnerable and marginalized, and of tackling the big issues facing humanity, is given expression by this partnership,” said Bawa.
Provost Patrick Prendergast spent the last week of July touring Africa, promoting Trinity’s Inspiring Generations philanthropic campaign, and stressing the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship - and of collaboration between universities.
“Universities are centres of excellence,” he said. “They bring the generations together into a single place and, at their best, they nurture ground-breaking ideas and encourage a radical approach to problem-solving.”
Prof Premesh Lalu, Director of UWC’s Centre for Humanities Research, and Professor Jane Ohlmeyer, Director of the Trinity Humanities Longroom, are members of the international Consortium for Humanities Centres and Institutes (CHCI). UWC’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof Tyrone Pretorius, attended the CHCI meeting hosted by Trinity College in July where they had an opportunity to meet Trinity’s Provost and the Vice-President for International Programmes. And Prof Lalu was awarded a three-month fellowship at Trinity in 2019.
“There are plans afoot to work collaboratively on various initiatives in the humanities, including the Crisis of Democracy, and in the area of documentary film with Professor Ruth Barton at Trinity,” Prof Lalu explained. “The next step is to look at exploring synergies across science, the environment and emerging technologies.”