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24 January 2023
Partnerships and Networking can be built through conferencing: SDG 17

The University of the Western Cape has had a partnership with Christ University in India since 2016. This year UWC co-hosted a successful 5th International Conference on Counseling Practice in Bengalaru, India. A delegation of UWC academics and researchers participated in the conference, which included the themes:

a. Professional training
b. Neuropsychology
c. Counseling and Psychotherapeutic practices
d. Spirituality
e. Indigenous well-being practices and knowledge systems

Prof Tyrone Pretorius, the vice-chancellor and rector of UWC, delivered a virtual opening address in which he underscored the importance of the partnership between Christ University and the University of the Western Cape. Prof Pretorius also challenged the conference delegates to critically examine their assumptions, practices and commitment to learning from the COVID pandemic. The central theme that ran through the conference was that we need to formulate a collective ambition to enhance the practice of psychology that will promote health and well-being. We need to consider under-used strategies (e.g. indigenous knowledge systems, policy research, etc.) and develop innovations to achieve those ambitions. In this process, we must accept that the development of the profession and psychological practice is iterative, dynamic, evolutionary, functional, and non-linear. A further consideration is to be more intentional in our work and not be complicit with practices that are not contextually sensitive. This type of approach will enable us to pursue Good health and well-being (SDG 3) and quality education (SDG 4).

Christ University is an established partner of UWC in our internationalisation efforts. The University recently celebrated 50 years in private higher education and has grown in stature and reputation as evidenced by improved world rankings, and increased research engagement, output and doctoral production. Amongst the specialised focus areas and programme qualification mix are robust training in social sciences (Psychology & Education) and information technology. In his address, Prof Pretorius expressed a continued commitment to developing this partnership further. Amongst other things, the substantial capacity in higher education governance, specialised skills in instrument development and a healthy Health Sciences faculty at UWC can be leveraged to strengthen the partnership. In particular, the scholarship of community engagement and interprofessional education can be platforms for skills transfer. The delegation was energised by the academic exchange and interaction. Professors Rahied Ahmed, Director of the Wellness Unit and Mario Smith, Department of Psychology, both from UWC, participated in the Scholar in Residence Programme (SIR) which entailed a brief exchange visit to provide lectures, network and exchange practices around higher education provision and governance.