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UWC Collaborates on Capacity Development Initiative

UWC collaborates on systems science initiatives for sustainability

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) has already distinguished itself as a leader in the field of sustainability science - particularly in the critically important areas of food (e.g. the Centre of Excellence in Food Security), energy (HySA Systems and the Energy Storage Innovation Laboratory), water (the UNESCO Chair in Hydrogeology) and health systems (School of Public Health).

But a number of recent strategic, high-level activities at the institution are contributing further towards the emergence of systems sustainability science as a true research niche at UWC, with the potential for high impact in local, regional and international spheres.

At the national level,  the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) have taken a strategic decision  to continue investing in and expanding activities around systems analysis over the coming decade, recognising the context of the pivotal role that this type of research plays in solving global challenges and contributing to development.

In collaboration with the Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA ) a revised model for the promotion and development of systems analysis has been conceptualised, taking cognisance of multi-level systems analysis capacity interventions in South- and Southern Africa: the Southern African Systems Analysis Centre (SASAC).

In a competitive call process, UWC, the lead institution in a collaboration with the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Stellenbosch University (SU) and the University of Limpopo (UL), has successfully been awarded the grant to host the first round of SASAC to start in 2016.

This three-year, R20 million grant will fund three important components: annual two-month capacity development programme for students working in systems analysis-related research (hosted jointly by UWC and SU);

2.a three-week capacity strengthening programme for advanced PhD students, postdoctoral fellows and supervisors (hosted annually by Wits); and

3.a bursary scheme for new PhD students working in fields related to systems analysis.

The call for applications for bursaries opened on 16 November 2015 for new doctoral students from South Africa (only citizens or permanent residents are eligible) who plan to pursue Doctoral studies at any public university in South Africa in 2016.

“The opportunity to collaborate and receive supervision from international experts and targeted capacity development support makes this bursary opportunity particularly valuable

for students with an interest in sustainability science for development and policy influence,” explains Prof Frans Swanepoel, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research & Innovation at UWC. “UWC eagerly anticipates student applications, particularly in the context of the various entities currently focusing their work on sustainability of critical systems.”