The theme of the research school is: ‘Food and Water Security in a Changing World’, which specifically addresses some of the main Global Challenges facing the world and also cuts across several of the Sustainable Development Goals. It offers two parallel courses; the first focuses on sustainable food systems and the second looks at access to water and water for production.
The opening ceremony took place on 28 November 2022, where the Vice-Chancellor of Makerere University in Uganda gave the opening address. Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, Vice Rector Benedicte Carlsen from The University of Bergen, as well as the Norwegian ambassador, H.E. Mrs Elin Ostebe Johansen, were in attendance.
Dr Lwando Mdeleni (pictured) from the office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation at UWC was invited to give a keynote address during the official opening of the research school. Driving home the importance of collaboration and multi-stakeholder responsibility and engagement, he said: “Universities need to embrace their changing roles and their unique position of influence. In parallel, governments and other partners need to acknowledge the role of research, data and knowledge in informing the SDGs, and the potential of academia to integrate different evidence ecosystems and disciplines for the successful implementation of the SDGs.”
Recognising the dominant and normative ways in which these collaborating institutions are set up, he called upon a shift in both mentality and systems to attain these goals. He urged that: “A change in mindsets and culture is needed in both academia and government if we are to rise up to the global challenge. This is a call to initiate the dialogue. Let us start the conversation today so that we can achieve extensive progress by 2030.”
UWC’s commitment to making a significant impact towards the SDG goals was highlighted at the SDG Indaba, which took place on 6 June 2022 in partnership with the Department of Science and Innovation, the theme of which was: ‘A Paradigm Shift to Agenda 2063’. Various esteemed speakers from different organisations and specialities highlighted the importance of meaningful equal partnerships and collaborations to make a significant change when addressing the social ills highlighted in the UN Agenda 2030 and using the UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.
The sentiments echoed from the SDG Indaba, resonated with Dr Ronald Semyalo, a Zoology, Entomology and Fisheries Science lecturer from Makerere University, who was in the process of organising the research school in partnership with Bergen University at the time. He extended an invitation to the UWC PhD candidates to attend the Makerere-Bergen Research School.
This amazing opportunity reinforces UWC’s commitment to enhancing the postgraduate student experience through student mobility, which promotes internationalisation among post-graduates. The research school shows what can be achieved when higher education institutions move away from a culture of competition towards collaboration. This is in line with the interdisciplinary, collaborative and supportive spirit that characterizes the research agenda and focus at UWC.