South Africa Sweden University Forum - better known as SASUF 2030 - is a transformative project uniting 39 universities from Sweden and South Africa. The SASUF Goes Digital workshop took place from 19 to 23 September 2022. The themes for the online conference were climate change, education, social transformation, health, sustainable urbanisation, and digital technologies.
Several UWC representatives, including postgraduate students and professors, participated in seminars.
Dr Lwando Mdleleni, a senior UWC researcher focusing on social development and innovation, presented a workshop that sought to make a case for the participatory action research methodology as a critical tool to drive impactful SDG research, thus dismantling the ivory towers of the university and going into the community, seeking meaningful collaborations to explain realities and find sustainable solutions. “Through this workshop, we identified possible local and international partner institutions that we can partner with as co-applicants for SASUF seed funding opening in March 2023,” said Dr Mdleleni.
Collaboration and partnership development were key goals of the SASUF goes digital conference. Dr Carolien van den Berg, a senior lecturer in the Economic and Management Sciences Faculty’s Information Systems Department, said: “The purpose of our presentation was to show a joint project that my project partner, Dr Verster at CPUT and I, have been working on for the last two years. The purpose of our participation was to try and locate Swedish partnerships for a joint project between Sweden and South Africa. In addition to presenters, we also had some of our staff attending the workshops and seminars”.
Professor Marieta du Plessis (Associate Professor, Department of Industrial Psychology) and Dr Carl Jansen van Vuuren (Researcher: Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences - Leadership in Higher Education Niche Area) presented a webinar on PEEP (Purpose, Equip, Environment, People). In a joint statement, they said: “Presenters of the webinar aimed to expose participants to a taste of a leadership programme and highlight the need for career management and finding your purpose as an academic. Those who engaged in this workshop walked away with a leadership purpose statement, model, and ideas for implementation and improvement.”
Some staff used the opportunity to develop additional skills, such as Dr Lutasha Ndesi, Lecturer: Academic Development at UWC, who said: “I wanted to explore whether I could identify my own authentic leadership style with my knowledge of who I am and the experiences I have gained on my career path thus far. For this reason, I decided to attend the SASUF online workshop PEEP Leadership Development Programme.”
In some instances, the digital conference was used to share initial ideas for future projects. According to Dr Nazeeia Sayed, a postdoctoral researcher from the School of Public Health, explained: “The purpose of the workshop session I presented was to share our initial thoughts on a proposed new project on the environmental impact of the foods South Africans consume. Involvement in the workshop sped up our collaboration & helped us clarify our initial thoughts on the project. For me, this was a great initiative to conclude my post-doc at UWC this month & has opened up the possibility that I can remain involved in an exciting & relevant research project going forward”.
Zamatungwa Mvelase, UWC SASUF student representative and master's student in the Faculty of Law, stated: “The purpose of the digital week was to showcase various research activities among SASUF member universities.” She hosted a webinar as a representative of the SASUF Student Network and her topic was: ‘A need for mental health support services in universities: A South African and Sweden perspective.’ The intention was to share knowledge, but this was also a networking event for researchers and students to identify possible collaborators for the upcoming SASUF grant and seed funding calls”. We had several researchers who presented workshops, and they highlighted the aim of their workshops.”
Umesh Bawa, Director of International Relations at UWC, said the workshop gave a good overview of the SASUF collaborative projects and brought researchers together to share their research. He highlighted that the next face-to-face 2023 SASUF Research Week would take place from 27 to 31 March 2023 at UWC. “The impact of the SASUF Goes Digital seminar thus sensitised UWC researchers to the opportunity for research collaboration with SASUF partners,” he said.
The SASUF Student Network is actively developing this project and playing a major role in the work with SASUF 2030. The three-year project started running from 2018-2020, aiming to strengthen ties between Sweden and South Africa in research, education, and innovation. The collaboration has connected more than 3000 Swedish and South African researchers, teachers, students, and university leaders in workshops and seminars. The students will be integrated into the steering mechanisms of the project, as well as all activities in SASUF 2030, from Research & Innovation Weeks to applying for and participating in the various grants.
The next SASUF activities include the Research and Innovation Week in 2023 as outlined in the table below.
Timeline for the upcoming Research and Innovation Week in South Africa 2023
|December 2022||Opening for call for workshops/sessions and call for satellite events|
|January 2023||Deadline for call of workshops/sessions and call for satellite events|
|February 2023||Official Programme launched|
|February 2023 – 27-31 March||Research & Innovation week in South Africa|
|27 - 28 March||Satellite events all over South Africa|
|29 - 31 March||Sustainability Form at University of the Western Cape|
SASUF email: email@example.com
Graphic credits: https://www.sasuf.org/