Young Women in Agriculture ProgrammeRosie Downey, 13 May 2016
On the weekend of the 23rd to 24th of April, the usually quiet guest house of the Sustainability Institute was filled with excitement and laughter from the 46 young women attending an in-residency training programme for young women in agriculture. This programme was delivered as a partnership between the Sustainability Institute and the World Bank, with 46 participants aged 14-18 years attending from farmworker communities and high schools from Lynedoch Valley and Stellenbosch in the Western Cape.Read more ...
Masters Graduation 2016Mark Swilling, 29 April 2016
Such a happy and sad day – so happy for these Masters students who are graduating today, but sad I could not be at graduation because I am lying in hospital with a damaged leg after a rookie mistake parking my bike last Monday at the SI before lectures resulting in the bike falling onto my leg causing a wound that went septic a week later.Read more ...
New partnership taking students to the Amazon Summer SchoolRosie Downey, 20 January 2016
Celebrating 2015Rosie Downey, 22 December 2015
Wishing our friends and family of the SI a wonderful holidays ahead! Thanks to everyone who made our 2015 end of year celebration such a special event, and looking forward to a year of great memories ahead.
Warmest wishes, the SI Team
Witnessing an actually existing transition to a green economyMark Swilling, 1 December 2015
I am spending the week in Addis with an amazing group of 40 Ethiopian officials and academics who are all directly involved in the implementation of Ethiopia’s Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) policy and strategic programme. I think what impressed me most is the sophistication of the debates about the issues in the different sectors. Here is quite a young group of University educated Ethiopians using complex conceptual frameworks drawn from climate science, ecosystem science, resource economics and sustainability science to generate detailed analyses of developmental opportunities and constraints aimed at achieving in precisely quantified ways the goals of economic growth and improved wellbeing without increasing carbon emissions and simultaneously restoring natural systems (especially soils and forests). I have yet to come across anything remotely close to this in the South African context. And it is NOT the kind of reality that needs to be addressed in the global North.Read more ...
Launch of conversations in Soil, Soul and SocietyRosie Downey, 27 November 2015
Launched in August, the Sustainability Institute has held a series of interesting talks where friends, students, alumni and members of staff have the opportunity to network and engage with conversations in soil, soul and society.Read more ...
Learning with indigenous knowledge at Schumacher CollegeEve Annecke, 27 November 2015
Stepping aside after 15 years as the founding director of the SI has become a gigantic adventure! By December, I will have spent only 3 months at my home in the Lynedoch EcoVillage in a journey that has spanned 10 countries, a 350 km pilgrimage, trying my hand as a ‘talking head’ at an international conference or two and now deeply immersed in the 4 month residential component of a brand-new experimental course at Schumacher College in the UK.Read more ...
The story behind SPARK LynedochJess Schulschenk, 25 November 2015
The SI’s commitment, as a non-profit trust, is to ensure that the children from within our community receive the best quality education opportunities possible, within a safe and nurturing learning environment.Read more ...
Journeys in transitionsMark Swilling, 24 November 2015
Stellenbosch University has asked systems biologist Prof Jannie Hofmeyr and I to be the Co-Directors of a new Stellenbosch University ‘flagship’ initiative called the Stellenbosch Centre for Complex Systems in Transition (CST). Our conceptual project is to build a framework that synthesizes complexity thinking, sustainability science and transition from a transdisciplinary perspective.Read more ...
Ebenezer reflects on the trip to NepalEbenezer, 12 November 2015
It was with a whole lot of excitement that I boarded my flight for the Mugu district in Nepal on 8 September 2015 where the Comparative Studies in Sustainable Development module was to be presented. I expected a relaxing time in the Himalayas mountain range but boy was I wrong because this life-changing experience was infused with embracing the unknown, getting along with a dynamic group of independent thinkers and most importantly affording me time and space to rediscover the God (greatness) in others and myself.Read more ...
Early learning as a platform towards Sustainable futuresPhethang Mabeba, 12 November 2015
Nosakhumzi (Nomzi) is one of eight facilitators in the Lynedoch Early Learning Centre, assisting 72 children from ages 0 - 6 years to realise their full potential in a prepared environment that enables this to happen. Since Nomzi joined the centre over three years ago, she has since completed her NQF Level 4 Early Childhood development (ECD) SETA accredited qualification and is currently pursuing an NQF Level 5 certificate. Nomzi plays a facilitative role by working with the child individually - following the child in their natural process of development. As the child gains more competence and self-actualisation, Nomzi introduces more complex learning material to further stimulate the child’s interests.Read more ...
SI represented at Celebrating Soil! Celebrating Life! in AmsterdamEve Annecke, 1 July 2015
Sitting quietly in London, in the home of loving friends, I am reflecting on the last couple of days in Amsterdam. Invited to participate in a master class on Feeding the World: the 9 billion people question, I am so grateful to Volkert Engelsman of Eosta for creating this way of celebrating 25 years of working for soils: “the conference will be more than just an exchange of knowledge and commitments; it is intended to be a true celebration of life and its living foundation. Soil… this wonderful thin layer embracing our planet, where trillions of micro-organisms meet in a magic encounter of cosmic and terrestrial powers. Celebrating Soil=-Celebrating Life!”Read more ...
At last - A municipal subsidy for all iShack clients!Eve Annecke, 4 June 2015
On Friday 29th May, we finally signed a contract with Stellenbosch Municipality in which a monthly "Free Basic Electricity" subsidy will be paid to the iShack Project for each client that receives the solar electricity service. This is a first in South Africa! The value of the subsidy is R46 and it enables us to keep the service running without additional grant funding in the long term. It also means we can routinely give "December Free" for all clients that keep up their monthly payments throughout the year. We have been working solidly with the municipality for over 18 months to figure how to make this happen in a way that is compliant with all the policies and regulations and the Municipal Finance Management Act. All credit to the municipality for supporting this initiative and being prepared to take this innovative leap!
Energy in an informal settlementEve Annecke, 26 May 2015
Yesterday I spent the day reconnecting threads through walking. I visit first Andreas and our iShack project, in Enkanini. Part of pioneering this work, saw the setup of SIIL (Sustainability Institute Innovation Lab, a for-profit company as one of the steps into contributing to the SI as an entrepreneurial venture). Louise and I set it up as directors a few years ago, and now it’s Damian and I who are directors. I’m struck at the intricacies that make up the SI – relational, process oriented, and careful attention to the institutional details that underpin magic making. The iShack is run through SIIL.Read more ...
An SI approach to learningEve Annecke, 26 May 2015
What does it mean to learn ecologically within a postcolonial frame? The SI approach to learning is core to who we are. As we imagine what it is to be human, what a good society might be, we come back time and time again to how we learn. As Africans, what does it mean to learn ecologically within a postcolonial frame? The attached chapter was published in: The Necessary Transition, 2013, edited by Malcolm McIntosh, a long-time friend of the SI and deeply committed to socioecological transitions.
A Montessori approach to early learning for sustainability at the SIEve Annecke, 11 May 2015
In A Time for New Dreams (2011), Ben Okri writes evocatively: “Childhood asks us what reality really is, what the world is, and where it came from. Childhood asks where life came from, and where it goes. Does the soul exist? Where was the soul before birth? How many realms are there? Are fairies real? Do ghosts and spirits exist? Why are some people lucky and others unlucky, why is there suffering? Why are we here? Are there more things in the innocent-seeming world than we can see? These are some of the questions that the state of childhood asks, and which perplex us all our days.”
Letter from Eve Annecke to SI staff, students and friendsEve Annecke, 29 April 2015
I’m back, after a very long walk in Europe – a pilgrimage – as part of the insane privilege of a sabbatical made possible by Sally Wilton and Teresa Graham after celebrating last year the 15th birthday of the Sustainability Institute. Being the founding director, from 1999, is my greatest work privilege.Read more ...
A Ben Okri message for our new studentsMark Swilling, 16 February 2015
"Only those who truly love and who are truly strong can sustain their lives as a dream. You dwell in your own enchantment. Life throws stones at you, but your love and your dream change those stones into the flowers of discovery. Even if you lose, or are defeated by things, your triumph will always be exemplary. And if no one knows it, then there are places that do. People like you enrich the dreams of the worlds, and it is dreams that create history. People like you are unknowing transformers of things, protected by your own fairy-tale, by love.” - Ben Okri
Carlota Perez remains optimistic, but denies the 6th waveMark Swilling, 11 February 2015
Everyone who has passed through the Sustainable Development module since 2011 has been required to engage with the work of Venezuelan economist Carlota Perez on long-waves of techno-industrial expansion and decline. Perez's work influenced the understanding of transition that Eve Annecke and I wrote about in Just Transitions. I recently re-tweeted a tweet sent out by my friend Maarten Hajer that provided a link to a ppt presentation recently delivered by Perez in The Netherlands. Two things struck me: she remains optimistic that the post-crisis phase of the ICT-based techno-industrial surge will result in another golden age, with investments aimed at greening the economy acting as game changers. It is also interesting that she still disagrees with the notion that the installation phase of the 6th techno-industrial surge has already begun and that it is driven by green-tech investors who realise that repairing the future is the driver of the next long-wave development cycle - see https://twitter.com/maartenhajer/status/561110778770894849
Profile of the Class of 2015Mark Swilling, 11 February 2015
On 28th January 2015 45 people registered for the Masters Programme in Sustainable Development, starting off with the three day Orientation followed by the two-week introductory module on Sustainable Development. Of the 45 that registered, 53% are classified black, and 47% white. Significantly, 66% are women and 34% are men - a shift away from the usual pattern of roughly equal numbers of men and women. Continuing a trend that started about five years ago that has resulted in a rising number of people employed in the private sector and deciline in the numbers from the non-profit and public sectors, 62% of those who registered are employed in the private sector. The remainder come from the public sector (20%), education (9%) and 7% are full-time students. The diversity of disciplinary backgrounds is notable, from engineers, to a fashion designer, a chef, school teachers, managers in cement and oil companies, to environmentalists, social scientists and economists, this is a programme that attracts a truly multi-disciplinary group. This contributes significantly to the richness of classroom discussion and learning.
Students Assess NepalMark Swilling, 22 January 2015Convetional western growth models will not work
In 2014 a group of PGD students travelled to Nepal to attend a course delivered as part of the SI Explorers programme. They travelled through cities and rural areas in order to assess what kinds of development strategies have been implemented. They concluded that western development paradigms promoted via globalization processes are unlikely to work in Nepal. They compiled a YouTube video to express these findings. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOMXMtpvp2U&feature=youtu.be
Greening African EconomiesMark Swilling, 22 January 2015The September 2014 Heinrich Boll Foundation publication Perspectives was devoted to the theme of greening African economies in the context of climate change. The first contribution by Mark Swilling was based on his talk at the African Union Summit of Ministers of Finance and Economics in Abuja in February 2014. The contributions reflect diverse ideological perspectives on the challenge of making African economies more sustainable. For a copy see https://za.boell.org/sites/default/files/perspectives_sept_2014.pdf
What real research should be....Mark Swilling, 14 January 2015
".............do not monopolise your knowledge nor impose arrogantly your techniques, but respect and combine your skills with the knowledge of the researched and grassroots communities, taking them as full partners and co-researchers. Do not trust elitist versions of history and science which respond to dominant interests, but be receptive to counter-narratives and try to recapture them. Do not depend solely on your culture to interpret facts, but recover local values, traits, believe and arts for action by and with the research organisations. Do not impose your own ponderous scientific style for communicating results, but diffuse and share what you have learned together with the people, in a manner that is wholly understandable and even literary and pleasant, for science should not be necessarily a mystery nor a monopoly of experts and intellectuals." Fals Borda
Macro-Economic Training at StellenboschMark Swilling, 8 January 2015
During the period 10 November - 19 December, a Training Course in Macroeconomic Sector Analyses and Systems Dynamics was convened by the Quantum Global Research Lab working in partnership the School of Public Leadership and the Sustainability Institute, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
This course is an initiative by the Quantum Global Research Lab AG (QGRL), established in Zug, Switzerland to lead innovation and excellence in delivering bottom-up models for inclusive development and sustainable investment decision-making in African countries. This course is hosted by the QGRL in partnership with the School of Public Leadership and Sustainability Institute, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Stellenbosch University, under the auspices of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Quantum Global Research Lab and Stellenbosch University. Subsequently, the course participants will receive further training on country-specific analyses, and other relevant subjects as well.
2014 Research Colloquiem Starts TomrrowMark Swilling, 9 November 2014
At the end of every academic year students who have completed their Mphil research are given an oppportunity to present a conference paper based on their theses to a Research Colloquiem of their peers and staff. This here there is a wide range of topics including natural building technologies, job creation in the renewable energy sector, the potential of fresh water aquaculture, the implications of the green economy approach for the informal sector, environmental impact assessment in Tanzania, food waste at Stellenbosch University, community-based wildlife management in Uganda, traditional farming in Tigray, Ethiopia, household food security in Nigeria, community-based aquaponics, urban food security in Zambia, incremental upgrading in Stellenbosch, material flow analysis of Songdo ecocity in South Korea, and the potential of environmental education.
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