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.
Convetional 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
Article by Mark Swilling
The 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 click here.
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. For a detailed breakdown of the course, click HERE.
Students present their research results
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 (for a detailed programme click HERE). 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.
Over one hundred people from the Sustainability Institute and the Lynedoch EcoVillage came together to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the founding of the SI and the Lynedoch EcoVillage. Eve did a presentation that captured the last 15 years. The twelve founding members were also present. In this collage, from top left in a circulate directio they are as follows: Makke Johnson, Veronica Galant, Bryce Anderson, Manda Mabiba, Ross Van Niekerk, June Stone, Kerneels Claasen, Naledi Mabeba, John Van Breda, Eric Swartz, Mark Swilling and Eve Annecke.
The 2014 World Student Environmental Network (WSEN) Global Summit was held at Stellenbosch University (SU) from 30 June to 4 July, with attendance from 60 delegates representing over 25 countries. The WSEN is a platform for students from all over the world to come together to discuss the advancement of environmental sustainability in higher education. 2014 marked the first time that the summit was held in a developing country, an important milestone for the WSEN. The theme for this year’s gathering was “Coming back to life”, as decided by the organising committee headed up by SU Master’s student Gina King and SI Master’s student Jay du Plessis. The theme emphasised the need for humans to reconnect with nature, seeing ourselves not as separate from, but a fundamental part of the web of life. In this respect, the social aspect of sustainability was for the first time one of the more integral parts of the conference, having had mostly a focus on climate change related issues in the past. Mark Swilling gave a keynote speech on the structural transformation and transitions to sustainable development on the African continent, and Eve Annecke held a session on Environment and Ethics along with Johan Hattingh. Mathilda, chef extraordinaire from the SI, provided vegetarian lunches for every day of the summit, also catering for special requests such as gluten free and vegan meals. The summit was a huge success with lots of positive feedback from all the delegates, who enjoyed learning about and discussing environmental and social sustainability issues from a Global South perspective.
The Department of Environmental Affairs and the founding University of WSEN, Doshisha University in Japan, sponsored the summit. For more information on WSEN visit the website www.wsen2014.org and www.wsen.org.
Three of MPhil Students - Paul Currie, Jack Radmore and Megan Davies - who graduated from the Introduction to System Dynamics Modelling module in 2013 presented their work at the 32nd International Conference of the System Dynamics Society in Delft, Netherlands, 20th to 24th July 2014. Only Paul attended the conference. In addition, two former Executive Students, Karin Kritzinger and Jai Clifford-Holmes, who both attended the Systems Dynamics course in 2013, also attended the conference.
Dr Josephine Musango of the School Public Leadership and Prof Alan Brent of the Department of Industrial Engineering, also attended the conference.
The theme of the conference was ‘Good Governance in a Complex World,’ and brought together 440 participants. Participants included academics, consultants, practitioners, students, educators, managers and policy-makers from across the globe and encompassed diverse topics such as business management and operations, healthcare, energy, resources, economy, the environment, and new system dynamics applications.
Paul Currie presented a poster paper entitled: ‘Sanitation technology options in informal settlements: a system dynamics approach’, which he co-authored with Jack Radmore, Dr Musango and Prof Brent. The paper queried the recent protests surrounding poor sanitation in the Western Cape and developed a system dynamics model to investigate the type of toilet technology option that might be most appropriate for widespread implementation. The different technology options were evaluated based on their costs and how they address social aspects such as dignity, privacy, safety, aesthetics, and environmental and public health. According to Paul, sanitation was not a prevailing theme in the conference and he had the feeling that such a situation as in Enkanini, our case study, in which there are about 80 toilets for about 8000 residents, was beyond what many delegates could handle.
Megan Davies’ poster paper was entitled: ‘A systems approach to understand the effect of Facebook use on the quality of interpersonal communication’, which she co-authored with Dr Musango and Prof Brent. The paper explored the tension between the use of Facebook and the quality of interpersonal communication surfacing from Megan, who is a regular Facebook user. While Facebook has emerged as a substitute for the connection that people lack in interpersonal relationships, the paper provides useful insights and urges Facebook users to see interactions not as alternatives to, but rather as complimentary of, actual inter-personal connections. The value of Facebook is mainly in developing networks of strategic and useful loose connections. Megan’s work was further submitted for review to the Journal Technology in Society.
Jai-Clifford Holmes presented a paper entitled: ‘Using system dynamics to explore the water supply and demand dilemmas of a small South African Municipality’, which he co-authored with Dr Jill Slinger, Dr Musango, Prof Brent and Dr Carolyn Palmer. System dynamics modelling was used as a boundary object in engaging the Kirkwood community and the Sundays River Valley municipality in understanding how to reconcile the available water supply with the growing demand for potable water in Kirkwood, whilst minimising the gap that currently exists between the current and desired levels of potable water services.
This research output clearly illustrates that system dynamics provides a language and methodology that can be utilised to understand divergent real-world problems that are facing us in the 21st Century.
As the lecturers of the System Dynamics module, Dr Musango and Prof Brent are proud of the students for producing excellent quality work that was relevant to be presented at the prestige international conference of the System Dynamics Society.
Compiled by Josephine Musango, posted by Mark Swilling