Masters Research Projects for 2009

Home » News » Masters Research Projects for 2009

During the course of this week 26 students participated in the Research Methodology Workshop to prepare them for their research activities over the coming year. All these students have graduated from the BPhil in Sustainable Development Planning and Management. After the Research Workshop they will register for the MPhil in Sustainable Development Planning and Management. For most of them this involves the writing up of a major research-based thesis usually combining a literature-based conceptual framework, followed by an empirical application. However, some have selected the options open to them, including doing two or four electives with a shorter thesis, while some have selected the alternatives to a thesis that are available, namely journal articles or a major Project Proposal (using the Logical Framework Analysis format). Most will graduate in March/April 2010. Significantly, only a quarter will be doing their research on a full-time basis. For a brief summary of the exciting range of research topics that have been selected by the students and which relate to many of the biggest challenges in sustainable development today, then…


The following research themes have been selected by the students, most of whom are middle career professionals with extensive work and professional experience in their respective fields:

  • Geographical Information Systems in development planning and environmental analysis
  • sustainable consumption with special reference to incentives for promoting the consumption of organic locally grown food by middle class consumers
  • ways of connecting the need to stimulate local economic development and the need to increase the supply of solar hot water geysers in the Stellenbosch area using a value-chain analysis
  • the dynamics of social change and what can be learnt from organisational change processes in the biodiversity and vulnerable children sectors
  • what kinds of regulatory interventions are available to local governments in South Africa to promote the use of solar hot water geysers
  • lessons that can be learnt from China about how to stimulate the growth and expansion of the renewable energy sector in South Africa
  • sustainable urban water consumption – technical solutions and appropriate policy frameworks
  • the reasons for low levels of agricultural productivity in post-settlement land reform projects in Namibia
  • guidelines for the more effective use of fire for managing the clearing of alien trees and plants using an Eastern Cape case study
  • sustainable biomass production with special reference to the role of ‘reforestation’ with special reference to case studies in various African countries
  • the dynamics of public and community participation in the design and development of the Phillippi sustainable business and residential neighbourhood (which is a major urban development project that the SI co-leads with other partners)
  • the role of animal traction in the development of small-scale farms in South Africa and Zimbabwe (including a case study of the use of animal traction on the farm managed by Eric Swartz that forms part of the Lynedoch EcoVillage setup)
  • the development of a national financial model for installing solar roof tops and solar hot water heaters on a million residential rooftops in South Africa as an alternative to increasing the use of fossil fuel-based energy
  • a critical review of the use of sustainability indicators by the City of Cape Town
  • sustainable consumption in Stellenbosch with special reference to role that can be played by solar hot water geysers
  • proposals for energy from biomass and biowaste production in the Ceres district in the Western Cape
  • options for increasing the use of sustainable building materials in Mozambique; promoting local sustainable food economies using Stellenbosch as a case study
  • how the health and financial status of farm workers is affected by gender factors and household decision-making dynamics in the Stellenbosch area
  • how financial institutions are incorporating sustainability into their risk factor decision-making models
  • why do companies decide to ‘go green’ and what actually changes when they do; empowerment of CBOs and the role that NGOs play to support them
  • re-thinking the way financial investment in social enterprises works, with special reference to transaction costs
  • development of a model for increasing the use of renewable energy in the design of sustainable neighbourhoods
  • a critical review of the Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariff and what can be learnt from the international experience
  • analysis of the process of increasing investments in renewable energy in Namibia

The concentration of projects that focus on Stellenbosch is related to the involvement of the SI and the University in the so-called ‘Reinventing Stellenbosch’ initiative that is led by the Rector of the University and the Mayor of Stellenbosch.