Transdisciplinarity and Sustainability – New Partnerships

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Stellenbosch University recently decided to support a proposal to establish a new ‘hub’ for transdisciplinary and sustainability studies that was jointly developed by the Sustainability Institute, the CSIR and the School of Public Management and Planning. The proposal for the so-called TSAMA Hub emerged out of discussions initiated in 2005 by the then Dean of Science, Prof. Albert Van Jaarsveld. Academics from various Departments at the University plus  researchers from the CSIR came together to discuss the need to develop high level analytical, methodological and modelling skills for transdisciplinary research into the major sustainability challenges we face. The TSAMA acronym emerged from these discussions and stands for ‘transdisciplinary, sustainability, assessment, modelling and analysis’.

A joint team compiled a proposal that was submitted to the University’s Strategic Fund. R300 000 has been allocated to support various activities to build this new ‘hub’, the most important being the compilation of a Research Chair application to the National Research Foundation. A Research Chair is a high level Professorial appointment funded by NRF funds for at least five years. The aim is to build up a major research programme in a particular field of national importance at the Doctoral and Post-Doctoral levels. Given that there are already ten people registered for Phds under the supervision of Professor Mark Swilling, it is clear that there is a major demand for new research in the sustainability field. The TSAMA Hub and the proposed Research Chair in Transdisciplinary Sustainability Studies will strengthen the rapidly emerging research field that is flourishing across many Departments at Stellenbosch University. The Sustainability Institute is managing large research projects that involve quite a few of the Departments and which generate new knowledge that feeds directly into the teaching programmes.