• Learning trip to the International Architectural Biennale Rotterdam

    Vanessa von der Heyde, 29 June 2016

    The SI’s Changemaker Programme, which endeavours to equip students with the knowledge, tools and skills to become leaders of change, recently took a group of PGD students to the Netherlands for the International Architectural Biennale Rotterdam (IABR), for an intensive three-day immersive learning experience.

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  • Northern Cape Explorations into Renewable Energy Space

    Megan Davies and Jeeten Morar, 15 June 2016

    Megan Davies and Jeeten Morar set off for the Northern Cape at the beginning of May for a month of exploration and adventure as part of research for their PhD and MPhil projects. Investigating the developmental impacts of the large scale renewable energy plants, the Northern Cape was the ideal starting point—the province hosts around a third of the country's total renewable plants.

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  • Food, science & culture come together as Europe meets Africa in a splash of photography

    Luke Metelerkamp, 27 May 2016

    For three days in June, the Stockholm Resilience Centre building will be merging with the Food (R)evolution exhibition to become public art installation blurring the boundaries between art, food and cutting edge science.

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  • Young Women in Agriculture Programme

    Rosie 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.

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  • Masters Graduation 2016

    Mark 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.

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  • New partnership taking students to the Amazon Summer School

    Rosie Downey, 20 January 2016

    The Sustainability Institute is a proud partner of this immersive learning course that will happen in the heart of the Amazonian Jungle in Brazil from July 12 to August 1, 2016.

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  • Celebrating 2015

    Rosie 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 economy

    Mark 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.

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  • Launch of conversations in Soil, Soul and Society

    Rosie 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.

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  • Learning with indigenous knowledge at Schumacher College

    Eve 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.

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  • The story behind SPARK Lynedoch

    Jess 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.

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  • Journeys in transitions

    Mark 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. 

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  • Ebenezer reflects on the trip to Nepal

    Ebenezer, 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.

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  • Early learning as a platform towards Sustainable futures

    Phethang 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.

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  • SI represented at Celebrating Soil! Celebrating Life! in Amsterdam

    Eve 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!”

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  • 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 settlement

    Eve 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.

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  • An SI approach to learning

    Eve 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.

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  • A Montessori approach to early learning for sustainability at the SI

    Eve 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.”

    Download a paper by Eve Annecke

  • Letter from Eve Annecke to SI staff, students and friends

    Eve Annecke, 29 April 2015

    Dearest all

    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.

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  • A Ben Okri message for our new students

    Mark 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 wave

    Mark 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 2015

    Mark 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 Nepal

    Mark Swilling, 22 January 2015
    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

  • Greening African Economies

    Mark Swilling, 22 January 2015
    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 see https://za.boell.org/sites/default/files/perspectives_sept_2014.pdf