A World of Answers - brought to you by University of Pretoria

Future of Africa Campuses: A convergance of ideas to share resources

In this episode of A World of Answers a panel from the University of Pretoria probe transforming the world through African research excellence.

Is the university able to produce individuals who have a global understanding that is locally rooted?

Prof Stephanie Burton says the University of Pretoria is producing people who understand both those challenges. She says it is intended to be a hub which draws on people from across Africa to address African challenges - and to put those in a global context.

We talk about transforming the world through African research excellence. We talk about future Africa being the place we can address our heritage, our continental heritage, and the place we come together across Africa and make a difference in addressing those global challenges.

Professor Stephanie Burton, Vice-Principal: Research and Postgraduate Education at the institution - University of Pretoria

The panel of professors and members of the audience tackle the thorny issue of xenophobia.

Part of the goal and future vision in Africa is to collapse the kind of boundaries that bring about outbursts of xenophobia, forms of discrimination among Africans.

Professor James Ogude, Director and Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship - University of Pretoria

He says the decolonisation programme has been underway for many years and did not just begin with the Fallist movement.

Africa is a very complex continent. We come from very different histories.

Professor James Ogude, Director and Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship - University of Pretoria

The University of Pretoria promises an opportunity to bridge these gaps by bringing people together, he says.

If people develop in isolation, chances are that the next neighbour is just the 'other'. That's the nature of human society all over. So we have got to collapse those borders, those boundaries, physical and also knowledge boundaries.

Professor James Ogude, Director and Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship - University of Pretoria

Knowledge boundaries are critical and the importance of moving from knowledge in silos to knowledge sharing, he says.

If you are going to deal with xenophobia you have got to deal with economic problems on the ground. You have to understand patterns of migration on the Continent and the causal factors that lead to them.

Professor James Ogude, Director and Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship - University of Pretoria

Xenophobia the world over occurs among the most vulnerable and is often poor against poor, he says.

It is a struggle over economics, those who are marginalised must become involved in the economy.

Professor James Ogude, Director and Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship - University of Pretoria

Food security is one of the biggest causes of poverty and knowledge around issues such as food security needs to be shared..but farming needs to be able to compete with the global agricultural giants.

We would produce the capacity which would provide an alternative for seed. Agriculture is not a philanthropic exercise. Farmers need to make bottom-line work.

Professor Bernard Slippers, Former Future Africa Project Leader & Director of FABI - University of Pretoria

He says the younger generation doing this research, need to be built as leaders, to build their own research systems, as people who see themselves as leading the world.

They must see themselves as people who lead this transformation in an ethical and connected way,

Professor Bernard Slippers, Former Future Africa Project Leader & Director of FABI - University of Pretoria

Professor Burton says the university's role is education research and capacity development with sustainability and equability as root themes.

Transdisciplinary is the key, they all argue, rather than interdisciplinary studies.

The modern trend is to invite communities to help pose the questions in universities, adds Burton.

Members of the community and stakeholders are invited in the 'co-creation' process to join the university in their research and to help formulate the questions.

They all emphasise the need for new ways of learning and a Future Africa Campus needs to build integrated knowledge.

But is government and business ready for a future Africa context?

Universities should not just be providing critiques, but rather help to change behaviour policies, they argue.

Professor Slippers explains the 'cross-cutting approach'.

Future Africa is about partnerships. It is about academic partnerships that stretch across our continent. It goes beyond the academic partnerships...connecting with diplomatic and government partnerships.

Professor Bernard Slippers, Former Future Africa Project Leader & Director of FABI - University of Pretoria

Much has been done to push pan-Africanist ideals with some successes and some failures, argues Professor Ogude.

It should not stop us from trying. We need to be bold. We can reimagine the future..through knowledge production, and push the frontiers of learning.

Professor James Ogude, Director and Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship - University of Pretoria

Knowledge systems break through boundaries that political systems do not do, they argue.

They emphasise the importance of encouraging Africans to think together, to bring together a convergence of ideas and share resources.

Africa can build bridges and capacity by so doing.

Future Africa is a space of hope and excitement says Professor Burton.

It is an invitation to unlock the potential of Africa so that Africans can lead transformations for Africa.


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