LiU has long had collaborations with countries in Africa, just as it has in Latin America and East Asia. Veronica Brodén Gyberg points to an increasing interest for collaboration with universities outside of the western world.
“Remember – the challenges we are facing are global, and so our collaborations must extend around the whole world. Another challenge that science sometimes faces is that of ‘fake news’, and I believe that this inspires many researchers to defend scientific values. Global collaboration is one way to strengthen research.”
The collaboration between the South African and Swedish universities has been given the name SASUF, The South Africa-Sweden University Forum. This is a strategic internationalisation project: similar projects that target a specific country have previously been carried out for Japan and Brazil. The objective of these strategic projects is to strengthen relationships in research, education and innovation between Sweden and the country in question.
The initiative for the collaboration with South Africa came from Uppsala University, and several Swedish universities are participating, as are many South African universities. A total of 36 institutions of higher education are involved. The embassies of the relevant countries are also participating, as are organisations from civil society, research-funding bodies and government agencies. The project will last for three years, and all research is to be coupled to the UN goals expressed in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
A delegation of 14 people from LiU visited South Africa in April to participate in seminars and establish contacts.
“The LiU management participated in the trip to show that we place high importance on the collaboration with South Africa, and the work based on the 2030 Agenda was an obvious starting point for our collaboration”, says Deputy Vice-Chancellor Peter Värbrand.
Six topics were discussed, including climate change and natural resources, education for a sustainable society, digital technology and sustainable cities, travel and tourism.
Karin Tonderski, docent jointly in the Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology and the Department of Management and Engineering, is one of the LiU researchers who participated.
“The journey was a good opportunity to gain insight into the academic world in South Africa and start to build networks. We plan to start collaboration with a focus on issues related to impediments and opportunities for equal and sustainable water management.”
Student representatives from the two countries also participated, and it is intended that SASUF will work with student collaboration and common distance education.
The SASUF research and innovation week will be held at Uppsala in May 2020, and related seminars and conferences will be held at other locations in Sweden.
“SASUF is a carefully constructed platform for both established and young researchers. It’s like offering an arena that someone has helped to make ready – where someone else has prepared the ground for research and collaboration. With good ideas and interesting contacts, the prospects for getting the collaboration going are good”, says Veronica Brodén Gyberg.
The SASUF collaboration is financed on the Swedish side by STINT, the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education. In addition to LiU, Swedish participants are Uppsala University, Lund University, Karlstad University, Karolinska Institutet, the Royal Institute of Technology, Malmö University, Stockholm University, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå University, the University of Gothenburg, Örebro University and University West. A total of 1,500 people participated in the week in South Africa.
Translated by George Farrants