A collaborative and research education hub that seeks to bring together the practical and research orientated aspects of ICT for supporting the country’s sustainability efforts, will kick off at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) next week.
The Hub for Education on ICT for Sustainability (HEdIS) is a collaborative project of NMMU, the University of Cape Town and German institution Carl von Ossietzky University, in Oldenburg, that will be run through the South African universities’ computing science departments over four years.
The project is based on a well-established and long-standing partnership between the two South African universities involving numerous faculties and schools, tapping into their expertise as comprehensive universities with strong links to the entire Sub-Saharan region. Carl von Ossietzky University is an internationally recognized university from the Global North with a long-standing track record in sustainability research, teaching and community engagement.
At NMMU, the Hub will be established and run at the Department of Computing Sciences, getting its full academic and infrastructural support. A workshop to kick off the project will be hosted by the department on 27 and 28 February 2017.
The HEdIS, primarily funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), will explore six major sustainability topics for research-oriented as well as practice-related teaching that have specific regard to the South African context. These include Water Management, Energy Efficiency, Waste Management, Sustainable Mobility, Education on Sustainability and Sustainability Entrepreneurship.
NMMU Department of Computing Sciences’ head Dr Brenda Scholtz described the project as an excellent opportunity for students and staff at NMMU and UCT to collaborate with international and local industry partners and experienced researchers in the fields of ICT and sustainability.
“It will bring together multi-disciplinary experts in order to find solutions for addressing critical issues of education and awareness of sustainability issues (such as the shortage of energy and water) in our community and how ICT can be used to facilitate such solutions,” she said. “The exposure and knowledge gained by our students involved in this project will be immeasurable.”
Within the project runtime, teaching modules for the above-mentioned themes will be developed and each topic supplied with courses and course related offers for the students. In addition to the ultimate extension of existing study programmes at NMMU and UCT for students, the project will address vocational training activities for company participants.
A number of activities are lined up and will take place over the project’s four-year timeframe, including workshops, summer schools and overall project management. German and South African researchers, as well as key business partners, will engage participants in some of these planned activities.
ICT students and other participants elected by networked industry partners will be chosen to attend the Summer schools, getting an opportunity to not only improve their competencies in the specific topic, but be afforded exposure to a global network of educators, researchers, innovators, industry experts and academics.
This exposure will also improve student and participants’ communication skills and enhance their understanding of different cultures. At the end of the summer schools, the students will evaluate the modules according to set criteria. The results of the evaluations will be used to further develop, improve and enhance the ICT for sustainability.
Innovative ways will be used to improve the modules so that they are coherently designed to transform the curriculum and develop graduates as holistic and responsible citizens so as to meet South Africa’s millennium development goals and the goals of the National Development Plan (NDP).
The project is funded by the DAAD for a period of four years, 2017 to 2021, with the help of some German and South African industry partners, which include Stadt Oldenburg, Volkswagen, Zentrum Oldenburg, BKB Limited, eWaste Technologies Africa, Rand Merchant Bank Ltd and SYSPRO.
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