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Visit of UFS Qwaqwa team to GPSS-GLI

Last updated December 06, 2017

On December 1st, Dr. Samuel Adelabu (Geographer), Dr. Melissa Hansen (Sustainability Scientist), and Dr. Jared McDonald (Historian) from Qwaqwa Campus of University of the Free State (UFS Qwaqwa) visited GPSS-GLI to discuss future collaborations.

 

 

UFS Qwaqwa has a vision to develop its campus as “sustainability hub” of research and education focusing on mountain and rural regions in South Africa. One of their recent initiatives is Afromontane Research Unit, which focuses on sustainability challenges unique to mountain and rural regions of the country. The campus is located in the highest land area of the country, and also in a close distance to Phuthaditjhaba town where approximately 500,000 people reside. UFS Qwaqwa is a key social institution for the area when addressing Sustainable Development Goals locally.

 

 

Dr. Adelabu, Dr. Hansen, and Dr. McDonald had a meeting with Prof. Mino (Program Coordinator of GPSS-GLI), Dr. Onuki (Associate Professor of GPSS-GLI), and other GPSS-GLI members to discuss possible future collaborations between UFS Qwaqwa and GPSS-GLI. They were particularly interested in learning from the personal experiences of Prof. Mino and Dr. Onuki in establishing and operating an educational program in sustainability science in higher education. Prof. Mino highlighted that he started GPSS from “what we have already”, for example, asking other graduate programs within the same graduate school to offer one course that can fit in sustainability theme. We agreed to seek for future opportunities to work jointly for sustainability research and education.

 

Picture 1. Meeting with GPSS-GLI members

 

Prior to their visit to GPSS-GLI in Kashiwa, they traveled to Akita prefecture to join a field excursion. They visited Gojome town where a number of community-based initiatives to address issues related to rural sustainability in Japanese context. They observed challenges caused by aging and depopulation in rural regions such as abandonment of assets (agricultural fields, houses, public facilities), difficulty in access to services (shops, postal offices, hospitals), and declining local economy (decline in demands, lack of job opportunities, weakness in career education). However, at the same time, they had a rich experience in interacting with local high school students, and they learned that many of the students wish to stay or come back to Akita in the future. Out-migration of young people, intergenerational ties, and role of local universities for achieving rural sustainability are common topics we identified. We agreed to jointly conduct our fieldwork on these topics both in Qwaqwa and Akita from next academic year.

 

Picture 2 Small group interactions with local high school students

 

After the meeting with Prof. Mino and others, they gave a special lecture on the sustainability challenges in Qwaqwa. GPSS-GLI students had a chance to interact with them directly after the lectures by Dr. Hansen and Dr. Adelabu. UFS Qwaqwa team is planning to join the Global Field Exercise in Akita in Feburary and also the 6th GPSS-GLI Symposium in March, 2018.

 

Picture 3 Group photo with GPSS-GLI students after the special lecture at Kashiwa Campus of The University of Tokyo

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