UKZN Hosts International Colloquium on Higher Education and Global Challenges
International Scholar Laureate Program students from the United States, Japan, Canada, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Venezuela, Trinidad, Nigeria and South Africa were at UKZN for a Colloquium on Higher Education and Global Challenges.
The Colloquium was hosted on the Westville campus by the Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Fund Centre in Indigenous Knowledge Systems (CIKS).
A board member of CIKS and a member of the Freedom Park Trust, Professor Muxe Nkondo, spoke on the role of African Knowledge Systems in the decolonisation process.
Nkondo posed questions including how Higher Education could contribute to the establishment of world peace through its curricula and the strategic value of integrating African moral philosophy (ubuntu) in socialisation.
He said: ‘One of the most important developments in recent years is the push for global dialogue and consensus in a world of differences in the struggle for global justice and peace.’
Nkondo said there was a need to develop a ‘social epistemology to integrate science, technology, humanities and the decision process in everyday life’.
The 50 international students, who are primarily interested in international affairs and diplomacy, raised a number of complex questions on the significance of indigenous knowledge systems in global issues such food security, climate change, transformation, land restitution and social cohesion.
Director of CIKS, Professor Hassan Kaya, emphasised the need to mitigate and adapt to climate change when dealing with issues of food security.
A CIKS post-doctoral researcher in ecology health and biodiversity, Dr Yvette Ehlers Smith, presented on the initial stages of her research on unifying cultural heritage with conservation practices within a rural community in south-central KwaZulu-Natal.
Ehlers Smith’s research, which focuses on southern ground-hornbills, examines the interface between humans, hornbills and the natural habitat. In particular, Ehlers Smith aims to bridge the knowledge gap between human and hornbill coexistence within limited habitat availability and potential conflict mitigation using IKS as part of a conservation strategy.
Research Manager at CIKS, Dr Mayashree Chinsamy, outlined the Centre’s background and achievements. She highlighted CIKS programmes that promote, preserve and protect IKS through research, postgraduate training, knowledge brokerage and community engagement activities to facilitate further collaboration with the delegates.
UKZN’s Dr Richard Beharilal gave the international students a snapshot of South Africa’s history and focused on the country’s path from ‘homelands to democracy’.
The International Scholar Laureate Program, which serves as an international relations and diplomacy forum, is a product of an educator-led initiative founded more than 25 years ago to give top scholars the lifelong advantage of an international career perspective and the opportunity to further their career development, strengthen their leadership skills and engage in a culturally enriching experience in South Africa. This is the third time that the CIKS at UKZN is hosting these international visitors on behalf of South Africa.
Photograph: Albert Hirasen