On a recent sunny winter’s weekend at the Spier Conference Centre in the winelands of South Africa a group of distinguished academics, higher education specialists and climate change experts from the SADC region gathered to plan the design of a ground-breaking initiative. The occasion was the launch of the SARUA Curriculum Innovation Network (SCIN) and the attendees were members of the team responsible for developing and coordinating a regional Master’s curriculum in climate change and sustainable development.

SCIN workshop delegates catch some sun while discussing curricula. Photo by Tim Honey

SCIN workshop delegates catch some sun while discussing curricula. From left to right: Ronald Mukanya (CDKN), Prof Godwell Nhamo (Unisa), Prof Isaac Mapaure (UNAM), Dr Anthony Phiri (HIT). Photo by Tim Honey

In attendance were representatives from the Southern African Regional Universities Association (SARUA), Higher Education Management Africa (HEMA), the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), regional universities and also independent advisors and consultants to the process. We were meeting face-to-face for a first time to discuss the design of the curriculum and the process of developing what will be a first for the SADC region. The SCIN is not only the first SARUA-established collaborative network of university, government, private sector and civil society stakeholders who wish to address the impacts of climate change in southern Africa, but also the first project to collaboratively develop a Master’s curriculum that will be available for customisation and delivery at participating universities in all 15 countries of the SADC community.

SCIN inception workshop. Photo by Tim Honey

SCIN inception workshop. Photo by Tim Honey

A University Delivery Consortium (UDC) comprising seven universities from five countries has been selected to develop the curriculum and courseware and the event was an opportunity for them to test their approach with the coordinating team, the project sponsors and peers.

I was interviewed by University World News in my capacity as SCIN Coordinator and an article which provides a very good overview of what we aim to achieve is available here.

Me in discussion with Prof Mark New, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Town, who will be leading the University Delivery Consortium. Photo by Tim Honey

Me in discussion with Prof Mark New, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Town, who will be leading the University Delivery Consortium. Photo by Tim Honey

The workshop ended with a launch event where Piyushi Kotecha, CEO of SARUA and Prof Goolam Mohamedbhai, Former Secretary-General of the Association of African Universities (AAU) were the keynote speakers. They reiterated the need for collaboration and networking in the region and on the African continent.

Piyushi Kotecha and Prof Goolam Mohamedbhai at the SCIN launch event. Photo by Tim Honey

Piyushi Kotecha, CEO of SARUA and Prof Goolam Mohamedbhai, former Secretary-General of the AAU at the SCIN launch event. Photo by Tim Honey

Network building and management is a particular interest of mine, hence this project is as much fun as it is a challenge. If you are interested in the SCIN, drop me a line. Organisations or individuals who wish to participate in the SCIN can register their interest as Participating Universities, External Stakeholders, or Individual Contributors by completing the online registration form.