Daniel Malan, Director of the Centre for Corporate Governance in Africa at the University of Stellenbosch Business School, has been invited to be a discussion leader at the World Economic Forum's (WEF) 2013 Africa meeting. The event takes place in Cape Town from 8 to 10 May 2013.
Malan will be participating in the session on "Building a Resilient Continent" during which the following question will be discussed: "What coordinated actions can Africa's public, private and social sectors take to build societies that are more resilient to risk?"
He recently wrote an article Are good values good for business which can be read on the WEF website by clicking here or copy and paste the following into your browser: http://bit.ly/13c1qcw
An interview that the USB did with Malan can be read by clicking here or copy and paste this link into your browser bit.ly/16bi6UP.
A multidisciplinary team of scientists from South Africa, Europe and the United States developed a modelling platform, called SIMPACT, which can simulate the spread of HIV and estimate the impact and cost-effectiveness of various prevention and treatment interventions.
An overview of SIMPACT applications in South Africa will be presented by the South African Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis (SACEMA) at Stellenbosch University during a special session on 8 May at the Wallenberg Research Centre in Stellenbosch. SACEMA is a DST/NRF centre of excellence, hosted by Stellenbosch University.
While hundreds of different purpose-specific models for HIV transmission, prevention and treatment have been developed over the past 25 years, SIMPACT avoids the need to build ad-hoc models from scratch every time researchers and decision-makers want to address a new research or policy question.
Prof Wim Delva, an epidemiologist at SACEMA and one of the team members, explains: "SIMPACT is an individual-based model for HIV transmission, prevention and treatment in a sexual network. An individual-based model can keep track of the history of events that happen to the individuals. Thus, it becomes possible to see exactly how many times an HIV-infected individual transmitted the virus by the end of his or her life, who became orphan due to Aids-related death of his or her parents and at what age, or how many lifetime sexual partners the average 35-year old man has had."
In SIMPACT, the complexity of HIV transmission and any prevention and treatment interventions that may be simulated is easily adjusted. Prof Delva explains: "In addition to defining the composition of the population in which the epidemic will take place, we can specify which events are possible in the simulation. By default, possible events include HIV transmission, relationship formation and dissolution, antenatal care visits, pregnancy and birth, and AIDS- and non-AIDS-related mortality, male circumcision, condom use, antiretroviral treatment initiation, and HIV counselling and testing."
After the simulations are run, the generated data are analysed and interpreted using health economic and network analyses. According to Prof Delva, SIMPACT allows researchers to combine several disciplines in the quest for effective and affordable measures to curb the on-going burden of HIV and AIDS, from social sciences and public health to statistics, computer science and health economics.
"We want to make this new tool available to policymakers, students and researchers who would like to work with us to shed light on complicated issues such as the cost-effectiveness of combination HIV prevention, the potential impact of universal, immediate access to HIV treatment, and the role of age-disparate relationships and labour migration in the spread of HIV in South Africa," he added.
Besides SACEMA, Prof Delva is also affiliated to the International Centre for Reproductive Health at Ghent University in Belgium. Other SIMPACT partners include researchers from the Centre for Statistics at Hasselt University and the Computational Epidemiology Group at the University of Iowa. The Flemish Interuniversity Council (VLIR), the Flemish Research Fund (FWO), the agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) funded the project. For large simulations, the infrastructure of the Flemish Supercomputer Center (VSC) is used, funded by the Hercules Foundation and the Flemish Government.
SACEMA will present an overview of SIMPACT applications in South Africa during a special session on 8 May 2013 from 17:30-18:30 at the Wallenberg Research Centre in Stellenbosch.
A team effort between farmers, plant disease experts, agricultural economists, seed developers, accountants, packaging experts, food scientists, marketers and logistics managers is key to ensuring the production of enough fresh or processed food for all to enjoy.
This was the message delivered to learners and students who visited Stellenbosch University (SU) on Thursday (25 April) for a career and bursary fair focusing on the fruit and vegetable industry.
The career fair, with the theme “Sustainable Food for Life”, was hosted by the South African leg of the Produce Marketing Association (PMA), in cooperation with the Faculty of AgriSciences of Stellenbosch University. Twenty exhibitioners, including producers, retail groups, marketing units and seed specialists, marketed careers and bursaries within their industry.
A lunch for educators from as far as Citrusdal, Ceres and Villiersdorp was also held, during which they were informed about important career options within the agricultural sector, and the study opportunities that await their learners.
Educators were addressed by Ms Marianne van der Laarse, the PMA country representative of Southern Africa, Dr Elroy Goliath, General Manager of Strategic Services at Pioneer Food Groups, Dr Francois Koekemoer, Director of Wheat R&D at Sensako, Mr Clive Garrett, Marketing Manager at ZZ2, Ms Monika Basson, Marketer at the SU Faculty of AgriSciences and Prof Louise Warnich, Vice Dean of the SU Faculty of AgriSciences.
“We need people who can add value and who possess the technical and technological scientific skills required to make it work,” said Dr Elroy Goliath, who emphasized the importance of the different professions within the food production value chain.
Dr Francois Koekemoer from Sensako discussed the challenges facing seed specialists and plant disease experts in growing plants that are more draught-resistant or can offer the better yields to prevent future food shortages. He emphasised the importance of mentorship, which allows for specialist knowledge to be carried over.
According to Mr Clive Garrett from ZZ2, the agriculture industry is becoming more technical. There is a growing need for trained farmers whose BSc Agric degrees help them to run their farm scientifically and systematically, in support of food security. Specialists such as agricultural experts, agricultural engineers, IT-specialists, mechanical engineers and human resource managers are becoming ever more important within the sector.
According to the PMA’s Ms Marianne van der Laarse, food security in South Africa and worldwide is increasingly dependent on enough professionally trained people in the agriculture industry. “Our industry is becoming older and it’s necessary for us to train enough new people,” she added. The average age of South African farmers is estimated to be between 56 and 62 years old.
Currently, not enough students are enrolled in agriculture related study areas at higher education institutions in South Africa to optimally manage the fruit and vegetable industry.
“We cannot keep up with the demand for graduates who possess the necessary fundamental and practical skills to maintain sustainable development within the agriculture and food industry,” said Ms Monika Basson, marketer at the Faculty of AgriSciences at Stellenbosch University.
At present, the SU Faculty of AgriSciences is the only faculty in South Africa to focus only on applied training and research within agriculture. A variety of programmes are presented in the six study areas of agriculture economy- and management, plant and soil sciences, food and wine production systems, animal production systems, conservation ecology and forestry and wood sciences.
Active citizenry is a prerequisite for sustainable development.
This is according to Ms Maria Ramos, Group Chief Executive of Absa and Chief Executive Africa of Barclays. She was the speaker at the second Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert Honorary Lecture, hosted by the Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert Institute for Student Leadership Development at Stellenbosch University (SU) on Friday night (26 April 2013).
The Institute is an initiative of the University's HOPE Project.
In her speech Ms Ramos said that in the light of Freedom Day, to be celebrated on 27 April, it is "appropriate to ask ourselves: what more still needs to be done to fulfil our dreams of what a free and democratic country can, and should, deliver?"
She said that as a country we have come a long way. This includes putting the country on a sound financial footing, tackling the racially-skewed distribution patterns of the past, stabilising the economy and broadening access to services to millions.
"But we still have a great deal more to do. There is widespread agreement that, nearly two decades into democracy, we remain a highly unequal society where too many people live in poverty and too few work. Poverty is a reality for millions of South Africans. The South African Child Gauge 2012 estimates that six out of 10 children go to bed hungry every night. Unemployment is unacceptably high at nearly 25% and our education system is producing unsatisfactory outcomes."
The apartheid spatial divide continues to dominate the landscape, she said. A large proportion of people feel the odds are stacked against them; they are locked in a cycle of poverty and that they cannot offer their children a better life.
"For far too many South Africans, opportunity is still determined by birth, not by ability, education and hard work," she said.
"This is why we need to push harder to transform the economy and to find ways to propel the country towards more sustainable development. I believe that we will not be able to achieve this unless we grasp, fully, what it means to take our rightful place as active citizens in building a fairer and more just society."
She explained that sustainable development is development driven by resilient economic growth. It is however growth that is inclusive to ensure that rising levels of inequality are reversed and poverty is eradicated; and growth that is greener and is less environmentally damaging.
"We have yet to realise a society that builds on the capabilities of our people. Capabilities lie at the heart of the connection between active citizenship and development. Capabilities include social opportunities ranging from education, health care, public transport as well as social security and safety nets. They are the drivers of sustainable growth and they are the enablers that give individuals the where-with-all to better their own lives."
She added that the state has a responsibility to develop the necessary capabilities for its citizens, but it cannot do so on its own. "We, as citizens, have a role to play. I believe we are up to the task. We all recognise that we need a step change if we are going to propel the country forward and replace inequality with greater equity, poverty with prosperity. The power to achieve that step change lies with us.
"I sincerely believe that by becoming active citizens we will unleash creativity and innovation that will enable us to propel South Africa forward. I believe that by becoming agents of change we will be able to break through the constraints we have been bequeathed and overcome them. If we harness our energies and insights collectively I believe we can find creative solutions and break the cycle of poverty and inequality."
Citizens should accept that they have both rights and responsibilities. "The mistake we often make is that we are more vocal about our rights and pay less attention to our responsibilities. In exercising our rights the temptation, for all of us, is to place the responsibility of leading on our 'leaders', but the responsibility to lead lies with us. This is what I mean by active citizenry."
She concluded by saying that we all have a part to play in making sure we realise the vision of a social order that is more equitable and where poverty is eradicated. "We can do this, but only if we hold one another accountable to this vision and we set it as the benchmark against which we measure each other. If we do this, I believe we will bequeath our children, and their children, a very different country to the one we inherited."
In welcoming guests, Prof Russel Botman, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, said that leadership development has become a core function of higher education. "It is no longer enough for universities just to provide graduates with an academic qualification. We have to empower our students with the skills they need to change the world. At Stellenbosch we strive to produce graduates who can take the lead in society as responsible and critical citizens in a democratic social order. We are educating thought leaders for the future.
"The Institute allows us to develop the leadership abilities of our students so that they can become change agents in society, driving the transformation of their world. The Institute is the first of its kind in higher education in the country, and it is doing ground-breaking work."
The lecture was made possible with the support of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.
Stellenbosch University bestowed an honorary doctorate upon Maria Ramos in 2005.
Inter-Continental Exchange of Leadership in Conflict Transformation (ICELCT)
Stellenbosch University through the Security Institute for Governance and Leadership in Africa (SIGLA), one of SU’s HOPE Projects, is engaging in a 4-year collaborative research exchange with Coventry University (UK) and Kadir Has University (Turkey). It is titled “The Inter-Continental Exchange of Leadership in Conflict Transformation” (ICELCT), under the European Commission’s Marie Curie International Research Staff Exchange Scheme (IRSES).
The project aims to enhance inter-continental understanding of leadership in conflict transformation, a comprehensive term covering conflict resolution and peace building. This will be done through collaboration of joint research and capacity building activities by the three participating Universities. Work Package themes of the exchange include:
• Research on conflict transformation strategies and methods
• Research on governance and leadership in promoting peace
• Networking through participation in jointly organised events
• Field research on the role of leadership in conflict transformation
and governance with a regional focus (aimed primarily at PhD students)
As SIGLA functions as a network organisation within Stellenbosch University we are looking for interested Experienced Researchers (ER’s) and Early-Stage Researchers (ESR’s)-Doctorate or Post-Doctorate students/staff members to participate in this project. SIGLA will be responsible for the overall academic and administrative leadership and coordination of the project, however, this represents a great opportunity for senior and junior researchers within the University working on relevant themes. The project covers transport and living costs while being hosted by Coventry or Kadir Has, up to 2100 Euros/month, and is designed for visits of minimum 1 month (ERs) or minimum of 2 months (ESRs).
Please inform Siphokazi Ndudane at Siphokazi@sun.ac.za if you would like to partner with SIGLA in this project and/or refer colleagues who you think may be interested in the project. The complete research project plan can also be sent on request.
*Project funding only includes covering for travel and accommodation costs, and possibly a small subsistence allowance. It will be expected of Faculties, Departments of ER’s and ESR’s to provide additional financial assistance to individual researchers. These could include:
• Application costs for visas to the UK or Turkey
• Daily/Monthly stipend or allowance
• Other costs
- Early Stage Researcher Exchange 2013
Potgieter (24) studied Value and Policy studies as an undergraduate at
Stellenbosch University (SU) and is currently enrolled for a master’s degree in
Political Science at SU. For her thesis, she looks at the predictors of
political participation in new democracies (a quantitative study focusing on
South Africa, Chile, Poland and South Korea). In 2012, she completed her
honours degree in Political Science with an International Relations emphasis
(Cum Laude) and received several prestigious awards, including the Mandela
Rhodes Scholarship (offered to elected students throughout Africa whose lives
portray the continued patronage of education, leadership, entrepreneurship and
reconciliation), as well as the SU
Rector’s Award for Excellence in Service. She has been involved in many
extra-mural activities, notably as a current affairs journalist for the “Die
Matie” student newspaper, as Africa Unite Human Rights Peer educator and as
volunteer for the organization STOP Human Trafficking. She has also been involved
in various community projects in and around the Stellenbosch area. She has
worked as Political Science tutor at her department and as assistant to the
Public Health and Development in South Africa exchange program between SU and
the North-Western University in America. She is a CSC Leaders for Students
Alumni and served as Youth in Motion delegate at the international COHRED
conference on Public Health and Development in 2012. Currently, she serves as
Head of Government for the team of delegates representing the South African
youth at the Youth G8 Summit in London later this year. Elnari also takes part
on the SU’s Listen, Live and Learn housing project (Naadirah and Elnari are
both in the Leadership house of this project). Elnari adores being outdoors as well
as dancing and she appreciates various forms of art (in written/visual/musical
Elnari believes that hope will prevail as long as young
leaders, who have been blessed with enough confidence to believe that they can
make a difference, who have attained the apt expertise and are competent to
know how to identify and address the atrocities which so shape the lives of
numerous citizens worldwide and who are motivated to do what others claim
cannot be done, continue to work against the overwhelming tides of poverty,
inequality, conflict, corruption and despair. She wishes to bring hope and
constructively empower all she encounters as the ambitious, dynamic and
compassionate daughter of South Africa she is. A daughter of South Africa who
dreams in, of and for South Africa-a thriving South Africa at peace with
Naadirah Grimsel (24) has
been at Stellenbosch University since 2009, earning her undergraduate degree in
International Studies in 2011. She is currently completing her Masters in
International Studies, with her research focusing on Turkey as a middle power.
Naadirah has been actively involved in campus through various leadership
positions, which include being the Primaria (Head Student) of her residence for
two consecutive terms in 2011 & 2012, and on the Executive Committees of
the Stellenbosch Political Science Students Association (SPOSSA), History and
Mandarin Societies. Her off-campus involvement in ad hoc projects include being
a organizing member of the Brightest Young Minds Organization Annual Conference
in 2010 and a student volunteer at the CNN Time Fortune Global Forum held Cape
Town. This year she has been appointed as a Political Science departmental
tutor and a member of the Listen, Live and Learn Leadership house, a housing
initiative of the Stellenbosch University, which seeks to provide students with
a unique opportunity to engage with individuals from a diverse background.
Her interest in
international relations stems from her love of travel and past educational
experiences, which include completing her IGCSE & International
Baccalaureate Diploma at the British International School of Jeddah, Saudi
Arabia. Her involvement in various Model United Nations (MUN) conferences,
including The Hague International Model United Nations (THIMUN) in 2007 further
cemented her passion for global growth and development. She is a firm believer
in the activism of students and youth to make a difference in their communities
and the possibility for achieving a prosperous and peaceful Africa.
More than 140 prospective students who formed part of Stellenbosch University's (SU) Careers@Maties programme in 2012 gathered at the University on Thursday 18 April to gain valuable study and career information and to experience a taste of Matie student life.
Some of them even had the opportunity to prepare hydrogel (polyvinylalcohol).
These Grade 12 learners attended the Day in the Life of a Matie, an annual event organised by the Centre of Prospective Students (CPS).
This day is a follow-up of SU's free career assessment project Careers@Maties
which was launched to prepare learners from previously disadvantaged school communities for further studies and to support them to achieve their career ambitions. Prospective students and their parents received important information about, among other things, career opportunities, the application process and bursaries and loans.
"It was very informative," said Kaashiefah Kistnasamy from Spine Road High School in Mitchells Plain. "I think all learners should be afforded this opportunity," she added. Kaashiefah wants to study medicine and was part of the group of learners and parents who attended information sessions about the Faculties of Science, Medicine and Health Sciences, AgriSciences and Engineering.
Keagan van Aarde from Klein Nederburg Secondary School described the day as "very productive" and said it gives learners a taste of what it feels like to study at SU.
"It excites one about life after school," he added. He is interested in Sport Sciences and also attended the above-mentioned information sessions.
Erin Jaftha of Breërivier Secondar School in Worcester is considering Social Work as a study option and she attended the informations sessions presented by the Faculties of Law, Education and Arts and Social Sciences. "It is very interesting and I'm glad I came," she said.
The third group visited the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences.
The learners and their parents were welcomed by Dr Jerome Slamat, Senior Director: Community Interaction, who said that talent and potential is evenly spread through-out the population, but not opportunities.
"This day is about creating opportunities," he said.
He informed the learners and their parents about the academic support available at SU and told them that the University's undergraduate success rate is 84%, while the through-put rate of first-years is 87% (compared to a national average of 50%).
connects directly with the University's HOPE Project of which Student Success is an important theme. This includes among other things giving students from specific groups access to University," Mr Hambly Matthews, a counselling psychologist at CPS and project leader of this initiative, said earlier.
Investing in sustainable infrastructures and resource efficient technologies in cities offers a golden opportunity to deliver economic growth with lower rates of environmental degradation, reductions in poverty, cuts in greenhouse gases, and improved well-being.
This is according to a new report, released by the United Nations in Nairobi in Kenya, today (17 April 2013). Prof Mark Swilling, a global expert on sustainable development and Coordinator of the Sustainable Development Programme of the School of Public Leadership (SPL) at Stellenbosch University (SU), is a co-lead author of the report, City-Level Decoupling: Urban Resource Flows and the Governance of Infrastructure Transitions. The report was produced by the International Resource Panel (IRP), which is hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
According to a UNEP media release, around three-quarters of the world’s natural resources are already consumed in cities, and the proportion of the global population living in urban areas is set to rise to 70 per cent by 2050. At the same time, cities generally offer lower per capita resource use and emissions than their surrounding areas.
Achieving inclusive sustainable development for all, says the UN study, requires ‘decoupling’ city-based economic growth rates from the unsustainable consumption of finite natural resources, which has characterised most urban development to date.
As the price of depleting natural resources continues to rise, promoting sustainable urban infrastructures can benefit the environment and shield cities from potential economic and social instability in an increasingly resource-constrained 21st century.
The study says much greater effort is needed to support new and improved infrastructure for water, energy, transport, waste and other sectors – generally located in and around cities – to wean the world off unsustainable consumption patterns, and avoid serious economic and environmental implications for future generations.
Some 60% of the built environment required to meet the needs of the world’s urban population by 2050 still needs to be constructed.
The cost of meeting the urban infrastructure requirements of the world’s cities between 2000 and 2030 is estimated at US$40 trillion – both through the building of new infrastructure (mainly in developing countries) or retrofitting existing facilities (mainly in developed nations).
There is a major opportunity, underlines the IRP report, to channel these funds into sustainable infrastructure that reduces carbon emissions, improves resource productivity, and avoids the resource-intensive urban planning of the past.
“When we look at the rising expenditures on urban infrastructure across the globe, we need to ask ourselves, what kind of cities of the future are envisaged by the designers and builders of these new infrastructures?” said Prof Swilling.
“Are these infrastructures preparing cities for 21st century low-carbon transitions to fairer, more resource efficient futures? Or are they just fixing in concrete for the next 25 to 50 years 19th century urban planning modes and technologies that will need to be dismantled in 10 or 20 years from now?”
Other case studies in the report include:
A Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system to address chronic congestion and pollution problems introduced in Lagos, Nigeria that has contributed to a 13 per cent drop in carbon emissions from urban transport.
The Mariannhill landfill site near Durban, South Africa, that collects and treats otherwise toxic liquid waste from the site before re-using it for irrigation. The landfill converts methane emitted from waste into US$20,000 worth of electricity per month. An on-site tree nursery supports indigenous plants and averts potential biodiversity loss caused by the landfill.
Water: Faced with a limited supply of natural resources, Singapore is implementing a national plan to reduce domestic water consumption by around 10% by 2030. Advanced technologies are used to treat waste water (sewage) which is safe to drink and can be re-used by industry. Treated wastewater could meet 30 per cent of Singapore’s water needs by 2030. Investments in desalination plants, repairs of leaking pipes and other efforts means the island state is on track to meet its 10% goal.
According to the report, projections show the 3 billion people expected to be added to the global population between by 2050 will live mainly in Asian and African cities.
The report says maintaining healthy ecosystems, and factoring their economic value into urban development plans, will be key to achieving city-level decoupling. The city of Rio de Janeiro invested in reforestation to re-establish aquifers needed for water supply, while Johannesburg’s urban forest of over 2.5 million trees in municipal areas supports biodiversity and better air quality.
The report outlines recommendations for city planners to minimize environmental damage and maximize the potential for using resources more sustainably. These include Government investments that should support the role of cities in national sustainable development strategies, and support infrastructures that stimulate low-carbon, resource-efficient and equitable urban development; and more investment that is needed to support the capacity of city-level governments and universities to collect and analyze data on resource use and flows in cities as a basis for efforts to enhance sustainability.
Source for this article: Media release by the International Resource Panel; UN-Habitat and UNEP.
Prof Mark Swilling, a global expert on sustainable development, is Coordinator of the Sustainable Development Programme of the School of Public Leadership, Project Leader of the TsamaHub, and Academic Director of the Sustainability Institute. The TsamaHub serves as a focal point at SU for studies in transdisciplinarity, sustainability and complexity. It forms part of SU’s HOPE Project, a university-wide initiative through which the institution is using academic excellence and cutting-edge research to promote human development. Liaise with Prof Swilling at tel 021 881 3205.
UNEP and UN-Habitat contacts:
Nick Nuttall, Director, UNEP Division of Communications and Public Information, Tel. +254 733 632 755, E-mail: email@example.com
Bryan Coll, UNEP Newsdesk, Tel. +254 207623088, Mobile: +254 731666214, E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
Ana B. Moreno, UN-Habitat Spokesperson, Chief of Advocacy, Outreach and Communications, Mobile: +254 702 116 120, E-mail: email@example.com
There is a direct relation between corporate governance and sustainability since both concepts are based on fundamentally ethical principles, such as accountability, respect and transparency. The Centre for Corporate Governance in Africa at the SU’s Business School offers research and training in corporate governance, thus contributing directly to sustainability. Daniel Malan, the Centre’s director, tells more.
What is the purpose of the Centre for Corporate Governance in Africa?
Our objective is to be the leading provider of research and training in corporate governance in Africa. We follow a specific approach to corporate governance, emphasising the relation between business ethics and the performance of organisations. In general we focus more on performance and not so much on compliance.
Who are your typical clients?
Our largest client is the Public Investment Corporation (PIC). Over the past five years we have been engaged in a major research project for PIC, analysing the environmental, social and governance performance of the top 100 companies listed on the JSE.
We are also the local research partner of EIRIS (Ethical Investment Research Service), a British-based research institution. We do research to enable them to decide whether companies are to be included in the JSE socially responsible investment index (SRI Index). In addition, last year we produced a research publication on integrated reporting in collaboration with Deloitte and the United Nations Environment Programme.
Currently we are working on a publication together with KPMG and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), which will be launched in May this year in Amsterdam. Last year we joined forces with the Hanns Seidel Foundation, a German donor, in doing research on governance in state-controlled businesses.
In which fields does the Centre render services?
We are a research centre and run research projects in four major fields:
- Responsible investment: Most of the work that we are currently engaged in falls into this category.
- Board leadership: We have a forum for chairpersons of listed companies in South Africa sponsored by Vodacom. Last year we held one session and our intention is to have a joint session with a similar organisation in the United States this year, which will take place in New York.
- Integrated reporting: The Centre produced two publications on this topic over the past two years.
- Values and ethics: I am involved in various committees and projects in this field, the most important being my appointment in the World Economic Forum in 2011. I serve on the Global Agenda Council on Values and will be involved in a couple of exciting projects over the next 12 to 18 months, which the SU will hopefully also become involved in.
How do your projects contribute to sustainability?
There is a direct relation between corporate governance and sustainability, since both concepts are based on fundamentally ethical principles, such as accountability, respect and transparency. Everything we do or try to do, is aimed at promoting sustainability in its broader form. We are not looking at environmental aspects specifically, although in the analyses we do, we also look at companies’ activities as far as their environmental performance is concerned.
But corporate governance as described in the King Report confirms the relation between sustainability, corporate citizenship and ethical leadership. These concepts are very closely knit, so the work we do does indeed make a contribution.
Have companies shown progress as far as sustainability is concerned?
Definitely. If one looks at the general awareness of the necessity of good corporate governance and sustainability within companies and together with that the way in which they have increased their own activities in this field, it is indeed much better than five or ten years ago. This is due to a combination of greatly improved legislation and regulations, and hopefully also more moral insight shown by companies.
The risks are clearly evident in case studies where things went drastically wrong, such as at international companies like Enron and WorldCom, and more recently the worldwide financial crisis, and also at local companies like Fidentia and others. People go to prison and companies cease to exist when things go wrong – this is a good incentive for companies to try and get the requirements right as far as their policy and actions are concerned.
What is your experience as far as African countries are concerned?
I think there is definitely a growing awareness in African countries, even though there is great concern about corruption in South Africa and many other African countries. Many questions are being asked about the impact China’s involvement in African countries has on sustainability and corporate governance, as well as the values of countries and companies.
Due to a lack of capacity we have limited knowledge of African countries, but we intend to extend relations with tertiary institutions in Ghana en Kenya, and conclude more formal partnerships with other African countries.
How many people are involved at the Centre?
The Centre was established five years ago and has a virtual structure. Only three people are involved full-time: a research manager, an administrative officer and I. On some projects we work together with a group of about seven research fellows who are involved within the corporate governance field on a part-time basis.
We also have an extremely knowledgeable advisory committee that I contact once a year for advice on global developments. The members of this committee are internationally known and provide valuable advice and guidance.
The Centre forms part of the SU’s HOPE project that supports the creation of sustainable solutions for some of South Africa and Africa’s most pressing challenges. We hope to secure a name sponsor within the next year to relieve the financial pressure, since we are virtually fully dependent on own funding. Securing a name sponsor will enable us to appoint more people and undertake more projects. This will make it easier to achieve the desired impact.
The special and important relationship between students and lecturers was celebrated on Tuesday at the Rector’s Dinner for Top-Performing Students, hosted by the First-year Academy (FYA) of Stellenbosch University (SU), during which the 30 top performing first-years of 2012 were honoured.
Special recognition was also given to the lecturers who these students felt had made the greatest contribution to their academic success. These lecturers were also invited to the event.
Guest speaker Prof Sonia Human, Dean of the Faculty of Law, congratulated the students and lecturers. “I see here excellent lecturers who tell the students at the beginning of their first year: ‘I am willing to walk this road with you’. And students who say: ‘I’m in’.” Before she became dean, she herself had been nominated by students a number of times.
Prof Russel Botman, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of SU, congratulated the students who “had stepped in and stepped up”. The FYA is a good example of what can be done if you believe in students – believe in them truly – and invest in them, he said.
He encouraged the students to take responsibility for themselves, for their own excellence, and in doing so spread the excellence to the rest of South Africa, Africa and the world.
Prof Arnold Schoonwinkel, Vice-rector: Learning and Teaching, commended both students and lecturers and told the academic achievers that they have created an excellent platform for the rest of their studies. He challenged them to be role models in their classes and communities, but encouraged them to be more than just academic role models. He emphasised the importance of being a well-rounded person.
Student success is one of the aims of the HOPE Project, as well as one of the University’s strategic focus areas. The HOPE Project is a university-wide initiative through which the institution is using academic excellence and cutting-edge research to promote human development.
SU has an undergraduate success rate of 84% and the through-put rate of its first-years is constantly above 85%, compared to a national average of barely 50%.
Earlier, Prof Schoonwinkel said that this success can be attributed to strong academic support and special interventions for students at the University.
Since 2007, the 30 top performing first-year students in the end-of-year examinations of the previous year across all faculties are introduced during a prestige evening. Credit is given not only to students who are academically strong but also to those who have risen above circumstances that might have limited their success.
A highlight of Tuesday’s function was when the lecturers and students formally exchanged letters that they had written to each other. Copies of these letters were placed in cylinders and exchanged over dinner.
Prof Johan de Villiers, retired professor in Mathematics, has been invited to this event at least five times and was invited to Tuesday’s event by Michal van der Walt, a student in Actuarial Sciences.
Prof De Villiers believes an invitation to this event serves as an encouragement to lecturers because they realise: “Wow, I’m on the right track.”
It is great that students are recognised for their hard work after their first year and not only at the end of their studies, he added. Most of the students agreed that it motivates them to continue working hard.
Prof Johan van Zyl, associate professor in Pharmacology and nominated by medical student Leanne Young, said it was quite sobering to realise what an impact a lecturer can have on a student, especially because classes are often very big and there is little time to pay attention to individuals.
He encouraged Leanne to maintain this level of dedication throughout her studies and to aspire to be excellent in all aspects thereof.
Mrs Bessie Burger, a lecturer in Mathematics, was nominated by Judene Farmer, a student in Chemical Engineering. They both agreed that such an evening of acknowledgement is an excellent idea and very motivating.
Prof Sarel Steel, a lecturer in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Sciences, was nominated by two students: Nina Nicholas and Rebecca Selkirk. He said that he felt very honoured and that it was a privilege to teach these students.
Nina Nicholas wrote to Prof Steel: “Thank you for treating every student equally. You congratulated those students that achieved good marks personally, and you motivated those who you believed could do better. This said a lot about your caring character.”
Ms Ebrezia Johnson, a lecturer in the Faculty of Law, was nominated by Donnay Green, an LLB student. Ms Johnson described the evening as a “pleasant and overwhelming experience” and said it inspires her to continue doing her best.
She wrote to Donnay: “You are so fortunate to have realised very early in your academic career the value of persistent hard work, you have made the necessary sacrifices and this has ensured your academic success.”
Donnay said it was a huge privilege to have been invited to the event and it is wonderful to know that hard work is rewarded.
Dr Gareth Arnott of the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science was also nominated by two students: Kristin Mapstone and Paula Louw.
“I take lecturing very seriously and I like to make the students enthusiastic by being enthusiastic. It’s good to know that you enjoy your work and it’s making an impact.”
Paula wrote to Dr Arnott: “I think that the popularity of your classes was due to the fact that your lectures were always guaranteed to be interesting and enjoyable. Not only were you a captivating lecturer with a personality and the ability to intrigue university students, you also made yourself accessible to the hundreds of students enrolled in your course.”
Ms Annemarie de Villiers, a lecturer in Ancient Studies, and Dr Arnold Muller, a senior lecturer in Mathematics, also received invitations to Tuesday’s function from two students.
This initiative is undertaken by the First-year Academy, the Centre for Teaching and Learning and the Academic Affairs Council.
- Caption: Ms Ebrezia Johnson of the Faculty of Law and LLB student Donnay Green.