Ubuntu Dialogues

SU and US university pave way to ‘building bridges’ for stu­dents


In what has been hailed as a historic agreement, Stellenbosch University (SU) and Michi­gan State University (MSU) have signed a memorandum of understanding, paving the way to building bridges between young people in South Africa and the US.

The agreement, signed during an official ceremonial event at SU on Friday, stemmed from a request by the two universities for the Mellon Foundation’s support to deepen an exist­ing initiative, the Ubuntu Dialogues project, over a three-year period. The director of the Stellenbosch University Museum, Bongani Mgijima, said: “This is a very historic occasion, and I hope that 20 years down the line when we look back we will realise the significance of this agreement.

MSU director of the African Studies Centre and professor of history Jamie Monson kick­started the Ubuntu Dialogues initiative last week and emphasised how remarkable the new partnership between MSU and SU was. “We are very proud in terms of the impact and transformation, and that the students we recruit are named in the grant as coming from the under-represented or historically un­der-represented communities on both sides. “We are transforming our university, and hopefully transformation will occur here as well, and we can learn from each other in a co-created project, said Monson.

The key aims of the Ubuntu Dialogues between MSU and SU are to build bridges between South African and American young people, transform the lives of young people through service learning, and bridge the digital divide between north and south. This they aim to do by transforming institutions through “collaborative scholarship of en­gagement”.

The agreement will help with the development of collaborative exhibitions and collections; exchange of professional staff, students and research; joint social impact projects; profes­sional development and technical exchange; and fund-raising for joint projects.
Social impact and transformation senior director Dr Leslie van Rooi said the Andrew W Mellon Foundation grant was a significant one that linked curricula at both institutions. For more information on the Ubuntu Dialogues call 021 808 3691 or email ncolt­

By Cape Times Staff Writer

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