Stellenbosch University (SU) is continuing its work to help make Ubuntu internationally recognised through its partnership with Michigan State University (MSU).
In 2019, SU made history with MSU, when the two universities signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in which they agreed to foster international cooperation in education, research and community engagement at both universities.
Since then, the Ubuntu Dialogues project has reaped much success, helping to build bridges between young people in South Africa and the United States of America.
“MSU and SU have been sharing and learning a lot from each other. People are interested in our work and there is a lot of research by MSU that are being done in South Africa and in the continent in general,” says Dr Mosa Phadi, who is the Programme Manager of the Ubuntu Dialogues project.
As part of the agreement between the universities, students from SU have been able to travel to MSU to present their research and learn about some of the innovative research methods at MSU. Similarly, students from MSU have been able to travel to SU and in turn learn more about Ubuntu.
Phadi along with Pfunzo Sidogi, a PhD student in Visual Arts at SU, had the opportunity to present their research at MSU late last year.
According to Phadi, she learned a lot from the trip and says that the Ubuntu Dialogues project has “ignited a conversation to understand the concept better” and motivated students to make Ubuntu a universal concept.
“There are some Americans, especially African-Americans who’ve heard about Ubuntu, but don’t necessarily understand it. Understanding Ubuntu, and sharing it with fellows from America, sparked a lot of conversation around identity and what it means as a global concept. Through the dialogues and seminars, we’ve been able to find practical ways to make the topic of Ubuntu relatable and understandable,” says Phadi.
Part of the key aims and objectives of the Ubuntu Dialogues between SU and MSU is also to transform the lives of young people through service learning, and to bridge the digital divide between the North and the South.
According to Phadi, MSU has found ways to link both digital research and traditional academic research and fuse them together, producing extraordinary work. “Our hope for our graduate students is that they learn about these digital technologies and actually use it in order to enhance their academic work back home,” says Phadi.
Throughout the year, students will participate in various seminars and dialogues at both universities. From 2 to 19 May, 10 MSU graduate fellows will be at Stellenbosch for their internship. Between 26 June to 12 July, 10 Stellenbosch graduate fellows will be visiting MSU to complete their internship.
Rhoda Malgas, a lecturer at the Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology, will also travel to MSU on 16 March to present her research and work.
By Rozanne Engel
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