UKZN’s College of Humanities women academics were well represented at the annual Department of Science and Technology ‘Women in Research’ (DST WISA) awards function held on Friday, 16 August in Johannesburg.

Dr Maheshvari Naidu, Professor Deevia Bhana and Professor Vishanthie Sewpaul were winners in their research categories. The DVC and Head of the College of Humanities Professor Cheryl Potgieter was requested by the Minister of Science and Technology, Mr Derek Hanekom, to deliver the keynote address at the event. Professor Potgieter spoke on the DST’s theme on the scourge of violence against women: the role of science and research.

The three College of Humanities women academics now join UKZN’s previous awardees for the prestigious DST awards.

Dr Maheshvari Naidu, a feminist anthropologist, was announced overall Winner in her category of Emerging Researcher: The Role of Science in Violence against Women.

She was awarded an engraved glass trophy and official certificate together with an award of R50 000 in national recognition of her outstanding research contribution in her field. The award was accepted on her behalf by her 12-year-old son Kialan Pillay, who said that he was extremely proud of his mother.

Dr Naidu credits her non-conformist upbringing and parents for where she is today. ‘I believe in honouring the immense grace my parents showed me with an upbringing that broke gender stereotypes through their unconditional love and support of my education and travel, over that of more traditional roles of the time. I wish to honour them, by further affording opportunities to other women,’ she said.

UKZN School of Education’s Professor Deevia Bhana, was the first runner up in the category Distinguished Researcher-The role of science in combatting violence against women.

‘Having been twice in the top 3 finalists in the Department of Science and Technology’s Women in Science Awards, in 2011 in the Distinguished Women Category (Social Sciences and Humanities) and now in 2013 (Distinguished Researcher) establishes this research agenda as a necessary focus in national debates about children, gendered/sexual violence and inequalities in South Africa. It also recognises the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s strategic plan and research in so far as studies around gender are concerned,’ said Professor Bhana.

Professor Vishanthie Sewpaul of UKZN’s School of Applied Human Sciences took home the first runner up Distinguished Women in Science Award: Humanities and Social Sciences for outstanding contribution to building South Africa's scientific and research knowledge base.

‘I am pleased to be placed 2nd in the country.  It takes a great deal of hard work and endless hours of commitment to achieve at this level.  As a woman, academic achievement has to be balanced against a whole range of competing priorities,’ said Professor Sewpaul.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities Professor Cheryl Potgieter said, ‘These awards give recognition to the many women at UKZN who are contributing to UKZN being a research led university. Exploring the research that they are doing and its impact on intervention, policy and teaching it is clear that the research agenda is integral to our transformation agenda. I would also like to point out to the winners and to all women in the College that often it is not only institutional barriers that we need to engage with and challenge.’

Professor Potgieter made reference to Sheryl Sandberg the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook in her new book called Lean in: Women, Work and the Will to Lead states, ‘In addition to the external barriers erected by society, women are hindered by barriers erected by ourselves. Sandberg states: we can dismantle the hurdles in ourselves today. We can start this very moment. However, success does not happen overnight and all leaders will talk to the many hours over many years that it took for them to be successful. I firmly believe that to be a leader in any area one has to have both knowledge and wisdom,’ said Professor Potgieter.

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UKZN hosted a series of Wellness Days in August geared at improving the health of staff on all five campuses.

Discovery Health nurses were on hand to do cholesterol, blood pressure and sugar level tests as well as calculate BMI (Body Mass Index) levels of staff. After filling in a quick online survey and inputting their test results, staff were provided with their “health age” and feedback on how to improve their wellbeing.

Ms Zinhle Nzaji, Interim Director of Human Resources Development, explained the University was committed to promoting the physical, mental and social wellbeing of all staff.

In view of this, an Employee Wellness programme was launched in conjunction with the Wellness Days. ‘The purpose of Employee Wellness is to support UKZN employees to pursue an optimal state of health and balanced lifestyle by ensuring that they take increased responsibility for their health while ensuring they achieve personal meaning and fulfillment,’ said Nzaji.

The Employee Wellness programme features an interactive website ( which includes advice on achieving spiritual, emotional, physical and psychological wellbeing.

Nzaji added the website was also a great source of information on a wide variety of issues that could affect staff and their families ranging from anxiety and depression to substance dependency and staying active.

An energetic aerobics display by students from the Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences kept staff entertained and inspired many to start gym. Ms Zamile Gumede, a Leisure Sciences Honours student, explained the Department offered more than just a gym with services ranging from sports massage to hydrotherapy sessions.

The HR Department thanked the following departments and companies which helped make the events a success: WeighLess; Virgin Active; Diabetes SA, LifeLine, UKZN’s Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences, UKZN HIV/AIDS Clinic and ER24.

Staff were pampered with massages and manicures courtesy of Revitalise Day Spa and refreshed with smoothies supplied by Kuai.

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A postgraduate student in Organic Chemistry, Ms Lesley Dralle, has received the James Moir Medal from the South African Chemical Institute (SACI) for being top of the Honours class in the Discipline of Chemistry last year.

SACI annually awards James Moir Medals to the best BSc Honours students in Chemistry at every University and University of Technology in South Africa. To be eligible for the award a student must have achieved a minimum final pass mark of 75 percent.

Dralle, who graduated cum laude, focused her honours work on organoborane compounds with application as organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs).

She is currently working towards her MSc in Organic Chemistry under the guidance of Professor Ross Robinson. Her MSc research involves synthesizing xenovenine – a compound extracted from the skin of poisonous frogs which are thought to acquire it from the fire ants they eat – to test its biological activity in treating diseases. 

Born and raised in Pietermaritzburg, Dralle initially intended pursuing Biology in her undergraduate studies but the Chemistry bug soon bit and she hasn’t looked back since.

Dralle balances her academic life with a keen interest in sport having competed at the level of both Natal Midlands Country Districts and South African Country Districts in hockey. She also enjoys a regular game of squash.

‘Having worked extremely hard in what was definitely the most challenging year of my studies it is incredibly satisfying, and a huge honour, to receive such a prestigious award,’ said Dralle.

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For the fourth consecutive year a student from the French Discipline on the Pietermaritzburg campus was among the winners of an International Day of the Francophonie essay writing competition.

French 2 student Mr Sakhile Xulu won himself a trip to Paris which he described as a “life changing experience”.

The annual competition is organised by the French Embassy in South Africa with a stay in Paris on offer for winners in the categories French 2, French 3 and French Honours.

Said Xulu: ‘My trip to France was amazing! It opened my eyes to many political problems the world is currently facing and I realised that South Africa is not unique in its suffering for a better tomorrow.

‘There were 70 participants from different countries providing tremendous diversity on a cultural and linguistic platform and in that very diversity we developed a bond that cannot be explained in words. We became a family to the extent that when we left Paris on the final day we all shed tears,’ said Xulu.

‘I believe the French language has taken a significant step forward in growing its credibility within the domain of today’s prominent languages. The importance of the French language is understated in Africa. We should acknowledge the importance of the language because we have countries on the continent where French is the first language.’ 

UKZN lecturers in the Discipline on the Pietermaritzburg campus said the proud achievement of producing a winner for the past four last years was the result of courses being geared towards the independent use of foreign languages.

‘In our Discipline we strive to equip our students with skills to enable them to communicate in French in a very practical way and to give them the capacity to use this international language as an asset in their future professions,’ said Lecturer Ghyslaine Dye.

‘French is a major language of communication in Africa and we try to empower our students to cope in spheres such as business, media and politics, which involve Francophone Africa and the wider world.’

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IKolishi lezeMpilo (CHS) esikhungweni semfundo ephakeme yaKwaZulu-Natali, i-UKZN, ligubhe inyanga yabesimame libumbene ngokulwa nokudlwengulwa kwabesimame kanye nokuhlukunyezwa kwabantu ngokobulili.

Ikomidi, iWomen in Leadership and Leverage (WILL), libambisane namanye amalunga eKolishi ngomkhankaso obuqwashisa abafundi kanye nomphakathi wenyuvesi wonkana ngokubhebhetheka kodlame olubhekene nabantu besimame kanye nezingane eNingizumu Afrika.

Usihlalo weWILL, uSolwazi Thirumala Govender, uthe lomkhankaso awuphelelanga ekuqwashiseni umphakathi ngezinga lokudlwengula kuleli kuphela, kepha ubuhlose nokukhuthaza abanukubezekile ukuba bakwazi ukubhekana nobunzima obulandela isigameko ngokubacobela ngolwazi olubalulekile. Umkhankanso uphinde wazisa izihambeli ngezinyathelo ekumele zizithathe uma zona kumbe amalunga omndeni, abangani, nabanye ekumele bazithathe uma bezithola benukubezekile.

‘Abafundi beKolishi basazohlangabezana nabantu besimame abanukubezekile ezifundweni zabo nangenkathi sebethwele iziqu zabo. Lomkhankaso uhambisana nezinhlelo zeKolishi ekubaqeqesheni ukuthi bakwazi ukumelana nezimo ezahlukahlukene, kakhulukazi ukusiza abantu besifazane abadlwenguliwe.’

UDkt Kantharueben Naidoo onguchwepheshe kwezempilo kanye nezomthetho osiza abantu abadlwenguliwe, uthe kusemqoka ukuthi abasebenza kwezempilo kanye nezomthetho wakuleli baqeqesheke ekukwazini ukusiza amalunga omphakathi anukubezekile ngokocansi. Uzwelo labo lunxantathu. Luyaduduza, lunakekele ezimpilo eziputhakhakathaka luphinde liqikelele ukuthi izinswelaboya zengamelwa ngokufanelekile umthetho waseNingizimu Afrika.

UNaidoo uthe ukudlwengula kungudlame oludinga ukuphuthunyelwa abazempilo. ‘Umunti odlwenguliwe uhlukumezeka ngendlela emangalisayo kanti abamye baze balahlekelwe yizimpilo zabo kulisi sigameko.’

Ngesimo sokuthi umphakathi usulahle ithemba kwabomthetho kanye nezempilo kuleli, lokhu kadala ukuthi uma umuntu esedlenguliwe angaqikeleli ukuyobika emaphoyiseni, athole nosizo lwasemtholampilo.

UNaidoo uthe kusakuningi okumele kulungiswe ezibhedlela kanye nasemaphoyiseni mayelana nokusiza abantu abanukubezekile. ‘Kushoda abasebenzi kanye nezinsizakusebenza; abasebenzi abaqeqeshiwe ngokwanele ukuhlangabezana nabantu abanukubeziwe ngokocansi; kuphinde kuthikameze indlela abasebenzi abazwelana ngayo nabo kanye nokungahambelani nemigomo nemibandela esemthethweni.’

Izihambeli zomkhankaso zathintwa yisehlakalo esavelela uNksz Jes Foord owadlwengulwa ngamadoda amane enkathini engekudala. UFoord, ekhuluma e-UKZN, wathi abantu baseNingizimu Afrika abazi ukuthi isizwe sethu sihle kanjani, kuwukuthi kukhona nezinswelaboya. Waphinde wagqugquzela abantu besifazane ukuthi bangafeli ngaphakathi, bakhulume ngizinto ezibahlukumezayo. ‘Udliwa umzwangedwa ongesizwa muntu kuwona uma ungakhulumi.’

‘Ngifisa ukuthi kubantu besilisa: “Angeke uthokoze uma kunganokubezeka unyoke kumbe udade wenu, ngakho-ke, ungaqhubi kanjalo nakwabanye.”.’

UKapteni Premhid wasemaphoyiseni aseMpilo wathi sonke isikhathi lapho uthula ubona umthetho wephulwa, nawe uyinxenye owenza kubhebhetheke lokhu. Waphide wathi kumele umphakathi uke uvakashele emaphoyiseni kanye nasezibhedlela zikuhulumeni, uzinbonele wona ukuthi isimo simbi kangakanani. Ehambisana nethimba lakhe, baqwashisa izihambelo ngakho konke abakwazi ukusiza ngakho emaphoyiseni, kanye nokumele kwenzimu ngumuntu odlwenguliwe, angesabi. 

Abafundi batheleka ngothi lwabo begqoke njengodokotela. Abafundela ubuhlengikazi sebeqale ukusebenzisana neHis Church KwaRescue Project emphakathini waseMariannridge. Basebenzisana nomphakathi ukuthunga onodoli abanikwa abantu kanye nezingane ezihlukumezekile emphakathini ngesiqubulo esithi “Cha” ngodlame kunye nokudlwengula emphakathini nasemndenini.

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Astronomy could be the saviour of the world, according to the first Director of the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics in India, Professor Jayant Narlikar, who was the final speaker at the recent UKZN National Science Week Public Lecture series.

Professor Sunil Maharaj, Director of UKZN’s Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (ACRU) and the national SARChI Chair for Gravitating Systems, introduced Narlikar saying UKZN was ‘extremely fortunate to have a speaker of the calibre of Professor Narlikar, given his contribution to astrophysics and cosmology and his reputation as an internationally renowned scientist’.

Among a plethora of honours, Narlikar was awarded the medal for the top mathematician at Cambridge University, as well as the prestigious Kalinga Award from UNESCO for science communication.

Narlikar’s presentation focused on the amazing world of astronomy and how we may need the science for our survival.  ‘Astronomy is concerned with distant stars and galaxies, therefore why should it be relevant to us on the Earth?’ he asked.

Narlikar presented various historical examples of how astronomy has helped human societies and cultures over the ages, ranging from the invention of the calendar, which was associated with the observations of heavenly bodies, to navigation on the high seas, which historically was guided by the stars.

Narlikar argued that the study of planetary motions by astronomers resulted in long-term benefits for mankind still enjoyed today.  He presented a history of the main developments in astronomy, from Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler in the late sixteenth century to the modern era. 

‘Tycho Brahe was a devotee of the cosmos. Operating in the era before the telescope was discovered, he realised that data collection was not enough and that one needed mathematics to analyse it.  He therefore hired Johannes Kepler to assist him, and on his death, Brahe’s data passed to Kepler, who after three years founded the three laws of planetary observations.’

Narlikar said these laws stated that all planets moved in elliptical orbits, with the sun at one focus; that a line that connects a planet to the sun sweeps out equal areas in equal times; and that the square of the period of any planet is proportional to the cube of the semimajor axis of its orbit.

Following on from Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, which explained how planets moved, Isaac Newton’s law of gravitation, proposed in the late 17th century, answered the question of why planets moved as they did.

The 18th to the 20th centuries witnessed the astronomical observations of comets, the discovery of new planets and studies of stellar structure that established confidence in the law of gravitation.  This was reinforced during the second half of the 20th century, during which space technology was launched and built on the foundations of the law of gravitation.  ‘None of the benefits of space technology would be available today if we did not have a law of gravitation,’ said Narlikar.

Narlikar concluded his lecture with the proposition that we may need astronomy for our very survival.  He explained that should an object from space such as an asteroid collide with the earth, the impact could have disastrous consequences.

He gave the example of the Lonar Lake Crater in India, which was created by an asteroid weighing 20 million tons hitting the earth, and so releasing the energy equivalent of a six Megaton nuclear bomb - 500 times more energy than the Hiroshima bomb which was of 13 kiloton capacity.

‘Asteroidal impacts can be even more devastating,’ said Narlikar.  ‘A 10 kilometre size object will impact with an energy of one billion Hiroshimas!’ 

He said that precautionary measures could be taken against cosmological disaster.  ‘A skywatch programme can protect mankind from celestial impacts and divert an asteroid off its path towards earth.’

‘Astronomy has been and will continue to be an important component of human knowledge base useful not only for a better understanding of science but also for the welfare of humanity.’

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High school pupils took part in a Crystal Growing Competition at the Sports Centre on UKZN’s Westville campus.

The event, which coincided with the annual FFS Science EXPO, was open to all Grade nine and 10 learners in the greater Durban area.

The youngsters were provided with either copper sulfate or potassium aluminium sulfate (alum) for the crystal growing and were allowed to use any procedure to prepare the crystals.

Ultimately three schools went through the entire process of evaluation and submitted crystals in two categories: Best Overall Crystal and Best Quality Crystal.

The winners were Clifton School which won both first and second prize for the Best Overall Crystal;

Our Lady of Fatima Convent School which was first in the Best Quality Crystal category and also got second prize for the Best Overall crystal; and Ashton International College which won third prize in the Best Quality crystal category.

Remarkably, the Clifton School pupils who submitted the winning crystals were from Grade six.

Participants, who were taken on a tour of UKZN’s Chemistry facilities, were fascinated by the powder and single crystal X-ray diffractometer, particularly how X-rays reveal the “inside” of the crystals down to the atomic level.

UKZN’s Dr Werner Van Zyl said: ‘I wish to thank the Royal Society of Chemistry for sponsoring the event and chemicals used. In addition, I need to thank Professor Bice Martincigh and Dr Bernard Owaga from the UKZN School of Chemistry and Physics for their logistical support.’

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Academics in the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences (LMMS) recently attended a stimulating workshop which examined the importance of student assessment.

Led by Professor Michelle Mclean the workshop was titled: “What’s All the Fuss about Assessment?”

A UKZN alumnus, McLean is an Honorary Professor at the University and the Academic Leader for problem-based learning in the School of Laboratory Science at Bond University in Australia, where a renewed curriculum was implemented in May this year. Her current research interests are transferable skills in developing life-long learners and the professional identity formation of medical students.

The workshop highlighted that assessment drives student learning, and Mclean reiterated that it was not possible to design a curriculum without looking at assessment.

She said while institutions worried about whether a student had reached the appropriate level or standard to progress, students worried about whether they had met the expected level or standard.

She encouraged academics to remember that students respect what they detect. ‘They do not respect what you expect, they respect what you inspect.’

It was also important to keep in mind the requirements of accreditation bodies in terms of student competence as well as any specific requirements for employers.

Participants debated whether students were indeed assessed at the appropriate level as sometimes institutions also lacked adequate resources for teaching and learning. Mclean said despite the resources available, whatever academics did had to be robust, defensible and to meet stakeholder needs.

Assessing at the appropriate level involved asking: ‘Who are the learners? What are the intended learning outcomes? At what level should we assess?’

Lecturers also needed to ask questions such as: Could appropriate patients and sufficient examiners get recruited for teaching and training purposes? How was a single lecturer to deal with a class of over 200 students successfully?

School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences Academic leader for Teaching and Learning, Professor Irene Mackraj, said the workshop was vibrant and interactive, and the information provided concerning assessment was invaluable to educators within the College. ‘The College will benefit greatly from similar workshops aimed at enhancing the curriculum design process.’

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Senior Professor of History in the Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS), Professor Donal McCracken, has launched a new book, Teddy Luther’s War, The Diary of a German-American in an Irish-Boer Commando.

It is the saga of a young German-American who arrived in South Africa at the turn of the 20th Century to fight the British and ended up in an Irish commando within the Boer army.

Work on the book began 20 years ago when McCracken discovered a war diary in the British Ministry of Defence Library in London written by a young German, Ernest Luther.

 Luther moved to New York with his mother while still a young child, going on to fight as a volunteer in three wars - the Greco-Turkish War; the US-Spanish War and the Anglo-Boer War.

‘He was killed in action in September 1900 at the age of 21 during the Boer retreat in Mpumalanga in the face of Lord Roberts’ advancing army,’ said McCracken.

’The diary, published in English in 1900, comprised  only 54 small pages but is packed with action and is invaluable as a source about the Boer retreat as well as about such matters as indiscipline in the commando, drunkenness and the use of dum-dum bullets.

‘There is a fascinating and significant postscript. British Military Intelligence got the diary off the dying Luther and within 10 weeks it had been shipped to London and published by British Military Intelligence at 16 Queen Anne Gate.

‘We also know that in at least one instance the published diary was given to a war correspondent in the field with the British army. So the diary also opens a window into the murky actions of British Military Intelligence and journalists travelling with the advancing British army.’

McCracken says only two printed copies of the diary are known to exist – one is in the Ministry of Defence Library in London and the other in the Military Archives in Sweden. 

The book is on sale for R180 at Adams in Musgrave Centre in Durban.

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There should be a zero-tolerance approach to gender-based violence if South African authorities are true to the Constitution, says Dr Mamphela Ramphele.             

The UZKN medical alumnus and Leader of AgangSA was speaking at a Public Lecture at UKZN on the eve of Women’s Day.

She posed the question: ‘Why do women and children in the country still face violence and abuse which should have become a thing of the past’?

Ramphele said South Africa had achieved a lot since gaining its freedom, ‘above all a Constitution that enshrines the right to dignity, freedom and equality for every citizen of our country’.

She said the country’s rape statistics were appalling. Sexual violence against women and children as well as the numbers of men who admitted to having being raped had increased.

The “horrific” level of violence that came with the abuse demonstrated the character of the perpetrators. Women were not just raped and abused; they are often mutilated and murdered.

‘The level of violence goes beyond the need to dominate; its brutality is indicative of the turmoil in the mind of the perpetrators.’

She said the epidemic of violence against women and children was symbolic of a society still at war with itself.  There was a need for all South Africans to join forces to heal the country.

‘The quality of any society can be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable: women, children and the aged; those least able to defend themselves.’

At the heart of the problem was the lack of political will by the South African Government.

‘The fact is that violence against women is an extreme symptom of the failure of our democracy to provide opportunities for all South Africans. It is a failure of government to address the humiliation of men, especially Black men, at the hands of apartheid.  The disempowerment that men feel is taken out against women closest to them.’

Ramphele argued that the government did not believe that Black people were capable of excellence.  ‘The low expectation of our children’s performance is exemplified in the 30 percent pass mark in three subjects and 40 percent in three others that constitute a Matric pass.

‘This failure by government to deliver high standards in education and training is driving this country into an abyss.  No society in the 21st century can succeed if its most dynamic sector of the population is disabled by a deliberately sub-standard education.’

Ramphele said although the Constitution protected the rights of every citizen, the practical reality in implementation was that it had failed so many women, men and children due to lack of government commitment.

‘It is clear that there is a desperate need in South Africa to transform our social relationships. It starts in the home, and it needs to be followed up in the school, so that it spreads to the workplace and through the wider community. Parents need to model good behaviour in promoting equality for girls; so do educators.

‘We need to march again, this time against violence against our mothers, daughters and sisters and not just as women but as the whole of society standing together.’

She urged all citizens to stand together and send a message that society would no longer tolerate the stain of gender- based violence.

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An inspiration to the youth and a symbol of pride for all Africans, 24-year-old UKZN PhD student Mr Kamleshan Pillay stood as an advocate for change and made history when selected to be the first South African and one of only seven African Union (AU) representatives invited to the Y8 Summit in Greenwich, London, recently.

Held annually since its inception in 2006, the Y8 Summit - the officially endorsed youth summit of the G8 - brings together leading candidates from more than 20 countries to discuss, engage and debate current issues in society. Participants represent committees including justice, defence, climate and energy, development and foreign affairs. The AU was invited to participate for the first time this year.

It is the first time the UK government had endorsed a youth or civil society event on this scale and also a first for portfolios of development and environment to be discussed at a Y8 event.

Pillay, a student in the Discipline of Geography in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, was selected as the AU Energy and Climate representative.

Pillay says it’s not only a landmark achievement that the AU was called to participate but also a development that needed to be embraced in light of concerns of climate change. The global concerns around climate change are far more serious for Africa than for many other parts of the world.

‘Africa is predicted to be the continent most likely to suffer the impact of climate change and extreme events resulting from climate change because of our infra-structural and economic inability to adapt. There is a need for the AU to be present in forums such as the G20 and UN securities council as discussions about Africa should involve Africa in finding a solution,’ said Pillay.

During the summit, candidates were locked in intense debates to develop a communiqué by consensus on issues including climate mitigation, climate adaptation and the green economy. The Y8 communiqué was handed over to the United Kingdom’s Director of G8 Policy, Mr Dominic Martin, who accepted on behalf of the Prime Minister.

‘It was pertinent for me as the AU representative to push the agenda of the continent. I felt that there were a few major points that needed to be addressed on behalf of the AU including the refinement of the climate financial mechanisms (REDD+, REDD and CDM) which aid climate change mitigation and adaptation, the development for a global adaptation plan for climate change and the need for technology transfer from the developed to the developing world to aid energy efficiency and the green economic growth.’

‘In addition to co-ordinated action on fossil fuel subsidies, the Y8 would like to see a legally binding international agreement adopted by all major emitters on cutting emissions by 2015 under the ADP that is consistent with limiting global temperature increases to 2°C as stated in the Y8 Communiqué.’

Pillay says there is a need for more research and development into alternative energies that fit the individual needs of countries and not just an overarching dissemination of all energies,

‘I advocated quite strongly for biofuels to be excluded as they are not sustainable - the AU favours the use of solar and hydro power as preferred alternatives.’

He is optimistic about the impact the youth summit will have on shifting worldviews. ‘I feel that summits such as the Y8 and Y20 give young leaders a chance to express their views and create a voice on burning issues in our society. I believe that leaders in positions of power can heed the words of the youth where consensus was reached on more topics within the climate change and energy committee than in any other youth summit.

‘The acknowledgement and commitment of countries that have traditionally shied away from leadership in climate change mitigation (China, US and Russia) was a huge step forward in the youth conference and we hope that it transcends onto the world platform of current decision makers. The vibrancy and enthusiasm of young leaders was clearly evident at the London conference and I am confident that with the aid of bright minds our future can be a little more optimistic with chances to evoke change more realistic.’

Pillay’s sights are set on shaping the future of environmental politics. He hopes his participation at the summit will lead him into a career in environmental politics at the United Nations.

Pillay encourages his peers to share in his passion. ‘I think that there is a dire need for “arm-chair” academics to step out of the darkness and be part of the global debate and use their expertise to educate, inform and most importantly develop policy so that our common future can be more.’

Organiser of the 2013 Y8 Summit, Ciaran Norris, said: ‘For the first time in the history of international youth movements, we are not just going to reinvent the wheel when it comes to the next event. Next year’s delegates will have to examine the 2013 Y8 Communiqué and build upon that.

‘The G8 does not go back to the drawing board every single year, that would be a waste of effort and no progress would be made. Instead, the Y8 will embrace that practical approach and make the legacy of Kamleshan and the other 2013 delegates continue, so it becomes a platform for new ideas, which can themselves be put to leaders as the Y8 grows in significance.’

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Ten staff members from UKZN’s Student Funding Unit received awards in recognition of long service to the financial aid community during a conference in Durban.

Combined, the staffers boast a staggering 186 years of servicing financially needy students at the University!

The awards were made during the Financial Aid Practitioners of South Africa Conference held annually to discuss best practices in student financial aid administration as well as trends and challenges in financial aid in South Africa.

The theme of this year’s event was: “The Rise of the New Era”.

The Conference was addressed by the Chairperson of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) Board, Mr Zamayedwa Sogayise, who said 2014 would see a total change in the funding operations platform of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme in South Africa.

Instead of “blocks” of funding being allocated to higher learning institutions for them to decide on the recipients, NSFAS would choose the recipients from direct applications.

NSFAS said their transformation goals were:

- To be an efficient and effective public entity in student financial aid administration;

- To promote access and success in higher and further education and training at public universities and FET colleges;
- To create an improved student-centred financial aid environment.

UKZN staff members who received awards were:

- The Head of Student Funding at UKZN Mr Richard Morrison, who got a Gold award for more than 25 years of service in the industry;
- Loan Manager Mr Michael Davids, and Financial Aid Advisor for the College of Humanities and Education at the Edgewood campus, Ms Cornelia Khathali, who received Silver Awards for more than 20 years of service;

Bronze awards for more than 15 years in service went to:

- Ms Constance Dube, Senior Financial Aid Advisor, College of Humanities
- Mrs Nain Ramdas, Financial Aid Advisor, College of Law and Management Studies
- Mrs Roshilla Singh, Financial Aid Advisor, College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (who retires this year)
- Mr Gerald Naicker, Financial Aid Advisor, College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science
- Mrs Sally Day, Loans Co-ordinator (Claims & Training), Student Funding
- Mr Karan Naidoo, Manager Scholarships and
- Ms Busi Dlamini, Financial Aid Advisor, College of Humanities and Education on the Pietermaritzburg campus.

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College of Health Sciences Public Relations Officer and UKZN alumnus Mr Lunga Memela has been awarded a scholarship to read for an MA in Art, Literature and Society at Maastricht University in The Netherlands.

Memela, who completed his undergraduate degree at UKZN followed by an Honours degree in Cultural and Media Studies from the Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS), cut his teeth at the CCMS during his honours year. ‘I tutored, worked as a Research Assistant and also wrote for the CCMS student publication, SUBtext, during my Honours year. I think this stood me in good stead in what became my subsequent years as a communications practitioner at the University.’

His high level of academic achievement and expertise in his field won him the prestigious SAVUSA (South Africa – VU University Amsterdam – Strategic Alliances) SKILL scholarship. The full-scholarship includes tuition, accommodation, a stipend, airfares and funding for a replacement PRO at the College of Health Sciences.

Memela, a member of UKZN’s Golden Key International Honour Society, offers the following advice for students looking to study abroad: ‘A lot of students would love to go abroad but they don’t take advantage of the various opportunities at their disposal.  From my interviews with jet-setting students and academics, one of the cheapest ways one can do this is by working diligently to achieve good marks from your undergraduate years.

‘Universities and their stakeholders offer numerous international scholarships and bursaries available to hard workers. It is up to the student to keep an eye out for the opportunities and to make sure they apply timeously,’ said Memela.

‘The exciting thing about furthering your studies is that it can open doors you never even imagined existed. My entire Masters experience has been made possible by UKZN and SAVUSA through the SKILL Programme. I am very grateful to have been awarded the scholarship.’

Memela, who completed his schooling at Port Shepstone High School, is looking forward to the experience of traveling, making new friends and furthering his education. ‘I am thankful the College of Health Sciences allowed me to take the year off to pursue the Masters and to focus on studying. It’s a rare opportunity!’

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UKZN made a clean sweep of all the awards for student oral presentations at the 2013 symposium of the Zoological Society of South Africa.

The symposium, co-hosted by the University of Venda and the University of Limpopo at the Tshipise Resort near Soutpansberg, was attended by 150 delegates from eight countries including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Denmark and Germany.

UKZN representatives were there in force and at least 16 students from the University presented on several relevant topics.

Professor Colleen Downs of UKZN’s School of Life Sciences, delivered a keynote address titled: “The importance of ecology and physiology in a changing world: Wahlberg’s epauletted fruit bat (Epomophorus wahlbergi)”.

Downs was recently named UKZN’s Top Woman Researcher for 2012. UKZN won all the awards for the student oral presentations. Ms Lindy Thompson was placed first followed by Mr Shaun Welman and Ms Tarin Ramsaroop.

Thompson, a PhD candidate in the School of Life Sciences (Ecology), presented a paper titled: “Seasonal differences in basal metabolic rate of Cape White-eyes, Zosterops pallidus”.

Thompson also submitted a photograph of an African Hawk Eagle while Mr Morgan Pfeiffer, an MSc student from the School of Life Sciences, submitted a photograph of a Wahlberg’s epauletted fruit bat for the student photographic competition.  Both pictures were placed in the top 10.

‘It was a fantastic experience, and I enjoyed listening to the talks, and meeting other students and researchers. I really encourage students to attend the next ZSSA conference in 2015,’said Thompson.

Welman’s paper was titled: “The seasonal variation in thermogenesis of a naturally acclimatized African small mammal, Rhabdomys pumilio”. The research contained in the paper formed part of his MSc which he completed at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. He is continuing his thermoregulation research at UKZN for a PhD under the supervision of Professor Barry Lovegrove.

‘The Conference and the award have reassured me the work I am doing is valuable. It has also given me the confidence to know I am able to communicate this to my peers and other pioneers in science, said Welman.’

Ramsaroop’s paper was titled: “Morphometric variation in Mops condylurus (Chiroptera: Molossidae) from sub-Saharan Africa”.

The success of UKZN’s students at this year’s ZSSA Symposium is as a direct reflection of the University’s overall academic excellence and is in line with its mission to be a centre of innovation and research excellence. 

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The School of Arts recently hosted its Postgraduate Research Conference over two days on both the Pietermaritzburg and Durban campuses.

The Conference offered postgraduate students the opportunity to present their research in an academic setting allowing them to receive constructive criticism, suggestions and feedback from peers and lecturers.

Dean and Head of the School of Arts Professor Nogwaja Zulu welcomed students and stressed the importance of the Conference. ‘We are excited to be hosting this Conference because it is a platform for students to learn from their peers and supervisors and to develop as researchers. This interaction will enrich students as they learn about different research methods.’

Both Zulu and the Academic Leader for Research within the School, Professor Bernard De Meyer, advised students to learn as much as possible, to publish their research and in turn contribute to knowledge production.

Postgraduate student Mr Christopher Kokeletso examined the role of music in a wage protest in a presentation at the Conference in Durban titled: “A case study of BOFEPUSU strike in Gaborone, Botswana”.

At the Pietermaritzburg Conference, postgraduate student Ms Sandra Pitcher looked at the role political cartoons play in the press and questioned if political cartoons undermined the concept of a socially responsible and ethical press.

‘My paper interrogates the notion of social responsibility and assesses the ethical framework from which it is derived; ultimately questioning to whom the press, under this framework, is expected to be responsible - themselves, the government or the public,’ said Pitcher.

By critically analysing some of South Africa’s most controversial cartoons published over the last five years, Pitcher questioned whether the works contributed to the notion of a socially responsible press.

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Cutting-edge research on diabetes will be presented by a lecturer and two of his students at the World Diabetes Congress in Melbourne, Australia, this December.

Dr Shahidul lslam, a Senior Lecturer of Biochemistry at UKZN’s Westville campus, and Masters student Mr Pragalathan Naidoo together with MBChB second-year and former MSc Biochemistry student Ms Rachel Wilson, will showcase significant diabetes research they have conducted on rat models in their Biomedical Research Laboratory at UKZN.

lslam has, over the years, investigated potential anti-diabetic effects of xylitol in a type-2 diabetes (T2D) model of rats. Xylitol is a white crystalline five carbon sugar alcohol which is widely used as a sugar substitute in various food products because of its similar sweetness but relatively lower calorific value compared to sucrose.

‘The chronic or over consumption of refined sugar may cause severe physiological and clinical problems such as overweight, obesity, diabetes and many other diseases related to metabolic syndrome, hence the popularity of non-sugar sweeteners is increasing gradually in all over the world,’ said lslam.

The data of his study suggests that xylitol could be a “promising additive” to diabetic foods, not only as a sugar substitute, but also as an anti-diabetic agent. Additionally, the significantly improved in vivo anti-oxidant status might be partly involved in the anti-diabetic effects of xylitol.

Naidoo was one of 100 globally-selected young researchers to receive a prestigious Travel Grant from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) to present their research results at the Congress. His study is titled: “Development of an Alternative Non-Obese, Non-Genetic Rat Model of T2D”.

The study aim was to develop an alternative non-obese non-genetic animal model for T2D that may optimally mimic the clinical pathogenesis seen in humans, namely: less insulin resistance, partial pancreatic beta-cell dysfunction and disorderly reduced insulin secretion.

Data from the study suggests that caffeine pretreatment at 20 mg/kg body weight followed by 65 mg/kg body weight streptozotocin can be administered to rats to develop a new and alternative non-obese non-genetic animal model for T2D.

Wilson also received the prestigious IDF Grant to present her research at the 21st World Diabetes Congress in Dubai, 2011 when she was working as an MSc student with Islam. Now driven by a goal to specialise in endocrinology after completing her current MBChB study at UKZN, Wilson has published a book chapter with Islam in addition to publishing her MSc research work in the international pharmacology journal, Pharmacological Reports.

This year’s congress will showcase her study which examined the anti-diabetic effects of a low (0.25 percent) and a high (0.5 percent) dose of white mulberry leaf tea in a newly developed rat model of T2D. Despite manufacturer and literature claims, results of this study suggest that either a low or high concentration of white mulberry leaf tea has no effects on ameliorating diabetes-related parameters in a newly developed rat model of T2D.

Wilson recently presented at a Momentum and Compcare Wellness Day which was held on various UKZN campuses. Her focus was on stress, nutrition and supplementation during exams.

She was supported by Islam and Naidoo in saying it was every individual’s responsibility to avoid a sedentary lifestyle by exercising for at least 30 minutes daily, coupled with healthy eating that limits a high intake of  saturated fats and simple carbohydrates. ‘These foods lead to obesity which often results in diabetes, metabolic syndrome and other non-communicable chronic diseases,’ added Islam.

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Professor Marc Groenhuijsen of Tilburg University in The Netherlands presented a Public Lecture at the Howard College Theatre on International Protocols on Victims’ Rights, sharing reflections on significant recent developments in Victimology.

Groenhuijsen, who was warmly welcomed by DVC and Head of the College of Humanities Professor Cheryl Potgieter, gave a critical overview of prominent international protocols involving the rights of victims of crime and the abuse of power.

He identified victims’ rights common to most of the international protocols and discussed critical factors determining effective implementation of these rights. He also outlined the main developments in contemporary international victimology.

Rights of victims he examined included the right to respect and recognition at all stages of the criminal proceedings, the right to receive information and information about the progress of the case and the right to provide information to officials responsible for decisions relating to the offender.

He pointed out that effective implementation of (inter) national protocols required close co-operation between all stakeholders. ‘Government agencies from different departments such as justice and public health, the police, the prosecution service, the judiciary, probation, victim support and welfare agencies should all be represented as partners in a network. The network should serve as a platform to exchange information and to smooth out problems,’ he said.

With the universal nature of the values and objectives underlying these documents, the European Union (EU) Framework Decision on the Standing of Victims in Criminal Proceedings and the United Nations Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power were used as special examples to clarify some points which also applied to South Africa.

‘The exposition on International Protocols has uncovered some good news and some bad news,’ said Groenhuijsen. ‘The bad news is that reform measures on behalf of victims of crime cannot be taken at face value. Governments adopting or accepting these measures do not always aspire to actual improvements of their legal system.

‘There is also lots of good news. There is no way of denying that the International protocols have sensitised national communities about the need for action to emancipate victims of crime.’

He added that in the South African context, international experience showed that it was extremely difficult to be successful in this area when victim care was primarily regarded as an issue of public health and/or welfare.

“Victims” rights and victim care are basically issues of administering justice. Consequently, the Justice Department should accept primary responsibility for this policy area or face the risk of jeopardising the entire enterprise. The International Criminal Court and the other international tribunals have been presented as examples of best practice in the historical development of victim care,’ he said.

‘The link with the subject matter of the section on International Protocols is obvious. National governments would be wise to study the provisions in the International Criminal Court Statute and appended Rules of Evidence and Procedure and actually consider them as inspirational standards, as benchmarks, which should be taken into account as if they were included in international agreements binding on national  jurisdictions,’ he said.

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Maritime Law student, Ms Nomcebo Sibisi (22), has secured a scholarship from the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) to pursue a 14-month Masters programme at the World Maritime University (WMU) in Malmo, Sweden.

The SAMSA scholarship covers tuition, flights and spending money.

Sibisi, who graduated with an LLB in April this year, is currently studying towards a Master of Commerce in Maritime Studies (MCOM) at the recently launched Unit of Maritime Law and Maritime Studies within the College of Law and Management Studies.

She applied for the field study programme in Sweden at the beginning of the year after former Maritime Law Lecturer Dr Portia Ndlovu delivered a presentation about WMU being one of the best maritime studies institutions in the world.

After further research, Sibisi was inspired to apply for the programme which selects students throughout the world to benefit from the expertise of a 100 visiting Professors who deliver a curriculum that balances academic study and practical experience.  

Due to the duration of the programme, Sibisi was advised by her Lecturer, Professor Trevor Jones, that it would be best for her to a do a course work masters and complete her MCOM when she returns home in 2015. Through the programme, she will pursue a Master of Science in Maritime Affairs majoring in Law and Policy.

Sibisi hopes to become an ambassador for young women and empower them to become part of the marine industry.

‘I am interested in maritime studies because of my love for the ocean, ships, and the whole process of international trade,’ said Sibisi. ‘This is a White male dominated field and I took that as challenge to want to learn more about the industry and break the existing norms and boundaries.

‘The people of South Africa, especially those previously disadvantaged, need to know there is a blue economy waiting for us to tap into. That is what motivates me to learn more about maritime so I can pass my knowledge on to other people and they can gain from it as well.’

Driven by her passion for the maritime industry and the law, Sibisi currently teaches Maritime Economics to Grades 10, 11 and 12 at New Forest High school in Durban on a part-time basis.

Through this initiative, Sibisi exposes the pupils to the maritime industry thus equipping them with knowledge which will allow them to make an informed choice about which programmes to pursue at tertiary level.

‘Being a teacher has made me realise I love working with the youth and empowering them as well to be the best they can be. I can’t pinpoint exactly what the future holds for me but I know it is great,’ said Sibisi.

She is also the co- founding Director and Chairperson of a 100 percent Black women-owned non-profit company called Youth Chamber of Shipping in Africa.  The company, the first of its kind in Africa, seeks to create awareness and inform the youth of South Africa (especially in rural areas) about the maritime industry as well as provide unique access opportunities to maritime graduates with big maritime corporates or government stakeholders.

The Dean and Head of the School of Law, Professor Managay Reddi, applauded Sibisi’s achievement saying the School is currently focusing on growing its postgraduate enrolments and throughputs and in improving the study and social environment of its postgraduate students through the Maritime Unit.

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Primate Africa’s Ms Jean Senogles addressed staff and students on the Westville campus recently with the aim of bringing about harmony between monkeys and people at the University.

The lecture included an overview of the ecological niche of vervet monkeys and the troop structure which has an alpha female at the top of the hierarchy.

The Edgewood, Howard College and Westville campuses together form the University of KwaZulu-Natal Conservancy where the preservation of wildlife and the natural environment are priorities.

The Westville campus is home to three troops of vervet monkeys while a wide range of other animals including bats, mongooses and reptiles have made the University their home.

Senogles said monkeys were an important part in the ecosystem - they ‘stimulate plant growth by eating vegetation, they pollinate flowers, they keep a check on other populations and act as prey for predators’.

UKZN’s Director of University Relations and Marketing, Mr Len Mzimela, echoed Senogles’ sentiments about the importance of living in harmony with monkeys. ‘We are trying to figure out how to co-exist in this ecosystem we call the University,’ said Mzimela.

Feeding stations were proposed as a way to handle foraging monkeys. This will be explored in greater depth in the near future.

Senogles also looked at ways to interpret their behavior in order to best co-exist with monkeys. Her tips include the following:

·  Open doors so they can leave your office/room at Res. Be calm and back-away. Don’t be aggressive;

·  Monkeys don’t see your kitchen as belonging to you – it’s seen as part of their territory and they are simply foraging for food. Keep your windows closed, or install burglar guards or screens to ensure your food is not taken;

·  Don’t feed monkeys by hand;

·  Don’t walk around campus with visible food;

·  Staring is considered a form of aggression;

·   Baring of teeth is seen as aggression. Monkeys may misinterpret smiling at them as a sign of aggression.

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UKZN recently hosted a Stakeholders Consultative Seminar - an annual gathering of student leaders at residences and the Residence Life Team (RLT) to share knowledge and experiences in various areas.

Issues discussed included residence governance, residence life programmes, academic support, mentorship programmes, peer facilitation and student discipline.

The seminar was organised by the RLT on the Howard College campus together with the SRC through the Residence Liaison Officers on both the Medical School and Howard College campuses.

The seminar provided an opportunity for the newly-elected House Committee to be empowered with skills, competencies and innovative ideas to design, implement and evaluate residence life programmes.

It also aimed to create a better relationship between House Committees and the Department of Student Residence Affairs (DSRA) providing a base for House Committees to learn and understand that leadership is a rational process that can be applied in all contexts.

Res Life Co-ordinator Ms Qhamo Gumede said the theme of the seminar was: “The Values Driven Leadership”.

‘The theme was geared at influencing student leadership positively by emphasising the need for disciplined leaders who become good role models and who are always guided by a good set of values,’ said Gumede.

Presentations included an AIDS programme and peer facilitation, leadership and duties of leading and residence life programmes design, implementation and evaluation. Participants were given an opportunity to provide feedback on the seminar both verbally and via an evaluation form. 

The Residence Life Office is responsible for organising programmes which develop residence students holistically in a variety of areas including academic, social, spiritual, sporting, cultural and leadership development fields. In order to achieve this they work closely with other student services departments, student support, academics and NGOs.

Gumede said the DSRA (Howard College and Medical School) had 186 house committees which played an integral role in residence life programmes as the RLT often relied on them to encourage students to actively participate in the programmes.

The organising team thanked all the participants and the following presenters for their contribution in making the seminar a success: Executive Director – Student Services, Dr Sibusiso Chalufu; HIV/AIDS Programme Co-ordinator, Ms Nomonde Magantolo; Mr Patrick Murhula of the Mentorship Programme - Humanities; Accounting Lecturer at Mangosuthu University of Technology, Mr Bonginkosi Zwane, and Manager: Convocation and Alumni Relations at the Durban University of Technology, Mr David Sedumedi.

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MCom students in Local Economic Development at the Graduate School of Business and Leadership visited the markets of Warwick Triangle in Durban to get a practical appreciation of complexity and complex adaptive systems as part of the module: “Leading in Turbulent Environments”.

The specialised educational tour was conducted by Mr Richard Dobson and Ms Tasmi Quazi from Asiye Etafuleni, who went with the students to various markets in Warwick to gain first-hand learning on the characteristics, complexities and challenges of the trading centre.

The students were exposed to the interrelationships and interdependencies within the markets and the adaptive and self-organising capacity of the traders. Traders “co-evolve” with the system by offering different goods at different times of the day to satisfy the demand of passers-by.

Formal and informal traders benefit from each other’s presence while the suppliers of goods or services to informal traders depend on their presence. Based on this interrelationship, it would be detrimental to close one market down as it would affect the livelihood of a larger group of people.

Resettling a market elsewhere could strongly compromise the business of the traders as its current position, in the middle of the transport node between train, bus and taxi, is critical to its success.

Students saw that the appropriate organisation and operation of the market require the collaboration of stakeholders from different groups including town planning and waste management, and especially the participatory inclusion of the community living and working in the area.

Furthermore, stories about unsuccessful attempts to restrict some activities of traders, such as building additional shelter, showed the self-regulating and self-organising capacity of the market.

The students further learned about the different types of “infrastructure” the Municipality provides to traders depending on how much they can afford to pay, the impacts of this difference and the implied unfairness. At the lowest level, there is just a line that defines the space of a trader - more developed traders have a sheltered place.

Regarding infrastructure provision and the practicality of the Market’s operation, several possibilities for improvement exist. These often only require small changes in dealing with traders, or minor investments in their infrastructure. A precondition for improvements is a thorough understanding of the traders’ needs and challenges.

Cardboard recyclers needed an identity card and a space for packing their cardboards, rather than another transportation option. In another instance, the building of drainage structures made a huge difference to the business of traders.

The above were just some examples which enabled the students to observe the characteristics of the complex adaptive system in practice. The students were further confronted with the necessity for inclusive development, comprising consultative and participatory processes which are particularly relevant for the local economic development context.

After exploring the markets of Warwick, the students had the chance to engage in an interactive session with Asiye Etafuleni representatives on the challenges of inclusive development from a complexity perspective.

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Staff members from the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science recently took part in an exciting afternoon of teambuilding at Durban’s uShaka Marine World with activities themed: “Beach Olympics”.

Divided into six teams, participants took part in activities which included beach cricket, beach volleyball, tug-of-war and a mind-boggling puzzle challenge.

In the spirit of teambuilding, staff members from the different campuses were given the opportunity to interact and, in some cases, meet for the first time, through exciting group challenges.

Each team competed in the challenges with great enthusiasm, chanting their chosen war cries and trying their best to make their team members proud.

‘We painted our faces, ran races and were put through our paces just for a day out of the office…and a chocolate. It was more than just teambuilding, it was “team bonding” and it was clear that I am only because we are,’ said Mr Sashlin Girraj, Web Administrator for the College. 

Each team was given a colour, and team members’ faces were painted in their team colour to signify allegiance. 

College Public Relations Manager, Dr Sally Frost said: ‘Staff in the College Office work hard.  We wanted to do something where colleagues could spend time together in an informal setting, get to know each other and have fun.  Our Women’s Day Mini-Olympics event did just that.’

The day ended with a delicious late afternoon buffet lunch and more laughs!

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