Six delegates from Jackson State University (JSU) in the United States recently visited the Howard College campus to discuss and develop joint projects between UKZN and JSU.

This comes after JSU was awarded $4 million (R32 million) to fund a five-year programme to transform the work climate for women in the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and the fields of Social and Behavioural Science (SBS).

The award will fund a project called JSUAdvance, which is aimed at advancing the careers of female STEM and SBS members through mentoring, professional development and institutional change.  Interim Associate Dean, College of Science, Engineering and Technology at JSU, Dr Loretta Moore, said she hoped to partner with UKZN to ensure that women were equipped and mentored to attain more senior positions at Institutions of Higher Education and be able to conduct research as well.

‘We want to see a successful international collaboration with UKZN and we hope to meet with women researchers and academic staff and seek out and engage in joint research with these academics, to share data and even to establish peer mentoring on research,’ she said.

The JSUAdvance team hopes to kick start the partnership later this year with joint research publications, proposals and workshops. They have already launched several strategic initiatives to allow women to focus on the areas necessary to advance their academic careers.

According to Moore, there is a mentoring programme for junior faculty women that will provide advice about strategies for success and advancement, there’s even a summer writing retreat for women to take the time and opportunity to focus on completing their research.

Assistant Dean for the Division of International Studies at JSU, Dr Patricia Jernigan, said that she had visited UKZN last year with the hope of establishing a partnership with the teaching faculty at the University. ‘Now we can collaborate on different projects and we hope with the JSU Advance Team our faculty will begin a fruitful relationship with the UKZN faculty,’ she said.

author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za