24 May 2018 Photo Leonie Bolleurs
UFS and CUT joint SASUF Research Symposium discusses urbanisation
From the left are: Prof Nils Ekelund from Malmö University in Sweden; Buhleng Masake, Honours student in Spatial Planning at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the UFS; Per Schubert from Malmö University in Sweden; and Wanda Verster, UFS Department of of Architecture.

The University of the Free State (UFS) and the Central University of Technology (CUT) recently joined hands with the Swedish University Forum (SASUF). The universities jointly presented at a research seminar with the theme: ‘Urban Rural Dynamic’. The seminar was a side event to the stream ‘Urbanisation in the 21st Century’ of the SASUF Sweden-South Africa Research Week that took place in the same week. This stream of the research week was academically chaired by Wanda Verster from the UFS Department of Architecture. 

SASUF is a collaboration of 30 universities in Sweden and South Africa together with embassies, civil society organisations, funding agencies and ministries in both countries of which CUT and UFS are partners. Other themes of the research week were ‘Climate Change, Natural Resources and Sustainability’; ‘Transforming Higher Education Curricula’; ‘Social Transformation Through Change’; ‘Understanding the Burden of Disease’; and ‘Digital Technologies, Big Data and Cybersecurity’. One of SASUF’s main goals is to connect researchers with funding agencies, industry, ministries, and society in working towards the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Tri-partite between local and international universities
The first day of the event was hosted by the UFS Department of Architecture on the Bloemfontein Campus and was supported by the UFS Department of Urban and Regional Planning

The focus of the seminar was on the rural/urban dynamic that secondary cities are frequently experiencing.

Researchers from the UFS, CUT and Malmö University in Sweden presented at the seminar. Stuart-Denoon Stevens, an honours student from the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the UFS, presented his research on human settlements. “There are 200 million informal settlements in Africa. In 1994 there were 260 informal settlements in South Africa. Today we have 2600 informal settlements,” said Stewart. 

Take hands, not handouts
He believes that one needs to support what is happening rather than introduce new technology all the time. “Take hands, not handouts,” he said. 

Presenters from the CUT included Dilip Das, who presented on sustainable urban roads and transport, as well as Oke Saheed, who gave an overview of research on sustainable water resources and environment. Prof Nils Ekelund, the head of the Department of Science, Environment and Society at Malmö University in Sweden, presented on perceptions of the ecosystem services concept. He presented together with his colleague, Per Schubert, a lecturer in physical geography. 

The Director: Internationalisation at the UFS, Cornelius Hagenmeier, stressed in his welcoming remark the contribution SASUF and the side event organised by UFS and CUT make toward comprehensive internationalisation and strengthening the local collaboration between the two universities in Bloemfontein. 

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