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10 July 2018 Photo Johan Roux
Global Leadership Summit starts off on a high note
Students have robust discussions on global issues of social justice and politics

 Global Leadership Summit 2018

The 2018 Global Leadership Summit opened on 8 July 2018 on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS) with an exciting Africa-themed event where local and international students and faculty members from more than 14 universities were in attendance. Prof Puleng LenkaBula, Vice Rector: Institutional Change, Student Affairs, welcomed delegates to the UFS, encouraging them to explore the opportunities which the summit presents to them, to learn, engage and take back valuable lessons to their home institutions, and to impart valuable knowledge that they bring to their peers.

Students play a key role in social justice
Prof Francis Petersen, UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor, welcomed delegates at the summit’s grand opening session on 9 July, at which he highlighted the importance of the participation of young people in social justice and leadership. He emphasised the drive which the university has towards engaged scholarship and the role it has in effecting positive change to communities around it, the country and the world at large. Prof Petersen engaged with Mr Jay Naidoo, founding General Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and cabinet minister. Mr Naidoo was the keynote speaker and addressed the issues surrounding indigenous knowledge, the values that can be found in it, and the role students can have in protecting and highlighting the value of such knowledge systems to bring future change in the world. “Where do we start in decolonising history? The next generation is rising up to that as more young people want to know about the beginning of the beginning,” Mr Naidoo said.

Human value is central to role of universities
A panel discussion was presented on the topic of the challenges of human value and what universities are doing about it, with Dr Vivienne Felix from New York University in the US, Prof Allen Kim, International Christian University in Japan, Dr Caroline Suranksy, University of Humanistic Studies in the Netherlands, and Dr WP Wahl from the UFS, facilitated by Adjunct Associate Professor Ashraf Mahomed from the University of Cape Town. Dr Suransky said: “If we were to identify ourselves as earthlings rather than with our nationalities, what do you reckon we would learn at universities? How do we inter-connect with the earth rather than try to change it?” she asked.

More than just a summit
The summit, which is a joint programme between the International Office, Student Affairs and the Institute of Reconciliation and Social Justice, will continue with more panel discussions, robust engagements and more activities. It will increase focus on critical thinking, on modalities capable of developing students to function effectively in an increasingly interdependent and complex world. It will also focus on building capacity in intercultural competencies, and grow an appreciation of cultural, historical, religious, linguistic, and political angles. The summit will include an excursion to Kimberley and to Galeshewe township in Northern Cape. Delegates will have the opportunity to attend South African cultural events such as the annual Vrystaat Kunstefees/Free State Arts Festival which will be held on the Bloemfontein Campus from 10-14 July, as well as other African theatre productions. 

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