The University of Pretoria (UP) has world-class facilities and some of the most beautiful campus settings in South Africa. Its campuses already house innovative and sustainably designed buildings, but the university recently took this one step further with the launch of the Future Africa campus.
This purpose-built campus promotes transdisciplinary research excellence and fosters the development of research networks, partnerships and training. Future Africa at the University of Pretoria aims to address complex societal challenges and contribute to the achievement of Africa’s sustainable, inclusive and equitable development. It is built on the Experimental Farm on the Hillcrest Campus, best known for its sports facilities.
Features include modern living quarters for postgraduate students, accommodation for visitors, a dining hall, an open Research Commons designed for interactive work and a state-of-the art conference centre, as well as crop-based gardens that can be foraged. The infrastructure on the Future Africa campus has been built around the natural landscape. The gardens are beautified with edible fruit, vegetables and herbs, which encapsulate all the benefits of urban living with sustainable agrarian charm.
UP’s Deputy Vice-Principal for research, Professor Stephanie Burton, explained that this multimillion-rand green facility is “a community, a hub, a home for scholars, and a physical meeting place. It provides the physical and intellectual environment for transformation-minded science leaders and innovative business leaders, policymakers, civil servants and civil society to interact and take science forward across disciplines, cultures and generations”.
The institute aims to promote a transdisciplinary approach to problem-solving by bringing together researchers and partners from various disciplines and sectors of the broader community.
UP is located in Pretoria’s scientific hub, close to the Technology Innovation Agency, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the National Research Foundation, the Department of Science and Technology, the Innovation Hub and other research, development and innovation bodies and agencies. Future Africa at the University of Pretoria is part of the fast-emerging, innovative Square Mile in Africa, which is comparable internationally to other innovative spaces, squares and valleys. “This means UP is ideally located to engage with the wider scientific society to work across disciplines toward creating innovative solutions to the major challenges facing South Africa and Africa,” said Professor Tawana Kupe, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UP.
“Future Africa at the University of Pretoria is a space to create new knowledge in new ways to address current - and emerging complex, often seemingly intractable – challenges that face primarily our continent, but also resonate globally,” Prof Kupe said at the launch. “This means that we find solutions to problems from a holistic viewpoint, because problems rarely occur in a vacuum; the institute aims to transform the world through African research excellence.”
The institute will focus on promoting academic leadership by developing local and African science leaders, and on boosting the number of researchers on the continent through leadership development programmes, postgraduate, postdoctoral and research fellowships, and hosting visiting scholars.
By promoting knowledge development and exchange through the establishment of regional and international networks of scientists, the institute will enable transformative research through active engagement.
“At the institute, we aim to transform lives through education, research, development and science to solve problems, improve conditions and have a positive impact on society,” Prof Kupe added. “We will do this by questioning, debating and exploring our natural curiosity.”