Pilot Seminar on UP’s Sustainable Development Goals a success

Posted on May 02, 2018

Professor Stephanie Burton, Vice-Principal for Research and Postgraduate Education at the University of Pretoria (UP), recently hosted the first of a series of planned seminars on “The Sustainable Development Goals and UP’s response”.

The event which was held at the Plant Science Building’s auditorium on the Hatfield campus was attended by academic staff and master’s and doctoral students, as a start of the “The SDG Lecture Series”.

Prof Burton explained that these seminars would focus on the contribution that UP is making through its research, in addressing the global priorities for sustainable development as defined by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She highlighted UP’s research strategy which focuses on Africa-related themes, ‘Research in Africa for Africa’, linked to UP’s 2025 vision.

She further highlighted that UP’s Strategic goals included enhancing the University’s international standing and strengthening its research profile. Prof Burton introduced the Deans who were in attendance and welcomed them to the stage to inform the audience on the research being conducted in their respective faculties. The Deans each provided an overview of the research areas being undertaken in their respective faculties and further explained how they approached their research - sharing techniques, focus areas from the past, current and potential areas of intended research, the impact that this research is having and how it fits into and across the various disciplines.

Some questions that were posed to them during a panel discussion were centred on how their research was being made available to the wider public and their initiatives on trans- and inter- faculty collaboration, to assist with alleviating some of the problems facing humanity.

A microbiology master’s student said: ‘After the introductory SDG seminar I believe that not only the “how” of solving these problems, but the “why” is squarely in our sights. It is all too easy in academia to get bogged down in the details of how things work, in order to solve a problem. While this is important, and incredibly useful, the human aspect is sometimes lost. I was pleased to see that the idea of being a human-being is still alive in our university.’

Alisa Phulukdaree, a senior lecturer in the Department of Physiology said the seminar enabled her to ascertain what each Faculty was doing in relation to the SDG goals. She found the panel discussion ‘informative, interactive and engaging’ and also stated that the information relayed from the seminar was ‘good and concise’ and was ‘looking forward to the next lecture’.

This was a significant event for UP as it showcased research first hand from the various faculties by their Deans and gave those in attendance direct access to what significant opportunities lay ahead in the field of research related to the Sustainable Development Goals. Don’t miss the next one!


                        Prof Burton chairing the panel discussion with UP Deans


                         SDG seminar attendees

- Author Myan Subrayan

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