CHARM-EU’s collaboration with Global South

Kruger National Park

Presentation in South Africa at the knowledge mission of the Dutch Ministry of Education

As part of a mission of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science to South Africa, CHARM-EU students and Academic Director Marjanneke Vijge presented CHARM-EU’s current and future collaborations with South Africa. They were the first presenters at the opening session on 15 October in Cape Town. The Dutch Minister of Education Robbert Dijkgraaf and leaders from Dutch and South African education institutions attended the session.

Hybrid collaboration

Marjanneke Vijge, Academic Director of CHARM-EU at Utrecht University, kicked off the session. She presented the CHARM-EU Master’s as an innovative way of interuniversity teaching, using hybrid classrooms in 5 countries. Such teaching can easily expand to non-EU countries such as South Africa. This would enable intercultural learning and exchange outside Europe, combining Global North and South perspectives on Global Challenges for Sustainability. Marjanneke: “We are exploring how we can foster equal partnerships between CHARM-EU and South African universities. During our visit in Cape Town and Pretoria, we had meetings with the University of the Western Cape, associate partner of CHARM-EU, and the University of Pretoria, currently involved in the Capstone. I truly believe hybrid collaboration is the future, and not just for CHARM-EU students coming from Europe to the Global South. Hybrid teaching is a way to make education and research more inclusive and accessible worldwide with limited carbon footprint.

CHARM-EU students selfie in South Africa

CHARM-EU students on location of their Capstone project on human-wildlife conflicts in South Africa.

Capstone project in South Africa

Collaboration with South Africa is already happening as part of the Master’s. CHARM-EU students Tijs Bergmans, Eloïse Ferreira, Ipo Kok, Miisa Rantala, Sophie Groenewegen and Yasmijn Wakker are currently in Kruger National Park as part of their final Capstone phase. They are doing research in collaboration with the University of Pretoria and local communities on human-wildlife conflicts. In their presentation, students reflected on their positionality and intercultural experiences as European researchers in South Africa. In addition, they shared their thoughts on knowledge creation and doing research in the field in the historically complex country of South Africa. “We hope our research can lay the basis for a long term transdisciplinary project at the Hans Hoheisen Wildlife Research centre, which future CHARM-EU and South African students can build upon.”

Focus on sustainability

The mission by the Dutch Ministry of Education is meant to foster equal collaboration between Dutch and South African education institutions, and to provide a platform to start new partnerships. The mission results from a signed Memorandum of Understanding between the Dutch and South African Ministries of Education. This should result in knowledge transfer between governments and education institutions in the Netherlands and South Africa, as well as (digital and physical) exchange of teachers and students. The mission’s objectives are well aligned with what CHARM-EU stands for, with a focus on sustainability, linking education to professional job markets, and equal opportunities for all.