2 JUNE 2017
City University Partnerships Reap Results
The innovation and knowledge of post graduate youth should be harnessed as a means to shape the new urban agenda in eThekwini. That was key message coming out of the 5th Research Symposium held at the Chief Albert Luthuli ICC, from 1-2 June 2017.
Approximately twenty five research papers were presented at the eThekwini –University Research Symposium where City officials and academia gathered to engage on key areas that could respond to the transformation agenda of the city under the broad theme, “Strengthening Research Collaboration to Support Radical City Transformation.”
Research papers presented focussed on three focal areas namely, Economic Transformation: accelerating transformation at the city level; Transformative Governance: strengthening partnerships and Changing Spaces: Towards transforming cities as safe and liveable spaces.
The event stems from the need to share, disseminate and identify areas in which evidence-based research could be applied to respond to local government challenges.
The Symposium, organised by eThekwini’s Municipal Institute of Learning (MILE) and co-hosted by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), presents a common platform for engagement between the city and University partners which includes Durban University of Technology (DUT); Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT); University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN); University of South Africa (UNISA) and University of Zululand (UNIZULU).
In her opening address, Mayor, Councillor Zandile Gumede encouraged the academic partners to activate their social responsiveness and work alongside the city in responding to the developmental agenda.
“Research institutions should be in the business of responding to societal challenges, contributing to local solutions and identifying innovations for everyday problems,” she said.
“Our city leadership has taken a long term and strategic view that our partnership with academia must remain intact, serviceable and well sustained to achieve our vision of being Africa’s most caring and livable city.”
In the last five years, the partnership has resulted in programmes such as the annual research symposium, built environment seminars, the guest lecture programme, integrated learning programme, sectorial engagements, agreements and research collaborations and serve as vehicles to achieve the desired partnership outcomes.
Mayor Gumede said “The range of collaborative projects that exist between our City’s line departments and specific faculties across the partnering institutions, the constructive inputs of academic experts on strategic city projects and the numerous “think tanks” that have been set up are all geared towards ensuring that evidence based research influence our policy making processes and relate directly to us jointly finding local solutions to key challenges facing our City.”
Professor Leslie Banks from Human Sciences Research Council, drawing case studies from East London, Detroit and Chicago, proposed models for how universities as anchor institutions can enable urban development. He proposed a knowledge based city saying that students should be seen as assets in the city and their enthusiasm, knowledge, innovation and evidence based research should be harnessed to better the city.
Prof Thanda Mthembu, Vice Chancellor of Durban University of Technology was excited by the potential of the partnership. He urged other stakeholders such as business and civic bodies to embed themselves in the city, work collaboratively in an equitable partnership with shared responsibility and invest in ways that would build a better society.
Issued by the eThekwini Municipality’s Head of Communications, Tozi Mthethwa.
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