1. University World News

What makes a university a ‘global university’? (Global)

Education for global citizenship has become a popular concept worldwide. In 1996, the OECD promoted the internationalisation of curricula for professional and social engagement in a multicultural and globally minded society. Ten years later, UNESCO announced that the public good and social responsibility were central to the purpose of 21st century universities. The International Association of Universities confirmed the need to improve the preparation of university students as national and global citizens. The UN Secretary General stated in 2012 that education must fully assume its essential role of helping people to forge more just, peaceful and tolerant societies. As a result of this trend towards global citizenship education, there are currently many examples of good practice worldwide, including the Council for Global Citizenship Education in India; the High Resolves secondary schools initiative in Australia; the Developing the Global Dimension in the School Curriculum report published by the Department for Education and Skills in England; the Activate Network for young people in South Africa; and Peace First, an NGO based in the United States and Colombia. At the higher education level, universities need to ask what being either global or international might actually mean in terms of their curricula. On the one hand, being international means being able to incorporate international and linguistic diversity dimensions into the curriculum as well as teaching and learning processes and support services. On the other hand, being global in curriculum terms is a broader ambition since it should enable students to gain a better understanding of the world in which they live so that they are able to create something better and more peaceful through intercultural understanding and respect, and so that they can think of the world as being just one nation rather than many different nations.

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  1. World University News

West Africa to host ‘powerful’ RUFORUM meeting (RUFORUM)

The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) has picked the University of Cape Coast in Ghana to be the host for its 15th Annual General Meeting (AGM) which takes place from 2-6 December this year. “RUFORUM’s gatherings are among the most powerful platforms in the continent, addressing one of the most significant issues affecting the continental growth – poverty and hunger”, said Dr Francis Otto, manager of the organisation’s Knowledge Hub. This year’s meeting will bring together more than 400 delegates including educationists, researchers, policy-makers and agriculture and education ministers among others. Deliberations will focus on how to actualise the African Universities’ Agenda for Higher Agricultural Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (AHESTI) plan. Otto said the choice of location for the meeting, the first to be held in a West African country, was the product of a strategic decision the forum made in 2014 to expand its geographical reach and bring on board universities in the French-speaking countries of Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Togo, Sierra Leone and Senegal. “It was a deliberate choice following a strategic decision for RUFORUM to reach all parts of Africa including West Africa,” said Otto. The choice of the University of Cape Coast as the host institution also recognises the fact that the Ghanaian university was one of the first three institutions from the region to become a member of RUFORUM in 2014, along with the University of Abomey-Calavi in Benin, and the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria. “After demonstrating its commitment as a full member since joining the network and showing a spirited interest backed by ability to host this AGM, it was only right that the opportunity to host be given to the University of Cape Coast,” he told University World News. Otto described RUFORUM as a pan-African organisation which was working on overcoming challenges such as language barriers on the continent. He said the body will take a multilingual approach in communications and operations, and at big gatherings such as the AGM. The forum currently uses at least four languages through “competent and professional interpreters” during AGMs and other major gatherings. Otto said the theme for this year’s AGM was chosen to align with RUFORUM’s Vision 2030, which seeks to create “vibrant, transformative universities to catalyse sustainable, inclusive agricultural development to feed and create prosperity for Africa”.

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  1. Lindau Nobel

Africa’s Next Generation – How to Support Africa’s Science Structures for Young Scientists (Africa)

While the situation greatly varies among African countries, the last decade has seen a considerable growth of scientific agencies, programmes, networks and conferences, and certainly an improvement of the situation. To no one’s surprise, South Africa is spearheading this development with its National Research Foundation, established almost 20 years ago. Current programmes such as the South African Research Chairs Initiative and the Centres of Excellence funding scheme contribute to keeping excellent scientists in Africa, says Roseanne Diab, Executive Officer of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf). But she also highlights various cross country-initiatives: “The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) is a pan-African network of centres of excellence for postgraduate education, research, and outreach in mathematical sciences established in 2003. This was followed more recently by the AIMS Next Einstein Initiative, the goal of which is to build fifteen centres of excellence across Africa by 2023.” Most progress has been made in the area of health; all the more important as a bad public health situation has countless negative effects on people, economies and countries – and on science. […] Yet, only 1% of global investment in R&D is spent in Africa, and the continent holds a tiny 0.1% share of the world’s patents, as ASSAf’s liaison officer Edith Shikumo points out. But money doesn’t seem to make up the top priority on younger scientists’ list of concerns. “I don’t want to mention the usual obstacles like lack of proper infrastructure and expensive equipment; I would rather focus on the lack of tolerance for new and innovative ideas, the fear associated to out-of-the-box thinking and the tendency to avoid risk accompanying entrepreneurship are the main obstacles for a thriving science and research culture,” says Ghada Bassioni, guest professor at the Technical University of Munich and coordinator of Egypt-Germany collaboration, with the Science and Technology Development Fund of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Egypt – and Lindau Alumna.

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