Stellenbosch University: ESI heads to Windhoek for first in-person joint school


Having been launched in 2020, just as Covid-19 hit our shores, the Emerging Scholars Initiative (ESI) at Stellenbosch University (SU) has had to make do with online activities. But this all changed in June 2022, when the initiative was able to co-host its first face-to-face joint school with the Centre for Research Services at the University of Namibia (UNAM). The school took place at UNAM’s main campus in Windhoek from 12 to 24 June.

ESI is based in SU International’s African Centre for Scholarship (ACS) and seeks to enhance scholarship on the continent by hosting joint schools with other African institutions, developing and capacitating doctoral students and emerging researchers. For the Namibian school, expert facilitators from SU’s ACS, Centre for Higher and Adult Education as well as the Writing Lab collaborated with scholars from UNAM to present two workshops – one on scientific communication for doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows, and the other on postgraduate supervision for early-career academics.

The response to the initial call for applications across UNAM’s campuses was overwhelming. Over 120 applications were received for the two workshops. This indicated both a need and an appetite for scholarship development. In the end, 72 participants, including five doctoral students and two early-career academics from SU, attended. Participants represented diverse disciplines, from science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to social sciences.

The success of the school was largely thanks to sound collaboration between the two hosts. SU and UNAM worked jointly to identify imminent scholars at both institutions to facilitate the courses, and co-designed the curriculum so that it met participants’ needs. This has laid a strong foundation for future collaboration, not only between SU and UNAM, but across the entire Africa, to build capacity among our scholars.

ESI is planning more joint schools in both online and in-person format this year.

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