Stellenbosch University launches School for Climate Studies

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Stellenbosch University officially launched a School for Climate Studies. (iStock)
Stellenbosch University officially launched a School for Climate Studies. (iStock)
  • Stellenbosch University officially launched a School for Climate Studies.
  • The school was established 18 months after the initial planning.
  • About 100 Masters and PhD students have already been enrolled.

Stellenbosch University (SU) on Thursday officially launched a School for Climate Studies, as part of efforts to tackle the battle against climate change.

Welcoming the launch, the Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Buti Manamela, said South Africa urgently needed expertise, knowledge and innovation to better understand and adapt to the complex results of climate change.

"There is no doubt that natural climate variability and human-caused climate change are interacting to pose significant social and economic challenges, even for the richest and most developed nations on earth," Manamela said.

He added that this knowledge was also needed to support the negotiators in international multilateral conventions, in order to ensure that the country's interests were represented and supported by a credible evidence base.

READ | Thousands of scientists warn climate tipping points 'imminent'

Manamela said focused studies in climate was a positive step towards giving special attention to climate change, which was a move away from dealing with this subject under the traditional umbrella of environmental studies or science.  

According to the university's deputy vice-chancellor, Professor Eugene Cloete, this is the first school of its kind in South Africa that has the status of a faculty.

Cloete said the launch comes after 18 months of careful planning and dedication.

The university said:

The school, a first of its kind in South Africa, with the status of a faculty, will create transdisciplinary capacity to combine the climate-related knowledge systems of SU's faculties, the public sector's climate policies and initiatives, the private sector's climate redress and innovation capacities, and the social impact mission of SU in both academic and applied ways – all in support of the transition to a climate-resilient society and a low-carbon economy.

The school already has about 100 Masters and PhD students enrolled.

Cloete said the school will focus on research and development and will zoom in on five key aspects - the natural environment, health and human security, systems and technologies for the future, human creativity and social innovation, and, lastly, social justice and development.

His wish for the school is that they build a future for those that will follow.

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