This Community of Practice pro-actively brings together five Education and Social Science Chairs and Senior Professors (Lotz-Sisitka, Rosenberg, Le Grange, Swilling, Moyo) with 9 Sustainability Science Chairs and Senior Professors (Hill, Limson, Luus-Powell, Scholes, Shackleton, New, Vogel, Palmer, and Odume) from six universities amongst which 5 are SARChI Chairs and 5 Distinguished Professors. The COP thus links leading research centres who are all actively developing Transdisciplinary Sustainability Sciences and mentoring large numbers of early career researchers. The CoP also links to important African Research Partnership Networks. These coordinated efforts aim to strengthen co-engaged transdisciplinary sustainable development action via transformative social learning methods and approaches; contribute to sustainable development policy engagement, as well as formal and informal education, skills, and social learning system development; and contribute to transdisciplinary sustainability science, and educational and learning science theory, methodology and practice.
In South Africa, there is an urgent need to bring science, practice, and policy closer together for advancing sustainable development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There is also an urgent need to address the mis-alignment between Sustainability Science and Education System development.
In this Community of Practice (CoP) we focus on transformative social learning that supports knowledge co-development, and knowledge uptake and use for solution-oriented sustainable development actions. We do this to inform education system change. We arrange our contributions and collaborations along three thematic cluster areas:
Clean water supply and provisioning: water quality monitoring, biotechnology and biological control.
Climate action: adaptation, mitigation and resilience building (including food security and creating sustainable communities).
Ecological infrastructure: restoration, management and governance.
The intersectional consequences of water scarcity and water pollution, climate change, land degradation, biodiversity loss and persistent poverty projected for South Africa, are vital to consider in terms of co-constructing sustainable development actions. These concerns are well documented. What is less well documented, and under-researched, is how to establish a generative, transformative social learning oriented response to this complex of concerns via transdisciplinary sustainable development actions; how to better mobilise and use the Sustainability Sciences for improved knowledge co-generation, flow and uptake; and how to mobilize the education, training, skills development and social learning system in such a response; how to effectively engage citizens, government and employers in social learning to achieve sustainability goals in complex systems; and how to evaluate the outcomes of science, policy and practice efforts in a way that fosters quality, learning and impact.
What we do
The CoP uses descriptive-analytical and co-engaged generative research approaches. Two levels of research are being developed across a continuum of activity in the co-operating projects in the CoP. The multi-levelled approach includes, 1) systemic, meta-, and systematic review and analysis, 2) transdisciplinary co-engaged social learning methods for working with multi-actors, 3) participatory monitoring and evaluation of science-policy-practice outcomes, and 4) theoretical, methodological and practical frameworks and open source tools for scaling impact.
Currently all of these approaches are in various forms of development in the research programmes of the CoP members. The intention is to enhance these through cross CoP co-learning and collaboration, joint meta review, and synthesis building for evidence-based policy, practice and scientific and education system development.
Projects included in this CoP are:
Adaptive Integrated Water Resources Management (A-IWRM) and Transdisciplinary Catchment Governance (IWR, RU; Prof Tally Palmer, Dr Odumu)
Community Engagement and Social Learning for Strengthening Biological Control (D.Prof Martin Hill, SARChI Chair, RU, Centre for Biological Control)
Local to global competencies for studying climate change: knowledge cocreation in the Berg-Breede catchment (Profs Shackleton & New, ACDI)
Climate smart agriculture for adaptation and resilience building among smallholder farmers in rural Eastern Cape. (Prof Moyo, UFH ISER)
Citizen engagement addressing risk of environmental pollution to river health, SD, and biodiversity. (Prof Luus Powell, SARChI Chair, UL)
Young Change Agents for Climate Change (YCA4CC) (D.Prof Vogel, GCI, Wits)
Frameworks for Integrated M&E and Social Learning in Complex Social-Ecological Systems (Ecological Infrastructure) (Prof Rosenberg, Chair, ELRC, Rhodes University)
Systems Dynamic Modelling for Sustainability Science and Social Learning in Complex-Social-Ecological Systems (Prof Scholes, SARChI Chair, Wits GCI)
Engaging communities in research and biotech water quality and treatment innovation processes (Prof Janice Limson, SARChI Chair, RUBIC Director)
What knowledge is of most worth? The interface of sustainability sciences, social learning and curriculum (D. Profs Le Grange and Swilling, US)
Towards Green Skills Learning Pathways – Synthesising Sustainability Science and Social Learning Affordances (D.Prof Lotz-Sisitka, SARChI Chair, Rhodes University)
Project aims and impact
The CoP aims, objectives, research questions and outcomes focus on Practice, Policy, and Science. The emphasis is on transformative social learning driving transdisciplinary sustainable development actions related to clean water, climate action, ecological infrastructure and related concerns (food security, biodiversity and sustainable communities) for learning and education system innovation.
Practice: To strengthen co-engaged transdisciplinary sustainable development action via transformative social learning methods and approaches.
Policy: To contribute to sustainable development policy engagement, as well as formal and informal education, skills, and social learning system development.
Science: To contribute to transdisciplinary sustainability science, and educational and learning science theory, methodology and practice.
Project team (Lead and Co-Investigators)
Professor Heila Lotz-Sisitka, Rhodes University, COP-Lead (contact firstname.lastname@example.org)
Professor Eureta Rosenberg, Rhodes University, Co-Investigator
Professor Martin Hill, Rhodes University, Co-Investigator
Professor Janice Limson, Rhodes University, Co-Investigator
Professor Mary Scholes, University of the Witwatersrand, Co-Investigator
Professor Sheona Shackleton, University of Cape Town, Co-Investigator
Professor Lesley Le Grange, Stellenbosch University, Co-Investigator
Professor Philani Moyo, University of Fort Hare, Co-Investigator
Professor Wilmien Luus-Powell, University of Limpopo, Co-Investigator
Professor Mark New, University of Cape Town, Collaborator
Dr Nelson Odume, Rhodes University, Co-Investigator
Professor Coleen Vogel, University of the Witwatersrand, Co-Investigator
Professor Tally Palmer, Rhodes University, Co-investigator