University of Illinois Global Academy Visits UKZN

A delegation from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s (UIUC) College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences (ACES) recently spent two days with academics and researchers at UKZN exploring the creation of strong and lasting partnerships between the two institutions.

Eleven academics and administrators from ACES visited UKZN as part of their Academy for Global Engagement (Global Academy), a flagship training programme of ACES’ Office of International Programs that is designed for junior and midcareer ACES faculty. The Academy enables participation in a series of scholarly and experiential activities designed to prepare faculty for lifelong academic engagement in the global arena.

In an effort to pursue collaborative solutions for the Global Grand Challenges, the Global Academy helps create a strong network of active global partnerships with strategically selected international research centres and academic institutions.

Dean of ACES Professor Kimberlee Kidwell joined academics and educators from the UIUC departments of Animal Science, Agricultural and Consumer Economics, Sociology, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Extension, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, and Crop Sciences. Administrators and representatives from the ACES Office of International Programs were also part of the group.

Acting Dean and Head of the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Professor Steve Worth, welcomed the delegation on behalf of Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science Professor Albert Modi.

‘Collaboration is the key word; we know in our College that we have the capacity to have a genuine impact on the well-being of people,’ said Worth, who described the University’s considerable footprint in Africa in crop improvement, food security, agrometeorology, climate change and more.

During their visit to UKZN, members of the Global Academy delegation met individually with academics and researchers they were matched with in UKZN’s Disciplines of Animal and Poultry Science, Bioresources (Agricultural) Engineering, Agricultural Economics, Agricultural Extension and Rural Resource Management, Plant Pathology, Sociology, and Soil Science.

In addition to seminars and meeting with academics to discuss potential opportunities for research and teaching collaboration, UIUC guests visited UKZN’s world-class research facilities including its Ukulinga Research Farm and Controlled Environment Facility.

‘You have something to be very proud of,’ said Kidwell of the facilities, ‘and we saw a lot of potential to collaborate and work with you. Many thanks for sharing your time, your talent and your ideas with us.’

Initial outcomes of the visit include plans to explore opportunities for bilateral visits between individual academics, academic co-supervision and examination, online teaching, establishment of farm management trials, capacity building projects and research collaboration.

UIUC’s College of ACES also has a longstanding relationship with UKZN’s Discipline of Bioresources Engineering that will continue in July with UIUC students visiting UKZN for a collaborative project-based study abroad programme.

Words and photograph: Christine Cuénod