UAPB aiming to advance relationships in South Africa

Bobbie Handcock | School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences

A member of a community cooperative in South Africa, left, shows maize to an official with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs. Maize is a staple food eaten by a majority of South Africans.

A member of a community cooperative in South Africa, left, shows maize to an official with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs. Maize is a staple food eaten by a majority of South Africans.

PINE BLUFF, Ark. – The Office of International Programs and Studies (OIPS) at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is working to advance institutional relationships in South Africa. The goal is to strengthen the university’s international programming content and create more education abroad opportunities for UAPB students, said Dr. Pamela D. Moore, associate director for Global Engagement.

Dr. Moore recently conducted site visits with two South African institutions. The trip included meetings in the KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces. “The purpose was to consolidate existing relationships and create new partnerships that will support the effort to transition OIPS into a full-fledged international program,” she said. Key visits included the University of Zululand (UNIZULU), the Agribusiness Development Agency in KwaZulu-Natal (ADA-KZN) and Children on the Move, a nonprofit organization that focuses on children and youth.

In 2012, Fikile Mazibuko, vice chancellor and rector of UNIZULU, visited UAPB to explore opportunities for collaboration and partnership in the areas of research, teaching and service. That visit culminated with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two institutions.

During her recent visit, Dr. Moore met with UNIZULU officials, faculty and students.  “UNIZULU has designated Rob Midgley, deputy vice chancellor for Research and Innovation, as its point of contact for advancing this newly established relationship,” she said.  Lines of communication have also been opened between the computer science programs at the two institutions and discussions are underway as to how UNIZULU students may apply to the UAPB Master’s Program in Addiction Studies.

In January 2014, the UAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Science will host a visiting scholar, Dr. Nokuthula Kunene, head of the UNIZULU Department of Agriculture. She is interested in learning more about DNA research being done by UAPB associate professor Dr. Muthusamy Manoharan. She will also meet with Dr. Obadiah Njue, head of the UAPB Department of Agriculture, to discuss more opportunities for collaboration. Dr. Njue is also communicating with the UNIZULU Department of Geography about research collaboration in the Tana River Basin in Kenya.

Dr. Moore also visited with ADA-KZN in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal Province.  This agency was established to facilitate the transfer of land to black South Africans who were wrongfully dispossessed of their land rights during the apartheid era. “The purpose was to discuss the Global River Basin Initiative recently launched by OIPS and get input on how to expand the initiative to include the KwaZulu-Natal Province in South Africa,” she said. Dr. Moore visited one of the numerous river basins where she met with local farmers who are developing a community cooperative with support from ADA-KZN.

During a trip to the Children on the Move nonprofit organization in Gauteng Province, she met with officials to explore the feasibility of an education abroad program focusing on issues impacting children and youth.  UAPB students would engage in service learning under the sponsorship of the organization. “We are hopeful that a South Africa education abroad program will be in place sometime during 2014,” she said.

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