Eve Annecke and I have just completed teaching the Sustainable Development module of our Masters Programme in Sustainable Development for the 15th time! – yes, we cannot believe it, this is the 15th year that our masters programme has been delivered. And this year the class was the largest ever, at 53 students (selected from nearly 150 applicants who qualified for entry). Of the 53, only 13 are men (mainly because of the low number of men who applied) and nearly 60% are black. More significantly, 33% of the group were non-South African – the highest ever. Of the 17 non-South Africans, 14 are from various African countries, including Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Ivory Coast and Namiba. The other non-South Africans are from The Netherlands, Spain and Australia. Most are from the private sector – 24 out of 53, followed by 11 from the public sector, and 5 from the NPO sector. Ten are full-time students, and the other 3 are a mix of consultants/unemployed. It was a high energy module, covering a lot of ground including ‘long histories’ from 13 billion years ago, to inner histories of what it means to be human in today’s transforming world. The strong non-SA African presence influenced the direction of the discussions, including questions about the implications of the Bannonist coup in the US for the future of Africa, and in particular what it means to be African in a world where racism is on the rise, humanism may be dying and environmentalism is on the defensive. We read Achille Mbembe and Ben Okri to help generate some answers to this question.
Thanks to all the wonderful people at the SI who supported us, and to the families who have supported the students as they commence a journey that is bound to transform them.
(The pics below from the top left: walking upstairs for class after the gong, sticking up pics of their respective ‘homes’, group work, class discussion, working in the gardens, Eve facilitating discussion, and end of course party in the hall.)