Stellenbosch University
Welcome to Stellenbosch University
SU collaboration within new Guild-ARUA CoRE a milestone in shaping Africa’s sustainable development policies
Author: Corporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking
Published: 15/03/2024

​The African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) and The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities (The Guild)launched three new Africa-Europe Clusters of Research Excellence, called CoREs, in September last year. Through its Policy Innovation Lab at the School for Data Science and Computational Thinking, Stellenbosch University (SU) has recently joined the cluster on the politics of sustainable development. Each cluster addresses a key societal challenge, framed by the Global Gateway's AU-EU Innovation Agenda. 

CoRE co-lead Prof Dan Banik, of the University of Oslo, says: “I am delighted to welcome SU as the newest member of our Cluster of Excellence. This collaboration marks a significant milestone in our collective efforts towards shaping effective policies for sustainable development in South Africa and beyond." 

Banik says one of the key initiatives relates to a project proposed by the lead of the Policy Innovation Lab at SU's School for Data Science and Computational Thinking, Prof Willem Fourie, that aims to harness the potential of machine learning (ML) tools to analyse publicly available South African policies and legislation related to sustainable development. “By leveraging ML, the project aims to transcend traditional research methods and existing policy databases, enabling a comprehensive examination of potential synergies and conflicts within the policy landscape." 

The project will investigate the effectiveness of using ML to analyse sustainability policy coherence, identify potential priority topics to promote policy coherence, and reflect on the relevant ethical considerations as it relates to responsible implementation and building capacity for future policymakers. 

“This partnership exemplifies our shared commitment to leveraging research and innovation to address pressing global challenges. We look forward to working with Prof Fourie and colleagues on issues related to sustainable development so that we can shape a more sustainable and equitable future for all," adds Banik.

Prof Sibusiso Moyo, SU Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies says: “As a university, we are delighted to have Prof Willem Fourie lead the Policy Innovation Lab at SU as part of the CoRE on politics and sustainable development. There is still a lot that must be done on the innovation side in terms of using tools that can help analyse public policies and their impact on sustainability. Inclusivity and removal of biases remain a core area as far as AI and ML are concerned."

She adds: “Africa still needs to build more capacity in this area and this CoRE will set the baseline and trends that can help build capacity for the future. Congratulations to the SU team for joining the cluster and thank you to the University of Oslo for the sustained partnership between the two institutions."