In August, a Stellenbosch University (SU) delegation travelled to Japan to interact with university partners and take part in various International Network of Universities (INU) engagements. INU comprises 13 member institutions representing 11 countries worldwide, and SU holds the presidency up until 2025.
Busy INU programme
The INU activities included a leader's summit, student seminar and a council meeting at Hiroshima University. SU was represented by Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Strategy, Global and Corporate Affairs Prof Hester Klopper, Sarah van der Westhuizen (director of SU International's Centre for Global Engagement) and Thami Mahlobo (coordinator at the SU Japan Centre).
Themed “The role of universities in internationally changing political and social contexts", the leaders summit culminated in the signing of an INU Charter by the respective university leaders, affirming their institutions' commitment to INU goals and activities.
Figure 1: University Leaders with signed International Network of Universities Charter 2023
The INU International Student Seminar for Global Citizenship and Peace, in turn, saw students from member universities engage on climate emergency and action, while other topics of global significance were tackled at the student symposium, which involved both university leaders and students.
Figure 2: INU Student Seminar
Time to reflect
The activities at Hiroshima were of special significance, marking not only INU's 25th birthday and the 75th anniversary of the founding of Hiroshima University, but also commemorating the August 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima. For this reason, various Hiroshima Peace Memorial events were included in the INU programme. Guests listened to the personal account of bomb survivor Ms Keiko Ogura, visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum, attended a peace memorial ceremony, and took part in a lantern ceremony.
Figure 3: Peace Message Lantern Floating Festival
These events allowed for a week of meaningful reflection on how universities should strive to play a role in changing political and social contexts globally for the better.
The SU delegation also used the time while in Japan to visit a number of current and prospective partners. Shortly after their arrival in Tokyo, prior to travelling on to Hiroshima, they had engagements with Waseda University, Meiji University, the University of Tokyo, the United Nations University, and Sophia University. The aim was to strengthen existing partnerships and raise awareness of the sixth South Africa–Japan University (SAJU) Forum, which SU will co-host in 2024.
Figure 4: Meiji University
Figure 5: Sophia University
Figure 4: University of Tokyo
In addition, once the INU activities drew to a close, some members of the delegation visited the campus of Kansai University in Osaka and interacted with colleagues of the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. Prof De Villiers also attended the ISPS Sports Values Summit in Tokyo.