Full steam ahead for Environmental Thrust

19 May 2002

Environmentally conscious: Delegates at the Environment Thrust workshop held last month included: (from left, back) Harro von Blottnitz, Les Underhill, Geoff Brundrit, John Raimondo and Theo Stewart; and (front) Shona Young, Shireen Govender, Jenny Day, Sue Buerger, Alakendra Roychoudhury and Mariam January.

THE 65 University academics and researchers who attended last month's UCT Environment Thrust (UCTET) workshop have supported the Environment Task Team's (ETT) approach to the UCTET's purpose, mission and vision, according to their recently released report.

The workshop was led by Professors Geoff Brundrit (Oceanography) and Jim Petrie (Chemical Engineering) and the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Daya Reddy, gave the keynote address.

The Environment Thrust was launched by the University Strategy Committee last year. The workshop arose from an effort to promote UCT's collective capacity in environmentally related research, teaching and outreach and to capitalise on the "top-class scholarship" in these areas.

The workshop's purpose was fourfold:
  • To bring the aims of the UCTET to the attention of the wider University community.
  • To expose participants to the Task Team's interpretation of the challenges facing the UCTET.
  • To secure broad support.
  • To consider its organisational nature.
Delegates put their energies towards discussing two main areas: firstly, the vision and purpose for the Thrust; and, secondly, its structure. According to the report, the ETT felt that "the workshop was successful in providing an opportunity for discussions on mutual environmental interests with consensus reached on certain views". It was generally accepted that the Environment Thrust should continue.

Progress was made on a mission statement and consensus was reached that any possible structures for the Thrust should be "small and efficient". Delegates also produced a draft vision for the Environment Thrust and this will be reviewed and revised by the Environment Task Team before being finalised.

The draft vision statement reads: "The purpose of the UCTET is to encourage cross-faculty research, teaching and outreach of a cross-disciplinary nature in order to: help ensure a sustainable future for our country; promote our excellence in this field to wider markets and improve on our capacity to deal with issues in a multi-disciplinary manner. The activities should encompass issues that are relevant to Africa and focus on combining the strengths of the expertise within faculties so that a more holistic perspective can be used to address environmental issues."

The second workshop is on May 21 (pm). For information email ett@uct.ac.za.

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