Twenty-three MPhil in Development Policy and Practice students, the first cohort in the new Graduate School of Development Policy and Practice (GSDPP), in the Faculty of Commerce, were welcomed back to UCT from East and Southern Africa for the start of their second semester.
Hosted by Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price and attended by faculty from UCT's participating Graduate School of Business, the Departments of Political Studies and Sociology, and the School of Economics, the gathering was '˜time out' ahead of the second intensive contact period and an opportunity for students and sponsors to meet.
Importantly, the event was an opportunity to thank the scholarship donors who underpin the school and its programmes; organisations such as the South African National Treasury, MultiChoice, Kemet-Tinco, and the Mai Family Foundation, among others.
The school is first of its kind in Africa and is modeled on the Harvard Kennedy School in the US, renowned for its faculty and pioneering research centres, and for preparing and training its students to lead in the private, public or non-profit sectors.
Speaking at the event, the school's founding director, Professor Alan Hirsch, noted that in his 2008 Vice-Chancellor installation address, Dr Max Price had flagged his intent to create a similar school at UCT for Africa's public-sector policymakers.
Though the MPhil in Development Policy and Practice is the school's flagship offering, it also offers executive short courses, seminars, workshops and conferences, all with an African or Southern African character, and focusing on key issues in the public sector.
Hirsch also introduced the school's new programme, Building Bridges, headed by programme director Dr Marianne Camerer. This brings African political leaders, journalists and other stakeholders together around "wicked problems", or complex societal problems, in Africa.
Guest speaker at the event was the programme's academic director, Professor Brian Levy. Levy holds a joint appointment at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and UCT.
His presentation tapped into material from his new book, Working with the Grain (Oxford University Press), due for release in August.
The publisher describes the work as "built on cutting-edge scholarship and the author's 25 years of practical experience to lay out an innovative, "with-the-grain" approach to governance reform and development policy. A with-the-grain perspective directs attention away from "best practice", off-the-shelf blueprints towards the challenges of initiating and sustaining development momentum".
Story by Helen Swingler. Image by Michael Hammond.
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