Dear colleagues and students
I am writing to inform the campus community of a new and exciting development.
As you may know, I have been in discussions with groups of people across campus speaking about my vision for the University of Cape Town over the next few years.
One point I made in those discussions is that I believe UCT should strive to be a significant player in trying to meet the critical challenges that test our society at the present time. We should be leading the charge to understand and deal with the changes that are rapidly unfolding in the world.
I hence proposed an initiative, to be called the “Futures scholarship” initiative, that should be funded from the Vice-Chancellor’s discretionary funds. The intention is to consider what the rapid changes in our world arising from climate change, the fourth industrial revolution, technological advances, artificial intelligence, global migration, Generation C phenomena and so on mean for our future as a university and as a society.
For this purpose, I have asked Professor Alison Lewis, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment (EBE), to establish and lead a “Futures Think Tank” to tackle the key question about how UCT (and the way we do our work) should change to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world.
Professor Lewis will gather an interdisciplinary group of scholars and experts to work together to generate themes and ideas to ensure that UCT is at the cutting edge of developments and debates on the future of our world in general and of higher education in particular.
The group will work from September 2018 to generate provocative ideas, do intensive reading, thinking and debating of issues and will work towards a first meeting in October 2018. At this meeting all the initial explorative work should lead to the identification of a few major themes. Working groups or task teams will then be established to consolidate and to further flesh out the work around the major themes. New members (internal and external to UCT) will be invited to participate in this phase.
It is envisaged that the Futures Think Tank will have its first official gathering at a seminar or workshop in December 2018.
I believe it is critical for UCT to bring our expertise to bear on the critical issues facing our rapidly changing environment.
Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
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