Student think tank strengthens Stellenbosch/KU Leuven ties

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Sixteen of Stellenbosch University’s (SU) brightest students will form part of a think tank with their peers at KU Leuven, Belgium that will envision ‘The future of the city’ across continents.

The think tank stems from a preferential partnership agreement between SU and KU Leuven and is a unique feature of this level of partnership and distinguishes it from other partnerships focussing more on student mobility programmes. The student partnership is managed by the Postgraduate and International Office (PGIO), the Division for Student Affairs and Frederick Van Zyl Slabbert Institute (FVZS Institute).

The Stellenbosch students will interact with 15 KU Leuven students for the duration of 2015, exploring the theme ‘The Future of the City’. They will participate in monthly seminars on the SU campus, where invited speakers will cover an array of topics exposing them to different disciplines.  The discussions will culminate in a two week visit to KU Leuven in November, where the Matie students will meet their Belgium counterparts.

Welcoming “think tankers” at the launch event, Huba Boshoff, Coordinator: Key International Partnerships at the PGIO, highlighted the institutional partnership of more than 20 years. “KU Leuven was one of the very first universities that engaged with Stellenbosch University. We have nurtured and fostered what is now called a preferred partnership.” She told the students, who count among the top 20% in their faculties, that the think tank is a great opportunity for them and the university. “You are the best of the best and I hope the think tank can create lasting networks. We look forward as to how you, the student community engages with this partnership.”

Dr Leslie van Rooi, Director of the FVZS Institute, says the think tank signals the start of an enriching and interesting experience for the Maties student population.

Also present at the launch event were Prof Eugene Cloete, Vice-Rector (Research and Innovation),   Prof Arnold Schoonwinkel, Vice Rector (Learning and Teaching), Dr Ludoph Botha, Senior Director of Student Affairs, Prof Louise Warnich, Dean: Faculty of Science, Prof Johan Hattingh, Dean: Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, Johan Fourie, Senior lecturer at the Department of Economics who will lead the think tank’s academic programme.

Professor Clive Barnett, Professor of Geography and Social Theory at Exeter University in the UK, spoke on the topic “What people think about their city and future of the city”.

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Attending a meet-and-greet session for the Stellenbosch/ KU Leuven think tank were from left Prof Louise Warnich, Dean: Faculty of Science and Ilze Bekker, a postgraduate Education student who is part of the think tank. 

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