The earth as a complex system is undergoing stresses that some have termed wicked challenges (e.g. the disappearance of biodiversity; damage to soils; climate change and growing disparities between those who have access to resources such as food, water and energy and those who do not). To navigate a safe pathway through and around such problems will require changes in institutional design, system innovation and various partnerships.
Searching for solutions to todays’ global challenges requires that the scientific community operate in fundamentally new ways. Developing effective solutions requires converging approaches, such as the integration of knowledge from the life, physical, social, and economic sciences and engineering. It is essential that research-performing and training institutions develop appropriate training programs and help stimulate multidisciplinary international collaborations.
The University of Pretoria has therefore established the Future Africa initiative as a platform to develop leadership in transdisciplinary research in Africa. Future Africa will position itself as hub for African and global research networks to address the ‘wicked’ challenges that hamper transformation towards a prosperous, equitable and sustainable future in Africa.
The Future Africa initiative will foster a new generation of science leaders and provide a link for them to research networks across the continent and the world. This platform will connect scientists from different fields to meet, work together and exchange ideas to develop new research projects that are specifically aimed at addressing the challenges that hamper transformation towards a prosperous, equitable and sustainable future for Africa.
As one of Africa's leading universities, the University of Pretoria is well placed to develop the future leaders of science in Africa. The university's size, its wide array of disciplines and high level of international and national connectivity contribute to its current role as regional hub for scholars and students hailing from the rest of the continent. It is one of the few universities on the continent that has the capacity, statute and resources to position this initiative for Africa to meet and engage on the grand challenges of the future.