Project Takes Two Steps Forward; Consortium Finalized, Swap Receives
August 23, 2002--
U.Va. and four southern Africa universitieslaunched a research
and education consortium in late July during a signing ceremony
at a historic Portuguese fort in Maputo, Mozambique.
university officials, including Vice President and Provost Gene
Block, visited southern Africa, toured universities and research
facilities and field sites, and met with African officials. U.Va.
environmental sciences faculty members presented seminars.
Mozambique cabinet ministers, Lidia Brito, minister for education,
science and technology, and John William Kachamila,minister for
the environment, attended the ceremony.
is a remarkable sense of positivism among our southern African colleagues,"
said Hank Shugart, W.W. Corcoran Professor of Environmental Sciences
and director of U.Va.'s Global Environmental Change Program. "Everybody
has an upbeat attitude as we embark on this consortium's initiatives."
African universities include the University of Eduardo Mondlane
in Mozambique, the University of Botswana, and the universities
of Venda and the Witwatersrand in South Africa. The five universities
will collaborate on environmental, health and education initiatives
throughout southern Africa. U.Va. has been conducting environmental
research and collaborating with African universities for more than
include developing innovative collaborative curriculums including
faculty and student exchanges; creating cutting-edge international
distance education learning; upgrading research stations in Africa;
and convening meetings of transnational stakeholder groups to translate
research findings into informed environmental policy.
importance of the consortium agreement for U.Va. is that it brings
us into a regular working relationship with four African universities
that will provide unique research opportunities in environmental
and health sciences," said Block. "It will also catalyze
new educational opportunities for our students and serve as a test-bed
for thematically focused distance education."
early October, researchers from consortium universities and government
and non-governmental agencies will hold a workshop at U.Va. to present
findings from SAFARI 2000, a major U.Va.-led African atmospheric
research project conducted two years ago in southern Africa.
Swap, the U.Va. environmental sciences researcher who led the massive
SAFARI project, and some members of his international team of colleagues,
will be awarded a group public service medal from NASA later this
month for their exemplary contributions to NASA's research mission.
The award will be presented to Swap and his colleagues during a
ceremony in Washington.
Built on Past Work
- One consortium
project, which will be led by U.Va.'s digital library, includes
archiving and connecting information about land use in southern
Africa. This could include chronicling oral histories of environmental
change that could be compared with research data. Members of the
Department of Anthropology may become involved with this work.
- The Department
of Environmental Sciences led a real-time international distance
education seminar last fall for students at U.Va. and in Africa.
This fall, Shugart plans to teach a distant education laboratory
course in computer modeling for students in Africa.
Swap led a study abroad course in South Africa for 14 students
studying African culture and environment.
- Field stations
in Africa may be upgraded to include living facilities for visiting
students and faculty for long-term environmental studies.
members will continue their community-building initiatives, crossing
borders to engage stakeholders in science-to-policy actions.
of the consortium hope to bring in several U.Va. schools and departments
to collaborate on new projects in research and education possibly
involving medicine, nursing, law, anthropology and law.
Samarrai, (434) 924-3778