UB receives Support to launch new Programme to train Students in Sustainable Development

Post date: Jul 14, 2009 9:14:31 PM

PRESS RELEASE [1st July 2009]

[Gaborone, Botswana] – The University of Botswana (UB) has been selected by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, globally headquartered in Chicago, as one of 10 universities worldwide to receive significant support in the amount of 2.5 million Pula (330,000 US$) to create a new master’s degree programme in Development Practice. The MacArthur Foundation has awarded $7.6 million US (57.5 million Pula) to seed the creation of Master’s Development Practice (MDP) programmes that will provide rigorous post-graduate training for a new generation of development experts over the next three years.

“Being chosen to receive this grant signifies the increasing global importance of sustainable development and acknowledges the multi-disciplinary competencies the University of Botswana has developed in this area,” said Prof. Ulrich Schmitt, Dean of UB’s School of Graduate Studies (SGS). “UB’s MDP programme will provide an effective enabler towards Botswana’s Vision 2016 and beyond, and its modular delivery (to commence in late 2010 with 21 weeks of residential requirements over 2.5 years) means value-added convenient access for participants and organizations alike.”

The MDP programmes are designed to provide graduate students with training beyond the typical focus on classroom study of economics and management found in most development studies. The programme’s core curriculum bridges the natural sciences, health sciences, social sciences and management. It combines classroom study with field experiences in a range of disciplines, including agriculture, policy, health, engineering, management, environmental science, education, and nutrition.

“Through our work around the globe, we at MacArthur understand that poverty, population, health, conservation, and human rights are all interconnected, requiring sustained and comprehensive interventions,” said Foundation President Jonathan Fanton. “These new programmes are a model for training the next generation of these critically needed professionals.”

Through financial and other support, the University of Botswana will create a modular programme designed for working professionals. Rigorous independent study will be complemented by two to three weeks of on campus training each semester. University of Botswana will partner with University of Florida to offer field training experiences in Botswana. Other universities that will receive funding to establish the 10 MDP programmes are:

· Columbia University (New York, New York)

· Emory University (Atlanta, Georgia)

· The Energy Resources Institute University (New Delhi, India)

· James Cook University (Cairns and Townsville, Australia)

· Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin (Dublin, Ireland)

· Tsinghua University (Beijing, China)

· University of Cheikh Anta Diop (Dakar, Senegal)

· University of Florida (Gainesville, Florida)

· University of Ibadan (Ibadan, Nigeria)

Columbia University in New York City, will serve as the Master's in Development Practice Secretariat in helping to manage the MDP network of universities, and will develop an open-source repository for the MDP curriculum and other teaching materials. Ultimately, materials will be shared with other universities as part of an open-source resource on sustainable development for students worldwide, including an online Global Classroom. The universities are expected to produce 250 graduates with a Master’s Degree in Development Practice by 2012, with a total of 750 students enrolled. They were selected based on numerous criteria, including support from top university leadership, excellent infrastructure and academic programmes, the ability to serve as a regional hub, geographic representation among students, exceptional faculty, and a timeline and business plan for financial sustainability when funding ends in three years.

There was widespread global interest in establishing the programs, and the quality and diversity of the proposals indicate strong interest in expanding inter-disciplinary development studies around the world. More than 70 universities in North America, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Latin America submitted proposals.

CONTACT: Prof. Ulrich Schmitt, (+267) 355-2391, schmittu AT mopipi.ub.bw

The University of Botswana (UB) is a national asset of significant importance in the country’s ability to achieve national goals and priorities with a student population of 15,000. UB’s School of Graduate Studies (SGS) is one of the eight Faculties of the University and hosts 43 taught graduate programs and 22 MPhil/PhD programs for 1,500 graduate students. More information is available at www.ub.bw.

The MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is changing children and society. More information is available at www.macfound.org.