TRENDS2017 | Between Cities and the Rural: The Role of Universities in Developing our Societies

Reflection on Conference Attendance

Conference Name:          TRENDS2017

Location & Date:              Pretoria, South Africa – October 17-19 2017

Paper Presented:             A Cross-disciplinary Approach to Locating Human Wildlife Interaction in the Mmadinare Region of Botswana

Authors:                              Modise OM. Lekoko RN , Thakadu O & Mpotokwane M.; University of Botswana

Presenters:                         Profs. Modise & Lekoko

TRENDS2017 marked the 14th year of PASCAL International conference and the first to be held in South Africa. The theme of the conference was Between Cities and the Rural: The Role of Universities in Developing our Societies. Team Botswana was particularly attracted to the conferences strands that weaved around important areas of (i) the role of nation state versus the global economic power (ii) Cities would be like countries with global power and (iii) Rethinking the role of universities. The theme of interest for the Botswana team was the third strand because it wanted participants to dialogue about and gauge the present and future responsibilities of universities in collaborating with communities to address community or national development. Botswana’s paper on human-wildlife interactions fitted well in this strand calling universities to team up with communities to address local challenges using traditional community approaches such as Kgotla and story-telling thus connecting ‘with the old and modern African tradition’, as was one main theme of the conference. Proceedings were thus tailored to take a form of everyday life consultation and dialogue as used in “the Kgotla or Lekgotla in Botswana and South Africa”(TRENDS2017).  To this respect, our paper was able to bring unique practical perspectives on the importance of using traditional indigenous community practices in dealing with human-wildlife conflict.

The paper we presented was enlightening, shedding light on how universities can make themselves valued by the communities. Like the Sustainable Futures Network, the Pascal 2017 Pretoria Statement stated that “Pascal’s Learning City Network must be sustained in order to provide a platform for inter-cultural, inter-disciplinary and international exchange between cities/regions”.  It unpacked how worldwide perspectives generated through research in universities could be prolifically applied on local possibilities. This we believe echoes the sentiments expressed by the Sustainable Futures Network.

 Our paper attracted constructive feedback:

 Suggestions for improvement

 Explore in detailed elephants migration routes

  • Correlation analysis and comparison with experiences elsewhere may add value
  • A broader geographical sampling (within Botswana) may be considered to allow comparison
  • Construct a robust sampling of study site
  • Collect more publicly available data e.g. through informal discussion of the villagers.

Commendation

  • The use of familiar and non-traditional research techniques like community forum (Kgotla) and story-telling
  • Cultural sensitivity of respecting community leaders (Dikgosi & elders) as principal investigators
  • Approaching the study with an interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary mind-set and respect for community members
  • Robust data selection and analysis to bring out what conflict meant for the villagers
  • Presenting the interviews with more authority from the voices of community members

With all these comments our study will continue to improve and advance into a more holistic exploration of this challenge of human-wildlife conflict.

The Research Team in Botswana would like to appreciate the support and thank Mia Perry (coordinator of University Court of University of Glasgow – Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for this opportunity to present at TRENDS2017 conference, which in our opinion is a giant step on a journey to Building Connections for Sustainable Futures in Africa.

The comments given will be taken into consideration as the research advances.

For more information please visit: http://pascalobservatory.org/ & http://cradall.org/resources/links/pascal-international-observatory

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