Thursday, April 15, 2010

University of Missouri South African Educational Program

24 years ago, the University of Missouri System began a relationship with the University of the Western Cape (UWC) located just outside of Cape Town, South Africa. Although started as a school only for “colored” students during apartheid, UWC became one of the intellectual centers of the anti-apartheid movement. Almost one third of President Mandela’s initial cabinet were faculty members of UWC. Over the past 24 years there have been 437 faculty exchanges between our two schools involving over 40 academic disciplines. UWC has made remarkable progress and is now the 7th ranked university in all of Africa and 5th in South Africa in terms of rated researchers.

Every year 8-10 faculty members travel either to one of the Missouri campuses or to Cape Town to participate in this faculty exchange. Although there have been numerous teaching collaborations over the years, increasingly most of the recent grants have been given to fund research collaborations. The grants run up to $10,000 and are awarded by the University of Missouri South African Education Program(UMSAEP) committee consisting of 3 representatives from each of the UM campuses. A fuller description of the application process and reports of past grants can be found at our website. The application must be submitted to the campus international director by July 15th and awards are generally made by Sept.

We hope that you might come to a TelePresence session at the Administration Center 210 on April 22nd at 2:00 where we will explain the application process and answer any questions you might have about the UM/UWC faculty exchange program or the SA Partnership Program.

UWC has achieved excellence in a number of research areas. In particular, UWC:
• Is the only place in Africa undertaking comprehensive work on the hydrogen economy, researching the use of hydrogen instead of fossil fuels as an energy resource.
• Is the African leader in bioinformatics. The South African National Bioinformatics Institute (SANBI) is one of a small group of comparable top-level centers worldwide, and hosts Africa’s only Cray supercomputer. SANBI conducts cutting-edge research in key diseases facing Africa.
• Is a leader in biotechnology, with a special interest in the genetics of life forms that thrive in extreme conditions, and their implications for our understanding of microbial molecular ecology. UWC’s newly completed Life Sciences building is Africa’s finest.
• Holds the UNESCO Chair in Geohydrology and plays a leading role in networks across Africa in water resource research and training.
• Has the largest and most productive School of Mathematics and Science Education in Africa.
• Is home to The International Centre for Indigenous Phytotherapy Studies (TICIPS), a UWC-University of Missouri project exploring the interface between Indigenous Knowledge systems and empirical science.
• Has three World Health Organization (WHO) collaborating centers for capacity development, teaching and research in Dentistry, Pharmacology and Public Health.
• Has a Center for Humanities Research exploring humanities theory about social and cultural transformation in Southern Africa and the continent.

For more information about UWC and a description of its faculty departments, see

The UMSAEP committee also sponsors the South Africa Partnership Program. Each year, the committee awards 3 or 4 grants a year to UM faculty members who want to engage in a research project with a South African partner or partners. If there are a multiple partners for the project, then one of them can be a faculty member at UWC.

-Rodney J. Uphoff, Elwood Thomas Missouri Endowed, Professor of Law, University of Missiouri & Director, University of Missouri South African Education Program and Linna Place, Director, International Academic Programs, UMKC

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