Capacity Building Working GroupCopyright: © Timo Merki
The need to address global challenges and collaborate with countries of the Global South is becoming increasingly important when it comes to issues that affect international university partnerships. This fact is also demonstrated by current strategies followed by various ministries and scientific organizations nationally and within the EU.
In its efforts to meet these responsibilities, RWTH is giving capacity building in international higher education collaboration a more central position within the University’s internationalization activities and is integrating it as a component of RWTH’s internationalization strategy. To this end, the Vice-Rector for International Affairs has established a cross-faculty working group that includes members from all across the academic spectrum – from student to professor.
The working group seeks to combine past individual activities with Global South countries and make these partnerships a more prominent topic across RWTH. While encouraging communication among various members of the university at different levels, it also invites external experts. The group has identified multiple target countries in two target regions – Africa and Eastern/Southeastern Europe – where university-wide collaborations are to be established and expanded.
RWTH aims to implement these activities in a highly coordinated manner and establish partnerships that provide all of its Faculties and Departments with points of contact and collaboration opportunities. The goal is also to obtain joint funding, thus expanding collaborations with partners from the Global South countries guided by mutual interests.
In particular, cooperation with student initiatives at RWTH is crucial, such as 3 E's 4 Africa, Aktion Sodis, or Ingenieure ohne Grenzen, which are an important part of the working group.
The six target countries identified by the initiative are:
In order to explore common cooperation interests, RWTH is currently in talks with Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. A virtual matchmaking workshop to deepen these talks and establish them on a broad scientific basis is scheduled to take place in the second half of 2021.
A matchmaking meeting with the University of Ghana was organized by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in the first quarter of 2021. A first cooperation on Water, Energy, Food, and the Environment, initiated by RWTH's International Office, is planned, and a joint autumn school on the topic is to be organized with partners of the IDEA League in October 2021. Based on this, further collaborations will be explored.
Furthermore, RWTH is currently in talks with Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, and a joint virtual matchmaking workshop to establish cooperation is to be organized in the second half of 2021.
A first virtual matchmaking workshop was organized with Namibia University of Science and Technology in May 2021 to establish and expand bilateral collaborations between the two institutions and explore mutual interests. More than 50 scientists from the two institutions participated in this event. At RWTH, six of its nine faculties were represented. A Memorandum of Understanding, or MoU, between NUST and RWTH, has since been signed, and initial proposals and reciprocal research visits are being planned for the second half of 2021.
The Georgian-German Science Bridge, which Forschungszentrum Jülich initiated, has existed for more than ten years and includes, on the part of RWTH, cooperations in physics in particular.
In order to expand these subject-related collaborations, a total of three virtual matchmaking workshops were held from November 2020 to February 2021 with Tbilisi State University, Ilia State University, Free University, and Agricultural University
More than 70 scientists from the participating universities were brought together at these three events, including professors from six of the nine faculties at RWTH. Following these events, various exchange visits at PhD and post-doc levels were realized in architecture, climatology, and neuroscience. Furthermore, the first third-party funded project was acquired within the "Eastern Partnerships" DAAD funding program with Tbilisi State University in Tbilisi and Lomonosov Moscow State University in Moscow. In 2021, RWTH plans to send a delegation to Georgia to expand these partnerships.
The establishment of cooperations with university partners in Ukraine is planned for 2022.
Republic of Moldova
The establishment of cooperations with university partners in the Republic of Moldova is planned for 2022.
Global South Lecture Series
In the 2022 summer semester, the Global South Lectures Series was initiated by the Capacity Building Working Group. The aim of this lecture series is to create a forum to discuss topics of the Global South and to make them more present within the university and beyond. The patron of this event is Vice-Rector for International Affairs, Professor Ute Habel.
First Lecture: Dr. Yemurai Gwatirisa from the University of Zimbabwe – Remembering from A (Aachen) to Z (Zimbabwe). Traumatic Violent Crimes and Memorial Politics in Germany (after 1945) and Zimbabwe (after 1987): Comparing the Incomparable
Second Lecture: Dr. Francis Mwaijande, Mzumbe University – “Technology Transfer for Agricultural Growth and SDGs Attainment in Africa: Role and Opportunities for Global South Universities”
Members of all RWTH Faculties and departments and from all across the academic spectrum are welcome to join the working group at any time. Please contact René Seyfarth, the working group coordinator, if you have any further questions.