South Africa: Science and Science Teaching Are At a Global Crossroads - We Need to Navigate the Traffic Chaos

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It should concern us that there are enormous disparities in science around the world, which demands that we need to think more deeply about how we can develop science more extensively on a global scale for the common good of all of humanity.

South African universities are grappling with a number of challenges, many of which are inherently South African in character and by nature parochial, but critically important nonetheless. However, the worldwide environment for research and higher education has changed markedly compared with barely a generation ago, and it is not clear how South African universities are giving sufficient attention to the broader international contexts in which we are working.

Successful universities the world over are deeply connected with the social, economic and political environment they serve. Universities should, however, operate independently as they are not factories or political tools, and they do not need charismatic leaders as might armies and churches. Universities are collectives, and so open, critical discourse based on democratic principles is essential for their successful operation. I don't believe universities should blandly surrender to outside pressures, but should actively and critically engage with them. This is our time-honoured compact with society.

The challenge for us...

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