The Southern African Hub of the BRIDGES Sustainability Science Coalition in UNESCO’s Management of Social Transformations Programme is anchored at the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship on the main campus of the University of Pretoria.
The Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship is a transdisciplinary research entity, founded with the intention to host projects that emphasize multi- and trans-disciplinary inquiry on topics of social, economic and environmental importance. Current projects focus on topics ranging from agriculture and food security, African urbanism, human and digital economy, to environmental humanities. These projects span disciplines that include, but are not limited to, environmental science, English and African literature, agricultural and natural sciences, anthropology, visual arts, and music. In its formation, the Centre’s core focus has always been collaborative knowledge production and academic inquiry that transcends disciplinary boundaries, with a specific focus on the humanities and the social sciences. In the area of sustainability, social and environmental research, the Centre has a history of engaging topics that actively focus on understanding and addressing complex systemic and environmental challenges, while drawing on indigenous perspectives and rooting research in sound scientific practice.
The Centre’s flagship project on the Poetics and Politics of Extraction is an environmental humanities project that seeks to engage various environmental publics, or rather those academics or practitioners that work outside the domain of institutions of higher learning. It is an example of the Centre’s commitment to engaging communities and spheres of knowledge production outside the university landscape.
The Centre’s ongoing engagement with community leaders is consonant with the BRIDGES Coalition’s mission to strengthen humanities-led and community-engaged sustainability science initiatives. This is one of several reasons why the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship at University of Pretoria serves as an excellent focal point for BRIDGES activities and collaborations in the specific regional context of Southern Africa, and also as a site for developing work with highly relevant thematic foci, regionally and globally, on economies, politics and cultures of extraction, food systems, disease ecologies, climate change, climate justice and environmental movements.
The BRIDGES Hub at University of Pretoria seeks to build on the global efforts of the coalition to strengthen the reach and impact of humanities, arts and social science-led sustainability science in partnership with non-academic communities of knowledge in Southern Africa and internationally, through strategic cooperation with other BRIDGES hubs, member organizations and international partners.