The power of the SDGs is not in its colourful boxes with seventeen critical goals to achieve by 2030. It is in the interrelationship of these global challenges. It is not a set of challenges that the ‘developed world’ has to help the ‘developing world’ achieve in a given time. It is to create equal partnerships and integrate approaches in our global commitment to Transforming our World.
The multidisciplinary African Dynamics minor offers an opportunity for Leiden, Deft and Erasmus students to combine perspectives from different disciplines in their exploration of the challenges and opportunities that Africa offers as an equal partner in sustainable development.
Seeking to appreciate the relationship between the people of Africa and their socio-economic interactions with their environment, and the rest of the world, the study starts with establishing a broad understanding of Africa’s rich history and traditions, socio-economic and geo-political factors, and other significant dynamics that shape contemporary Africa.
Individual modules follow that focus on African developmental complexities and opportunities from different perspectives. Through online collaboration with peers from selected African universities, student critically explore Systems Thinking, Participation, Partnerships and Adaptation strategies to achieve the SDGs.
A three week African field study offers students an opportunity to experience African realities. The minor concludes with a series of webinars with, and excursions to relevant Dutch ministries, think tanks and knowledge platforms to initiate a network for future collaboration.
2019-2020 Student’s comments
Omari Palmer (student Liberal Arts and Sciences: Global Challenges Leiden University College): 'The African Dynamics minor broadened my scope of international law as a tool and barrier to development in Africa. We explored a number of pertinent subjects related to the African context in light of the SDGs outside my field of learning of social sciences. I gained a deeper insight into the realities of Africa’s situation and the interconnectedness of what development in Africa needs to look like. I realised that international law cannot function in isolation of the socio-political, natural and economic contexts in which it is operating.'
Pepijn den Blaauwen (student Civil Engineering Delft University of Technology): 'By highlighting Africa from different angles, a more complete picture is sketched which is very valuable. It enriched my own knowledge, and these new insights can lead to different choices. Each individual module could somehow be linked to my own field of study. All in all, one is not taught in the minor to understand and calculate everything perfectly, but rather to have a good basis for everything. The emphasis is on the ability to think critically and not to accept something blindly. Old solutions that are often used are not always better and there are often several solutions for the same problem. This way of thinking makes it possible for me to look at certain civil engineering projects in Africa in a different way.'
Nada Akrouh (student Health Sciences Erasmus University Rotterdam): 'As a health sciences student I wanted to look beyond the healthcare sector to broaden my knowledge about the world, and get insight into other factors which interlink with health. The African Dynamics minor gave me this opportunity to unleash my knowledge by its multidisciplinarity. There was the possibility for students to use our own academic background during the lectures and in the assignments. By doing so, I learned how to approach certain phenomena and theories more critically. Not only did I learn much about Africa, but also about international relations between countries from different continents.'
Laura Wittebroek (student International Studies Leiden University): 'The African Economies module offered by Erasmus University introduced how businesses can scale up global sustainability efforts to create a safe operating space for humanity and work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. This module was more interesting than I had anticipated and it even convinced me that this is the field in which I want to work in in the future!'
Harm Duncker (student Applied Earth Sciences Delft University of Technology): 'The importance of engaging with local communities, both from an ethical- and a business perspective, is something I didn’t consider important. I now realise that these perspective are intertwined and are not two separate ‘things’. Because I have aspirations to work in the mining business in Africa it is important for me to know that it is essential to engage with communities instead of throwing ‘money’ at them and thinking your ethical obligation is complete.'