Development Studies in Cooperation with the University of Johannesburg

Simona Šafaříková (left) and Lenka Voleníková on the university campus in Johannesburg
Photo: Archive SŠ
Thursday 10 August 2017, 10:52 - Text: Martina Šaradínová

The Department of Development and Environmental Studies (DDES) at the UP Faculty of Science has started cooperation with the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. The partnership has already produced exchange stays of teachers and doctoral studies students, the goal of which (in addition to teaching) was to gather data and lay the foundations for doctoral dissertations.

Simona Šafaříková of DDES and her contact with South African professor Cora Burnett were at the start of the cooperation. Both are focussed on “sport for development” and spoke together about it during lessons held mutually at the partner universities.

“It was extremely beneficial for me to teach in a different cultural environment, at a university with more than fifty thousand students. I am certainly in favour of continuing our cooperation, and we can exchange students and teachers. I consider it essential, especially in the area of Development Studies. We definitely need to learn from each other. The benefit on both sides was enormous,” said Šafaříková, who taught at two faculties in Johannesburg and also met with their deans.

Jiří Pánek also has a two-week teaching stay behind him. In the past he did part of his doctoral research in South Africa as well. “This time I lectured on the basics of participative mapping at their Geography department and together with colleagues from the Anthropology and Development Studies department we organised a seminar on the possibilities of participation in community planning,” Pánek explained.

During her three-month research stay in the Republic of South Africa, doctoral candidate Lenka Voleníková gathered data for her dissertation in the field of urban agriculture. She also took part in workshops for farmers from the South-Western Township (SOWETO), which is a neighbourhood located on the south-west city limits of Johannesburg and was historically a racially-segregated community. “I attempted to carry out research in quite a different environment, one which strongly reflects the history of apartheid. In addition to ordinary ethical standards for research in the field, a person there has to also be very perceptive regarding delicate themes, which I encountered literally at every step. In addition, Johannesburg is said to be quite a dangerous city, and it took me a relatively long time until I was used to everyday safety precautions which for a European are quite often difficult to understand. On the other hand, Johannesburg is a pulsating city and after acclimatising to its unique situation, I began to appreciate all its beauty,” said Voleníková, who has decided to return to the south of Africa as soon as possible.

Engela van der Klashorst did her doctoral research on the other hand in Olomouc. “Olomouc is a city which won my heart. The three months I spent at Palacký University will always be one of the pinnacles of my professional career. Everyone I met behaved in a professional manner. I learned more than I had expected, and I even had the opportunity to be part of the International Teaching Week at the Faculty of Physical Culture and meet other foreign lecturers,” the student commented.