In the largest intake yet, a total of nearly 45 doctoral students and supervisors attended the 2018 Inception Programme of the Southern African Systems Analysis Centre (SASAC), the second such inception hosted by SASAC. Hosted by consortium member the University of the Western Cape in Durbanville at the end of January, the two-week Inception (supervisors attend only the first three days) was designed to welcome the 2018 cohort – the third SASAC cohort of students – onto the programme, and introduce them the workings and aspirations of SASAC, as well as to the application of Systems Analysis as a framework. To this end, they were addressed by experienced scholars and presenters from across disciplines and South African universities, as well as by Brian Fath, professor of biological sciences at Towson University, US, and scientific coordinator of the Young Scientists Summer Programme of the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), of which South Africa is a member. In addition, the students are trained in some of the more generic skills relevant and essential to doctoral studies, such as drawing up a research proposal, presenting their research, and budgeting for their studies. While there was critique and suggestions for improving the Inception, the reviews for the event were largely positive. “The inception meeting was a golden opportunity for me as a PhD candidate; academically I grew and changed in a lot of positive ways,” noted one student. “Thank you for a very enriching and thought-provoking experience,” wrote another. This third cohort will meet again at the Capacity Development Programme to be hosted at Stellenbosch University over June and July.

Second inception a resounding success