Dr Sarita Maree

Dr Sarita Maree
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South Africa
University of Pretoria
Natural and Agricultural Sciences
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My vision for the future of research at UP and how I will contribute to this development

In his book?The Naked Leader. The best-selling guide to unlimited success? David Taylor states that professional success is not actually due to good fortune, but more a matter of choice.He asks the question:?Imagine if you simply could not fail. What would you do? Where would you go? Who would you be??This question may seem an absurd fragment of someone’s imagination when considering that the academic research environment and education at tertiary institutions in South Africa are experiencing of the most challenging and turbulent times in history. Dire economic constraints, funding for basic and even applied scientific research are hard to come by, irrespective of the field of interest. Scientists should therefore more than ever focus on question-driven research, be it relevant to basic or applied scientific discovery. Undergraduate and postgraduate training should be focused on a thorough grounding in technical aspects (field or laboratory-based) and in-depth theoretical knowledge of relevant analytical skills of the particular field of research. The development of science communication skills is equally important as these will equip scientists to communicate their research findings and applications thereof to both a scientific and general audience, and thereby, attract interest from potential collaborators and funding bodies (locally and internationally). The art of communicating complex scientific content in a simple manner to a general audience may well result in attracting funding from industry and the private sector, if scientists can be convince them of the value of our research to their diverse spheres of interest.   

Our Challenge Domains

Future Africa’s Research Chairs lead comprehensive programmes of work within our Challenge Domains. They work at a pan-African level and with global partners to set African agendas, build African capacities, create African networks of expertise and influence, and co-design and deliver high-impact research in and for Africa.

The Future Africa Sustainable Food Systems Research Chair aims to transform African food systems through transdisciplinary research and knowledge exchange.
One Health is an interdisciplinary approach recognising the interconnectedness of humans, animals, plants, and the environment.
The Future Africa Research Chair leads large transformative research teams and builds global networks aimed at identifying and supporting pathways to sustainability transformations globally.
The Future Africa Chair in Global Equity aims to promote global prosperity and peace by positioning Africa as a contributor, not just a beneficiary.
Understanding the dynamics of African science and technology policy in a global context and ensuring the development of innovative African science and technology systems is imperative for purposes of advancing the transformative impact of African research and scholarship.

Activities Spotlight

The Future Africa Research Leader Fellowship (FAR-LeaF) is a two-year research-oriented fellowship programme, focussed on developing transdisciplinary research and leadership skills, to address the complex, inter-linked challenges of health, well-being, and environmental risks in Africa. The FAR-LeaF programme recognises the value of creating a long-term network of future-focussed science leaders with transdisciplinary research skills, who can address the challenges of a post-Covid-19 society.

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What is Futures Literacy?

Anticipation is fundamental to the world that surrounds us – from human beings that plan for the future, to the anticipatory instincts of basic biological systems underpinning the living universe. Human beings and the social systems we create continuously make use of the future to frame our actions, choices, and therefore our agency in the present. Often our framework for the future is based on tacit assumptions about how the future could or should look.  Futures Literacy is concerned with revealing the Anticipatory Assumptions that inform our vision of the future, moving from tacit to explicit, and building up the capability to imagine different kinds of future including those that are not necessarily desirable or probable. In doing this, Futures Literacy enables a more robust imagining of the later-than-now and develops an ability to understand and use novelty and complexity in framing our present choices.  

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Open Africa, Open Science: A Glimpse into Africa Week 2023

The University of Pretoria is proud to host the biennial Africa Week, a prestigious event that brings together the greatest minds in science leadership. This year's event, in partnership with the Department of Science and Innovation and the National Research Foundation, will convene the leadership of prominent African and global scientific networks and international, transdisciplinary initiatives. The theme for Africa Week 2023 is Open Africa, Open Science, which will feature topical dialogues on the importance of open science as a global public good and its relevance for the continent.

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Our Impact Dialogues is a series that is intended to stimulate bold thinking and debate on important issues that affect African science. The series is open to all –the general public, students, lecturers, researchers, policy makers, and so on. The goal is to have an open, informed conversation about some of the more pressing issues we face as a world today. So far, we have held seminars on Futures Literacy in Africa, lessons from the Open Science movement in Europe, as well as mis -and dis-information on social media.

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The African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Food Systems(formerly ACoE in Food Security) was established in 2018 as a partnership between the host institution– University of Pretoria – and collaborating partner institutions – University of Ghana and University of Nairobi. The ARUA - SFS aims to create an engaging global network of talented researchers to move institutions forward in pursuit of a common goal. It is recognised that finding solutions to the food security and nutritional challenges in Africa is a huge and daunting task, and there are many local and internationally based organisations working in the African food and agriculture domain. The aim of the AR UA - SFS is not to duplicate efforts, but to create a critical mass of talented researchers working synergistically to maximise complementarity

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Spotlight on Politics of Sustainable Development: Future Africa Hosts the Inaugural CoRE Meeting

Future Africa hosted the first physical meeting of the Cluster of Research Excellence (CoRE) on the Politics of Sustainable Development: Squaring the Circle of Science and Democracy from 12 to 13 February 2024. The University of Pretoria and the University of Oslo, serving as co-lead institutions, were delighted to welcome their African and European partners.