The Department of Geography and Environmental Studies hosted a webinar on 13th April,2021 as part of the UoN@50 celebrations. The event provided a platform for the department to reflect on the partnerships it made over the past 5 decades and an opportunity to deliberate on frontiers for future collaborations.
The academic community engaged in interactive sessions with Prof. Urs Weismann, University of Bern and Prof. Pernille Kallehave, Aarhus University, reflected on the opportunities that resulted from the partnership between the University of Nairobi and their individual universities. The partnerships enabled the departments of geography to engage in staff and student exchange, student field work activities, graduate fellowships, joint research in various areas and joint publications.
Prof. Kallehave highlighted the Maasai Mara Science and Development Initiative that was established through an MoU between UoN and Aarhus University which led to over 120 research projects and 10 plus publications. Mara is a case of an ecosystem under a lot of pressure hence the need for research to find sustainable solutions for the community to positively interact with their ecosystem.
Dr. Boniface Kiteme echoed Prof. Kallehave’s and Prof. Weismann’s sentiments, “research helps to broaden perspectives, CETRAD relied on the partnership to draw additional resource persons’’. The partnership enabled UoN to engage with geographers from the Universities of Bern and Aarhus in areas it fell short of staff and led to the setup of the first GIS Lab within the department.
Dr. Samantha Du Toit, South Rift Association of Land Owners, ensures that her conservation research work put the locals at the frontline of conservation. ‘A lot of our focus is on information for action , we have a strong department that has community members collecting information. We need academic credibility to support young conservationists and give geography students practical experience’’.
Prof. Thom Meredith, from Mcgill University, Prof. Britta Klagge from Bonn University and Professor Evaristus Irandu from UoN discussed how to position geography and environmental studies into the future.
Prof. Meredith on her part notes that, ‘Geography is at the centre of various topics of research in understanding our ecology, science and evidence is our hope’’.
According to Prof. Irandu the department of geography and environmental studies’ future collaborations should focus on emerging issues such as climate change , food security, marine biodiversity, pests & diseases and landscape restoration