15 – 19 JULY 2019, Stellenbosch, South Africa 

The Southern African Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (SAPECS) invites Masters’ and PhD students doing research at the interface of ecosystems and society to attend an introductory course on social-ecological systems, to be hosted by the Centre for Complex Systems in Transition (CST) at Stellenbosch University.

The field of social-ecological systems aims to support responses to the challenges of global environmental and societal change, particularly in terms of supporting improved environmental stewardship and addressing pressing challenges of poverty and inequality. Students and researchers who are studying these issues are increasingly positioning themselves as interdisciplinary investigators who study human-environment systems as linked, or rather strongly intertwined, social-ecological systems. Social-ecological research draws on knowledge, frameworks and methods from a broad range of disciplines, and this plurality can be challenging for students to navigate.

The goals of this SAPECS Winter School are to provide new scholars involved in, or planning to do, research on the interactions between ecosystems and society with insight into the key concepts, theory and methodological approaches for undertaking social-ecological systems research. The focus is to strengthen the capacity of students starting out on their post‐graduate journey at the interface of ecosystems and society in disciplines such as integrated water resource management, climate change, environmental studies, conservation ecology, botany, zoology, anthropology, sociology and geography.

Learning process 

The Winter School will run for 5 days (Monday 15 July – Friday 19 July) and include three days of lectures and practical exercises, as well as a one-day field-based learning journey whereby students can apply what they have learnt. The final morning will comprise a reflection on the course and learnings. 2

Topics to be covered include an Introduction to the Anthropocene; Introduction to Complex Adaptive Systems; Social-ecological systems and resilience; The links between biodiversity, ecosystem services and human well-being; Regime shifts and transformations; and discussion of social-ecological research approaches and methods. You will have the opportunity to engage with diverse social-ecological researchers based at the CST, including Prof Oonsie Biggs who holds an NRF Research Chair (SARChI) in Social-Ecological Systems and Resilience, as well as guest lecturers from other institutions.

Application process 

Registration fees are R3500 which includes your accommodation and lunch. A limited number of travel grants are available to support travel to Stellenbosch, funded by the NRF-supported SARChI Chair in Social-Ecological Systems and Resilience and the USAID-funded Resilient waters project.

A limited number of places are available. Please submit your application by completing the online form by 30 April 2019.

If you have any queries please email hayleyclements@sun.ac.za