SFU students participating in the field school pose for a photo with staff from AKU-ACER
In October, 12 students from Simon Fraser University (SFU) based in Canada, travelled to Aga Khan University's
Arusha Climate and Environmental Research Centre (AKU-ACER) in Arusha, Tanzania. They are the first cohort of an inaugural field school to investigate educational issues related to the development of human awareness and understanding of the environment.
For one month, the students from SFU will gain practical experience in a 'living laboratory' to explore environmental concerns through an interdisciplinary approach that ties to historical and contemporary issues in human-environmental interactions.
This field school was made possible by a
Memorandum of Understanding signed in November 2022 by SFU and AKU. The agreement was to facilitate joint research, faculty and student exchanges and other forms of collaboration aimed at tackling global issues, among them climate change and environmental sustainability.
In addition to Simon Fraser University, AKU has signed partnership agreements with local universities in Tanzania including
the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) and the
Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI). All these in an effort to bring in diverse, rich and relevant experience to broaden our partnerships to enhance the reach and impact of AKU-ACER.
This Friday, SFU president Joy Johnson will lead a delegation to AKU campuses in Tanzania and Kenya to advance university priorities, including the commitment to work with international partners on global challenges such as health and climate change. Together with AKU President Dr Sulaiman Shahabuddin, they will formalize partnerships with Tanzanian institutions to benefit from invaluable local expertise: University of Dar es Salaam, Sokoine University of Agriculture and NM-AIST.
The delegation will engage with key researchers at AKU-ACER and explore new opportunities for joint research. They will also meet the SFU students participating in the field school.
There is huge potential for impact in the field of environmental research – harnessing data for solutions to the global environmental crisis. Collaboration between AKU, SFU, the University of Dar es Salaam, Sokoine University of Agriculture, TAWIRI and NM-AIST offers a unique opportunity for diverse data collection and analysis across an international field. AKU-ACER also believes that bringing together international and local Tanzanian institutions to share different knowledge, skills, and best practices is critical to create a strong basis for long-term impact in environmental stewardship.
AKU's partnership with SFU and partners in Tanzania is aligned with each institution's commitment to environmental sustainability: SFU's
Strategic Sustainability and Climate Action Plan; and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN)
AKU-ACER sits strategically on ecologically important land and is a flagship project of the University with support from AKDN. It leverages the importance of the site as a 'living laboratory' for research opportunities in environmental science. Benefits of the research activities undertaken at AKU-ACER cut across many Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) relating to human health, the environment and climate action.
Within AKU-ACER lies the Community Outreach Centre which is a hub for the local community. It houses state-of-the-art educational, teaching, healthcare and recreational facilities. To date, the centre has empowered more than 28,000 people to launch their own businesses, adopt farming techniques that have enhanced their food security and learn key skills that have raised their quality of life.
Learn more about the partnership in this video: