History

South Africa, through the National Research Foundation, became a member of International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in 2007. Since then, IIASA and more than 20 South African research partners had developed a range of research collaboration and capacity building activities. Foremost among these was the launch of the Southern African Young Scientists Summer Programme (SA-YSSP) in 2012. The SA-YSSP sprang from IIASA’s annual three-month Young Scientists Summer Program (YSSP), which offers research opportunities to talented young researchers whose interests correspond with IIASA’s ongoing research on issues of global environmental, economic and social change. The SA-YSSP took the form of an annual three-month collaborative research-training and capacity-building programme, hosted at the University of the Free State from 2012 to 2015. Over its duration, the SA-YSSP developed system analytical research skills of more than 80 doctoral students from 30 countries, including 35 students from South Africa. Building on the successes of the SA-YSSP, the NRF and DST decided to evolve and expand its activities to develop capacity for systems analysis in South Africa and the wider region by establishing SASAC. In 2015, a consortium of four universities – namely the University of the Western Cape, Stellenbosch University, Wits University, and the University of Limpopo – was competitively selected to host SASAC from 2016 to 2018. The initiative is aimed at strengthening systems analysis capacity in South Africa. This model takes cognisance of additional and multi-level systems analysis capacity interventions, and a comprehensive approach to policy related activities in South and Southern Africa. SASAC will award three-year bursaries to PhD students based at a South African universities to complete their studies with a supervisor from South Africa experienced in systems analysis, possibly in collaboration with a co-supervisor associated with IIASA. SASAC awarded its first scholarships and hosted its first capacity programmes in 2016. An Emerging Researchers Programme – targeting postdoctoral fellows – also formed part of the SASAC initiative. In addition, a honours programme – known as the Early Postgraduate Education Programme – was introduced in 2018.

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