By Dipo Olowookere
The second edition of Science Forum South Africa kicks off this week with an interesting array of national and international speakers, engaging exhibitions and science in the streets.
Science Forum South Africa (SFSA) will be held under the theme “Igniting conversations about science” on 8 and 9 December at the CSIR Convention Centre.
The forum is a platform for scientists, policy-makers, students, academics and the public to engage on pertinent issues around science, technology and innovation.
Building on the success of first SFSA, the forum programme comprises several parallel sessions addressing diverse topics, while an exhibition staged at Church Square in Pretoria as a side event will seek to expose ordinary citizens to the world of science and technology.
With this year’s focus being on the social sciences, discussions will centre around some of the hard issues with which South Africa is currently grappling, such as the debate on the minimum living wage and the reported 60% dropout rate at South Africa’s universities.
South Africa’s experience and social sciences perspective offers rich opportunities for learning, which could provide insights into how to promote reconciliation elsewhere in the world. Discussions on relevant questions will include reflections by leading social scientists, civil society actors and international commentators like the United States Ambassador to South Africa, Patrick Gaspard.
Topics will include climate change-induced migration, public perceptions of genetically modified organisms, food security, and how social science can shape Africa’s future.
The Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, will share the stage with high-profile players in the sciences, as well as policy-makers, academics and students from the continent and abroad.
Former head of policy in the Presidency, Mr Joel Netshitenzhe, will deliver the keynote speech, while a strong international dimension to the event will be reflected in the participation of speakers and delegates from Africa, the UK, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Austria, India and Japan.
Speakers will include Prof. Salim Karim, one of South Africa’s leading HIV researchers; Prof. Romain Murenzi, Executive Director of The World Academy of Sciences; Prof. Tebello Nyokong, Distinguished Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Nanotechnology at Rhodes University; and Dame Anne Glover, Chief Scientific Adviser to the President of the European Commission from 2012 to 2014.
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