Change the world


In a first for SA, Nelson Mandela University (NMU) launched a digital storytelling laboratory, Common Good First, in Port Elizabeth on Monday – to tell the stories of the voiceless and provide opportunities for effective and targeted partnerships to deal with social problems in communities.

The programme, to be introduced at other universities soon, aims to link community projects to one another and to higher education institutions around the world using a webbased knowledge bank and innovative digital storytelling.

The developer of the project and its primary co-ordinator is Glasgow Caledonian University in Glasgow, Scotland, with NMU being the lead SA partner and co-ordinator.

Common Good First is funded by EU programme Erasmus+, a funding stream for education.

The total cost of the programme is about R16m, while the new space for digital storytelling is situated at NMU’s Bird Street campus.

The programme aims to identify community projects and work with them to promote their objectives online and to investigate how the academic network can fashion innovative approaches to social change in response to the challenges facing the projects.

NMU vice-chancellor Professor Sibongile Muthwa said this was the first of a series of digital creative spaces to be launched at universities in SA.

“The stories we will aim to tell will highlight challenges in communities so that those who can help would be able to respond,” Muthwa said.

Julie Adair, of the Common Good First Project at the Glasgow university, said it was already working in five of SA’s nine provinces and was also developing the project for use on mobile phones.

Adair said the aim was to build a cohort of up to 90 community projects.

Glasgow Caledonian University vice-chancellor Professor Pamela Ginnis said the world needed social innovation to build trust and increase social capital in communities.

NMU community for social technology director Professor Darelle van Greunen said the aim was to change the world for the common good.

She said the opening of the digital storytelling lab also served as a call to action to be part of the change.

“Innovation flourishes when people from diverse backgrounds come together to find solutions to problems.”

Music superstar Annie Lennox, who is also the chancellor of the Glasgow Caledonian University, pledged her support in a video message.

NMU chancellor Dr Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi said she was honoured to be part of this historic occasion.

Quoting former president Nelson Mandela, she said those who strove for a common good “dare not linger”.

Referring to the case of pastor Timothy Omotoso, Fraser-Moleketi said: “We owe our children a life free of violence and fear.

“We must walk the talk and we dare not linger.”

The chair of the NMU council, Nozipho January-Bardill, noted the number of women speakers at the event.

“I feel very proud,” she said. “It is wonderful to see women changing the world. This is a new narrative.”

At the launch from left to right - Mandela University Vice-Chancellor: Professor Sibongile Muthwa, Glasgow Caledonian University Vice-Chancellor: Proesoor Pamela Gillies, Mandela University Chancellor: Dr Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi and Mandela University Chair of Council: Ambassador Nozipho January-Bardill.

This article appeared in The Herald of 23 October 2018 written by 
Estelle Ellis

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