16 august 2017     |

48th SSAG Geography Students Conference Report

“Geography and the Environment for Sustainable Development”

University of Mpumalanga
School of Biology &
Environmental Sciences

18 – 21 June 2017

SSAG 48th Geography Students Conference at University of mpumalanga

The 48th SSAG Geography Students Conference was held at the UMP (University of Mpumalanga) in Mbombela, on 19-21 June 2017. The conference was organized by a team in the School of Biology and Environmental Science, together with UMP. The main theme of the Conference was “Geography and the environment for sustainable development”. Through academic exchanges and communications on geography, the Conference aimed at promoting the harmony between geography and environment, respecting the role these two play in enhancing development. A large number of postgraduate students from all over South Africa conducted research in physical geography, human geography, environmental management, GIS and remote sensing applications in a profound way.

Upon arrival on 18 June, all delegates were treated to a cheese and wine social function aimed at enabling delegates to meet each other before the commencement of the conference a day after. The Congress began with the official opening ceremony held in the Building 4 Auditorium at UMP, on June 19. The Vice Chancellor, Prof Thoko Mayekiso successfully delivered the welcome message and opened the conference. Many well ‐ known and influential scientists were also present at the Conference, including 19 university academicians who accompanied their students. There were also students from Swaziland as observers. The opening ceremony was chaired by Mr Sakhile Nsukwini (nGAP PhD student) and member of the Organizing Committee. During the ceremony a keynote speech was delivered by one of the outstanding individuals within the community of geographers in South Africa; Prof M Ramutsindela.

During the Conference, two plenary lectures were given by two renowned scholars, as follows: “Defending the Kruger through guns and money: emergent society-nature relations in South Africa’s protected areas” given by Prof Ramutsindela, and ‘Climate change, the Anthropocene and the polar regions’ by Prof Werner Nel. There were 185 students who participated in the Conference (excluding their accompanying lecturers and invited guests). They came from 19 universities.

Apart from the scientific sessions of the Conference, there were field excursions and two social events (Cheese and wine and Gala dinner).

On 21 June, the students from all universities engaged in a trip before later joining the other participants for a Gala dinner. The group embarked on a tour of the beautiful Kruger National Park.

The following students were awarded prizes during the gala dinner.

1. TA Tshabalala; UFS Honours student winner GIS category.
2. J Pauls;p Rhodes University Honours student winner Human Geography category.
3. S Sibiya; Rhodes University Honours student winner Physical Geography category.
4. R Kruger; Stellenbosch University M student category Human Geography
5. NG Xulu; University of Venda M student category Physical Geography.
6. MA Arogoundaole; University of KwaZulu-Natal Best Poster.

Opening Ceremony, Building 4 Auditorium

The Vice Chancellor, Prof Thoko Mayekiso delivered the welcoming message and opened the conference

Opening Ceremony acknowledgement of VC’s speech

Outgoing SSAG President Prof L Sandham giving his farewell speech

Tree planting ceremony, VC Prof Thoko Mayekiso planting a tree to symbolise the birth of Geography at UMP

Open panel/ Round table discussions

Conference delegates

Prof Werner Nel delivering his keynote speech

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