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Upcoming Events

Land Dynamics in an Era of Change

12/10/2020 23/10/2020

Education & Training

External Event URL

Event location

Berghouse & Cottages
Langkloof, R304
Northern Drakensberg, 3354

This event is postponed. Please visit the organiser's official website for further information.


Under the influence of many interwoven natural and anthropogenic processes, especially in the context of climate change and societal developments, the landscape is continually changing. Indeed, given the increasing human influences landscape processes such as erosion, desertification, soil depletion and fire threaten the sustainability of the landscapes we depend on. To tackle these challenges, and to understand the complexity of landscape dynamics and processes, requires an approach that combines physical, environmental, and socio-economic domains in an interdisciplinary way. Hence, this course takes an interdisciplinary perspective to study the complex issues related to the dynamics of the landscape and the development of sustainable systems.

Learning goals

The course will focus on past, present, and future trajectories of landscape dynamics and developments, taking into account physical as well as social processes and their interrelation. For this course we use the slopes of the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa as a case study.

Course set-up

The course consists of a combination of lectures, discussions, field visits and group work, and analysis and interpretation of literature, secondary data and maps focusing on contemporary and essential issues related to several land-use themes. Lectures will be provided by local and international experts in relevant fields.

Group work activities

Participants will be split into 4-5 groups where each group will focus on a burning issue regarding land-use and dynamics in the Drakensberg region. During the course groups must collect, analyse and synthesise information to come with a view on the main drivers of the issue, the historical perspective, what the challenges are of the past and current dynamics and a prediction of possible futures and how the issues identified should be challenged.

Collection of data will occur via:

  • Literature/documentation research: A significant source of information will be available but more can be sought for via internet and local sources
  • Fieldwork: The groups will visit their area and gather data through interviews and field observations. An array of factors can be included in determining the land dynamics, such as: soil fertility, erosion, water (availability, flow, distribution and quality), food security (quality and quantity), livelihood, income, labour, migration, etc.

The group work will be spread out over the two weeks. We start off with a general tour in which all participants are introduced to the various issues and land use systems.
After groups and assignments have been divided groups start making an inventory via field visits and study of literature. Groups will regularly briefly present their findings, where they stand, the way forward and what the possible issues might be. The rest of the attendees will accordingly reflect and give input.
Modelling (primarily conceptual) will be a central element of the course that supports groups in synthesising and coming to understanding of the drivers and states of the systems’ dynamics.
The course will end with a presentation session in which each group present their final result of the past and current dynamics of the region and their prediction of possible futures. This will be done on Campus.

Course organisers

  • Claudius van de Vijver (Graduate School PE&RC)
  • Arnaud Temme (Kansas State University)
  • Linus Franke (University of Free State)
  • Ralph Clark (University of Free State)
  • Samuel Adelabu (University of Free State)
  • Geofrey Mukwada (University of Free State)
  • Jacqueline Verhoef (Graduate School PE&RC)


General Information

Target Group:  The course welcomes participation by academics (especially early career), managers, practitioners, professionals and governance agencies
Group Size: Min 15 / Max 25 participants
Course Duration: 10 days
Language of Instruction: English
Frequency of Recurrence: Once every three years
Number of Credits: 3 ECTS
Location: Berghouse and Cottages, Drakensberg, South Africa
Accommodation: Accommodation and full board catering is included in the fee of the course


This course offers different price points for a variety of profiles, including an "early bird" discount for those who register before or on 5 August 2020. Visit the official course website here to see the breakdown of fees as well as cancellation conditions. 


Visit the official course website to register by clicking the button below.



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