Participants on field visit.


Two of the participants interviewing the Garden Route National Park Manager.


Following the GRIM event was the first Spring School on Social-Ecological Systems Research held on the George Campus and in Wilderness from the 5th to the 10th of October 2018. 

The school was hosted by SRU, CNRS, SAPECS and SANParks, with 6 registrations sponsored by the French Embassy in South Africa. We had 13 students from diverse nationalities (South Africa, Zimbabwean, French, Canadian and Spanish), spanning from Masters level to post-doctoral fellows from 6 universities as well as SANParks staff. The school was intentionally organized just after the GRIM so student could use the GRIM as an introduction to SES studies.

After a first day of seminars and topical discussions on methods, framework, social learning as well as trans-disciplinary research, the participants were set to develop a research proposal in groups. Seminars were given by Paddy Gordon (SANParks), Kristi Maciejewski (Centre for Complex Systems in Transition, University of Stellenbosch), Chloé Guerbois (SRU/NMU) and Bianca Currie (SRU/NMU), (SANParks / SRU). The topics chosen were (1) Managing Knysna Estuary as a public pool resources under increasing pressure from human use, (2) It all ends at the mouth – managing the Wilderness catchment as a social ecological system, (3) Understanding long-term changes in land use in the Garden Route, from production land (Forestry/farming) to tourism (mountain bikes, golf courses), effects on social-ecosystem resilience.

After a field visit giving an overview of the area on the Saturday, the three groups self-organised to meet-up with several initial key informants that the organisers had identified, and then expanded their sampling organically, during the three days. The school was organised to provide logistical autonomy, with two independent local drivers who also gave their insights drawing from their own life experience.  The groups came with diverse but very well-presented proposals, and from the organizers’ point of view the school was a valuable collaborative learning experienced which helped to develop user inspired research plans. This first Spring School definitely warrants another one next year and has the potential for becoming a very stimulating and enjoyable yearly ‘rendez-vous’.


Follow the link below for a reflection piece written by one of the participants: