Tri-Continental (3C) Partnership

The Tri-Continental (3C) Partnership is the trilateral partnership between the University of the Western Cape (UWC), the University of Missouri (UM) and Ghent University (UGent)

The partnership between the University of the Western Cape (South Africa) and the University of Missouri (US) has existed for 30 years, while Ghent University and UWC have been engaging in collaborating for 14 years in the framework of the successful 10-year Programme on Dynamics of Building a Better Society (DBBS), a programme on research capacity-building funded by the Flemish government.

The three universities have recently decided to extend their bilateral connections into a trilateral partnership. A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed in 2013 at the first trilateral meeting at UWC. As a follow-up, a very successful trilateral meeting was hosted by Ghent University in October 2015.

At the meeting in Ghent in 2015 some key domains for collaboration were agreed upon, as well as some emerging domains.

Key domains


  • Gilles-Maurice de Schryver (African Languages, Dept. of Languages & Cultures, UGent)
  • Koen Bostoen (African Languages, Dept. of Languages & Cultures, UGent)
  • Stef Slembrouck, (LANG+ research cluster on Multilingualism and Language-in-Society, Dept. of Linguistics UGent)
  • Michael Marlo (Dept of. English, UM)
  • Judith Goodman (Dept. of Communication Science and Disorders, UM)
  • Rebecca Grollemund (Dep. of English, UM)
  • Daniel Domingues (Dept. of History, UM)
  • Loyiso Mletshe (Dept. of Xhosa, UWC)
  • Christopher Stroud (CMDR – Centre for Multilingualism and Diversities Research, Dept. of Linguistics, UWC)
  • Amiena Peck (CMDR – Centre for Multilingualism and Diversities Research, Dept. of Linguistics, UWC)
  • Quentin Williams (CMDR – Centre for Multilingualism and Diversities Research, Dept. of Linguistics, UWC)


The linguistics discussion group has two research streams: one is oriented toward linguistic description and corpus development on African languages and one is oriented toward sociolinguistics, applied linguistics, and educational linguistics. Our trilateral collaboration intends to maintain both streams, in some respects separately but also connectedly. We see this as a way of addressing lacunae in both streams and exploiting their strategic complementarity, with opportunities for mutual learning.
Within the larger context of on-going and planned bilateral and trilateral activity, the October discussion group settled on a key project-specific aim of building a trilateral space of inter-university collaboration around corpus development under an umbrella-concept of Diversities & Varieties. We will develop a matrix corpus (or integrated set of corpora) which is amenable to analysis within a number of linguistic methodologies. The corpus will contain audio-recorded and video-recorded data, from diverse contexts in South and North: elicited data from interviews, multi-modal language data, and spontaneous multilingual interactions, and will include as constituent interactional resources the use of African languages, European languages, dominant/majority languages, minority languages, child and child-directed language, institutional/professional language use, etc. All data will be GPS-tracked (time/space coordinates).
The proposal is cutting edge in a number of respects and will be of high value to both research streams. Multilingual corpora are uncommon in linguistic research today, and the idea of a corpus of language use which is amenable to a range of methodological approaches and theoretical interests is quite novel. Working with audio and video corpus data only, rather than a narrow focus on “text” (as is common in corpus linguistics) is also innovative. The project also comes with a shared commitment to exploring the educational potential of the material collected and the analyses developed on the basis of it.

Plant Sciences

  • Geert Haesaert (Dept. of Applied Biosciences, UGent)
  • Geert De Jaeger (Dept. of Plant Biotechnology, UGent)
  • Lieve Gheysen (Dept. of Molecular Biotechnology, UGent)
  • Steven Maenhout (Dep. of Mathematical Modelling, Statistics and Bio-informatics, UGent)
  • Scott Peck (Dept. of Biochemistry, UM)
  • Ndiko Ludidi (Dept. of Biotechnology, UWC)
  • Marshall Keyster (Dept. of Biotechnology, UWC)
  • Ashwil Klein (Dept. of Biotechnology, UWC)

Several modes of cooperation in Plant Sciences will be focused on within this partnership:

  • Development of undergraduate curricula that would facilitate exchange of staff (for teaching) and students (for training towards either obtaining credits for specific modules or awarding of joint degrees) at undergraduate (BSc) or postgraduate (MSc) levels of study that is not research-centred.
  • Identifying areas of common research interest in order to establish an exchange programme that would facilitate university-wide (UWC, UM and UG) research in plant science geared towards joint awarding of research-based MSc and PhD degrees.
  • Identifying areas of common research interest in order to construct group-specific research projects that would facilitate short (2 to 6 months) research visits by PhD students and their research leaders between the three institutions.
    Because of differences in degree structures between the three institutions, it was decided that a more viable option in the initial stages would be option 3.3. However, there was a need to report back to the researchers in Plant Science in the three institutions in order to identify willing participants in the joint research projects. This would be done via the representatives nominated for Plant Science in each institution for the purposes of the trilateral cooperation. For UWC, the representative is Prof N. Ndiko Ludidi; for UM it is Prof Scott Peck and for UGent it is Prof Geert Haesaert. Despite the need for this further consultation, it was agreed, in principle, that a project that would investigate the interaction of drought and Fusarium (fungal pathogens) in maize and how such interaction influences the production of fumonisins (carcinogenic mycotoxins made by the Fusarium) would be developed.

Public Health

  • Kristien Michielsen (International Centre for Reproductive Health, UGent)
  • Dirk Van Braeckel (International Centre for Reproductive Health, UGent)
  • Olivier Degomme (International Centre for Reproductive Health, UGent)
  • Dirk Avonts (Dept. of Family Medicine, UGent)
  • Enid Schatz (Dept. of Health Sciences, UM)
  • Hanani Tabana (School of Public Health, UWC)
  • Lucia Knight (School of Public Health, UWC)
  • Diane Cooper (School of Public Health, UWC)


Possible areas of collaboration have been identified under two broad categories: (i) research and (ii) education – they will mainly focus on the following themes:

  1. Gender Norms (GEAS)
  2. Provider related barriers for access to care in the following areas: Access to primary health care; Provider attitudes around maternal health; Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health services (by youth) and HIV-positive people (safer conception, Family Planning); HIV positive elderly; Uptake of adolescent-friendly services; Barriers for youth and men
  3. Older people living with HIV
  4. Electronic personal records/portfolio among HIV positive people
  5. Sexual and reproductive health and rights policy network
  6. PhD Supervision support
  7. Online learning: 2016: Create network that link point people at three institutions to share experiences - 2017: Meeting with relevant people
  8. Community outreach/engagement: 2016: Create network that link point people at three institutions to share experiences.
  9. Master Global/Public Health: Share curricula and see where aspects of global health are integrated; Possible initial sharing around UGent Summer School on Migrant Health with MU students.

Emerging domains


  • Maarten Baes (Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, UGent)
  • Sven De Rijcke (Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, UGent)
  • Romeel Davé (Dept. of Physics, UWC)

UWC has one of the strongest research teams in Astronomy in South Africa, hosting three prestigious SA Research Chairs in the field. Several of its researchers occupy leadership roles in the research agenda of the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Project, the most ambitious experiment being undertaken by human kind. Therefore, UWC presents a gateway to astronomers at UGent and MU into the SKA Project. Prof. Maarten Baes and his colleagues at Ghent University are researching in the related fields.


  • Wim Fias (Dept. of Experimental Psychology, UGent)
  • Stefan Vandenberghe (Dept. of Electronics and Information Systems, UGent)
  • Hamilton Pharaoh (Dept. of Physiotherapy, UWC)

UWC is interested in integrating a number of their active research areas into a neuroscience research program/institute. UWC found the Multidisciplinary Research Partnership on Neuroscience at Ghent University an inspirational example. UWC seeks advise from UGent to discover strengths, opportunities and perspectives at UWC.
Once the initiation of such a neuroscience institute is more concretely elaborated, UGent can contribute to capacity building by means of researcher and staff mobility. Joint research projects can be considered once fields of research are defined.

Humanities and Urban Planning

  • Johan Lagae (Dept. Of Architecture and Urban Planning, UGent)
  • Michiel Dehaene (Dept. Of Architecture and Urban Planning, UGent)
  • Pieter Uyttenhove (Dept. Of Architecture and Urban Planning, UGent)
  • Bert Ghellynck (Dept. Of Architecture and Urban Planning, UGent)
  • Koen Stroeken (African Languages, Dept. of Languages & Cultures, UGent)
  • Annelies Verdoolaege (African Languages, Dept. of Languages & Cultures, UGent)
  • Andrew Hurley (Dept. of History, St Louis campus of UM)
  • Patricia Hayes (Centre for Humanities Research, UWC)
  • Premesh Lalu (Centre for Humanities Research, UWC)
  • Ciraj Rassool (Centre for Humanities Research, UWC)
  • Leslie Witz (Dept. of History, UWC)
  • Larry Pokpas (Institutional Planner, UWC)


Within the track “Cities in Transition” of the VLIR-UOS project no. 5 CLIDE, the Dept. of Architecture and Urban Planning of UGent has been conducting research on the urban situation of UWC’s main campus and satellite campuses since 2009, documenting their evolution over time and proposing scenarios for their potential future development in line with UWC’s ambitions as a centre for research excellence and a university engaged in community outreach. This work has resulted in a number of master dissertations that were locally supervised first by resp. prof. Gordon Pirie and consequently by prof. Noeleen Murray, at the time both members of UWC’s Dept. of Geography of UWC.
Given that both UWC staff members have now moved elsewhere and that the research conducted is mainly reflexive rather than immediately operative in scope, a number of smaller, well-defined activities for the coming years have been proposed:

Track 1/ 2016 - 2017: “Campus and the City” – Jokerweek & Exhibition
Description: Every year, the Dept. of Architecture and Urban Planning organizes an annual project workshop, entitled “Jokerweek”. This year’s theme is “Campus and the City”. Students will work on projects that seek to investigate how Ghent University and the City of Ghent could strengthen their collaboration as urban agents. The workshop is part of a longer research and educational trajectory at UGent, that involves various faculties. It is also embedded in a larger institutional framework (EUunivercities, a collaboration between UGent and STAM,…). A comparative perspective on the theme will be introduced during the Jokerweek, with one track engaging specifically with the topic in an African context. Given the previous research already done by UGent students on the UWC context, and the profound reflexion on the role of UWC by various staff members of UWC’s, it is the intention to invite at least one CHR staff member over to participate in this year’s Jokerweek to feed the reflexion on the theme.

Track 2/ 2016: Implementing Zone-it at UWC
Description: The Zone-it project, consisting of the development of a community building app and developing interactive modular software permitting community customization, that is being developed at Mzumbe University in Tanzania resonates with the research track “the Becoming Technical of the Human” within CHR’s Flagship project on Critical Thought in African Humanities. As such, it might be useful to build up links with the CHR in the course of implementing the Zone-it app at UWC – developing the app is now mainly being coordinated by the CoLab and the Department of Information Systems at UWC.

Doctoral Schools

  • Dieter De Bruyn (Doctoral Schools, UGent)
  • Hans Verstraeten (Director Doctoral School of Social and Behavioural Sciences, UGent)
  • Lorna Holtman (Director Division for Postgraduate Studies, UWC)

UWC is in the process of establishing a Doctoral School. There is much to be learnt from the existing Doctoral Schools at UGent and MU. Arrangements are being made for a train-the-trainer module on research integrity.