ACCESS is structured into two inter-acting portfolios. The Research and Services Portfolio compromise seven thematic research sub-programmes making up an inter-disciplinary end-to-end (fundamental to applied) research focus on Global Change related issues and challenges. The Education and Training Programme is an end-to-end (school to early career) suite of sub-programmes, including one focussed on the post-graduate ACCESS class. Several other interventions across these portfolios form the basis of ACCESS's robust efforts to transform and expand the research footprint in the country.
ACCESS is a DST / NRF Center of Excellence and is an instrument of DST's Global Change Grand Challenge. ACCESS comprises a set of partners which include many of South Africa's universities and leading research agencies.
Planet Earth is a special place and we are at a special time
We feel that it's truly amazing to think that Planet Earth is the only know habitable planet we know. Though our research and teaching The ACCESS programme asks important questions about why our planet is habitable, what makes it so special and why is the present such an important time?
Thinking about Earth as the Habitable Planet
ACCESS runs a series of education programmes that centre around discovering the reasons why the Earth is such an amazing place. Southern Africa's amazing diversity make it a natural laboratory to investigate why the Earth is habitable, making it the best place in the world to study this. We combine lectures and field trips to study why the Earth is habitable and to use this knowledge to address the question of climate change.
The Cradle of Mankind
Not only is South Africa amazing in terms of diversity but we now know that modern humans first evolved here. Not only that but recent research shows that 70,000 years ago when times were tough for our species the last few individuals sought refuge in the Western Cape. This has led some to describe this region as the Garden of Eden.
South Africa is the most exceptional place on a special planet
Cape Town is the only city in the that can offer tourists both a warm and a cold ocean to swim in. The Western Cape boasts is own floral kingdom: one of only six in the world. From the top of the Sandstone rocks of table mountain you can see the granite dome of Paarl rocks. Cape Town has winter rain, Gauteng has summer rain. Southern Africa it seems is all about diversity. This makes it a truly exceptional place to study science.
The Rainbow Nation is not just about people
ACCESS believe that the key to thinking about climate change in Southern Africa lies with understanding the regions amazing diversity. Everyone knows that South Africans are proud of their diversity: The Rainbow Nation. But it doesn't just apply to people and culture. South Africa boasts the worlds greatest geological, biological and oceanographic diversity.
Mankind has become a geological agent capable of perturbing the planet system
Industrialisation has improved the lives of many people on the planet beyond the wildest imagination of previous generations. An unintended by-product of this has been the unprecedented rise in atmospheric CO2 that threatens to change conditions on the planet for good. As a result Global warming is now an international buzz word. But what does it mean for Southern Africa?