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Anticipatory Governance

Enrollment is Closed

About This Course

This updated course, which was first launched in 2021, aims to introduce participants to the notion of “anticipatory governance” as an approach for exploring, envisioning, and planning for change and uncertainty. Anticipatory governance is defined in this course as “governing in the present to adapt to or shape uncertain futures”. Using case studies from Southern Africa, this course demonstrates diverse approaches for navigating in the face of complexity, uncertainty, and change; whether this change is slow and expected (e.g., climate change) or fast and abrupt (e.g., a tropical cyclone). This course will offer tools and practical techniques for fostering more resilient decision-making and governance capacities.

The course is comprised of four modules with a duration of 2 hours each. Each module includes short video lectures and discussions, case studies, key readings, and a short assessment. The course is delivered by experts in anticipatory governance, futures literacy and foresight, resilience and complexity thinking, and social-ecological systems. The modules focus on diverse definitions and approaches to anticipatory governance, the differences between anticipatory governance and conventional policy-making and planning, diverse tools and methods for anticipation, how resilience relates to anticipatory governance, and case studies of how anticipatory governance has been applied in diverse contexts, with a focus on Southern Africa.

The online learning course on Anticipatory Governance is led and facilitated by researchers at the Centre for Sustainability Transitions (CST) at Stellenbosch University, in partnership with the Resilient Waters program in Southern Africa, which is funded by USAID.

Learning Objectives

  • To introduce participants to diverse definitions of and approaches to anticipatory governance.
  • To expose participants to key participatory futures tools and methods for envisioning and navigating towards sustainable and just futures.
  • To provide participants with case studies of how anticipatory governance has been applied in different ways across a variety of contexts, with a focus on examples from Southern Africa.

Work Load

The course is comprised of 4 modules with a duration of 2 hours each. The course can be completed in a total of 8 hours.

Meet the Course Facilitators

Tanja Hichert

Tanja Hichert

Tanja Hichert is an academically qualified and highly experienced futures and foresight practitioner who has maintained a link with academic Futures Studies in her career. She specialises in scenario planning, horizon scanning, strategic foresight, risk management, and facilitating strategic conversations that provide clarity and direction for organisations and institutions faced with complexity and uncertainty. Tanja has extensive experience in process design and applying futures / foresight to a vast range of issues in the public and private sector. She has a solid record of accomplishment in business strategy, plus considerable project management experience. Tanja is co-chair of the UNESCO Chair in Complex Systems and Transformative African Futures at Stellenbosch University. Tanja teaches post-graduate students and serves on boards of Futures organisations. She has a passion for expanding and building the practical application of Future Studies on the African continent. Where opportunity allows, Tanja has a love for innovative and experimental approaches, and working at the intersection of complex issues.

Dr Rika Preiser

Prof. Rika Preiser

Rika Preiser is a senior researcher at the Centre for Sustainability Transitions (CST) at Stellenbosch University. Rika’s research explores the conceptual development of complexity and how the study of the features and dynamics of Complex Adaptive Systems inform novel ways for thinking and anticipating more equitable social-ecological transformation processes toward resilient Anthropocene futures. Her current work explores how a relational theory of change could inform global change paradigms, discourses, and practices concerning people-biosphere relations. Rika is interested in Anthropocene challenges at the science-society and science-art interfaces and how artistic practices and interactive modes of engagement could stimulate and advance more positive responses to bringing about alternative social-ecological futures. Rika is co-chair of the UNESCO Chair in Complex Systems and Transformative African Futures at Stellenbosch University. Rika supervises students who are keen to experiment and employ Participatory Action Research methods as ways to engage with and shape social-ecological, real-world problems. She hopes that a reflective engagement with complexity will challenge us to recognize the normative call to re-imagine what it might mean to be human in the Anthropocene. Rika holds Masters degrees in Journalism (2004) and Social Anthropology (2008). In 2012 she completed her PhD in the Department of Philosophy entitled “The Problem of Complexity: Rediscovering the role of Critique” at Stellenbosch University. Rika teaches complex adaptive systems thinking to students from the fields of medicine, business management, sustainability studies and agricultural sciences.

Prof Reinette (Oonsie) Biggs

Prof. Reinette (Oonsie) Biggs

Oonsie Biggs is the co-director of the Centre for Sustainability Transitions (CST) at Stellenbosch University and holds a DST/NRF South African Chair (SARChl) in Social-Ecological Systems and Resilience. She is an NRF A-rated researcher and holds a joint appointment in the CST at Stellenbosch University and the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University in Sweden. Oonsie co-chairs the science committee of the Program on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS,, one of the core global research programs of Future Earth, and leads the affiliated Southern African Program on Ecosystem Change and Society (SAPECS), a network of researchers and practitioners working on social-ecological systems in the southern African region (see Oonsie also serves on the Board of Directors for the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics in Sweden, and on the South African Global Change Science Committee which serves as an advisor to the country’s national research foundation. Her research aims to advance theory and understanding of complex social-ecological systems, specifically how to build resilience to deal with uncertainty, surprise and ongoing environmental and social change. Through her research, Oonsie aims to develop practical theory, methods and insights that can ultimately contribute to facilitating transitions to more sustainable futures in Southern Africa.

Dr Joy Waddell

Dr Joy Waddell

Joy Waddell is the learning and design coordinator for this online training course. She is as Research Associate at the Centre for Sustainability Transitions at Stellenbosch University. Joy has a background in human geography and disaster risk science, with a research interest in exploring how to strengthen collaborative governance processes in the global South as a way to strengthen resilience and reduce risk. Joy has experience coordinating multi-country research projects, designing and facilitating multi-stakeholder workshops, and designing online, in-person, and hybrid learning experiences for diverse audiences.

Meet the Guest Speakers

Prof Fritz Nganje

Prof. Fritz Nganje

Fritz Nganje is Associate Professor of International Relations at the University of Johannesburg. He is also Associate Editor of Politikon: South African Journal of Political Studies and a former Southern Voices Network for Peacebuilding Scholar. His primary areas of research include the foreign relations of subnational governments, decentralized cooperation, human security in Africa, as well as South Africa’s foreign policy and diplomacy in Africa.

Prof Anthoni van Nieuwkerk

Prof. Anthoni van Nieuwkerk

Anthoni van Nieuwkerk holds an MA in political science from the University of Johannesburg and a PhD in international relations from Wits University, Johannesburg. He has been research-active from the early 1990s and has pursued an academic career in post-graduate teaching, supervision, and policy analysis from 2000. Anthoni is based at the Wits School of Governance, where he participates in peace and security studies. In 2015, the South African government appointed him to the South African Council on International Relations and in 2018, to the Presidential High-level Review Panel into Intelligence. Anthoni is a skilled institutional architect and experienced academic manager, facilitator and programme evaluator. He publishes widely on African foreign and security policy, has participated in several scenarios exercises, and has broad experience with advising policymakers and practitioners in the South African government, the Southern African Development Community and the African Peer Review Mechanism. He coordinates a network of Southern African academics and practitioners, is a senior research associate at Good Governance Africa, and serves as editorial board member of several accredited journals.

Prof Dewald van Niekerk

Prof. Dewald van Niekerk

Dewald van Niekerk is Professor in Geography and the founder and head of the African Centre for Disaster Studies at North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa. Dewald is a South African B3 NRF rated researcher. He obtained his Ph.D. in 2005 and was promoted to full professor in 2012. He has authored and co-authored more than 100 publications which includes peer reviewed articles, books and chapters in books and international and national research reports. He has been project leader for local, national as well as international disaster risk reduction projects, and has undertaken disaster risk reduction research and consultancy in numerous countries world-wide. He is the programme leader for the Disaster Risk Sciences research group and the Ph.D. in Disaster Risk Sciences in the Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management. He is the founder and Editor in Chief of the accredited journal Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies. In 2012 he played a significant role in the establishment of the Southern Africa Society for Disaster Reduction. His research is motivated by a desire to reduce the possible impacts of natural hazards and unknowns like climate change on communities most at-risk. His interests include disaster risk governance, resilience building, complexity and complexity theory, communit-based disaster risk management, disaster risk assessment, building institutional capacities for disaster risk reduction, and transdisciplinary disaster risk reduction.

Dr Geci Karuri-Sebina

Prof. Geci Karuri-Sebina

Geci Karuri-Sebina is an urban scholar-practitioner based in Johannesburg working in the intersection between people, place and technological change. She is an Associate Professor at the Wits School of Governance, where she hosts the Civic Tech Innovation Network. She is also associated with the University of Cape Town’s African Centre for Cities, South African Cities Network, a learning network of the country’s metropolitan municipalities, and Singularity University’s Global Faculty. Geci’s work is mainly in Africa and the global south. She has a diverse background, spanning a range of foresight, policy, innovation and practice topics, and has worked extensively in R&D, government and civic organisations. She previously worked with South Africa’s Ministry of Finance (National Treasury), the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), and the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Advanced Policy Institute. She has also recently served on the South African Council of Planners (SACPLAN), the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) Board, and the national Ministerial Task Team on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. She currently serves as the Vice-Chair of AfricaLICS (the community of innovation scholars in Africa) and Regional Advisor of the Africa Innovation Summit.



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Can I receive a certificate for this course?

All learners have the opportunity to earn a free digital Certificate of Completion, awarded by UNESCO and USAID, upon completing the course. To receive this digital certificate, you will need to complete all 4 modules with a grade of 80% or higher for each module assessment, and complete the pre- and post-surveys.