University of Kwazulu Natal


University of Kwazulu Natal
Durban EPIC
Case Type
Program Stories
School Size
Greater than 40,000
Focus Areas
Environment Sustainability

Durban EPIC

Following the African regional EPIC-N training in November 2017, the City of Durban and the University of KwaZulu-Natal have begun implementing the Durban EPIC pilot project within the Durban Research Action Partnership. The Durban EPIC pilot project connects Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department (EPCPD) from eThekwini Municipality (city of Durban) and School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) from the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN).

Upon successful completion of the pilot, DRAP intends to implement a full EPIC programme acorss multiple city line functions and academic disciplines, within the City-funded Global Environmental Change research programme, scheduled to start in January 2019. At the moment only the School of Built Environment and Development Studies with the following disciplines are involved in the pilot: Housing, Planning, Community Development, Development Studies and Population Studies. The pilot included an internship component for students within eThekwini Municipality, before EPIC is fully implemented in 2019.

The Durban EPIC pilot programme is being implemented through the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS), within the Palmiet Catchment Rehabilitation Project (PCRP).

The PCRP is led by a Community of Innovators, including academic staff and emerging researchers at BEDS, staff of the Environmental Planning and Climate Protection and other departments (EPCPD) of eThekwini Municipality, Palmiet-based civil society groups and community leaders of the Quarry Road West Informal Settlement (QRWIS). The PCRP has established a list of research questions, mostly focused on challenges within the QRWIS, and often related to climate change, which BEDS post-graduate MSc students have focused on in one month action internships within EPCPD.

Currently students are busy with their research projects which have been co-developed by student and municipal officials to ensure that research outputs feed into the work of the municipality. Students are expected to write policy briefs which will be submitted to the municipal and used by relevant departments. Projects which students are doing have been identified by municipality as important for the work of the city, the research outputs will feed directly to municipality.

The Durban EPIC pilot is being implemented as part of the EPIC Africa network that is being established by city/ academic partners who attended the November 2017 training. In the Durban EPIC, three components are being employed to attract students: Taught EPIC A module

Fun Facts about the Durban EPIC

The focus of EPIC Durban is not only to promote interdisciplinary approach, but also to build capacity for young professionals and students, and this aligns well with the national focus on capacity building. During the first semester of the 2019 academic year, EPIC Durban trained seven students and three young researchers from UKZN. By the end of the year the programme plans to train at least 10 more students.

Expected EPIC pilot outputs

  • Summary report which will be based on the students project, this report will unpack results from the students’ work and how those outputs can be used by municipality. This report will be compiled by EPIC Durban coordinators and Climate Protection Scientist from eThekwini Municipality
  • Policy briefs from students
  • Poster presentations for selected good projects from the students
  • 5- to 10-minute video clip which will focus on the pilot,

In the next year, the Durban EPIC hopes to:

  • Extend the ‘hub’ of municipal officials, academics and post-graduate students that are committed to and will support the development of the Durban EPIC as it evolves.
  • Engage other university departments and municipality officials about the Durban EPIC with a possibility of working with them in future projects. EPIC is about employing an interdisciplinary approach.

Public or Private Institution | Public
Number of students at institution | 46,539

Year Program Established | 2018
Country | South Africa

Highlight Articles/Videos

Coming Soon

City Partners

2018 | EThekwini Municipality • Population: 3,442,361

Contact Details

Smiso Bhengu
Climate Protection Scientist – EThekwini Municipality

Dr. Catherine Sutherland
Senior Lecturer – University of KwaZulu Natal

Patrick Martel
EPIC A Coordinator – University of KwaZulu Natal

Join conversations about EPIC Africa here.