In December, a group of King's Business School students travelled to South Africa to collaborate on the Smart Inclusive Cities project, together with Common Purpose in Johannesburg. Common Purpose is a leadership programme immersing students in a foreign city to learn about the challenges that city may face. Learning from community leaders and experts, our students worked on answering questions such as: How do we as global leaders help cities serve everyone better? How can everyone who shares the space – from different backgrounds, beliefs, generations, geographies and sectors - live and thrive? How can we make sure that smart cities provide opportunities to all, and lead the way in innovating ways of living and working together?
Day one began by welcoming and introducing students to the Common Purpose programme by Prof. Tawana Kupe from the University of Witwaterstrand where students were based for the week. After some ice breakers students explored ideas about cultural intelligence and the different challenges leaders face on their journeys. The group enjoyed some free time in the afternoon, many visiting Constitution Hill, a former prison and military fort which is now a living museum that tells the story of South Africa's journey to democracy.
The students spent the morning of day three exploring the city on different immersion visits relating to students daily challenge to either the Johannesburg holocaust museum, or the township of Alexandra. Alexandra is one of the poorest areas of Johannesburg and next to one of the richest - Sandton. Although the township has produced a number of influential and powerful people, corruption has limited the opportunity for regeneration. Students walked around the area visiting community centres trying to change the cycle.
In the afternoon students had lunch and a debrief where they shared what they learnt from their visits. Students discussed their ideas with group leaders talking mainly about the corruption and inequality between rich and poor in Alexandra, access to education, housing and infrastructure.
To wrap up, each person wrote how they found the day on a piece of paper and had a ‘snowball fight’ with these. The students comments highlighted the benefit of team work, the opportunity to meet new people and gain different cultural perspectives and ideas.
On the last day students reflected on what they learnt during the trip and pitched ideas they believed could help Johannesburg overcome their challenges to an expert panel. After finishing the course, the students took part in a graduating ceremony.
Check out more photos from the trip on Facebook.