Gaston Berger University
Gaston Berger University (GBU) was founded in 1974 and began operation in 1990 with 600 students. It is composed of four teaching and research colleges, Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Applied Science and Technology, Judicial and Political Science and Economics and Business Management.
GBU has also adopted an experiential and interdisciplinary learning approach which integrates classroom theory with field research and practice. The faculties are called “Training and Research Units” (Unités de Formation et de Recherche - UFR), under which interrelated departments are clustered.
Currently GBU has approximately 4500 students, 135 faculty in instruction and research, and 200 staff, but with plans to reach 15,000 students by 2015. It has a spacious, well-planned campus with a strong student-centered ambience. GBU defines itself as Senegal’s second university, but it is in effect the university of the Senegal River Valley, situated squarely in the river basin, near the Diama dam and one of the few universities in West Africa that is expressly proclaimed a combined instruction/applied research mission.
In addition, there are several formal research teams that draw from the different departments and disciplines to address a wide range of development issues. These include the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in the Valley (CIERVAL) and the Interdisciplinary Research Group for Support of Regional Planning and Local Development (GIRARDEL), and they exemplify the commitment to grounded problem-solving research.
GBU Capacity Building and Mission
As a public university, GBU is dedicated to a land grant approach in the sense that it decidedly places higher education at the service of society. In the definition of its social responsibility, UGB embraces the philosophical position that an institution of higher learning co-produces and expands knowledge in partnership with society—that social needs set the priorities and the programs of the university.
This strong development commitment is reflected in its goal to create centers of excellence directly relevant to the reality of the Valley and to provide the qualified and competent professionals needed to staff the public and private sector in Senegal.
The university maintains a 240 ha, including a 30-ha experimental farm, which is located in the Valley and presents similar environmental and agronomic conditions to those faced by SRV farm households. As part of a 2008 expansion plan, GBU has approved its UFR in Agricultural Sciences, Aquaculture, and Food Science.
The establishment of this agricultural technology competency within GBU contributes to an important complement to the research programs in rural development based on the social sciences. The University is in the process of developing its distance-learning capabilities, and it intends to reach 5000 students through distance-learning pedagogy by 2015.
In sum, Gaston Berger University is a young, dynamic, and forward-looking institution that has a modern, progressive philosophy and approach which affords higher education a much more pragmatic and urgent role in the national, regional and African development. This university is building a multidisciplinary background to engage itself in the regional development in the Senegal River valley through Agriculture and Sustainable Development.
Links to other PeriPeri U Partners:
USTHB /LBE - Algeria | University of Ghana: Urban Environmental Management and Disaster Risk Reduction Study Group | Stellenbosch University: Disaster Mitigation for Sustainable Livelihoods Programme (DiMP) | Makerere University: School of Public Health | Ardhi University: Disaster Management Training Centre (DMTC) | Introducing the DESS Multidisciplinaire en GRC | Moi University: School of Public Health