Start main page content

Who we are

The Global Change Institute (GCI)  formerly known as the Global Change and Sustainability Research Institute (GCSRI) – was established in 2011 by the University of Witwatersrand (Wits). It is one of several multi-disciplinary research institutes – collectively known as “21st Century Institutes”.

21st Century Institutes: “Institutes will have contributed in at least doubling its research output among others by way of in-depth cross-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary engagement in the emergence of new disciplines and fields of knowledge. These institutes will have world-class research facilities and host a number of distinguished, leading scholars who routinely interact with others globally.”
The secondary focus of “21st Century Institutes” is to allow Wits to pursue its strategic role as an “anchor” and “boundary” organisation producing research of scientific excellence required to contribute to the development of the region.

The GCI is embedded within Wits, and these roots in higher education give us a starting point for our proposed pathway to impact: teaching, research and academic citizenship. At the same time, the global transformation of universities from centres of ivory tower knowledge, to actors of societal change, provides context, and aligns well with the GCI vision for societal impact. 

International, national and local contexts frame the research, teaching and citizenship in the GCI. Internationally, the Sustainable Development Goals, Climate Change Paris agreement and the Sendai Disaster Framework require African science and engagement between a range of actors and stakeholders to be successful. At national level, the national development plan, the national climate change response strategy, the national adaptation strategy, integrated resource plan, and integrated energy plan provide the context for our work. Locally, we use local and provincial regional development plans, spatial development frameworks and growth and development strategies as frameworks.

The GCI is strategically located in the vibrant City of Johannesburg, Gauteng Province – South Africa’s business capital, an economic powerhouse and travel hub in Africa. Bearing these factors in mind, GCI’s location ensures it is well-positioned to pursue engagements with a variety of stakeholders (stakeholders include but not limited to: researchers, students, government, business, industry, NGOs civil society, and the general public).


Improving tomorrow by effective linkages in science and society.


To bring about progressive change for a sustainable future through linking, learning and enabling stakeholders.

Our Tagline

Link. Learn. Enable. Change.

 Core Values

  • We conduct credible, rigorous, evidence-based, incisive and value-add research.
  • Our research is socially-responsive, and solution-oriented.
  • We pursue a transdisciplinary research agenda.
  • We focus on knowledge generation.
  • We create opportunities for higher learning and develop young scientists.
  • We are committed to engaging stakeholders and promote knowledge sharing.