Wednesday, 7 September turned out to be a deep thought-provoking day, when academics involved in the Unsettling Paradigms research presented insights emerging from their work as the project reached the halfway mark.
Welcoming participants at the virtual Colloquium titled Unsettling Paradigms in the Fault lines of Change, Dr Sizwe Mabizela (right), Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Rhodes University, in his capacity as Chairperson of the Teaching and Learning Strategy Group (TSLG), said this webinar was timely and relevant for two reasons:
- It was taking place “as we weather a pandemic which has profoundly affected teaching and learning, not only at universities but more broadly in our schooling system.” COVID-19 had disrupted customary teaching and learning practices and, effectively, exacerbated the inequity that is at the core of the teaching, learning and knowledge project. “…So today’s event brings together perspectives by people who are working in higher education and people who have been actively engaged with some of these ideas,” he said.
- The webinar also carried historical importance: “Five years ago, the student movement shook the foundations of our higher education system,” Dr Mabizela said.
He said the Unsettling Paradigms project had been inspired by growing dissatisfaction with the current syllabi and teaching methodologies – that had underpinned the social movement for transformation of higher education — especially since the 2015 student protests.
The webinar was therefore aimed to focus on insights related to strengthening the Humanities and the Sciences capacity to engage the challenges outlined above, and to contribute to equitable development. It had taken research to unearth these insights, Dr Mabizela went on to say – research that would inspire practical techniques for change. “This conversation is collaborative, inclusive and participatory,” the TLSG Chair pronounced.
The TLSG was hosting this event to further stimulate discussions, to share experiences and develop new learning to enhance teaching and learning. These insights were all drawn from a pilot project led by Professor Vasu Reddy, Dean in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria, and co-ordinator of the collaborative endeavour taking place at eight research-intensive universities.
The project, titled Unsettling Paradigms: The Decolonial Turn in the Humanities Curriculum at Universities in South Africa, was being supported by an over R27 million grant secured from the Andrew W Mellon Foundation under the leadership of Professor Saleem Badat, former Programme Director: International Higher Education & Strategic Projects at the Foundation.
Dr Mabizela said Universities South Africa was deeply indebted to Professor Badat’s leadership and his direction in securing this, and many other important grants that South Africa’s institutions had received from the Andrew Mellon Foundation.
More detailed information on this project may be accessed from: http://unsettlingparadigms.co.za
Webinar presentations available
The presentations made at the webinar are hyperlinked to their corresponding names on the programme, below.
Related Articles: Unsettling paradigms; the quest for inclusive and democratised knowledge
• Talking about indigenous music – Rhodes University
• Recovering subterranean archives – Stellenbosch University
• Identifying socially just epistemologies – University of the Witwatersrand
• Re-Centering rurality and uncovering the hidden curriculum: narratives of rural-origin students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal
Full webinar [Zoom] recording