Dean and Head of the School Professor Thabo Msibi said, ‘The two days of engagement were mainly for the School to reflect on the impact of our work in society and in the communities we serve. It also afforded members of the School an opportunity to appreciate the range of work presently being undertaken, and for staff members to think creatively and innovatively about its future direction.’
DVC and Head of the College of Humanities Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize welcomed participants and spoke of ‘the importance of doing impactful work, including the need for the Humanities to start thinking about new impact indices that speak to the social nature of our work.’
The three keynote speakers that started the conversations were Professors Deevia Bhana (Research), Michael Samuel (Teaching and Learning), and Relebohile Moletsane (Community Engagement). Various presentations followed.
Panel discussions, demonstrations, showcasing of projects, and poster exhibitions enabled staff to engage with how to take their research, teaching and community engagement further. Numerous Education academics discussed their work. An exciting session involved newly-graduated PhD staff presenting three-minute, four-slide presentations of their PhD studies. New associations were forged, new collaborations were considered, and greater understanding was gained of the opportunities and possibilities available to the School.
Bhana who spoke on International Research and Scholarship for Impact said, ‘The people who pay for university research – the South African taxpayer – want to know their money is delivering results that are saving lives, strengthening the economy, improving education and our quality of living. We need to deliver results for real people.’
She believes that low levels of international interaction result in a lack of rigour in relation to epistemology, content and other research assumptions, contributing to low international impact and a circular network of knowledge.
She recommended that all research should be of an international standard and noted that this could be achieved by conducting comparative studies, attending international conferences, being active in international academic networks and engaging with scholars on a global scale.
Samuel’s presentation on High Impact Doctoral Scholarship focused on the performance impact, ripple impact and collaborative impact on doctoral scholarship and the role of the researcher at the different stages of an academic career.
His presentation also covered best practices, institutional research for systemic impact and the signature identity of UKZN and the School of Education.
Moletsane focused on Engaging with Community Engagement Work while Advancing High Impact Research. She used her research on sexual violence against girls in rural South Africa to show how community engagement can produce impactful research at an international and national level, ultimately driving change and awareness.
‘Community engaged/engaging scholarship requires continuous researcher reflexivity and self-critique. Engaged/engaging scholarship is likely to produce social change (or at least a disruption of the status quo) and high impact scholarship,’ said Moletsane.
Other Education academics that presented their work were:
- Prof Nyna Amin, Dr Vimolan Mudaly, Prof Anja Philipp – The UKZN Research Flagships: Challenges and Opportunities in a Research-Led School of Education.
- Dr Lebala Kolobe, Dr Tholani Hlongwa, Dr Wanjiru Gachie, Dr Cedric Mpungose, Dr Jackie Ramdhani, Dr Sibonelo Blose – The three-minute, four-slide PhD Presentation.
- Prof Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan, Dr Lungi Masinga, Dr Makie Kortjass – Early Career Academics in a Research-Led School of Education.
- Dr Vaughn John – Deepening Community Engagement: Purpose, Power, Praxis.
- Prof Dipane Hlalele – Community engagement in rural contexts: Adaptive and relational leadership perspectives.
- Prof Nadaraj Govender – Transforming curricula for climatic change using Agricultural Farmers’ indigenous and scientific knowledge and skills.
- Dr Tami Chirikure – Making learning visible through Service-Learning.
- Dr Angela James – Community Engagement: So, How Can We Grow with You?
- Prof Labby Ramrathan – Curriculum Transformation: Where to From Here?
- Jaya Naidoo, Dr Asheena Singh-Pillay, Mr Reginald Govender – Showcasing a Teaching and Learning Project with Demonstration.
- Prof Nyna Amin, Prof Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan, Dr Ansurie Pillay – What constitutes outstanding teaching? Panel discussion with three Distinguished Teachers.