School of Education

Humanities Academics Recognised for Outstanding Performance

Professor David Spurrett and Professor Thabo Msibi.
Professor David Spurrett and Professor Thabo Msibi.

Two academics in UKZN’s College of Humanities have been recognised for their outstanding performance.

Dean and Head of the School of Education Professor Thabo Msibi has been awarded the prestigious UKZN Vice-Chancellor’s Research Award, while Dean and Head of the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics (SRPC) Professor David Spurrett has been awarded a UKZN Fellowship.

Said Msibi, ‘I’m both humbled and honoured to be recognised by the University in this special manner.  This VC’s Research Award is an affirmation of my work over the years.’

Msibi is the youngest Dean in South Africa and the first black South African scholar in Education to be awarded a prestigious P-Rating by the National Research Foundation (NRF). He is the founder of the Community Development Association, a national organisation that undertakes youth-driven outreach programmes with a focus on education. He holds a PhD in Education from the University of Cambridge in England and has published his research findings in local and international journals and books. He sits on the editorial boards of international journals and has presented papers and taught by invitation at a number of universities locally and abroad.

Msibi has been listed in the Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans and received the College of Humanities Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s award for Community Service and a UKZN Distinguished Teachers’ Award. He was appointed by Minister of Basic Education, Ms Angie Motshekga, as a member of a Ministerial Committee that reviewed discrimination in South African textbooks. In 2018, he was awarded a Distinguished Alumni Early Careers Award by the Teachers College at Columbia University. He is a recipient of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) Young Scholar’s Medal in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Spurrett expressed his delight at becoming a UKZN Fellow: ‘This is the highest honour the University can give to a senior scholar in recognition of their academic achievements. Research is sometimes lonely work and requires one to overcome many obstacles. This award encourages me to keep going. It wouldn’t have been possible without many mentors and supportive colleagues and my family.’

He was awarded his PhD in metaphysics in 2000, and since then has co-edited and co-written several books, and many papers. He has collaborated with colleagues across numerous disciplines and his current research focuses on questions about agency, including human agency, at the intersection of philosophy of biology and philosophy of cognitive science.

Among the awards and honours he has received are the Vice Chancellor’s Research Award, the Distinguished Teacher’s Award, the Colenso Scholarship at St John’s College, Cambridge, a President’s Award from the NRF and an NRF ‘B’ rating.

Spurrett is also the author or co-author of more than 60 articles, chapters, commentaries and editorials. He has presented his work at over 70 conferences in South Africa and around the world. He has served as a member of the UKZN Council and Senate.

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