- Slides: 21
Institutional Transformation in the Current Context of the South African Public Higher Education System Rhodes University Transformation Summit 27 July 2017 Grahamstown
the identity, role and function of the south african university its all about the knowledge question and the design and building of caring institutions
What we see around us……. . violent poverty/growing inequality erosion of democracy/a slide towards anti-intellectualism violence of the degradation of ethical society escalation of political violence/constructing ‘the other’ massive global migrations rapid changes in the world of work s nd rla rde Bo ng ezi Fre unprecedented global challenges
universities can’t solve these problems, but……… universities can’t sit on the sidelines either
Because universities are social institutions involved in the production, application and dissemination of knowledge they exist within contexts which are simultaneously intensely local and intensely global they are complex social spaces they intersect with other social spaces 5
INFINITESIMALS – Amir Alexander “On August 10, 1632, five men in flowing black robes convened in a somber Roman palazzo to pass judgment on a deceptively simple proposition: that a continuous line is composed of distinct and infinitely tiny parts. With the stroke of a pen the Jesuit fathers banned the doctrine of infinitesimals, announcing that it could never be taught or even mentioned. The concept was deemed dangerous and subversive, a threat to the belief that the world was an orderly place, governed by a strict and unchanging set of rules. If infinitesimals were ever accepted, the Jesuits feared, the entire world would be plunged into chaos. ” Scientific American knowledge intensive institutions such as universities have the potential to be powerfully subversive
purposes of higher education – public goods Creating active citizens Meeting the needs of the economy Producing new knowledge Generating social mobility Nation building Building new cohorts of intellectuals Critical thinking Systemic thinking Problem solving Working in diverse teams Ethical reasoning Effective communicating Innovating 7
challenges chronic underfunding and its impact on access, teaching/learning and research language usage fractured schooling system legitimacy gap/deficit creating meshes between society and universities students and universities staff and universities students and curriculum the intricate interweaving of the local and the global serious questions to which they may not be correct answers 8
How do we address these challenges?
A. Decolonising our knowledge project…. the centre of gravity of the global knowledge system is somewhere in the mid-north atlantic question. how do South Africa’s universities enter the global knowledge system on their own terms? must define our knowledge project independently must define a knowledge project that is simultaneously intensely local and intensely global?
raison d'être of the South African university? In addition to all the public and private goods expected of universities globally they must assume the responsibility for a. producing and disseminating knowledge of the context in which they are located b. embedding this knowledge in the global knowledge system This requires engagement.
1. Clinical research in South Africa 2. Paul Mokoena’s fermentation project
What this does not mean Does not mean that our universities should not be engaging in global knowledge projects. Global Warning and Climate Change Higgs Boson or the Top Quark or Quantum Computing Does not mean that we should not be collaborating with other universities in unearthing knowledge about our context. Does not mean that we should not be studying other societies and other contexts.
What it does mean is our universities • must assume the responsibility of producing knowledge about our context • must become anchor institutions • must be engaged
engagement dynamic interfaces and porous boundaries advisory bodies work integrated learning anchor institutions knowledge enterprise
B. at the institutional level – through deliberate design a strong social justice agenda – as a sociopolitical rubric Access and success Research and innovation for development Graduate employability/entrepreneurialism Intellectual, social and emotional student development 16
starting point…. . who are our students? what do they come with? what are their strengths? what/how are they reading? how will they adjust to life on campus and off campus? what is their socioeconomic condition? design the university around our students? 17
WHAT ELSE? focus on second curriculum staff development big data and analytics interventions technology-enhanced learning – creating learning ecosystems general education & epistemic access Administrative systems that work for students 18
Engagement and Student-Centredness as engines of transformation as a way to reshape the knowledge project as a way to re-envision the structure of the university as a way to re-envision the relationship between the university and its many communities as a way to produce new generations of socially engaged intellectuals
Systemic Level Access and Success through redesigning the PSET sector Aligning the PSET system with building an egalitarian society Revisiting the PSET system and global sustainability Redesigning the PSET sector in terms of the changes in modes of production Interesting differentiation and articulation possibilities 20