Launching Institutional Curiosity – Reimagining the University of Pretoria and Old Ways of Being to New Ways of Seeing

Posted on July 13, 2022


The University of Pretoria, in collaboration with the Emerging Scholars Initiative Press (ESI Press) launched two books last week, both edited by Ms Mary Crewe. On 5 July 2022, the Faculty of Theology and Religion hosted the book launch of Old Ways of Being to New Ways of Seeing. This was followed by the launch of Institutional Curiosity, which took place on 6 July 2022 at the Future Africa Campus.


Both publications are edited by the former Director of the Centre for Sexualities, AIDS, and Gender (CSA&G) at the University of Pretoria, Ms Mary Crewe and published by the Emerging Scholars Initiative Press (ESI Press). Old Ways of Being to New Ways of Seeing is a collaboration of top theologians from the University of Pretoria whereas Institutional Curiosity is a collection of opinion pieces, reflections, and thoughts from University Pretoria academics from a range of disciplines. 


Both publications respond to the University’s Anti-Discrimination Policy. As part of the initiative, the Faculty of Theology and Religion spearheaded a drive to examine the anti-discrimination from a faith perspective. The publication is thus an outcome of this initiative in which staff members from the Faculty contributed to conversation about anti-discrimination. In Institutional Curiosity, the publication addresses how policy can be used to generate change, debate, and institutional curiosity, rather than being perceived as a form of control and coercion. 


The University’s Anti-Discrimination Policy states the following: ‘The University of Pretoria rejects and condemns racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, ethnic chauvinism, religious intolerance, unfair discrimination, hate speech, sexual harassment and harassment based on other prohibited grounds, gender-based violence and violence based on other prohibited grounds; and retaliation, in all its forms.’


In the introduction to Old Ways of Being to New Ways of Seeing, Professor Jerry Pillay (Dean: Faculty of Theology and Religion) wrote, ‘Discrimination is a worldwide phenomenon that cuts across communities, cultures, religions, and societies…Religion, which ought to propagate and promote peace, unity, and reconciliation, has unfortunately contributed to conflict, intolerance, religious violence, and discrimination globally.’ He further stated that ‘the Faculty has travelled far in working for justice, inclusivity and transformation’ and that ‘we need to get to the roots of discrimination, confronting it with courage and hope as we seek to build a better world for all people and all creation, based on love, unity, peace and reconciliation.’


Old Ways of Being to New Ways of Seeing looks at the ways in which theory and practice can shape how we respond to the various forms of discrimination in society and on university campuses. The publication is one of the ways in which the Faculty of Theology and Religion is responding to the challenges of addressing faith-based discrimination going forward. The publication includes articles from Acting Head of the Department, Prof Jaco Beyers, Prof Zorodzai Dube, Prof Ananda Greyser-Fouché, Prof Christo Lombaard, Prof Esias Meyer, Dr Hlulani Mdingi, Prof Maniraj Sukdaven, Prof Ernest van Eck and Prof Tanya van Wyk. 


Institutional Curiosity is about reimagining UP and how it may look in the future. Prof Vasu Reddy, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, opened the book launch by explaining how the book came to be. He explains, ‘As we head into a future that is sure to be dominated by technology, the need for transformation and some harsh economic and social realities, our work as academics and teachers will be more important than ever. The question is how will we, as humans and as an institution, adapt to embrace this new reality?’ This is the question that inspired the Senate Conference of 2021 on Re-Imagining UP : Frontlines, Intersections and Opportunities which foregrounded the subsequent publication of Institutional Curiosity.


In the forward written by Mary Crewe, she states: ‘The contributors to the collection seek out novel ways in which to engage in debates about change, about continuity, about knowledge, and about excellence.’ The publication reflects how the University could be re-envisioned, and address questions raised by institutional culture. According to Mary Crewe, ‘one way to think about institutional culture and all that arises from it is to change the narrative to institutional curiosity’.


The publication includes contributions from Prof Siona O’Connell, Prof Christian W.W. Pirk, Prof Stephan de Beer and Prof Jannie Hugo, Ms Heather A. Thuynsma, Prof Faheema Mahomed-Asmail and Dr Renata Eccles, Prof Cori Wielenga, Dr Aqil Jeenah, Dr Chris Broodryk, Prof David Walwyn, Dr Sameera Ayob-Essop and Prof M. Ruth Mampane, and Prof Nasima M.H. Carrim. It is the first of what is expected to be a series of publications surrounding this topic, and as stated by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Tawana Kupe, ‘pushing the frontlines, intersections and opportunities that arise with institutional curiosity paves the way for us all in one way or another to be both activists and intellectuals.’

Both books are freely available to download from the ESI Press website –

- Author Giné Gebhardt, Faculty of Humanities, Communications Office
Published by Heather Thuynsma

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