The University of Pretoria, in partnership with seven other universities, will host a conference titled Unsettling Paradigms, the Decolonial Turn in the Humanities Curriculum from 10-12 July 2019 at its Future Africa Campus.
Supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the conference is part of a five-year institutional collaborative project involving the University of Pretoria, University of the Witwatersrand, University of the Free State, Rhodes University, University of the Western Cape, University of Cape Town, University of Stellenbosch and the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
The project titled Unsettling Paradigms: The Decolonial Turn in the Humanities Curriculum at Universities in South Africa, was spurred by recent calls for transformation in the higher education landscape. Through the project, academics and practitioners are able to research fresh insights and strengthen work in the vital but under-researched field of the humanities curriculum at universities in South Africa.
The project recognises that current curricula at higher education institutions need to incorporate more social, contextual and political relevance. “This is an evolving process that requires renewed interdisciplinary impetus to better promote engagement and critical analysis and to generate a more inclusive and democratic curriculum,” says Prof Vasu Reddy, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and conference chair. “Research supported through this project encourages the academy to re-imagine its pedagogical approaches, shift staff demographics, and reconfigure institutional cultures. Of particular importance, is unpacking the hidden decision-making structures, linguistic policy, budget allocation, space naming.”
This conference foregrounds the historic legacy of universities in South Africa, and considers what it means to be intensively and extensively present in the South African public sphere today. Shaped by three interlocking thematic clusters – Theory and Research, Theory and Teaching, and The Hidden Curriculum and Embedded Practices, while also offering an Open Online Knowledge Portal – this pioneering project supports some post-graduate education, output-driven research (including creative outputs), as well as national, continent-wide and international cooperation and collaboration.
Scholars from across the world will present papers at the conference. According to Prof Reddy, “The conference will specifically investigate the ‘decolonial turn’ and explore how it produces new or different renditions of the Humanities Curriculum. It will encourage Humanities’ scholars and students to engage with the broad philosophical themes, such as the histories and politics of knowledge production in the era of globalization; the knowledge production and decoloniality; the critiques of the decolonial turn in curriculum transformation; the students and curriculum transformation; the technological (im)possibilities in teaching and learning; the critical pedagogies and curricula to address bias and inequality and lastly; the contradictions and prospects for curriculum transformation in a marketised global higher education sector.”
The conference programme will feature the following keynote speakers:
- Prof ’Funmi Olonisakin - Vice-President/Vice-Principal (International), King’s College, London;
- Prof Francis Nyamnjoh - Head: Anthropology, University of Cape Town; and
- Prof Tshepo Madlingozi - Director: Centre for Applied Legal Studies, University of the Witwatersrand.
The programme also includes a panel discussion, chaired by Dr Saleem Badat of the Andrew Mellon Foundation, among university executives:
- Prof Tawana Kupe - Vice-Chancellor, University of Pretoria;
- Prof Adam Habib - Vice-Chancellor, University of the Witwatersrand;
- Prof Loretta Feris - Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Cape Town;
- Prof Ahmed Bawa - CEO, Universities South Africa, and
- Prof Nhlanhla Mkhize - Acting Deputy-Vice Chancellor, University of KwaZulu-Natal