Half century for lecture that honours academic freedom

10 August 2009

The TB Davie Lecture, hosted by the Academic Freedom Committee (AFC), will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year.

It will be delivered on 12 August by Professor Nithaya Chetty, who is currently facing disciplinary charges at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).

Chair of the AFC, Professor Andrew Nash, said Chetty had been invited to present the lecture both because of his outstanding contribution in recent years to public debates on the role of the university in South African society and because UCT wishes, through the invitation, to express solidarity with him and his colleagues at UKZN.

"Universities are stronger for it if they examine their own practices rigorously. This often means we must accept public debates about our practices, and be prepared to deal with public criticism."

He said that the TB Davie Lecture had been established at UCT in 1959 to protest injustice, show solidarity with its victims, clarify the role of the university in society and defend ideals of academic freedom.

"At that time, the frontlines of the conflict over academic freedom ran between the apartheid regime and the open universities. Today, they often run through the universities themselves. We honour Nithaya Chetty for keeping the ideals of academic freedom alive. We look forward to welcoming him to our campus."

The lecture will take place in Leslie Social Sciences LT 2A from 13h00 to 14h00. It is titled Universities in a Time of Change.

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