COVID-19 has offered unique opportunities to deepen our commitment to society through our teaching, research and service. As a university, we have committed ourselves to continue with the core project of teaching and learning. Equally so, we must find ways to use our teaching and research to continue our engagements with community, albeit in different ways where needed.
As part of the institutional commitment to embedding social responsiveness into teaching and learning, we invited applications for socially responsive, engaged teaching and learning course development grants. Four grants of R10 000 each were available to develop, design or revise a course that meets the criteria of engagement with external non-academic constituencies through a pedagogical process and approach. Two awards were made this year, the details of which are below.
Associate Professor Ameeta Jaga
Organisational Psychology, Faculty of Commerce
Associate Professor Jaga will be reworking a core course “People Management”, offered to over 500 students in the faculty and drawing on knowledge from a range of societal stakeholder groups. Of particular interest to the committee was the commitment to disrupt the hegemony of global North knowledge around management practice and bring in local knowledge in a nuanced way that spoke of co-creation, mutuality and partnership-building – key values of an engaged, socially responsive teaching practice.
Together with a team of colleagues, Jaga’s aim is to disrupt the implicit assumptions within the course by converting it into an engaged course through partnership-based teaching and learning with a wide range of external non-academic stakeholders. Partners will include students themselves, workers, labour activists, managers from the private sector, heads of non-governmental organisations, local government representatives, student leaders, alumni and community activists. The course framework will be developed during 2021 and the course will start running in 2022.
Ms Melissa Franke
Division of Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Health Sciences
Along with team members Kristen Abrahams, Letitia Rustin, Liesl Peters and Genevieve Gonsalves, Franke will use the grant to support the development, implementation and evaluation of a course module that will be embedded within a number of courses currently offered across disciplines within the Department of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences after the pilot period. The intent of this pilot module is to develop a consolidated teaching and learning platform through which their commitment to trans-disciplinarity can materialise within a range of courses in the Department of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences.
Over a period of three months during COVID-19, the applicants came together to discern how they might work differently in terms of the community engaged teaching and learning aspects of their curriculum. While collaboration across departments and divisions is not new, the impetus for the current project has largely been as a result of COVID-19 and its impact on communities. Of particular interest to the committee was the strong cross-disciplinary collective commitment by a group of educators to contribute to social justice and health equity through the degree courses they offer.
On behalf of the university’s Social Responsiveness Committee, I congratulate all the grant awardees and wish them luck in their exciting projects going forward. We look forward to learning about their work at a UCT Teaching and Learning Conference in the future.
Professor Loretta Feris
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Transformation
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