VC’s online series on science and other updates

08 July 2022

Dear colleagues and students

Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng will host virtual sessions with global thought leaders from the continent and elsewhere on how science can be used to shape and predict the future. Read more on this and other updates below.

1. Using science of the future: Join the conversation

University of Cape Town (UCT) VC, Professor Phakeng, has been invited by Switzerland-based ‘think and do tank’ Geneva Science Diplomacy Anticipator (GESDA) to host a series of virtual engagements on “Using the science of the future to shape your present”. These are aimed at bridging the understanding of how science might shape the future, and how these predicted futures can be used to shape the present while ensuring that decisions and discussions include voices of the African youth.

The sessions will be livestreamed on UCT’s Facebook and Twitter platforms over four Sundays in July. Each session will address one of the four areas of the GESDA Science Breakthrough Radar®, and will take place as follows:

Speakers for the first session are Dr Divine Fuh, Professor Francesco Petruccione and Winnie Nakiyingi. Fuh is a social anthropologist and Director of the Institute for Humanities in Africa at UCT, Petruccione is a global expert on quantum technology and a contributor to GESDA’s Science Breakthrough Radar®, while Nakiyingi is a statistician whose experience spans both the industry and academic fields.

All UCT students and young researchers are invited to join the VC online for what will be critical and thought-provoking conversations.


2. July 2022 PhD graduation ceremonies

Following two years of virtual graduations due to COVID-19, the university will host ceremonies in-person on Friday, 22 July 2022 at Sarah Baartman Hall on Upper Campus. The ceremonies are scheduled for 10:00 and 14:00.

Approximately 106 PhD graduates will be celebrated, while seven distinguished individuals will be awarded honorary doctorates.

The honorary doctorates will be awarded to Dr Rob Adam, Doctor of Science; Sir Franklin Berman QC, Doctor of Laws; Mr Geoffrey Budlender SC, Doctor of Laws; Mr Trevor Jones, Doctor of Music; Professor Khaya Mfenyana, Doctor of Science in Medicine; Mr Kaizer Motaung, Doctor of Social Science; and Mr Mzolisi ka Toni, Doctor of Social Science.

Emeritus Professor Marian Jacobs will receive the 2022 Vice‑Chancellor’s Medal at the Health Sciences ceremony. During the same ceremony, Professor Leslie London will be honoured with the 2021 Social Responsiveness Award for his unwavering commitment and contribution to promoting social justice in healthcare.

The 2021 UCT Book Award will be handed to Distinguished Professor Philippe-Joseph Salazar during the Law ceremony. This award recognises outstanding and/or influential books written by UCT staff members.

The ceremonies will also be live-streamed on the UCT News website and the university’s social media platforms: Facebook and Twitter.


3. Update on measures relating to COVID-19

Following the gazetting of a repeal of COVID-19 regulations by the Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla on 22 June 2022, the wearing of masks and social distancing are no longer a requirement at UCT.

UCT is however mindful that students and staff have varying risk levels, and some may not readjust to these sudden changes. Therefore, staff and students may choose to continue wearing masks if they feel safer.

Some COVID-19 preventative measures, such as the usage of hand sanitisers, will be phased out and COVID-19 signage will be removed by Properties & Services. This includes social distancing markers in venues. 

Other COVID-19 interventions will continue as these are important for the ongoing health and safety of staff and students. These include ventilation monitoring and maintenance.


4. Amathuba: our new digital learning platform

Last year, it was announced that UCT would be adopting a new cloud-hosted digital learning platform as part of the university’s Learning Platforms Update Project. In May this year, a call was put out for submissions of suggested names for UCT’s new digital learning platform, which is powered by Brightspace.

The new digital learning platform will be called Amathuba (an isiXhosa word that means opportunities, chances, openings and prospects). The suggestion was submitted by Ms Esmeralda Alexander.

Communication and Marketing Department


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