Inaugural lecture by Professor Skatulla and other updates

06 September 2023

Dear colleagues and students

The University of Cape Town (UCT) will host the seventh lecture in the reconfigured UCT Inaugural Lecture series, to be delivered by Professor Sebastian Skatulla on Wednesday, 13 September 2023. Read about this and other recent developments on campus.

1. Inaugural lecture by Professor Skatulla

Professor Sebastian Skatulla, senior lecturer in structural engineering and mechanics in the Department of Civil Engineering, will present his inaugural lecture on Wednesday, 13 September 2023 at Snape Teaching Studio 3B, Snape Building on upper campus at 18:00. The lecture is titled “What has structural mechanics to do with rheumatic heart disease and global climate change?”.

Structural mechanics is a discipline of civil engineering and considers the effect of forces on structures in terms of inducing motion, deformation, damage and fracture. These very general concepts of mechanics are equally applicable to “structures” in the widest sense.

Structural mechanics plays a significant role in addressing some of our biggest challenges in South Africa: prevention and treatment of rheumatic heart disease, and prediction of global climate change and sea level rise due to the retreat of Antarctic sea shelves.

Professor Skatulla was appointed a senior lecturer for structural engineering and mechanics in the Department of Civil Engineering at UCT in 2009. He founded the first polar laboratory on the African continent in 2019, and his current focus is on establishing an international South African-led research project to conduct long-term observations and structural glaciological modelling of the Fimbul Ice Shelf and the effects of global climate change.

The other upcoming lectures in the reconfigured UCT Inaugural Lecture series will be presented by Professors Edina Sinanovic and Jacqueline Yeats on 18 and 27 September respectively.

2. UoF and SRC to host challenge event

The University of the Future (UoF) Steering Committee and the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) will host the UoF Challenge SRC event on Friday, 8 September 2023. Launched in May 2023, the UoF project aims to create enabling places, spaces, services and functions for UCT as part of Vision 2030.

The UoF Challenge SRC event is an opportunity for all students at UCT to engage in the strategic road mapping of the university, and to co-create our university of the future, one that will be fit for students and fit for the future. The event will be addressed by keynote speaker, Dr Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh, a lecturer in the Department of International Relations at Wits University. Chair of the UoF project, Professor Salome Maswime, members of the UoF steering committee and members of the SRC will be in attendance. The event will feature a performance by SAMA nominee Mandisi Dyantyis.

Date: Friday, 8 September 2023

Time: 17:00–20:00

Venue: Sarah Baartman Hall

3. UCT SRC to co-host GBVF Assembly

The UCT SRC in partnership with the office of the Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Mr Buti Manamela, and the Uyinene Mrwetyana Foundation will convene a Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Assembly as part of the government’s efforts to eradicate the GBV and femicide scourge in the Post School Education and Training (PSET) sector. Manamela will deliver the keynote address at the event to be held on Thursday, 7 September 2023 at UCT’s New Lecture Theatre at 10:00.

The focus of the assembly is to address the challenges and needs faced by students across all ages, races, sexual orientations, and gender identities; and specific groups such as persons living with disabilities, migrant women, and trans bodies impacted by GBV in the PSET sector. The assembly will bring together about 250 student leaders from universities and TVET colleges in the Western Cape with the aim of achieving a multi-sectoral dialogue inclusive of all key players in the sector.

4. Please complete the staff demographics data form by Friday, 8 September 2023

In line with the Employment Equity Act and the reporting requirements of the Department of Employment and Labour, UCT is required to conduct an analysis of the university’s workforce profile according to race, disability, gender and nationality. To ensure that the information provided to the department is accurate, staff are required to verify the demographic data submitted to Human Resources at the time of their appointment to UCT.

5. UCT to host EDHE entrepreneurship regional round

UCT will host the Western Cape regional round of the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) Entrepreneurship Intervarsity on Tuesday, 19 September at the d-School Afrika. An initiative of the EDHE programme, the purpose is to identify top student entrepreneurs at the 26 public universities, showcase their businesses and prompt investment.

UCT, along with Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Stellenbosch University and University of the Western Cape will go head-to-head for a place in the national competition in November. Participating teams were selected during internal competitions at their institutions. They entered one of the five categories: New Business Ideas; Existing Business: Tech; Social Impact; General; and Research-Based Business. The latter is a recently introduced category designed to encourage the commercialisation of student and staff research.

6. CHE study on quality of higher education in SA

The Council on Higher Education (CHE) has extended an invitation to academic staff, alumni and students to participate in a research study that will provide valuable guidance for the implementation of future quality assurance mechanisms in South African higher education.

The CHE is conducting a study on ‘The State of Quality of Higher Education in South Africa’. The purpose is to gather information, views and perspectives to understand the state of quality of higher education and the changes in the quality of higher education that have resulted from the implementation of quality assurance.

The study requires participants to respond to questionnaires, and participate in focus group discussions and interviews. Responses from participants will be part of the national data that will be used to establish what the state of quality of higher education in South Africa is, and what needs to be done to improve it.

7. UCT Teaching and Learning Conference 2023

Calls for proposals are open for the 2023 UCT Teaching and Learning Conference (TLC 2023) to be held in-person at the Neville Alexander Building, Lower Campus on 21 and 22 November. This year’s conference aims to provide the UCT community with an opportunity to connect, share and envision purpose-driven, innovative, inclusive and socially-just assessment practices and strategies that can unleash human potential and meet the three pillars of Vision 2030: excellence, transformation and sustainability.

Assessment in higher education is at a critical juncture. In addition to challenges posed by historical and contemporary inequalities, the rapid shifts in mode of teaching, learning and assessment (face-to-face, emergency remote, hybrid and online) have posed problems in traditional assessment practices. Furthermore, the rise of artificial intelligence, ongoing limitations to accessibility and worsening mental health reports prompt critical questions about the purpose of assessment in relation to learning and the meaning of academic integrity.

The focus for this year’s TLC 2023 is therefore “Assessment entangled: Reimagining assessment for excellence, transformation and sustainability”.

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