College of Humanities Heads Curriculum Transformation Project
The College of Humanities is engaged with the Curriculum Transformation Project, headed by Professor Labby Ramrathan from the School of Education. Through the office of the College Dean of Teaching and Learning, Professor Ruth Hoskins funding was made available, under the University Capacity Development Programme (UCDP), to engage the College on issues of decolonisation and curriculum transformation.
‘The overall objective of the Project is to sensitise academics and students on curriculum transformation which is underpinned by decolonisation and also to begin a conversation on the imagined decolonised Humanities curriculum at UKZN,’ explained Ramrathan.
As part of the project, several activities have unfolded over the last six months at the Howard College, Edgewood and Pietermaritzburg campuses. These successful activities included the Talking Circles and Blended Learning workshops targeting academic staff and a series of participatory student theatre aimed at engaging with students.
At the three Talking Circles workshops, panellists were Professors Lesley LeGrange (Stellenbosch University), Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni (UNISA) and Petro Du Preez (North West University) all of whom have published extensively on curriculum transformation and decolonisation in Higher Education in South Africa.
These produced robust discussions among the panellists and academic staff on what is meant by decolonising the curriculum in Higher Education, why the curriculum should be decolonised, how this can be done, what is the role of academics in this process and what are the associated challenges and possible lessons that can be learnt from Africa and the world. ‘The choice of Talking Circles was to enable engagement with the academics and for them to take baby steps towards decolonising their teaching where possible,’ said Ramrathan.
The Blended Learning workshop, facilitated and presented byRamrathan was held on the Edgewood campus for academic staff, exposing them to the possibilities of using technology in their teaching practices and to encourage diverse opportunities for student learning. The presenters included Dr Joseph Jere from the College of Law and Management Studies and Mr Jasper Cecil, UKZN Technology Enhanced Learning (UTEL).
‘The feedback from staff attending this workshop was very positive with some indicating that they had learned different strategies to effectively integrate technology into teaching and learning. The presentations shed more light on the concept of the “Flipped Classroom” and the real possibilities of implementing them with the support of UKZN’s facilities and specialists,’ said Ramrathan.
Also linked to the Project was student-driven participatory theatre in which third-year Drama and Performance Studies students conceptualised, produced and enacted a play on some of the challenges and problems which confront first-year students as they navigate university spaces. The play entitled Learn, Unlearn, Relearn – Sifuna Ulwazi was produced and directed by UKZN lecturer Dr Miranda Young-Jahangeer and performed on the Howard, Edgewood and Pietermaritzburg campuses.
The 15-minute play was followed by a discussion in which the student audience on each campus, participated in a dialogue on curriculum transformation and decolonisation focusing on student experiences of the curriculum, their challenges and expectations of a decolonised curriculum.
Students are invited to continue the curriculum transformation and decolonisation conversation on Twitter through https://twitter.com/UkznOf, selecting UKZN transforming College of Humanities curriculum
Words: Melissa Mungroo