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Dr Sizwe Mabizela
Dr Sizwe Mabizela
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Postgraduates share research at conference

Date Released: Tue, 14 August 2018 12:25 +0200

By Tandokazi Silosini, Masters in Political and International Studies student & Tšepiso Nyopa, Masters in Financial Markets student

Rhodes University’s 9th Annual Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Conference was held on 26 and 27 July 2018.

The conference opened with the Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, urging those present to consider their role as critical citizens whose research should benefit society.

The overarching theme of the conference was “Postgraduate Education is a Public Good”, with the sub-themes: Environmental Sustainability, Socio-economic Development, the 4th Industrial Revolution, and Blue-Sky Research. The conference provided a platform for postgraduate students from all faculties to share their research and to enjoy conversations across disciplinary boundaries.

With more than 70 presentations and over 170 participants, the conference hosted a very informative space. It provided a great learning experience for many, especially for first-time presenters. As one of them said, “I was both nervous and excited to see the Vice-Chancellor at my presentation.”

The keynote speaker, Ndumiso Dladla, who is a lecturer of philosophy at UNISA and the author of a recent book, Here is a Table: A Philosophical Essay on the History of Race in South Africa, gave a very interesting presentation entitled: “Towards a post-conquest ‘Africa South, ‘Public’ and ‘Higher Education’”. The speech was timely, given that the education system in South Africa has been confronted with calls for decolonisation and criticism of racist forms of knowledge production.

The conference included a World Café discussion, open to all attendees, regarding what is meant by the overarching theme’s message. The dialogue consisted of delegates’ interpretations of why postgraduate education is a public good, and how it relates to their own research and work.

The discussion carried a common understanding among postgraduates that their work not only contributes to collective knowledge, but benefits wider society by solving real-world problems.

Many attendees described the conference as “inspiring” and are now looking forward to presenting their own work at next year’s conference. It was especially moving and encouraging, they said, to see a number of supervisors in attendance to support student presentations.