IiNtetho zoBomi: Conversations about Life, Meaning and Community

 Allan Gray Centre for Leadership Ethics, Philosophy Department, Rhodes University



IiNtetho zoBomi (IZ) is largely a student-led course that aims to help you better navigate the pitfalls of life and, in doing so, help you better realize your true human potential. In this course we: 

  1. Invite you, in a very practical way, to better understand just how difficult it is to be free,
  2. Help to raise your awareness of the intimate relationships between self, other, and world by studying, among other things, the extent to which the practice of freedom is inseparable from being ethical, and being ethical depends on taking responsibility for your life,
  3. Show you in a vivid way the relationship between reading, writing, and thinking, and being the human being you most truly want to be.

This course requires ongoing careful reflection in addition to compulsory participation in all service-learning activities, and at least 80% lecture and tutorial (weekly conversations) attendance. We want to encourage you to better understand the complex relationship between conversation, thought, and action and your presence is hence required.  

Don’t take this course if you aim to be a zombie of your circumstances or the status quo, driven by motivations that are almost entirely opaque to you. Further, don’t take this course if you are uninterested in understanding how your life—including your inner life—is formed by the world you inhabit.

We have decided this year to try something new. We will be using a ‘flipped classroom’ style of teaching. Each lecture will be divided in two. In the first half of the two hour period we will cover the conceptual content for the week, and in the second hour, you will complete an exercise that will be submitted at the end of the lecture for DP purposes. Evidence for attendance is the submission of the exercise. The exercise must be submitted at the very end of the lecture. You are encouraged to work with peers, but all submissions are by individual students. You must specify your name as it appears on RU records and your student number at the top of your submitted exercise. One reasons for this rather pedantic request is our inability to detect aural energy that will inform us of your identity in highly mysterious ways.

 You need to be on the ball if you want to succeed in this course and attend lectures, conversations, weekly movies and service learning, as well as engage with readings supplied to you on a weekly basis. All essential information and readings will be communicated to and shared with you timeously in lectures and through RUConnected.


NB: all service-learning activities are compulsory, and weekly conversations and lectures are DP requirements (at least 80% attendance at each over the semester):

  1. Monday at the movies (Monday, Periods 9 + 10, Barratt 2).
  2. Weekly lecture (Tuesday, Periods 9 + 10, Barratt 2).
  3. Weekly conversation (Wednesday, double period, venues and times will be automatically allocated on your timetable).
  4. Service-Learning (Monday, Tuesday OR Thursday. Meet outside the Great Hall at 13:30 for transport (which returns to RU again at 14:50). Relevant information will be posted on RUCONNECTED.

 *Note that from time-to-time, especially in the first week of the academic year, movies will be screened on Tuesdays and lectures will happen on a Monday. Don’t worry about this as you will be informed timeously about any changes.


This course will be assessed unconventionally. We will not be writing essays or exams. Rather, you will be asked to keep a reflective journal. You need to be working on your journal on a weekly basis rather than leaving things for the last moment, a sure recipe for producing mediocre work.

In your reflective journal we want you to bring the course content to bear on your life. Ask yourself questions about how the topics impact on you, how you see them playing out in your life, or how issues raised have helped you better understand this or that aspect of your life. We want you to use this opportunity to engage critically with your opinions, beliefs, values and preferences in light of the material covered during the week, including movies, readings, lectures, service learning and weekly conversations with your peers. If by the end of this semester you have not changed your mind about something or learned something new, if your journal is just an occasion to (arrogantly) tell us what you already think you know, then your journal will be a flop. Your reflective journal will also be a flop if you procrastinate and work on it only at the last moment. You are meant to be thinking, reflecting back on earlier work, and writing continuously throughout the semester. You are here to learn and we expect you to do this.

You will submit a draft of your weekly reflections to your IZ tutor once a week (on Thursday evening) for feedback, and will submit your reflective journal at the end of each term to be assessed by one of the academic staff of the AGCLE. At the end of the semester we want to see your entire journal and there must be clear evidence that you have engaged with the feedback given to you at the end of the first term and on the weekly submissions. A journal should, incidentally, not consist of a string of your weekly reflections. You are meant to weave these reflections into a coherent whole.  

All work will be submitted via, and stored electronically on, RUConnected.


Weekly draft journal entries                      25%

Journal                                                              75%

(50% of this mark is based on your 1st term submission, and 50% is based on your entire journal submitted at the end of the semester)

 DP Requirements:

  • 100% ATTENDANCE AT Service-Learning activities (TRAINING IS COMPULSORY)

Only submit LOAs for missed lectures and weekly conversations on the third occasion you fail to attend one and/or the other. In other words, you can be absent twice in every semester for free and it is only when missing the third class—be it a lecture or a conversation—that you need to provide proof of illness. For service learning, however, things are different for here you are responsible for the education of other human beings and you owe it to them to be present, so you cannot miss any service learning sessions without filling in an LOA form and attaching a Doctor’s note to it.  


RUConnected: IZ uses RUConnected for (1) communicating with you; (2) posting the week’s lecture slides; (3) announcing the weekly movie / documentary / reading and (4) handing in weekly draft journals and reflective journals (we will only be accepting electronic submissions). You will find IiNtetho zoBomi 101 2020 under the list of Philosophy courses on RUConnected.


Ethics of Conversation: Given the content of this course, disagreements are inevitable and, indeed, often desirable. It is your job to be aware of how other students are reacting to your comments, and to treat your peers, IZ tutors, and facilitators with respect. Demeaning or disrespectful language or behaviour will not be tolerated in class. If you feel that you are being silenced, please speak to your tutor so that the matter can be rectified. Cel phones must be put on silent and should only ever be used if instructed by your tutor or facilitator. If you are not interested in the class, don’t come—having apathetic students in class is disrespectful to all other people in the venue: students, tutors, and facilitators.

Plagiarism: We take plagiarism very seriously, especially in a course such as this one, which aims at helping you to improve the ethical fabric of your life. Plagiarism is indeed an odd activity as it flies in the face of what learning is all about. By plagiarizing you are in fact admitting not only that you don’t really care much about the central thing you are here to do at university—to learn—but by plagiarizing in IZ you are admitting that you have little interest in actually understanding who you are. If you are tempted to plagiarize, stop and think about why you are taking this course in the first place, and then refer to the university’s plagiarism policy at: http://www.ru.ac.za/institutionalplanningunit/policies/policiesa-z/

Student Consultations: In addition to an IZ tutor (a student who has experience with the IZ program), you can contact staff of the AGCLE at any time during working hours. Please drop one of us an email to arrange an appointment at a convenient time (details below), and we will endeavor to answer you within 24hrs.

Counseling Services: Although this course has been consistently described as uplifting and life-changing by students, suggesting that there is a significant correlation between understanding and well-being, some of the topics we discuss may cause some distress (in general consciousness-raising is accompanied by pain). If at any point you feel that you are not coping, please contact your IZ tutor or AGCLE staff immediately. Also, just in case, here are the details of the Rhodes Counseling centre: (046) 603 7070 / counsellingcentre@ru.ac.za

Specific queries: Specific queries should be directed to the relevant staff member listed below:


Last Modified: Mon, 27 Jan 2020 09:45:57 SAST