The College of Humanities has selected six academics to participate in the 2020 Early Career Scholars Programme funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation of New York. This follows a R9.8 million grant that was secured in December 2019. The 2020 scholars are Drs Cedric Bheki Mpungose, Mlamuli Nkosingphile Hlatshwayo, Gabisile Mkhize, Nokwanda Nzuza, Thulani Mkhize and Phindile Mayaba.
An expansion of the inclusive professoriate programme, the five-year grant is intended to support the early career scholars by providing them with opportunities to conduct research, supervise postgraduate students, undertake post-doctoral studies, attend conferences, and enhance their research, writing and supervision expertise as part of developing their academic careers.
In the Mellon award, early career scholars are defined as academics who are tenured (i.e., employed on a full time, permanent basis), possess a PhD, received their doctorates less than 10 years ago and have an emerging and/or sustained track record of publishing and post-graduate supervision.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize, said, ‘Transformation is counter-productive if it does not go hand-in-hand with serious efforts to facilitate the career progression of early career scholars to ensure that they contribute to knowledge production. Not only does this programme offer our emerging academics an opportunity to conduct research and supervise post-graduate students, it also affords them an opportunity to attend national and international conferences and to network with scholars in their respective disciplines. I am grateful to Professor Badat, who will be coordinating this five-year long project on behalf of the College.’
Early career scholar Dr Mkhize said, ‘This is a wonderful and generous award that will positively shape the development of our careers and set us on an upward trajectory both within the University and the country. The award is well poised to attract and retain young talent in academia.’
Mayaba believes that the fellowship will aid in developing her as a scholar in the University. ‘This is a wonderful opportunity for me to publish and contribute to new knowledge production in the area of identity studies and dialogic understanding of personhood. I am excited because I was awarded this Fellowship at the most opportune time for me to make an invaluable mark and assert my voice in academic spaces.’
Mpungose added, ‘This fellowship will give me an opportunity to explore much more in my research field through the mentoring programme, workshops, and conferences. It will capacitate me on how to supervise and write for publication in order to qualify for promotion.’ His research interests include online learning, specifically the use of learning management systems and social media sites for teaching and learning in Institutions of Higher Education.
Hlatshwayo said, ‘With this opportunity I plan to influence policy interventions, contribute to the debate on Higher Education transformation in the context of African scholarship and consolidate my own academic and research space in the research niche of Higher Education transformation.’ His research interests include theorising South African Higher Education transformation; epistemological access and curricula; Higher Education student movements and the philosophy of education.