I come from what can be loosely called a critical higher education studies background (called ‘critical campus studies’ in parts of the US and more recently critical university studies in the UK and dovetails with critical development studies), which developed as a way to catalyse substantive transformation of higher education institutions in the South African context of dramatic inequality. Multidisciplinary in nature, Higher Education Studies has grown peculiarly in different contexts. Having recently located to the UK, I sense an unofficial divide between staff educational development for ‘professional development initiatives’ as an institutional concern with a national quality assurance purpose straddling HR/ pedagogic practice, from research into higher education at a meta-level, usually comparative/ international/ policy level enquiry.
I include this explanation as many in the ‘north’ have asked me – what would teacher ‘training’ have to do with being an intellectual? Isn’t what you aim to do philanthropy?
I see research and teaching as opportunities to engage with meaning, imbued with the politics of representing, constructing and legitimising knowledge. In the pages within this ‘Project’ space, various initiatives to research or implement changes to higher education have been outlined. To broadly arrange them, I have separated them into projects related to authorship; equity; practice.
My primary ‘work’ has been using teaching, research and community engagement to comprehend the ways in which representation in various culture industries (specifically higher education and the creative arts) collude, further and/or challenge oppression in contexts with legacies of conflict and continued inequality. My particular focus has been on these concerns in South Africa, which grapples with layers of legacy issues from colonialism, apartheid, and the cold war that intersect with competing agendas, interests and concerns in the present, not uncommon to other African countries and those in the global South. I worked firstly in fine art practice as a mean to explore, provoke and catalyse engagements around legacy issues in the country, later finding a more systemic reach in the work of staff educational development in an historically white institution. It was one of the leading institutions under the umbrella of Higher Education Studies, impactful for its progressive (at the time) national role in facilitating systemic changes to the way the micro- and meso- curriculum of higher education was constructed in relation to larger societal concerns. Universities in developing countries continue to play a powerful role in the ways nationalist discourses are furthered and challenged, in addition to how dis/advantage functions (reproduced/ challenged), particularly since NGOs/ philanthropic, and activist groups have their hands full. My teaching and research thus dovetail in the areas of historical responsibility in higher education and creative arts education. To further address how these challenges can be explored and addressed, I am now within a EU institution where I aim to further opportunities for those within the global South to connect with each other and their counterparts internationally, through the multidisciplinary field of Higher Education Studies.