An intake of over 25 new students onto the doctoral cohort of the Peacebuilding Programme has swelled the total number of doctoral students to over 60. This large group comes from many different parts of Africa. It is anticipated that at least eight doctorates will be bestowed this year on members of the cohort. This is the largest doctoral programmeat Durban University of Technology.
On 7th October the Innovative Leadership Programme that ICON runs with ACCORD and Durban University of Technology ended for the year, with the presentation of Certificates of Achievement for those (40 in number) who attended the sessions, participated in the group projects and completed written assignments. Here are some of the successful graduates of the programme.
Most of the group who graduated, with members of staff who assisted with the Programme.
Various community projects are extending ICON’s ability to bring about positive nonviolent change, through the Innovative Leadership Programme. This Programme involves ICON and ACCORD (the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes); ICON undertakes the major organisation of the Programme. Each of the 40 students on the Programme joins a project in which servant leadership is developed.
Presentations by students on 16th September 2016 demonstrated the range and reach of the work undertaken.
Seven projects reported on their work. One of the projects represented involved Programme members spending a minimum of five hours weekly serving in the kitchen at the Denis Hurley Centre that serves the inner city. They brought in measures to improve the hygiene of the food preparation. Another served to increase the effectiveness of a Centre that cares for children and young adults as part of an HIV/AIDS project.
The approach taken by the Amnesty group was to reach other student groupings. Recently the group led a workshop on Gender and Leadership with 38 members of student clubs and societies at Durban University of Technology. Such outreach work is extending ICON’s ability to develop peace-based forms of leadership.
Another project dealt with issues of history, using museums as the entry point. For example, Karinda Jugmohan of this project presented how this work had developed her understanding of the role of women in the struggle against apartheid; her section of the presentation dealt with the resistance of women in Cato Manor.
The Student Counselling project presented information on DUT careers at different schools in the Durban area. Here Selisha Ramduth, Phumelele Gasa and Norman Ndisile present their report on the work done.
A seminar by Professor Aashish Kumar of Hofstra University, Long Island, NY, captured the attention of DUT students who are seeking ways of enabling communication across difference. Aashish demonstrated how the use of video, now available to large numbers of students through smart phones, can open up ways of having their voices heard.
The seminar was entitled Narrative empathy and youth media in negotiating identity and difference. Students who attended include members of the young men’s group, Amajita, and of the young women’s group, GASVA.
Representatives of DUT Radio were also present, and graduate students on the Peacebuilding Programme.
Several Masters and Doctoral students of the Peacebuilding Programme, part of the International Centre of Nonviolence, graduated in April 2016 at Durban University of Technology.
Of the six doctorates granted at the ceremony on 18th April 2016, Professor Geoff Harris of ICON had supervised five, and Dr Sylvia Kaye three.
The Peacebuilding Programme, the postgraduate programme linked to ICON, is a rapidly growing endeavour, with 37 Doctoral and 27 Masters students in early 2016. Given that ICON has only three full-time academic staff, this is a major achievement.
The second DUT Dialogue on sexual violence, on 8th October 2015, started late as a large group of students coming to City Campus missed the bus to the event and arrived late. Despite that, there was excellent discussion on both the issues and the way ahead. Discussion was led by Crispin Hemson, Director of ICON, while present were also staff of the feminist journal Agenda, a partner in the work on sexual violence, a member of Umtapo, staff from different campuses of DUT, and one student in the project who comes from Mangosuthu University of Technology.
The dialogue began with people speaking about the range of concerns that they have about issues of sexual violence. Amongst the issues raised repeatedly were the ways in which men – other students, security staff – interact with young women and the pressure they place on them. The men present also spoke of their own anxieties and concerns over not knowing whether they were handling situations right, though the response of one young woman was that men do not need to be taught how to handle women; they should just notice the reality of how women are responding.
Another issue that was expressed was that women are feeling that they have the right to take seriously only actual rape, and that sexual harassment or partner physical abuse are somehow ‘normal’.
Professor Anthony Collins from Journalism spoke on his research on gender-based violence on university campuses in South Africa. His presentation stressed the ways in which these issues are silenced, allowing situations of extreme violence, including homicide, to become treated as insignificant. He also set out the ways in which students and staff at universities are mobilising themselves to bring about decisive change.
Three students from the project on young women’s leadership on sexual violence spoke on different aspects of the issues as they experience them. A specific accusation was that security staff, who should be providing security, are themselves involved in harassment. Students do not know where and how to report abuse, and need support
The students also presented a short drama that highlighted the ways in which women’s clothing becomes used as the justification for harassment.
One of the steps that will follow from the Dialogue will be involving young men and women from this work in presenting on these issues in the Cornerstone module (which is reaching a high proportion of first year DUT students), so that their experience and knowledge is made available to first year students.
Finally, there was agreement across the board on the next step:
- DUT needs a group that represents the networks present at the Dialogue that can address the issues of policy and implementation, and that can support activism on this issue.
- We will report this to the Executive Management of DUT with a request that this group be headed by the Registrar, Professor Thenjiwe Meyiwa.