On 29 April 2020, HELTASA proudly launched its historic HELTASA/DHET PhD programme, confirming the participation of 10 academics from a range of South African Universities.

The overarching aim of the HELTASA/DHET PhD programme is for candidates to design and execute a study addressing the overarching research question:

  • How could AD theory and practice reimagine and recontextualise itself to respond to persistent inequality and social injustice in contexts facing challenges?

In March 2020, on the eve of the programme launch, the Advisory Committee’s resolve and ingenuity was tested as the world went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team very boldly changed gears and through sheer determination and all the anxiety that it brings to bear, radically modified the existing well-crafted plans to adapt to the new asynchronous academic space. The team proved its worth and after meticulous planning and reimagining, successfully launched and implemented the programme under the unique COVID-19 lockdown conditions.

The candidates participated in a two-day online seminar/ workshop, hosted by HELTASA and facilitated by experienced leaders and supervisors in the field: Professors Michael Samuel, Labby Ramrathan, Felix Maringe and Moyra Keane. The two-day retreat set the scene for a robust and generative PhD journey as facilitators dealt with a range of topics such as reflecting on the difference between a masters and PhD study; the concept of philosophising about a theoretical argument, conceptualising a PhD study, being a PhD student/supervisor, choosing a mentor, generating new knowledge, locating the study, making links between the study and the thesis and self-care. This was followed by an exciting series of engagements in May that focussed on academic writing (candidates participated in a WhatsApp writing course run by Moyra Keane) and guest presenter, Prof Nettleton inspired all with her insightful session on creativity.

We thank Dr Rosaline Sebolao for her oversight as PhD project manager and Mr Ntobeko Mbuyisa for his continued support as the PhD programme administrator.

Two further retreats are planned for 2020; in July and September. Candidates are preparing to present their concept notes and finalise the draft thesis proposals. We wish our PhD candidates well on their journey ahead on what we hope will be a rewarding African PhD experience.

Warm regards,
Dr Kasturi Behari-Leak and Dr Sandra Williams