Research Commons hosts successful Social Hour
“We want to stimulate discourse and debate, but in a relaxed atmosphere. We hope that people will get to know each other and talk about their work, and that this interaction will lead to innovative research concepts and ideas,” Ms Ellen Tise, senior director of Stellenbosch University’s (SU) Library and Information Service, said in her introductory remarks.
The event was attended by 30 guests, the maximum number that could be accommodated. Prof Yusef Waghid, Dean of the Faculty of Education, was the guest speaker. He was recently honoured by the National Research Foundation with a Special Recognition Award as a “Champion of Research Capacity Development at South African Higher Education Institutions”.
Prof Waghid, Professor of the Philosophy of Education, spoke about three thinkers with a lasting influence on his work: Stanley Cavell, Martha Nussbaum and Seyla Benhabib.
“From Cavell I learnt that authority resides in what you say, not who you are. That means postgraduate students must be able to take on their promoters if they find weaknesses in their professors’ arguments,” he said.
“From Nussbaum I learnt that rationality isn’t everything, emotions matter too. You cannot divorce your work from who you are as a person. And since we are all human, we must be aware of each other’s vulnerabilities.
“And from Benhabib I learnt how important it is to reiterate your ideas again and again, and to engage others deliberatively. Postgraduate students should get into the habit of writing a thousand words a day. Even if you decide to discard all of it, it’s part of what shapes you.
“Academic life is a narrative in the making. It never ends. Like Maxine Green said, ‘I am … not yet’. That’s why I will always remain a student.”
The Research Commons forms part of SU’s HOPE Project, an institutional advancement campaign aimed at, amongst others, student success and expanding the University’s knowledge base.
The Research Commons provides an environment conducive for research exchange and production, and offers support to post-graduate students and researchers. The facility boasts a well-designed lounge area, as well as state-of-the-art seminar rooms, video conferencing facilities and carousel computer workstations.
Ms Lucia Schoombee, head of the Research Commons, described the Social Hour as a success, and said the Library intends regularly hosting such events. Her contact details for enquires are LCS1@.sun.ac.za and +27 21 808 2125.