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Rhodes University :: Humanities
Brochures | Education 2011-08-02 09:41:52
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    Humanities A New Research and Postgraduate Focus

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    Humanities at Rhodes The Faculty The Faculty of Humanities is the largest Faculty at Rhodes University and currently accounts for 40% of the entire student body. Comprising 11 departments and two schools, the Faculty offers a rich variety of courses within three broad categories: Arts, Languages and Social Studies. The Faculty has a reputation for excellence in teaching that is cemented by an extensive tutorial system that has been running since the inception of the University. Emphasising a formative and discipline-based approach, the Faculty does not offer a vocationally-oriented training but rather an education that promotes the development of a well-rounded and critical graduate with the ability to play a meaningful role in society. It provides students with critical reasoning skills, the ability to analyse and evaluate arguments, the confidence to probe for hidden assumptions, the skill to coherently organise complex material and thus attempt to understand the views of others, the ability to communicate well and a capacity to cope with ambiguity and uncertainty. 1

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    At Rhodes it is the utility of the Humanities degree, underpinned by the quality of education, which makes the graduates employable. While there is no obvious link between the education offered and the labour market, Rhodes graduates are nevertheless sought after by employers and thus the University does not generally experience a problem of unemployment. The world of work is very different in a postmodern era. Graduates no longer pursue a single career from start to retirement. Students at Rhodes are encouraged to study where their passions lie, rather than to work backwards from what they perceive their career to be. The key in the Humanities is to educate students to think critically and imbue them with a capacity to solve problems in creative and imaginative ways. Nonetheless, not unlike other South African universities, the Humanities at Rhodes lag behind the Sciences in respect to producing postgraduate students and research publications. A key Humanities' strategy going forward is to prepare under-graduate students to move in increasing numbers to the postgraduate level. As part of the strategy to grow postgrad numbers and to institutionalise a research culture, Randell House, which will accommodate the Dean, PhD candidates, Masters students and visiting lecturers, has been allocated to the Faculty. The House, featuring a number of seminar rooms, currently constitutes an important hub of intellectual activity in the Faculty, offering a space for engagement and debate on critical topics of contemporary and historical relevance. 2

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    grow postgrad numbers and institutionalise a research culture 3

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    Research Development Programme The Faculty has instituted a comprehensive Research Development Programme (RDP) intended to promote research and postgraduate development. Identifying and supporting particular research focus areas is central to this overarching programme. To this end, established scholars with proven research and postgraduate supervision expertise were selected to direct carefully identified research focus areas in which Rhodes enjoys a national and/or international reputation or in which there is potential to build such a reputation. The aim of the programme is to create teams of researchers within academic departments and schools in the Faculty that work on clearly defined research and postgraduate education areas in contribution to consolidating expertise in these areas. The Faculty has created an appropriate academic environment and research culture to sustain the programme. Mellon funding enables RDP implementation In 2008, the Faculty submitted a proposal to the Andrew W Mellon Foundation for a Faculty-wide PhD Programme on Citizenship, Nation and Identity to offer scholarships to students supervised by academics in the Faculty. The proposal was successful and the Mellon Foundation funding allowed the Faculty to commence with the implementation of RDP. This year the RDP was given a major impetus by the most recent Mellon Foundation funding to the value of USD800 000 over three years, to support four Research Focus Areas in the Faculty. A call for proposals solicited eight applications and, following a rigorous selection process, four were selected. 4

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    address historical challenges related to equity of access opportunity and outcomes 5

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    Scholars leading these four focus areas will direct research programmes, undertake research, mentor and supervise Masters and Doctoral students, and Postdoctoral Fellows. Each focus area has been allocated R560 000 per annum which supports two Masters scholarships valued at R60 000 p.a. each, two PhD scholarships valued at R80 000 p.a. each, and one Postdoctoral fellowship at R130 000 p.a. The scholarships and fellowships are further intended to address historical challenges related to equity of access, opportunity and outcome, and to cultivate a future generation of scholars. General Mellon support The Mellon Foundation has been remarkable in their support of the Humanities at Rhodes, as demonstrated through these latest research grants for the RDP. They have supported wider University initiatives such as the Mellon Foundation Programme for Accelerated Development, which has played a significant role in integrating black candidates into the academic staff body. Mellon also funds the Women's Academic Solidarity Association (WASA), a body that supports women academics and enabling them to complete their doctorate studies, publish their work and serve as University leaders. Part of the current funding agreement includes a grant of USD95 000 towards the WASA Research Programme. 6

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    focus areas to grow scholarly outputs and postgrad numbers 7

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    The Research and Postgraduate Education Focus The objectives Serving as a catalyst for the RDP, the research focus areas are intended to grow scholarly outputs and postgraduate numbers in fields where Rhodes is able to exhibit research potential and strength, or unique fields of study. Over time these research programmes are expected to achieve the following: - Advance human knowledge through basic, applied, or practice-based research; - Create a research programme with the potential to develop into a high profile research theme, add to the scholarly and institutional reputation and prestige, and attract research students and scholars; - Increase the quality and volume of accredited research, and enhance the capacity to take on more scholarly projects; - Promote multidisciplinary participation and linkages to various existing entities and resources within the University in a way that cements the critical mass of the focus areas; - Grow and strengthen external collaborations that enhance the quality of scholarship at Rhodes; and - Develop a younger cohort of productive researchers and increase the number of women and black researchers. 8

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    diverse programmes representation across disciplines 9

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