Tuesday 28 October 2014

A response to Bella Vilakazi’s presentation, by Delia Layton, Department of English, Faculty of Humanities. UJ

Bella Vilakazi 
Bella Vilakazi’s lively and stimulating presentation: ‘Towards a socially just pedagogy: the Affective Turn’ on 23 October, given as part of the SOTL seminar series, stirred up a number of responses for me (see the slides at the bottom of this post). Interestingly, my responses manifested in the domains of mind, body and emotions.  I say this because the relationship or interconnectedness of body, mind and emotions seems to be something that is fundamental to the concept of ‘affect’. Firstly, my bodily (and emotional) response was triggered, by some of the visual examples Bella showed us (e.g. the pictures of prone lifeless bodies after the Sharpville Massacre, juxtaposed with those of the recent Marikana Massacre) which produced a rather visceral bodily response together with a deeply emotional reaction, which Bella described as being examples of ‘affect’ in practice. Secondly, my mental response was an engagement with the content of the actual presentation and the discussion that followed, as well as my realisation, after engaging with additional readings prompted by attending this presentation, that ‘affect theory’ (closely related to the concept of ‘the affective turn’), is highly complicated and quite difficult to understand and required much focussing of the mind.
Feelings or affects are clearly embodied and outwardly expressed in action or reaction to an event or an encounter (e.g. by a visual prompt like a photograph or a political cartoon) or even by how a lecturer shows up to her students in the lecture hall. Nigel Thrift sees affect as ‘a set of embodied practices that produce visible conduct as an outer lining’ (2004:60). While Hemmings, (2005:551) states that affect refers to ‘states of being, rather than to their manifestation or interpretation as emotions’. However,  there is confusion between what separates the concept of ‘affect’  from that of ‘emotion’ since, as Cromby (2012:92)  writes, ‘feeling is… sometimes used interchangeably with emotion, which in turn is used interchangeably with affect’.

Delia Layton
This confusion arises possibly because there are many definitions of what affect is and how it manifests. As Bella mentioned, the varied interpretations have their origins with the ideas of the 17th century Dutch philosopher, Spinoza who saw the body and mind as interconnected; which ideas were developed further by Deleuze, a French philosopher writing in the 1960’s who in collaboration with Guattari, then focussed on affects and affection; and then with the English translation of their work by the contemporary Canadian philosopher Brian Massumi, who brought together the connectivity between affect and emotion. Many other theorists have added their ideas and developed the theory in a multitude of directions and disciplines.
I realised after immersion in some of the literature around the topic of affect and affect theory, that Bella had done her homework very well and was using the aspect of this theory that best suits her purpose – i.e. as part of her PhD study on formative feedback and socially just pedagogical practice.  This focussed approach made complete sense to me, especially in the light of Bella’s remarks that it is important to find examples in the readings that are meaningful to your own practice.
For me then, as I understand it, the Affective Turn is a new approach to studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences especially, and is also a general approach that takes into consideration the ontology of students (that is, who they are and who they are becoming), that can be applied to one’s pedagogical practice. It is obviously vital to provide students with access to the epistemologies of their disciplines, but this should go hand in hand with enabling ontological access if we want to provide a socially just, meaningful and transformative pedagogical engagement.
We all have the power to affect and be affected through various encounters with one another, and this means that as teachers, we need to be aware of how affect can manifest in the classroom since, as Bella pointed out, classrooms are really ‘affective communities’. This means that as teachers, through our interactions and conversations with our students, when also acknowledging their human dignity and agency in a compassionate manner, we have a great potential for either enabling or constraining transformation.

Cromby, J. (2012) Feeling theWay: Qualitative Clinical Research and the Affective Turn. Qualitative Research in Psychology. 9:88–98.
Hemmings, C. (2005) Invoking affect Cultural theory and the Ontological turn. Cultural Studies 19 (5): 548 – 567.

Thrift, N. (2004) Intensities of feeling: towards a spatial politics of affect. Geogr. Ann.,86 B (1) : 57-78.

Thursday 16 October 2014

Dualisms, socio-materialism, doctoral encounters and the affective turn

I am a member of an NRF project led by Vivienne Bozalek at the University of the Western Cape entitled Posthumanism, the Affective Turn and Socially Just Critical Higher Education Pedagogies. We had a seminar last week, with two presentations that had  much relevance for our SOTL @ UJ project, which is why I draw attention to them in this blog.  The first focuses on the work of feminist Val Plumwood and attempts to show how the Community, Self and Identity project dealt with binary dualisms in higher education:

The second considers the same project briefly, through the lens of sociomaterialism:

Regarding exciting seminars, Yusef Waghid from the University of Stellenbosch and prolific author of many interesting books on social justice in higher education, including Pedagogy out of bounds: Untamed variations of democratic education (2014; Sense) will be making a presentation at the University of Johannesburg at Council Chambers on 12 November at 12.00 - 14.00 pm. The seminar is part of a series on the scholarship of teaching and learning, that is being offered jointly by the Chair: Teaching and Learning, Professional Academic Staff Development and the Postgraduate Centre. The seminar will focus on Democratic Education in Motion: Dancing with Doctoral Encounters.

Our last project seminar of this year will be presented by Bella Vilakazi, on the affective turn. This will be at 1.30 pm in B-Ring 5 on Thursday 23 October 2014. The last actual event of this year is the research workshop, which will be toward the end of November. That is where we will really look carefully at how we will be researching teaching, and what we will be researching.

Sunday 28 September 2014

Presentation on a socially just pedagogy at the UKZN Teaching and Learning Conference

Vivienne Bozalek and I made a presentation at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal Teachinga and Learning Conference, which was held from the 25 - 27 September 2014, at the Edgewood Campus. There was a fair amount of discussion of issues pertaining in one way or another to social justice. We will be writing this up shortly. There were three very interesting keynotes by Gayatri Spivak, William Pinar and Reitumetse Mabokela. They sparked much debate about what the appropriate responses are to the current inequalities and lack of progress with regard to higher education in South Africa. More information about these keynote speakers can be found on the conference website, at http://tlhec.ukzn.ac.za/.

Tuesday 23 September 2014

A valuable article: "Developing Socially Just Subject-Matter Instruction: A Review of the Literature on Disciplinary Literacy Teaching" by Elizabeth Moje

Thanks to Anne Edwards and Viv Bozalek, my attention was drawn to Elizabeth Moje's review article, "Developing Socially Just Subject-Matter Instruction: A Review of the Literature on Disciplinary Literacy Teaching" (Review of Research in Education, March 2007, Vol. 31, pp. 1–44 DOI: 10.3102/0091732X07300046). Based on reading of a wide range of studies, focusing mainly but not solely on the US and on schooling and post-school youth, she provides an extremely useful introduction to educationists interested in making their disciplines more accessible to students from a range of socio-economic backgrounds. From this point of view, the article is useful for a potential researcher who wants to situate him or herself in this field. It is a long article and I would not like to reproduce it here in any detail, but simply to say why I find it useful for the SOTL @ UJ - Towards a Socially Just Pedagogy research project.

Starting from the idea that we can fuse the 'moral' and the 'intellectual' projects in teaching, she  makes a distinction between socially just pedagogy and social justice pedagogy. A socially just pedagogy is one which initiates students in to the powerful knowledges and ways of knowing, and which provides students with the means to engage with and critique these knowledges. On the other hand she writes that 'Social justice pedagogy should, in other words, offer possibilities for transformation, not only of the learner but also of the social and political contexts in which learning and other social action take place (Saunders, 2006)". This is a broader purpose, and I would assume that the former is part of the latter, broader purpose. She covers various approaches:
  • Social Justice as Access to Expert Subject-Matter Knowledge (this, she claims has largely fallen by the wayside)
  • Social Justice as the Foregrounding of Everyday Knowledge (this is more of a 'way in' than an endpoint)
  • Social Justice as Access to Useable Disciplinary Knowledge and Ways of Knowing (though valuable, this will not lead students to criticality)
  • Social Justice as Access to Knowledge Via Access to Ways of Producing Knowledge (thus enhancing students' capacity for synthesis and critique).
A crucial point she makes along the way is with regard to the line of argument that we should make the norms, conventions and practices of the disciplines explicit to students. She points out that whilst this may be important, it does not cater for the phenomenon of students learning via apprenticeship, and that there is the danger that it can reify these ways of knowing. She also stresses the value of inducting students into the disciplines, and not selling them short at 'usable' or 'everyday' knowledge:

"It is not enough to talk about developing disciplinary literacy as useable knowledge for the average citizen. Producing and assessing knowledge in the disciplines and in everyday life relies heavily on one’s ability to access, interpret, critique, and produce texts, both oral and written, on both paper and electronic media. Those youth who come to school with high levels of fundamental literacy skill (see Norris & Phillips, 2002) across a range of textual media will be more likely to participate not only in advanced disciplinary study but also in civic conversations and activities driven by the natural and social sciences, by mathematical processes, and by themes and concepts informed via the study of literature (not to mention the domains of visual arts, music, and sports and fitness). Across these different perspectives, scholars agree that knowing how to connect disciplinary knowledge to everyday knowledge is necessary but not sufficient for full societal access. People need to be able to
navigate across disciplinary and everyday forms of representation, including print, numerals, and other inscribed symbols." (p.33)

Monday 15 September 2014

Indigenous knowledge and cognitive justice: Towards the co-production of knowledge.

A discussion led by Thea de Wet; Gert van der Westhuizen and Carina van Rooyen
 By Puleng Motshoane 

These three academics asked a central question “How do we do justice to the diversity of knowledge in the curriculum?”

Thea dealt with the concepts related to indigenous knowledge and Gert spoke on the issue of cognitive justice, while Carina related the two to classroom practice. She explained all the concepts and how they can be applied to teaching.  Thea alluded to the fact that our knowledge and networks of our environment are important in order for us to make sense and understand the social world. The example she gave was that we all have similar brains and we therefore confront similar challenges in the same way. She stated two reasons for her interest in indigenous knowledge and those were; firstly, the politicization of indigenous groups and indigenous rights; secondly, the practical development agenda, which is linked to questions of  emancipation.

Gert continued  the discussion from where Thea left off and spoke about cognitive justice, emphasizing the fact that there are so many reasons to take this into cognizance in teaching and learning practices. He argued that academics are not changing the way they teach and that they are still doing what was done in the past 20 years without considering the fact that a lot of things have changed. He therefore suggested that the University of Johannesburg (UJ) has to transform the curriculum in order to be able to meet its vision (An international university of choice, anchored in Africa, dynamically shaping the future) and mission (Inspiring its community to transform and serve humanity through innovation and the collaborative pursuit of knowledge).

He also acknowledged that curriculum change would not come without any disruptions. He further suggested that  the UJ community has to problematize our own sense of agency, and the fact that  academics are choosing the content without being accountable to anyone else. He drew a lot from Visvanathan (2011) who argues,  “The survival of knowledge and how some of the knowledge are downgraded and unrecognized and that such knowledge should be given a right and not marginalized”. Gert further argued that academics need to recognize the plurality of knowledge and allow the different forms of knowledge to co-exist without duress. He concluded by drawing attention to the SAGE book titled "Indigenous knowledge and research methodologies" by Bagele Chilisa, which he said is a good source for academics to think about their roles as intellectuals as well as the research they do and how this impacts on teaching and learning.

Carina then brought the practical part to the talk on indigenous knowledge and cognitive justice as she talked about co-production of knowledge. She drew a lot from Lesley Green (2008) from the University of Cape Town, who argued, “Knowledge is contextual and emanates from culture and background that it is produced and reproduced”. Carina’s argument is about how knowledge is generated and transformed and not just about the actual knowledge content. She asked a question about how the principles of cognitive justice could be practiced. She further suggested that horizons need to be pushed further in order to stop perpetuating binaries. She said knowledge is not an acquisition of unmediated facts, but a multiple process of knowledge making with a strong idea of the participation of all the stakeholders rather than working in isolation. The overall message was to say that academics should think about asking the “ How” to teach rather than the “What” to teach, which is the capacity to generate and apply knowledge….

She highlighted the difference between the ontology and epistemology of knowledge. She then concluded by acknowledging that there is no individual ownership of indigenous knowledge but a collective one. The students’ expectations need to be taken into consideration in order to promote the UJ teaching and learning philosophy, which is 'learning to be' as opposed to 'learning about'. The slides are provided below.

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Vivienne Bozalek's presentation on a Normative Framework for Social Justice, 29 August 2014 - Report by Bella Vilakazi

Bella Vilakazi compiled this report

The presentation was enlightening and it gave us areas to think about or consider when it comes to developing or researching on socially just pedagogies. Vivian encouraged dialogue among us so that we can think about the projects in relations to social justice, the capability approach and ethics of care.

Three areas of interest were presented:

1    .     Social Justice: Nancy Fraser
2    .     The Capability Approach: Amartya Sen, Martha Nussbaum
3    .     Ethics of Care: Joan Tronto

The premise that Vivienne started from in her presentation:
“It important to examine moral and normative framework, which put forward, how things ought to be, as well as the values that underpins policies and practices in order for us to consider issues of social justice, difference and care”
Vivienne pointed out that the analysis of normative framework is important because it
·       points out to what is important in social arrangements particularly with social justice, difference and care. The SOTL@UJ project can be guided by focusing on social arrangements that can enable socially just pedagogies, ethics of care and the capability approach.
Social Justice          
Socially just pedagogies in Vivienne’s view means that students and academics should be able to interact as equals and social arrangements need to be made to make these interactions possible. Vivian advised the seminar that socially just pedagogies should not be restricted to teaching and learning only. The SOTL@UJ project should consider looking at the entire context of higher education policies and structures. The goals of social justice should be located around participatory parity, human flourishing and abilities to give and receive care.

There are 3 aspects that Vivian presented on Nancy Fraser’s views
1     .     Redistribution of resources (economic dimension). This aspect of justice might be problematic because it does not include difference.  This is something that needs to be unpacked and find ways to make this aspect applicable to socially just pedagogies.
2    .     Recognition of status (a cultural dimension): how people are valued or devalued because of their attributes, distinct characteristics and cultural capital. In the social sphere, economic and political sphere, teachers might not be valued because the teaching career it is associated with women or with care or it is a career that does not yield strong economic benefits.
3    .     Cultural capital and recognition: These aspects are intertwined but they need to be analysed and understood separately in an affirmative and transformative way.
4    .     Social belonging and social inclusion. This is  the political dimension where students can be devalued, misrecognised or excluded and they cannot claim their rights. Globalisation and technological advances are  some of the aspects that highlight who is valued, recognised and belongs.

    Vivienne came up with the 4 R’s that are essential for social justice:
1   .     Resources
2   .     Recognition
3   .     Responsibility: Lotter (2011) argues that there has to be a justice of accountability and enablement. These are instances where an academic accounts for students who are under their care and create enabling environment so that students to can gain capabilities and flourish in their learning.
4    .     Representation: This is giving students voice. The feedback practice for instance is a dialogical practice which gives students voice. Academics however need to be aware of how their power can supress student voice.

The Capability approach: Amartya Sen, Martha Nussbaum
This approach is concerned with human flourishing. In this view students’ particularity, plurality, context and concrete others as opposed to generalised others, is important and valuable. Socially just pedagogies need to enable students to gain abilities, choose the lives they want, do what is valuable and achieve valuable states.
The capability approach takes into account where people are positioned and what they are able to do with their personal, social and material resources. It does not assume what people need nor decide for them what their needs might be. In the context of higher education, students bring along cultural capital which must be valued and built upon, for example their indigenous knowledge’s. The capital that they bring can only be enhanced to enable them to participate on par with others.
For me the capability approach however, involves all students; those who are prepared and under-prepared, who come from diverse socio-economic and schooling backgrounds. This holistic approach aims to cultivate and ensure students’ flourishing and their well-being during and after higher learning.
Vivienne shared a few ideas with us with are worth considering in the capability approach, social justice and politics of care
·       What are students and academics able to be and do?
·       What capabilities can they exercise?
·       How privileged or disadvantaged are they?
·       What implications does this have on their lives?
·       Are they able to interact on par?

Ethics of care: A social practice in Joan Tronto’s view
Vivienne gave the seminar questions or pointers to think about regarding the ethics of care
1.     what sort of work is being done,
2.     which responsibilities constitute giving of care or caring,
3.     how do power relations affect the work of caring and
4.     what kinds of practices are used to ensure that those who need care actually get it.
I found these questions important because it clarifies what ethics of care mean for higher education and for the project. Ethics of care are exercised when learning needs can be identified (Waghid, 2007; 2010) by both the students and academics.
The world does not always have people who are self-sufficient, independent and equal. Dependency is an inevitable condition in human life. In higher education students come with learning needs and social arrangements can be made to enable pedagogies of care to enhance their learning. Social arrangements can be feedback which reflects caring and ensuring that capabilities, flourishing and wellness in learning can develop.
The ethics of care sees human beings as having a relational ontology which is connection based rather that individual. In higher education caring for learning needs is academic discipline specific. A lecturer at engineering might not be able to give learning care to a student in the humanities.  The ethics of care are negotiated spaces; they consider familiarity and the context of the care giver and receiver. “Care consist of everything we do to care and repair our world so that we may live in it as well as possible”
There are 5 phases of care
·       Caring about is noticing that people have needs. It is an injustice to ignore that people need caring
·       Caring for is taking responsibility to ensure that people’s needs are met
·       Giving care: the work of giving care and competencies that go with it.
·       Responsiveness: taking responsibility in giving care where it is needed. This can be done however within the means of the care giver.
·       Caring with: Caring is a process and in this habits and patterns of caring emerge gradually, moral qualities of trust and solidarity develop and continue. 
We need to note that there is always care that is not always good e.g. bad teaching. In order for caring to be done well, attentiveness, responsibility, responsiveness, iteration of the process of care is needed.
The moral integrity of care means that participation and principle is co-constructed, dialogical and negotiated. Care also has notions of power e.g. assuming that you know more than the others, patronising, assuming that you know what people need. Good caring practices require good practices and dialogue between those giving and receiving care rather that pointing out what is right and wrong.
It is wrong to assume that
1    .     misfortune causes care: when care is regarded is belonging to the needy and the vulnerable. The ethics of care believe that all people are need of caring
2    .     care givers can determine what kind of caring is needed. This amounts to patronising, imposes power on care receivers and unfairly determines who needs care and how responsibilities  should be allocated
3    .     Care is a commodity (a neo-liberal argument). Students are not consumers and should not be viewed in terms of corporate pedagogy. Student learning is more important than giving a service. Care should rather be a process than a commodity

4    .     Care receivers can be excluded because they lack expertise and therefore cannot make judgments. Attentiveness and responsibility is needed in the giving and receiving care Management structures need to be close to the requirements and the recommendations of the ethics of care to avoid being disconnected from needs of students

Saturday 30 August 2014

Seminar by Michael Apple on the task of the critical scholar activist in education

Michael Apple (left), with Dirk Postma (right), who organized the seminar
Michael Apple gave a seminar at the University of Johannesburg Education Faculty on the 29 August 2015. Drawing from his latest book, Can Education Change Society, he spoke on the tasks of the critical scholar activist in education.  

What he said was relevant for the SOTL @ UJ - Towards a Socially Just Pedagogy project. He began by drawing distinctions between the neoliberal tendency, neoconservative and authoritarian, and asserting that there are not simply two social classes: middle and working classes. Of particular relevance to those of us working in higher education, is the fraction of the middle class that advocates evidence, accountability and measurability, and mobilizes resources accordingly. Interestingly, there were quite a few questions from the participants about this, and the fact that as academics, many of us are complicit in this quest for measurable outputs. Andre Kraak drew my attention to an interesting article on performativity and academics' contestation and compliance:  Carole Leathwood & Barbara Read (2013) Research policy and academic performativity: compliance, contestation and complicity, Studies in Higher Education, 38:8, 1162-1174, DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2013.833025

According to Michael, it is our job to document what the right is doing (incidentally, what is the 'right' in South Africa, or are we responding to the international 'right' in the US and other countries?) and to disrupt this, with relational analyses, feminist epistemologies and work on intersectionality. Our tasks are:
  1. to tell the truth
  2. to show spaces for action
  3. to act as a 'critical secretary'
  4. to keep critical traditions alive, critically (i.e. to be critical about these traditions too)
  5. to give of our expertise (our knowledge is 'paid for', we must give it back)
  6. to build progressive communities (one can't do it on one's own)
  7. to practise critical teaching, to demonstrate this in one's own work)
  8. to open spaces for those who are not there. 
Whilst all of these tasks may be important for our work, the task of practising and demonstrating critical teaching, and of opening spaces, are the most immediately pressing. 

Saturday 23 August 2014

Inclusion in Higher education

Dr Tshediso Makoelle 
At the SOTL@UJ seminar on Thursday 21 August, Dr Tsediso Makoelle discussed the concept of inclusion in Higher Education. The presentation is included in the blog and Tsediso had so much fun in developing the seminar that he is already considering the article that he will write on this! As inclusion is really important when considering social justice, it opened lively discussion on various aspects of the topic. The discussion on link between cognitive justice and indigenous knowledge systems was particularly lively, but as this is the topic for a seminar in September, I will leave the discussion on IKS till later. However, it was not only the topics themselves that set the scene for the discussion.

What do we mean by inclusion? It can not only mean the inclusion of disabled students nor is it limited to looking at racial representation at enrolment. Tsediso stated that “inclusive education means providing equitable education and widening participation of all learners regardless of their background”. The variety of definitions that exist combined with the different theoretical orientations applied to inclusive education has led to a situation where many people and institutions have formed fixed views of what constitute appropriate responses when dealing with the challenge of increasing inclusivity.

The call to academics and practitioners in higher education, to reflect on their pedagogical practices and underlying assumptions that result  in practices and behaviours that could lead to exclusion, was heard by everybody present. This led to furious scribbling of notes and intense questions as the audience engaged with the reality of implementing inclusiveness in higher education.

For myself, I started reflecting on the relationship between massification and inclusion. The concept of massification in higher education creates strong emotive responses among academics and higher education practitioners. Many would consider that pedagogical approaches that foster inclusivity may be very difficult in a massified scenario and that it would lead to situations where exclusion will occur. Massification is seen as a means of commercialising higher that will lead to reduced quality and even to a situation where the knowledge that students acquire and produce may have a reduced economic utility. And yet, massification of higher education is also associated with the democratic need to move away from education as an opportunity for the elite and a direct mechanism to increase educational inclusion. The relationship between inclusion and massification may be seen in many different ways and it would be worth considering why a response that is directly aimed at increasing inclusive education is seen as leading to a conflicting outcome. It is definitely necessary that a responsible approach to massification and not an unbridled increase in numbers is necessary. Innovative and progressive structural and pedagogic responses are needed. There were divergent views on the issue of massification, though, with others saying that this does not mean that one cannot cater for diverse needs at all, one just has to find innovative and more forward planning ways to do this.

When faced with the reality of the challenges to inclusive higher education in South Africa – what would be the appropriate pedagogical responses? This very important question drives the activities and planned research linked to SOTL@Uj and it was clear that all the participants at the seminar are excited and energised by it. 

Seminar participants:

Tsediso's presentation

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Seminar on Neve Shalom – Wahat al-Salam and the School for Peace

Nava (in the middle) with some of the participants at the seminar
Against the back drop of the world currently focussed on the situation in Palestine, on Thursday the 14 August Nava Sonnenschein, Director of School for Peace (SFP) at Neve Shalom – Wahat al-Salam (NSWAS) in Israel/Palestine visited the University of Johannesburg. In a most timely lecture, Nava shared her experiences of life in Neve Shalom – Wahat al-Salam, a peaceful community, and the only one of its kind, where Jews and Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel/Palestine live together harmoniously and collaboratively. Home to about 60 families, (and growing) this village provides a model of possibility for peaceful co-existence amidst the surrounding violence and devastation.

Nava also shared insights about the School for Peace (SFP), also the first educational institution of its kind, which offers workshops, training programs and special projects, to a range of Jewish and Palestinians participants. The school is aimed at advancing personal change as well as fostering broader commitments towards agency and activism, particular in areas where the most impact can be made, such as within environmental and social development sectors, schools and the media. The SFP develops participants’ awareness of the conflict and their role in it, enabling them to take responsibility to change the present relations between Jews and Palestinians. In emotionally charged and often painful dialogic workshops, equal numbers of Palestinian’s and Jews are engaged with facilitators from both sides. These engagements are characterised by mutual vulnerability, multilingual sharing of experiences aimed at creating the possibilities of new and different narratives for change. Opportunities for sharing stereotypes, fears and demonisations of “the other” are engaged with, in attempts to transform understandings of each other. Drawing on theoretical frameworks such as social identity theory, development theory of racial and ethnic identity, research on whiteness and post-colonial theories, the approach taken by the SFP has been evaluated, researched and studied and opportunities to extend the approach are underway internationally.

The community are currently working towards the establishment of a Peace College that will provide an accredited Master’s degree in Conflict Resolution with the University of Massachusetts Boston.  Set to begin in the fall of 2015 in USA the college will be named after the late Ahmad Hijazi who was the much loved and respected Director of SFP between 2008 and 2012.   Since it was established, 60,000 Jews and Palestinians have participated in School for Peace programs and more than 1000 facilitators have been trained to lead workshops, many of whom are also involved in social advocacy within the sectors where they work and live. SFP collaborates with community and social organisations, NGOs and other institutions and has impacted on many participants, with sometimes life changing consequences.

The discussion that ensued after the lecture raised important considerations for social justice educators, activists and scholars in the South African context. There are clearly lessons to be learned from the experiences shared by Nava which offers up new visions of hope, possibility and imagination for what is possible in any conflict-ridden spaces so as to advance our common humanity. Perhaps a deepened discussion and a problematizing of discourse is necessary (such as what counts as “conflict” and what “egalitarian” implies). How the SFP’s methodology is potentially applicable in our context or even in other arenas outside of education (for example within the SA mining sector, with all its complexities) requires more thought. Some consideration for how issues of history, power and access impact upon participation in such endeavours as the SFP, particularly after participants have been through such  learning experiences, could also be very useful.  Nava’s visit and insights certainly highlighted important questions and issues for further dialogue.

More information on the School for Peace can be found at http://sfpeace.org/