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UJ Chair in Teaching and Learning, Prof Brenda Leibowitz on the decolonisation of knowledge Professorial Inaugural address:

The focus on the decolonisation of knowledge is an event of major significance and is receiving attention in South Africa and internationally. This was the sentiment of Brenda Leibowitz, a Professor in Education and Chair in Teaching and Learning at the University of Johannesburg (UJ).

She argued that cognitive justice must be accompanied by social justice, and at a transformative, not merely ameliorative level when she delivered her inaugural address in the Council Chambers, Madibeng Building, Auckland Park Kingsway Campus on Monday, 18 April 2016.

Prof Leibowitz’s address focussed on power, knowledge and learning that haveand she hoped that her talk would make a humble contribution to the decolonisation debate.

How to encourage students to learn from the unknown as well as the known, which in some instances does require access to material and other opportunities?; how is a lecturer responsible for creating opportunities for students to learn whilst remaining a ‘learner’ and not a gatekeeper or transmitter of one received wisdom?; how can good practice principles can be generated and shared?; how can we can learn from collaboration across settings and disciplines?; and what can educationists can do to promote transformative rather than ameliorative approaches to social justice? were some of the questions Prof Leibowitz explored during her address.

Prof Leibowitz’s key role at the University is to support the scholarship of teaching and learning amongst academics. She has given many talks and conducted workshops at universities in South Africa on the scholarship of teaching and learning and related topics.

She serves on the Decolonising the Curriculum Task Team and the Senate Teaching and Learning Committee.

From 2003 to 2013 she was the Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning at Stellenbosch University. Prior to this she worked at the national Department of Education leading the Directorate: Race and Values in Education; she worked in the Academic Development Centre at the University of the Western Cape and before that was a high school teacher for 11 years.

She is presently convenor of the national pilot scheme, the Teaching Advancement at University (TAU) Fellowships Programme, with funding from the Department of Higher Education and Training Teaching Development Grants. She has been the convenor of the Southern African Universities Learning and Teaching (SAULT) Forum from 2014. She is team leader for a national NRF funded project, “Interplay of structure, culture and agency: A study on professional development in higher education” and oversees an interdisciplinary research project at UJ: “SOTL@UJ – Towards a Socially Just Pedagogy”.

She is a member of several other funded and non-funded research teams, including one entitled “Postgraduate study in uncharted territory”. Her research interests include professional academic development, the scholarship of teaching and learning, language and academic literacy and social justice in higher education. She has a C2 rating from the NRF.

She was one of the founders of the Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa (Heltasa) and served as the Chairperson for the first five years. She helped set up the CHE/Heltasa national Teaching Excellence Awards and was convenor of the committee for six years. She is presently the book reviews editor for the journal Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning (Cristal) and was previously an editor for the International Journal for Academic Development (IJAD).

She has edited and co-edited several books on academic development and social justice in education.

See Brenda Leibowitz’s Professorial Inaugural address entitled Power, knowledge and learning: A humble contribution to the decolonisation debate​

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