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Young academic talent developed at WSG

- Kemantha Govender

Three young African students started a newly initiated pre-doctoral programme in 2018 at the Wits School of Governance.

The Commerce, Law and Management Faculty at Wits University recognised the need to offer a formal programme of academic induction designed to identify and recruit emerging talent into academia and provide them with a nurturing environment in which they develop skills for an academic career.

“We must encourage promising young African scholars to pursue careers in academia. The CLM pre-doctoral fellowship programme recognises and supports emerging scholarly talent in the broad fields of economics, business, governance, law and management” says CLM Assistant Dean of Research, Associate Professor Jason Cohen.

Meet our pre-doctoral fellows:

Zibusiso Manzini-Moyo, completed his Master of Laws (LLM) with a specialisation in Labour Law and was interested in engaging in multidisciplinary studies (a combination of law and public policy).

“My LLM focused on evaluating the Labour Relations Act and its implementation particularly with regards to strikes and protest actions in a democratic South Africa. My enthusiasm for studying policies, particularly legislation drove me to the need to study public policy formulation and implementation,” says Manzini-Moyo.

His desire is to pursue doctoral studies in immigration law and policies in South Africa. This research will entail evaluating South African policies’ attitude towards immigrants and immigration issues.

“The pre-doctoral fellowship programme provides the opportunity for a fellow to be well versed with research practices related to the particular field of study. In this instance WSG provides me with the necessary tools to bridge the legal gap with the governance gap to address my shortfalls in social science related studies,” says Manzini-Moyo.

Grace Williams, from Nigeria, has a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Extension from the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

“Even though I have a background in Agricultural Economics and Extension, my interest has always been in social security and developmental programmes. The pre-doctoral research programme will deepen my knowledge in poverty reduction, sustainable development and good governance,” says Williams.

She researches how human cultural capital could be employed to alleviate poverty through food production. Williams plans to investigate the causes and consequences of food insecurity in rural areas of Uyo, Nigeria, and Orange Farm, South Africa; and conducts an analysis of efforts towards addressing this menace.

Fatima Ragie applied for this programme because it was an ideal opportunity for her to get exposure in a different School that had real world applications compared to her traditional training of environmental sciences.

“It offered the opportunity for training, skills development and knowledge building that would help guide me to a PhD, especially with regards to research, writing and challenging my paradigm of thinking. I hope to complete the programme with skills that will improve my research and academic writing, and with experience will guide me as a future academic, “says Ragie.

Her research, titled “Mapping a sustainability index in a spatially divided city, Johannesburg, South Africa” explores a variety of environmental themes with an urban focus. She is building a sustainability index using a set of indicators based on the biennial Quality of Life Survey undertaken by Gauteng City-Region Observatory.

The index would be beneficial for city planners, government and the broader public as it would provide an objective and repeatable method of tracking progress in the sustainability and environmental fields in the spatially heterogeneous city of Johannesburg.

These urban sustainability indicators will be able to provide a holistic and focussed reflection of common sustainability issues faced by the people of Johannesburg. The stereotypes of a sustainable city will also be interrogated in light of the spatially divided nature of the Johannesburg city in terms of race, space, income, class, infrastructure, and education. This will help ensure a just transition to a more sustainable city.

Background information:

Under the supervision and mentorship of senior academic staff, pre-doctoral fellows will gain experience in a range of scholarly activities, most notably in teaching and research.

CLM pre-doctoral Fellows typically hold a Master’s degree, with an excellent overall academic record showing an aptitude for research and interest in an academic career. These pre-doctoral fellows will not yet have held any full-time permanent professional or academic positions.  Fellows undertake supervised research over the course of a year with a view to entering formal PhD studies thereafter.

In addition to developing research ability, the fellowship may also gain experience in the design and delivery of course material and/or sharing of knowledge between industry and academia.

Fellows are viewed as academic colleagues working with permanent academic staff to fulfil their potential. They will be viewed very much part of the Schools which host them, participating in the activities of the School and the broader research community at the University. At the end of the fellowship, fellows will be ready to pursue doctoral studies, enter into an academic career and strengthen the capacity of local universities to offer academic programmes.

*Information supplied by Associate Professor Cohen