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Competitions and Ideas

ESSAY COMPETITION: STUDENTS AND STAFF OF SOAP 
REFLECTIONS ON COVID-19“SOCIAL DISTANCING”  & “SELF-ISOLATION 
Optional  

This call for papers is about documenting our immediate experiences, feelings, memories and thoughts about the impacts of the  COVID-19 in SoAP  and WITS’community. It  is understood that experts from various fields will continue to study COVID-19 for years to come.  Nevertheless tapping into immediate memories and ongoing everyday experiences can register primary resources that might never be recouped if the current understandings are allowed to fade away, only to be recollected later. Keeping in mind that we are going to be collecting, reflecting, and registering our thoughts on an evolving global pandemic in a specific time frame, this call for papers proceeds as follows.  

On 20th of February 2020, we opened the SoAP’s Theory & Practice Annual Exhibition Series with the work of Boogertman & Partners. All the seats in the main lecture hall (A-1) in John Moffat Building were taken, and patrons were sitting on the floor at close proximities. By then, we had all heard about the COVID-19 virus in China. The last thing on anybody’s mind during the large gathering was the anticipation of a national “lockdown” and presidential proclamations about national health concerns persuading South Africans to “Self-Isolate” if they had recently returned from certain countries, or if they suspected that they had contracted the virus.   

University-wide, the academic year began on 3rd February 2020, and both students and staff were still settling into the routines of post-inductions and campus culture familiarisations involving lectures, studying, assignments, exams, and extra-curricular activities. The announcement that was issued by WIT’s Senior Executive Team (SET)  on Monday 16, March 2020, is analogous to how weather forecaster’s issued warnings to residents of North American Atlantic coastal lands that a hurricane is coming, and at some point,  it finally arrives with a deluge that blows everything away.  

SET’s announcement brought the mid-term break forward for recess starting on Tuesday, 17 March 2020. All “academic activities, and prior to that, previously scheduled graduation ceremonies were postponed. Anticipated reopening date on 30th March 2020 was extended to 20th of April following presidential announcements. Students were ordered “…to vacate their residences within the next 72 hours. From 17th March 2020, things began to move so fast that it felt and still feels like we are all riding at top-speed in one pandemic prevention vehicle called COVID-19. 

In an essay of between 1500-3000 words, tell us the impact of this pandemic. Feel free to express your thoughts with illustrations if you have the need to do so. How has it disrupted or encouraged your studies/lectures and overall plans for the year?  As lecturers and students in  the fields of planning and architectural education, and whose interests is in making spaces and places for people, be it social or physical, how should we understand “social distancing” and “self-isolation?” We welcome original thoughts and essays from any perspective on the impacts of COVID-19 on you, your family and friends, and on society at large. What have we, WIT’s authorities, and the national government overlooked that should be addressed during this crisis? 

Submit your essay in SAKAIThere are three  portals: 

  • Call For Paper: Reflections on Covid-19 (U-Grad) 
  • Call For Paper: Reflections on Covid-19 (P-Grad) 
  • Call For Paper: Reflections on Covid-19 (Staff) 

Selected essays will be reviewed for possible publication in an edited collection by Nnamdi Elleh (Nnamdi.Elleh@wits.ac.za ), Ludwig Hansen (ludwig.hansen1@wits.ac.za ), and Patrica Theron (Patricia.Theron@wits.ac.za ). You may send your questions to either one of us.   

Prizes for the best essays in the student category are as follows: 

  • R2000 First Prize 
  • R1500 Second Prize 
  • R1000 Third Prize 
  • R500 Prizes Each to Five Respective Student Runner Up 

We are looking for essays that are imaginatively conceived, with a clear and structured argument, original material, and a high quality of presentation.  

Please note that any proceeds from the sale of the book will go to SoAP’s Endowment Funds. This is an incredible opportunity to have your voice heard on a raging global issue and potentially disseminated world-wide.  

Please submit your essay on or before 18:00 on 18 May 2020.  

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