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What We Do

The Wits Centre for Diversity Studies (WiCDS) was launched in 2014 and is based in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). Initially started as Intercultural and Diversity Studies of Southern Africa (iNCUDISA) at the University of Cape Town, WiCDS was then established at Wits in 2014 and aims to build capacity to meet the challenges of diverse societies, especially in post-apartheid South Africa through interdisciplinary postgraduate education and research.

The Centre presents three interdisciplinary programmes that can be undertaken by students from various disciplines, although most come from disciplines within the Humanities and Social Sciences.

  • BA Honours in Critical and Diversity Studies - this programme is done by coursework and research with the objective of developing and extending critical theoretical understandings of diversity issues in society through an introduction to diversity language and terminology.
  • MA in Critical Diversity Studies - through coursework and research, focuses on a deeper understanding of critical diversity and how it can be applied to professional and personal contexts, as something that is urgently necessary in all spheres of post-apartheid South African life and other global countries.
  • PhD in Critical Diversity Studies

WiCDS is grounded in social justice imperatives, the research and education of the programme is informed by Melissa Steyn’s 2007 notion of Critical Diversity Literacy. The Centre has adapted the racial literacy concept developed by sociologist  France Winddance Twine to analyse other axes of oppression, such as gender, sexuality, disability and class amongst others to describe the field of critical diversity studies as that which develops diversity literacy in scholars and researchers. The following are the ten criteria for critical diversity literacy.

Drawing on cutting edge social theory, the critical diversity studies lens opens up challenging research questions which emerge in the interstices of current disciplinary boundaries. These questions have the capacity to shift common sense assumptions about the social, enabling fresh and penetrating analyses of current social challenges. While no single research methodology need necessarily flow from critical diversity literacy, it involves the recognition of social construction and the constitutive role of discourse in employing critical social theory.

The centre also collaborates with Pitzer College in a study abroad programme offered by Pitzer in which undergraduate students come to Southern Africa for a semester long immersive experience in Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa. During their stay in South Africa, students are hosted by WiCDS.