Call for Proposals
Succeeding in Africa: Social Construction in Action conference provides the platform for people to share their success stories related to projects – large or small. These projects can be from any discipline or profession or context, where they have addressed challenges through collaboration with people. This conference is about sharing your knowledge, skills and experiences related to collaborative, transdisciplinary practices that contributed to the successful engagement with the challenges the African context pose to us.
We are interested in showcase stories where people managed to collaborate together across disciplinary or professional boundaries in order to come up with solutions to challenges. Stories can range from relational practices in counselling/therapy to the planning and development of a mega mine. These stories should make others aware of what the collaborative, relational practices were that enabled the generation of innovative solutions to complex challenges which would have been an unlikely result had only one person attempted at it.
With this conference, we would like to create awareness that regardless of whether you have a professional qualification or not and regardless of the discipline in which your practice, we all can collaborate together to generate solutions to create and sustain change. The focus is on how we can collaborate with each other in such a manner that complex challenges are not addressed through interdisciplinary solutions running concurrently with each other but instead on how our knowledge and experience can dovetail together to create the change needed.
We are interested in proposals that:
Contribute and participate in this conference by submitting your proposal illustrating how you would like to tell the story of how collaborative, relational and transdisciplinary practices have enabled you and/or your team to achieve transformative and sustainable success in a small or large scale project within one of the following critical focus areas:
For more details please visit our website at: http://conference.itd.ac.za/overview-of-presentation-proposals/
Closing date for proposal submissions is 15 March 2017
Registration for the Conference is Open!
Please visit conference website to register www.conference.itd.ac.za
Much has been researched and said about Africa’s problems and complexities and what should be done. This conference’s focus will be on what has been done – successfully. We will bring African projects, from small to mega, from all contexts and disciplines, in the focus. These success stories are going to be unpacked to establish how collaborative, transdisciplinary relationships have enabled success.
Come witness the stories, from the African continent, of collaborative, relational practices and transdisciplinary approaches as creative and innovative responses to solving complex challenges.
This conference will offer you the opportunity to engage in both large and small group dialogue with the intent to harvest new learnings about how people together – across disciplines and in participation with local knowledge – can co-create innovative practices to address complex challenges successfully.
Why should you attend this conference?
• Learn best practices in collaborative, relational and transdisciplinary engagement that you can apply in your own work
• Witness the transformative effect of collaborative, relational and transdisciplinary practices in action.
• Participate in small and large group dialogue with people who have successfully implemented transformative and
sustainable small, large and mega projects.
ITD case study included in "Appreciate Inquiry for Change Management" book release
At ITD we are always proud to be able to make valuable contributions wherever we can. We are proud to announce that one of our case studies has been included in the book "Appreciative Inquiry for Change Management.
See below for a summary of the content.
The Reading Rainbow
The Importance of Diversity Literacy in South Africa
By Kutlwano Bokala
“Reading is not walking on the words; it's grasping the soul of them.” – Paulo Freire
We live in a time where progressive transformation equals superficial compliance to BEE statutes, radical social justice equals ridiculed cries of passion and increased globalisation equals the westernisation of Africa. Many South Africans will graduate from educational institutions, retire from illustrious careers, travel to foreign countries and affiliate with people from diverse backgrounds, never having to encounter concepts of race, gender, age, sexuality, disability and post-colonialism in meaningful ways. Nor will they be required to consider how these theories apply in their everyday lives and contribute to the present-day complexities of South Africa that require a greater understanding of the concept known as diversity and the changing relationships of people differently positioned within the nation-state. However, the influence of South Africa’s prevailing legacy on the current social climate desperately calls for its citizens to develop a soul-seeking curiosity into the social politics of what it means to be different. This is especially true for Human Resources professionals, educators, politicians, social activists, corporate executives, civil servants and other leaders in society at the helm of transformative nation building.
Beyond the legalities of employment equity that seem to force the hand of those belonging to dominant groups or the negative responses to images of students fighting for radical change, there is a need for South African professionals to prepare themselves to function sensitively in social contexts characterised by diversity. Hence, Diversity Literacy as an acquired competency should be a fundamental constituent in the socially constructed imaginary of its citizens. A sort of reading practice is necessary for one to begin to “read” the social relations and pervasive structures of inequality within society the way one would “read” text.
Inspired by Steyn’s (2014) Critical Diversity Literacy Framework, the efforts of a diversity-literate individual should be employed in accordance with the following criteria:
• Identifying the material and symbolic manifestations of dominant identities e.g. whiteness, heterosexuality, masculinity, ablebodiedness, heteronormativity, christonormativity, etc.
• Exposing how these systems of oppression intersect, interlock, co-construct and constitute each other
• Recognising the definition of oppressive systems such as racism as current social problems rather than a historical legacy
• Understanding that social identities are learned and an outcome of social practices
• Analysing of the ways in which diversity hierarchies and institutionalised oppressions are mediated by class inequality
• Engaging with issues of transformation of oppressive systems towards deepening democracy in all levels of social organisation
This provocative way of appraising the social complexities of an evolving world requires individuals to adopt an analytical orientation that allows one to develop an integrated consciousness that is personal, social and political. A dialectic experience is ignited within the individual whereby personal liberation and social transformation manifest as virtuous foundations of existence. Literacy thus becomes a liberating exercise of transformation; to understanding what one “reads” and to “writing” what one understands.
Drawing on the cutting edge of social theory and the recognition of social construction, Diversity Literacy opens up new ways of thinking about the commonly held ‘truths’ about Mzansi’s diversity problem and other cultural issues exacerbating it. Therefore, it is crucial that society begins to see beyond the taken-for-granted facts disseminated by dominant discourses like mass media or government that ultimately hold up the structures of systematic oppression.
South Africans need to wake up from the slumbers of complacency induced by the sweet lullabies of neoliberalism and sharpen their euphoric vision of national harmony blurred by the utopian ideals of “rainbowism”. This is not to say that the South African dream for the rainbow nation is an illusion. On the contrary, it is very much a reality. An imaginary, socially constructed, that calls for one not to stop believing in the rainbow but to interrogate the creation of the rainbow in the first place.
Freire, P. (1985). The Politics of Education: Culture, Power, and Liberation. South Hadley, Mass: Bergin & Garvey.
Martín-Baró, I. (1994). Writings for a Liberation Psychology. A. Aron & S. Corne (Eds.). Harvard: Harvard University Press
Steyn, M. (2010). Critical Diversity Literacy: Diversity Awareness in Twelve South African Organisations. Innovative Issues and Approaches in Social Sciences, 3 (3). http://doi.org/10.12959issn.1855-0541.IIASS-2010-no3-art03.
Steyn, M. (2014). Critical Diversity Literacy: Essentials for the Twenty-first Century. In Routledge International Handbook of Diversity Studies (pp. 379–389). New York: Routledge.
Kutlwano Bokala is a writer and researcher specialising in organisational development and human resource solutions at the Institute for Transdisciplinary Development (ITD).
She holds a Bachelor of Commerce and honours degrees in Human Resource Management from the University of Pretoria and is currently completing a Master’s degree in Diversity Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand. Her academic interests are in Critical Diversity and the interdisciplinary course of study that ranges widely between, but not limited to, social psychology, politics, gender studies, critical race studies, queer phenomenology, sociology, affective studies, social justice education, de-colonial studies and intersectionality.
With the guidance of her supervisor SARChi ( South African Research Chairs Initiative) chair of Wits Centre for Diversity Studies, prof Melissa Steyn, Kutlwano aims to publish her thesis titled “The Affective Black Experience: Struggles with Conformity for Young Black Professionals in Corporate SA”. In her thesis, she aims to amplify the experiences of young black professionals struggling to assimilate into the dominant work culture of their organisation, often foreign to their own, as well as expose the power structures that construct the subjectivities of such employees as outsiders within.
As an aspiring social scientist, Kutlwano attributes her pursuit for social justice, transformative equality and personal liberation to her upbringing as an Afro-Canadian born of politically exiled parents. This transcultural experience informs her professional efforts to empowering individuals from various backgrounds.
When not immersed in her studies, Kutlwano appreciates various expressions of the arts, daring to partake in acting, writing and singing, as well as enjoys the writings of social giants like Sara Ahmed, Kopano Ratele, Warsan Shire and Maya Angelou.
Energised by the sharing of research projects in New Mexico
Last month Elonya Niehaus, researcher at the Institute for Transdisciplinary Development in Centurion, Pretoria, had the opportunity to attend the 5th International Qualitative Research in Management and Organization Conference (QRM) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.
Just back from the visit to the USA she said the conference was attended mostly by academics and researchers in management and organisation studies representing countries such as Africa, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Ireland and United States of America.
“The conference provided the context for qualitative researchers to share their research projects in the management and organisation contexts,” she said. Topics ranged from relational leadership, ethics in management, gender and age in management to research considerations such as reflexivity, auto-ethnography and action research.
“Reflecting back on the conference I realise that the research papers that energised me were those that told stories of research projects where the research was done in such a manner that the research participants also benefitted from participating in the research.
“Keynote speaker, Michelle Fine, who engaged in critical participatory action research, made it clear that we should not only be concerned with theorising, but also engage in practices that interrupt and change. Her examples of participatory action research projects left me inspired to engage in projects where the participants and their respective communities benefit from the research engagements.”
Fine is the Distinguished Professor of Social Psychology at the City University of New York, USA, and her paper was titled “Dialogue, Disruption and Inclusion”. Visit www.researchgate.net/profile/Michelle_Fine/publications for more publications by Fine.
Megan Reitz’s paper, “Dialogue in Organizations – Developing Relational Leadership,” provided a good example of action research in organizations in which the leaders became the co-researchers in defining practices for developing relational leadership. Visit www.ashridge.org.uk/faculty-research/faculty/megan-reitz/.
Lone Hersted’s paper, “Roleplaying as Participatory Inquiry for Leadership Development & Organizational Learning,” illustrated how a research project can stimulate “learning from within” where people in leadership positions can use role-play and reflecting teams to develop and improve their leadership practices. Visit www.taosinstitute.net/relational-leading.
How can we do research and write about research in ways that the community where we conduct the research can also benefit from the research? How can managers, leaders, human resource practitioners, industrial psychologists and consultants benefit from the research?
Niehaus reiterated ITD’s use of participatory action research as the theory of change. “This allows us to apply a cycle of planning, engagement and reflection in collaboration with both our clients and our transdisciplinary team members, aimed at facilitating transformative change to the benefit of the client organisation. As change consultants, we do not engage with clients from an expert position where we make diagnosis of what is wrong in the organisation. Instead, we use our skills in facilitating a ‘change and learning process from within’.
“Through the use of dialogue and conversation we co-create a context where the organisation and its members can use their successes, strengths and past experiences to initiate constructive change.”