The first-ever Research Awards evening of the Faculty of Arts and Design on 30 November was a significant event in its academic journey. The Faculty started this special tradition to recognise the outstanding research contributions from its creative community. 

“We are here to recognise and celebrate the outstanding achievements of our dedicated Faculty members. This event is more than just a ceremony; it stands as a testament to our unwavering commitment, creativity and excellence in the pursuit of knowledge. As we commence this evening, let us revel in the recognition of the profound impact that research has on our intellectual landscape and on the broader academic community,” said Prof Nalini Moodley, Executive Dean, at the event.

Reflecting on the TUT Excellence Awards that was hosted the evening before, with specific reference to Vice-Chancellor Prof Tinyiko Maluleke’s speech and the Arbinger Outward Performance Programme that she and Dr Laetitia Orlandi (Assistant Dean) attended, Prof Moodley inspired staff to reflect on the impact they make, not only as individuals, but also as a team.

“Research is the lifeblood of any academic institution. It is through research that we expand the boundaries of human understanding, contribute to the broader body of knowledge and drive innovation. In our Faculty, research isn't just a responsibility; it is becoming a passion. It is shifting towards a commitment to unravelling the mysteries of art, design, culture and the human experience in all its complex, yet wonderous, nuances,” Prof Moodley said.

“The research conducted within our Faculty encompasses a vast array of topics – from the Fine Arts to Design, from Cultural Studies to Digital Media, and so much more. It is this diversity that makes our Faculty exceptional, and it is the quality of our research that distinguishes us as one of the leading Faculty’s of Arts and Design.”

“The research projects we celebrate have not only expanded our knowledge but have also had a profound impact on society. They have ignited discussions, shaped thinking and inspired creativity. The work of our award recipients has enhanced the reputation of our Faculty in particular and the Tshwane University of Technology as a whole.”

“As the smallest Faculty at TUT we have five NRF-rated scholars which is the third highest at the University. We are also home to two Research Niche Areas out of seven in total at TUT, both of which are contributing in significant ways to addressing the social ills of society. The Faculty is also home to the only TUT staff member who qualified for the future Professors Programme at Stellenbosch University, and to two Postdoctoral fellows who are remarkable emerging scholars in their disciplines and whom we have a responsibility to nurture. Further, we foster creative excellence in the growing artistic outputs submitted by our Faculty staff. And, perhaps most critically, the Faculty, for the first time in the past 19 years, achieved a research output of 40 units,” Prof Moodley added.

“So, it is my sense that the researchers in the Faculty understand and are deeply connected to the space within which they live and engage. Whether that is in the realm of students and teaching and learning, or in the realm of blue-sky thinking and research, our Faculty is carving out a name for itself within the higher education landscape. This has contributed to our reputation as a place where research doesn't just exist in the abstract but translates into practical applications that benefit society.”

Prof Moodley continued to say that the examination of critical citizenship and its influence on nation-building in South Africa is noteworthy for emphasising the significance of design education in our country. Simultaneously, the exploration of memory and students' experiences delve into the construction of identity. “These decolonial inquiries significantly shape the overall student experience that will only benefit our students. Moreover, we've ventured into the domain of technicians investigating machine performers, language and dance, broadening the scope of our explorations.”

“Some of the researchers in the Faculty have also explored issues from the historical duality of August Wilson, to the female gaze in South African film, to critical matters of cybersecurity. Others reframed history, and discussed agency and anxiety, while also considering fast fashion and the complexities of staging blackness.”

“The ground-breaking research conducted by our award recipients has elevated the academic and research standards of our Faculty. Their contributions have been published in prestigious journals and their work has received international recognition, positioning our Faculty as a hub for cutting-edge research. We have ground-breaking, outstanding, innovative and socially responsive scholarship that enhance and advance the fields of art history and the social sciences. Furthermore, the research also elevates the silences that black women artists have endured in the history of the South African art historical narrative. In this way, the Faculty of Arts and Design is pioneering through artivist paradigms leading to new possibilities in creative scholarships.”

 In conclusion, Prof Moodley said that it is critical to realise that the Faculty's research has also had a direct impact on communities through projects, exhibitions and outreach programmes. “This engagement has strengthened our ties with our communities and is an essential aspect of our reputation as an institution dedicated to using research for the betterment of society.”

“Excellence in research is not attained easily. It is the result of countless hours of dedication, intellectual curiosity, collaboration and, sometimes, overcoming challenges. Our awardees have exemplified these qualities. They have shown that true dedication to research goes far beyond the laboratory, the studio or the library; it is a way of life.”

“Tonight's ceremony is more than just a recognition of past achievements; it is a beacon that lights the way for the future. We hope to inspire our current students, Faculty members and all those who follow in the footsteps of our award recipients. The upcoming Artivism Conference is a case in point to lead us to future ground-breaking moments that create tectonic shifts towards excellence.”

Awards were presented as follows:
Lanie Van der Walt

Dr Leandi Steyn Delport

Sandra Viljoen
Tumelo Rasedile
Alastair Pringle

Dr Thivhafuni Tshishonge
Dr Nicola Haskins
Dr Mienke Fouche
Dr Herman Botes


Dr Karina Lemmer
Dr Nicola Haskins

Merit Creative of the year
Thamsanqa Zungu

Winner Creative of the year
Dr Roland Moses

EMERGING RESEARCHERS OF THE YEAR Dr Rostislava Pashkevitch-Ngobeni Dr Refiloe Lepere RESEARCHER OF THE YEAR Merit Researcher of the Year Prof Anna-Marie Jansen van Vuuren Winner Researcher of the Year Prof Pfunzo Sidogi

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