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10 September 2018
Courageous Conversations take centre stage

(Published - 10 September 2018)

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) has concluded a series of alumni engagement sessions for the last two years, entitled: “Courageous Conversations”. They centred around “(Re)creating/thinking” UWC’s intellectual identity.

The series - hosted by Professor Vivienne Lawack, UWC Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic - had its final round for the year in Cape Town on September 6. The sessions took place in Johannesburg, Kimberley, Port Elizabeth and other parts of the country.

The Cape Town leg of the conversation featured Judge Taswell Papier, a UWC alumnus, as the keynote speaker. After his address, Professor Lawack posed three pertinent questions about the intellectual identity of UWC:

1) What of UWC’s historical intellectual identity should be retained?
2) What should UWC’s intellectual identity be?
3) What principles should be embedded in the UWC curriculum?

“We share ideas on the future transformation of UWC, and alumni share their ideas and views, thereby enabling them to be part of the solution,” said Professor Lawack.

Earlier, in his keynote address, Judge Papier said that he believed that UWC has much to offer in the way of leadership on complex issues that are globally relevant.

“I believe nothing can be achieved without a critical mass of committed individuals who work together, united in their determination to accelerate the pace of growth, development and true liberation at all levels.”

Judge Papier obtained his LLB Degree from the University and was a recipient of the Global Lawyer of the Year Award. He paid tribute to UWC and the influence the University has had on his life and career.

“UWC has an authentic history rooted deeply in struggle, and is probably one of the best placed institutions to contribute to the growth, development and prosperity of our country in the context of globalisation, for generations to come,” said Judge Papier.

“It is an institution like UWC that passionately understands that no meaningful purpose can be served without addressing the social and economic issues in our country - the consequences of successive colonisation and apartheid.

“The misconception of transformation is that for some, transformation means assimilation or a good cultural fit. The consequences are devastating to building a nation. Instead of celebrating our history, assimilationists aspire to become acceptable to their colonial masters.”

Professor Lawack told the alumni in the audience that all opinions shared during the courageous conversations are being analysed with the aim of linking the outcomes of the process to the curriculum programme.

“That's why your voice, as alumni, is so important,” she said.