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UWC Research Chairs

In order to continue to develop the pipeline for NRF SARChI Chairs, the DVC for Research and Innovation initiated the UWC Research Chairs.

The aim of the UWC Research Chairs is to provide leading researchers with the opportunity to contribute to developing their respective niche areas; enabling capacity building by having them identify a minimum of one PhD and two Master's students and a junior staff member or postdoctoral fellow to support with their funding.

The UWC Research Chairs are also required to attend a national or international conference to share and engage with other institutions and build networks.

Let’s introduce you to our inaugural UWC Research Chairs and their niche area:

Chair: Prof. Russell H Kaschula
Position: Senior Professor - Department of African Language Studies (Faculty of Arts and Humanities), UWC Research Chair in Forensic Linguistics and Multlingualism
Qualifications: BA LLB, BA (Hons), HDE, PhD (Rhodes)


Prof. Russell H Kaschula is a Professor in the Department of African Language Studies at the University of the Western Cape and holds the newly established Institutional Chair in Forensic Linguistics and Multilingualism. For the first time in 2022 he taught an Honours course in Forensic Linguistics at the UWC and from 2023 this discipline will also be offered as part of the new Diploma in Language Practice, as well as at the MA level of study.

He has published widely in the field of Applied Language Studies, including Forensic Linguistics, Intercultural Studies and Multilingualism more generally. He has a particular interest in African Languages (isiNguni languages and isiXhosa). His more recent interests include language and crime, literary geography, as well as sociolinguistics more generally.

In 2020 he co-edited The Transformative Power of Language. From Postcolonial to Knowledge Societies in Africa, together with Prof. Ekkehard Wolff from Leipzig University (Cambridge University Press). In 2021 he published a book with Routledge in London and New York titled Languages, Identities and Intercultural Communication in South Africa and Beyond. He also co-edited A Handbook on Legal Languages and the Quest for Linguistic Equality in South Africa and Beyond, published by African SUN Press (2021), as well as co-edited a book titled Language and the Law. Global Perspectives in Forensic Linguistics from Africa and Beyond, published in 2022 (African SUN Press). He has an interest in creative writing and he has published short stories and novels in both isiXhosa and in English, one story being selected as part of the prestigious Caine Prize for African Writing, and another published as part of a book where the selection of stories was done by JM Coetzee.

Prof. Kaschula has international standing and has worked extensively with scholars in the international arena. He acts as an international advisor to the Journal of Semiotics and Law as well as a number of other journals both internationally and nationally. He is also, for example, a Board Member of Tydskrif vir Letterkunde. For many years he was the scientific editor of the Southern African Journal of African Languages and he was a board member of the African Languages of Southern Africa Association, acting as its secretary and scientific editor.

He has a B1 rating with the NRF.

The language and law research and work that Prof. Kaschula carries out links directly to the SDG 4 of creating quality education. If this is achievable through the use of appropriate language skills, then it would also lead to SDG 8, speaking to decent work and economic growth as well as no poverty. It would also contribute to peace and justice as well as strong institutions, particularly in the legal and educational workplace arenas.

Chair: Prof. Jennifer Chipps
Position: Professor - School of Nursing (Faculty of Community and Health Sciences)
Qualifications: BSc Nursing (Wits), BSc (Psychology) (Hons) (UNISA), MPH (UNSW Australia), PhD (UKZN)


Professor Jennifer Chipps was appointed as the Faculty of Community Health Sciences Chair for Digital Health in 2022.

Jennifer Chipps is a Professor in the School of Nursing at the University of the Western Cape where she has been a faculty member since 2014 and Director of the School from 2018 to 2021. She is a NRF C2 rated researcher. 

Jennifer completed a PhD in Telemedicine at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and a Master’s in Public Health at the University of New South Wales, Australia. Jennifer has previously worked at the University of Sydney, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the NSW Department of Health in Australia and the NZ Health Research Council in New Zealand. Jennifer’s research interests are Digital Health, Mental Health, Ageing, eLearning and Systematic

The exponential increase in the use of digital technologies, such as smartphones and AI, the impact of COVID-19, and the global aim of access and equitable health care has brought digital health to the fore as an essential new niche area in health research. Digital health technologies are essential enablers of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and underpins the vision in South Africa of ‘Better Health for all South Africans enabled by person-centred Digital Health’ (National Digital Health Strategy for South Africa 2019-2024). Digital health has a prominent place in the UWC 2035 vision statement of a “substantial place in key areas in knowledge ecosystems which aims to improve decision-making and innovation through networks, collaboration and productive relationships, and effective partnerships with universities, Africa and beyond”. In addition, it is an essential part of the Community and Health Science vision and mission of engaged and connected research within a social justice framework, aligned to the WHO objective of promoting equitable, affordable, and universal access through the development of the infrastructure for information and communication technologies for health. (WHO Global Strategy on Digital Health 2020-2025 & National Digital Health Strategy for South Africa 2019-2024).

Digital health research is underpinned by user-centred design principles and are co-designed projects with stakeholders with expertise in clinical health, digital technology, psychology (behaviour change) and research. Digital health technologies are not discipline-specific, requiring interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaboration teams including clinicians, technology developers and bioinformatics specialists.

Digital health technologies are essential enablers of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and practically all SDGs have a digital component. Specifically related to SDG3: Good Health and Well-being, new developments in wireless technologies are creating opportunities to change the health sector, solving problems of geographic access, facilitating the provision of appropriate interventions at grassroots levels, reducing intervention costs, and raising public awareness about health problems and promoting healthy lifestyles through the use of digital media, and ultimately contributing to patient empowerment

In South Africa, digital health underpins the vision in South Africa of ‘Better Health for all South Africans enabled by person-centred Digital Health’ (National Digital Health Strategy for South Africa 2019-2024). Digital health has a prominent place in the UWC 2035 vision statement of a “substantial place in key areas in knowledge ecosystems which aims to improve decision-making and innovation through networks, collaboration and productive relationships, and effective partnerships with universities, Africa and beyond”. In addition, it is an essential part of the Community and Health Science vision and mission of engaged and connected research within a social justice framework, aligned to the WHO objective of promoting equitable, affordable, and universal access through the development of the infrastructure for information and communication technologies for health. (WHO Global Strategy on Digital Health 2020-2025 & National Digital Health Strategy for South Africa 2019-2024).

Chair: Prof. Rajendra Chetty
Position: Professor - Department of Language Education (Faculty of Education)
Qualifications: BA (Hons), BEd (Hons), PhD(UNISA), MA (UKZN), MBA (UCT)


Rajendra Chetty is a postcolonial scholar with transdiscplinary research interests that draw from critical theory and social movement scholarship. He leans on critical educational studies and has written on the problems of literacy in high poverty communities and the intersectionality of race, class and inequality in schooling. He is the author of eleven school language textbooks and served on national and provincial parastatal bodies concerned with the field of English studies (National English Language Body, Shakespeare Society of Southern Africa, Western Cape Language Committee, and the English Academy of Southern Africa).

His international scholarship and visiting professorships include universities in the USA, India, Brazil, Sweden, the UK, Italy and Africa. In 2015/16 he was Fulbright professor at the City University of New York (Queens College and the Graduate Centre). He served as editor of The English Academy Review: A Journal of English Studies. His alliance with civil society groups such as Equal Education, Abahlali baseMjondolo, and READ, has seen him work with activists within a participatory paradigm, drawing consistently from critical race theories.

There are three focal areas in his research programme, namely literacy; race, class and marginalisation; and postcolonial writings. All three areas are connected by post- and decolonial theoretical constructs, the key being critical theory and radical intellectualisation based on the ideas of Freire, Fanon and Biko. The project on literacy practices in poor schools in the Cape Flats is cognisant not only of the neoliberal/neo-apartheid agenda of the state, but also the influence of out-of-school issues such as poverty, violence, gangsterism and drug abuse on classroom achievement. It is evident that disciplinary knowledge may be inadequate to address complex social problems and that there should be wider societal participation in knowledge production, using a transdisciplinary lens and foregrounding voices and narratives of civil society. Apart from discernible factors for scholastic underachievement such as a lack of resources, parental support, poor teacher knowledge and a regressive curriculum, the research projects note two new areas of concern: absence of cognitive activities and social complexity of poverty.

A new model of literacy that challenges inequality and provides strategic and sustained teacher support in disadvantaged schools is crucial in the post-apartheid society. The objective of the research on out-of-school issues is that classroom achievement cannot be separated from learners’ home and community environment. The issue of educational inequality emanating from socio-economic disadvantage is a complex research area and it links with increased levels of violence and high rates of youth unemployment. An allied component of the research programme is to extend the decoloniality discourse to local struggles and subaltern positionings.

The Research Chair programme is linked to SDG 4, that states that by 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes.

The key targets linked to public schooling are to:
  • ensure that all children have access to quality early childhood education;
  • ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, human rights, gender equality, a culture of peace, global citizenship and cultural diversity; and
  • increase the supply of qualified teachers.
Significant progress has been made to make education accessible to poor learners through the child support grant, no-fee schools, and school nutrition programmes. This resulted in the near universal attendance of children at schools. However, opportunities to gain access to good quality education have not been equal, due to poor infrastructure and a lack of well-trained teachers in rural and township schools. In 2018, among children aged 0–6, close to 43% did not attend any education institution and 40,7% were never read to, nor told stories at home. Non-attendance of ECD education exacerbates social class differences in cognitive development among young children and impacts on future learning ability. Each year, on average, 11 out of 100 children aged 14–17 repeated grades. Around 100 000 children aged 6–13 were out-of-school and the most affected were coloured children in the North West and Western Cape. An indicator of the rising levels of poverty in the country is that 83% of children participate in school feeding schemes.

Chair: Prof. Marieta du Plessis
Position: Associate Professor - Department of Industrial Psychology (Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences), UWC Research Chair in Leadership in Higher Education
Qualifications: BA, BA (Hons), MA (Human Resource Management) (SU), PhD (Industrial Psychology) (UWC), Registered Industrial Psychologist (HPCSA)


Prof. Marieta du Plessis is a Registered Industrial Psychologist with more than ten years of consulting and educational experience. With a passion for helping individuals, teams and businesses grow, she has dedicated her time to creating healthy Human Resource practices in organisations and facilitated numerous hours of individual discussions with clients to assist them in reaching their next level of success. 

Her specific areas of teaching and research are Organisational Behaviour and Psychology, Leadership, Positive Organisational Scholarship and Occupational Counselling. She has also successfully supervised six Master's dissertations in Industrial Psychology.

In 2014, Prof. Du Plessis was awarded a Thuthuka research grant by the National Research Foundation of South Africa for the completion of her PhD. Masters in Human Resource Management (Stellenbosch University) - The relationship between servant leadership, emotional intelligence, trust in the immediate supervisor and meaning in life: An exploratory study Supervisor: Dr Z Dannhauser.

She is an NRF Y-rated Researcher.

Chair: Prof. Gregory Ruiters
Position: Professor - School of Government (Faculty of Economics and Management Sciences) 
Qualifications: PhD (Johns Hopkins University); MA (Cum Laude) (University of Witwatersrand); BA Hons  (University of Witwatersrand); BA (UCT)


Professor Ruiters has been a professor at the UWC School of Government since 2011 where he teaches and supervises a dozen or more post graduate students. His academic and scholarly interests span a range of socio political issues at the intersection of social justice, political movements, the environment and the local state.

The creation of a new research chair under the niche area of democracy and citizenship will position the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences (EMS) at the forefront of teaching, research, and knowledge on democracy, and provide opportunities for Doctoral and Masters’ students to develop their research interests in the broad area of democracy and citizenship and related sub-themes. The chair position will galvanise thought leadership on key issues regarding democracy and citizenship and will initiate and lead the development of new curricula in the research focus areas. The chair will also host public panels in partnership with other stakeholders, institutions and community groups focused on citizen engagement and related themes.

The most recent (2022) World Inequality Report notes: “The poorest half of the global population barely owns any wealth at all, possessing just 2% of the total. In contrast, the richest 10% of the global population own 76% of all wealth” The authors insist that “inequality is not inevitable, it is a political choice. In this context democracy in the sense of people taking control of their collective destinies remains a powerful idea, despite the fact that there are many different and sometimes contradictory beliefs about democracy and the role of institutions in developing democratic citizenship and the common good.

The rationale of this research chair is to assist in rethinking and re-envisaging democracy within our own context and in various sites (home, school, workplace and city) as praxis in everyday transformative processes. We also want to encourage investigations of the preconditions for transcending procedural democracy and building substantive democracy, informed by South Africa’s discrete spatial, infrastructural and housing inequalities such as we see in the township versus suburb divide (see Friedman, 2015). The project will encourage theorising social differences and politics of recognition and redistribution (incorporating issues such as non-racialism, provincialism, the black township and group identity in SA). The specific issues regarding the quality of elections, electoral systems, party funding and internal life of our political parties, state accountability, corruption, state capacity and social movements will also need to be looked at.

SDG 11 speaks to the goals of making “cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. The Chair seeks to promote transparency and relevant knowledge to deepen public-minded civicness, promote spatial justice and social solidarity across class, gender and racial divides. It seeks to improve local citizenship and belonging for especially the excluded majority, youth and women on a city-wide basis rather than a parochial focus.

SDG 16 seeks to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. The Chair and its activities will contribute to strengthening this goal with a focus on democratic institutions, ecological justice, decommodification and citizen centred public administration reform.

Chair: Prof. Yonatan T. Fessha
Position: Professor - Department of Public Law and Jurisprudence (Faculty of Law)
Qualifications: PhD (University of the Western Cape), LLM (University of Pretoria, LLB, Faculty of Law, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, Diploma in ‘Federalism, constitutionalism and democratic governance in multicultural societies’, The Institute of Federalism, University of Fribourg, Switzerland


Yonatan T. Fessha is Professor of Law and Research Chair in constitutional design in divided societies at the University of the Western Cape.

His teaching and research focus on examining the relevance of constitutional design in dealing with the challenges of divided societies. He has published widely on matters pertaining to, but not limited to, federalism, constitutional design, autonomy, intergovernmental relations and politicised ethnicity. His publications include books on “Intergovernmental relations in divided societies” (Palgrave 2022, co-edited), ‘Courts and federalism in Africa: Design and impact in comparative perspective’ (Routledge 2020, co-edited) and “Ethnic diversity and federalism: Constitution making in South Africa and Ethiopia” (Ashgate 2010). He was a Michigan Grotius Research Scholar and recipient of the Marie-Curie fellowship.

The chair focuses on constitutional design in divided societies, investigating the relevance and effectiveness of constitutional design in the management of divided societies, societies that are grappling with identity-based political tensions and conflicts. The Chair focuses on the priorities set by the Sustainable Development Goals. The imperatives of establishing and maintaining peaceful and inclusive societies has been recognised as a priority area in the Sustainable Development Goals.

Goal 16 of SDG calls for the promotion of ‘peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development’, the provision of ‘access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels’.

Chair: Prof. David Holgate
Position: Professor - Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics (Faculty of Natural Sciences)
Qualifications: BSc (Hons) (UCT), MSc (UCT), PhD (UCT)


David Holgate is a senior professor of Mathematics. Before being awarded the research chair in Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, he served as Head of Department and as Deputy Dean responsible for Teaching and Learning in the Faculty of Natural Sciences. He is passionate about sharing his love for pure mathematics through research, teaching and academic service in the context of South Africa, because he believes that Mathematics has a truly powerful role to play in nation building and addressing social injustice.

David’s research niche is in the overlap of Topology and Category Theory. Topology is a large branch of mathematics that studies continuity of movement, shape and time, and the structures that allow you to work with these. Category theory is a unifying theory that seeks to understand mathematical objects and structures by asking how they relate to other things. (Typically, mathematicians express their ideas by using the language of set theory, in which mathematical objects are understood by what belongs to them.) His research approaches topology from the philosophical standpoint of understanding mathematics by how structures relate to each other, how they interact. How does working in topology help to develop category theory and how does using the insights of category theory deepen our understanding of topology?

Besides his research interest in Topology and Category Theory, for which he holds a B-rating from the South African NRF, David also contributes to research in (undergraduate) mathematics education and academic staff development. He maintains a broad involvement in national mathematics activities, playing a key role in the National Graduate Academy for Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, a consortium of South African universities that collaborate regarding the training of the next generation of mathematicians, statisticians and data scientists. He is currently on the Council of the South African Mathematical Society (SAMS), the board of the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) and chairs the Council of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS).

Before joining the UWC David held positions at the University of Cape Town, where he completed his PhD in 1995, and the University of Stellenbosch, where he headed the Mathematics Division of their Department of Mathematical Sciences for a while. Over the course of his academic career he has been a research guest at over 20 universities across the globe and held visiting positions at the University of Bremen (Germany) and the Brno University of Technology (Czech Republic).

David makes sure that mathematics does not take all his time away from his life’s main passions – his family and the fynbos, mountains and oceans of the Western Cape.

As a fundamental science, Mathematics underpins the advancement required to attain many of the UNESCO Sustainable Development Goals. Indeed, UNESCO declared July 2022 to June 2023 to be the “International Year of Basic Sciences in Sustainable Development” (IYBSSD2022), highlighting the essential contribution that the basic sciences have to make in the implementation of the SDGs. In making this declaration UNESCO explains that while “basic sciences are the sine qua non for sustainable development” their role is not always appreciated.

In pursuing his research David is directly motivated by his contribution to Quality Education (SDG-4) and the breaking down of traditional barriers that have excluded many from Mathematics and weakened the subject as a result (SDGs 5, 10 and 17 in particular). It is easy to overlook the contributions of abstract, basic sciences that are driven more by curiosity than application. However, innovation and the creativity required to overcome societal challenges requires a foundation that sets a tone of collaboration, creativity and interdisciplinary awareness. This is the mathematical environment that David’s research group aims to provide.

Chair: Prof. Barry Andrews
Position: Head of Department - Department of Sport, Recreation and Exercise Science (Faculty of Community and Health Sciences), UWC Research Chair in High Performance Sport
Qualifications: BSc (Sport Science), BSc (Hons) (Sport Science), MSc (Sport Science) (Cum Laude), PhD (SU)


Prof. Andrews is the project leader for the HDI funded High Performance Sport Project; Head of Department of the Sport, Recreation and Exercise Science; and was appointed as the UWC Research Chair for High Performance Sport at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town.

Prof. Andrews believes that Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide an important framework for organisations using sport to focus their work on. His niche research area is in High-Performance Sport and maximising the sporting potential of persons with disabilities, and he has written numerous articles in these fields. He has served as a visiting professor at Leuven University, Belgium and has given numerous lectures at several foreign partner universities. He indicates that it is really an exciting time as it is rare that people hear about any sort of high-performance directive or niche area or movement towards getting their athletes and sporting codes to move in a high-performance manner. At the UWC: Sport has been identified as a vehicle not only for professional sports athletes, but also recreational and his main goal is to build on the High-Performance legacy.

As part of the HDI funding he has been able to contribute to seeing the university build a high-performance gym on campus by the stadium. The niche area has brought in a host of health professional services linked to sport to work with our athletes and these included physiotherapy, biokinetics, a sports physician as well as strength conditioning experts and a dietician. One of the key successes of the approach used within the high-performance sports project is the multidisciplinary team, which is the way they need to start operating in the world nowadays.

The Research Chair for Sport will allow for further development in the high-performance sport niche especially, building upon work done from the HDI High Performance project. Specifically, linking the SDGs, it will add to quality education SDG 4 with the development of the higher certificate in high-performance sport and recreation; aid in sustainability SDG 11 of high-performance on campus by developing a sustainable model built on research and partnerships both within UWC and from external partners; and these partnerships SDG 17 will aid to create a multi-disciplinary centre of sport and specifically in high-performance sport to facilitate the best performances from our athletes and teams thereby helping build the university name.

Chair: Prof. Manogari Chetty
Position: Head of Department - Department of Craniofacial Biology, Pathology & Radiology (Faculty of Dentistry), UWC Research Chair iin Oral Health
Qualifications: BSc (UKZN), BChD, MChD (UWC), PhD (UCT)


Prof. Chetty is a full Professor and a board certified Oral and Maxillofacial Pathologist in the Faculty of Dentistry. She is recognised nationally and internationally in the fields of Dental (Craniofacial) Genetics, and Non-communicable diseases, in particular rare diseases which manifest in the head and neck.

Prof. Chetty sees this opportunity of being the research chair as a way to afford oral health practitioners the opportunity to actually do research in fields that are generally quite limited in terms of funds. Having been introduced to the world of Human Genetics in 2012, several research projects within the field of genetics and molecular dentistry were initiated. This is the branch of dentistry that focuses on the effects that inherited genetic variation among individuals has on both risk of developing rare (e.g. orofacial clefting) and common (caries, periodontitis and head and neck cancer) dental diseases and disorders. Just as physicians envision a future of “personalised medicine” where the “one size fits all” model of diagnosis and treatment are a thing of the past; this same strategy is also emerging as the new field of “personalised dentistry.”

She believes that there is an urgent need for those involved in oral health research to participate in translational clinical research that will accelerate targeted scientific breakthroughs in the management of oral diseases in Africa, and will be addressed. To achieve this objective, further research will focus on genetic, genomic and molecular investigations into non-communicable oral health conditions such as oral cancer, periodontitis and rare diseases with craniofacial manifestations and dental management implications. Research capacity development is another focus of the proposed project.

Prof. Chetty is proposing to train dental clinicians to have expertise in various niche areas such as clinical human genetics, laboratory sciences- particularly molecular biology, teaching and learning, and research methods. These dentist-scientists will be the pioneers in the field in South Africa and will be responsible for training future undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Her work addresses SDGs 3, 4, and 10. SDG 3: Good Health and well-being, enhanced translational clinical research that will accelerate targeted scientific breakthroughs and result in the improved management of patients with oral diseases in Africa. SDG 4: Quality Education, this project will be the catalyst of transdisciplinary, collaborative, and translational oral health science research, training and innovation. SDG 10: Reduced inequalities (reduce inequality within and among countries). Translational oral health research in Africa for Africans. Reduce our overdependence on findings from technologically advanced countries.

Chair: Prof. Trevor Moodley
Position: Associate Professor - Department of Educational Psychology (Faculty of Education), UWC Research Chair in Early Childhood Development
Qualifications: HDE (Springfield College of Education), BSc (UNISA), BPhil (SU), BEd (Hons) (UWC), MEd (SU), PhD (UFS), Registered Educational Psychologist


Prof. Moodley is an Associate Professor in the Educational Psychology Department, Faculty of Education.

He has been in education since the beginning of 1988. He previously spent 21 years in basic education and then transitioned into the higher education sector as an academic. He has gained invaluable experience across the education sector and has a keen sense of the lived experiences of teachers, learners, parents and communities which has served him well in his university role as a teacher educator and scholar.

His passion for teaching and his professional expertise as an educational psychologist has always prompted an interest in the factors that influence teaching and learning, as well as ways to enhance teaching and learning. He is an ardent promoter of holistic education that develops whole beings from a young age.

He is keenly aware of the importance of Early Childhood Development (ECD) in setting the foundations for so many different life outcomes that have enormous impact on individual and societal life experiences. These interests are reflected in his academic outputs in the form of research projects, conference presentations, journal articles, book chapters and completed supervisions of postgraduate studies.

He is currently developing an early childhood development higher certificate qualification which focuses on preparing teachers to work in early childhood care and education centres (also known as ECD centres) with babies, toddlers and young children from birth to four years of age. This qualification will contribute towards the professionalisation of the early childhood education sector, prior to formal schooling; which is sorely needed in the country. An ECD focus is especially important in South Africa, given our many challenges which are often rooted in the early learning and development experiences of young South African children.

The Faculty of Education is the appropriate research context to set and expand a research footprint in ECD, since the primary role of the Faculty is to provide professional training for preservice teachers and extend knowledge in education through post-graduate course offerings and research in the field of education.

The Research Chair in ECD offers the opportunity to consolidate and extend scholarship in the field of ECD within the Faculty of Education and with external partners in higher education and the non-governmental organisation sectors. This scholarly endeavour speaks mainly to SDG 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, which includes as one of its targets, access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education. Since the quality of ECD is a good predictor of other life outcomes, this Research Chair niche also speaks to other SDGs such as the eradication of poverty SDG 1, ending hunger and improving nutrition SDG 3, achieving gender equality SDG 5, and reducing inequality within and across countries to improve decent work and economic growth SDG 8. He sees this as an honourable opportunity, which will allow him to focus on ECD as both a teaching, research and scholarship niche.

Chair: Prof. Chux Gervase Iwu
Position: Professor - Department of Management and Entrepreneurship (Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences), UWC Research Chair in Entrepreneurship in Higher Education
Qualifications: DTech (CPUT), MSc (Ibadan Nigeria), BLS (Hons) (IMOSU Nigeria), ADM (UWC)


Prof. Iwu is a Professor in Entrepreneurship Management at the University of the Western Cape. He has a multidisciplinary background that encompasses degrees in Library Studies, Industrial and Organisational Psychology, Human Resources Management, and an advanced diploma in Management.

Prof. Iwu researches the broad area of socio-economic issues in emerging economies. A common socio-economic problem in Africa is graduate unemployment. South Africa struggles with that as well, resulting in the need for students to become economically active during and after their studies and subsequently pursue self-employment instead of paid employment. The university is an integral part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Entrepreneurship development in South Africa’s higher education is, therefore, a crucial agenda.

South Africa’s National Development Plan (2030) makes a fervent call for the reduction of poverty and inequality and further advises that to achieve those, there is a need to broaden opportunity and employment through economic inclusion, education, and skills, and thereby promoting mutual respect and inclusiveness as enshrined in the constitution. A further justification is drawn from the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, which hopes to achieve broad-based, and sustainable economic growth by promoting policies that encourage entrepreneurship and consequently job creation. The goal of the Chair is to realise productive entrepreneurship through research that leads to accelerated interest in entrepreneurship among students.

Reaching a culture of innovation and entrepreneurial thinking among students, faculty, and the wider university community is linked to the university’s mission and goals, which promote entrepreneurial teaching, research, and community engagement. In achieving this goal, entrepreneurship research should uncover elements that support entrepreneurial uptake, and how these elements are embeddable in the curricula of business and non-business-related programs in South African institutions of higher learning.

While this niche area can find a home in any of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is closely associated with goals #1 (No Poverty), #4 (Quality Education), #8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), and #10 (Reduced Inequalities). The UN considers quality education and sustainable economic growth crucial for developing economies’ advancement. The essence of quality education is that it broadens one’s chances of attaining decent work opportunities which in turn advance the economic growth of a nation.

There is a link between joblessness, inequality, and poverty in South Africa. The latest figures for unemployment in South Africa depict the dismal struggle to curb the triple threat of poverty, inequality, and unemployment. Entrepreneurs have played important roles in reducing poverty, inequality, and unemployment. The outcome of entrepreneurial initiatives is found in small, medium, and micro businesses and so over the years, small, medium, and micro businesses have gained fame as noteworthy contributors to the economy of any nation.

Chair: Prof. Karin van Marle
Position: Professor - Department of Public Law and Jurisprudence (Faculty of Law), UWC Research Chair in Gender Transformation and World-making
Qualifications: BLC LLB (UP), LLM (Cum Laude), LLD (Unisa), Advocate of the High Court of SA


Prof. Van Marle is a Professor in the Department of Public Law and Jurisprudence at the University of the Western Cape.

Prof. Van Marle has taught Jurisprudence on undergraduate level for 27 years, as well as electives and masters modules in Critical Legal Theory, Feminist Theory, Law and aesthetics and related fields. Her research falls within the broad field of law and the humanities and involves critical theory, legal philosophy and jurisprudence. Her work on post-1994 jurisprudence engages with the crisis of modernity and a rethinking of law and legal theory along the lines of fragility, finitude and a ‘giving up of certitudes’. She is an ethical feminist, and her research and writing are inspired by and embedded in feminist theory. Her research focus and projects over many years have been on the question of transformation and co-habitance/living together. She is in particular concerned with the possibilities of 7 transforming society in a way that could live up to the ideals of freedom, equality, dignity, social justice and democracy for all, with an emphasis on gendered lives.

As Research Chair in Gender, Transformation and World-making she aims to engage in depth with the question of the extent to which the structural and everyday challenges of gendered lives have changed, if at all. Transformation will be taken as a framework through which to investigate the past and present position of gender as well as an aspirational framework of possible futures and the making of gendered worlds.

The research chair in Gender, Transformation and World-making links with sustainable development goals through Prof. Van Marle’s focus on gender and transformation, which speaks directly to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The vision driving her research includes the aspiration for ‘[a] world in which every woman and girl enjoys full gender equality and all legal, social and economic barriers to their empowerment.

Prof. Van Marle will draw on various theories to reflect on, and respond to the description of the world today with regards to the discussion around SDG's. Section 20 of the vision speaks directly to gender equality and the extent to which ‘full human potential and sustainable development is not possible if one half of humanity continues to be denied its full human rights and opportunities.’ Equal access to quality education, economic resources, political participation, employment, leadership and decision-making, increase in investment and support for institutions relating to gender equality, and the empowerment of women are envisioned. All forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls should be eliminated. The SDG Goal 5 and Goal 11 relate directly to the project. Goal 5 speaks directly to gender equality and empowerment and Goal 11 which refers to cities and human settlements being made inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.

Prof. Van Marle would like her work to contribute to society and to serve the community, and believes in the high value and capacity of conceptual works (thinking and theory) to make a change with slow reflection and recognition for her work as an active researcher. She aims to complete a scholarly monograph, an edited collection and a special issue of a journal. Each of these publications will be linked to one of the three main themes of the project. She sees the university as a public space and hopes that the chair can contribute to a revival of the idea of the university - as a space of contestation and active dialogue, opening up the conversation to plural worlds.

Chair: Prof. Ndomelele Ndiko Ludidi
Position: Professor - Department of Biotechnology (Faculty of Natural Sciences), UWC Research Chair in Sustainable Agriculture
Qualifications: PhD (UWC)


Prof. Ludidi is a Professor of Biotechnology at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. He is an established researcher (NRF rating of C2) with expertise in plant molecular biology, plant physiology and biochemistry. He has extensive university-level teaching experience in biochemistry, plant biotechnology and plant physiology.

His research interests are in plant- environment interactions, with focus on abiotic and biotic stress in crop plants. The abiotic aspects of his research relate to physiological and molecular effects of drought, heat and salinity stress on plants. The biotic aspects of his research concern the influence of microbial diversity on crops tolerance to the aforementioned abiotic stresses. He explores plant-environment interactions which encompasses the effects of cropping systems on soil health and the interaction between plants and insects. He merges these diverse fields of study towards establishment of climate-smart regenerative agriculture systems to produce climate change resilient crops and develop crop production systems that promote environmental sustainability in agriculture and ensure food security. He uses his expertise in research and teaching within the plant science discipline and contributes to community agricultural development that impacts food security positively.

Sustaining soil health through optimised plant cropping systems, regenerative agriculture, and agro-ecologically sound principles, coupled with the associated improvement in plant crop yield, ensures that sufficient and high-quality crop-based human food and animal feed is produced, which contributes towards achieving SDG 2 (Zero Hunger). The regenerative agricultural and genetic approaches used in his research ensure that crop production can be done in an environmentally sound approach that reduces the contribution of agriculture to greenhouse gas emissions while enhancing agricultural adaptation to climate change, which is crucial to SDG 13 (Climate Action). Prof. Ludidi is actively involved in teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level, in which he keeps abreast of the latest developments in his academic discipline to ensure that he delivers a high-quality learning experience for his students, thus striving for attainment of SDG 4 (Quality Education).

His expectation is that, through being the change in sustainable agriculture, everyone would be able to train more students in sustainable agriculture practices, develop programs and modules that really entrench sustainable culture as part of the university offering from an academic point of view. He is expecting this to be one of the major achievements, besides postgraduate student collaborations in publications. Publications can be seen in three ways. Firstly, publishing through writing books or chapters in books, and peer-reviewed journals, and really also international and national presentations or key note addresses conferences now. What the Chair anticipates, is mainly concerned with a greater number of students getting trained in sustainable agriculture, but also an increase in publications that are related to sustainable culture coming from our tendency. Also creating an impact at the policy level, in order to change the way our culture is practiced, nationally. And I'm hoping that that achievement would then have a trickling effect towards community impact, where the work we do is not seen only as academic, but really applied research that has an impact on food security and environmental sustainability.

University Capacity Development Grant (UCDG) chairs: Professors Kaschula, Chipps, R Chetty, Ruiters, Fessha and Holgate.

Sibusiso Bhengu Development Grant (SBDG) chairs: Professors Andrews, M Chetty, Moodley, Iwu, Van Marle and Ludidi.