Subtheme: Shape-shifting: past experiences, current realities and future possibilities
In our move to be Responsive, Resilient and Relevant, HELTASA has acknowledged feedback from conference participants, which highlighted disabled spaces for open discussion and dialogue on research, critical issues and prevalent challenges related to scholarly work.
Past experiences of deeply entrenched social inequities and inequalities concerning learning and teaching access and success within the HE sector set up by the colonial and apartheid regime continue to exist post-1994, into a democratic South Africa. The #FeesMustFall student protests and the unprecedented challenges of the enduring COVID-19 pandemic continue to raise awareness of the importance of including and representing diverse voices across the academic spectrum.
The current reality of HE in South Africa, is that existing approaches and enactments in academia may no longer be wholly relevant. As a higher education community, we must reflect on our resilience, capacity and capabilities to fulfil our directive in a changing and uncertain learning and teaching context. These concerns call for us to re-imagine transformative curricula and socially just pedagogies that are relevant and responsive to current and future learning spaces.
In re-thinking and re-imagining the traditional conference, HELTASA is shape-shifting towards an (un)conference: a participant-driven opportunity for intellectual engagement and expression whilst maintaining academic rigour. The (un)conference includes a blended approach of the traditional conference and unconventional interactions. These methodologies aim to create an open space to share, critically reflect, be creative and develop innovative approaches to learning and teaching through collaboration, scholarly conversations and research.