College of Science, Engineering & Technology

Particularising transformation

Prof Khehla Ndlovu (Vice-Principal: Strategy, Risk and Advisory Services), Prof Kirstin Krauss (Computing) and Prof Bhekie Mamba (Executive Dean: College of Science, Engineering and Technology)

The inaugural lecture of Prof Kirstin Krauss, Computing, entitled "What is this thing called 'transformation' in South African higher education - a view on entrapment; a position on the kind of leadership needed", took place on 6 August 2018.

Krauss says that South African Higher Education (HE) is in dire need of transformation that is both liberating and orientated towards quality and productivity. For computing-related disciplines, such as Information Systems, the meaning of transformation needs particularising; one needs to be aware of the specific types of issues that emerge from when people and technology interact.

"The idea of transformation, however, discharges a range of stories, filled with all kinds of thoughts and feelings, arguments, positions and 'facts' emerging from a variety of perceptions and experiences of people having to deal with different kinds of HE phenomena," he points out. "These issues are compounded as academics have to persistently deal with questions about how to particularise transformation for specific disciplinary contexts."

Krauss says that the phenomena of transformation cannot other than lead us to also ask the following questions:

  • What kinds of leadership are required to navigate transformation that is both liberating as well as relevant for the international discourses we have to compete in?
  • Who are the best types of leaders and change agents for this particular time in history?
  • How could we continue to improve our abilities to perceive and excavate knowledge about what we perceive and should perceive from Higher Education social phenomena?
  • And at what point can we agree that we are now transformed, so that we can move on to enacting transformed-ness?

Krauss said that with this lecture he sought to stimulate reflection on these questions, using a particular sort of informed subjectivity, to illustrate the nature of the problem of transformation and offer an example of a path to liberating transformation. "I also reflect on what liberating leadership should and could mean for technology related disciplines, and how leadership should enact the particular types of accountability, responsibility and authority that could put South African HE on a relevant and necessary path to true liberation. In doing so I propose a vision of transformed-ness, a much needed realisation of the need for self-transformation, a balanced focus on people-orientatedness, and ultimately liberation from fear-induced decision making and the mental slavery of trying to learn, grow, and build knowledge using some else’s imported worldviews."

The person behind the professor

Some favourite artists as a teenager?

Johnny Clegg, Mango Groove, Kylie Minogue, Michael W Smith, David Kramer and Petra.

What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resumé alone?

I play guitar. My first job in the late 90s…I was a painter, earning R80 per day.

Late for? And early for?

Late for some sorts of deadlines, early for a good "kuier" with good friends. I tend to "discern" people and situations earlier than others.

What is the best career advice you have ever been given?

Use whatever you have in your hands and become good at it. If I have a hammer in my hand, then I will become the best "hammer-user" I can be. A new season may give you a new tool, which you then embrace fully. If self-discipline and persistence fail you, passion will keep you going, so do what you are passionate about.

How do you manage work-related stress?

I switch off when I go home. I break away and break the rhythm and routine. I am happily married with a good supportive wife, so being with family helps a lot with work-related stress. I very seldom work on weekends, and I think that is what keeps me energised for work.

* Compiled by Sharon Farrell, Editor: Internal Communication, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2019/06/10