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Human Rights Webinar

The International International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies (HR Network) has released a resource guide entitled Engaging with Human Rights in the National Academy Context.

To accompany the release, the HR Network has produced a webinar that highlights key themes addressed in the guide.

Speakers from several national academies participating in the HR Network shared their views on the relevance of human rights for national academies and discussed different ways in which academies regularly engage with human rights in the course of their work. They include Prof Peter Vale, director of JIAS, and a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa. The other speakers are:

  • Abdallah S Daar, a Executive Committee Member of the HR Network
  • Martin Chalfie, Chair of the Committee on Human Rights of the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
  • Esther Mwaikambo, Past President of the Tanzania Academy of Sciences
  • Hans-Peter Zenner, Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.

The HR Network is an international consortium of honorary societies in the sciences, engineering, and medicine with a shared interest in human rights.

Created in 1993, it advocates in support of colleagues suffering human rights abuses, promotes the free exchange of ideas among scientists and scholars, and supports the independence and autonomoy of national academies and scholarly societies worldwide.

To access the webinar, click here.

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Trevor Manuel opens Colloquium

THE Colloquium on Digital Finance in Africa was opened on 22 October 2018 by Mr Trevor Manuel, former South African Minister of Finance. His keynote address was followed by a panel discussion on ‘The Impact of Digital Finance on Africa’s Growth’.

The panelists were Mr Nnamdi Oranye, founder of Disrupting Africa and fin-tech author, and Mr Stephen Mwaura Nduati, an international technology consultant. The discussion was chaired by Prof Saurabh Sinha, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg. A reception followed.

The opening was attended by about 150 people. An edited version of Mr Manuel’s opening address will be posted soon. To view the webcast on the UJ YouTube channel, click on the link below.



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JIAS is expanding

No 5 Tolip Street, Westdene, which has been purchased to expand the JIAS complex.

The University of Johannesburg had purchased a property next to the existing JIAS complex in Tolip Street, Westdene. Following renovations, this property will be used to house the JIAS administrative staff, and also to provide more parking. The existing administrative building at no 1 Tolip Street will be used to create more accommodation.

According to Prof Peter Vale, Director of JIAS, the purchase has resulted from rising levels of activity at JIAS over the past five years. ‘We are grateful that the UJ administration has recognised this, and has decided to expand our capacity. This bodes well for JIAS going into the future.’

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Prof Marwala delivers distinguished lecture in Singapore

Prof Tshilidzi Marwala.

ON 30 August 2018, Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Johannesburg, delivered a lecture on ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution and Society’ at the NTU Institute of Science and Technology for Humanity (NTSH) at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. The lecture formed part of the NISTH’s Distinguished Lecture Series.


The Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterised by making systems as well as machines intelligent and connected. The underlying technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution include artificial intelligence (AI) as well as blockchain. Artificial intelligence is a paradigm where physical and social phenomena are programmed to solve complex problems. AI enables machines to learn, adapt, evolve and optimise, and has had a profound impact in diverse fields such as engineering, medical sciences and social sciences. In this lecture, Prof Marwala explored applications of the fourth industrial revolution technologies to engineering, social sciences and medical problems. The implications of these on society as well as the underlying costs were also explored.

About Prof Marwala

Tshilidzi Marwala is Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Johannesburg. Previously, he was Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Internationalisation and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment at the same university. He progressively held the positions of Associate Professor, Full Professor, the Carl and Emily Fuchs Chair of Systems and Control Engineering, as well as the SARChI Chair of Systems Engineering at the Department of Electrical and Information Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand. Before then, he was Executive Assistant to the Technical Director at South African Breweries, and a post-doctoral research associate at the Imperial College (then University of London).

Prof Marwala holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (magna cum laude) from Case Western Reserve University (USA) in 1995, a Master of Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pretoria in 1997, and a PhD specialising in Artificial Intelligence and Engineering from the University of Cambridge in 2000.

He is a registered professional engineer, a Fellow of TWAS (The World Academy of Sciences), the Academy of Science of South Africa, the African Academy of Sciences and the South African Academy of Engineering. He is also a distinguished member of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery).

His research interests are multi-disciplinary and include the theory and application of artificial intelligence to engineering, computer science, finance, social science and medicine. He has supervised 47 Masters and 28 Doctoral students to completion. He has published 14 books on artificial intelligence, one of which has been translated into Chinese, more than 300 papers in journals, proceedings, book chapters and magazines, and holds four patents. He is an associate editor of the International Journal of Systems Science. His writings and opinions have appeared in the magazines New Scientist, The Economist and Time Magazine.


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Panel discussions on the future of work

FROM 15 August to 12 September, JIAS will host four high-level panel discussions on the future of work. The series is aimed at providing South African role players with an opportunity to discuss the nature and implications of the far-reaching technological changes under way in the workplace in South Africa as well as globally.

Analysts and practitioners alike have increasingly come to realise that the technological changes driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution will profoundly affect the world of work, and therefore human societies in general. Societies which quickly grasp and come to terms with these changes will stand a better chance of adapting to them in the longer term.

In this series, representatives of government, business, organised labour and academia will share their views and experiences of the changing nature of work, and what the technological changes driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution hold for work and the future. Participants will include Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg.

The panel discussions will be held at JIAS in Westdene, Johannesburg, on four Wednesdays from 15 August to 12 September 2018 at 16h30 in the afternoon. The discussions will last for 90 minutes, followed by informal discussions over refreshments. Details of each panel discussion appear below.

PANEL 1: WHAT’S FACT AND WHAT’S FANTASY ? (Wednesday 15 August 2018)

This opening panel will discuss the broad changes involved in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, their implications for the future of work, and whether South Africa is capable of addressing them. Panelists will include Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of UJ, and Enoch Godongwana, chairperson of the ANC NEC Economic Transformation Sub-committee.

PANEL 2: TRADE UNION PERSPECTIVES (Wednesday 22 August 2018)

This panel will consider the views of workers on the implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution for the future of work, and what trade unions are doing to secure their members’ futures. Panelists will include representatives of COSATU, FEDUSA, NACTU and SAFTU.

PANEL 3: BUSINESS PERSPECTIVES (Wednesday 5 September 2018)

Besides offering industry-specific views, business leaders on this panel will explore ways in which business and society can prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Panelists will include Sipho Maseko, CEO of Telkom; M D Ramesh, President and Regional Head for Southern and Eastern Africa of Olam International; and Yolisa Kani, Head of Public Policy, Uber South Africa.


This panel will consider the implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution for tertiary institutions. Panelists will discuss whether universites should only teach science and technology, whether the humanities have a future, and the extent to which universities should collaborate with industry. Panelists will include Prof Babu Paul of UJ, Prof Ruksana Osman of the University of the Witwatersrand, and Prof Robin Crewe of Pretoria University.


The panel discussions are open to all, but seating will be limited. To secure your attendance at all or any of these discussions, please contact Emelia Kamena at Attendance of the whole series is encouraged.


To download a comprehensive background document with the full panel schedule, click here.


Parking at JIAS is limited, and parking in Tolip Street is not secure. Therefore, please park at the UJ Astro Hockey Club in nearby Radnor Street, Westdene. This parking is secure. A shuttle will take you to JIAS, and return you to your vehicle. It will run for an hour before each panel discussion, and for three quarters of an hour thereafter. For directions and a map, click here.

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Book edited by Melissa Myambo

Routledge has released a book entitled Reversing Urban Inequality in Johannesburg, edited by former JIAS Writing Fellow Melissa Tandiwe Myambo. It forms part of the Routledge Contemporary South Africa series, aimed at publishing original, high-quality work by both new and established scholars on all aspects of South Africa.

Melissa is a Research Associate at the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa (CISA) and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Wits City Institute. She holds a PhD from New York University, and was a JIAS Writing Fellow in 2017.


With the spread of capitalism – a socio-economic system that produces both wealth and poverty simultaneously – the spatial dynamics of the “global(izing)” city are creating more division between social classes, not less. This means that in the 21st-century, large cities around the world exhibit intensifying spatial inequality taking the form of a wealthy, privileged urban core ringed by a periphery of lower-income denizens far removed from the city’s resources and amenities.

This trend toward swelling socio-spatial division is especially pronounced in cities purporting to be “global”, or in the case of Johannesburg, South Africa’s financial capital, a “world-class African city.” Ironically, Johannesburg’s historical legacy of immense spatial inequality thanks to apartheid is the direction in which most “global(izing)” cities such as New York, Cairo, London, Shanghai, New Delhi, Jakarta, Lagos, Berlin, and São Paulo are headed. The globalization of neoliberal urban policy has made the city less welcoming, liveable, accessible and friendly for lower-income city residents.

This book asks if Johannesburg can unstitch its complex urban fabric to create a city with more democratic public transport, affordable housing in desirable locations and safe, socially and racially integrated public spaces. These pithy, solidly researched, accessibly written essays are instructive for all those who are interested in questions of spatial justice, urban development, history and planning and the general goal of making cities more livable and accessible for urban dwellers of all income levels.

To go to the Routledge website, and to preorder, click here.




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JIAS Writing Fellowships 2019: Call for Applications

The Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS) invites applications for its Fourth Writing Semester, which will run from 4 February to 31 May 2019.

Fellowships are open to any field of expertise. Previous Writing Fellows have included academics, novelists, scientists, poets, playwrights, independent researchers and journalists.

JIAS Writing Fellows enjoy a quiet space for work, reflection and academic community-building amidst the Melville Koppies of Johannesburg.

Each Writing Fellow will receive:

  • Accommodation in our private residential suites at JIAS;
  • Daily breakfast and lunch;
  • Access to the facilities of the nearby University of Johannesburg; and
  • A monthly stipend.

To apply, please submit a two-page proposal, a comprehensive CV, and the names and contact details of three referees to before 14 September 2018.

To download a printable version of this Call for Applications, click here.

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JIAS Deputy Director appointed

Dr Bongani Ngqulunga, academic, public sector administrator and author, has been appointed as Deputy Director of JIAS.

Prior to joining JIAS, he worked in the South African Presidency for more than a decade. He holds a PhD in Sociology from Brown University in the United States, and three degrees from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

His appointment at JIAS became effective in June 2018.

In June 2018, Dr Ngqulunga also won the Alan Paton Award for non-fiction for his book The Man Who Founded the ANC: A Biography of Pixley ka Isaka Seme (Penguin, 2018). Read more

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JIAS Deputy Director wins Alan Paton Award

Dr Bongani Ngqulunga at the Sunday Times Literary Awards ceremony in Johannesburg on 23 June 2018.

Dr Bongani Ngqulunga, newly appointed Deputy Director of JIAS, has won the Alan Paton Award for non-fiction for his book The Man Who Founded the ANC: A Biography of Pixley ka Isaka Seme. He received the award at a gala dinner held in Johannesburg on Saturday 23 June 2018.

A former JIAS Writing Fellow, Harry Kalmer, won the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize for his book A Thousand Tales of Johannesburg. Both titles are published by Penguin Books.

These two prizes constitute the Sunday Times Literary Awards, regarded as the most prestigious literary accolade in South Africa.

The Alan Paton Award judging panel consisted of the Constitutional Court Judge Edwin Cameron, the journalist Paddi Clay, and the award-winning writer, journalist and filmmaker Sylvia Vollenhoven.

In their citation, they said Dr Ngqulunga’s book was ‘a revelatory, inspiring study of a man and a movement that reverberates right up to today. It is a scholarly, well-researched book that illuminates our flawed roots and our flawed nationhood, presented through the complex and mercurial character of Seme.’

The Barry Ronge Fiction Prize panel comprised the radio personality Africa Melane, Love Books owner Kate Rogan and the award-winning writer Ken Barris.
In their citation, they stated: ‘Johannesburg emerges as a fascinating beast of a city, and this is a novel way of celebrating it. The outstanding writing and innovative structure – along with memorable characters – make this an instant classic.’

The prize-winners each received R100 000.

For an article on the Sunday Times Books Live website, click here.

For an article on the University of Johannesburg website, click here.

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Month-long residencies: Call for applications

JIAS is offering month-long residencies, effective November 2018, to academics, writers, journalists, playwrights and independent researchers.

Successful applicants will have ample time for creative work in the secure and tranquil setting offered by JIAS in Westdene, Johannesburg, as well as daily opportunities to engage with fellow residents. The residency will include a daily breakfast.

If you are interested, kindly forward a copy of your CV, the names and contact details of three referees, and a proposal of 500 words outlining the work you intend to do to by 31 August 2018.

To download the call for applications, click here.

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