Archive | Past events

Seminar led by Prof Alan Chan of NTU Singapore

On Tuesday 9 October 2018, Prof Alan Chan, Vice President of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Singapore, led a seminar at JIAS entitled ‘Science and Technology for Humanity: A Report from Singapore’.

Prof Chan reported on the activities of the NTU Institute of Science and Technology for Humanity (NISTH), a newly established Interdisciplinary Centre of Excellence at NTU, Singapore.

An initiative of the NTU’s new President, Prof Subra Suresh, its purpose is to address the social challenges arising from rapid technological change, notably those manifested in the course of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

To this end, the NISTH propels research and public discourse on the social context of scientific and technological innovation, as well as the consequences of technological interventions in society.

It champions interdisciplinary research on science and technology studies, and works to bring together academia, non-profit organisations, government and industry in navigating the complex course of social development.

This seminar was of particular interest to the UJ community as it focused on aspects of the 4IR – notably its implications for the human experience – which has become a dominant theme at the university. It also provided academics at UJ with an opportunity to explore the possibilities of collaborating with the NISTH.

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Lecture on Mandela as a lawyer

Nelson Mandela as attorney in the offices of Mandela and Tambo. Picture: Jurgen Schadeberg

On 25 September 2018, JIAS and the UJ Faculty of Law, in partnership with the UJ Library, hosted a public lecture entitled ‘Mandela as a Lawyer’.

The keynote speaker was Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, and the discussant was former Constitutional Court Judge Albie Sachs.

For an edited video of the event on the UJ YouTube channel, click here.

For full-length videos on the UJ YouTube channel, click on the links below.

Part 1:

Part 2:

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Fourth panel discussion on work and the future

Prof Babu Paul of the University of Johannesburg.

On Wednesday 12 September 2018, JIAS hosted a panel discussion on ‘Work and the Future: Perspectives from Higher Education’. This was the fourth and final in our series of high-level panel discussions on work and the future.

Panelists considered the implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution for tertiary institutions. Specifically, they discussed whether universites should only teach science and technology, whether the humanities have a future, and the extent to which universities should collaborate with industry.

The panelists were Prof Babu Paul of UJ, Prof Ruksana Osman of the University of the Witwatersrand, and Prof Robin Crewe of Pretoria University.

For more information about the panel series, click here.

Prof Ruksana Osman of Wits University.

Prof Robin Crewe of the University of Pretoria.

The discussion in progress.

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Third panel discussion on work and the future

M D Ramesh, president and regional head of Olam International.

On Wednesday 5 September 2018, JIAS hosted a panel discussion on ‘Business Perspectives on Work and the Future’.

This was the third in our series of four high-level panel discussions on work and the future. The fourth and final discussion, entitled ‘Perspectives from Higher Education’, will take place on Wednesday 12 September 2018.

Business leaders at the cutting edge of technological change served on this panel. Besides offering industry-specific views, they explored ways in which business and society can prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The panelists were M D Ramesh, President and Regional Head, Olam International; and Yolisa Kani, Head of Public Policy, Uber South Africa. The discussion was moderated by Prof Saurabh Sinha, UJ Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

Yolisa Kani, Head of Public Policy, Uber South Africa.

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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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Exhibition of cartoons by Eddie Roux

From left to right are Jeremy Cronin, Prof Deirde Pretorius, and Prof Steven Friedman.

An exhibition entitled ‘MAYIBUYE! – the Umsebenzi cartoons of Eddie Roux’ opened at JIAS on Monday 17 September 2018.

The opening was addressed by Deirdre Pretorius, Associate Professor of Graphic Design in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA) at UJ; Jeremy Cronin, Deputy Minister of Public Works, and member of the Central Committee and Politburo of the South African Communist Party (SACP); and Steven Friedman, professor of politics at UJ.

Best known as the author of Time Longer than Rope (1948), Roux was a botanist, founder member of the Young Communist League, member of the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA), and later a member of the Liberal Party.

In 1930, he took over the production and distribution of the CPSA weekly newspaper The South African Worker, and renamed it Umsebenzi (The Worker). He continued to work on the paper in various capacities until he left the CPSA in 1936. In this period, he not only wrote for and edited the newspaper, but drew cartoons for it as well.

The exhibition has been curated by Prof Pretorius. At the opening, she talked about the cartoons, and Cronin and Friedman about Roux’s life and politics.


The exhibition will hang at JIAS for a year. Viewing is by appointment only. Please contact JIAS staff.


In Rebel Pity: the Life of Eddie Roux, partly written by Roux and completed after his death by his wife, Winifred, he commented as follows about the cartoons:

‘A feature of the new weekly was its cartoons. These I made myself in the form of linocuts. The problem was not so much to execute the cuts, for I had always had some facility in drawing, as to think up a new subject each week. I had little time to think except at weekends. The cartoons were worth it, however, for they added considerably to the attractiveness of the little paper, and as I cut the lino I encouraged myself by the thought that the space filled by a cartoon saved me so many hours of laborious type-setting.’


For a monograph containing the wall notes and a timeline of Roux’s life prepared by Prof Pretorius, as well as reproductions of some of the exhibits, click here.

A note about the image

The portrait of Eddie Roux reproduced above has been copied from the frontispiece in Rebel Pity: The Life of Eddie Roux, by Eddie & Win Roux (Rex Collings, London, 1970). Given that the portrait must have been taken more than 50 years ago, we believe it is now in the public domain, and may therefore be reproduced.

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Second panel discussion on work and the future

Cosatu president S’Dumo Dlamini delivers his opening remarks.

The second of four JIAS panel discussions on ‘Work and the Future’ was held on Wednesday 22 August 2018.

Entitled ‘Trade Union Perspectives’, this panel considered 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 included S’Dumo Dlamini, president of Cosatu, and Modupi Maile, first vice-president of NACTU.

The discussion was chaired by Fiona Tregenna, holder of the SARChI Chair in Industrial Development at UJ, and a Professor of Economics and Econometrics at the same university.

For more information about the series and the remaining two discussions, click here.

NACTU vice-president Modupi Maile makes a point.

Prof Fiona Tragenna during the discussion.


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First panel discussion on work and the future

Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, UJ Vice-Chancellor and Principal, during his introductory remarks.

On Wednesday 15 August 2018, JIAS held the first of four panel discussions on Work and the Future’. This opening panel discussed 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 included Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of UJ, and Enoch Godongwana, chairperson of the ANC NEC Economic Transformation Sub-committee. About forty people attended. The introductory remarks were followed by a lively discussion. For details about the next three panel discussions, click here.

Dr Bongani Ngqulunga, Deputy Director of JIAS, introduces the panelists.


Enoch Godongwana, chair of the economic transformation subcommittee of the ANC NEC, during his introductory remarks.


Part of the audience during the panel discussion.

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Discussion of new book on Sol Plaatje

Dr Brian Willan delivers the opening talk at the discussion in the Chinua Achebe Auditorium in the UJ Library.

On Tuesday 21 August 2018, JIAS and Jacana Media, in partnership with the UJ Library, hosted a discussion of Sol Plaatje: A Life of Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje, 1876–1932, by Brian Willan.

Following Dr Willan’s opening talk, the book was discussed by Prof Mcebisi Ndletyana and Prof Liz Gunner. A question and answer session followed. The event was chaired by Dr Bongani Ngqulunga, Deputy Director of JIAS.


The book tells the story of Plaatje’s remarkable life, placing it in the context of the changes that overtook South Africa during his lifetime, and the huge obstacles he had to overcome. It draws upon extensive new research in archives in southern Africa, Europe and the United States, as well as an expanding scholarship on Plaatje and his writings.

Today, Sol Plaatje is celebrated as one of South Africa’s most accomplished political and literary figures. He was a pioneer in the history of the black press, the editor of several newspapers, and one of the founders, in 1912, of the African National Congress. He led the ANC’s campaign against the notorious Natives Land Act of 1913, and twice travelled overseas to represent the interests of his people.

Plaatje wrote several books, including – in English – Native Life in South Africa (1916), a powerful denunciation of the Land Act and the policies that led to it, and a pioneering novel, Mhudi (1930). Years after his death, his diary of the Siege of Mafeking was retrieved and published, providing a unique view of one of the best known episodes in the South African War of 1899–1902.

About the author

Brian Willan holds a doctorate from the School of Oriental and African Studies at London University, and is currently an Honorary Research Associate of the Institute for the Study of English in Africa at Rhodes University. He has written extensively on Sol Plaatje and other aspects of nineteenth and twentieth century South African history. Sol Plaatje’s Native Life in South Africa: Past and Present, a multi-author volume edited by Willan, Janet Remmington and Bheki Peterson, was published by Wits University Press in 2016.

Dr Bongani Ngqulunga introduces the author.

Dr Willan, Prof Mcebisi Ndletyana, and Prof Liz Gunner.

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Launch of book by Prof Chris Brink

Prof Chris Brink addresses the launch.

ON Wednesday 19 September 2018, JIAS, the Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education at UJ, and the UJ Postgraduate School hosted the Gauteng launch of a book by Prof Chris Brink entitled The Soul of a University: Why excellence is not enough.

Chris Brink is Emeritus Vice-Chancellor of Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, and a former Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University.

After an introduction by the author, the book was discussed by a panel comprising Prof Jonathan Jansen, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State; and Prof Tawane Kupe, a Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand.


In this innovative book, Chris Brink offers the timely reminder that universities should have social purpose, as well as achieve academic excellence. They should focus not only on what they are good at, but also on what they are good for. He also argues that the current obsession with rankings and league tables has perpetuated inequality, and is preventing social mobility. This book shows how universities can – and should – respond to societal challenges, and promote positive social change. (Bristol University Press, 2018.)

More about Prof Brink

Chris Brink is a South African mathematician and academic, and a graduate of Rand Afrikaans University, forerunner to UJ. He served as Vice-Chancellor of Newcastle University from 2007 until 2016. Previously, he was Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) of the University of Wollongong, and Head of Mathematics and Coordinator of Strategic Planning at the University of Cape Town. In the UK he served on the Boards of Universities UK, the Quality Assurance Agency, and the Equality Challenge Unit, and chaired the N8 Research Partnership, an association of eight major research-intensive universities in the North of England. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa.

‘Good books about universities are, alas, rare. This is a very good contribution, full of practical good sense and wisdom, all done with clarity and intellectual rigour.’ – Lord Patten of Barnes (Chris Patten), Chancellor of the University of Oxford, and the last Governor of Hong Kong

With deft clarity and deep humanity, Prof Brink casts a logician’s eye over the current state of higher education. He demonstrates how misguided attempts to improve accountability have led to the unmeasurable being measured and the valuable being devalued. This is a modern morality tale which deserves the widest readership.’ – Sir Howard Newby, former Vice-Chancellor of Liverpool University and former Chief Executive of HEFCE.

‘Chris Brink has a very special record of service to higher education and its social relevance. His scholarship and vision speak for themselves. His devastating demolition of the current preoccupation with league tables is brave and timely.’ — Lord Judd of Portsea (Frank Judd), former British Labour Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

Prof Jonathan Jansen, former Vice-Chancellor of University of the Free State.

Prof Tawana Kupe of Wits University holds the floor.

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