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Vision, Mission and Values

The vision of the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) is to contribute significantly to ensuring the excellence, integrity and dynamism of the Humanities and Social Sciences, through its core functions of enhancing and coordinating scholarship, research and ethical practice in the fields of the humanities and social sciences.

The mission of the NIHSS is to redress existing deficits and to coordinate programmes, projects, collaborations and activities in the HSS disciplines within and through existing and future public universities.

The work of the Institute is guided by the following values/principles:

  • The principle of cooperation and the establishment of communities of scholarship. From the Virtual Schools to the Catalytic Projects, cooperation and networking, clusters and hubs are seen as a priority.
  • The principle of norm-driven internationalisation. We live in a world that is more inter-related and entangled than ever before. Academics travel, students are on the move, ideas circulate and international epistemic communities get stronger at the expense of their national equivalents. There are very few Universities of note that have not placed internationalisation as one of their strategic goals. We are advocating a focused and norm-driven internationalisation that strengthens Africa-wide, South-South collaborations in dialogue with our 'Northern' counterparts.
  • The principle of social responsibility and equity
  • The principle of functional differentiation as opposed to resource differentiation. It is the consensus of the HSS Project Team that our higher education and research system needs a differentiation not on the basis of resource inequality but based on a differentiation of visions, of focuses and priorities. We need to be flexible enough to allow for pluralism and diversity, be generous enough to allow competition between priorities and visions and still be able to cooperate. The key point is simply a diversity of visions that should be expressed within any well-functioning system.
  • The principle of transformative relevance - that is the principle that any Catalytic Project has to open up new areas of research which have in turn a multiplier effect on future research projects and serious transformative implications for the curriculum in the HSS.