HSS Response


The National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) was established on 5 December 2013 as an independent statutory body in terms of Gazette No. 37118 vol. 582 and in accordance with Section 69 read with sections 38A, 38B, and 38C of the Higher Education Act (Act No 101 of 1997). The scope or application of the NIHSS will be to advance and co-ordinate scholarship, research and ethical practice in the fields of Humanities and the Social Sciences (HSS) within and through the existing public universities and those to be established or declared in future as public Universities. The work of the NIHSS will be guided by the following principles:... Read more

HSS Awards 2020 Gallery

HSS Awards Gallery

NIHSS Funding

  • The NIHSS has partnered with the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) to develop the African Pathways Doctoral Scholarship Programme. The aim of the scholarship is in line with the mandates of the Institute and Council to promote and facilitate research in the humanities and social sciences, as well as to explore new vistas in pan-African scholarship.

    A Doctoral Scholarship Call is opened to suitably qualified non-South African students to study full time towards a doctoral degree in the humanities and social sciences at any public university in South Africa. The scholarship programme is open to students whose research is focused on their country or a comparative study on the following broad themes:

    • Pre and post-colonial states, institutions and local experiences  
    • Histories and legacies of liberation struggles
    • Regional integration, new development and economic alternatives
    • International political economy and the role of African humanities
    • Heritage, identity and culture (including literature, performance, art and musicology)

  • The National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) invites applications from suitably qualified South African students to study full-time towards a humanities and social sciences doctoral degree at any of the participating South African public universities. The main objective of this programme is to promote, build and dynamise scholarships in the Humanities and Social Sciences, strengthen student-centred culture, while addressing inequities in the current higher education system. To fulfil these objectives, the NIHSS collaborates annually with the South African Humanities Deans Association (SAHUDA) to extend scholarships to full-time PhD students based at the following participating South African universities: Cape Peninsula University of Technology; Durban University of Technology; Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University; North West University; Rhodes University; Stellenbosch University; Tshwane University of Technology; University of Cape Town; University of Fort Hare; University of the Free State; University of Johannesburg; University of KwaZulu-Natal; University of Limpopo; University of Pretoria; University of South Africa; University of the Western Cape; University of the Witwatersrand; University of Venda; University of Zululand; Vaal University of Technology; and  Walter Sisulu University.

  • The second profound way in which the NIHSS creates value is by dynamising the fields of research and teaching in the HSS through a range of Catalytic Research Projects and Humanities Hubs. The NIHSS will establish Catalytic Research Projects and Humanities Hubs by 2020.

    The main objective of the Institute’s Catalytic Research Projects (CRP) programme is to provide services to the higher education sphere within the humanities and social sciences. This includes, but is not limited to, advancing learning within the Institute’s scope and application by ensuring collaboration and coordination with the work of higher education. The CRP programme is based on the concept of collaborative research programmes founded on an existing knowledge base and expertise. The cornerstone of any Catalytic Research Project is that research project leaders demonstrate collaboration with national and international researchers (experts) in their area of research. Projects funded under the CRP engage in research in areas that are largely unexplored, such as pre-1652 historiography, sources of creativity, popular education, post-conflict and reconstruction, indigenous languages, the humanities concept formation, lineages of knowledge production in the HSS, hidden voices, and socio-economic alternatives. CRP research must identify the gaps that are located at the heart of the struggles around contested spaces of heritage, history, languages and culture.
    The aim of the NIHSS CRP is therefore to:
    • Invite proposals from researchers to conduct coherent, collaborative research programmes that involve a network of researchers in humanities and social sciences study areas that have been approved;
    • Fund projects and provide resources to encourage the recognition and advancement of the role and contribution of the humanities and social sciences; 
    • Encourage transformative relevance by demonstrating significant transformation in the humanities and social sciences, by applying the principle that any CRP research must open new areas of research in the humanities and social sciences, which will have a multiplier effect on future research projects and which holds serious transformative implications for the curriculum in the HSS; 
    • Encourage the use of networks and resources to dynamise fields of scholarship that are under researched and are of importance to nationbuilding and knowledge production; and 
    • Build capacity by offering training and funding opportunities to postgraduate students (Honours and Masters levels).
    Specifically, Catalytic Research Projects:
    • Mirror priorities in the bigger plan for the revitalisation of HSS research; and
    • Are targeted interventions with the objective of intervening deliberately to restructure research patterns, challenge dominant social assumptions that influence social, political and economic  institutions, and produce new HSS knowledge. It is not only a matter of injecting funding and resources into scholarship; it is also important to shift debates and ideas towards alternative paradigms and new theory formulation:
    • Demonstrate significant potential for a meaningful response to socio-economic problems that face South Africa and its citizens today.
    Catalytic Research Projects include elements of community outreach, allowing academics to play a role as public intellectuals:
    • Advance a broad crosssection of research in uncharted territory.
    Digital humanities serve as an example of such a new research area:
    • Have direct implications for curriculum development and transformation in training; and
    • Connect to other strategic priorities within the public, non-profit, and private sectors, thereby creating a broad base of stakeholders and support to promote successful implementation.
    Project Leader(s) Identified Institution
    Prof. Lungisile Ntsebeza University of Cape Town
    Prof. Shirley Walters University of Western Cape
    Prof. Pamela Maseko University of North West
    Dr Sazi Dlamini University of KwaZuluNatal
    Dr Elmarie  Costandius Stellenbosch University
    Prof. Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph  Wits University
    Prof. Edward Webster Wits University
    Prof Premesh Lalu University of Western Cape
    Prof. Karl von Holdt Wits University
    Prof. Pumla Gobodo Madikizela Stettenbosch University