The Impact of COVID-19 and our Collective Responsibility

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unimaginable challenges for our nation and the world. Our country’s response has been decisive, to prevent the spread of the virus and minimize its impact. At the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, we acknowledge that it cannot be business as usual. Our focus and priority continue to be serving and supporting the humanities and social sciences community in any way we can, particularly when requested. We have put all necessary arrangements and with all measures in place, we are confident that our systems will enable us to continue with operations remotely. NIHSS is compliant with government protocol and will continue to follow all advice, guided by health experts and the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines. As President Ramaphosa said, “Covid-19 is a real threat to the livelihoods of our people. We all agree that our country is in an extreme position that requires extraordinary measures, but that also requires that we should find a way of working together, in solidarity as well as in partnership.” Read more...

BRICS Academic Forum


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.

  • Catalytic Research Projects and Humanities Hubs refer to a primarily research-based programme, which aims to catalyse and open up new avenues for HSS scholarship, and to assist in and promote the development of research in the HSS. This is to be undertaken through the establishment of a network of researchers across the university system in South Africa. Such networks may also include researchers and collaborations beyond the borders of South Africa.

    The aim is to sustain activities that support the following:

    • Coherent collaborative research programmes that involve a network of researchers in study areas that have been approved;
    • Research to design a coherent, collaborative research programme where there is some existing knowledge base and expertise to draw on but which needs to be tabled for approval to become as above;
    • Proposals to engage in research in largely unexplored areas; and
    • Thematic annual events aimed at broader public participation in, and promotion of, the HSS as a vital part of public culture.
    Catalytic Projects Project Leader(s) Identified Institution
    Pre-1652 Historiography Prof. Lungisile Ntsebeza University of Cape Town
    Traditions of Popular Education in South Africa Prof. Shirley Walters University of Western Cape
    Indigenous Languages and Humanities Concept Formation Prof. Russell Kaschula and Dr Pamela Maseko Rhodes University
    Sources of Creativity Dr Sazi Dlamini University of KwaZuluNatal
    Sources of Creativity - Design South Africa Dr K Netshiombo and Dr Elmarie  Costandius Durban University of Technology and Stellenbosch University
    Sources of Creativity - Formation of a Composers' Ensemble Prof. Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph  and Dr Cameron Harris Witwatersrand University
    Hidden Voices - Unpublished Work, 1950 - 1990 Prof. Edward Webster and Dr Irma du Plessis Chris Hani Institute and University of Pretoria
    Hidden Voices - The Art and Music Prof Premesh Lalu University of Western Cape
    Alternatives B - Socio-Economic Alternatives ThinkTank Prof. Karl von Holdt and Seeraj Mahomed Witwatersrand University
    Post-Conflict Reconstruction Prof. Pumla Gobodo Madikizela University of Free State