The fact-finding visits are designed to engage qualitatively with various groups representing the humanities and social sciences at higher education institutions in South Africa. The format for the fact-finding visits generally includes an initial hour long meeting with the Dean of Humanities/Social Sciences/Arts and Education followed by a two hour plenary session with a broader range of participants (local stakeholders, Vice-Chancellors, Research Directors, Deans, Professors, lecturers, postgraduate students and other elected student representatives). The interactions at the institutions have 2 components: (1) fact-finding; and (2) Vision building. Unlike the stakeholder workshops, the fact-finding visits focus specifically on the unique challenges facing humanities and social sciences at each of the institutions. The fact-finding visits began in October last year and 23 institutions have been visited.
Fact finding visits involve:
- Local stakeholder workshops and interviews (ASSAf, the Discipline-based and Cross-Discipline based Associations, Deans and Faculty initiatives that are seen to be breaking new ground, Vice-Chancellors and Research Directors – from the large scale national research bodies to sector specific programmes and initiatives);
- An international forum where key institutional leaders are involved in sharing their experiences (for example, the Smithsonian, the Anthropological Museum of Mexico, the Nehru Memorial Museum, the Cairo Museum, and the Chinese Academy of the Social Sciences) and how their heritage excellence is linked to academic scholarship, as well as the International Social Science and Humanities Councils, (UNESCO, Paris);
- Scholarly encounters of leading academics in the “global south” where they are invited to share their experience and expertise.