The National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences has spent the past 7 years cultivating the Doctoral landscape in the Humanities and Social Sciences of South Africa and beyond. The institute prides itself on the impact it has had through funding and support for scholars who are looking to pursue their Doctoral studies. Along with this pursuit, the institute also funds books, think tanks, research projects, humanities hubs and a host of other things.
The culmination of their support for doctoral studies is the Annual Doctoral Conference. A 3 day gathering of NIHSS doctoral fellows that serves as the platform for sharing research papers and discussing their merits with peers and senior academics. This year the ANDC was combined with 3 other events, Annual Humanities and Social Sciences Alumni Conference (AAC), Gala Dinner and Humanities Encounters.
The ANDC itself is now in its 7th year and bigger than ever. This year was the second virtual conference with over 150 research papers presented by NIHSS doctoral fellows. The 2021 ANDC conference was opened with a message of support by Prof Pamela Maseko, Executive Dean: Faculty of Humanities, Nelson Mandela University, also President of the South African Humanities Deans Association (SAHUDA). This was followed by a keynote address by Prof Puleng LenkaBula, Principal and Vice Chancellor, University of South Africa (UNISA). This was closed off with a welcome speech by NIHSS CEO, Prof Sarah Mosoetsa.
The day after the beginning of the ANDC, 03 November, marked the beginning of the 2nd Annual Alumni Conference. The Alumni conference featured over 50 research papers from NIHSS alumni. There was also an Alumni Association AGM that occurred during the conference. The opening of the Alumni conference featured a keynote address by Prof Mogomme Masoga, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Zululand.
Every year, the NIHSS hosts the Gala Dinners which are for celebrating the doctoral fellows who completed their studies. There is usually one Gala dinner a year, but due to COVID-19, there could not be a Gala dinner in 2020, which meant there would be 2 Gala dinners this year. The celebrations were epic and grander than ever. The NIHSS graduates were given the red-carpet treatment they deserved and received speeches from some fellow graduates, mentors and keynote speakers. The keynote speech on the first evening was given by Dr Vathiswa Papu-Zamxaka, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation & Engagement, Tshwane University of Technology. The second Gala dinner keynote was given by Prof Tawana Kupe, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria. Both nights were magical and unforgettable.
The most unique offering the NIHSS had within the conferences is the one event that is open to the public, the Humanities Encounters. The humanities encounters are known for being sit-down sessions where an author is interviewed about their work and opinions around various topics of conversation. This year the Humanities Encounters sessions featured 3 authors who are all 2021 HSS Award Winners, Resoketswe Manenzhe, Makhosazana Xaba and Jamil F. Khan. All these encounters sessions were as different and special as the people they were about.
The NIHSS is proud of what it was able to achieve with the ANDC, AAC, Gala Dinners and Encounters Sessions this year. Next year promises to be even better and we all look forward to it.