Professor Sarojini Nadar

TEACHING PORTFOLIO STATEMENT1
2014
HELTASA AND CHE
NATIONAL EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING AWARD APPLICATION
CATEGORY: LEADER IN THE FIELD OF LEARNING AND TEACHING

Summary of Teaching Context

Specific Teaching Context:
Gender and Religion Programme within the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics at UKZN. This is a postgraduate programme offering qualifications from Honours to PhD.

Seniority of Applicant:
Promoted to Full Professor in January 2014; Dean of Research in the College of Humanities in 2012 and 2013; Director of the Gender and Religion Programme since 2006.

Size of Classes:

Between 2005 and 2008 taught courses in Ethics. These were large classes with numbers ranging from 200 to 400 registered students. However since 2008, I teach in undergraduate classes in Theology with numbers ranging to a maximum of about 20, and postgraduate from Honours (80-100) and Masters (10-15).

Teaching:

Mostly at a postgraduate level, hence the small classes. A key component of teaching occurs at the level of supervision of postgraduate students at Masters and PhD levels. Currently supervising 12 PhD students and 2 Masters students. Furthermore teaching occurs through facilitation of gender training workshops at a national and international level. These are detailed in the portfolio and CV (See Abridged CV - APPENDIX A1 and Unabridged CV - APPENDIX A2)

Introduction

Among the various commitments within the South African Higher Education landscape at present three things stand out: continued and sustained calls for Africanisation and contextualisation of the curriculum; a commitment to supporting and developing research skills for postgraduate students in order to enable throughput; and thirdly carving a space for African institutions in the internationalisation of higher education. In this teaching portfolio statement, evidence of my intellectual leadership and commitment to all of the above, will be demonstrated through an overview of my pedagogical praxis within three leadership contexts: (a) a university school/department context where I have been heading up an interdisciplinary programme called Gender and Religion at the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal since 2006; (b) a broader university context where I provided leadership for postgraduate students within the College of Humanities as a Dean of Research for two years (2012 and 2013) and (c) an international context where I served as the international coordinator of a network known by the acronym INATE (International Network in Advanced Theological Education), which in turn provided wider access to other entities such as the WCC Theological Education Desk, based in Geneva, Switzerland. The network spanned five continents and eight countries, and I served as the coordinator of the network from 2002 until 2005. In this statement, I will draw on the pedagogical experiences gained in each of the above positions to explicate the following:

1. Teaching Philosophy and Approach to Education 
2. Methods of Teaching and Supervision 
3. Assessment of Student Work 
4. Mentorship and Support of Postgraduate Students 
5. Joint Research Projects 
6. Scholarship & Publications on Teaching & Learning
7. National and International Impact of Teaching
8. Recognition and Awards for Teaching

Before I delve into the categories above it is important to contextualise my department and teaching context in greater depth. As already stated, the South African Higher Education landscape has been alive with calls for recontextualisation and Africanisation of the curriculum as democracy loomed in the early 90’s. These calls were made within the context of the Education Development Programme (EDP) by the erstwhile University of Natal. Gerald West notes that “The EDP was designed to enable academic departments across the University to reconstruct their pedagogy in ways that would address and redress the disadvantages encoded into apartheid’s Bantu Education system” (2009:74).

The erstwhile School of Theology at the University of Natal had embraced this call and had deliberately mainstreamed contextual and liberation theologies into the curriculum through an endeavour called “The Contextualisation of Theological Education Project” in 1991. A decade later, a colleague and I began to make calls for the “engendering” of this Africanised and contextualised curriculum. The idea was to have a specialised programme in gender but to also mainstream gender into the curriculum in general. We developed courses and templates for a specialised postgraduate programme from Honours to PhD, and we mainstreamed gender into the undergraduate programme. In 2008, I was appointed to a permanent teaching position as the director of this programme called Gender and Religion. In the latter part of this submission I will reflect critically on my teaching within this programme and how I have developed this programme over the years.


[1] The text boxes in this document are taken from verbatim student and peer evaluations which have been processed by the Quality Promotion and Assurance (QPA) unit of the University of KwaZulu Natal. See Appendices B (B1B2B3; B4 & B5) and C (C1C2C3C4C5C6C7 & C8) for full texts. 

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