Professor Sarojini Nadar


5. Joint Research Projects

"For a number of years, I have met with Prof. Nadar, both in Sweden and in Southern Africa, and during the past two years we have been working together on the planning and – successful – fundraising of a Pilot Program on Gender, Religion and Health which we have together just effected at UKZN and three other academic institutions in South Africa, Tanzania and Ethiopia during 2012 and 2013. This Pilot Program contains a Masters Course project (funding for 10 Masters students at UKZN and SUN) and a research project (for which Prof. Nadar will be the principal investigator). The overall budget for the Pilot Program is SEK15 million (ZAR 20,543,010), of which SEK3 million (ZAR4, 108, 602) is allocated to the UKZN." 
Rev. Herman Hallonsten
Programme Officer Health, Gender and Theology
Church of Sweden International Department


In 2013 an application for a research project called “Exploring Throughput and ‘Academicity’ through a Trans-disciplinary Masters Programme in Gender, Religion and Health” was submitted to the UKZN Teaching and Learning Office by Dr Saras Reddy. I am a co-researcher on this project. A summarised version of the successful proposal appears in APPENDIX K but below are the stated objectives of the research project which aims to reflect on the teaching and learning occurring within this Masters programme:

  1. To identify and explicate the pedagogical underpinnings of a trans-disciplinary cohort model of supervision for Masters students within the context of the Gender, Religion and Health programme, across two universities (UKZN and Stellenbosch University).
  2. To determine the nature of the relationship between the trans-disciplinary cohort model of supervision and minimum completion rates of proposals and completed dissertations within the Gender, Religion and Health programme (UKZN and Stellenbosch University).
  3. To explore to what extent a trans-disciplinary cohort model of supervision produces scholarly independent and critical researchers within and across all the disciplines (Gender, Religion and Health).
  4. To explicate how the Gender, Religion and Health Masters cohort model of supervision can enable further theorisation on trans-disciplinary communities of practice and the development of critical and independent researchers, through the lenses of “academicity.”

The first paper emanating from this research will be presented at the 8th Annual Teaching and Learning Conference at UKZN in September 2014. Below is the abstract:

“Flourishing Guinea Pigs:” Exploring Intersectionality and Interdisciplinarity in a Master’s Program on Gender, Religion and Health at two South African Universities

Recognising the role of higher education and postgraduate studies in addressing social challenges; the Church of Sweden (CoS) in 2013, piloted a Masters programme in the area of gender, religion and health at two universities in South Africa – the Universities of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and Stellenbosch University (SUN). This article describes the inception of the CoS Pilot programme, discusses how the objectives of the program were interpreted and implemented, and finally analyses to what extent the research produced by the students as reflected in their final dissertations reflect and push the boundaries of the intersectionality, interdisciplinarity and “education for advocacy” framing of the Gender, Religion and Health Programme. The article draws on the COS concept notes, course outlines developed for the core modules as well as a select sample of the final dissertations from the class of 2013. Drawing on feminist and Freiran pedagogical principles, the article concludes that the intersectionality and interdisciplinarity that is required of the gender, religion and health program posed the greatest challenge for Masters level students in both institutions. The authors posit that addressing this challenge will require :1) greater pedagogical reflection on how to develop these research skills; 2) a shift from an inter-disciplinary framework to a trans-disciplinary one and 3) a clearer understanding of what it means to be working within an “education for advocacy” paradigm.

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