Theme: Vulnerabilities, Disruptions and Possibilities for the Future Beyond Covid-19

Call for Abstracts

Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim – Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book I.

Never before, in the post-colonial era, in South Africa (and globally), has the current generation of lecturers, administrators, students, managers and non-academic staff members been challenged at a personal, intellectual, emotional, psychological and social level. The outbreak of coronavirus (“Covid-19”) has put a tremendous pressure on higher education institutions to shift from traditional F2F teaching and learning to predominantly online pedagogies. Many of us were caught by surprise, as we were not adequately prepared for the exigencies associated with the abrupt change to remote teaching and learning (RTL).

The pandemic presents the world with a clear picture of the inherent blind spots of mass education and the complications associated with the principle of universal education upon which it is constructed (Soudien 2020). In other words, the historical disadvantages and disparities/realities were magnified during Covid-19 (Ngogi 2020; Parker, Morris & Hofmeyer 2020; Sayed & Singh 2020). This is a double tragedy to countries that are already deeply challenged by issues of access to education, economic discrepancies, infrastructure development, poverty reduction, management of natural resources, and health services (Ayega 2020). Notwithstanding their mundane structural inequalities and socio-political realities, lecturers and students at CPUT, were rendered vulnerable, anxious and uncertain.

Brantmeier (2013) describes pedagogy of vulnerability as an approach to education that invites vulnerability and deepened learning through process of self and mutual disclosure on the part of co-learners in the classroom. To apprehend the situations of vulnerability we need to build resilience into our educational systems. Resilience as persistence, adaptability, and transformability of complex adaptive social-ecological systems is the focus, clarifying the dynamic and forward-looking nature of the concept (Folke 2016). This view is captured well by Ngogi (2020) who argue that beyond Covid-19 we must “never set ourselves back to the normal frame of reference”.

Online and remote engagement afforded lecturers and students with technological skills and resources (audio-video presentations, online assessment, internet connectivity and devices) that would be instrumental to the achievement of CPUT’s goal of an “one smart CPUT” (From the Vice-Chancellor, Chris Nhlapo’s Inaugural Address, April 2019). CPUT professed that no student should be left behind, in line with the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande’s pronouncement: “We are doing this to make assurances to South Africa today that no single student or institution will be left behind in our strategy.” Nevertheless, two questions, come to mind: “did we really live up to the notion of leaving no student behind?” and “what were our experiences?”

We need to pursue an inquiry that will examine the social reality of our lived experience and strategically sponsor deliberations on the course of action beyond the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, the Student Learning Unit calls for the exigencies of Covid-19 RTL to be explored. Its 3rd Academic Support Symposium is aimed at giving both lecturers and students an opportunity to discuss their lived experiences of RTL and to determine how the accumulated knowledge and wisdom will facilitate future innovative pedagogies. The symposium is

organised around the theme: Vulnerabilities, Disruptions and Possibilities for the Future Beyond Covid-19.


  • Vulnerabilities and Disruptions – the lived student and staff experience during Lockdown 
  • Innovative Pedagogies – Staff and student responsiveness to remote teaching and learning; developing pedagogic relationships
  • Possibilities for the Future beyond Covid-19 – think beyond tomorrow – what does tomorrow look


Aristotle. (1999). Nicomachean Ethics. Translated by Kitchener: Batoche Books.

Ayega, D., 2020. Pandemics and Education in Sub-Saharan Africa: Invest in Education Technology. American Journal of Educational Research, 8(8), pp.581-586.

Brantmeier, E.J. (2013). Pedagogy of vulnerability: Definitions, assumptions, and applications. In Lin, J., Oxford, R.,Ƭ Brantmeier, E.J., Re-Envisioning Higher Education: Embodied Pathways to Wisdom and Transformation Information Age Publishing.pp.95-106.

Folke, C., 2016. Resilience (republished). Ecology and Society, 21(4):44. https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol21/iss4/art44/. (Accessed: 09 October 2020).

Ngogi, E.M., 2020. The Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic on Education: Navigating forward the pedagogy of blended learning. University of Pretoria, South Africa, 5, pp.4-9.

Parker, R., Morris, K. and Hofmeyr, J. (2020). Education, inequality and innovation in the time of COVID-19. Johannesburg: Jet Education.

Sayed, Y & Singh, M. (2020) Evidence and education policy making in South Africa during Covid-19: Promises, researchers and policymakers in an age of unpredictability. Southern African Review of Education, 26(1): 20–39.

Soudien, C., 2020. Complexities of difference and their significance for managing inequality in learning: Lessons from the COVID-19 crisis. Prospects, pp.1-9.

Presentation formats could be as follows:

  • Poster presentation
  • Paper presentations (15 presentation and 5 minute Q&A)
  • Terrace Talks – Themes conversations

Register to attend Here


Registration Opens – 23 October

Deadline for Abstracts – 2 November

Feedback – 6 November 

For more information contact: Dr Xena Cupido email: cupidox@cput.ac.za

Your support is as always highly appreciated. 


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