The International Council
for Philosophy and Human Sciences

Charter for the Humanities and Social Sciences

It is a cruel fact that in the last 15 years the Humanities and the Social Sciences have been severely affected by the dire need to respond to the obvious deficit in engineering, natural scientific, informational and managerial needs.  This downscaling of the importance of the human and social forms of scholarship has had a serious effect on the quality of mind of our senior graduates, in the academic enterprise itself and on the quality of our research output. The reduction of Heritage at worst to the market and at best to tourism has made for a lot of decoration but very little substance.  This has impacted on the quality of leadership in government and non-governmental institutions, in the University system and in many key social responsibility areas. At a time when we are asked to play a leading conceptual and scientific role as Africans together with other developing societies in the “south” and on our continent, and to solve our local challenges, the decline in these areas of scholarship is palpable, the depth of talent is too narrow and the nurturing of talent from disadvantaged communities a matter of exception rather than the rule – a matter of quantity rather than quality.


The alarm bells have been ringing for some time:


  • All the professional associations and stake-holders in the broader Humanities have been voicing concerns through the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and through their respective associations;
  • Higher Education bodies have been raising the alarm both about the quality and quantity of our PhD endeavours;
  • High profile cases about the quality of our degrees and alarming levels of plagiarism reported through the media have tarnished many Universities. Part of the pressure is also linked to irate degree holders whose integrity has been threatened by such tarnishing.
  • The necessary work of creating post-Apartheid forms of thinking, of heritage and scholarship has been reduced to shocking and enduring cultural stereotypes.

It is in this light that a Humanities and Social Science intervention is necessary and has been turned into a Special Project by the Ministry of Higher Education and Training. It has instituted processes that will provide a Charter (of key interventions) for the Humanities and Social Sciences by the end of June 2011 – a Charter that will be focused on addressing the challenges and on nurturing Excellence!


by on 11:56 am

  Article Source : CHSS
July 11, 2011