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Info for prospective

Students

Serious Honours, MSc, PhD and post-doc enquiries are always welcome. Click here to see a list of project areas. Note that PhDs and post-docs can be expected to fund themselves. Of course, we'll mentor you to write the funding/grant proposals see this Concept Note as an example of what we are currently proposing. The approach to (co)supervision is basically to provide the candidate with a Safe Maker Space to Learn and Grow; and essentially just get out of your way, and cheerlead from the stands. Go Team! Our job is to mentor you to Teach & Learn; conduct fruitful, insightful and ethical Research, perform Community Service and catalyse Social Impact so we can change the world together. It's who we are; it's what we do; i.e. we build up 'academical skills' to prep you for the Real World. This is called 'authentic learning'.

This may be a tough pill to swallow: no matter your degree of saviour complex(click at your own peril because the level of parody, satire and irony is gut-wrenchingly funny), you are probably going to benefit more (as a postgrad) than the intended beneficiaries you will often work with (and for). This is because we have this research machine wired: all graduates have excellent jobs; and strangely enough, only the Ps and post-docs remain in the space, e.g. advocacy, higher education, NGOs, etc.; the Hs and Ms get 'normal' jobs in corporate, government and even education sectors. This only changes when you work it so that you also get the chance to spin-off a la Zenzeleni; that's when the communities really start to benefit: when we take ownership together, and we drive the Boat together; and we can co-design, co-implement, co-evaluate and co-monitor the tools to help us take things to scale; and steer by triangulating quantitative and qualitative data. Dependence between stakeholders? yes, it's a 2-way street. Independence? yes, it also goes 2-ways. Interdependence? you got it; more of the same: it's a 2-way street. If it's not win-win, it doesn't work, imo. Think about this as you add publications, accolades, grants/funding and jobs well done, including your postgraduate degree, to your (and my) CV. Who really benefits? The answers may surprise you; and you can do something about it - it's just much harder than just getting a postgraduate degree.

Partners

see this Concept Note as an example of what we are currently proposing. We have worked and can work with all kinds of partners: actual communities; and related NGOs, NPCs, PBOs, corporates, 'governmentals', and 'academicals'. The academic connections always feature first for us: they are multi-disciplinary to the extreme, e.g. at UWC alone: Computer Science, Institute for Social Development, Information Systems, School of Government, Pharmacy and Gender Studies. This kind of multi-disciplinary mix is necessary because Computing & Society is complex! And we need to bring in more disciplines and fields.

In order to do so at Stellenbosch, we intend to collaborate internally in multi-disciplinary fashion via the Data School. We expect every Big (grant) proposal we will work on will be a collaboration between hopefully all four local uni's in the Cape Metro: UWC, UCT, CPUT and Stellenbosch. Our closest collaborators are, of course, at UWC where I worked for 23 years; and UCT where I did a PhD in the 00's. We also have long standing connections to CPUT. Nationally, we have worked with (mostly in parallel) Rhodes University over the years, and have cordial and professional connections to University of Zululand and Nelson Mandela University. Across Africa, we have ties to several universities including but not limited to Great Zimbabwe University (perhaps the most); the University of Ngaoundéré (Camaroon) and NUST (Bulawayo). Imo, South-to-South collaboration should be our highest priority. Enough of the North-South and East-West power dynamics and economics (for '1st' world monetary benefit by exploiting African markets). Imo, Africans can all be on the same page whether we like to admit it or not; and we need to walk together. Not to say we shouldn't also look elsewhere for partners . . . just finding the right ones is a challenge.

Internationally, since about 2004, we have had successful co-supervision of postgraduates with Industrial Design Engineering @ TU Delft (Netherlands; 2 M's and a P), and with Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid (1 P that did a post-doc, too). Over the years, by attending numerous international conferences in the field (of ICT4D), we have built very nice relationships with people based at Georgia Tech Institute of Technology; Unitied Nations University in Macau; and Swansea, Sheffield University and Sheffield-Hallam University in the UK. We have engaged and built mutual respect with so many 'heavies' in the ICT4D space worldwide who often make guest appearances in the Computing & Society Honours course. Some even live in Cape Town and might come out for a face-to-face! Some even like to visit Cape Town and do the same! Imagine after a seminar, lecture or workshop, . . . picture having coffee or a beer or a braai; hanging out with someone who (co)authored a paper, article, book chapter or book that you cited in your thesis or your own paper/article/book chapter. Now that's pretty cool!

We mostly, however, collaborate with actual communities, e.g. for Zenzeleni, we began with the community of Mankosi around 2003, and much later expanded to Zithulele in the rural Eastern Cape. Notably, though, we also worked other communities where the amaPondo stay: in and around Canzibe, Libode, Lwandile, Mamolweni and Hluleka (with rural telemedicine). Zenzeleni has yet to spread there; although one day it just might! For SignSupport, we have worked with DCCT (Deaf Community of Cape Town NGO) the longest (since 2001 or so), and more recently with NID and DeafSA in the Western Cape (Vredenberg, Beaufort West, George, Cape Town etc.). Currently, our main commercial partner is the Zenzeleni NPC/PBO (not-for-profit company/public benefit organisation) spin-off from UWC. What you should be seeing here is that we build long-term relationships that overcome the deficiencies of bungee research and parachuting. Some of our people stay in the field for long periods of time; like an anthropologist would! Most importantly, our relationships span decades, so mistakes (and we are all, after all, human) are tolerated when the appropriate apologies are issued; in good faith, with honesty and caring. Imo, it all comes down to mutual respect, and the notion of consilience.

You may have heard "'n boer maak 'n plan"? Well, so do the Poor! The Poor know better than anyone how to survive and thrive; as do the boere. Imagine what we can do when we can co-design and co-realise tools to get on with it; and in our own languages! With our own cultures! We have so many to pick and choose from! We have 11 official languages in SA. And there's a 12th, South African Sign Language on the horizon. Get Real, Get Humble, Get Ready to Learn from Everyone, Grasshopper, and you will be surprised by how Everyone learns back at you.

Funders

see this Concept Note as an example of what we are currently proposing. Telkom funded our work for a good 20 years or so, and along with every other CS or Engineering department/faculty in South Africa, we benefitted tremendously from the THRIP programme (of the dti) 'match' from 1998 until around 2017. We were funded by the likes of Siemens (early days 1998-2002), Cisco (2002-2015) and Aria Technologies (2010-present) in the corporate space via the Telkom Centre of Excellence Programme which in many ways was reponsible for all our work to follow, and for this we will always be grateful. That critical mass allowed our research funding to snowball, including contributions from: IDRC of Canada (3 years), SANPAD (Dutch government; 3 cycles of 3 years each), European Union FP7 (2 years), Technology Innovation Agency (its seed fund * 3, an award (!), and also plain old TIA funding * 2 of 2 years each), recurrent (and unfortunately, dwindling) support from the NRF; and then once-off's from the likes of Shuttleworth Foundation, Mozilla Foundation, and AFRINIC; and 'repeats' from APC. In other words, we can do amazing things with your organisation's money.

And I tune you: the universities also kick in their fair share! UWC contributed lank to Zenzeleni and SignSupport over the years, and in return got subsidy and fees from (as of the end of 2022 will be) 99(!) postgrad completions; subsidy from over 100 accredited publications and all that funding flowing through the coffers. It's called win-win. Stellenbosch, you are next, my new friend ;-) My feeling (now, in early 2022 writing this) is that we need about a year to build momentum with some solid collaborative (across Stellies, and across the Cape Metro) book study and together generate a handful of proof-of-concept prototypes and then Go Big or Go Home until 2030 when I retire again, and if I go Emeritus, then to 2040.

In conclusion, I must tell you, this kind of stuff is sometimes so hard it actually sucks; it can get downright depressing when you fail again and again and again. On the flipside, it's also sooooooo rewarding on a personal level; especially when we get something right. We want to work with funders that share our commitment to apply Science for/toward/with Social Impact; and experience those ups and downs with us; walking together. Serious enquiries only.