Introducing a diploma course at the Department of Visual Arts at Stellenbosch University: an investigation into attitudes and perceptions regarding social and racial transformation

Conradie, Stephane Edith (2016-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.


ENGLISH SUMMARY: The need for social change in an environment that is burdened with a history of segregation becomes evident in a landscape that remains largely culturally homogenous. Through art education with a focus on transformation, curriculum development within the arts can be viewed as a tool for social justice. As the Department of Visual Arts at Stellenbosch University (SU) seeks to re-evaluate its position within Stellenbosch and South Africa, it is necessary to look at structural changes that might bring about an environment where students from diverse racial, cultural and economic backgrounds have the freedom to be educated equally. This study aims to create a platform on which such possibilities might be discussed and analysed. In this study it was important to see how transformation is linked to educational development and how this feeds into concepts regarding social justice. From these theoretical concepts the investigation into the attitudes and perceptions of lecturers regarding a potential diploma course become valuable notions for understanding these views. Contextualising SU’s Department of Visual Arts with regards to how it is historically positioned as well as its efforts to transform gives a backdrop to how this research can potentially become a navigating tool for educational development in this department and further afield. The findings from this study highlighted a need for those involved in the development and implementation of a potential diploma course to be aware of their own position in this academic setting. The department also partakes in community-engagement projects, where active steps can be taken to see how the department can use these projects to bridge academic gaps between secondary and tertiary education by actively seeking new ways in which the learners they work with can become feeder students. Identifying the importance of re-evaluating the curriculum to shift the focus from a Euro-American viewpoint to content that orientates itself to concentrate on more of a South African and African visual culture becomes central. To prevent further exclusion in this learning environment support from older students in the form of mentorship may be helpful as well as hiring lecturing staff that portrays a diverse lecturing staff body for a multiracial student body to identify with. Educational development can serve to liberate the effects that the past has had on people in the present. To move forward a deep introspection of all the key role players in this kind of educational development must take place. A potential undergraduate diploma in the Department of Visual Arts may serve as a necessary platform for social justice by providing access to this knowledge area to students from a wider social, racial and economic standing.

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