School's in for the winter

13 Jun 2017 - 16:00

Much like UCT’S popular Summer School, the inaugural Winter School aims to open up the wealth of knowledge housed within the university to as wide an audience as possible.

This new public education programme from the Centre for Extra-Mural Studies (EMS) caters to a variety of interests – all the way from literature to finance – in over 40 lectures between 5 and 12 August.

“Our Winter School initiative is very much driven by demand. With our Summer School and ad hoc evening lectures drawing consistently large audiences, we felt confident about something we had wanted to do for a long time: launching a mid-year programme to complement our flagship summer programme,” explains EMS senior lecturer Finuala Dowling.

“We’ve received very positive feedback from employed people who appreciate that Winter School incorporates two Saturdays as well as a public holiday. Others have said that they welcome the opportunity to hear lectures by popular lecturers like Roger Smith and Edward Saunders at this quieter time of the year.”

Accessible to all

These programmes, together with the extension lectures facilitated by EMS, constitute an important part of the social responsiveness efforts of the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED).

It is vital that the courses are accessible to people of all ages, levels of qualification and income, emphasises EMS director Medee Rall. Winter School offers concessions for UCT staff and students. Individuals whose annual income is less than R96 000, or with a monthly household income of less than R14 000, qualify for reduced fees.

The arts are also well represented with the programme featuring a session with celebrated author Antjie Krog, in conversation with award-winning author and poet Dowling, as well as the inside scoop on the best of the lesser-known literary triumphs, presented by publisher and voracious reader Kate McCallum.

Creatives are catered for with two practical writing courses, one on poetry and the other on travel writing.

Winter School would not be complete without a concert performance, and this season’s attendees can enjoy the works of Schubert, led by musicologist and organist Dr Barry Smith.

Science and social issues

Those less creatively inclined have not been left out in the cold.

Dr Kurt van der Heyden, senior lecturer in the Department of Astronomy at UCT, taps into the complexities of the cosmos in “The Dark Universe”. Dr Dale Rae, senior researcher in the Department of Human Biology, outlines exactly why we need sleep to survive.

The Winter School programme includes a presentation on groundbreaking cardiology research. In a lecture titled “The Relevance of Genetics Research”, Dr Sarah Kraus and Dr Gasnat Shaboodien will outline the recent discovery of the CDH2 gene mutation that is responsible for the inherited heart-muscle disease, arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC).

Winter School is a platform for both established and upcoming UCT researchers to showcase their work, explains Rall.

Located as it is in a politically and socially fraught society, Winter School seeks to engage with the critical questions facing South Africans.

“I think that South Africa has been mesmerised and even stupefied by Jacob Zuma and the ANC’s repeated denials that the country’s sovereignty has been compromised: our courses ‘Zuma’s Going’ by Ralph Mathekga and ‘The African National Congress and the Democratic Party in 2017 and Beyond’ will probe these and other current political fault lines,” explains Dowling.

“The courses ‘Heideggerian Phenomenology’ and ‘Whiteness in Post-Apartheid South Africa’ will provide participants with some of the more complex philosophical tools required to analyse the concepts that lie deep beneath quotidian politics. Tim Butcher’s ‘HM Stanley and the Congo’ gives insights into the origins of colonialism in Africa,” she adds.

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