The Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the College of Law and Management Studies (CLMS), Professor Brian McArthur, recently hosted a PhD Training Symposium facilitated by visiting Professor Jim Whitman, who also had a major hand in designing the programme.
Whitman is a former professor of Global Governance in the Department of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford in England and currently serves as Co-Director of the PhD Scholarship Programme on Global Health within UKZN’s Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division (HEARD).
McArthur said the symposium was part of Vice-Chancellor Professor Nana Poku’s plan to formalise research training and support for doctoral candidates.
The two-week programme was designed for candidates about to embark on doctoral studies or struggling to find their feet to clarify the nature of the doctoral enterprise. The aim was to help them make a practical start or to regain focus as well as to foster creativity and productivity.
Whitman spent a full week engaging and consulting with UKZN doctoral candidates on the fundamentals of doctoral research and writing. He also held interactive small group sessions daily to assist newly-inducted doctoral candidates begin the creative work of formulating their hypothesis and the outline structures of their dissertations.
‘My intention is to help new doctoral students to become grounded quickly, to give them a clear sense of the nature of doctoral research and writing,’ said Whitman. ‘So the emphasis is on being very practical and the additional benefit I hope the students secure is relief from some of the inevitable anxieties that typically accompany the start of such a large undertaking.’
Ms Hlengiwe Ndlela, Auditing lecturer and PhD candidate remarked that such platforms are well thought out and very useful for the academic journey.
‘I found the workshop to be useful. He gave us a lot to take away especially during the one-on-one sessions. It has been a pleasure to learn from him and for him to give us a much needed push, we now have the information, support and motivation to complete our research,’ she said.
The second week included specialist methodology sessions delivered by established UKZN specialists: Professor Ruth Hoskins (information management), Professor Doug Wassenaar (research ethics), Dr Gerard Boyce (quantitative research) and Professor Anna Weitz (qualitative research).
Words: Lungile Ngubelanga