Makerere University’s Department of Journalism and Communication on Thursday 20th October 2022 launched the Master of Strategic and Corporate Communication and the Master of Journalism and Multimedia with a call on Management and Government to elevate the department to a school of Journalisms and Communication.
The department also reiterated the need for the university Management and government to support the department reposes the frequency for its training radio – the campus FM and to acquire equipment for practical teaching and learning.
“We want to turn into a school of Journalism and Communication in the next five years. Management is helping us to revive the campus FM and we hope our efforts yield results in the near future. We want to start a multimedia studio, revive our radio, and start a television and a newspaper”. The Head of Department Dr. Aisha Nakiwala reported.
Recalling the evolution of the department from what she described as an endangered state, the Dean School of Languages, Literature and Communication Dr. Saudah Namyalo recognised the brains behind the establishment and growth of the department including Prof. Gorretti Nansanga and Dr. William Tayebwa.
Dr. Namyalo hailed staff for raising the name of the department to a level where it is recognised as the best department training journalists and communicators in the country and Africa.
The Department currently has s 13 academic staff members holding PhDs and two in the pipeline. All these 13 PhD have gone through the hands of these people, similarly one of the long serving members of the department is Dr. Adolf Mbaine. The challenge now is to move from PhDs and work towards becoming professors”, Namyalo emphasised.
As bigger strategy to revolve into a research led school and department, Namyalo reported that the school was still a number of writing a number of graduate programs adding that already one a masters in French language and French studies had been launched while another in Germany studies was underway.
Launching the programs, at the Senate Telepresence Conference Room, the Deputy Vice Chancellor in Charge of Academic Affairs Assoc. Prof. Umar Kakumba hailed the department and all stakeholders for the laborious, rigorous and widely consultative process from the conception, development up to the final approval.
“Both programmes are timely in various ways. On one hand, they are an apt response to the critical need for practical skills in the market place where communication, as a crosscutting discipline, calls for specialized knowledge and abilities to support the functioning of any organisation or society.
On the part of the media, as we all know, the field has evolved from traditional journalism as we knew it, to one of cutting-age innovation. For today’s journalists to be worth their name and calling, they must embrace the new skills and tools very fast”.
Kakumba noted that the two Masters programmes find the university at the heels of the centennial celebrations and at the threshold of its transition towards a research-led institution.
He commended the Department for leading in its field by not only equipping students with knowledge and practical skills, but also designing graduate programmes that include a rich research component aimed at building a community of highly trained researchers and professionals that can provide evidence based solutions to real problems in society.
“Our graduates from Makerere should be people that are sensitive to the needs in society, and who provide solutions. Strategic communication professionals, journalists, and the media are powerful resources for mobilizing the pubic and holding leaders at different levels accountable.
The Department of Journalism and Communication has provided leadership in this regard by arming students with tools that make them relevant in a rapidly changing media and communication environment, and a society that is desperate for transformative ideas and information”, Kakumba explained
Kakumba reassured the Department that management, will continue to support her growth so that, with adequate resources and clout as a unit, they continue to innovate and develop more programs that have a tangible positive impact on the industry and in society as a whole.
He said management had engaged the Minister for ICT and National Guidance Dr. Chris Baryomunsi on the restoration of the campus frequency adding that the minister had already directed the Uganda Communications Commission to expedite the process.
Importance of Strategic and Corporate Communication
While delivering the key note address, Alumnus Gloria Sebikali from the Uganda Petroleum Authority stressed the importance of strategic communication in translating community, societal and country’s aspirations to reality.
Strategic Communication according to her, must support the achievement of the organisation’s goals and the country’s development aspirations, address the challenges related to creating awareness in order to achieve sustainable development and the related global development issues.
It must focus on strategies to address the information gaps, misinformation, and disinformation. And it is important to link the classroom learning to present day practice, Use the alumni to enhance the curriculum as the programme is implemented.
Unlike the past, Sebikali observed, strategic communication is beginning to take center stage with ministries, private sector institutions and parastatals establishing independent and professional communication units benchmarked on other corporate entities.
“The communications function is increasingly part of management, and is gaining recognition as a strategic function. This makes the Masters programme in Strategic and Corporate Communication even more relevant.
The programme must prepare and enable communication professionals to understand the role of strategic communication in achieving organisation objectives, and the overall development aspirations of the country”, She explained
Sebikali explained that with the rise in technological developments and the various new media platforms, strategic communication offers pathways for institutions to remain responsive to the changing needs of stakeholders, and the communication landscape.
“For instance, we no longer have to wait for the dailies to receive breaking news, or a report to hear about an incident on the community or the 8pm news to hear about what is happening.
She observed that the COVID 19 pandemic showed us the possibilities, and importance of technology in facilitating communication. Just think of how many webinars, e-conferences, and meetings you attended prior to the pandemic. Even with the lifting of the lock downs, live streaming and e-events continue to be the norm. Technology has, therefore, changed the communication landscape, and the profession must be even more dynamic in utilizing technology to achieve strategic communication”, She added
Strategic Communication according to Sebikali is a broad field which integrates different specializations in the communication arena, including marketing and advertising, brand management, media relations, public relations and stakeholder management, social responsibility, or corporate social investment.
Equally important is that it explores the capacity of all organizations – not only corporations, but also not-for-profit organizations (including advocacy and activist groups) and government—for engaging in focused communication while ensuring that communication is purposeful and contributes to the achievement of the organization’s mission.
The MA in Strategic and Corporate Communication, Sebikali elaborated has a task of equipping the students with the knowledge and skills to further cement the value and place of communication as a strategic function within all institutions. We must strive to maintain our seat at the table, not only by demanding for it, but by showing the value of communication in achieving the organisation’s strategic goals and objectives.
She noted that the programme incorporates the different facets of strategic communications, with a mix of theory, research, practice, and multimedia approaches with the current trends related to global communication and health and environment communication covered.
“I want to also emphasize the importance of public diplomacy, as an added area for consideration. This course must equip the students with the required skills and knowledge that are in tune with the current issues, and technological developments.
We all know that the world is a global village. Therefore, for communication to be strategic, it must also be in tune with the current issues that the world is grappling with, many of which are summarised in the sustainable development goals”, Sebikali said.
Strategic communication Sebikali emphasised must address the challenges related to creating awareness in order to achieve sustainable development. It must also address the information gaps, the misinformation and disinformation.
Some of the issues she highlighted include the oil and gas sector, discussions related to climate change, the energy transition, environment and biodiversity protection, technological developments and social issues that are taking center stage.
Sebikali stated that it is important that the curriculum goes beyond building knowledge in the classroom, to giving the students practical skills to enhance their professional visibility. Accordingly, she explained, it is not enough to be equipped with knowledge, but be able to apply the knowledge to address communication challenges, and bring additional value.
In addition, she went ahead to state that the curriculum should also emphasize practical training and the current practice of strategic communication in different spheres and sectors. For Masters’ courses, whereas there is no space or time for internships, the faculty can encourage workplace mentors.
The Department of Journalism according to Sebikali was home to many professionals that are leading strategic communication in different entities, and can, therefore, be resourceful in linking the classroom learning to present day practice. Use the alumni to enhance the curriculum as you implement the programmes.
As the country advances to middle income status, strategic communication is required to translate the country’s development aspirations across all sectors and to all stakeholders. We therefore must play our role, and continue preparing both the current and next generation of communicators to be up to the task.
The Master of Arts in Strategic and Corporate Communication
The “Master of Arts in Strategic and Corporate Communication”, was be implemented this academic year 2022/2023. The programme is designed to develop academic knowledge as well as practical skills in the practice of strategic communication that includes public relations, corporate communication, integrated marketing communication, and development communication. The programme was conceived as a result of the ever-increasing demand for advanced training in the aforementioned areas of strategic communication.
Whereas the current approach to communication training at graduate level has tended to focus on journalism and media studies, there has been a growing demand for graduates who are competent in behavioural, social, and development communication aimed at addressing livelihood conditions at different levels of society. Such graduates would be better prepared to apply their communication skills and knowledge to support efforts to improve livelihoods in areas such as health, environment, agriculture, population, education, economics, human rights, and several others.
Similarly, the growth of the corporate and public sectors in Uganda and beyond, over the last decade, has brought communication at the forefront of business and public service delivery. Companies and organizations in the public, private and non-governmental sectors are investing more of their resources in a variety of strategic communication approaches as a means of promoting their values, marketing their products and services, engaging with their stakeholders and clients, engaging with communities through corporate social responsibility, and building as well as maintaining their public image.
In offering this programme, the Department recognizes that the many strategic communication approaches referred to herein – public relations, corporate communication, integrated marketing communication, media relations and development communication – draw from a related set of theoretical and conceptual premises. This programme therefore aims to integrate the teaching of the above areas of communication practice so as to better prepare students for work in this dynamic profession.
Upon completion of the programme, graduates will be employed in a variety of jobs in the wide scope of strategic and social change communication. More specifically, graduates who complete this programme will be ready to earn employment in jobs such as: communication policy consultant, communication manager, public relations director, communication researcher, academic employee, corporate affairs manager, communication officers, advertising account managers, health educator, health communication planner, media planner, special event manager, social media content creator and manager among others.
The courses on offer include: Corporate Communication; Communication Ethics, Policy and Regulation; Communication for Development; Global Communication; Social Media Management; Media and Communication Research Methods; Media and Communication Theory; Health and Environment Communication; Integrated Marketing Communication; Information, Communication and Knowledge Management; Crisis Communication
The Master of Arts in Journalism and Multimedia
The programme “Master of Arts in Journalism and Multimedia”, was conceived to ensure that graduate students develop journalistic skills in a multimedia context. In so doing, the programme prepares students to respond to the new professional realities and to meet the expectations of the market.
With the advent on social media and new online tools, the field of journalism and multimedia has gained significant popularity and relevance in today’s rapidly changing world. This programme puts emphasis on the current and changing trends in the online journalism and multimedia world to allow students to connect better with ongoing and future demands in the industry.
On successful completion of this programme, graduates will have acquired the intellectual ability, knowledge and skills in various aspects of journalism, multimedia and communication. Graduates will be able to engage critically with contemporary issues relevant to the political, social and cultural roles of journalism, media and communication in society. They would have the skills to investigate the quantitative and qualitative approaches necessary for analysing all aspects of journalism and media practice.
The programme targets practitioners in the areas of journalism and multimedia to enable them acquire advanced knowledge and skills to enhance their practice. It also aims to enlarge the cadre of people with the knowledge and skills to engage in academic inquiry, research and publication in the fast-growing field of journalism and multimedia.
Graduates of the programme will be ready to earn employment in jobs such as: print journalists, online journalists, broadcast journalists for radio and television, media consultants, media policy and regulation consultants, research careers in journalism and multimedia, academic employees, corporate affairs managers, communication officers, media planners, social media content creators and managers among other emerging fields.
The courses on offer include: Digital Journalism and Communication; Business and Financial Journalism; Global Journalism; Communication Graphics; Investigative and Precision Journalism; Media, Governance and Human Rights; Media Economics; Media and Communication Research Methods; Advanced Multimedia Production; Information, Communication and Knowledge Management; Media and Communication Theory; Media Policy and Institutions.
Make Philosophy a cross cutting & compulsory course – UNESCO
Makerere University Department of Philosophy together with the Uganda National Commission for UNESCO (UNATCOM) on 17th November ,2022 joined the rest of the world to celebrate the 20th World Philosophy Day with a call for reforms in Uganda’s education system to make Philosophy a cross cutting and compulsory course.
This year’s celebration under the Global theme, “Humans of the Future”. Uganda chose to refine the theme to speak to pressing challenges hence the theme, “Harnessing Philosophy for addressing Uganda’s Development challenges”.
The World Philosophy Day coincided with Makerere University’s celebration of 100 years of existence and service to humanity and offered an opportunity both to celebrate the immense contribution made by Philosophy in understanding the world and to further reflect.
Amidst the ongoing debates on the importance of the Humanities, the debate at this event steered conversation among the academia, government, civil society and the general public on how Philosophy can inform progress in various aspects of individual and national aspirations.
Scholars argued that Uganda has a creativity, anticipation and the empathy gap premised in philosophy and that the humanity and humanism in this country cannot be restored unless the philosophical approach is resuscitated. Unfortunately, philosophy is taught at higher levels in universities and when people search for courses, philosophy becomes the last opt option not taken as a serious course yet the country needs people to be patriotic, hopeful for the sake of development.
Convening at Makerere University Senate Conference Hall, the celebrants stressed that development cannot be achieved without including philosophy which starts with developing the human mind philosophically so that man is at peace with the environment sustainably.
When young people are in malaise bored in the morning, scholars asserted that you can only harness their strength to work for the development of this country when they have the philosophy and tenets for hope. Philosophy in that regard, brings that hope, critical thinking in humanity that is why philosophy should be a crosscutting course like communication skills, ICT and Ethics.
For example, people are downgrading all the swamps, trees are being cut but people do not think about tomorrow. Shall we teach that in textbooks and examine that? The fact that people do not have the philosophical mind even to think of what they are going to leave for their children and the future generation, is partly the reason humanities scholars say need philosophy in colleges and institutions of higher learning.
Major propositions from the meeting
- Parliament of Uganda enacts a policy that makes the teaching of Philosophy compulsory at all educational levels.
- Makerere University works with other stakeholders to draft a proposal and submit to the Education Policy Review Commission (EPRC) chaired by the former Education and Public Service Minister Amanya Mushega.
- Makerere University mobilises other stakeholders to draft a paper to the President of the Republic of Uganda through the Directorate of Ethics and Integrity on the role of Humanities and Social Sciences in addressing Uganda’s development challenges.
- Makerere University champions and rolls out dialogues in public, private and non-governmental organizations and the general public on the importance of humanities and social sciences, and philosophy in particular.
Presiding over the function as Chief Guest, the Chairman Board of Governors Uganda National Commission for UNESCO Prof. Eliabu Lugujjo said UNESCO has urged its member states to take philosophy as a unifier and an intersection in human development.
To him, the first activity required for this involves the preparation of a study about the present state of teaching of philosophy in the world as an indispensable pre requisite for any future activity in this domain, since alert, enlightened reflection is the guarantor of action that is intelligent and to the point.
Lugujjo stressed that Philosophy finds its place at the intersection of education and the social sciences and humanities. In Uganda, he observed that there is an emphasis on the immediate utility of disciplines that are offered in higher institutions of learning with the priority being technological sciences.
“But we forget that the ideal utility is in itself philosophical. Even the concept Science cannot be understood outside of philosophy…. We should understand that natural and technological science have roots in pre-socratic, medieval and modern philosophical thought” He asserted
This according to Lugujjo implies that meaningful science should be founded in philosophy. In the area of humanities and social sciences, philosophy offers among others criticality, creativity and humanness that form the essence of such disciplines and therefore philosophy is a cross cutting discipline.
“…Philosophy should be given a special attention in Uganda’s academia and practice. Let us take an example of the political challenges we have gone through as a people; the immediate question is how can we co-exist? If we stopped asking such questions, the dignity of human person, respect for others, tolerance, social justice and liberty lose meaning and we may go back to the state of nature as postulated by Thomas Hobbes, where there is war of each against all”, He stressed.
Taking an example of corruption and social injustices and their far reaching implications on the wellbeing of Ugandans, Prof. Lugujjo challenged participants to ask hard questions about the root cause and what ought to be done.
“Whereas STEM is good, it must be done with philosophy at the background because you cannot build a bridge without considering the impact to society or construct a road without considering the sociological aspect of what you are doing. Science can germinate more, when it considers the humanities”, the professor stated.
The Principal College of Humanities and Social Sciences represented by Prof. Patrick Mangeni said the conversation on the Harnessing Philosophy for addressing Uganda’s Development challenges is critical and important for the academia.
“In a number of cases, many people do not seem to appreciate the role of the knowledge seeking discipline and disposition it brings to our lives. We are in a take away generation where thinking is left as a preserve of the isolated field. It is important when we locate our discipline and conversation within the realm of knowledge because a number of people take humanities as less contributing in its base to development.” Mangeni said.
Unlike other countries where highly and A – scoring students enroll to pursue philosophy Mangeni decried that in Uganda, the program is taken as a last resort after applicants fail to secure places of their priority courses. He however reported that within the limitations, departments have continued to do tremendous work and endeavored to make students appreciate the subject.
“We have produced students with excellent performance and have moved out and made an impact to many countries and that can be testified by the number of people in the field of philosophy”.
Professor Mangeni described the day’s conversation as significant in terms of visibility imploring the head of Department to devise means of sharing them out and come up with more activities such as public lectures and seminars in the field of philosophy.
The Head Department of Philosophy Dr. Spire Ssentongo thanked all participants for honoring the invitation to celebrate and having a constructive conversation inspired by philosophy saying the engagement will discredit the unfortunate believe that philosophy is basically an area of highly abstract matters and air splitting that has little to do with life and existing challenges of society.
Dr. Spire urged colleagues in the field of philosophy to demystify the impression that philosophy is about big grammar adding that anyone who sets out to communicate yet deliberately making it difficult for others to understand, can only be described as crazy.
“It is my hope that today is about a conversation that will make realistic efforts to be understood. One of the challenges of philosophy today is that it continues to live without proving its importance to anyone that cannot find it.
Philosophy appears to carry the attitude of a mother who may seem to look on as her children denounce her uselessness. She may frown and curse but not so to refute them. This has become a challenge because we live in a world where unfortunately the value of things is measured by whether they are defined by the powerful or not”, He said.
Dr. Spire observed that philosophy today finds itself on a shaky ground in neoliberal terms where the education is left to the market and forces of demand and supply to determine what is worth. In addition, philosophy continues to be threatened in a harsh world of scientism that is growing more than critical thinking.
“Philosophers in the past lived a quiet life of pursuing knowledge without a burden of proving their relevance in material path and now forced to join the crazy stampede of territory, money and disciplinary survival. Philosophers may choose to lament about these changes and stringent demand of them but we also need to remember the African saying: – that the groans of the goat does not stop the seller dragging it to the market.
As we work for a better educational order, in the meantime we may need to ask ourselves how do we position ourselves in the markets that is the reason for mobilizing this conversation but without totally surrendering it to the whims of the market”, He challenged.
Dr. Spire said the beauty of philosophical discussion which sound is construed as a weakness, is that it is characterized by constant questioning adding that once something has an answer, it ceases to be philosophy and becomes an entirely new discipline hence the continuous breakaway of disciplines from philosophy from history.
“Whereas philosophical inquiry may not provide direct answers, it produces questions that may handle it to the discovery of answers as well as the discovery of new disciplines. While philosophy is not a hard science, it contemplative discussion has contributed and still contributes to the creation of hard sciences.
Much of what we know today for scientific facts started with philosophical speculation through asking difficult questions challenging convention wisdom. In view of the above approach philosophy is unlike other disciplines in the sense that it does not limit itself to a particular matter the way biology speaks about living things for example. Philosophy focuses on unanswered questions of various subjects and beyond old disciplines”, He explained.
The World Philosophy Day
This year 2022, the world celebrates the 20th Philosophy day that was initiated by UNESCO in 2002 by UNESCO General Conference that highlighted the importance of this discipline especially for young people. The general Conference underlined that Philosophy is a discipline that encourages critical and independent thought and is capable of working towards better understating of the world and promoting tolerance and peace.
UNESCO hopes to promote philosophical reflections throughout the world by opening spaces and encouraging people to share their philosophical heritage, opening their minds to new ideas, and inspiring public debate on society’s challenges.
The commemoration of the World Philosophy day on the third Thursday of November is reported to be associated with the birthday of Plato, a Greek philosopher born in Anthens during the classical period in ancient Greece. UNESCO as the initiator leads the World Philosophy Day but does not own it. It belongs to everyone who cares about philosophy.
This year’s Global theme is, “Humans of the Future” given the contestation about the concept, “human” and that human being of today has been affected a lot by politics, economics, socialization, science and technology which have an implication on the human being of the future in terms of development especially in Uganda.
The Italian – “In Sickness and In Health” Exhibition mounted at CHUSS
A photograph exhibition showcasing an Italian helping hand in Uganda health sector has been mounted for public viewing for the next three months at the Arts Building, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS).
The outstanding and inspiring work of Italian NGOs and Associations dubbed, “In Sickness and In Health”, was on Friday 28th October 2022 presented by the Italian Embassy in collaboration with Italian Agency for Cooperation, CHUSS and Italian NGOs and Associations working in health sector in Uganda.
The aim of this exhibition is to inspire young minds at Makerere University, by sharing an established history and future of the union between Italy and Uganda, founded on philanthropic collaboration and partnership.
The function was presided over by the Minister of State for Public Service Hon. Grace Mary Mugasa. The event was also graced by the Ambassador of Italy to Uganda H.E Massimiliano Mazzanti and the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University represented by his Deputy Vice Chancellor in Charge of Finance and Administration Prof. Henry Alinaitwe. The event was attended by the Principal CHUSS Associate Prof. Josephine Ahikire and her Deputy Dr. Erich Awich, representatives of the Italian NGOS, members of the diplomatic core, heads of international organizations, representatives of the Italian NGOs Association and members of the academia.
Presiding over the launch of the photo exhibition at the CHUSS Arts Quadrangle, Hon. Grace Mary Mugasa recognized the efforts of the Italians and expressed gratitude to the Embassy, Government of Italy and her people for the kind heart and support over the years.
“As Uganda, we are indeed grateful. Before I became Minister, I was seeing AVIS and Camboni missionaries in Hoima and I was seeing many priests going to Italy for further studies but now, I have noticed that it is work which has been ongoing for a period of time. Wherever the Italian Cooperation worked, there is an impact up to today. We are very grateful for this great contribution”, The Minister noted.
Hon. Mugasa reported that up now many missionary activities are ongoing in Hoima and other districts with many traces of the Dominican and Combonian sisters.
The minister described Italy as the epitome of the Catholic faith most especially the Vatican adding that every year, parliamentarians are invited to Rome to reflect on whether, they are following the catholic values while in parliament.
She applauded the Government of Uganda for allowing NGOs and creating a conducive environment for other partners to work in Uganda. She also thanked the organizers for the talking pictures.
The Ambassador of Italy to Uganda H.E Massimiliano Mazzanti said the “In Sickness and In Health” photo exhibition recognizes the historical contribution made by eleven Italian NGOs and Associations in the Ugandan Health sector.
“Italy and Uganda have had a long-standing relationship that dates back to the early 20th century, when members of the order of the Camboni Missionaries settled in the northern areas of the country, implementing commendable activities of support to the local communities especially in areas of health and education”. Ambassador Massimiliano Mazzanti explained.
To-date, the Ambassador explained that several hospitals have been built by Italians and continue to embody a point of reference for Ugandans especially in some of the remote areas of the country.
“The aim of this exhibitions is therefore to inspire young minds here at Makerere University, a Ugandan Centre of Excellence, by sharing an established history and future of this union between Italy and Uganda, founded on philanthropic collaboration and partnership.
These photographs shine a light on the vast ongoing impact of these Italian Civil Society Organizations and hospitals in the different districts which rarely see spotlight. They capture dedication, commitment, professionalism and above all, will act as a tribute to the silent hard work and the legacy of Italian humanitarian excellences”, The Ambassador stressed.
The Ambassador expressed pride of what the NGOs and Associations in collaboration with the different local authorities have been able to achieve so far saying, they will continue to achieve – both in terms of directly supporting their beneficiaries and in continuing to build capacity of the next generation of doctors, sometimes in the most trying of circumstances.
Representing the Vice Chancellor, the Deputy Vice Chancellor in Charge of Finance and Administration Prof. Henry Alinaitwe welcomed all stakeholders and thanked the organizers and NGO forum that has been supporting Ugandans since 1956 adding that, Makerere is one of those institutions that prides itself in collaborating with many institutions .
“I am intrigued by the title of the exhibition, “In sickness and In health”. There has been a lot that the Italian government and NGOs have contributed to this theme . Italians have supported many health and education institutions in Uganda like Lacor hospital, schools like St. Mary’s Kisubi and very well known for supporting especially the Catholic church”. He said.
Prof. Alinaitwe commended the embassy for the exhibition and the wider project of the European Union supporting the mobility of Makerere University students and staff.
“Makerere is celebrating its 100 years of service and we take this exhibition to be part of the Makerere @100 and we want to thank you for contribution to our celebrations. We should extend the collaboration to CEDAT Museum so that these pictures can be archived to strengthen our deliverables”, Prof. Alinaitwe stated.
Alinaitwe also thanked Government of Uganda for the support extend to Makerere and providing a conducive environment for operation.
The Principal CHUSS Associate Prof. Josephine Ahikire said, the Department of Sociology and Anthropology has had long outstanding collaboration with the Embassy of Italy and Italian universities in academic cooperation.
Prof. Ahikire welcomed the Chief guest and all dignitaries to Makerere University and the CHUSS and to the exhibition.
“This is a new and quiet face but a very meaningful event of showcasing in picture and in word the collaborations and footprints of the Italian NGOs in Uganda since 1956. They are more than 60 years old and we celebrate that.
We are glad that we are weaving into our celebrations some of the collaborations we have had with the Italian government, Embassy , NGOs and the European Union in general and since they say, pictures speak 1000 words, they will speak for themselves ”, The Principal said.
As a college, Prof. Ahikire said CHUSS has a long standing collaboration with Turin University Italy in terms of student and staff exchange in sociology and social work, film studies and also interact and broaden the fields around cultural studies.
Prof. Ahikire informed participants that the exhibition had been mounted on a historic building of 1950s and has hosted the former Makerereans heard of including Rose Mbowa, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and Ngungi Wa Thiong’o.
The Head Department of Sociology and Anthropology Dr. Fred Bateganya expressed delight and thanked the Italian government for the continuous partnership with Makerere University and specifically the Department.
Mak Almnus Prof. Ngugi Wa Thiongo Honored, Humanities Book Launched during the Humanities Conference
The three-day International Humanities Conference organized by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS) was on 23rd August 2022 opened with the Graduate Mentorship session, followed by planting a tree in honor of Makerere University Alumnus Prof. Ngugi Wa Thiong’o by the Vice Chancellor Prof. Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe At the Arts Quadrangle.
Prof. Nawangwe also launched a book titled, “ Historicising Humanities at Makerere: Trends, Patterns and Prospects”. The book authored by over 20 people with 16 chapters is an outcome of a project on historicizing the humanities at Makerere supported by the Andrew Mellon Foundation of New York.
The conference convener Dr. Levis Mugumya said the key goal of the project was to rethink and reshape the role of humanities in Uganda and reexamine the basis and significance of humanities and humanistic social sciences at Makerere University from a historical perspective.
“The sixteen chapters have taken a slice of the history of some disciplines and raised questions around their basis and trajectory. It is an attempt to renew conversation and debate as well as ideational leadership of the academy “, Dr. Mugumya said
The three day Humanities conference 23rd－26th August 2022 was part of the activities to celebrate the 100 years of Makerere University service to Humanity, held at the Yusuf Lule Auditorium.
The overriding thrust of the conference was to explore how the knowledge revolutions have impacted university practices and transformed the teaching of and research in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The conference also acted as a discursive zone to interrogate innovative ways through which Humanities and Social Sciences scholarship has refocused beyond the knowledge revolutions to imagine the inevitable future economic, social, biological and political challenges to humanity.
The conference was blended to enable physical and virtual engagements, presentations, and insightful and vibrant discussions. It will consist of keynote addresses, individual and panel presentations, and graduate student panel discussions.
It attracted key note speakers:- Prof. Ngungi Wa Thiong’o – a distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature from the University of California;Derrick Peterson – Ali Mazrui Collegiate Professor of History from the Afro-American and African Studies University of Michigan and; Nakanyike Musisi – a Professor from the African Women Education and Development, Makerere University/ University of Toronto
It would be a mistake to discredit humanities as a second class subject
The conference was officially opened by the German Ambassador to Uganda H.E Matthias Schauer. The ambassador underscored the role of humanities in society saying, it is un imaginable to create a legal regulatory system without a profound knowledge of history of society and language which is part of the humanities.
He observed that scholars in humanities and social sciences have witnessed three major knowledge revolutions since 1945 from Area studies, cultural studies and global studies. Ambassador Schauer noted that today, there are signs that scholars may be at another brink of the fourth revolution as witnessed by problems in maintaining global production process, amidst rising transport costs, political unrest and the realization that countries may not be dependent on one other.
“We have been fooling ourselves that economic interdependence would prevent out conflicts but this is not the case. We may now need a new focus on global cooperation and create new fields of research in humanities and social sciences”. He said.
He said humanities attracts a huge number of students at universities because of the diversity of subjects and rich menu for offer. On the political debate on education, Ambassador Schauer noted that its common to hear that countries may need natural scientists, engineers and technicians to increase economic performance.
Though that may be right to some extent, Ambassador Schauer described the humanities and humanistic social sciences as vital to society saying, it would be a mistake to discredit humanities as a second class subject. He advised that young people should do what they feel passionate about.
“First of all they (Humanities) help us understand each other. Language, history and culture shapes each one of us. Without communication that works, nothing much else can work. Humanities also teach us to approach new complex issues in a systematic way to assess information and considering different facts from all sides, Humanities make us informed and critical citizens and, without humanities, democracy would not work. Humanities also foster social justice and teach us empathy and make international relations broader and stronger. Humanities encourage us to think creatively, to reflect upon ourselves and human nature and to think outside the box. Humanistic services enrich the soul and make us a cultured individual,” The ambassador asserted.
The ambassador also described as false the thinking that humanistic degrees are not marketable as degrees in STEM, business management and other natural sciences.
“At sight that might seem true, but in my experience a student who diligently study in humanistic subjects will always carry this energy and motivation successfully into his professional life and sell more as in finding a good job. Almost all employers desperately need employees who can communicate fluently, intelligently and persuasively and, employees who can organize their thoughts and synthesis their scattered information into a coherent story.
Employers need employees who are equipped with soft skills such as the ability to converse with difficult topics in a constructive manner and it is the humanities that helps them to express very well. Humanistic education will enrich you very well, emotionally, socially and intellectually and gain a wide experience while at college”, The ambassador asserted.
The Ambassador hailed the long standing relationship and collaboration that Germany enjoys with Makerere University especially with CHUSS.
He said it was now over 60 years when Germany was taught in the evening class at Makerere University as an extracurricular language program that continued till 1967 when the first bachelor of arts was established and it became the first German phonology in East Africa.
He highlighted a number of advantages of studying Germany including teacher employment opportunities in education sector, participation in internships, huge range of opportunities in tourism, training opportunities and on job trainings in companies and unique connections, interaction and demand across the world.
The ambassador encouraged the university leadership to foster the teaching of foreign languages at Makerere in prominent way at CHUSS department of European and Oriental languages and proposed the establishment of Master of Arts program in Germany as the most appealing to him.
He expressed the Germany commitment to continue funding the Ugandan students and staff in their academic and other endeavors.
CHUSS reputed for producing eminent scholars
The Vice Chancellor Makerere University Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe reported that the Humanities and Social Sciences have been at the heart of Makerere University since the introduction of History in 1946, and the East African Institute of Social Research in 1948.
He explained that the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences is reputed for producing eminent scholars and political leaders, including Julius Nyerere, Milton Obote, Mwai Kibaki, Benjamin Mkapa, Oginga Odinga, Okot p’Bitek, Ali Mazrui, David Rubadiri, Nuruddin Farah, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, John Ruganda, V. S. Naipul and Wole Soyinka among others.
Prof. Nawangwe informed participants that CHUSS has championed the critical role of humanities and humanistic social sciences in comprehending, interpreting, and recognizing societal commonalities and differences as well as fostering critical thought, social justice, equity and democratic practice stressing that, in the 1960s and 1970s before the onslaught of neoliberalism and the emphasis on STEM, the humanities and humanistic social sciences were vibrant.
In spite of this rich history, Prof. Nawangwe pointed out that the current positionality and relevance of the disciplines of humanities and humanistic Social Sciences has come under scrutiny as compared to the natural scientific disciplines.
While the University is prized in scientific research, Nawangwe said, today’s complex global challenges such as ‘global warming, global poverty, global epidemics’ and gender inequality cannot be solely explained or resolved by natural scientific disciplines.
“It is therefore important to understand the human factor, which is central in most of the modern scientific glitches. Not only do the humanities and humanistic social sciences explicate our existence as human beings, but they also contribute to creating “tolerance and understanding between citizens”, which promote social cohesion, and challenge established positions, social norms and traditions through critical thinking, and preserve heritage, cultural memory and identity”, He said.
The Vice Chancellor was optimistic that the knowledge and strategies generated through the conference will go towards uplifting the lifestyles of the people and also aid in conducting a comprehensive review of all aspects of teaching, theorizing, research and practice in the humanities and social sciences disciplines.
Prof. Nawangwe extended appreciation to development partners for the support extended through generous acts such as sponsoring this fora, capacity building, research and developing infrastructure with particularly recognition to the Andrew Mellon Foundation and Gerda Henkel Stiftung for supporting academic activities in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences as well as the Government of Uganda for supporting research and creating an environment conducive for the same to thrive at Makerere University.
The Vice Chancellor also appreciated keynote speakers, Prof. Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Prof. Nakanyike Musisi and Prof. Derek Peterson, the participants, and all guests for honouring the invitations.
To the students (PhD and Masters), The Vice Chancellor expressed happiness that that the International Humanities Conference 2022had commenced with the Graduate Mentorship session.
“You are being nurtured and mentored to not only become the next generation of academics, but to also provide leadership and championship towards Uganda’s development and transformation of your communities.
I encourage you to actively participate in the conference so that you learn more as you pursue your PhD and Masters” Nawangwe said and applauded CHUSS management under the leadership of the Principal, Associate Professor Josephine Ahikire for hosting a number of activities in line with the centenary celebrations.
The conference looked at the world with resolve for greater humanity
The Principal CHUSS, Associate Prof. Josephine Ahikire welcomed all to the conference saying, this was the first Conference to be held after the serious lockdown for two years as the university celebrates the Humanities and Social Sciences and make a mark on the nation, continent and the world at large.
This conference themed: Knowledge revolutions and Practices: Area, Cultural and Global Studies she said , is structured as part of Makerere’s Centennial celebration aimed at exploring how the knowledge revolutions have impacted university practices, the teaching of and research in the Humanities and Social Sciences as well as human praxis.
“We use this space as a discursive zone to interrogate innovative ways through which Humanities and Social Sciences scholarship has refocused beyond the knowledge revolutions to imagine inevitable futures. We use this very space to foster critical thought about life, its afflictions, and ideals of human society – to debate and rejuvenate theory and practice”, The Principal said.
Prof. Ahikire acknowledged the friendship and partnership between Germany, Makerere and the country at large and specifically, the support by the Gerda Henkel Stiftung to the college that has soared the capacity of PhD training at CHUSS.
On behalf of CHUSS and Makerere University, the Prof Ahikire thanked the keynote speakers: Prof Ngugi who was not able to join, saying that he was and is still enthusiastic about this Conference and what happens at Makerere adding that , Prof. Ngungi has always believed/ and openly confessed that Makerere made him and Perhaps he also made Makerere.
“This symbiotic relationship is one we greatly cherish at CHUSS. Prof Nakanyike Musisi – a gem- renown historian of our time. Welcome home- proud alumnus. Prof Derek Peterson, we treasure your commitment on restoring and conserving history”, Prof. Ahikire commended.
Prof. Ahikire emphasized that the humanities have been at the heart of Makerere University since its birth and is reputed for eminent scholars, post-independence political leaders and activists. Under the ambit of the CHUSS program dubbed Humanities@ Mak 100, the Principal said, this conference was part of the efforts to galvanize humanities scholarship for even greater human utility on the African continent.
“As humanity continues to grapple with challenges such as mis -governance, conflict, climate change, and pandemics there is need for more ingenuity and inventiveness. In very specific ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the need for a multidisciplinary approach to this unprecedented global health challenge, with the human subject at the centre.” She said adding that:“These conversations are important because our disciplines allow us to experience humanity at its best. This Conference is therefore aimed at facilitating these debates and key issues in the Humanities and Social Sciences. It is our hope that the conversations that start here do not stop here, but help us critically look at world we live in with resolve for greater humanity”.
Prof. Ahikire acknowledged the generous support of the Mellon Foundation (USA) which allowed the college to dream three years ago – when the idea of the book was proposed. The Mellon Foundation she reported has also supported various research efforts by Early Career and Senior Scholars in the college including the support for this conference that was also committed three years ago.
She thanked the University management for enabling the college to meaningfully pursue the strategic goal of a truly research led university and, the chair of the Organising Committee, the Convener of the Conference and all members of the organising committee for the job well done.
Conference planned to discuss issues important for the survival of human race
The chairperson CHUSS organizing committee Prof. Grace Bantebya said each year the college organizes a conference adding that what started as symposia has metamorphosed into great and rich academic conferences.
Prof. Bantebya hailed the college leadership for the support and the organizing committee for the commitment that led to the success of the conference noting that they have tirelessly worked in their different committees to see to it that it materializes.
She also thanked the Andrew Mellon Foundation and the Gerda Henkel Foundation for the support to the conference as well as the different doctoral students cohorts over the years.
“The issues this team has prepared for you to chew are those that are pertinent to our being human. It is for this reason that we are sometimes looked at as activists because issues of urgency within the global context are important for the survival of human race and this is why conferences of this nature need to keep happening”. Prof. Bantebya said.
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