26 February 2021 | Story Rulanzen Martin
Clockwise from left; Dr Alta Grobbelaar; Dr Merlene Esau; Dr Albertus Barkhuizen; Dr Helen-Mary Cawood and Dr Wade Goodrick.

“It (doctoral degrees) signifies the culmination of several years of dedicated focus amid the ongoing demands of their day-to-day work as academics in a dynamic and diverse faculty,” said Prof Heidi Hudson, Dean of the Faculty of the Humanities, about the conferment of doctoral degrees to five lecturing staff members in the faculty.

The newly capped doctors are Drs Alta Grobbelaar, Merlene Esau, Albertus Barkhuizen, Wade Goodrick, and Helen-Mary Cawood. “The Faculty of the Humanities strives to support its entire lecturing staff to obtain their doctoral degrees. I therefore take great pleasure in congratulating the five staff members in the faculty,” said Prof Hudson. Prof Hudson said what made their achievement even more special, was the fact that they obtained their degrees during unprecedented and challenging COVID-19 times.

The PhD degrees were conferred during a virtual ceremony on 24 February 2021. 

PhD studies look extensively at social issues 

It is important for PhD candidates in any discipline that their research theses should contribute new or additional information to their respective disciplines. Undertaking a PhD in the social sciences (humanities) can be loosely attributed to the curiosity of humankind – its connectedness, shared attributes, history, relations, or the deeper meaning of human existence. 

The five research theses presented by the candidates look at various social themes, ranging from Dr Albertus Barkhuizen’s thesis on French as a possible teachable foreign language in South Africa, to Dr Helen-Mary Cawood’s argument that the collective memories of modern English football fans have been curated by contemporary ‘museal cultures.’ Dr Barkhuizen is a lecturer in the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, German and French, and Dr Cawood in the Department of Philosophy

In her thesis, Dr Merlene Esau makes a considerable contribution to the development of social-work practices by focusing on child-led households as a vulnerable group in South Africa. Dr Esau is a lecturer and head of the Department of Social Work. Dr Alta Grobbelaar from the Department of Political Studies and Governance looks in her thesis at the interrelationship between the media and terrorist groups in Africa, while Dr Wade Goodrick from the Department of Sociology focused his thesis on the risks associated with unconventional gas developments in South Africa.

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