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SU Teaching Fellowships 2023
Author: Dr Karin Cattell-Holden
Published: 07/11/2023


The SU Teaching Fellowships offer eminent academics with a track record of involvement with teaching-learning-assessment (TLA) and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning support and opportunities over one to three years to enhance and share their TLA expertise at the departmental, faculty and institutional level.

The University has awarded 20 fellowships since the inception of the project in 2009. In 2023 two new Fellows joined the current cohort of Prof. Susan van Schalkwyk (CHPE, FMHS), Prof. Deborah Blaine (Engineering), Prof. Gretha Steenkamp (EMS), Dr Taryn Bernard (FASS) and Dr Marnel Mouton (Science):

1.       Prof. Dennis Francis

Prof. Francis is Professor of Sociology in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and an internationally recognised scholar of teaching and learning. Their research and teaching focus on the sociocultural dimensions of gender and sexualities, in particular how educational structures, discourses and practices reproduce cisheteronormativity and social inequality, and how these are also resisted and challenged.


Prof. Francis' first-year students reflect on their experiences of the heteronormative-dominated South African schooling and society. In their project for this teaching fellowship Prof. Francis analyses these stories to gauge how students navigate, resist and disrupt these educational spaces and norms. Prof. Francis specifically investigates how students in a first-year Sociology module construct queer and trans youth, respond to homophobia and transphobia in educational spaces, and conceptualise social change in relation to these issues.


The impact of Prof. Francis' fellowship will be far-reaching, not only advancing the scholarship of teaching and learning at SU but also enhancing critical reflection on social and institutional norms that foster exclusion, thereby contributing to meaningful institutional transformation.


2.      Prof. Nicola Plastow

Prof. Nicola Plastow is Professor of Occupational Therapy in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. She is a renowned researcher of teaching and learning in the context of mental health and well-being in adulthood and old age, using a social justice approach which includes critical citizenship as a pedagogy.

The aim of Prof. Plastow's fellowship project is to establish and then evaluate the impact of a community interaction project that promotes social participation and occupational justice for older people living in Bishop Lavis. Prof. Plastow will develop a new clinical placement opportunity for her students at a retirement home for independent living older people, challenging – and transforming – students' perspective on ageing, older people, and life in a low-income area of Cape Town so that they discover new ways of being an occupational therapist.

Prof. Plastow's project is strongly linked to SU's focus on making a difference in society. It will enhance teaching and learning at SU by developing the graduate attributes of becoming a dynamic professional and engaged citizen. The project will not only have a marked effect on students' learning in terms of their studies but also on their professional lives and their lives as caring and aware members of society. 

For more information about the Teaching Fellowships, please contact Dr Karin Cattell-Holden at