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Professor Thandwa Mthembu, the Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Vice-Chancellor and Principal recorded a video message to unpack the Society perspective of the Envision 2030, in his office on Monday, 30 November 2020. 

Prof Mthembu said of the four perspectives, Society is the ultimate influencing and impacting perspective. He said while the other perspectives may represent the archer’s arrows, this perspective embodies the archer’s ultimate aim.  

“By achieving the nine strategic objectives that underpin the other three perspectives and realising the remaining three that constitute the perspective, Society it is hoped that we will have demonstrably manifested our commitment to impact the lives and livelihoods of our people, both internal and external, locally and globally. In so doing, the collective impact of our accomplishments will reverberate across the various components of Society,” said Prof Mthembu. 

By realising the first strategic objective of becoming An Engaged University, Prof Mthembu said DUT will have cultivated and sustained several meaningful mutually beneficial partnerships enabling it to interact with and impact the broader society it serves.  

“I am confident that by the conclusion of the lifespan of Envision 2030, DUT will certainly be An Engaged University.  The work we do between now and then will determine the extent to which DUT will be An Engaged University,” added Prof Mthembu. 

Furthermore, he said as he has mentioned before in the unpacking of DUT’s DNA, the University contemplate society in all its manifestations: government and its agencies that co-sponsor its high-level skills and creativity; business and industry that co-develop its scientific/technical and social innovations; communities themselves and their organisational forms that co-construct solutions to the people’s societal problems.  

“Perhaps the extent of our engagement will be measured by DUT’s connectivity as a nexus across the gamut of these manifestations of society. Linking each of these manifestations to DUT is already within reach; linking each of them to each other through DUT to work as broader society to develop approaches and solutions to complex global challenges confronting us will indeed be the zenith of our accomplishments,” stated Prof Mthembu. 

Through their commitment to establish DUT as a haven of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Prof Mthembu said they will engender an approach to scholarship and research that is underpinned by societal impact.  He said the new knowledge they generate will not only cultivate solutions; it will be harnessed for broader sustainable development.   

“In addition to the patents, start-ups and other traditional scholarly outputs that abound at universities, we intend to focus on ensuring that considerable attention is paid to how these contribute to the realisation of glocal goals such as the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals, Africa’s Agenda 2063 and those of our nation’s National Development Plan. We have already included Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship in our expression of Engagement. As harbingers of such Engagement, we will retain this approach in moving towards the zenith,” said Prof Mthembu.  

According to Prof Mthembu all the DUT students who begin the journey of their professional life in the institution will be baptised into the DUT Way. He said the DUT Way is anchored in DUT’s DNA. The latter’s constitutive strands are, namely: ‘people-centred and engaged’ on the one hand; and, ‘innovative and entrepreneurial’ on the other hand. Prof Mthembu stressed that the two strands are bound together by the ‘values and principles’ DUT graduates, in particular, shall live.  

“The DUT Way as explained above, inspired by the Creativity in our Innovative Curricula and Research, which is undergirded by our State-of the-Art Infrastructure, those students who graduate will be hard-pressed not to adopt and live the DUT Way as a part of their way of life. As we succeed, one student at a time, to inculcate the mindset of Adaptive Graduates who will join us through our nexus, to harness our skills, talents and acumen to initiate and/or respond to change for the greater public good. Their lifelong journey with us will be sustained as equal partners in Society, with Society and for Society,” said Prof Mthembu.  

Lastly Prof Mthembu said by 2030 DUT will have moved from being a harbinger of affirmative change in the lives and livelihoods of Society to a vanguard of that change in Society. 

Pictured: DUT Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Thandwa Mthembu. 

Simangele Zuma 


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