INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR NONVIOLENCE [ICON]
A programme for student leaders (SRC and clubs) was run in 2012 by the Director of ICON and a grouping of staff from various DUT departments. On the basis of this experience it was decided to develop an ongoing non-formal programme for student leaders (not only those connected with the SRC). This operated first in 2014 with a group of 35 students. It has been run annually since then; in 2017 the number has risen to 50 students.
A key motivation for the programme has been the lack of opportunities for students to move beyond their discipline and to engage with important questions about the nature of leadership and the values of such leadership. South Africa has a remarkable history of inspiring leaders; it continues to need leaders with both the vision and the values that sustain the establishment of a just, peaceful and viable society.
At present, students attend a series of 10 participatory workshops from February to October. These sessions typically last four hours, though in 2017 we had a two-day session on conflict management. There is an emphasis both on visiting leaders and on student presentations. We conclude with a further session, an awards ceremony. We have had some excellent presentations by inspiring leaders, who are asked to focus in particular on the challenges they faced when they were of an age close to that of our students.
The second requirement is for students to participate in a community project. This can take different forms within and beyond DUT. In 2017 one group worked with the Denis Hurley Centre, another focused on career guidance in schools, one worked in the Pietermaritzburg area with projects related to HIV/AIDS, one developed skills in handling dialogues on current issues, and so on. Each group reports back to the workshops regularly. A third requirement is participation in a group presentation on what they have done and learnt in the project.
A certificate of achievement is awarded to those who meet the requirements of attendance and participation. This is highly valued by participants.
The day to day organisation of the programme rests with ICON, specifically with the Director and the administrative assistant. At present, a provision within the ICON budget is made for the programme, though the funding is inadequate and savings in other areas are used.
A committee that includes DUT staff members from several departments, a representative of ACCORD (the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes) and graduates of the programme oversees the direction and operation of the programme. This committee meets about six times annually, and at the end of each year reviews the programme to replan where necessary.
The future development of the programme is under active consideration. In 2017 a Fulbright Specialist on ethical leadership, Professor Joanne Ciulla, visited DUT to provide guidance on developing the programme. She interacted with both students and staff, as well as with others interested in the development of leadership. This visit was successful in extending the thinking of staff and in opening the programme to greater resources. As a result of the visit, there is a possibility in the medium term for a qualified student to be granted an opportunity to study at Jepson School of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond, the first such formal programme in the USA.
To find out more about this project download our CASE FOR SUPPORT booklet.