n South African Journal of Higher Education - Theoretical underpinnings of transformation : a case study : research in higher education

Volume 16, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



This analysis of the transformation of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Port Elizabeth examines the reasons for the transformation, what was done, how it was achieved, the immediate results and the current challenges. The article includes a theoretical framework for analyzing transformation, which addresses both restructuring and curriculum development. The emphasis is that the need for transformation was multi dimensional, driven by economic, democratic, epistemological, curriculum, social, national and global developments that the Faculty could not ignore and was eager to address. The value of a fundamental re-conceptualization of the Faculty in relation to all such developments was suggested by the need to develop more permeable, flexible structures that were able to admit more diverse students, and that had the capacity to adapt Programmes to the requirements of stake holders, a modularized format and Faculty expertise. The re-conceptualization began with a market analysis, which demonstrated that there was indeed a demand for the kinds of knowledge, skills and attitudes that Arts degrees aim to develop. Encouraged by this information, the Faculty moved quickly towards creating viable new Programmes presented by multi disciplinary teams using innovative modes of delivery. The new strategy met with immediate success in some respects, less so in others. The article traces the ways in which the Faculty has continued to transform in response to new circumstances, and its prospects for survival.

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