Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning

Current Issue

Vol. 12 No. SI1 (2024)
Published 30 April 2024
HELTASA (un)conference

In this special issue, the Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa (HELTASA) invites you to engage with the organisation’s journey of restructuring in 2020 which became the catalyst for methodological disruption in 2021 through the (un)conference. The aim of the HELTASA 2021 (un)conference was to disrupt, expand, and include diverse forms and formats of conference participation. The substantive change from traditional conferencing to the HELTASA 2021 (un)conference is the subject of this edition, providing an exploration of how disruption can be mobilised towards sustainable organisational advancement in productive ways. This special issue explores the extent to which these aims were met as we reflected on the past, ‘Sivela phi’, considered our current ways of knowing, doing and being, ‘Si phi’, and looked towards an unknown future, ‘Siya phi’. 

This special issue is an opportunity to gauge the extent to which alternative methodologies enable a different range of perspectives and participation to be generated. All seven articles argue for a methodological pivot that fosters the participation of a multitude of voices to enable deeper, dialogical, and collaborative approaches.

The special issue features  seven papers, each of which attend to varied levels of disruption namely structural, conceptual, methodological, cultural, contextual, reflexive, and iterative. The rich analysis and discussion offered by authors explore the different stages involved in conceptualising, planning, implementing and embodying the (un)conference. Several significant themes emerge across all the contributions: the need to remain contextually relevant and responsive; the courage to challenge traditional power, social and participatory differentials; the promotion of inclusivity; and encouraging an equitable participatory culture in academic environments. Using critically reflective and reflexive methodologies, these papers proposed novel frameworks and approaches for reflecting, understanding, and organising traditional academic events underlined by the principles of equity, diversity, and social justice. These discussions have significance and implications for the way higher education practitioners (including students) can reflect on, conceive of, and enact scholarly engagements.

The book reviews included in this issue also encourage us to rethink relationships through decolonial approaches. '‘Rural Transitions to Higher Education in South Africa' adopts a decolonial framework to do participatory research, involving students as co-researchers in three rural universities. In her review, Carolina Guzman argues that this book 'makes a compelling case for the need to listen to and amplify the voices of rural students in higher education'. The editorial board would like to acknowledge the fundamental contribution made to this book by one of our founding board members, Brenda Leibowitz, who was the principal South African investigator of the project on rurality and higher education, and who passed away too soon on 26 April 2018.

The review of 'Hospicing modernity' by Roxana Chiappa and Andrea Lira invites us to rethink book reviews, as they share how the process of reading this book shaped and deepened their understanding of how modernity manifests inside us and the spaces we inhabit. Both of these books will be of interest to decolonial scholars or academics looking to rethink traditional relationships and practices in higher education.


Call for Contribution to a Special Issue "Doing Pedagogy Differently: In memory of Elmarie Costandius"

This call for papers invites contributions inspired by Elmarie Costandius’ generous, curious, and gentle spirit which has had an immense impact notably on how we study and understand pedagogy. Please submit extended abstracts to the guest editors Nike Romano ( and Professor Vivienne Bozalek ( and by 30 June 2024.


31 May 2024


Kasturi Behari-Leak, Rieta Ganas
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