Liberation studies requires a programme of work with multiple streams, to develop the framework and to see its benefits. The multi-disciplinary nature of the work requires that academics from different fields be provided with a space and structure to collaborate. The need to engage and partner with oppressed people requires the same. Finally, to engage students from a range of social and disciplinary backgrounds to grow expertise in this area of study, requires closeness to university structures, but distance from individual departments.
There are three mutually reinforcing streams of work which the centre is pursuing: 1. Further developing and strengthening the framework; 2. Conducting collaborative research projects with target populations; 3. Supporting and strengthening student involvement
Developing and strengthening the framework
Liberation studies is a new approach, designed to provide a framework for organizing inputs from a range of disciplines. It requires continued development as new insights emerge, both from relevant disciplines and from studies directly employing the framework. This stream of work involves reviewing relevant literature, considering the implication of findings for the framework and where necessary, specific research projects. Included in this stream is the critical area of study focused on conceptualizing what a liberated South Africa would look like – an approach argued for strongly by Rick Turner.
Research and evaluation studies are central to the centre’s work, given the goal of liberation studies is to identify, design, implement and refine possible population level interventions, by understanding as holistically as possible, the individuals who make up these populations. The focus on liberation and on the holistic view of people requires that research projects be done in collaboration with target populations. This involves a mix of involving individuals from those populations as co-investigators and broader consultations. All research is undertaken with a view to intervene. This, however, does not exclude work which is necessary to better understand the environment, so that methods of intervention can be more refined.
The involvement of students is critical if this area of work is to grow. Three types of involvement are envisaged, but are still in the process of development. Firstly, a short course offered to all interested students, ideally at the undergraduate level. The course will be designed to assist students to understand how the environment has influenced them, both individually and as a group. This would hopefully assist students to develop a critical perspective and to contribute more to the transformation of the university. Secondly, an in-depth graduate level course on Liberation studies. This could be offered to graduate students from a host of disciplines, given the broad multi-disciplinary nature of the subject matter. Finally, masters and PhD students, again, from a host of disciplines, could become directly involved in the collaborative research projects as part of their theses work, possibly with co-supervision.