G. Presidential Roundtable Series

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The ASSAf Presidential Roundtables on Science, Scholarship and Society bring together experts in a particular field to address a critical issue percolating in society that requires the deliberation of the best minds on the topic.

Peer-Review Status: Non-Peer Reviewed

Enquiries: Renate Venier

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    The implications of ChatGPT for assessment in higher education
    (Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), 2023-02-22) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
    ChatGPT is a new language-based artificial intelligence (AI) technology developed by OpenAI, that can understand and communicate in human language. ChatGPT has gained a lot of attention since its release in November 2022 and is already being integrated into various industries. Many in the field of higher education are curious to know how ChatGPT could be used to create authentic assessments to measure students’ knowledge and skills. On the other hand, students could also use ChatGPT to write assignments etc., making it difficult for educators to detect cheating. In response, the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) hosted the 11th ASSAf Presidential Roundtable Discussion titled “The Implications of ChatGPT for Assessment in Higher Education”. The panellists included: Dr Franci Cronjé (Research Associate, The IIE Vega School), Dr Roze Phillips (Founder and CEO, Abundance at Work) and Prof Johannes Cronjé (Professor, Digital Teaching and Learning, Cape Peninsula University of Technology). The overall sentiment is that ChatGPT is a useful tool that should be used with some element of caution. We must consider the ethics, the learning process for the student and move our thinking about assessment from assessing the product, to assessing the process, amongst other things. There were close to 1400 participants in attendance. The ASSAf Presidential Roundtables on Science, Scholarship and Society, which are hosted by ASSAf and moderated by ASSAf’s President, Prof Jonathan Jansen, are an evidence-based dialogue that brings together experts and stakeholders to address critical issues affecting society at large and are of interest to a broad audience.
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    The threat to leadership in South African universities
    (Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), 2023-01-27) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
    The 10th ASSAf Presidential Roundtable Discussion and the first in 2023, titled “The threat to leadership in South African universities” was presented on 27 January 2023. In recent times university staff have been assaulted and killed on and around campuses across the country, for instance, the killing of Prof Gregory Kamwendo, former Dean of Arts at the University of Zululand, Prof Mohammed Saber Tayob, a CA associate professor at the University of Limpopo, then, Peet Roets, who was the head of Fleet management at the University of Fort Hare, to name but a few. Now this year, the attempted assassination of the Vice-Chancellor of Fort Hare University and the tragic murder of his bodyguard, Mr Mbonelli Vesele, has generated intense public reaction against the perceived lack of response from government, whether it be in bringing the criminals to justice or providing adequate support to university leadership when their very lives are at stake. Prof Jonathan Jansen, ASSAf’s President, moderated the dialogue to get a deeper understanding of why this is happening; if government is doing enough to support university staff; and what these attacks mean for the future of South African universities in general and university leadership in particular. The discussions were led by Prof Nomalanga Mkhize (HoD: History and Political Studies, Nelson Mandela University), Prof Mohamed Saleem Badat (Research Professor: College of Humanities, University of KwaZulu-Natal), Prof Themba Mosia (Vice-Principal, University of Pretoria) and Prof Adam Habib (Director: School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London). The panellists viewed these developments as a crisis that needs to be handled with extreme caution. The ASSAf Presidential Roundtables on Science, Scholarship and Society, which are hosted by ASSAf and moderated by ASSAf’s President, Prof Jonathan Jansen, are an evidence-based dialogue that brings together experts and stakeholders to address critical issues affecting society at large and are of interest to a broad audience.
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    The threat of academic xenophobia to the future of South African universities
    (Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), 2022-11-24) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
    Webinar presented on 24 November 2022 as part of the 9th ASSAf Presidential Roundtable series. The 9th ASSAf Presidential Roundtable Discussion topic is “The Threat of Academic Xenophobia to the Future of South African Universities”. The more visible signs of xenophobia happen on the streets of South Africa and are sometimes violent and disruptive. But universities as institutions have not been immune to what we call academic xenophobia. The dialogue brought together experts to discuss the latest data on African scholars and scientists in South African universities, their experiences on campuses throughout the country, and what can be done to develop a progressive employment regime that is built on the academic values of the modern university. The Panellists included Prof Evance Kalula (Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Cape Town), Ms Nicole Fritz (Director, Helen Suzman Foundation), Dr Precious Simba (Lecturer, Department of Education Policy Studies, Stellenbosch University) and Prof Sakhela Buhlungu (Vice Chancellor, University of Fort Hare). The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) runs these series of ASSAf Presidential Roundtables on Science, Scholarship and Society bi-annually and are hosted and moderated by ASSAf’s President, Prof Jonathan Jansen. The roundtables are an evidence-based dialogue that brings together experts and stakeholders to address critical issues affecting society at large and are of interest to a broad audience.
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    The Human Costs of Climate Change
    (Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), 2022) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
    Webinar presented on 14 July 2022 as part of the 8th ASSAf Presidential Roundtable series.
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