Inaugural lecture by Prof Chikulo
Prof Bornwell C Chikulo of North-West University’s Faculty of Human and Social Sciences at the Mafikeng Campus delivered his inaugural lecture as professor of Development Studies on 17 April 2012.
Titled Reflections on Development Studies as an Academic Discipline, the lecture was held on campus and was well attended by staff, students and members of the community.
Prof Chikulo, who has been in academia for more than 30 years, obtained his BA degree at the University of Zambia, and both his Master’s degree in Economy and his PhD at the University of Manchester in the UK.
In the introduction to his lecture, Prof Chikulo referred to the concept of development, which could not be easily defined as it was “highly contested both theoretically and politically and carries with it layers of meaning”.
He said that since its beginning, development thinking had been a reaction to the crises of progress, therefore the concept had been in a state of flux for more than six decades. “Hence questioning, rethinking and crisis are part of development and not external to it.”
As a consequence, the nature and scope of Development Studies had changed dramatically and continued to do so. He described its defining characteristics as: it concerns itself with development; it is theoretical, policy-related and concerned with real-world problems; its primary focus, which is cross-regional and cross-country, is developing countries; and it is inter-disciplinary in nature.
Prof Chikulo stated that Development Studies would remain relevant in the contemporary world because of the persistence of old problems; the crises of global capitalism, conflict and violence; as well as emerging issues such as globalization and climate change.
He concluded by saying that the development studies programme at Mafikeng needed to adapt to fulfil the needs of the University and satisfy the vested interests of a variety of stakeholders, knowledge building and marketability. According to Prof Chikulo, development studies had to “re-invigorate its role as an agency to bring about progressive change, social justice and sustainable development.”
After the lecture, Campus Rector Prof Dan Kgwadi congratulated Prof Chikulo on his contribution to developing Development Studies as an academic discipline since 1986, not only on campus but also in the country and on the continent. “He really is an inspiration to me and many others, both within the field and outside,” Prof Kgwadi added.