This paper questions how we teach and practise within our various specialities without a holistic understanding of the self and our humanity.
Universities of Technology (UoTs) in South Africa are undergoing a search for identity which will better position themselves within the larger framework of human development. These institutions evolved from Colleges for Advanced Technical Education to Technikons, then to Universities of Technology. The example referred to, although limited to the discipline of photography, nevertheless relates to broad educational values that underpin appropriate and responsible education at higher education levels. Will all the efforts that go into exploring cross-, trans-, and multi-disciplinary courses reap long- term benefits for humanity, or are we just doing ‘the new thing’? Are we educating people, or designers, engineers and photographers? Does our education enhance life experience? How will we be able to shift the emphasis of what we are doing from product to human experience if we do not have a thorough understanding of self and the people we are designing for?
These questions are not to be answered question by question, but rather as broadly underpinning a greater question of humane education. I suggest generic modules that draw on the humanities in support of the core modules that will provide the student with the skill to enter the marketplace and make a success of his/her career.
Limited emphasis is placed on human-orientated sciences within UoT programmes. Most universities are undergoing recurriculation and major restructuring to realign themselves within the Higher Education plan. This process might be the opportunity to revaluate what we are doing and how we can improve our courses to enrich students’ capacity for self-interrogation and holistic human sensibility. This will provide the unique balance between technology and human sensibility that is currently lacking at Universities of Technology.