The UCT Law Faculty has a number of well-established research units that make an important contribution to the research endeavour of the Faculty as well as its engagement with society. Members of the units are also involved in lecturing and postgraduate supervision, feeding research back into the Faculty’s teaching.
Most of these units conduct social and socio-legal research that generally seeks to study the interface between law and society, i.e. they are at root cross-disciplinary projects. The context for this research is, in broad terms, the development challenge facing South Africa and Africa. Each unit, however, has a focus: intellectual property, land, the environment, policing and safety, gender relations, the justice system, mining, labour relations and the labour market, and refugees.
Given the pressures that the units work under these focus areas can tend to become silos. So, while all the units have, in broad terms, a common methodological framework, deal with similar theoretical approaches, use the same research methods, and are primarily concerned with impacting on policies and practices at various levels, they are separated by the actual focus of their work.
The research week aims to showcase some of the intellectual work of the units, and the week will therefore display the diversity of that work. However, an important objective of the week is to rekindle a conversation amongst the research units and the faculty more broadly, about points of commonality in our work, whether methodological, theoretical, techniques of policy engagement, the relationship of research with teaching, etc. We hope in this way to foster collaborations that will draw more faculty members into the work of the research units and enable stronger relationships between them.
The research week will be just the start: it is an ambitious conversation that will be ongoing.