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Monday, 01 March 2021

Centre for Communication Studies set to bolster research

Assoc Prof Nic Theo is the Director of the new Centre for Communication Studies. Assoc Prof Nic Theo is the Director of the new Centre for Communication Studies.

The newly established Centre for Communication Studies is set to advance research in the Faculty of Informatics and Design.

The Centre’s vision is to foster human-centred relevance and excellence in research that is directed at bridging communication theory and practice in the fields of media, design, digital engagement, and the arts.

The centre is the brainchild of Assoc Prof Nic Theo, who partnered with Associate Professors Ephias Ruhode and Izak van Zyl in strategising and thinking through the Centre’s offering, and then developing the various forms of proposal required to bring it to fruition.

“It became clear over the last few years of research growth in the Faculty of Informatics and Design that researchers (both staff and postgrad students) can benefit from an increased access to research support that is not available through the existing faculty research office, which primarily serves an imperative administrative function and therefore does not have sufficient staffing and other resources to also support research initiatives from a substantive scholarly perspective,” says Theo.

“The clear focus in Vision 2030 towards One SMART CPUT and interdisciplinarity has called attention to the need for cross-pollination of research across the faculty and indeed across the institution. The increasing visibility of CPUT as a research-focused as well as teaching university over the last decade has provided an opportunity to capitalise on existing and prospective collegial networks in order to bolster the offering of the faculty and to engage more substantively with local, regional, national and international engagements in a more focused manner. In all these regards account was taken of how the faculty works, what its focus areas are, and what new opportunities are arising in the research space.”

Theo says key to this is the fact that FID researchers work in three main ways: developing text-based outputs like journal articles, book chapters and books, conference presentations etc; developing creative products that are now accreditable by the Department of Higher Education and Training  funded research outputs; and developing intellectual property in the form of patents, designs, copyrighted texts etc.

“Historically there has not been a dedicated focus on all these areas of endeavour in one space. These imperatives and opportunities led us to consider how support might be provided to the faculty to engage in research innovation, and it became clear that one of the core constituent parts of each department is a focus on different forms of communication, whether from the perspective of architectural technology/ interior design, urban and regional planning, design, IT or, of course, media. Hence the decision to establish the Centre with a focus on Communication Studies in its broadest sense in the RTI (Research and Technology Innovation) focus areas of the university.”

The Centre focuses on the following RTI Focus Areas in terms of Vision 2030: 

  • Human, Health and Social Dynamics
  • The Digital Society
  • The Environment, Climate Change and Sustainability

The Centre will be located in the Faculty on the District Six campus but due to the pandemic business is being conducted virtually in the interim.

Written by Ilse Fredericks