FSU welcomes South African Human Rights Scholar

Dr. Vishanthie Sewpaul

Dr. Vishanthie Sewpaul will visit Florida State University as a guest of the College of Social Work to speak across campus and the university during her visit from January 22 through January 30. She is a Professor Emeritus at the University of KwaZulu Natal in Durban, South Africa, and is a Professor II at the University of Stavanger, Norway.


She is widely published in the areas of social justice, human rights, and international social work as well as with a focus on vulnerable populations, globalization, and community work. Dr. Sewpaul was at the cutting edge of policy and social work education in post-apartheid South Africa. She has served in leadership positions at national, regional and global levels.


Dr.  Sewpaul joined the Board of the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) in 2000 where she chaired several committees. She was a Vice-President of IASSW and President of the Association of Schools of Social Work in Africa. She was the President of the first ever non-racial professional association – the National Association of Social Workers, South Africa, and served as President of the Association of South African Social Work Education Institutions. She recently served on the Steering Committee of the Global Alliance of the Social Welfare Workforce.


In 2013, the Ministry of Science and Technology acknowledged her with a Distinguished Women in Science Award for her “outstanding contribution to building South Africa’s scientific and research knowledge base.” She received two honorary doctoral degrees – from Sweden and Chile and was nominated as a Lead SA Hero for her contribution to student development, and to community development through direct interventions and through her teaching. Social work research, practice, and teaching with a focus on social justice, human rights, and emancipatory education remain her passion.


While at Florida State, Dr. Sewpaul will meet with various communities and organizations including two events open to the public, including:


  • “Engage Your World” Lecture at the FSU Center for Global Engagement (CGE)
    EMANICIPATORY EDUCATION: The Personal-Political Nexus in the Pursuit of Social Justice and Transformation
    Thursday, Jan. 24, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
    The Globe Auditorium, FSU Center for Global Engagement, 110 S. Woodward Ave, Tallahassee, FL

    Professor Sewpaul will explore the use of teaching strategies geared toward helping people appreciate that they are not passive victims of societal control. She will discuss how through heightened consciousness, validation, and enhanced self-esteem, people can develop the capacity for constructive engagement to challenge sources of oppression and privilege. 
    This event is open to the public. Join us for a reception with refreshments at 4:30 p.m., with the lecture/dialogue beginning at 5:00 p.m.

  • Politics with Soul in Dystopian Times: The Legacy of Nelson Mandela
    Tuesday, Jan. 29, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

    Broad Auditorium, The Claude Pepper Center, 636 W. Call Street, Tallahassee, FL

Our world has gone awry, characterized by: internally and externally displaced people; violent extremism in its various facets; xenophobia; homophobia; gendered racism; shifts towards narrow nationalism to the exclusion and vilification of the Other; morally outrageous inequalities based on intersectional social criteria such as race, class, gender and nationality within and across nation states; climate change denialism; and greater neoliberal capitalist expansion. Of particular concern is the permeation of the consciousness of people; the normalization of dominant discourses through a manufactured consent by disingenuous use of apparatuses of state control, so much so that lies and myths are constructed as authorized truths. Dr. Sewpaul will share some of her biography to highlight the personal-political identity links, and how a transformed consciousness can contribute to political engagement and change. Against contemporary dystopia, Nelson Mandela’s politics with soul and utopianism provide us with a politics of hope.  It is this politics of hope, based on the ethical theory of being for the Other (Emmanuel Levinas), and the African philosophy of Ubuntu, that focus this lecture.  Dr. Sewpaul will talk about what we can do within the spheres of our influence to make a difference, and conclude, with the use of a video, highlighting the Power of One, the Power of Many and the Power of Now

This event is a collaborative presentation with the FSU Center for the Advancement of Human Rights and FSU Civil Rights Institute.

Monday, January 28, 2019 - 12:08 PM
Last updated: Fri, 06/14/2024 - 03:28 PM