Prof Catherine Botha
Faculty of Humanities
Department of Philosophy
If we are hoping to find the rare person who is truly a perfect role model to her colleagues and her students alike, we need look no further than Prof Catherine Botha, who has been on the staff of the Philosophy department for the past twelve years. She is described by the Vice-Dean of Humanities as "an exceptional and innovative lecturer" whose "enthusiasm for excellence in teaching and learning as well as mentoring others is unparalleled". There is absolutely no doubt that in every way, she encapsulates and enacts what it means, "to be" a philosopher and an exemplary, scholarly teacher. For example, she has coached the tutors working in one of her first-year philosophy lecture groups to present selections from Plato's works as a performance in class. This technique made a dry and dusty philosophical dialogue come alive.
At the heart of Catherine's teaching philosophy is her strong conviction that students' intrinsic motivation is a precondition for learning. Her ongoing research is focussed on understanding what motivates students to learn and, using this as her starting point, she is constantly engaged in experimentation with varied and innovative strategies to develop her students' fundamental desire to enjoy and practise philosophy because they are excited, engaged and interested in the discipline. Her commitment to decolonising the philosophy curriculum is clearly illustrated in her practice as she ensures that her classroom is an inclusive, collaborative and interactive learning space where all student voices are heard and respected. In the pursuit of autonomy, mastery and purpose, students are always offered positive experiences as well as early opportunities for success as they learn to interpret, to think critically, to problem solve and to interrogate common sense assumptions.
As a peer reviewer, Professor Lotter remarked, "Her lecture was an excellent demonstration of what UJ's teaching and learning philosophy requires, i.e. teach to empower students on their journey of "learning to be a philosopher".
Catherine is widely admired and appreciated by her students as a compassionate and supportive teacher who has their interests at heart and who is always willing to go the extra mile. Congratulations on receiving this award, Catherine – UJ is fortunate to have you as a member of this community and there is no one more deserving of it than you are.