As is the practice, CANRAD asks our guests to dialogue with our students before the main memorial lecture. Professor Desai like all our guest lecturers was very pleased to engage with our students.

The students requested Professor Desai speak generally on student activism being cognizant that student activism is on the decline at the NMMU and in higher education in general.

Professor Desai discussed three issues in response to the students’ request. Firstly, the university curriculum should neither be old nor rigid. It should be moving in line with movements in society and everyday life, together with those forces that shape them.

Secondly, the university is cut off from communities. Researchers publish in journals that only a few people read. Our academics are now judged by such publications more than by the purpose behind research. Excellence in research should rather be about creating change in society.

Thirdly, the meetings of certain structures of the academe like Senate are about the business of running the university more than anything else. The debates rather should be both inward and outwards looking addressing human relations and conditions that face people.

Professor Desai concluded the dialogue by saying that students must organize themselves into reading and discussion groups; they must be part of influencing the curriculum; they must improve their understanding of things affecting them through critical thought; and they must apply deep thinking to policies and solutions proposed by our political, labour, and government because not all policies are based on good, relevant research and knowledge.