Roderick Sauls, South Africa
Doctorate in Sociology University of the Western Cape, South Africa 2007-2010
When Roderick was seven years old, his family was forcibly removed from their Cape Town home by the Apartheid government and relocated to the Bonteheuwel township, an area in the Cape Flats area of the city designated for “coloured” communities. Life in Bonteheuwel was challenging for him and other residents, and he experienced difficulties accessing quality education, even with constant encouragement from his family. Despite these challenges, Roderick became a successful artist, printmaker, and cartographer, and was the first in his family to complete higher education by obtaining Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Fine Arts at the University of Cape Town (UCT).
Before IFP, Roderick was a lecturer at UCT and co-founder of Arts@school, a nonprofit organization that works with museums and galleries to provide art classes to students in the Cape Flats. Despite difficulties finding a thesis adviser because no white faculty members would work with him, Roderick earned a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of the Western Cape. Through his graduate work, he sought to understand “how creativity can enhance the culture of learning in schools, especially amongst the previously marginalized groups.” His Ph.D. research revealed that students participating in arts classes have increased self-esteem and life- and labor-related competencies.Although Roderick is as committed to promoting social justice as he was before IFP, he feels his IFP experience gave him more confidence, tools, and leadership skills. This in turn is helping him advance social change in Cape Flats and other marginalized communities through creativity programs that promote inclusive social and economic development. Since IFP, the results of the Arts@school program have been very positive in the Cape Flats communities. Roderick and his colleagues have seen improvements in student test scores, as well as greater interest and pride in school.
In addition to continuing to empower youth through Arts@school, Roderick serves as the head of the Department of Fine Arts at UCT. He is the first nonwhite appointee to the position, and actively works with faculty and students to “decolonize the mind” through teaching methodologies and curricula. He works with students to understand how viewpoints have been colonized and why it is important to address this to change social and cultural values in South Africa. Most of this work has been at UCT or local museums, and he also has collaborations with institutions outside South Africa.