College of Law and Management Studies

The Presencing Institute, founded to promote the Theory U model of social innovation and leadership that arose out of the work of Dr Otto Scharmer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States, will list the theses of three GSB&L doctoral graduates who did their doctoral research in the field.

All three graduates were supervised by UKZN’s Professor Kriben Pillay, who introduced Theory U into the leadership curriculum at the University when it was first announced in 2007.

Pillay says his first graduate was Dr Rudi Kimmie, who is now CEO of the TSIBA Business School in Cape Town. ‘Rudi was probably the first in the world to produce doctoral research in Theory U. His thesis looked at Theory U in the context of academic development in the South African Higher Education sector.’

The other theses were the work of Dr Thea van der Westhuizen, who examined the U model within entrepreneurship education and Dr Kriyanka Moodley, who focused on eco-system awareness.

Moodley has contributed a chapter from her thesis to the first volume in a new series of books titled Advances in Presencing, while the second volume, due early next year, will feature a chapter by van der Westhuizen.

Van der Westhuizen is a senior lecturer in the School of Management, IT and Governance, and Moodley is a consultant and a contract lecturer on the MBA Leadership module.

‘The new repository on work done globally on Theory U provides an umbrella for different topics and perspectives, to create a collective architecture on the scholarship of Theory U. It is a great privilege to be part of this,’ said van der Westhuizen.

Said Pillay: ‘Theory U is an awareness-based model which challenges the prevailing materialistic paradigm that has shaped our modern education, and which is beginning to show its severe limitations, especially in the COVID-19 pandemic. The work of the Presencing Institute is what is emerging in response to our fractured perceptions of reality. One of the iniquitous features of the materialistic paradigm is control and exploitation – a consciousness paradigm is about collaboration and systemic awareness. To undo the old won’t be an easy matter, but the research we are involved in is a positive sign.’

Words: NdabaOnline