Lecturer in the School of Built Environment and Development Studies, Professor Hangwelani Magidimisha-Chipungu (35), has become the first SARChI Chair in Inclusive Cities in South Africa.
The Chair is co-funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF) and South African Cities Network.
This is the first Chair in the Built Environment Cluster at UKZN and speaks directly to the core courses on cities. It provides a direct link between industry and academia while further creating a platform for funding opportunities for students from disadvantaged backgrounds to further their studies as well as for collaboration with various institutions from a range of disciplines and to create a future research centre that focuses on cities.
Said Magidimisha-Chipungu: ‘This Chair provides an opportunity to further deepen my knowledge on the cities studies. It serves as a motivation for other young academics with an appetite to be SARChI Chairs. You do not have to wait until you are 50 or 60 years old to become a Chair – you can be anything you want at any age as long as you put effort into what you do.’
Dean and Head of the School Professor Ernest Khalema said: ‘I am delighted about Professor Magidimisga-Chipungu’s accomplishment. She is a fantastic scholar, hardworking academic leader, and influencer of note within communities of practice. I am not surprised having known her and worked with her for almost 10 years – she’s incredible. Her accomplishment not only affirms the University’s commitment to equity, but also assists us in realising two of our key research strategic areas of understanding: African Cities of the Future and Fostering Social Cohesion.’
She is an NRF-rated researcher who made history as the first South African- born Black woman to (1) graduate from UKZN with a PhD in Town and Regional Planning and (2) be appointed Associate Professor in Town and Regional Planning at UKZN with a master’s degree in the same field and a degree in Geography and the Environment – both from UKZN. In addition, she has a Diploma in Project Management from the Roseburg College in Cape Town.
Magidimisha-Chipungu’s awards include being one of the 2018 Mail & Guardian Top 200 Young Influential South Africans; the 2018 UKZN Best Young Academic; the College of Humanities Teaching Excellence Award; and the International Society of City and Regional Planning Award of Excellence for the outstanding role she played during the Young Professional Planners’ workshop and her participation in organising the Congress in 2016.
Her research and publications record include authoring and co-authoring a variety of book chapters and peer-reviewed journal articles. She has recently published a book titled: Spatial Inequalities in South African Cities: Towards Redistributive Justice and was awarded funding by the NRF to undertake research on spatial inequality – a project she recently completed.
Magidimisha-Chipungu served briefly on the City Planning Commission for eThekwini Municipality with a strategic responsibility of advising the Executive Committee and Councilors’ in the Municipality. She has served on the advisory committee of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA-KZN) with a focus on spatial equity in the province.
She is a Board member of SACPLAN – a national professional body that governs the teaching and practice of town planning in South Africa. As a professional town planner, she also served on the KwaZulu-Natal Tribunal whose mandate was to resolve town planning disputes in the province.
Magidimisha-Chipungu is one of the few selected people invited to take part in the 24-hour City project with the University of Politecnico di Milan DAStU, Department of Architecture and Urban Studies, in Florence, Italy.
Words: Melissa Mungroo