School of Religion, Philosophy & Classics

Masters cum laude graduate investigates theories of race in research

Mr Phila Msimang graduated with his Master of Arts (Philosophy) cum laude.
Mr Phila Msimang graduated with his Master of Arts (Philosophy) cum laude.

Stellenbosch University lecturer, Mr Phila Msimang, graduated cum laude with his master of arts (philosophy) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. ‘It feels great to have achieved this milestone. It makes me want to write another thesis,’ he said.

Msimang, who is passionate about research, often explores topics that stimulate his interest and have some social applications. This led to his research on the topic of race. He believes it has relevance to the concerns of stakeholders in both academia and the community at large.

He investigated the  theories of race and different explanations or descriptions of what races are. It looks at how they operate in social and scientific settings. ‘We never know what effects our ideas can have. All I hope for is that I can contribute to the clarification of concepts which have applications in drawing up social policy in regard to race (among other applications).’

During his studies, Msimang was named the 2017 recipient of the prestigious Canon Collins ‘Scholar of Scholars’ award. The special award is funded by the alumni of the Canon Collins Scholarship. Recipients are selected by alumni seeking to find and support exceptional individuals who, as the trust puts it ‘embodies and can meaningfully contribute to the Trust’s vision of an open and just society.’

Msimang thanked his support system of family, friends and supervisor, Professor David Spurrett. ‘Without their support, I would not be where I am today.’

His advice to other researchers: ‘You need to be clear about your priorities when you approach your studies. During the time you will be writing up your thesis or dissertation, a lot of things can happen in your life. Find a balance between your personal obligations and your academic goals, and do not let things interfere in either of those that do not need to.’

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