“There is real space and scope for us to develop as a young university, but we need to look and work beyond the current challenges to get to where we need to be. That takes vision, dedication, focus and sacrifice. As they say, it always seems impossible until someone else does it. I am confident that there are students and staff alike who are doing and can-do way better than me,’’ sentiments expressed by Dr Kaitano Dube as he qualified as an NRF Rated Researcher.
Dr Dube is a Lecturer in the Ecotourism Management Department in the Faculty of Human Sciences. He holds a PhD in Environmental Sciences from UNISA. He is now an NRF Y-Rated Researcher. The rationale is to grow current University research portfolio funds permitting students to conduct research, recruiting more previously disadvantaged students, and shaping them into future researchers. This can help shape the national and continental debate on tourism and sustainability with a bias on global threats on tourism such as climate change and pandemics, an area that Dr Dube has made inroads into. With the necessary support, Dr Dube believes “we can establish a chair on tourism and climate change management as funders might be eager to bankroll such an initiative.”
Dr Dube graduated with a PhD in October 2018, and since then he has published several papers in some of the top-ranked peer-reviewed international journals. Given the relevance and cutting-edge research that he is undertaking, he notes, “I have had a big breakthrough with visual and print media, which resulted in my work receiving local, regional and international attention. The work has also received critical attention amongst peers, and naturally, we have seen a swelling of citations of my published work. Focussed high impact relevant research made it easy for me to be awarded an NRF rating in record time.”
Dr Dube remains a very active academic citizen working with several international journals, universities, and government departments. Among the government departments could be mentioned; the National Department of Tourism and South African National Parks.
“Research by nature gives a department, and faculty good reputation and through the research we are conducting. Most importantly, research brings a lot of revenue to the university and is a key driver of innovation. Good research tends to attract external funding, which is badly needed by any university, including VUT. Establishing a research chair in tourism and climate change management, for example, can help us leverage in funding postgraduate studies and recruit Postdoctoral Researchers who can also assist to grow the research portfolio of the university. Of importance once more, is the role of research in informing teaching and learning as interfaced with community engagement, which boost the quality of teaching and student output,” he says. Dr Dube is currently supervising five master’s students who are focussing on various sustainability aspects of the tourism industry as they try to develop a focussed niche.
Article by: Qhawekazi Memani