Honorary Professor Claudia Mitchell of the School of Education and McGill University in Montreal, Canada, has received a Gold Medal from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) in recognition of her being the leading social scientist in that country.
The Gold Medal is SSHRC’s highest research honour and acknowledges sustained leadership, dedication and originality of thought by an SSHRC-funded researcher.
Mitchell said the honour was particularly meaningful for her as a researcher in Education. ‘We are often seen as being more professionally oriented and not necessarily doing research. So this isn’t just for me – it’s a recognition of the work of the Faculty of Education out there making a difference.’
Mitchell’s ground-breaking research cuts across visual and other participatory methodologies in relation to youth, gender and sexuality; girls’ education; teacher identity, and critical areas of international development linked to gender and HIV and AIDS.
She has authored and co-authored numerous articles and books, including Doing Visual Research (Mitchell); Making Connections: Self-study and Social Action (Pithouse, Mitchell & Moletsane); and Was it Something I Wore? (Moletsane, Mitchell & Smith).
Her most recent book is an edited collection Girlhood and the Politics of Place (Mitchell & Rentschler).
According to UKZN’s Professor Relebohile Moletsane, Mitchell has also developed fund-raising capacity in the School of Education, with many of the big research grants won in the past few years bearing Mitchell’s signature leadership.
‘The Gold Medal for Claudia is a befitting honour for a deserving academic, mentor and colleague. Not only has Claudia mentored some senior academics like me at UKZN, but she has also selflessly developed capacity among our postgraduate students in such areas as participatory visual research methods, self-study methods and media studies, including those she personally supervises as well as others,’ said Moletsane.
Professor Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan added: ‘Professor Mitchell’s pioneering research has made such a positive impact on so many people around the world.’ Dr Linda van Laren said: ‘Claudia is indeed a deserving recipient of this prestigious award. She devotedly sustains and supports many participatory research projects related to gender issues across continents.
‘Her South African research initiatives have spanned several decades. South Africans have benefited greatly from her personal, active involvement in HIV and AIDS research projects where social issues are confronted.’
The award comes with a US$100 000 prize which Mitchell will use to launch a new research project with several of her doctoral students.
One of Mitchell’s doctoral students, Ms Mandisa Dhlula-Moruri, said: ‘Professor Mitchell is a beacon to us,’ while her other doctoral student, Ms Tanya Van der Walt, said: ‘She is always so generous with her knowledge and scholarship, and this award is richly deserved.’