Head of the Division of Public Health Medicine, based in the School of Public Health and Family Medicine in UCT’s Faculty of Health Sciences, Professor Leslie London has been on the ground in some of the country’s most marginalised communities for more than three decades. He has worked with women farmworkers, health committee members and community and civil society activists across a range of sites in the country and abroad, and has witnessed first-hand how inequality continues to manifest. For his unwavering commitment to promoting social justice in his discipline, UCT has honoured him with the 2021 Social Responsiveness Award that will be presented to him at a graduation ceremony in 2022.

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Based in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Science in the Faculty of Science, Associate Professor Gina Ziervogel was appointed to the City of Cape Town’s Water Resilience Advisory Committee in 2017 to provide expert input on the City’s drought plans. Since then, she has not looked back. Her work on urban water resilience and social justice sheds much-needed light on the manner in which the City handled the region’s drought, and how a metropole should better engage with residents around water issues. UCT has presented Ziervogel with the 2020 Social Responsiveness Award in recognition of this work and her ongoing efforts towards achieving social justice in her discipline.

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South Africa has the world’s largest cohort of young people with HIV. More than 300 000 adolescents aged between 10 and 19 are living with the virus. Part of the born-free generation, their health outcomes – and those of their families – reflect the triumphs, as well as the enduring challenges, of post-apartheid healthcare, said Dr Rebecca Hodes.

Dr Hodes is a researcher in UCT’s AIDS and Society Research Unit, which straddles the faculties of Humanities and Health Sciences. The award recognises her collaborative study Mzantsi Wakho (Your South Africa), which was conducted in the Eastern Cape.

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Located within the Department of Pathology’s Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine in UCT’s Faculty of Health Sciences, and with a field office in Worcester, the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (SATVI) is a tuberculosis (TB) research group set up with the objective of developing better prevention strategies to curb the disease. The SATVI describes its mission as “conducting innovative and high-quality TB vaccine research in Africa to impact the global epidemic”. The group focuses on several different disciplines, including clinical sciences, epidemiology, immunology, infectious diseases, paediatrics, public health and systems biology.

SATVI’s portfolio of community engagement activities has made a substantial contribution to knowledge production about community engagement within TB research.

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The Schools Improvement Initiative (SII)  fosters partnerships, harnesses resources, improves schools and crucially, opens the doors to higher learning – thus embodying UCT’s commitment to social responsiveness.

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No award was made in 2016.


Associate Professor Roshan Galvaan and Liesl Peters, in recognition of work that shows:

  • a compelling commitment to the confluence of research, teaching and service in addressing the social realities faced by communities
  • a contribution that revolutionises occupational therapy, ensuring that it responds more actively to people’s living conditions.

Read the citation.

The Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Graduate School of Business (GSB), in recognition of work that has:

  • uncovered over 300 innovative models and solutions in education, health and other social impact fields
  • convened over 5 000 citizens and practitioners across sectors
  • tested the feasibility of innovative social solutions
  • produced over 12 formal knowledge outputs from this work in publicly available reports and journal articles.

Read the citation.


Stuart Hendry, director of the commerce faculty’s Development Unit for New Enterprise (DUNE) and co-founder of the Southern Africa Sustainable Development Initiative (SASDI), in recognition of SASDI’s Starting Chance campaign. Starting Chance aims to transform 30 shack-based crèches into formal centres of excellence for early learning development.

Associate Professor Sophie Oldfield of the Department of Environmental and Geographical Science for building a research-teaching partnership with Gertrude Square and the Valhalla Park United Front Civic Organisation in Cape Town.


Legal expert Prof Pierre de Vos for consistently providing both printed and electronic media with analysis, insight and explanation on both narrowly-focused constitutional law questions, as well as on broader socio-political questions.


Associate Professor Mohamed Adhikari for his service to his alma mater, Harold Cressy High School, through a number of heritage projects.

The Environmental Evaluation Unit for the work it does to enhance the governance of complex human-ecological systems through collaborative interdisciplinary research across natural resource sectors, mostly in poor and marginalised communities.


Associate Professor Ralph Hamann, (research director at the Graduate School of Business) for his work on the Southern Africa Food Lab (SAFL), which brings together different role players in the regional food system to find innovative solutions to food security problems.

Dr Sindiso Mnisi Weeks, Associate Professor Dee Smythe, and Aninka Claassens of the Rural Women’s Action Research Project. This project, run by the Law, Race and Gender Research Unit (LRG) in the law faculty, supports rural people (especially women) who live under systems of customary law and traditional governance


Dr Hanna Andrea Röther – Principal Research Officer in the Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health Research


Dr Lillian Artz – founder and director of the Gender, Health and Justice Research Unit.

Dr Ailsa Holloway – director of the Disaster Mitigation for Sustainable Livelihood Programme, which generates new knowledge in the emerging field of disaster management science.

Professor Diane McIntyre, of the School of Public Health and Family Medicine, for her decades of contributions to national policy on health finance.