Prof. Sharlene Swartz

DEPARTMENT: Inclusive Economic Development (IED)
TELEPHONE: 021 466 7874

In June 2018, Prof Sharlene Swartz was appointed as Divisional Executive within the Inclusive Economic Development (IED) division at the HSRC. She also holds adjunct positions as a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Fort Hare and an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Cape Town. Her research focuses on what she terms `navigational capacities? for the just inclusion of young people in a transforming society and in the Global South, alongside the role of progressive moral education and dialogue to bring about social change. Prof Swartz writes extensively about decolonising and emancipatory practices in education and research. Her research vision for the next five years is to convene experts around a consolidated evidence-base to improve education in South Africa, to lead a large scale project on the imprint of higher education in resource constrained contexts and to embark on a strategic anti-racist education initiative for schools, higher education institutions and civil society.

Prof Swartz holds undergraduate degrees from the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Zululand, as well as an MEd from Harvard University in the USA and a PhD from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Her PhD thesis, in the sociology of education, considered how young people who live in poverty, understand, represent and enact morality. In the UK, she participated in a Department for International Development project investigating the role of education on alleviating poverty. She was also a researcher on a national review of primary school education. Before embarking on her graduate studies, Prof Swartz spent 12 years at a youth NGO where she pioneered peer-led social justice and life skills education programmes. She joined the HSRC in 2008 as a Post-Doctoral Fellow.

Prof Swartz has authored six books: Ikasi: the moral ecology of South Africa?s township youth (2009, Palgrave Macmillan; 2010, Wits University Press); Teenage tata: voices of young fathers in South Africa (2009, HSRC Press with Bhana); Old enough to know: consulting children about sex and AIDS education in Africa (2012, HSRC Press with McLaughlin et al); Another country: everyday social restitution (2016, Best Red); Moral eyes: youth and justice in Cameroon, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and South Africa (2018, HSRC Press with Nyamnjoh et al); and Studying while black: race, education and emancipation in South African universities (2018, HSRC Press with Mahali, Moletsane et al). She has also edited three books: Moral education in sub-Saharan Africa: culture, economics, conflict and AIDS (2011, Routledge with Taylor); Youth citizenship and the politics of belonging (2013, Routledge with Arnot); and Youth and the intergenerational transmission of poverty (2015, UCT Children?s Institute edited with DeLannoy et al). She is currently working on The Oxford Handbook of Global South Youth Studies (edited with Cooper, Camarena and Batan) which will be published in 2020. In addition, she has published over 50 journal articles and book chapters, and has presented more than 100 local and international invited lectures and conference papers, including a number of keynote addresses.

Prof Swartz is the current President of the Sociology of Youth research committee for the International Sociological Association, a past executive member of the Association for Moral Education, and is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Moral Education, Journal of Youth Studies, and Youth and Globalisation. She is the chair of the Restitution Foundation, a South African NGO that aims to engage civil society in addressing past injustice. Prof Swartz has held positions as a visiting fellow at the Faculty of Education and Centre for Development Studies at the University of Cambridge, as well as at the Centre for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University. She is a nationally rated researcher in South Africa. She is currently the Principal Investigator of the MasterCard Foundation funded study The Imprint of Education at the HSRC.


Non-conforming gender identities.

This study set out to compare the experiences of self-identifying gender non-conforming youth (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexed, and qu....