The Centre for Visual Methodologies and Social Change is a research, teaching and community outreach unit located at the Edgewood Campus in the School of Language, Literacies, Media and Drama Education, in the Faculty of Education of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). It was established in 2004 through two research grants - a Competitive Grant of the University which made it possible to purchase video cameras, digital cameras and editing suites, and the NRF Learning Together grant, which focused on community-based HIV education and prevention research in a rural KZN district, and involved teachers, community health care workers and learners.

The Centre aims to promote a cultural production approach to Media Education not only in the context of teacher development, but also within community outreach. Based on our work we see a strong empowerment component that we would like to study further as part of the process of democratising research through the use of visual modes of inquiry and representation.

Click here for details about the CVM Staff.


The Centre for Visual Methodologies and Social Change has several main purposes:

(1) to advance the study of visual methodologies (photovoice, video documentary, radio documentary, digital technology, dress and other forms of material culture, including artistic representation and performance) within social action research;

(2) to promote a cultural production approach to media education not only in the context of teacher development but also within community outreach involving youth, community health workers, teachers, etc;

(3) to ensure appropriate training opportunities for staff and students who wish to incorporate visual methodologies into their research.

YAKP 2008 Report for Centre for Visual Methodologies for Social Change

<p> Youth As Knowledge Producers: Arts-based approaches to HIV and AIDS prevention and education in rural KwaZulu-Natal (March to September 2008) Researchers: Jean Stuart (PI), Naydene De Lange, Claudia Mitchell Rob Pattman, Relebohile Moletsane, Thabisile Buthelezi Youth as Knowledge Producers: is an NRF funded project now in its second year of delivery and research. It draws together, in a unique way, three key groups in relation to addressing HIV and AIDS: a cohort of young people preparing to become teachers; a cohort of rural teachers in several rural secondary schools, and a group of secondary school learners. In 2007 the beginning teachers explored ways in which they could develop themselves as resources to meet the challenges of education in the era of HIV and AIDS. Campus based workshops concentrated on ways to use participatory arts-based methodologies including: Photovoice and Collage; Video making; Forum and Image Theatre; and Hip Hop. Expertise developed was then translated into a school based intervention in a rural school. Through these activities and reflective debriefing we were able to identify some of the possibilities for using arts-based approaches for HIV and AIDS education and also possible barriers. In 2008, efforts to promote and use arts-based methods effectively in the era of HIV and AIDS have been extended on a number of fronts. In line with research that suggests that young people need to be given a more significant voice in shaping HIV and AIDS messages (Ford, Oddalo and Chorlton, 2003), we concentrated on youth-focused and learner-centred approaches which position young people as knowledge producers. Blogging provides new media space for individual voicing of views and self-expression around issues related to HIV an AIDS and in May our core of beginning teachers who had trialed ways to use arts-based methods in 2007, together with some new members, attended a weekend of workshops where they learnt how to establish their own blog sites and, blogging through a form of photovoice, expressed their ideas and reflections about their involvement in Youth as Knowledge Producers and on how we are all affected by HIV/AIDS but can take action within our communities. In the weekend following, members of this group were then able to act as facilitators to a group of learners from a rural school who in turn came to tell their stories and blog on their perspective on HIV and AIDS. We were very fortunate to have John Pascarella, course lecturer, researcher &amp; PhD Student at Macgill University, Canada, to design and lead the workshops. His skill, initiative and dedication enabled these two groups to develop an additional angle on using arts-based approaches to address HIV and AIDS. For his angle on blogvoice and the Youth as Knowledge Producers blogging intervention see blog-voice.blogspot.com. Sharing our experiences </p>

Youth As Knowledge Producers: Arts Based Workshops. Edgewood Campus, UKZN. April-August 2007.

<p> Jean Stuart, Naydene De Lange, Relebohile Moletsane, Thabisile Buthelezi, Rob Pattman, and Claudia Mitchell. Youth as Knowledge Producers draws together, in a unique way, 3 key groups in relation to addressing HIV and AIDS: a cohort of young people preparing to become teachers; a cohort of rural teachers in several rural secondary schools, and a group of secondary school learners. This year the beginning teachers participated in 5 arts-based workshops to learn participatory methodologies that will be used in the development of a Youth, the creative arts and HIV and AIDS toolkit. Individual interviews on workshops were conducted by Kaja Fjell Jorgensen. The workshops included: (1) Teachers as Resources: Participatory Processes, April 18, 2007. This workshop explored a range of participatory methodologies, including one-on-one interviews, group discussions and short writing/drawing exercises. The workshop was facilitated by Rob Pattman, a lecturer in the Dept of Sociology at UKZN, who has considerable experience with regard to gender, sexuality, identities and HIV and AIDS in education through his work on participatory workshops for UNICEF. 2) Photovoice and Collage, April 25, 2007. The second workshop introduced the processes of photovoice and multimedia collage, and the students collaborated to create a dynamic series of posters. Collages created by: Youth As Knowledge Producers Jean Stuart, Head of Media, SLLMDE, UKZN facilitated the workshop. Jean is a lecturer at UKZN and Director of the Centre for Visual Methodologies, and has done extensive work with visual methodologies in relation to HIV and AIDS. (3) Video making workshop, May 2, 2007. </p>

HIV/AIDS and Gender-Based Violence: Global Initiatives

The CVMSC is committed to engaging in research, teaching, and community outreach activities that explore issues of HIV/AIDS, gender-based violence, and social inequalities both in southern Africa and abroad. The funded research projects of the CVMSC - Learning Together, Seeing for Ourselves, Taking IT Global, as well as the newly funded Youth as Knowledge Producers and elements of Every Voice Counts - take up these important issues in an arts-based framework, using the visual to give voice to the lived experiences of individuals and communities.

There are countless other important programs and organizations working to combat gender-based violence and reduce the spread of HIV, some of which we would like to highlight here.


Media Education Courses
Developed and administered through the Discipline of Media Education in the School of Languages, Literacies, Media and Drama Education


The School of English
(December 2006)

Sekwanele Youth Organization: A vehicle for youth empowerment
(September 2006)

Seeing for Ourselves/Asizibonlele Ngokwethu
(August 2006)

Our Stories/Izindaba Zechu
(July 2006)

Fire and Hope
(April 2005)

My Photos, My Video, My Story
(July 2005)


Invitational Symposium
Held in February, 2006, at the Killie Campbell Africana Library

Edited Book
Forthcoming edited book by Naydene de Lange, Claudia Mitchell, and Jean Stuart of the CVMSC


Seeing for Ourselves
Visual methodologies for self-study with teachers in addressing HIV/AIDS

TIG Xpress
Taking IT Global - HIV/AIDS

Youth as Knowledge Producers
Arts-based approaches to HIV and AIDS prevention and education in rural KwaZulu-Natal.

Every Voice Counts
Teachers and schools in rural communities addressing children’s vulnerabilities in the age of AIDS