The vice chancellor of North-West University (NWU), Optentia Research Focus Area, in South Africa invited prof. Baart during his last visit (Feb.-March 2020) to deliver an academic lecture about the question how the NWU could be (more fully) a care ethical university.
Prof. Andries Baart is a Dutch care ethicist and founding father of the so-called theory of presence; he is also affiliated with its Dutch Foundation, Stichting Presentie.
The website of Optentia explains: “The mission of the Optentia Research Focus Area is to develop and organise knowledge for the optimal expression of individual, social and institutional potential, with specific interest in the African context. The research entity utilises the inputs from various disciplines […in order to] study the optimisation of potential through an approach of moving “from precarity to capability”. The ethics of care is introduced in Optentia’s program and philosophy, which is noticed and appreciated by the university as such – a huge university with 74.000 students.
Because of this interest Prof. Baart was invited and he accepted the invitation and his address was titled An ethics of Care. The soft voice in Ethics
The NWU interviewed a few students, (vice)deans and the vice-chancellor on the ethics of care and added these interviews to the lecture;
In his lecture, Andries Baart rooughly outlines which kind of the ethics of care he would prefer and next he sketches the map of the university life with the main issues and entries that are highly relevant in a care ethical perspective, from students and tutors to managers and the CEO. What the ethics of care has to offer here is briefly but clearly formulated. His conclusions: it is really unique that such a big and important university wants to be a care ethical institution; it deserves support and admiration, and the presented map shows the way how to continue.
A few years earlier, in his inaugural address in March 2016, prof. Baart has explored the possible fruitful connection of the ethics of care and the African indigenous philosophy of Ubuntu.