Call for Papers: IJHE Special Issue - ‘Creating Sustainable Higher Education Learning Environments in the Era of the Posthuman’

Accreditation Status: DHET Accredited journal in South Africa


Guest Editors

Prof. Sechaba Mahlomaholo, University of Mpumalanga, South Africa

Dr. Bekithemba Dube, University of the Free State, South Africa



The period around 2020 and 2021 has witnessed unprecedented convergence of two global but seemingly contradictory phenomena. The Covid-19 pandemic on the one hand and the massive transformation of education, especially higher education on the basis of (emergency) remote teaching and learning technologies, on the other. However the jury is still out on what really caused the outbreak of the pandemic. There seems to be emerging agreement that it is a symptom of the era of the Anthropocene, that is marked by wanton destruction of, and disrespect for the environment including animals, other humans, non-humans, plants and inanimate objects. Other views go as far as to argue that the pandemic was nature’s way of reclaiming its destroyed spaces and in the process correcting the damage caused by humans who are so reckless with their environment, hence the disease that engulfed the entire globe within days. The Anthropocene is upon us, so does the argument go. In the history of the world, the past two centuries witnessed unparalleled destruction of the planet by humans that even changed the climatic conditions thereof resulting in global warming, desertification, highest levels of water and atmospheric pollution, unemployment, poverty, hunger, violence, vandalism, crime, rape, xenophobia, gender-based murders, unknown and new deceases, you name it. All these sacrifices at the alter of greed and the human being’s insatiable appetite for consumption of everything, without thinking about the future generation and the sustainability of the planet.

At the same time, one would say almost timely, technological advances ushered in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution - Industrie 4.0. Before 2020 in South Africa and across the world, the pace of higher education institutions to embrace these new technologies was very slow. But the lockdown which was necessary in order to curb the spread of the Covid - 19, pushed these institutions to adopt remote teaching and learning strategies, almost immediately. To date there is even a race to participate in the production and use of artificial intelligence - AI which is even a step higher than ‘mere’ digitisation. The latter is fully in place across all higher education institutions in the country. These technologies are enabling humans to continue with their activities, like teaching and learning effectively, even though remotely or in a blended way in the era of Covid-19. The restrictions that were placed by nature against human activities are overcome. Industrie 4.0 with its attended artificial intelligence has accelerated these processes even further. Adaptive Learning - AL as an example of the software in devices that use sensors and algorithms, is enabling students and their lecturers alike to perform academically and otherwise better, far beyond their so-called natural human abilities. For example through AL, a student’s learning is personalised, individualised and customised to his or her particular needs, orientations, styles of learning, preferences, etc. AL functions like a companion, a buddy who can respond to all the students enquiries and questions. It scaffolds and mediates the learning from where a student is to the required levels. It suggests what content to learn and how to learn it with ease. It is there ubiquitously to assist the student. It functions like an extension of the student’s intellect. The human and the machine under such circumstances have merged into a new being with an identity beyond that of a human.

This is the subject matter of the posthuman where the identity of being human has become perforated. It has become liquidified and cannot be located in one place only. The student as in the example above is in Europe, in Africa and the East, everywhere through the capabilities of AL. S/he can know and participate in discussions, in learning and any activity from anywhere. Time and space no longer have a hold on the human being. S/he cannot be arrested at any one level of academic performance. His/her ability to collaborate with other students, libraries, academics, or whomever are extend beyond imagination. His/her compassion is at its peak because s/he learns at his/her own pace and learns what s/he likes. His/her corporeality though seeming to be located in a defined space, his/her entire being is not. It is this new identity that Donna Haraway refers to as ‘the cyborg’ in order to use a metaphor close to the science fiction’s bionic man whose identity is in the interface between human and machine, among the human and the non-human, as well as the climaxing of the animal-object-human historical development. The student referred to about above, is brought back to the initial reality of being one with it (reality). S/he just a cog in this huge universal machine. Differentials in terms of any marker, real or imagined like gender, race, socio-economic status, religious, etc. do not matter as all are one. This conception extends even beyond the African notion of the ‘I’ which is assumed to be built, couched and dependent on others. The conventional ‘I am because we are’ is exponentially multiplied and multiple layered to include machine, computers, others, etc.

It is in the consideration of the above that this special issue calls on contributions to help unravel the nature of the sustainable higher education learning environments in the context of the era of the posthuman. The notion of sustainability is related to UNESCO’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) focusing on the economic development of all in an environmentally sustainable manner towards the social inclusion of all. The idea of learning environments refers to contexts where identities of students and academics as well as other stakeholders in higher education are created and restructured accordingly. The following foci by researchers will assist in achieving the aim mentioned above;


  • Theorisation of the posthuman identity at its relevance to higher education practices currently.
  • Analyse the challenges and responses of higher education in the context of the posthuman condition.
  • Reflect on the issues of the binaries based on the cyborg identity in higher education
  • Teaching and learning technologies in higher education in the era of the posthuman
  • Critique virtual realities in the posthuman condition of higher education
  • Address the ethics of the use of Artificial Intelligence in higher education
  • Interrogate issues of race, culture, gender and/or disability in higher education in the context of the posthuman.
  •  Ensuring and assuring quality of curriculum and governance in higher education during the Posthuman.
  •  Critical analyse the creation of sustainable learning environments in the posthuman.


Contribution Process

Interested contributors are requested to submit their abstracts to the editors: Prof Sechaba Mahlomaholo and Dr Bekithemba Dube via The response will be provided within a maximum of three days, upon which you will be requested to prepare and make your submission. Article Process Cost is USD 600. The Journal will only accept papers of high quality exhibiting understanding of theory as applied in various discipline within the special issue. Submission, author’s guidelines, including formatting and referencing (APA) could be found here:


Abstracts for Papers Should Include

  • A succinct title
  • Author/s name/s
  • Author/s institutional affiliation
  • Contact details
  • An abstract (250 words) includes a brief introduction of the problem, the importance/purpose, the contribution to knowledge, the methodological approach and key findings if available.
  • Five keywords


Timeframes (30 October, 2021 – 25 February, 2022)

  • 30 October 2021: Deadline for submission of abstracts
  • 7 November 2021: Communication with authors of accepted articles
  • 31December 2021: Final date for submission of articles
  • 25 January 2022: Peer review reports
  • 10 February 2022: Final date for submission of revisions
  • 25 February 2022: Publication of all accepted articles


Authors’ Responsibility

  1. Only a similarity/plagiarism index of 10% or less will be considered for review.
  2. All articles need to be language edited before submission for review. Proof for language editing should be attached on submission


Profile of the Guest Editors

Prof. Sechaba MG Mahlomaholo (University of Mpumalanga)

Sechaba MG Mahlomaholo is a Professor of Education at the University of Mpumalanga, South Africa. He is a graduate of the Universities of Harvard and the Western Cape. He has guest edited 9 accredited and peer reviewed academic journals in Education. He has been the Dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of the Free State, the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research at the Walter Sisulu University and of Teaching and Learning at the University of Zululand. He has supervised and co-supervised close to a hundred Masters dissertations and PhD theses in total. He is occasionally invited to review research funding applications by the National Research Foundation and has to date been keynote speaker at conferences in St Petersburg State University, Canterbury Christ Church University and Aalborg University in Denmark.


Dr. Bekithemba Dube (University of the Free State)

Dr Bekithemba Dube is a senior lecturer at the University of the Free State, South Africa. He is the program director for Foundation and Intermediate Phase. He is prolific researcher in education, religion and politics in post-colonial Africa. He has in the past 2 years published over 40 articles and has received various awards for being the top research in the faculty of education. He has published a book on Post- Colonial Religio-Political and Religious Education in Crisis, the case of Zimbabwe, South Africa and Tanzania. He is a visiting international scholar at the Appalachian State University in United States of America.