“I am driven by wanting to inspire others and by being impactful. I want to know that through my work, I am really adding value and bringing about change not just to myself, but also to the next person and ultimately, society,” says Nomkhosi Hlengiwe Luthuli, the youngest female academic in the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Graduate School of Business & Leadership.
Luthuli has a bachelors and master’s degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), an honours from the University of Cape Town and recently passed a PhD with the Graduate School of Business & Leadership. She teaches Integrative Local Economic Development Research at postgraduate diploma level.
Her PhD is entitled, “A Conceptualisation and Enactment of Regional Economic Development Through the Analysis of the Durban Aerotropolis in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa”. It seeks to build on regional economic development theory through providing an account of how planning for big infrastructure projects and strategic investments such as the aerotropolis and special economic zones relies on the foundational intricacies of strategic spatial planning, multi-pronged governance dynamics, cluster and agglomeration economics as well as co-ordinated investments for regional marketing.
She has recently been nominated to represent UKZN in the area of “Urbanisation and cities in the 21st century” on the South Africa-Sweden University Forum, which will run between 2018 and 2020.
Luthuli says she is driven by breaking boundaries and changing beliefs on how things should be in society. “I want to change the perception that aviation and planning for airport cities is a man’s terrain, and I hope to consistently challenge the generalisation that academia is for old people. I know for sure that a determined mind excels whether male or female, young or old in any space of influence, and that there’s no sector too male-dominated and barrier of entry too great for me to break through and do the best I possibly can,” she says.
Young black people should join the academy to drive the transformation and decolonisation agenda, Luthuli says. “As a young black woman, I teach and lecture at a university to address the educational injustices that are spoken about as issues of the past, when they in fact still prevail today.” — Rumana Akoob