Professor Keyan Tomaselli of the Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS) has been awarded a LifeTime Achievement Award for Communication Research by Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa (JHHESA).

The award was made at a recent gala dinner hosted by the JHHESA, USAID and the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health.

The Alan Jaffe Humanitarian Award for Lifetime Achievement was presented to Tomaselli in recognition of his significant contribution towards the institutionalised and stable continuation of training, research and capacity building in health communication for academics and practitioners in the field.

The late Alan Jaffe was a Doctor working on HIV issues in rural KwaZulu-Natal. ‘It is truly humbling to be recognised in the company of great scholars and practitioners such as Jaffe and researchers such as Larry Kincaid, Maria Lena Figouera, Professor Lynn Dalrymple, the Johns Hopkins University contingent and my own colleagues,’ said Tomaselli.

Tomaselli has played a crucial role in the development of a public health communication programme at the CCMS funded by the JHHESA through USAID for the past 10 years.

In partnership with a group of CCMS graduates, he was instrumental in developing a national AIDS campaign in the mid-1990s, using a communication/cultural perspective which moved beyond awareness to provide valuable research into cultural/socio-economic constraints to effective responses.

Tomaselli was also Supervisor of the late Lynn Dalrymple’s PhD which resulted in the development of DramAidE which uses performing arts and peer education in schools and universities across the country.

His on-going networking and mobilisation of his graduates and DramAidE led to a partnership in 2001 with the JHHESA to offer the first postgraduate course in Entertainment Education via a Health promotion module. The course has attracted graduates, practitioners and scholars internationally and is now a full programme within the School of Applied Human Sciences where it partners with Psychology.

In 2012, the programme was extended to offer specialised graduate programmes in health promotion and communication and associated community engagement initiatives.

Since 2002, 175 honours students, 30 master students and eight PhD students have graduated through the health communication programme. Many of these graduates have pursued health-related careers in education, the media, the NGO sector, management and the State.

Some of the high profile graduates mentored by Tomaselli include Dr Warren Parker and Professor Lynn Dalyrymple; a specialist in theatre for development, Dr Emma Durden; the Director of DramAidE, Mr Mkhonzeni Gumede; the Programme Manager of CCMS, Ms Eliza Govender and Managing Director of JHHESA, Mr Richard Delate.

Tomaselli has also contributed in the field of public health communication through an extensive publication output. His co-edited Development and Public Health Communication (2011) has been followed by a case study anthology, with Editors Durden and Govender, documenting 10 years of student research generated through this health communication research track.

Tomaselli started his media career in the film and TV industry in 1974, later teaching in the Wits School of Dramatic Art. In 1981, he joined Rhodes University’s Journalism and Media Studies Department completing his PhD in 1984 before relocating to Durban to establish what is now known as the CCMS.

A Fellow of UKZN and of the International Communicology Institute, his accomplishments include a Fulbright Scholarship and a KWANZA Award. He is Academic Co-ordinator for the School of Applied Human Sciences’ graduate programme on Culture, Health and Communication.

Tomaselli has served on the Future of the Humanities panel constituted by the Academy of Science of South Africa.

He is also an active member on the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) working group on Communication and HIV and AIDS which is the fulcrum for a seven-country reception study of the SABC-TV series, Intersexions, led by Govender and Dr Lauren Dyll-Myklebust.

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