Govender, Eliza

Govender, Eliza

Associate Professor

Leadership Role Academic Leader: CCMS
Discipline Centre for Communication, Media and Society
Contact Number 031-260-1813
Campus Howard College Campus
Office Address Room G011
Last Updated 6 months ago

Degrees Held

  • Bachelor of Arts (University of Natal)
  • Bachelor of Arts (Hons) (University of Natal)
  • Master of Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (University of KwaZulu-Natal)


Eliza Govender is Associate Professor and Academic Leader of the Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS), in the School of Applied Human Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. She is an NRF rated researcher, and internationally recognised in the field of health communication from a communication for social change perspective. Her teaching and research interests include entertainment education, communication for social and behavioural change and participatory methodologies for implementation science research in HIV combination prevention. 

Govender has been nominate for a second term as chair of the Health Communication working group for the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR), she serves on the editorial board of Communicare, the Journal for Applied Communication Research and a Review Editor for Frontiers in Communication: Journal of Culture and Communication, and is on the South African National Research Foundation review and evaluations committee. She also holds an honorary research associate post with CAPRISA.  Govender served on the provincial (KwaZulu-Natal) Department of Health (DOH) committee for developing and implementing the provincial Health Promotion Strategy for COVID-19 and has almost two decades of experience as an advisor on several communication committees and task teams on strategic social and behavior change communication for HIV prevention in South Africa.

Govender is currently the South African principal investigator of the Joint NHISS-ICSSR grant between South African and India that explores ways in which India and South Africa can Glocalise prevention efforts to COVID-19. She was the recipient of the NRF three -year Thuthuka grant that continues to explore a multi-layered tailored communication approach for new biomedical innovations.

Govender is passionate about communicating health effectively and adopting communication for participatory development and social change perspectives to public health. Her co-edited book Communicating COVID-19 Interdisciplinary Perspectives (2021) with co-editors Dr Monique Lewis (Griffith University) and Dr Kate Holland (University of Canberra), explores the interdisciplinary communicative responses from various countries, examining community-driven approaches, communication strategies of governments and political leaders, and public health advocacy.  Her recent forthcoming (Dec 2023) co-edited collection with Lewis and Holland titled Communicating COVID-19: Media, Trust and Public Engagement expands the conversations to highlight some of the communication and media challenges and lessons to address health and pandemics.

Govender was previously programme manager (2008-2013) for the CCMS, UKZN programme, funded by USAID through Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa (JHHESA) and managed and taught one of the first postgraduate programmes in Health Promotion via Entertainment Education. Today various graduates have returned to their home institutions in countries such as Kenya, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi to teach and supervise in this health and development communication paradigm.

Research Interests

  • Communication for development and social change
  • participatory culture-centred methodologies
  • strategic HIV communication
  • social and behavioural change communication
  • entertainment education

Teaching Interests

  • Qualitative research methodologies
  • Communication for development and social change
  • strategic HIV communication

Selected Publications

Community Engagement

Vice-chair and Editorial Board:

  • Chair of Health Communication Working Group, International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR July 2023-2027)
  • Vice-chair of Health Communication Working Group, International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR July 2019-2023)
  • Panel member for National Research Foundation (NRF) Media, Communication and Information Services committee (2021-2025).
  • Member of the Executive Committee for the South African Communication Association (SACOMM) (2021-2023)
  • Convenor of the Communication Studies in General group for South African Communication Association (SACOMM). (2021-2023)
  • Editorial Board of Journal for Applied Communication Research (2020 – 2022, renewed 2022 – 2025)
  • Editorial Board of Journal Communicare (1 August 2018 -2022, renewal 2022-2025)
  • Review Editor for Frontiers in Communication (Communication and Culture journal)

Peer review for international journals:

  • Frontiers in Communication: culture and communication (also Review Editor)
  • Catalan Journal for Cultural Studies and Communication (also guest editor of May 2021 special issue)
  • Critical Arts
  • Journal of Global Health
  • African Journal of AIDS Research
  • AIDS and Behaviour
  • Communicare
  • Journal of Applied Communication Research

International Journal for Qualitative

Teaching Expertise

2009 – to present: Lecturing and module co-ordination in The Centre for Communication, Media and Society:

  • Research Methods in Cultural and media studies
  • Social change and health communication
  • Development, Communication and Culture (DCC), and
  • Communication for Participatory Development (CFPD);

2009 – to present: Bi-annual guest lecturer for School of International (SIT) Study Abroad offering a series of seminars for the module:

  • Health Communication: Paradigms, Strategies and Participatory Processes.

Student Supervision