• Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development
    International academics present Higher Education Research Seminar
    Prof Richard Tabulawa (University of Botswana) and Dr Tristan McCowan (UCL Institute of Education, UK) presented an engaging seminar in the Botswana policy context.
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  • Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development
    Professor Ann-Marie Bathmaker (University of Birmingham) presents seminar at CRHED
    Prof Bathmaker presented an engaging seminar entitled ‘Pathways to social mobility – investing in the future? Moving through HE and into employment’.
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  • Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development
    ESRC-DfID ‘Miratho’ Project off to an exciting start
    The Miratho Project team spent three weeks working together in March 2017, including two weeks of fieldwork in rural areas across South Africa.
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  • Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development
    Enabling Success Project celebration and book launch
    Students participating in Prof Merridy Wilson-Strydom’s NRF Thuthuka-funded project were excited to launch their book entitled ‘In Our Own Words’ on 18 March 2017.
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  • Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development
    CRHED staff publish two new books
    Two new books edited/written by CRHED staff and published by Palgrave MacMillan came out in early 2017.
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  • Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development
    Women in Sciences and Technology
    Dr Mikateko Höppener hosted a science communication and engagement workshop sponsored by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf).

Human Development and Capabilities Approach

We are concerned that our research investigates and contributes to human development which enables all persons to have quality of life. Human development recognises: (1) a plurality of values, not only the values of economic utility; (2) a human-wide concern and solidarity – the field of reference is all humans, wherever in the world, and in particular all those affected by one’s actions; (3) recognises the normality and centrality of interconnections among people. It rests on a broad and plural conception of human well-being, and sees development as the promotion and advance of well-being. The UNDP’s standard definition of the core dimensions of human development includes: empowerment, meaning the expansion of capabilities (ability to attain valued ends), expansion of valued functions (attained valued ends), and participation (sharing in specifying priorities); equity in distribution of basic capabilities, and, security and sustainability of people’s valued attainments and opportunities.


The capabilities approach is a theoretical and empirical operationalisation of human development. The approach has been developed by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum; in our research we apply the ideas to (higher) education practice, policy, and evaluation. According to this normative approach to human well-being and agency, (higher) education ought to enable the full range of opportunities (capabilities) and achievements (functionings, that which we have reason to value being and doing) for diverse students, while also contributing to commitments to the good of others. As such it is an inclusive, social justice friendly approach, concerned with equity in higher education and reducing inequalities in society through the actions of graduates. By drawing on a theoretical approach in the development ethics field rather than only from the (higher) education literature, the approach further seeks to align development with (higher) education in ways which might benefit both fields.

For further information on human development and the capability approach visit -
http://www.hd-ca.org and http://www.learninghd.org

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