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22 August 2018
Prof Coetzee is retelling old stories in a new book
"Failing to Learn Doomed to repeat" was one of the bookworks on display.

The title of Prof Jan K Coetzee’s latest book, Books & Bones & Other Things, says it all. The book looks into the many aspects that have built our society by presenting in a new way the stories contained in old books collected over the years. 

Prof Coetzee is a Senior Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of the Free State (UFS). Books & Bones & Other Things was launched on 14 August 2018 and coincided with an exhibition of various “bookworks”   art installations by Prof Coetzee that feature old books, sculptures, artefacts, and fossils.
 
Book resulting from research programme 
   

“This is a book on books so the library is the perfect venue to launch a book on old texts as documents of life,” said Prof Coetzee.

For the past seven years he has been directing a Master’s and PhD programme in Sociology called The Narrative Study of Lives. His project, Documents of Life, from which this book came, focuses on a collection of old texts the oldest of which dates back to 1605.

“We live in storytelling societies and for as long as we can remember we have been telling stories. Over time the ability to produce books was born. Any collection of books can tell you a lot about your own life and the society you live in."

“I cannot read the stories of many of these old books because their narratives are closed. I have to re-narrate the books, change the narrative convention and present them in a way that makes sense to me. By combining the books with art and artefacts I want the books to tell their ancient stories in new ways.”

Book launches and intellectual discussions

At the book launch, Prof Corli Witthuhn, Vice-Rector: Research said: “What we have achieved with this launch and exhibition is unbelievable. We always try to create an intellectual space in the library.

“A book such as this is the pinnacle of an academic career. It is multidisciplinary and it looks at the world in a different way. That is what scholarship is about.”

A painting by Robert Hodgins was also handed over to the Johannes Stegmann Gallery, home of the corporate collection of the UFS, at the event. 

News Archive

HEMIS training ‘shares insights across institutions’, says Prof Petersen
2017-08-22

 Description: HEMIS training ‘shares insights across institutions’ Tags: HEMIS training ‘shares insights across institutions’

UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Francis Petersen
presents the welcoming address at the 2017 HEMIS Institute
in Bloemfontein.
Photo: Eugene Seegers

Higher education institutions such as universities need information and accurate data to make critically important management decisions. Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS), expressed these sentiments during his introduction at the 2017 HEMIS Institute recently held in Bloemfontein.

Reporting a critical part of HE practice
The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) uses its Higher Education Management Information System (HEMIS) to manage and verify performance data from Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) regarding four crucial datasets, namely students, staff, space, and postdoctoral information and research fellows. HEMIS data is collected for quality control, funding, and planning purposes, in particular for steering the system and for monitoring the sector. This data must then be audited, since it is used for subsidy allocations to HEIs.

“Institutional reporting on aspects of what we do as public universities is a critical part of practice in Higher Education,” said Prof Petersen. He added, “Whether about insourcing statistics, … student accommodation, or transformation and indicators within that domain, it’s really all about accurate data with which informed, evidence-based decisions can be made. This HEMIS Institute 2017 ultimately enables us to share insights across institutions, which can grow and strengthen the sector as a whole.”

‘It’s about accurate data with
which informed decisions can
be made’—Prof Francis Petersen

Public and private HEIs attend training alongside government reps
The Institutional Information Systems Unit of the Directorate for Institutional Research and Academic Planning (DIRAP) hosted and presented the Southern African Association for Institutional Research (SAAIR) HEMIS Foundations workshop and the annual HEMIS Institute in Bloemfontein. These training opportunities were attended by university data managers and representatives from 26 public and private HEIs, as well as representatives from the Council on Higher Education (CHE), DHET, and the Namibian National Council for Higher Education (NCHE). The Foundations workshop was designed to assist those new to the platform to be better acquainted with this data management tool, while the two-day Institute was structured to answer complex questions and address issues around the use of the relevant reporting structures and software.

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