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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

UFS first to mechanise agricultural technique
2006-05-09

    

Small farmers from Thaba `Nchu were the biggest group attending the farmers day at the UFS Paradys experimental farm.  From the left are Mr David Motlhale (a small farmer from Thaba 'Nchu), Prof Leon van Rensburg (lecturer at the UFS Department of Soil, Crop and Climate Sciences and project leader), Mr Nhlonipho Nhlabatsi (Agricultural Research Council, Glen), Ms Meisie Mthethwa (small farmer from Bloemspruit).  In front is Mr Patrick Molatodi (chairperson of the Tswelopele Small Farmer Association).
 

 

Some of the participants of the farmers day at the UFS Paradys experimental farm were from the left Prof Leon van Rensburg (lecturer at the UFS Department of Soil, Crop and Climate Sciences and project leader, Mr Patrick Molatodi (chairperson of the Tswelopele Small Farmers Association) and Prof Herman van Schalkwyk (Dean: UFS Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences).

UFS first tertiary institution in world to mechanise agricultural technique
The University of the Free State (UFS) is the first tertiary institution in the world to mechanise the in-field rain water harvesting technique on a commercial scale.

The technique was recently demonstrated to about 100 small farmers at the UFS Paradys experimental farm outside Bloemfontein. 

“With this technique rain water is channeled to the plant and in this way food security is increased.  The advantage of the technique for commercial farmers lies in the reduced cultivation of land.  Small farmers will benefit from this because they can now move out into the fields and away from farming in their back yards,” says Prof Leon van Rensburg, lecturer at the UFS Department of Soil, Crop and Climate Sciences and project leader.    

Rain water harvesting is an antique concept that was used by communities before the birth of Christ.  In South Africa the technique is mainly used in the plots of small farmers where they make surface structures by hand. 

"The technique is also used for the first time by the UFS on commercial scale by means of the cultivation of a summer crop on 100 ha at the Paradys experimental farm,” says Prof Leon van Rensburg,

Of the farmers who attended the farmers day most represented about 42 rural communities in the vicinity of Thaba ‘Nchu.  A group of seven from KwaZulu-Natal also attended the proceedings.  These small farmers can for example apply this technique successfully on the 250-300 ha communal land that is available in the Thaba ‘Nchu area. 

The project is funded by the UFS and the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the farmers’ day was funded by the Water Research Commission.   

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel:   (051) 401-2584
Cell:  083 645 2454
E-mail:  loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
9 May 2006

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