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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

Five mega projects to help reposition the UFS
2008-02-01

The University of the Free State (UFS) today announced that it will focus on five mega-projects to help reposition the UFS in the next five years as one of South Africa’s leading universities that is successfully managing excellence and diversity.

Speaking at the official opening of the university today, the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Frederick Fourie, identified the five mega projects as:

  • The successful implementation of strategic academic clusters to focus the teaching and research expertise of the UFS.
  • The development and implementation of new models of teaching and learning.
  • Finding new sources of income (including third-stream income) to minimise dependence on government subsidies and tuition fees.
  • Creating a new institutional culture for the university by finalising the Institutional Charter.
  • The ongoing transformation of the UFS in all its dimensions.

According to Prof. Fourie, the strategic clusters – initiated in 2006 – are a very important initiative which is aimed at making the UFS a world leader in six broad areas. The focus of the six clusters has now been determined. These clusters are not just research based, but will include postgraduate programmes and filter down to undergraduate learning programmes and curricula.

He also indicated that other research at the UFS will continue to be supported and funded as before.

The second project, to establish a new teaching and learning model, is meant to address current success rates which indicate the need for this issue to receive a high priority.

New income streams to enable higher levels of financial sustainability is the third project, especially in view of dwindling government subsidies and limits on student numbers. This is necessary to fund sustained higher levels of investment in the quality of academic activities and in the necessary capacity and facilities.

Prof. Fourie said the fourth project regarding institutional culture is an ongoing effort to create a sense of belonging for all staff and students at the UFS through the adoption of an Institutional Charter for the university.

“What the draft Charter does – in addition to describing overarching values espoused by the institution and its people – is to describe the outlines and constitutive principles of the ‘post-redress’ UFS,” said Prof. Fourie.

The Charter – initially launched in 2007 – is and remains a critical element of guiding transformation effectively and speedily towards a widely-accepted goal. It is a critical element of the “social sustainability and robustness” of a new UFS, especially in tumultuous political times.

The fifth project is the Transformation Plan, launched in 2007. “We simply must pursue this plan diligently, given our commitment to comprehensive and deep transformation, and to best practice transformation. All universities will have to face up to the challenge of transformation and the UFS can break new ground, as it did in the past by managing transformation innovatively and creating a campus where all can find their rightful place,” said Prof. Fourie.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za  
1 February 2008
 

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