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Reflection should stimulate action – Prof Petersen
2017-05-25

 Description: Panel discussion: Reflection should stimulate action  Tags: Panel discussion: Reflection should stimulate action

Panellists at a discussion held by the Institute for
Reconciliation and Social Justice were, from the left,
Prof Elelwani Ramugondo of the University of Cape Town,
Prof Melissa Steyn from Wits, Prof Francis Petersen,
Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, and SK Luwaca,
president of the Student Representative Council on the
Bloemfontein Campus.
Photo: Johan Roux

Photo Gallery

The University of the Free State (UFS) should be a place of belonging, a place where staff, academics and students belong and can make a contribution to a democratic society.

This is according to Prof Francis Petersen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS. He was one of four panellists at a discussion, titled Diversity, inclusivity and social justice and the renewed call for decolonisation, hosted by the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (IRSJ). Prof Elelwani Ramugondo from the University of Cape Town, Prof Melissa Steyn from Wits, and SK Luwaca, president of the Student Representative Council on the Bloemfontein Campus, were the other panellists.

The IRSJ facilitated the discussion, which formed part of the inauguration proceedings for Prof Petersen as new Vice-Chancellor and Rector, in the Albert Wessels Auditorium on the Bloemfontein Campus on 18 May 2017.

Renewed thinking about decolonisation

Prof Steyn said: “We can develop our vocabulary to understand our real differences.” She noted that we are all part of reproducing, resisting and reframing the current order.

Universities should be a place where questions can be asked, Prof Ramugondo said. She elaborated on the term decolonisation, saying we needed to investigate how we related and reflected on it, mentioning the myths that surrounded the term. “We should renew our thinking [about decolonisation] at universities,” she said.

“We can develop our vocabulary
to understand our real differences.”

What does a transformed UFS look like?
According to Luwaca unity isn’t something that can be faked, but everybody should work towards it, building a rainbow nation together. It is important for everyone to be on the same page: “We have to ask ourselves what a transformed university looks like.”

Prof Petersen said it was important to often pause and reflect: “Reflection should stimulate action. Reflection is not something without action.”

After the discussion, a lively question-and-answer session with the panellists took place. Prof André Keet, director of the IRSJ and facilitator of the discussion, suggested the gathering should be the start of many similar engagements.

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