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Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice: cultivating humanity
2014-12-15

Directors of university centres focusing on Social Justice, Diversity and Transformation met at the UFS to establish the Directors' Forum. The forum discussed the state of higher education transformation in South Africa  The forum consists of (from the left) Mr Allan Zinn from the The Centre for the Advancement of Non-racialism and Democracy at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Profs Melissa Steyn from Wits University's Centre for Diversity Studies,  Andre Keet Director of the The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice at the University of the Free State; Rozena Maart  from The Centre for Critical Research on Race and Identity  at the University of KwaZulu Natal and Mr JC van der Merwe, researcher at the UFS Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice
Photo: O'Ryan Heideman

The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice at the University of the Free State (UFS) provides a critical space that brings different voices, ideas and practices together to advance the Human and Academic Projects of the university. Students, staff and community members meet here to find ways to engage with diverse views, realities and aspirations.

“We cultivate humanity so that reconciliation and social justice can be expressed in our everyday life and we work against disrespect and inequalities on our campuses and in our society,” says Prof André Keet, Director of the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice.

“Through our various critical conversations, public lectures, seminars and colloquia, fresh understandings and ideas come to the fore and new inclusive ways of doing life in a local and global multicultural society are invented,” Prof Keet says. A host of international experts formed part of the institute’s events during 2014.

Dr Charles Alexander (University of California), Prof Halleh Ghorashi (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), Prof Alex Hinton (Rutgers University), Dr Shirley Anne Tate (University of Leeds) and Prof Susan Spearey (Brock University) were but a few of the international experts contributing to the work of the institute during the last year.

“We play key roles in transformation debates within Higher Education South Africa (HESA) and ministerial processes,” Prof Keet says. “We promote, protect and monitor human rights across our campuses and are frequently requested to support the work of the South African Human Rights Commission and to provide advice to other state agencies.”

The institute prides itself on their leading-edge research on social cohesion, reconciliation, human rights and higher education transformation. In addition, staff of the institute teaches, on invitation, at various faculties, as well as at other national and international universities.

To further bolster their impact, the institute is launching three master’s and doctoral postgraduate programmes in January 2015.

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