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18 April 2019 | Story Rulanzen Martin

The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice IRSJ) has initiated a Social Justice Week at the University of the Free State (UFS), which started on Friday 12 April  until Wednesday 17 April 2019. 

Ten key events took place during the week. It ranged from dialogues, workshops, talk shows, debates, and interactive displays and events on issues of multilingualism and diversity, social innovation, engaged scholarship, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, gender sensitisation, sexual consent, sexual preparedness, universal access, disability, anti-discrimination, and security.

There was also a round-table discussion on 17 April 2019 with various UFS stakeholders on off-campus student security as well as an inter-institutional discussion on the same topic. The UFS Debating Society will take on the topic of the UFS Language Policy, while Olga Barends from the Free State Centre for Human Rights will host a dialogue on sexual consent.

The IRSJ has also designed and implemented SOJO-VATION: Social Innovation/ Social Change, which strives to create a foundational platform where ideas of social justice, innovation, and engaged scholarship at the UFS and in society can be hosted. SOJO-VATION partners with the Office for Student Leadership, Development, and Community Engagement.

The collaborating partners for the Social Justice Week includes various UFS stakeholders such as the Sasol library, the Gender and Sexual Equity Office, UFS Protection Services, the Free State Centre for Human Rights, the Student Representative Council (SRC), the Office for Student Leadership Development, Kovsie Innovation, GALA, the FFree State Centre for Human Rights, SRC Associations, the Office for Student Governance, Kovsie Innovate, Start-Up-Grind, EVC, EBL, Community Engagement, the Institutional Transformation Plan (ITP) Dialogues Office, Residence Dialogues, UFS Debating Society, Debate Afrika!, the Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS), and the Gateway Office. 

News Archive

#Women'sMonth: PSP provides scholarly support system for Prof Wilson-Strydom
2017-08-17

Description: Merridy Wilson-Strydom Tags: National Research Foundation, Prof Merridy Wilson-Strydom, Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development, Prestige Scholars Programme, writing retreats, higher education literature 

Prof Merridy Wilson-Strydom loves asking questions and
therefore has a strong focus on research.
She also enjoys supervising PhD students.
Photo: Sonia Small


Publishing her first book and receiving a rating from the National Research Foundation (NRF) are career highlights for Prof Merridy Wilson-Strydom. As an emerging scholar, the Prestige Scholars Programme (PSP) of the University of the Free State (UFS) played an important role in reaching these goals. 

According to the Associate Professor in the Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development, the PSP provided an important scholarly support system, both through the coordinators and the other researchers who are part of the programme.

Writing retreats made book possible
“I found the support and advice provided during the process of applying for funding and rating really helpful,” she says about receiving a NRF C2 rating, based on her work over the past eight years.
She compliments the PSP writing retreats, which “provided a wonderful space for writing and it was during the writing retreats that I did a lot of the writing for my book that was published by Routledge in 2015.” Her book, University Access and Success: Capabilities, Diversity and Social Justice, moving back into academia from institutional research, working closely with undergraduate students as research participants, and postgraduate supervision, are all highlights of her work.

Her book makes a valuable contribution to higher education literature related to access and transition to universities. But, contrary to the mainstream approaches to access which rely on school performance and admissions tests, she poses the issue of social justice at the centre of the analysis.

Student project produces E-book
Another project headed by her and funded by the NRF Thuthuka Programme, was a study to understand the lives of 40 undergraduate students (on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus) who attended township high schools. The study had a particular focus on identifying institutional practices that either enable or constrain students’ capabilities for success in undergraduate study.

One of the outputs was the writing of an E-book called In our own words: Perspectives on being a student. It was written by 30 undergraduate students and the purpose was to provide a platform for students to tell their own stories about life as a student. 

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