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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

Compassion improves psychological well-being and reduces emotional distress
2017-09-27

Description: TEDxUFS   Tags: TEDxUFS

Participants in the Kindness Project sharing a
Random Act of Kindness with the cleaning staff,
Mathabiso Sehlabaka and Madineo Mokoena.
Photo: Thabo Kessah

Various studies have reported that the cultivation and practice of compassion may result in improved self-esteem, a decrease in depression and anxiety, increase in subjective well-being, and overall improvement in physical and psychological health. This is according to Counselling Psychologist, Tobias van den Bergh, during the Kindness Project (KP) on the Qwaqwa Campus.

“Students that are involved in this project have shown statistically significant improvements in overall well-being and compassion towards themselves and others,” said Van den Bergh, the project leader and Head of Department: Student Counselling and Development, Qwaqwa Campus.

“In addition, student participants of the compassion-based intervention showed a decrease in their experience of debilitating emotions and depressive symptoms, as well as a significant increase in measurements of positive affect (an indication of life vitality), self-compassion, and well-being. Humans appear to be genetically programmed to be kind. Studies have shown that the same brain structures that are activated when we procreate (i.e. have sex) or eat chocolates, are activated when we are kind. Thus, it means showing an instinctive predisposition towards compassion for our kin and others. Kindness also appears to be contagious. Whenever we observe kindness or experience kindness ourselves, we are much more likely to be compassionate towards our fellow human beings,” he said.

The KP is based on the Science of Compassion, with participants completing a four-week compassion-based intervention where they learned about and practised self-compassion and compassion towards others. In the last week of the programme, participants completed various Random Acts of Kindness off and on the campus.

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