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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

NRF researcher addresses racial debates in classrooms
2017-03-24

Description: Dr Marthinus Conradie Tags: Dr Marthinus Conradie

Dr Marthinus Conradie, senior lecturer in the
Department of English, is one of 31 newly-rated National
Research Foundation researchers at the University of
the Free State.
Photo: Rulanzen Martin

Exploring numerous norms and assumptions that impede the investigation of racism and racial inequalities in university classrooms, was central to the scope of the research conducted by Dr Marthinus Conradie, a newly Y-rated National Research Foundation (NRF) researcher.

Support from various colleagues
He is one of 31 newly-rated researchers at the University of the Free State (UFS) and joins the 150 plus researchers at the university who have been rated by the NRF. Dr Conradie specialises in sociolinguistics and cultural studies in the UFS Department of English. “Most of the publications that earned the NRF rating are aimed to contributing a critical race theoretic angle to longstanding debates about how questions surrounding race and racism are raised in classroom contexts,” he said.

Dr Conradie says he is grateful for the support from his colleagues in the Department of English, as well as other members of the Faculty of the Humanities. “Although the NRF rating is assigned to a single person, it is undoubtedly the result of support from a wide range of colleagues, including co-authors Dr Susan Brokensha, Prof Angelique van Niekerk, and Dr Mariza Brooks, as well as our Head of Department, Prof Helene Strauss,” he said.

Should debate be free of emotion?
His ongoing research has not been assigned a title yet, as he and his co-author does not assign titles prior to drafting the final manuscript. “Most, but not all, of the publications included in my application to the NRF draw from discourse analysis of a Foucauldian branch, including discursive psychology,” Dr Conradie says. His research aims to suggest directions and methods for exploring issues about race, racism, and racial equality relating to classroom debates. One thread of this body of work deals with the assumption that classroom debates must exclude emotions. Squandering opportunities to investigate the nature and sources of the emotions provoked by critical literature, might obstruct the discussion of personal histories and experiences of discrimination. “Equally, the demand that educators should control conversations to avoid discomfort might prevent in-depth treatment of broader, structural inequalities that go beyond individual prejudice,” Dr Conradie said. A second stream of research speaks to media representations and cultural capital in advertising discourse. A key example examines the way art from European and American origins are used to imbue commercial brands with connotations of excellence and exclusivity, while references to Africa serve to invoke colonial images of unspoiled landscapes.

A hope to inspire further research
Dr Conradie is hopeful that fellow academics will refine and/or alter the methods he employed, and that they will expand, reinterpret, and challenge his findings with increasing relevance to contemporary concerns, such as the drive towards decolonisation. “When I initially launched the research project (with significant aid from highly accomplished co-authors), the catalogue of existing scholarly works lacked investigations along the particular avenues I aimed to address.”

Dr Conradie said that his future research projects will be shaped by the scholarly and wider social influences he looks to as signposts and from which he hopes to gain guidelines about specific issues in the South African society to which he can make a fruitful contribution.

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