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04 June 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
Prof Cathryn Tonne
Air pollution not only costs lives, it costs money too. Pictured is Prof Cathryn Tonne presenting a guest lecture on air pollution at the Bloemfontein Campus.

Health effects associated with ambient air pollution (AAP) have been well documented. Subsequently, the relationship between pollution and financial outcomes have also become a focus for case studies globally. An Environmental Research journal article revealed that “low and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected by the global burden of adverse health effects caused by AAP”. 

A high price to pay

In 2012, high concentrations of air pollution caused 7.4% of all deaths, costing South Africa up to 6% of its Gross Domestic Product. According to the recent International Growth Centre study conducted by senior University of Cape Town researchers, this is a direct consequence of the country’s heavy dependence of fossil fuels, a source of health-damaging air pollution and greenhouse pollutants.

Stunted human and economic growth

These South African statistics are attested to by Prof Cathryn Tonne who recently presented a guest lecture on air pollution which was hosted by the University of the Free State (UFS) Business School.

“Air pollution can affect economic development through several pathways, and health is an important one. Air pollution is linked to shorter life expectancy, chronic disease, asthma exacerbation and many other health outcomes that result in absenteeism from work and school. These have large direct costs to the health system.” 

Prof Tonne says that air pollution exposure in children is linked to reduced cognitive development, with important impacts on human capital. As a result, children are not reaching their full potential in terms of neurodevelopment, which has an effect on their income prospects and the economy as a whole. 

Resolving a looming disaster

Technology may be employed to radically clean the air. Cities need to lead in the reduction of air pollution by promoting renewable energy, using active transport such as walking or cycling, and investing in infrastructure to make this safe and attractive. 

With researchers playing a major role in strengthening the case for aggressive air pollution control, the government needs to implement policies in order to control sources of air pollution. This global health and economic issue also requires individuals and communities to play their part to improve air quality.

News Archive

Prototype film degree introduced for Kovsies
2015-06-11

 

As of 2015, the university’s postgraduate prospectus was modified to include a new Bachelor of Arts Honours in Film and Visual Media course in the Faculty of the Humanities.

A group of eight pilot students are being exposed to basics studies in film history, research, and practical production exercises. The programme’s prototypical nature lies in its inter-disciplinary approach, which means students will integrate film history and theory with individual short film production. 

According to the Programme Committee, “the two parts enrich each other, so students’ practical work is conceptually much stronger, and their written work is more balanced.”

“While other universities locally and abroad do offer film qualifications, the emphasis usually falls on either the history and theory of film, or the making of films.  Our programme is the only one in South Africa (that we know of) that offers this specific kind of integration.”

Chris Vorster, Dr Anthea van Jaarveld, Prof Helene Strauss, and Johanet Kriel are responsible for lecturing, and providing personalised supervision to students. These lecturers form part of a Programme Committee, which also includes Prof Annie van den Oever, Cloete DeBeer, and Martin Rossouw.

The university has built a multi-camera studio, equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, editing facilities, and an intimate movie theatre to facilitate a thorough teaching and learning process.

Rethabile Radebe, one of the students, says she values the teaching approach of the lecturers, highlighting the positive impact of constructive criticism they offer. “My self-confidence is much better so I think, even though they help you academically for you to get your grades correctly, they also help you as a person. When you’ve done well, they don’t forget to tell you.”

This student’s views run parallel to Kriel’s, which are to “help students to perform at their best, and to develop and align our curriculum better for next year,” when an additional seven students are to be accommodated. The university, in collaboration with the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, is modelling the curriculum to ensure holistic film education. 

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