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21 May 2019 | Story Igno van Niekerk | Photo Stephen Collett
Digital storytelling
Collaborating for the common good are from left: Willem Ellis, Karen Venter, Dr Deidre van Rooyen, Prof Hendri Kroukamp, Bishop Billyboy Ramahlele, and Dr Johan van Zyl.

Prof Hendri Kroukamp, Dean of the Faculty of Management Sciences quoted the Cat Stevens song I can’t keep it in, to capture the excitement surrounding the opening of a Digital Storytelling Lab on the Bloemfontein Campus on 10 May 2019.

After months of hard work by Dr Deidre van Rooyen, Willem Ellis, Karen Venter, as well as the staff of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Centre for Development Support, the Common Good First lab was completed just in time for the launch attended by about 50 delegates from other South African universities, as well as private and public institutions.

Stories meet technology

In a message, from Prof Puleng LenkaBula, Vice-Rector: Institutional Change, Student Affairs, and Community Engagement, informed the audience that the launch heralded the joining of the old world of stories with the new world of digital technology. Julie Adair, Director of Digital Collaboration at Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland, welcomed the UFS as a partner to this international social innovation collaborative project in a video message. 

Dr Van Rooyen, the project manager for the UFS, explained how she got involved in the Common Good First project, what the benefits of digital storytelling are, as well as what opportunities the lab creates for cooperation between role players involved in social innovation projects. 

Why the Common Good First lab?

The purpose of the lab is to create a digital network to identify, showcase and connect social innovation projects in South Africa to one another and to universities around the world for research, student engagement and learning and teaching. The lab has been fitted with state-of-the-art equipment for recording and digitising the stories that result from social innovation projects.

In a live Skype session with Dr Il-Haam Petersen, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), and some of the recent successes of the digital stories in Philippi in the Western Cape were shared.

Bishop Billyboy Ramahlele, UFS Director Community Engagement did the final honours by cutting the ribbon, declaring the lab open, and sharing the dream that the work done in this lab will contribute to positive relationships and cooperation between the university and the community, in making not only the university, but the country and the world a better place.


News Archive

Top PhD graduates hailed for excellent research in development and historical studies
2017-07-11

 Description: Top PhD graduates hailed for excellent research  Tags: Top PhD graduates hailed for excellent research  

Prof Melanie Walker and Prof Ian Phimister

The Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development and the International Studies Group celebrated its PhD graduates on 26 June 2017. The four graduates were joined by their PhD promoters Prof Ian Phimister and Prof Melanie Walker, the Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, and their families, who came from far and wide, as well as various faculty academics and staff. Their areas of study ranged between Development Studies and Africa Studies, exploring issues that make a significant impact on the Southern African region and the continent as a whole.

In the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, specialising in Development Studies, Dr Faith Mkwananzi, promoted by Prof Merridy Wilson-Strydom, explored the lives and educational aspirations of marginalised migrant youth, a case study in Johannesburg. She focused on the complex nature of the daily lives and experiences of marginalised migrant youth and the complexities that influence the formation and achievement of educational aspirations in contexts of vulnerability and disadvantage. The study provides compelling evidence for policy and practice that can make the lives of marginalised young migrants better.

A focus on teaching and learning in Zimbabwean universities with a focus on quality as a human development, was what Dr Patience Mukwambo, put her research efforts into. Her work makes an original contribution to national, continental, and international debates on conceptualising and operationalising the quality of teaching and learning in higher education. She successfully developed a significant alternative approach to understanding what quality in higher education teaching and learning entails, the factors that influence the realisation of quality as she theorises it, and the overall importance for human development and human well-being in universities and society.

Dr Bothwell Manyonga, who also specialised in Development Studies, examined the broader debates on the purposes and practices of teaching and learning in higher education with a case study at two South African universities, with an emphasis on principles of social justice and equity. In the thesis, he developed a model that proposes grounds for (re)thinking sociology teaching and learning to address how the capabilities approach and dominant human capital theory might complement each other in higher education and curriculum development. This takes into account both the instrumental aim of employment, which is of concern to students, as well as the intrinsic goods of critical discourse and personal development.

In the Faculty of the Humanities, with a specialisation in Africa Studies, Dr Abraham Mlombo’s doctoral research explored the relationship between Southern Rhodesia and South Africa 1923-1953, examining the ‘special relationship’ between the two countries from the former’s perspective, highlighting the complexity of the ties between them by examining (high) political relations, economic links and social and cultural ties. “It is through Abraham’s research that for the first time, black experiences of both sides of the colonial border are detailed,” said Prof Phimister.

In congratulating the graduates, Prof Melanie Walker expressed that a lot of hard work was put into training the PhD candidates and they had without a doubt produced work that was of the highest level, at international standards.

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