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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

UFS Extraordinary Professor involved in public signing of historic charter
2010-10-27

Prof. Iain Benson

Prof. Iain Benson, an Extraordinary Professor in the Department of Constitutional Law and Philosophy of Law at the University of the Free State (UFS), was one of the speakers at the signing of the historic South African Charter of Religious Rights and Freedoms on Thursday, 21 October 2010.

Thursday’s signing of the charter was the culmination of two years’ work of the Continuation Committee responsible for drawing up the document, of which Prof. Benson is a part. All the major religions signed the charter at the ceremony Thursday where Prof. Benson was one of the four speakers, who included the Deputy Chief Justice of South Africa, Justice Moseneke.

The charter, which has already received considerable international and national attention, will now be submitted to the ANC government for negotiations. Indicative of the important role that Prof. Benson played in the process of drawing up the charter is that he has been offered a role as an advisor for the newly created committee responsible for the drafting of the Constitution of the Council of Religious Freedom.

Originally hailing from Canada and currently residing with his family in France, Prof. Benson is an academic with a wealth of experience and expertise in the field of law, especially with regard to right of conscience and religion. His achievements number many, including being a Senior Associate Counsel at one of Canada’s leading law firms, Miller Thompson LLP; and serving on the Founding Board of the Global Centre for Pluralism. Prof. Benson gave his inaugural lecture last week with a lecture entitled Living together with Disagreements and the Limits of the Law.

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