Latest News Archive

Please select Category, Year, and then Month to display items
Previous Archive
29 May 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Pexels
Prof Melanie Walker
Fostering human capabilities in universities may potentially transform education, says Prof Melanie Walker.

Education is at the centre of human life, and has the potential to be a crucial support for democratic life. Prof Melanie Walker’s recent research paper strikes a balance in dealing with people, education and the implications for democracy through the lens of human capabilities theory and practice and her own research.

People and papers

In her capacity as the SARChI Chair in the Higher Education and Human Development Research Programme at the University of the Free State (UFS), Prof Walker recently published a paper titled: Defending the Need for a Foundational Epistemic Capability in Education. It appeared in the special issue of the Journal of Human Development and Capabilities in honour of renowned Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen’s 85th birthday.

Nurturing epistemic justice

Within the context of existing literature such as that of Sen’s concern with the value of education on the one hand, and public reasoning on the other, Prof Walker argues for a foundational epistemic capability to shape the formal education landscape – as well as quality in education – by fostering inclusive public reasoning (including critical thinking) in all students. It would contribute to what Sen calls the ‘protective power of democracy’ and shared democratic rights, which, he argues, are strongly missed when most needed.

“Sen’s approach asks us to build democratic practices in our university and in our society in ways which create capabilities for everyone. If our students learn public reasoning in all sorts of spaces in university, including the pedagogical, they may carry this into and back to society,” she said.

Educating for equality

Empowering society and fighting for justice are some of the crucial contributions made possible through fostering the epistemic capability of all students. “The capability requires that each student is recognised as both a knower and teller, a receiver and a contributor in critical meaning and knowledge, and an epistemic agent in processes of learning and critical thinking,” states Prof Walker.

In a young democracy like South Africa’s, inclusive public reasoning becomes all the more essential in order to achieve equality, uphold rights and sustain democracy as enshrined in the constitution, thereby improving people’s lives. 

News Archive

Academic receives honorary medal in Slovakia
2008-10-09

 

Prof Riaan Luyt (right) receives his medal from the Director of the Polymer Institute, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Dr Jozef Rychly.

  

Prof Riaan Luyt, professor in Chemistry and head of the Natural Sciences Programme at the Qwaqwa Campus of the University of the Free State, received an honorary medal from the Polymer Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences on Monday 29 September during a conference in the High Tatras mountains of Slovakia.

During the event Prof Luyt also presented a lecture entitled ‘Paraffin wax in polymer blends and composites: Is it worth investigating?’. In this lecture he gave an overview of the research that he and his group did over a period of 10 years in collaboration with scientists at this institute. The results of this research was published in eighteen international papers and one research book chapter.

Prof Luyt’s research at the Qwaqwa Campus involves polymer blends and composites, and he has already published 82 papers in international, peer reviewed journals, as well as two book chapters. At present his research group consists of nine doctoral and five master’s degree students, as well as a postdoctoral fellow. The postdoctoral fellow is from Nigeria, and one of the doctoral students is from Sudan.

Prof Luyt and his group collaborate formally internationally with groups in Kottayam (India), Modena (Italy), Budapest (Hungary) and Bratislava (Slovakia). He also collaborates informally with groups at the Universities of Pretoria and Stellenbosch, and with a group in Johor Bahru (Malaysia).

He previously received recognition for his research from the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of the Free State (Award for Outstanding Research in 2005) and from the Qwaqwa Campus of the UFS (Jubilee Medal and Certificate for Outstanding Research in 2007).
 

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful. To better understand how they are used, read more about the UFS cookie policy. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.

Accept