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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

Nominations for Kovsie Alumni Awards now open
2008-10-24

It is time once again to nominate candidates for the University of the Free State’s (UFS) three Kovsie Alumni Awards made annually.

Nominations can be made for the Kovsie Alumnus of the Year Award, Cum Laude Award and the Alumni Award for Exceptional Service to the UFS. The Kovsie Alumnus of the Year Award honors the outstanding achievements of a Kovsie Alumnus on national or international level. The person must still be in life. The Cum Laude Award is occasionally bestowed on an alumnus for outstanding service or achievement on regional, national or international level in his/her field of work. The Alumni Award for Outstanding Service to the UFS is occasionally made to any person (not necessarily an alumnus) who delivered exceptional service to the university.

Nominations should contain the following:

  • Any alumnus can submit a written nomination for the above-mentioned awards.
  • At least five alumni seconders must support the nomination.
  • A comprehensive motivation and a brief Curriculum Vita of the candidate must accompany the nomination.
  • The candidate’s complete address and telephone number must also be provided.

Nominations can be submitted to Ms Annanda Calitz or Mr Lucas Radebe, Alumni Awards, PO Box 2319, Bloemfontein, 9300. Nominations may also be faxed to 086 523 5108 of send via e-mail to ficka.stg@ufs.ac.za  or radebesl.stg@ufs.ac.za . The closing date for submission of nominations is 20 of November 2008.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za  
24 October 2008
 

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