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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

Dean of student affairs leaves the UFS after 29 years
2008-12-11

Prof. Teuns Verschoor (left), Acting Rector of the UFS, and Dr Luyt during his farewell function. Prof. Verschoor and Dr Luyt worked together in student affairs at the UFS for 26 years. Prof. Verschoor was Dean of Student Affairs before Dr Luyt took over the reigns from him.

Photo: Lacea Loader

 

The Dean of Student Affairs at the University of the Free State (UFS), Dr Natie Luyt, will be leaving the university after 29 years of service.

Dr Luyt decided to retire in order to spend more time with his wife, Ria, and his family. He will also be involved with his farm on a full-time basis.

“I have experienced a lot during my career and have learnt a lot from the staff and students at the UFS. There are students of exceptional quality at the university and it was a privilege to work with these young people. It was also a privilege to see the UFS grow to become the exceptional institution it is today,” Dr Luyt said during his farewell function this week.

Dr Luyt started working at the Department of Political Science of the UFS in 1980 and was appointed as Director of Student Affairs in 1997 and in 2005 as Dean of Student Affairs. During this time he was also closely involved with the Abraham Fischer Residence, where he was residence head since 1982.

Prof. Teuns Verschoor, Acting Rector of the UFS, said in his farewell message that the UFS has appreciation for Dr Luyt’s decades of service. “Dr Luyt had a meaningful life at the UFS. We have appreciation for his ability to deal with difficult cases and for his kind heart where student affairs are concerned. He will be remembered for the way in which he always knew what went on in the residences and that he always put the needs of students first,” said Prof. Verschoor.

Dr Choice Makhetha, Deputy Dean of Student Affairs at the UFS, will act as dean until the post is filled.
 

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
11 December 2008

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