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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

First M degree in Sport Medicine commences at the UFS
2006-02-03

Some of the guests that attended the launch of the M degree in Sport Medicine were from the left Dr Derik Coetzee (senior lecturer at the UFS Department of Human Movement Science and one of the tutors of the programme); Dr Sorita Viljoen (a student from Bloemfontein); dr Stephan Pretorius (a student from Pretoria) ; Dr Louis Holtzhausen (Programme Director:  Sport Medicine at the UFS) and Prof Teuns Verschoor (Vice-Rector:  Academic Operations at the UFS).
Photo: Lacea Loader


First M degree in Sport Medicine commences at the UFS   
 

The classes of the first group of nine students registered for the M degree in Sport Medicine at the University of the Free State (UFS) commenced at the School of Medicine this week.

This is the first degree of its kind presented by the UFS.  Only two other universities in South Africa are presenting the course, namely the University of Cape Town and the University of Pretoria.

“It is an important new subject field for medicine in South Africa and is aimed at medical doctors,” said Dr Louis Holtzhausen, Programme Director of Sport Medicine in the School of Medicine and head of the UFS Sport and Exercise Medicine Clinic.

The course focuses on the wellness and healthy lifestyle of patients and also intercepts the growing need for a specialized medical service for sportsmen,” said Dr Holtzhausen.

Athletes’ needs for specialised medical care have increased dramatically during the past ten years.  “The primary health care practitioner has already surrendered a great deal of the athletics community to disciplines such as physiotherapy, bio kinetics, homeopathy, chirology and other alternative disciplines because of a lack to provide for these practitioners,” said Dr Holtzhausen.

“The course is especially in demand with general practitioners because they want to deliver a more specialized service to patients.  With this course a student can call him/herself a sport doctor and will then not only be able to present patients with scientifically funded exercise, food supplements and advice on their lifestyle, but will also be able to help with the rehabilitation of patients with chronic illnesses,” said Dr Holtzhausen.

“The greatest medical care expense in South African stems from lifestyle bound illnesses such as depression, strokes and obesesiveness.  The M degree in Sports Medicine at the UFS will intercept some of these problems,” said Dr Holtzhausen.

According to Dr Holtzhausen the duration of the degree is three years and it comprises of three legs.  In the first leg, attention is given to an athlete’s performance and how it can be improved with the correct methods and supplements.  In the second leg attention is given to the wellness of patients and the reversibility of the risk of illness and the exercise rehabilitation of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and hart problems to assist patients to exercise in a scientific way in order for them to start living optimally again.  In the third leg attention is given to a healthier lifestyle as a precautionary measure. 

The course also includes a lecture part (four attendance sessions of seven days each) and a thesis.  

“The new course is important for the UFS as the whole tendency in medicine is to move into a direction of a more affordable precaution.  There is no other qualification or programme with as much detail as this course,” he said.

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel:   (051) 401-2584
Cell:  083 645 2454
E-mail:  loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
3 February 2006

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