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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

UFS mourns the death of a great academic
2007-02-27

 

It is with great sadness that the management of the University of the Free State (UFS) heard of the death of Prof. Dawfré Roode.

Prof. Roode (70) was the first Registrar: Academics at the UFS. He retired in July 1997 and was living in Jeffrey’s Bay with his second wife, Daphne, for the past three years.

Prof Roode’s ties with the UFS stretch over more than fifty years. He registered at the UOFS in 1955 as first-year student and was elected as chairperson of the student representative council in 1958. He also represented the university on the cricket field and as Free State nineteen-year old in the Currie Cup. His academic career at the UOFS started in 1963 when he was appointed as lecturer in Sociology and Social Work. After completing his D Phil in 1964, he was promoted to senior lecturer in 1966. He became the first head of the Department of Sociology in 1972 and in 1989 he was appointed as Registrar: Academics and in 1989 Vice-Rector: Staff and Administration.

“Prof Roode brought professionalism to the administration that did not exist. He not only served the academe as registrar, but also established it as an important function within the UOFS. His ‘institutional memory’ about earlier decisions and events at the UOFS is also legendary,” said Prof Frederick Fourie, Rector and Vice-Chancellor at the UFS.

Prof Roode’s father, the late Prof Dawie Roode, was the first head of the Department of Music at the UFS. Prof Dawfré Roode had a love for music and was closely involved with the establishment of the Odeion String Quartet.

In October 2004 the university honoured him with a Centenary Medal for his outstanding leadership and contribution, as Registrar and Vice-Rector, to the development of the UFS by establishing and developing a strong and professional administrative structure at the UFS.

“Prof Roode left deep footprints at the UFS. I am glad that we could honour him for this in 2004 with a Centenary Medal before he passed away. He also attended the launch of the university’s history book earlier in February,” said Prof Fourie.

“Our sympathies go to Ms Trudie Roode (his first wife) and their three children Ms Frelet Roux and Gerda Daffue, and their son, Mr Dawie Roode. Prof Roode has left a gap in the hearts of the people who knew and worked with him at the UFS,” said Prof Fourie.

A memorial service will be held in Jeffrey’s Bay on Wednesday 28 February 2007 at 10:30. A memorial service will also be held in Bloemfontein on Wednesday 7 March 2007. More details will be made available at a later stage.
 

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
27 February 2007

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