Latest News Archive

Please select Category, Year, and then Month to display items
Years
2017 2018 2019 2020
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

School of Medicine White Coat ceremony embraces first-years into the fold
2016-03-17

Description: School of Medicine White Coat ceremony  Tags: School of Medicine White Coat ceremony

From the left are first-year UFS medical students Liandri Van Zyl, Lane Halberg, Wisani Baloyi, and Neve Steenbeek at the annual White Coat ceremony, wearing their white coats for the first time.

“Life isn’t about yourself. It’s about what you can pour into the lives of others.” The first-year medical students will not soon forget Dr Lynette van der Merwe’s words during their recent White Coat ceremony. Dr Van der Merwe is the Programme Director of the MBChB undergraduate program at the University of the Free State (UFS) School of Medicine.

The annual White Coat ceremony is a tradition at the school to welcome first-year students to the world of medicine. As an official initiation into this new world, students are allowed to put on their white coats for the first time. During the ceremony, representatives from the Medical Students Association contributed to the significance of the event by reading a declaration of intent regarding professional behaviour for all medical students.

Dr Wayne Marais, Head of the UFS Department of Ophthalmology, was the guest speaker, sharing his vivid memories of being the first black student to study Medicine at the UFS in 1987. Prof Marais encouraged students to embrace their failures and successes, and to ultimately stay true to themselves – both personally and professionally.

Second-year medical students were at hand to offer advice and support. In addition to offering encouragement, they also assured the newcomers that there is a life outside of their books as well.

The entire ceremony not only served to welcome the first-years into the fold, but also unite them in a common purpose towards helping others in future.

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