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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

Academic appointed Editor-in-Chief of leading accredited History journal in South Africa
2017-02-15

Description: Dr Jared McDonald Tags: Dr Jared McDonald

Dr Jared McDonald, newly-appointed Editor-in-Chief
of Historia.
Photo: Thabo Kessah


The research profile of the Qwaqwa Campus has recently received a boost with the appointment of Dr Jared McDonald as the Editor-in-Chief of Historia, one of the leading accredited History journals in South Africa. It publishes articles in May and November on aspects of history and historiography of the Southern African region and is published by the Historical Association of South Africa (HASA).

Dr McDonald said it was an honour for him to be appointed in such a position, as it would enable him to further encourage critical engagement of historians. “I have served as the journal’s Review Editor for the past four years, so I am incredibly grateful for this appointment which will further enable historians to engage with one another as well as with scholars from other disciplines interested in grappling with the past,” he said.

Delivery of quality research to be strengthened
“My role will be to deepen the legacy of presenting historical themes to the broader public and the academic community, as well as enabling the delivery of quality research, while also strengthening Historia’s profile as a journal of choice for historians and scholars from related disciplines. In fact, having the editorship of such a journal based on the Qwaqwa Campus, is a welcome accolade for the campus,” he added.
Dr McDonald is Subject Head in the Department of History.

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