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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

Become part of the Kovsie family
2017-04-13

Description: 2017 Open Day Bloem Tags: 2017 Open Day Bloem

Photo: Johan Roux

Open Day is a great opportunity to experience the Kovsie vibe, visit the residences, campus facilities and faculties, and receive academic and career advice. You can collect as many faculty pamphlets and programme booklets as possible to browse through later.

You will be welcomed by the new Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof Francis Petersen, be entertained by Swing City, enjoy laser shows, and participate in fun games with Teambo.

Bloemfontein Campus

Date: 13 May 2017
Prospective students’ and parents’ session: 08:30-09:30
School groups’ session: 11:00-12:00
Venue: Callie Human Centre, Bloemfontein Campus

Academic and career advice: 08:30-15:00
Venue: Scholtz Hall, Bloemfontein Campus

Faculty sessions: 10:30
Venues for the faculty sessions:
•    Economic and Management Sciences: EMS Auditorium
•    Education: Education Auditorium
•    Health Sciences: Francois Retief Building
•    Humanities: Odeion
•    Natural and Agricultural Sciences: Agriculture Building
•    Law: Equitas Auditorium
•    Theology and Religion: Theology Building, Room 21

Residence and Student Life stalls: Red Square in front of the Main building.
Student association stalls: Thakaneng Bridge.
View our campus map and the full programme.

Qwaqwa Campus
The UFS Qwaqwa Campus will host their Open Day on Saturday 20 May 2017.

Applications to study in 2018 are now open

Want to become a Kovsie student? Make sure not to miss the Open Days and also see the 9 steps on how to become a UFS student.

For more information, contact the Unit for Prospective students on:
+27 51 401 3000 | info@ufs.ac.za

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