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Environmental sociologist from the USA visits the UFS
2009-12-03

From the left are: Prof. Bell, Dr Nola Redelinghuys from the Department of Sociology at the UFS, and Prof. Wijnand Swart, Director of Strategic Academic Cluster 4.
Photo: Lacea Loader
 
The Strategic Academic Cluster 4 (Technologies for Sustainable Crop Industries in semi-arid Regions) at the University of the Free State (UFS) this week hosted a seminar featuring Prof. Michael M. Bell, Chairperson of the Agroecology Graduate Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in the USA. The title of his seminar was, “Thinking Like a Holon: A Post-Systems Approach to Agroecology”.

By using examples drawn from issues of agriculture, food, and the environment, Prof. Bell argued for moving beyond systems thinking’s emphasis on connections to the contextual awareness of “holon thinking.” He also argued that holon thinking encouraged an ontological humility that fostered openness to interdisciplinarity.

Prof. Bell is an environmental sociologist and a systems theorist with three central foci in all of his work: dialogics, the sociology of nature, and social justice. He is the author of seven books, three of which have won national awards in the USA. His visit to South Africa, and particularly the UFS, was to explore possibilities for interdisciplinary collaboration between the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the UFS.

His seminar attracted numerous students and staff members from various departments in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences and the Faculty of the Humanities. Follow-up discussions will hopefully encourage closer collaboration between researchers in Cluster 4 and Cluster 2 (New Frontiers in Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development).

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