Faculty of Humanities rally research troops
The new structure at the North-West University (NWU) is seeing colleagues from all three campuses meeting to get their action plans in order to get back to business: teaching, learning and research.
Prof Susan Coetzee van-Rooy, acting deputy dean for the Faculty of Humanities, is one of the proverbial commanders who rallied her troops recently.The directors from different research focus and niche areas within the faculty gathered at the campus in Vanderbijlpark to get to know each other on a personal level, and to plan for the year ahead.
The who’s who in attendance
Prof Susan represented Prof Bertus van Rooy, director of the research focus area UPSET (Understanding and Processing Language in Complex Settings), at the campus in Vanderbijlpark. This focus area investigates how humans use language in the complex, multilingual setting of South Africa.
Prof André Duvenhage from the campus in Potchefstroom and the director of the research focus area Social Transformation, was also in attendance. This focus area specialises in the creation, development, management and evaluation of the transformational and social development roles and responsibilities of government, the business sector and communities in developing societies, thereby contributing significantly towards social transformation within these societies.
Representing VINCO, the research niche area for Visual Narratives and Creative Outputs through Interdisciplinary and Practice-led Research, was Dr Rita Swanepoel, also hailing from the campus in Potchefstroom. This niche area in the visual arts came into being to investigate the unique research and creative outputs within the subject groups art history, graphic design and creative writing.
Prof Abiodun Salawu from the campus in Mahikeng is the director of ILMA or Indigenous Language Media in Africa, a research niche area that focuses on issues of African languages in the media, the contrast between public and private financing of the media, the media and identity, the media and politics, the internet and democracy, media and development as well as African traditional communication/media systems and their applications.
MASARA (Musical Arts in South Africa: Resources and Applications), based on the campus in Potchefstroom, was represented by Dr Albi Odendaal. The NWU is the only university in South Africa that conducts focused research about and on music.
Prof Yaw Amoateng leads the Population and Health research focus area from his office on the campus in Mahikeng. The strategic aim of this focus area is to provide research-based evidence about the population changes in South Africa, to investigate the health and demographic dimensions of families and households, and to facilitate policy development and implementation in South Africa.
Prof Jaco Hofmann stood in for Prof Ian Rothmann, the director of the research focus area Optentia, also known as Enabling Optimal Expression of Individual, Social and Institutional Potential. The mission of Optentia is to develop and organise knowledge for the optimal expression of individual, social and institutional potential, with specific interest in the African context.
Dr Karien van den Berg from the campus in Potchefstroom represented the Unit for Languages and Literature in the SA Context, led by Prof Attie de Lange. This research unit has core competencies in the fields of literary criticism, descriptive linguistics, language testing (in particular the assessment of academic literacy), the teaching and learning of academic literacy, and various fields related to language technology.
With a collection of research minds such as these in one room, the day certainly was productive,” said Prof Susan. “It was wonderful to have the luxury of a face-to-face meeting at the start of our journey. Research entities in the Faculty of Humanities could explore opportunities to deepen our collaboration to provide a home for excellent research – including multidisciplinary work – that could meaningfully contribute to the stakeholder communities in our environments.” She described it as a privilege to work together with all of these research entities and looked forward to many productive hours of research leading to truly meaningful outcomes that will leave a positive footprint in the world around us.
From left are Prof Susan Coetzee-Van Rooy, Prof André Duvenhage, Dr Rita Swanepoel, Prof Abiodun Salawu, Dr Albi Odendaal, Prof Yaw Amoateng, Prof Jaco Hofmann and Dr Karien van den Berg.