Social scientists to reimagine the future

Belinda Bantham -- Wed, 07/18/2018 - 12:11

Social scientists to reimagine the future

 “Social scientists hold the key to imagining and realising an alternative future, not only for South Africa but for the world. Through social sciences we are offered the opportunity to open up debate, to collaborate and ultimately shape our collective future.”

This is according to Prof Linda du Plessis, the North-West University’s (NWU’s) deputy vice-chancellor for planning and Vanderbijlpark campus operations, during her welcoming address at the recent NWU Human Capital Summit.

The summit, that took place in Vanderbijlpark, saw industrial psychology and human resource management professionals, members of academia, researchers and postgraduate students in attendance.

According to Prof Du Plessis, social scientists such as industrial psychologists and human resource practitioners play a vital role in helping people to understand the world in which they function, this includes interpreting the consequences and application of processes and developments.

As an example, Prof Du Plessis referred to the fourth industrial revolution and the foreseen impact of new technologies on the global workforce. “In South Africa the current unstable political and economic environments already present us with serious ethical, legal and social issues that need to be addressed,“ said Prof Du Plessis and further explained that the interdisciplinary nature of social sciences coupled with the human centric focus thereof will forever impact the human experience regardless of the disruptions that new technology might bring.  

In her address, Prof Du Plessis furthermore emphasised the importance of collaboration and the need to continually foster new networks of influence. “We can no longer afford to build walls of isolation around academic and professional disciplines. The time has come to build bridges, embrace change collectively and invest in human capital. If we don’t, we risk a total collapse on all fronts,” said Prof Du Plessis. 

More about the summit

This year marked the second rendition of the Summit and was hosted by the School of Industrial Psychology and Human Resource Management in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences.

The aim of the summit, which takes place annually, provides an ideal opportunity for students and young professionals to network with experienced industry professionals and to learn more about current trends and future employment opportunities. During the course of the summit the delegates explored the role of academic programmes in preparing students for the world of work and, the need from industry in terms of graduate skills and knowledge.