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Top Psychology student wins coveted Chancellor’s Medal Psychology student wins coveted Chancellor’s MedalSandra Mulder/Corporate Communications Division<p>Dr Xanthe Dawn Hunt (27) from Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal, who received the coveted Chancellor's Medal​ at SU's seventh graduation ceremony on Thursday (13 December), is described by academic​​​ staff at Stellenbosch University (SU) as “an academic phenomenon" and the “very finest student we have had in many years." This description corresponds with the admiration from world leaders in the field of disability studies at a recent international disability conference in Europe, who described her as a “genius."<br></p><div><img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/XantheHunt-3.jpg" alt="XantheHunt-3.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-1" style="margin:5px;width:400px;" /><span></span></div><p>​"I think it is very kind and generous. I have not seen myself as that way. I have seen myself as very hardworking and I always studies extremely hard," said Hunt shortly after the ceremony.<br></p><p>Hunt is the recipient of the coveted Chancellor's Medal that is awarded annually to a final year or postgraduate student who has not only excelled academically, but also contributed to campus life in various ways and worked hard at developing co-curricular attributes.​ At the same ceremony Hunt also received a PhD in Psychology. <br></p><p>She said the secret to her success is the fortunate position that she was in to have a lot of mentors, particularly towards the psychology side of my academic career.  "PhD's are always kind of the moment where you contribute something and first time in your career where you make something original, and it is build on the back of years and years of mentors, teachers and classes," she said.</p><p><br>With very little difficulty, Hunt already has some 30 academic publications to her name. This is more than many academics in Psychology have contributed in their entire careers, says Prof Awie Greeff, Chair of the Department of Psychology.<br></p><p>She is also the first Masters' student in the history of the Department whose degree was upgraded to a PhD.  <br></p><p>Another academic highlight was that during her PhD studies, she enrolled for a course in Biostatistics at Masters' level, despite not having completed Mathematics at matric level. Initially, the course convenor did not wish to admit her to the course for this reason, but later reluctantly agreed to accept her.  She completed the course <em>cum laude</em> and her results were the second best in the class.<br></p><p>"I didn't take maths at high school because it seemed not worth the push at that time. Stats are very visual. You use graphs and there is always a visual way of conceiving the statistic or theory behind it. And that kind of pulled me through if I can see what I was learning and if I could think of it in visual terms," she explained how she manages to pull her math through although she never had it before."​<br></p><p>Since  starting her studies at SU in 2010, Hunt won amongst others the SU Political Science Award for Excellence for Top Achieving First Year Student; the Department of English's Award for Excellence for Top Achieving First Year Student and the Rector's Award for Academic Excellence Top Faculty Achiever (on three occasions). She was also offered the prestigious Babette Taute English Scholarship.</p><p>Amazingly, Hunt passed <em>cum laude</em> in every single subject she took, with the exception of a single service module.  During the first five years of her studies, she achieved an average of 82.08%.</p><p>Her research spans disability studies, public health, monitoring and evaluation of early childhood interventions, and academic communication. She holds a Bachelor's degree in the Humanities, Honours degrees in Journalism and in Psychology, a Master's Degree in Biostatistics, and now a PhD in Psychology.<br></p><p>Hunt has worked with many members of the Department of Psychology over the course of her Honours, Master's and PhD degrees, primarily in the role of project assistant, but gradually formalising her role in the employ of one of the research units.<br></p><p>In her undergraduate years, Xanthe was part of her residence's <em>a cappella</em> choir and worked as a peer tutor both within her residence community and later beyond. She has also worked as a volunteer counsellor in community-based projects in the Stellenbosch and Franschhoek areas.</p><p>In addition to all her academic qualities, Hunt is exceptionally hard-working and a great team player.  Fellow students find her supportive, and she is very popular amongst the staff in her department.  She also regularly gives talks and lectures, and is an excellent communicator.<br></p><p>She has a contract for her PhD to be published as a book with Palgrave next year (2019).  She will present an exhibition from the PhD work at the Cape Town Holocaust Centre early in 2019.  </p><ul><li><strong>​Main photo</strong>: Dr Xanthe Hunt stands with the Rector, prof Wim de Villiers, who was in 1986 the first medical student at SU who received the Chancellor's Medal.<br></li><li><strong>Photo 1</strong>: Dr Xanthe Hunt receives the Chancellor's Medal<br></li><li><strong>Photographe</strong>r: Stefan Els​</li></ul>
SU’s Extended Degree Programme opens many doors for graduates’s Extended Degree Programme opens many doors for graduatesCorporate Communication/Korporatiewe Kommunikasie <p>​<br></p><p></p><p>No less than 42 graduates whose academic potential had been unlocked thanks to the Extended Degree Programme (EDP) in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Stellenbosch University (SU), received their qualifications at the University's December 2019 graduation ceremonies this week.</p><p>Of the 42 EDP graduates, 19 of the students received distinctions during their studies at SU. One of those students, Tammy Jefthas, received 18 distinctions and will be doing a MA (Geography and Environmental Studies) next year. </p><p>“The EDP is a wonderful opportunity to not only gain a degree but offers much more. It sees the potential in students and sometimes even before a student sees it in themselves. My field of study presented to me the opportunity to grapple with current pressing geographical issues and I see myself using my knowledge gained to make a difference in society," says Jefthas.</p><p>SU launched the EDP in 2008 to help deal with systemic obstacles to equity and student success and to assist students with additional academic support. </p><p>According to Alex Zeeman, who managed to obtain no less than 16 distinctions during her studies, the EDP programme was a lifesaver after she received poor matric results. “I thought my life was over, but the lesson that university has taught me is that you're stronger than you think you are."</p><p>For Vuyolwethu Qinela, who obtained nine distinctions during her studies, the programme not only helped her excel academically, but also gave her the opportunity to do an exchange abroad. </p><p>“I was an average student in high school, so I never thought that I could achieve anything greater than just passing. The Extended Degree Programme, I believe, gave me a better advantage over mainstream students in that I was given foundational modules that covered all topics that are covered in most social science modules, while also improving my critical thinking skills," says Qinela. </p><p>Tamaryn Taylor Fourie from Eerste River says one of the highlights of being a student at SU for her is the fact that many doors were opened and that she had many opportunities. “Some amazing highlights would be when I had the opportunity in 2017 to travel to Johannesburg to represent the University at the Cradle of Humankind as part of the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation. I was able to engage with other like-minded individuals and expand my network. In 2018, I was inducted into the Golden Key International Honour Society," says Fourie.</p><p>In addition to this, Fourie had the opportunity to travel to Germany as an international student at the Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen, which is one of SU's partner institutions.</p><p>Through the EDP, Fourie was also able to impact many lives by being a mentor and senior mentor for first-year EDP students, class representative on the PSO committee and a member of other campus-wide societies and organisations.</p><p>EDP and mainstream students obtain the same degrees after completion of their undergraduate studies. The only difference is that EDP students do their first year over two years. Over and above their mainstream subjects, EDP students take modules that prepare them better for their graduate studies, such as <em>Texts in the Humanities</em>, <em>Information Skills</em> and <em>Introduction to the Humanities</em>. </p><p>The EDP programme is open to students who are interested in studying towards a Bachelor's degree with an average of 60–64,9% in their National Senior Certificate (NSC). Extensive extra-curricular support is also integrated into the academic offering to enhance student success.​<br></p><p>Prospective students, who want to read more about the EDP, can consult the EDP website at <a href="/english/faculty/arts/edp/home"></a> <br><br></p><p>In the photo from left, Vuyolwethu Qinela, Tamaryn Taylor Fourie and Alex Zeeman​. ​<br></p><p>Photo by Stefan Els. <br></p><p><br></p>
Departments in Arts Faculty and others collaborate for Women’s Day concert in Arts Faculty and others collaborate for Women’s Day concertFiona Grayer<p style="text-align:justify;">​​The Music Department in partnership with Stellenbosch University's (SU) Transformation Office, the Visual Arts Department and the Women's Forum presented a concert in celebration of Women's Day in August in the Endler Hall in Stellenbosch. The SU Jazz Band took centre stage under the direction of Felicia Lesch joined by South African jazz legend Gloria Bosman and jazz singer and poet Mihi-Tuwi Matshingana.<br><br>The evening was specifically dedicated to honouring the memory of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke – the first black South African woman to obtain tertiary education and who graduated in the USA in 1901. Her mantra, “When you rise, lift someone up with you", is a maxim that artists Felicia Lesch, Bosman and Matshingana all embrace.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Lesch is passionate about music as a vehicle for social change and formed the SU Jazz Band as one of the ensembles of the Certificate Programme. The Certificate Programme is the pre-undergraduate programme of the SU Music Department which was created to empower students with skills to embark on a BMus or Diploma programme at tertiary level. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Matshingana completed a BCom degree at SU in 2014, during which time she also studied in the Music Department's Certificate Programme, a programme to which she paid homage on stage. She is currently a third-year Jazz Studies student at Wits University in Johannesburg.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">South African author and journalist Zubeida Jaffer's third book “<em>Beauty of the heart</em>", which is a tribute to Maxeke and also provides fresh information on her life, was available for purchase at the event. Jewellery from an jewellery exhibition by Kutlwano Cele, a student in the Visual Arts Department, was also on sale.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The SRC and many students from other departments and faculties supported the concert.  </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“For some this was their first “Endler experience", which made it a particularly joyful event," said Monica du Toit of the Transformation Office.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Special guests from within the Arts Faculty, the Women's Forum, the Gender Equality Unit, SU Museum, SU Transformation Office and community partners of the Music Department's own Certificate Programme also attended the Woman's Day Celebration Concert. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The event was a moment of institutional belonging and connection with new people at our institution."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“We look forward to more meaningful collaborations in the future and honour the women (and men) on stage who are using music as a vehicle to liberate, educate, rage and dream," added Du Toit.​​<br></p>
SU academics visits Malawi to host writing workshop academics visits Malawi to host writing workshopCorporate Marketing/Korporatiewe Bemarking<p>​There is a commonly-cited adage in academia, "publish or perish". Although an exaggeration, the phrase encapsulates a reality of contemporary research: publishing one's research – particularly in journals – is a cornerstone of a successful career. Further, as money, time, and effort go into conducting research, it is the responsibility of the academic to ensure that as many people as possible find out about what this work reveals.</p><p>Being published, however, is easier said than done: writers' block, submission deadlines, and challenging peer-reviews are but a few of the hurdles which lead papers-in-the-making to falter and fade away. In countries only recently beginning to contribute to the international academy, the ill-effects of these barriers are amplified. To ensure that global Southern views and news can enter the global academic space, there is an urgent need to cultivate understanding around publishing on the continent. </p><p>This October, Professor Leslie Swartz of the Psychology Department, and Masters student Xanthe Hunt, visited Zomba, Malawi, to address just such a need.  The visit was funded partly by the Doctoral Capacity Development Programme at the African Doctoral Academy (ADA) at Stellenbosch University International, and was conducted under the auspices of the partnership agreement between Stellenbosch University and University of Malawi</p><p>A two-and-a-half day writing workshop was convened by Swartz, in collaboration with Professor Blessings Chinsinga of the Centre for Social Research at University of Malawi, and Professor Alister Munthali, and was attended by 14 academics from various departments at the University of Malawi. The group consisted of early career researchers, as well as seasoned academics, and had representatives from numerous fields, including political science, theology, library and information sciences, and anthropology.  Prof Chiwoza Bandawe, outgoing editor of the Malawi Medical Journal, and former Head of the Department of Mental Health at University of Malawi was also in attendance on the final day.</p><p>The first day saw Swartz, who is on the editorial board of a number of prominent academic publications and is the editor in chief of the African Journal of Disability, introduce the group to the principles and purpose of academic publishing. This was followed by an interactive afternoon session, during which Swartz and Hunt worked with the attendees on their own.</p><p>Swartz, who has been conducting such trainings in South Africa and other African countries for some years highlighted the importance of working with attendees on their own manuscripts during such trainings.  </p><p>"The best learning in this context comes from engagement with the actual experience of writing and especially in dealing with reviewer comments, which are often phrased in dismissive and unflattering terms.  Sharing struggles around writing, using actual examples, helps to minimize anxiety and avoidance of the process," explained Swartz.  </p><p>Swartz also noted that emphasizing interaction – and asking attendees to determine their own priorities for writing workshops – ensures that the sessions are relevant, and make the most of the time available. </p><p>In line with this, the second day involved a presentation by Hunt on the mechanics of writing a manuscript, which was followed by a feedback session from the group. They requested that the remaining time be allocated to a "crash course" on thematic analysis (TA). TA is widely employed in the social sciences as a qualitative research methodology, and involves analysing textual data (words from research subjects, in the form of interview transcripts, for instance). The course then concluded on the third day with a research methods session by Hunt, who is currently employing TA within her thesis. </p><p>Research methods are the building blocks from which good research is built; good writing puts polish on the finished product, and helps to ensure its dissemination. </p><p>"In the future, it will be important for workshops such as this one to incorporate day-long sessions on every step of the research process, <em>as well as</em> the presentation process," said Hunt, adding that short workshops are important in order to stimulate discussion around priority areas for future workshops. </p><p>The Malawian contingent have expressed their interest in a second, more detailed workshop, and Swartz says that he is optimistic about the prospect of piloting such an expanded agenda in Malawi.</p><p>"The quality of the research being conducted here is high," he concluded, "and I look forward to a continued collaboration with this engaged and engaging group."</p>
Innovative new SU module promotes diversity among students new SU module promotes diversity among studentsRozanne Engel - Corporate Communications / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie<p>​</p><p>“Both in South Africa and at Stellenbosch University, we come from a divided past, which makes it vital for our teaching and curricula to be designed to cater for our students' diverse histories and different experiences of gender, culture, language and religion."</p><p>This is the hope and objective of Dr Anita Jonker and her colleagues at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. In 2018, the Faculty introduced a new interdisciplinary module “<strong>Gender, culture and religious diversity</strong>" with guest lecturers Prof Xolile Simon from the Department of Practical Theology and Missiology (Theology) and Dennis Francis from the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology (Arts and Social Sciences). The module is specifically designed for students in the Extended Degree Programme (EDP), who complete their first academic year over two years. This affords them the opportunity to receive extensive writing support and engage with enriched curriculum content so as to broaden their worldviews.</p><p>According to Jonker, EDP coordinator and lecturer, the aim of the module is to address the complexities of religion, gender and culture in society and help students develop into critical and creative thinkers in diverse environments.</p><p>“We want our students to know and respect one another's religious traditions and rituals, and at the same time develop the ability to read and listen critically. In the tutorials, students are encouraged to debate the content and form their own opinions based on the reading material, lectures, language support as well as their tutors and fellow students' contributions."</p><p>While only the 120 students in the first-year EDP group currently qualify to do the module, there have been several requests to present the course to a broader audience. The module is structured into three lectures and one tutorial per week. The first lecture is dedicated to English and Afrikaans in the humanities and the remaining two deal with subject-specific content.</p><p>This year's module has introduced students to key subject-specific concepts that appear in the prescribed reading material. These include the distinction between biological sex and gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, heteronormativity and compulsory heterosexuality, as well as the key differences between transsexual and transgender people. To broaden students' understanding of diversity in religion, gender and culture, the module also incorporates out-of-class teaching and learning. Students are encouraged to visit places of worship that they are unfamiliar with, which Jonker regards as a crucial component of the module.</p><p>“Students must be able to engage in dialogue on the issues that the module raises, not only during the module but also long after they have completed it when they encounter different views on these matters among their friends and colleagues. Students from different religions or from atheist and agnostic backgrounds are also encouraged to visit places of worship that are unfamiliar to them. This helps them develop an understanding of the complexities of religious diversity, of the potential of intrareligious and interreligious dialogue to peacefully resolve conflict, and of the human dignity of women and the LGBTQIA community," Jonker says.</p><p>English/Afrikaans interpreters are used for all lectures, and as Prof Simon is an isiXhosa mother-tongue speaker, students are able to ask questions in any of the Western Cape's three official languages.</p><p>For more information on the module, contact Dr Anita Jonker at <a href=""></a>. <br></p><p><br></p>
Looking after your mental health during the COVID-19 crisis after your mental health during the COVID-19 crisisAshraf Kagee<p>​The COVID-19 crisis has disrupted our world and plunged us into a time of great uncertainty. In an opinion piece for <em>Health</em><em>24</em>, Prof Ashraf Kagee from the Department of Psychology offers a few tips that can help us stay mentally healthy during the lockdown period.</p><ul><li>​Read the article below or click <a href=""><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">here</strong></a> for the piece as published.</li></ul><p><strong>Looking after your mental health during the COVID-19 crisis</strong><br></p><p><strong>Ashraf Kagee*</strong><br></p><p>​The COVID-19 crisis has disrupted our world and plunged us into a time of great uncertainty. Under these circumstances, it is quite common for people to be worried, distressed and anxious about what lies ahead. There is, however, no reason to regard anyone who feels afraid and anxious during these difficult times as being psychologically abnormal. We still have some time to go before the lockdown is over and almost everyone will be having some of these feelings at some point. <br></p><p>However, the constant stream of news reports about the COVID-19 pandemic can lead to a rise in levels of anxiety. If this is the case then one should limit the amount of time spent listening to or watching the news. It is, of course, necessary to get the facts – not rumours, misinformation and fake news – and we should seek information only from trusted sources. This will help us all take practical steps to make plans and protect our own mental health and that of our loved ones. <br></p><p>This is also a time to support others as helping other people in their time of need can benefit both the person receiving support and the helper. For example, checking by telephone on neighbours or people in your community who may need some assistance. Perhaps when leaving the house to buy supplies for yourself, it can be helpful to buy extra food for people who have no means, and whom government and NGOs might not be able to help during this difficult period.<br></p><p>For most people, living in lockdown for three weeks can be very stressful. It can be useful to structure the day with activities such as doing schoolwork and housework, working from home if your job allows, exercising, having some quiet time, watching TV and reading, spending some time with others and also spending some time alone. For many people, prayer or meditation can be quite helpful. <br></p><p>Social engagement is of course very important. Human beings are by nature social beings, and staying in touch with friends and family by phone or texting is necessary to maintain a sense of community and togetherness in this time of crisis. <br></p><p>Probably people who already have a mental health condition such as major depression or generalised anxiety may have exacerbated symptoms and therefore staying in touch with a mental health professional will be quite important. Many psychologists, psychiatrists and counsellors will in all likelihood be available to their patients by phone or skype which can be quite important in helping people feel supported during this difficult time. Resources such as Lifeline can be helpful for others who are not in the care of a mental health professional. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (<a href=""></a>) has some useful resources on its website, including information on apps that can help people reduce stress and anxiety and feel some relief from psychological distress. Also, positive social and family support during this time can help people feel less alone and vulnerable. </p><p>We live in an era of technology and so many people find it convenient to use texting, WhatsApp, Skype, email, Instagram and Facebook to check up on each other and stay connected. For those who lack access to social media, to the internet and to data, staying in touch with neighbours at a safe distance, writing letters and keeping a journal can be helpful under these circumstances. <br></p><p>In as much as there is a danger of information overload, it is necessary to keep abreast of what is going on and to understand clearly what the minister of health and the president want us to know. We live in a society in which our political leaders have let us down countless times, leading many of us to regard them with scepticism. However, this is a time to listen to authority. We really do need to heed the message of the lockdown. It will save lives and help to ensure that our health care system can cope with the numbers of people who will require services. <br></p><p>It is also important to honour carers and healthcare workers who support people affected with COVID-19. These brave souls play an important role in saving lives. Also, as the number of people infected with COVID-19 starts to rise, we should avoid stigmatising and discriminating, but rather offer our support, compassion and kindness. We should not refer to people who are infected as “victims", “COVID-19 families" or “the diseased". They are “people who have COVID-19", “people who are being treated for COVID-19", or “people who are recovering from COVID-19". <br></p><p>At the moment it is hard to see what positive things can come out of this experience. It is by all accounts a stressful and difficult time for everyone. But perhaps it's also an opportunity for us to acknowledge our shared humanity, the fragility of the human condition, and the fact that we are all in this together, no matter how divided our society might be. </p><p><br><em>*​Prof Ashraf Kagee is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychology at Stellenbosch University.​</em><br></p><p><br></p>
Call for applications: Full-time PhD scholarships in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences for applications: Full-time PhD scholarships in the Arts, Humanities and Social SciencesLynne Rippenaar-Moses<p style="text-align:justify;"><span>​​T</span><span>h</span><span>e </span><span>Graduate School for Arts and Social Sciences </span><span>is a HOPE Project initiative in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Stellenbosch University to strengthen and advance doctoral training and scholarship in Africa.</span><span> </span></p><p style="text-align:justify;">More than 180 doctoral students from 18 African countries, including South Africa, have enrolled in this scholarship programme since 2010. A total of 93 have successfully graduated, of which 78% completed in three years or less.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">​Suitable candidates who are citizens of any sub-Saharan African country are invited to apply for three-year full-time doctoral scholarships in the research programmes of the Faculty to commence studies in January 2018. Scholarships are available to the value of R 420 000.00 over three years.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Collaborative research, supervision and exchange will be encouraged through the Partnership for Africa's Next Generation of Academics (PANGeA) involving leading universities across Africa.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Further information on the partially structured doctoral scholarship programme, eligibility and selection criteria, and application process is available online at <a href="/graduateschool"></a></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>THE ​CLOSING DATE FOR APPLICATIONS IS 25 AUGUST 2017.</strong></p>
SU Chamber Choir completes hugely successful Hong Kong tour SU Chamber Choir completes hugely successful Hong Kong tourFiona Grayer<p><span style="text-align:justify;">The</span><span style="text-align:justify;"> </span><span style="text-align:justify;">Stellenbosch University Chamber Choir (SUCC) has just returned from a hugely successful tour to Hong Kong. The choir was invited as Artist Choir in Residence</span><span style="text-align:justify;"> </span><span style="text-align:justify;">to </span><span style="text-align:justify;">the 2017 World Youth & Children's Choir Festival</span><span lang="EN-GB" style="text-align:justify;text-decoration-line:line-through;"> </span><span style="text-align:justify;">which took place from 17-22 July 2017</span><span style="text-align:justify;">. An invitation of this nature can be considered both a great and rare honour.</span><br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The World Youth and Children's Choir Festival is one of the most important choral festivals in the world, and attracts 200 participating choirs from across the globe. SUCC's concerts were listened to by around 5000 participants and performances were live-streamed worldwide. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Founded and conducted by Martin Berger, this young ensemble has developed into one of South Africa's leading chamber choirs: internationally respected and locally relevant. With the diversity of its repertoire, SUCC represents the variety of choral music styles to be found in the country.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The choir performed at the Opening Ceremony of the festival on 18 July, a full evening concert on 19 July and also at the 20<sup>th</sup> Anniversary Celebration Concert of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.  All performances were received with overwhelming enthusiasm from the audience.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">SUCC was honoured by the presence and support of the South African Consul-General to Hong Kong, Mr Madoda Ntshinga, at both the Opening Ceremony and the full evening concert. He commended the choir on “…raising the South African flag even much higher as true ambassadors of our country." <br></p>
Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela receives third honorary doctorate Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela receives third honorary doctorateCorporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie [Alec Basson]<p>​Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Research Chair in Studies in Historical Trauma and Transformation at Stellenbosch University (SU), received an honorary doctorate from Rhodes University in Grahamstown on Friday (12 April 2019). This was her third honorary degree after having been honoured in similar fashion by Holy Cross College in Massachusetts, USA and Friedlich Shiller University Jena in Germany. <br></p><p>Gobodo-Madikizela, an alumna of Rhodes University, received the degree Doctor of Laws (LLD), honoris causa, for her trailblazing work to research topics such as guilt, remorse, forgiveness, the dialogue between perpetrators and victims as well as the way in which trauma is experienced by individuals and in political systems. <br></p><p>Rhodes University praised her for her contribution to trauma research and her efforts to relay the stories of victims, to humanise offenders and to bring a message of hope, empathy, dialogue, forgiveness and reconciliation to a society characterised by violence and trauma. <br></p><p>In her <a href="/english/Documents/newsclips/A%20New%20Vision%20of%20the%20Postclolonial%20-%20Rhodes%20Award.pdf" style="text-decoration:underline;"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style="text-decoration:underline;"><strong>acceptance speech</strong></span>​</a>, Gobodo-Madikizela expressed her gratitude for the honour bestowed upon her. She said she was fully aware of the honour and challenge locked up in this award that came from a university that encouraged his alumni to lead and to be torchbearers. She encouraged the graduands to take up their places as leaders in society and to campaign for justice and equity. <br></p><p>This is the third time that Gobodo-Madikizela was honoured by Rhodes University. She received the institution's Social Change and Distinguished Old Rhodian Award in 2010 and 2017 respectively. </p><p>She was a member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Human Rights Violations Committee. She has received several international and national awards and the National Research Foundation has acknowledged her as a researcher of high international standing.<br></p><p>Since 2017, Gobodo-Madikizela has been serving as research advisor and global academic at the Queen's University in Belfast. This position is affiliated to the Senator George Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice where she holds a World Leading Researcher Professorship. <br></p><p>Gobodo-Madikizela also held research fellowships at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard Kennedy School's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy and the Claude Ake Visiting Chair, a collaboration between the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at the Uppsala University in Sweden and the Nordic Africa Institute. <br></p><p>Profs George Ellis, Ian Scott, Glenda Gray and Ms Okunike Monica Okundaye-Davis also received honorary doctorates at the same graduation ceremony in Grahamstown. SU awarded an honorary degree to Gray in 2017. <br></p><p><strong>Photo</strong>: Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela receiving her honorary doctorate from Dr Adele Moodly, Registrar of Rhodes University.<br></p><ul><li>The University of Cape Town will award an honorary doctoral degree to Prof Jonathan Jansen, Distinguished Professor at SU's Faculty of Education, in December 2019. <br></li></ul><p><br></p>
Genetic make-up plays hidden role in our development make-up plays hidden role in our developmentXanthe Hunt and Lynne Rippenaar-Moses<p style="text-align:justify;">While we are all well aware of how our genetic make-up influences a host of individual characteristics, a study conducted by Prof Mark Tomlinson of the Psychology Department at Stellenbosch University, has now revealed a large, hidden role that a child's genetic make-up can play in intervention efforts to maximise his or her development.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The study, which will be published on 28 February in <em>PLoS Medicine, </em>was funded  by the Government of Canada through Grand Challenges Canada's Saving Brains programme and sheds new light on why some children benefit more than others from interventions. It also raises complex questions about psychosocial intervention programmes in future. </p><p>Grand Challenges Canada is dedicated to supporting Bold Ideas with Big Impact® in global health and is funded by the Government of Canada and supports innovators in low- and middle-income countries and in Canada.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"These findings provide the tantalising possibility of being able to better focus intervention efforts to ensure that everybody receives the appropriate interventions that they need to optimise the development of their children," says Principal Investigator Tomlinson who conducted the study in collaboration with other colleagues from Stellenbosch University, University of Cape Town, University of Reading (UK), the University College London, and Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">In the original study an intervention was implemented between 1999 and 2003 in which expectant mothers received a home-visiting parenting intervention to improve attachment with their children.  Attachment was used as a measure of a child's psychological security and is predictive of future well-being.  In that study Tomlinson, together with colleagues from the University of Reading, the University of Cape Town and the Parent Centre, found that the intervention had a small-to-moderate effect on mother-child attachment, which was evaluated once the child reached 18 months of age. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The follow-up study, conducted nine years later, re-examined the original attachment results and revealed something surprising.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"The intervention had in fact worked well for toddlers who had a particular genetic characteristic," says Tomlinson.  </p><p style="text-align:justify;">In the follow-up study, caregivers and their children were re-enrolled and the original attachment results were re-analysed based on whether the child had the short or long form of gene SLC6A4.  </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"This enabled the investigators to test whether the original attachment outcomes were influenced by a gene-intervention interaction," says Tomlinson.  </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The researchers factored in whether the child had the short or long form of gene SLC6A4 — the serotonin transporter gene, which is involved in nerve signalling, and which other studies have linked to anxiety and depression. Serotonin is popularly thought to contribute to feelings of well-being and happiness. Previous studies have also shown that individuals with the short form of SLC6A4 are generally more sensitive or 'susceptible' to psychosocial interventions, in other words, they benefit when they get it, and do not benefit or actively suffer harm when they do not get it. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The attachment of children with the short form of the gene, and whose pregnant mothers received the intervention, were almost four times more likely to be securely attached to their mothers at 18 months old (84%) than children carrying the short form whose mothers did not receive home visits (58%). </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Meanwhile, children with the long form of the gene were apparently unaffected by their mother's training or lack thereof: in both cases, the children's rates of secure attachment were almost identical (70 and 71% percent).  According to lead author Dr Barak Morgan this "may mean that this group of children appear less susceptible and derived little benefit from the same intervention, and little detriment from not getting it".  </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"Our findings are subject to further validation," says Tomlinson "but the insight has important implications for scientists designing and evaluating interventions to benefit as many people as possible in South Africa and worldwide. Without taking genetics into account, it is possible that other studies have underestimated the impact of their interventions, as we originally did." </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"This is an enormously important insight because, in this case, the subgroup with the short form of the SLC6A4 gene is also the one with the most to lose if not helped," says Morgan.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Indeed, separating the effects of an intervention on different subgroups will allow researchers to better detect when interventions work, and for whom.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Adds Professor Tomlinson: "In the original study, we did not see such a big impact from this intervention because only those with the short gene improved, and this improvement was 'diluted' by the large number of children with the long gene who did not improve."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Tomlinson cautions that, among other limitations, this study involved a relatively small sample and only measured one gene and one outcome – in this case, attachment. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"Going forward, the implications are therefore two-fold. Firstly, measuring genetic differences will allow for proper assessment of the effectiveness or lack of effectiveness of an intervention for a particular outcome in different individuals. Secondly, this information can then be used to find out how to intervene effectively for all – to guide what might be done to improve outcomes for a non-responsive gene-intervention interaction while continuing to optimise outcomes for the responsive one."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Commenting on the findings, Dr Karlee Silver, Vice President: Programs at Grand Challenges Canada says: "This work is fundamentally about better understanding the impact of interventions and shows that some outreach efforts may be much more effective than we thought, especially for those for which it matters most — for children most susceptible to harm from poverty, poor nutrition and other adverse conditions."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"This is an important step forward to creating a world where every child can survive and thrive."</p>