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Social Work Department celebrates World Social Work Dayhttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=4356Social Work Department celebrates World Social Work DayLynne Rippenaar-Moses<p style="text-align:justify;">Earlier this year, the Social Work Department celebrated World Social Work Day 2016 (WSWD) along with a number of institutions across the world who also focus on the social work profession. WSWD is celebrated annually on the second Tuesday of March. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">By participating in this event, social workers are able to express international solidarity and bring common messages to governments, regional bodies and to the communities they serve. The theme for this and last year's WSWD was selected from the <a href="http://ifsw.org/get-involved/agenda-for-social-work/">Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development</a>. The Agenda was formulated in 2010 by social worker practitioners, educators and development workers at a meeting in Hong Kong in 2010 and reaffirmed "the need [for persons working within this profession] to organise around  major and relevant social issues that connect within and across" their professions. The Agenda consists of four themes which are focused on promoting social and economic equalities; promoting the dignity and worth of peoples; working towards environmental sustainability; and strengthening recognition of the importance of human relationships. Each theme is focused on for two consecutive years, with 2016 marking the second year that WSWD has centered its activities on Promoting the Dignity and Worth of Peoples.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"As staff members of the Social Work Department we take great pride in being social workers ourselves and even more so being an integral part of training and shaping the minds of our students to become excellent social workers. At our university we are in the privileged position be able to allow our students to make a social work impact on real clients, with real needs in real communities, from the first year of their studies in a manner that promotes the dignity and worth of people," said Ms Tasneemah Cornelissen-Nordien, a lecturer in the Social Work Department. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Department celebrated the day with a number of activities, amongst them a talk for first-year students which was presented by International Master's degree student, Sever Altunay, from Gothenburg University in Sweden and focused on the Impact of the Global Agenda for Social Work. Fourth-year students were also able to participate in an academic discussion with students in a postgraduate social work class from Coventry University in the United Kingdom through a video-conferencing session via Skype and shared their experiences of social work in the two countries. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Dr Gary Spolander, a guest lecturer from Conventry University, presented a lecture to all social work students and staff based at Stellenbosch University. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"This lecture stimulated insightful self-reflection and debates with others and aimed to motivate the social workers to continue to achieve great things within society, to not only make a difference in the lives of the individuals to whom services are rendered, but to work towards making an impact on government policy, to having the voices of social workers heard in parliament, and to striving towards making a difference on the political front in our country. WSWD 2016 yet again reminded the social work profession of its ethical responsibility to make politicians and government aware of the apparent ethical unawareness by which our country is currently being governed. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">On the day, the top achievers for 2015 were also recognised and were presented with certificates for their academic achievement in Social Work. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"This day allowed our department to unite for human dignity and reminded us of our courage, strength, passion and will to make a difference in the lives of others," said Mr Zibonele Zimba, a lecturer in the Social Work Department.</p>
Swartz receives ASSAf medal for science in service of society https://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6812Swartz receives ASSAf medal for science in service of society Lynne Rippenaar-Moses<p>​​​​​<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Over the last decade disability studies as an academic discipline in Africa, particularly South Africa, has developed extensively, in no small part due to the commitment of Prof Leslie Swartz, a distinguished Professor of Psychology at Stellenbosch University (SU) with an interest in mental health and disability studies.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">On Wednesday night Swartz, who is considered one of the most prolific and influential scholars in the field, was recognised by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) for his dedication to developing disability studies when he received the prestigious Science-for-Society Gold Medal for 2019. According to ASSAf, the medal was awarded to Swartz for “excellence in the application of outstanding scientific thinking in the service of society". </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Swartz is the only academic in South Africa to receive a medal this year. The medal was bestowed on Swartz by Prof Jonathan Jansen, the President of ASSAf at the ASSAf Awards Ceremony held at The Capital Hotel-Menlyn Maine in Pretoria on Wednesday night. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">For Swartz it was always inevitable that disability studies, an interdisciplinary field concerned with how and why disability inequality happens and is maintained in the world, would be one of his research focus areas. The first clue came in the form of his 2010 memoir, <em>Able-Bodied: Scenes from a curious life</em>, which chronicles his relationship with his disabled father, yet explores disability from an academic perspective too. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Swartz has not only concentrated on the development of disability studies, but has published over 250 articles in a range of international journals such as the <em>Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society,</em><em> </em>and <em>PLoS One.</em><em> </em>He has also served as the Founding Editor-in-Chief of the <em>African Journal of Disability</em><em> </em>up to 2018 and is the Associate Editor for the international journals, <em>Transcultural Psychiatry</em><em> </em>and <em>International Journal of Disability, Development and Education</em>. Under his leadership, the <em>African Journal of Disability</em><em> </em>became a PubMed and SCOPUS indexed journal which is now a key player in the disability studies field internationally. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">He is a Core member of the African Network for Evidence-to-Action in Disability (AfriNEAD), which is headed by Prof Gubela Mji, Head of the Centre for Rehabilitation Studies in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. AfriNEAD links disability scholars across the Africa, and also works with those from more economically developed countries like Norway, the United Kingdom and Canada. He is a Global Advisor to the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University.  He is also an International Advisory Board member of the Movement for Global Mental Health, “a virtual network of individuals and organisations that aim to improve services for people living with mental health problems and psychosocial disabilities in low and middle income countries across the world". </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Swartz has also won many awards, amongst them the Stellenbosch University Chancellor's Award, and the Stals Prize for contributions to psychology from the SA Academy for Science and Arts. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Over the years, he has supervised more than 40 doctoral candidates, many of them disabled, black, or women candidates. Recently Swartz's ongoing project to mainstream disability issues into civil society in South Africa, which saw him receive funding from the NRF for a series of public engagements around disability and citizenship in South Africa, culminated in the book, the <em>Palgrave Handbook of Disability and Citizenship in the Global South</em>, which he co-edited. Other books he has co-edited include <em>Disability and social change: A South African agenda</em>(2006), <em>Searching for dignity: Conversations on human dignity, theology and disability</em><em> </em>(2013), and <em>Transformation through occupation</em><em> </em>(2004), which is widely credited with helping develop a social justice and public health approach to occupational therapy in South Africa and globally.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Prof Swartz has played a leading role in developing the field of disability studies in South Africa, but has been dedicated in his drive to develop research capacity in people previously excluded from the academy and to making principles of scientific engagement accessible to the broader community. For this reason, he is sought after as an academic mentor and contributes regularly to the training of more junior researchers at a range of South African universities. His work is also regularly prescribed in academic courses in South Africa in psychology and other disciplines." said Dr Therina Theron, Senior Director: Research and Innovation at SU.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">She applauded him for the central role he has played in diversifying the academy and as an activist “who takes scientific community engagement and linkages seriously". This has led to Swartz working with the Cape Town Holocaust Centre in 2018 and 2019. He presented a two-seminar series on disability and human rights as part of the travelling exhibition, <em>Deadly Medicine</em>: <em>Creating the Master Race</em>,produced by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and presented by the South African Holocaust and Genocide Foundation in South Africa. The exhibition focused on the abuse and murder of disabled people during the Holocaust and the links between these practices, eugenics in South Africa, and contemporary concerns. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Swartz has also given back to communities in need by offering free consultation services to those individuals who require therapy and is currently supervising the first ever prevalence study of mental health issues amongst Deaf children conducted on the African continent. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Speaking at the ceremony, Swartz said: “I am very grateful for this award, and I am deeply honoured. I would not have been granted this award without the help and support of my family, my students and colleagues, and without the many many people who have had the patience and generosity to allow me into their lives as part of my research and scholarly work."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Stellenbosch University is a very supportive environment for me, and I am especially grateful for years of patient help from the Division of Research Development, the University library, and many others."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Swartz added that he was acutely aware of how privileged he has been to have worked with and alongside disabled South Africans and Africans from further afield to inform and expand his research in disability studies.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“They had good reason to mistrust me as a white, non-disabled South African male researcher, yet have given me the benefit of many legitimate doubts, and have allowed me to work with them. If this award is about anything, it is about the opportunities we all have to make a more inclusive world for everyone."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“I would like to encourage all researchers, regardless of discipline, to think about how their work can include people with bodies and minds which are not the norm, but which are every bit as valuable as other bodies and minds. We cannot do diversity or decolonise our universities without making all our work accessible to all – and this includes people with disabilities of all kinds.  </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Added Swartz: “Diversity, which includes disability participation at all levels, and accommodation of difference, will make our world, as the disability studies scholar Rosemarie Garland-Thomson puts it, more habitable for us all."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><em>Photo: Prof Leslie Swartz (middle) received the p</em><em>restigious Science-for-Society Gold Medal for 2019 from ASSAf at an awards ceremony held in Pretoria last night. Here he is with Prof Jonathan Jansen (right), President of ASSAf, and Prof Eugene Cloete, Vice-Rector: Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies at SU. (Supplied by ASSAf)</em></p>
Doctoral candidate in English Department wins 2018 Ingrid Jonker Prize https://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5657Doctoral candidate in English Department wins 2018 Ingrid Jonker Prize Lynne Rippenaar-Moses<p style="text-align:justify;">Mrs Sindiswa Busuku-Mathese has won the 2018 Ingrid Jonker Prize for her debut poetry collection, <em>Loud and Yellow Laughter.</em><em> </em>The prize is given in alternate years to the best debut poetry collection in English or Afrikaans. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Winning the Ingrid Jonker Prize is an honour. It is a significant literary acknowledgement and a wonderful celebration of the collection. There are so many great poets who have won the Ingrid Jonker Prize in previous years, poets that I strongly admire – it's wonderful to be part of that poetic family tree. I'm very grateful to the amazing Prof Kobus Moolman who was my supervisor for <em>Loud and Yellow Laughter</em>. I'm also thankful for the incredible support shown to me by Prof Sally-Ann Murray and the English Department," said Busuku-Mathese, who is a completing a PhD in the English Department on a three-year full-time scholarship offered by the Graduate School.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"><em>Loud and Yellow Laughter</em>, which was published by Botsotso in 2016, is Busuku-Mathese's first volume of poetry.  Prior to  its publication, various individual poems from the collection appeared  in local and international poetry journals such as <em>New Coin</em>, <em>New Contrast, Prufrock, Ons Klyntji, Aerodrome, Illuminations</em><em> </em>and the <em>Unearthed Anthology.</em><em> </em>She also won second place in the 2015 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award and her collection was shortlisted for the 2016 University of Johannesburg Prize in the debut category.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The collection is a personal reflection on childhood," said Busuku-Mathese at the time of the book's launch. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">​According to her, the poems in the collection are woven together with archival materials such as letters, photographs, scraps of conversations recorded verbatim and found notes. She also uses dramatic techniques such as character lists and stage directions, highlighting the text's re-enactment of pre-existing events between the main characters: The Mother, The Father and The Girl Child. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">As the adopted daughter of a man from Yorkshire, Britain and the biological daughter of a woman from Mount Fletcher, Eastern Cape, Busuku-Mathese says her childhood was anything but conventional if measured against traditional standards. Her poetry collection is also a creative memorial to her adoptive father, she says, who passed away when she was only 13 years old. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"The poetry collection looks at family and intergenerational discussions about parenting and childhood in South Africa, as well as topics of adoption and (un)belonging, and generational slippages that arise within families," she explains. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"It is linked to my own background and very personal."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">By delving into her mother's and father's pasts and the growth of their relationship – a parenting agreement  between two friends – Busuku-Mathese explores her own identity as a South African through her writings by mixing auto/biography, elegy and documentary collage to explore the intersections between history and fiction.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">She hopes that the collection will contribute to discussions around various forms of identity in South Africa and help introduce alternative narratives and voices in that space, making them more visible.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"Issues of identity are both social  and personal, I think it is an important discussion to have in this country in particular considering how diverse our country is and how varied our experiences are of what it means to be South African. That is a conversation that I believe we are still grappling with and watching unfold as South Africans as we are pulled in different directions. My poetry explores what it means to be brought up in a home that is not stereotypical and to be young and struggling with the liminal space between two parents who represent radically different worlds." </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The collection however does not treat the alternative to traditional family structures as abnormal or as a spectacle.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"That was always my intention, to present an alternative to the traditional;  a view of a different form of parenting even while I do  not  want to make it seem strange. The collection affirms that normal is not always traditional and that there are different distinctions of that. At the end of the day, it is my hope that my collection contributes to conversations about our complex  forms of South Africanness."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Sindiswa has exceptional creative gifts and a wonderful appetite for ideas. I believe that inherent talent, hard work and ongoing mentoring will see her go from strength-to-strength as a writer. She's already off to an outstanding start, and we're inspired by her achievements," says Prof. Sally-Ann Murray, Chair of the English Department. </p><p style="text-align:justify;"><em>Loud and Yellow Laughter</em><em> </em>can be purchased for R80 from Botsotso. Contact them  at <a href="mailto:botsotso@artslink.co.za"><span lang="EN-US" style="text-decoration:underline;">botsotso@artslink.co.za</span></a>or e-mail Sindiswa Busuku-Mathese directly at <a href="mailto:sindi.busuku@gmail.com"><span lang="EN-US" style="text-decoration:underline;">sindi.busuku@gmail.com</span></a>to get your copy.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><em>Photo: Mrs Sindiswa Busuku-Mathese recently received the 2018 Ingrid Jonker Prize for her poetry collection,</em><em> </em>Loud and Yellow Laughter. <em>(Anton Jordaan, SSFD)</em></p>
Making history? Untold stories see the light thanks to R11.7m granthttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5226Making history? Untold stories see the light thanks to R11.7m grantDevelopment & Alumni / Ontwikkeling & Alumni<p>The untold stories of South Africans who were overlooked in the past and bypassed by history are set to see the light thanks to a new project settled within Stellenbosch University's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. This project, named the <em>Biography of an Uncharted People</em>, has just received a financial injection of R11.7m, spread out over the next five years, from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.</p><p>The project involves delving into the treasure trove of historical data of South Africans, especially black citizens, transcribing large numbers of historical microdata and is a first attempt to bring to light histories of families that were overlooked in the past. </p><p>"The good news is that historical records in digital format are rapidly becoming more available, but the bad news is that the stories these sources can tell remain untold," says project leader and associate professor, Johan Fourie. "Now we have funding to transcribe and analyse these records so as to be able to tell these stories."</p><p>According to Fourie, the project will contribute to the expansion of the Digital Humanities. He says Digital Humanities operates at the intersection of the humanities and computing. Scholars using the methods of the Digital Humanities can make use of a variety of tools, from algorithms that help with textual analysis, to image recognition, to big data techniques. They can digitise and transcribe large databases and analyse individuals' characteristics and behaviour. In the absence of other microdata of South Africans, particularly black citizens, who were often excluded from censuses and reports and underrepresented in other types of archival records such as personal collections of letters, individual-level records are a treasure trove of information about the economic, social, demographic, health, labour, genealogical and migration histories of the Cape Colony and South Africa. </p><p><strong>Contribute to debates in South African history </strong></p><p>Besides transcribing and disseminating these datasets, the project will also begin to analyse the information systematically in order to contribute to debates in South African history. In addition to the research topics to be undertaken by five masters and five honours students, five flagship projects for PhD students have been identified. These sources and the methods of the Digital Humanities will also be introduced into undergraduate and graduate teaching curricula. This will equip a new generation of historians to engage critically with primary sources and large amounts of quantitative and qualitative evidence. </p><p>Fourie says because the apartheid system handicapped South Africa by imposing on it a higher education system designed to maintain social and economic inequalities of race, class, gender, region and institution, this project is also an attempt to narrow the methodological divergence that have occurred in the discipline. </p><p>"We see historical privilege or disadvantage reflected in students' varying ability to work with large sets of quantitative and qualitative historical evidence using technological tools. This project aims to remove the handicaps and produce young scholars skilled in the Digital Humanities and able to teach the next generation," he says. </p><p>Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of SU, says the University is grateful for The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's continued support to the development of social science and humanities research and knowledge creation and hope to continue this cooperation in future.</p><p>"This initiative clearly addresses our institutional strategy with regard to research in the social sciences and humanities as well as the crucial element of capacity development of young researchers, including those from designated groups. This trans-disciplinary project supports and will contribute significantly to the establishment and development of the Digital Humanities in the Faculty. </p><p>"Furthermore, this project will initiate and anchor a new methodology in the Department of History. It will have an impact on teaching, learning and research and open up opportunities for the motivation of future academic appointments in this field of research and teaching," he adds. </p><p>The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has a longstanding relationship with SU and endeavours to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies. To this end, the Foundation supports exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work. </p><p><strong>On the web: </strong></p><ul><li><a href="https://unchartedpeople.org/">https://unchartedpeople.org/</a></li><li><a href="https://mellon.org/">https://mellon.org/</a><br></li></ul><p> <em>Photo: Project leader, Prof Johan Fourie. </em><br></p><p><br></p>
Prof Lindy Heinecken appointed as President of international committeehttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5890Prof Lindy Heinecken appointed as President of international committeeLynne Rippenaar-Moses<p>​​</p><p style="text-align:justify;">​Prof Lindy Heinecken, one of the leading military sociologists in South Africa from the Sociology and Social Anthropology Department at Stellenbosch University, was recently appointed as the President of the International Sociological Association's (ISA) Armed Forces and Conflict Resolution Research Committee (RC01) for a three-year term. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The RC01 aims to “develop professional contacts between sociologists of armed forces and conflict resolution throughout the world; encourage the international exchange of research findings, theoretical developments, and methodologies in the sociology of armed forces; promote the teaching of course materials dealing with armed forces and conflict resolution at undergraduate and postgraduate levels; and promote international meetings and research collaboration in the field".  The committee has just under 200 members and is the most representative scholarly body on studying armed forces in society, with members from Eastern Europe, Asia, Europe and America. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">On her election as President of RC01 she says: “I did not expect this at all." <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Heinecken is based in one of the few sociology departments in South Africa to do research and teaching in military sociology and her work has also earned her certification by the ISA Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology as a registered Certified Sociological Practitioner.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“It is really a great honour to be elected as president of one of ISA's research committees because it doesn't just broaden your networks within the field of military sociology, but offers the chance to interact with presidents of other research committees of the International Sociological Association." <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Heinecken has been involved in ISA for the last 10 years, serving on the Executive Committee of RC01 and as the Programme Coordinator for the Association's World Congress of Sociology for RC01, which was held in Canada from 15 to 21 July.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">She says that she will focus quite strongly on “steering the RCO1 in a specific direction by showing how sociological theory informs research and practice and how this has influenced policy and decision-making".  <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">This is after all a research field she has been immersed in for over three decades. As one of the leading experts on the military, Heinecken has worked as a researcher at the Centre for Military Studies (CEMIS) at the South African Military Academy, taking over as Deputy Director and Senior Researcher in 1996 up to 2006. She also served on the Council of the South African Sociological Association (SASA), on the Board of the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society and serves on the editorial board of the Armed Forces and Society Journal and Scientia Militaria, South African Journal of Military Studies.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Her inaugural lecture, which took place in 2014, focused on <em>The Military, War and Society: The Achilles Heel of Sociology and the Need for Reflection</em><em> </em>and highlights some of the matters that Heinecken refers to. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The study of the military, war and society remains at the fringes of the sociology discipline and is often invisible to students of sociology. This is despite the fact that war continues to have a profound effect on humankind, not least on our own continent where violent conflict continues to undermine human security and development. It therefore comes as no surprise that the theme of the ISA 2018 conference was on Power, Violence and Social Justice, which emphasised the importance of sociologists to pay more attention to the study of violence and armed conflict in the world today." </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Given this focus, and her role in RC01, she has secured that the RC01 Armed Conflict and Conflict Resolution Conference will be held in Stellenbosch in 2020. The intention is to attract leading African scholars to this event in order to discuss the effect of war on society and means and methods of conflict resolution.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">According to Heinecken, the RCO1 has made significant progress with regards to the study of the military in society. It has produced a number of valuable collaborative and international studies on the military that have become a rich source of information, not only for academics and policy makers, but military practitioners as well. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The research shared through the ISA journals are an important source to help academics and policy makers understand what is happening within the international military arena and how different countries deal with different military-related matters. Heinecken is due to publish her own book, titled <em>South Africa's post-apartheid military: Lost in Transition and Transformation</em>, which addresses the challenges that the military has faced adapting to the new security, political, legal and social environment.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><em>Photo: Prof Linday Heinecken with Prof Marina Nuciari from Italy with a recent publication titled</em><em> </em>The Handbook of Sociology of the Military<em>which includes the contributions of RCO1 scholars. (Supplied)</em></p>
World Social Work Day allows social workers to take a deeper look at their professionhttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5552World Social Work Day allows social workers to take a deeper look at their professionLynne Rippenaar-Moses<p style="text-align:justify;">​​ World Social Work Day is celebrated across the globe on 20 March each year. This year, in celebration of the international day of recognition, the Social Work department in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences hosted a talk by Dr Abigail Ornellas entitled <em>'These clothes don't fit us anymore!' – Expanding Your Idea of Social Work</em>.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The talk forms part of a number of events being hosted by the department in celebration of the university's centenary year.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The theme of World Social Work Day is promoting community and environment sustainability – these are big topics, and topics that social workers can at times shy away from, or limit themselves to certain areas with the belief that this is as far as their impact or reach can go," said Ornellas, who has just completed her doctoral degree in Social Work at Stellenbosch University (SU). (Read her full story <a href="/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5542%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8B">here</a>.)<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“However, through my experience and research I have found that the social work profession is both capable of, and responsible for, a much grander vision than I believe we sometimes allow for ourselves."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">For this reason, Ornellas wants to challenge social workers to “go further and be bold in their right and responsibility to tackle politics, economics and macro-scale challenges" and to engage with policies and government structures to make a far bigger impact on society.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">She encouraged social workers to start thinking of their field as a professional one, where they are capable of bringing about change at a higher level and not only on the ground.  </p><p style="text-align:justify;">During her talk she highlighted how the revised global definition of social work of 2014 calls upon social workers to “go beyond the individualistic approach we have been too long comfortable with, and to consider the collective and the structural causes of individual challenges".</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“In particular, I often refer to a need to understand the impact of economic and political theory and landscape on our profession – to critically question the intervention activities we undertake and ask, “Why? Why this way? For what and toward what?," said Ornellas.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">For the last few years, Ornellas has been focusing on expanding her research knowledge of social work and building up her expertise. Currently, she is a postdoctoral research fellow of the Social Work department at SU. Before completing her doctoral degree at the university, she spent some time travelling as a full-time research associate for the department across 11 countries. This expedition was funded thanks to two EU International Research Staff Exchange Schemes. Over the years her work has also been published in more than seven scientific international publications and she has lectured and presented at conferences in South Africa, Portugal, Italy, Spain, England, South Korea, Russia, Finland and India.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">While she did not work as a social worker following her studies, the degree programme in the department is set up in such a manner that students gain extensive practical work experience in both child and family welfare as well as clinical social work.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">It is these experiences during her Masters studies, she said, that led her to the concept of deinstitutionalisation.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“It was my work experience at a local state hospital in my final year that really propelled me into research as I became aware of the role of policy and socio-political dynamics in social work practice – which could limit or free the profession to fulfil the mandate of the global definition. My work was concentrated in the psychiatric ward, and at the time South Africa was undergoing a transition toward deinstitutionalisation of mental health care. This where institutional psychiatric facilities are shut down and mental health care is shifted to community-based initiatives," explained Ornella.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“This sounded like a noble idea," said Ornellas, “but when implemented in a neoliberal (a policy model favouring free-market capitalism) environment, it is very much a cost-saving exercise that frees the state from the expense of mental health care, turning this responsibility over to civil society without sufficient community development and support or facilities."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">It is one of the main reasons, she said, that the Life Esidimeni tragedy took place. In 2016, the decision to move patients from Life Esidimeni, a state-run facility, to a number of NGOs that were ill prepared to accommodate these patients led the deaths of 144 vulnerable patients.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Some of the conversations I had with social workers attempting to navigate this shift and assist vulnerable groups affected by deinstitutionalisation still haunt me today. They felt they were hitting out against a solid brick wall. The frustration and desperation was concrete. It made me realise that social work research had a role to play in challenging the structural systems that hinder social workers on the ground," added Ornellas.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“What I have come to realise," she said quoting from research she conducted with Prof Lambert Engelbrecht of the Social Work department at SU and Dr Gary Spolander  from Coventry University in the UK, “is that unless social work is able to correctly identify the nature and causes of social distress, it will be unable to recommend and support appropriate interventions."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“That said, I am deeply aware of the limitations in my understanding, as an academic. I am not facing what they face. But my commitment in my academic endeavours is to social workers grappling with these challenges. It's why my doctoral thesis highlighted the need to move outside of the small academic periphery, into unpacking and showcasing the views of frontline social workers," she said.  </p><p style="text-align:justify;">What she does know, said Ornellas, is that “social work has a critical role [to play] in the current neoliberal and globalisation debate and should not just acquiesce to priorities such as budgetary constraints and premises that one cannot make a difference beyond helping those on the ground. It also plays a critical role in challenging policies of current regimes that do not work.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Social work should use research, pedagogy and critical voice to support it in facilitating social change, development, cohesion and social stability, as well as the empowerment and liberation of people."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">She encouraged the up-and-coming social work students to feel “empowered in their role and profession and to “truly be committed to social justice in its entirety rather than being an instrument or bystander to someone else's agenda and also touched on the need to “decolonise social work training from its Western colonialist, capitalist and neoliberal underpinnings".</p><p style="text-align:justify;">While she may not have practised as a social worker, Ornellas has intimate knowledge of the child welfare system. As a young child Ornellas and her twin brother often found themselves in foster care as their mom, who tried in vain to deal with a mental illness, struggled to raise Abigail and her brother.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“My biological mother wanted to take care of us but it wasn't easy for her and we would often need to be moved into places of safety. I have always been grateful to her for finally making the decision to give us over to another family permanently. We were adopted when we were almost five years old by an amazing South African family of musicians – they have been an incredible support system and really are some of the best people I know. The experience was hard and certainly there have been things I have needed to work through as an adult, but I wouldn't really change things. It certainly has made me a better social worker. But it is only one part of my story and there is so much more that has shaped me and my love for this profession. I try not to make it the central focus."</p><p>It is one of the reasons that led her to social work in the end, she told the audience.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“My first experience of social work was when I was in foster care as a child and so I have always believed it to be important – in my world, it's always been quite large and meaningful and it played a significant role in bringing me to where I am today, so I have a deep respect for it. As I went further into my studies, the more I learnt, read and witnessed, the more I believed this profession was even bigger than I had initially imagined in terms of its impact potential and role in society. Though the practice of social work is something I deeply love and wish to engage in in the near future, it was the profession itself, the people, the concept, that really grabbed me. This was something I wanted to be a part of."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Today as the world focuses on World Social Work Day, Ornellas hopes that the day is not only celebrated as a day for social workers to reflect on the “collective mandate into which our day-to-day practice falls , but that the day also implores us to think bigger, reinvigorates our commitment on days we struggle to remember why we do what we do and if we make any difference. It also encourages us to remember our strength and value as a profession – we are a globally collective body that plays such a massively significant role in societal wellbeing."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“In a country like South Africa, we need to know what our society needs and whether we are meeting those needs and if not, what needs to happen in terms of structural barriers for us to meet those needs. There are a lot of professions doing therapy work but there are not a lot of professions like social work, that engages with the macro aspects of the social systems that lead to social ills."</p><p><em>Photo: Dr Abigail Ornellas was the guest speaker at the World Social Work Day event of the Social Work department at Stellenbosch University. (Lynne Rippenaar-Moses) </em></p>
Social workers have become the foot soldiers working to mend broken societieshttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5503Social workers have become the foot soldiers working to mend broken societiesLynne Rippenaar-Moses<p style="text-align:justify;">In a country where violent crime has become part of the norm, where rape and sexual assault is reported to be of the highest in the world and where many South Africans live in abject poverty, social workers have become the foot soldiers working on the ground to combat the social issues that arise from these societal problems. For Professor Lambert Engelbrecht, an Associate Professor in social work and chair of the Social Work Department at Stellenbosch University, social workers have become essential in the fight to protect the most vulnerable in society. But, while this is the case, their quest is not an easy one with many having to work in a system that often do not provide them with the resources needed to make the impact they would like to.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">This is something that Engelbrecht has seen in his own research over the years. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“My research during my Masters and doctoral studies focused on the supervision and management within the social work discipline and thanks to the papers that followed from that research, I participated in the Marie Skłodowska Curie International Research and Staff Exchange Scheme (IRSES) where I became involved in projects where we studied the financial philosophy of business principles applied in social work or what is referred to as neoliberalism and the impact of this in various countries. We also compared results between countries and the impact of this model of management on social work services," explains Engelbrecht. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The research was inspired by the realisation that ironically the individual was often overlooked in the social work environment. A recent example of such a case, still fresh in the memories of many South Africans, led to the death of at least 143 vulnerable patients who were moved from Life Esidimeni, a state-run facility, to a number of NGOs that were ill prepared to accommodate these patients. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“This is an example of how the Minister of Health tried to cut spending on persons with mental health problems but ended up doing so at the expense of the end user. The dehumanisation of vulnerable persons for the sake of financial sustainability showed that what may be considered to be better management principles that would lead to better services is often not what transpires in reality. Saving on costs is not always better for the client. This is also why I empathise with the protest marches by social workers in 2017 against the horrible working conditions they are exposed to because often what is just a political ball game at the top tend to impact extensively on those on the ground. There are many social workers out there with no telephones, computers or cars that are expected to deliver social services to the most vulnerable in our society."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">While Engelbrecht, who received the Stals Prize for Social Work from the South African Academy for Science and Arts in June 2017, no longer practices as a social worker, he has been pouring his expertise into research and educating up-and-coming social workers at the Social Work Department since 2003. Most of his time is spent focusing on the supervision and management of social workers and the training of social work students. This contribution as well as his work on the effects of neo-liberalism on social work service delivery is precisely why Engelbrecht received the Stals Prize. His research has already delivered more than 90 scientific outputs and he is highly regarded both locally and internationally. What makes this achievement even more unique, is the fact that Engelbrecht is only the third academic within the social work discipline to receive the prize, with one other scholar from the SU department, Prof Sulina Green, having received it in 2011. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Like the department's philosophy – “we cultivate thought leaders in social development" – Engelbrecht and his colleagues focus on equipping students to think three dimensional and holistically. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“In order to be prepared for what they will face in the field, we have to teach our students to think beyond assisting the most vulnerable or those with mental health issues, but to start looking at the structures within which they work and this involves understanding the micro and macro levels issues that impact on your industry and being able to engage with government at local and national level to bring about change.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“We find that a lot of social workers are caught up in the day-to-day activities and the many crises they have to deal with and that functioning at another level, for example engaging with donors or working on an awareness campaign in communities versus helping a neglected child that need help now, will always come second."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">However, says Engelbrecht, the way that funding is spent within social work structures require that one starts looking at it like a business too. This is the reason that students that enter their lecture halls are taught to also ask questions about conditions within the field and learn how to put pressure on government structures through policy and advocacy groups to ensure they support those in the trenches more effectively.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">At SU, about 100  new students register for a degree in social work each year with about 300 undergraduate and postgraduate students studying at the department at any given time.  In 2017 these students rendered social work services as part of their practice education to 43 welfare organisations where they were supervised by 45 social workers.  The students were involved in 94  community projects and facilitated 197 small groups.  They were also involved in intervention to 579 families and individuals, and mentored 90 vulnerable children. In addition the students completed 57 research projects. </p><p>“So as you can see, social work is an intensive course, because you are expected to do the work as you are learning about it." </p><p>Asked about the high levels of violence and in particular child murders that have become quite prevalent in South Africa, Engelbrecht admits that poverty still has a major impact on the social wellbeing of South Africans in underprivileged communities. It's something the students see on a daily basis too.  </p><p>“When there is poverty it can also lead to turmoil within families because when there is no money, people tend to escape by abusing alcohol and drugs. You also find that children are often without supervision in poor communities and older kids are recruited into gangs because of a lack of supervision. This is the case in many instances because parents can often not afford child care when they work and thus children are left in the care of slightly older siblings, neighbours or older family members like a grandmother or grandfather."</p><p>The students, says Engelbrecht are therefore prepared during their studies to the deal with the realities of South African society as far as possible. “They are confronted with both academic expectations and with emotional challenges that other students  are not necessarily facing."</p><p>“While people often feel sorry for social workers due to the kind of work they do for little compensation and also see it as a course that does not required much academic  capacity,  very few people realise that social work is not an easy programme to follow, that students are often expected to think critically from the first day they arrive in class, and that both the emotional and  academic requirements are extremely high. There is a high demand in the field for social work graduates from Stellenbosch University owing to our student attributes which results in thought leaders, engaged citizens, well-rounded individuals and dynamic professionals. Therefore, our focus of training is not just on social work in local, traditional welfare organisations, but we also prepare students to work in diverse industries, contexts and internationally. We are extremely proud of the fact that 80% of our Masters' students passed their external moderated research theses in 2017  cum laude."</p><p>For Engelbrecht, in spite of the fact that the social problems that social workers deal with can sometimes seem never ending, seeing the rewards of his efforts, be it through his work with students, through his research, or the time he spent in the field, has been the most satisfying aspect of his job. </p><p>One of those moments for Engelbrecht happened in the mid-eighties in his third year of undergraduate studies. While doing community work in Wellington, he set up an informal care group for elderly, disadvantaged  people in the town. A decade later, after he completed his studies,  the group had developed into a fully-fledged service centre with a meals-on-wheels service as well.   </p><p>“I started the club for the elderly with 20  persons from the community. Nella, one of the persons who attended the group, suggested that we call it Gemoedrus back then. Our aim was to look at the type of services that the elderly community needed and to try and get those services provided through Gemoedsrus service centre," says Engelbrecht who assisted the group with finding facilities and also helped them find resources they could access for the group. </p><p>“I look back on that and realise that sometimes one plants a small seed that grows into something enormous and that just being there at the beginning, making a small contribution made a difference in the lives of many people for generations to come."</p><p>The most important lesson he has learnt over the years, he says, is to learn to listen more than one speaks. </p><p>“When I do my research I realise that my achievements in social work is not my own, it is owing to the voices of the unheard that are being heard, and so even the Stals Prize is an award that I received through the contributions of many other people." </p><p><em>Photo: Prof Engelbrecht with the Stals Prize (middle) he received from the South African Academy for Science and Arts in June 2017. With him is (left) </em><em> Prof Wessel Pienaar (Chairperson of the South African Academy of Science and Arts) and the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Stellenbosch University, Prof Anthony Leysens. (Photo supplied)</em></p>
Mental Health Awareness Month: Improve access to affordable and effective treatmentshttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7739Mental Health Awareness Month: Improve access to affordable and effective treatmentsJason Bantjes & Soraya Seedat<p>October is Mental Health Awareness Month in South Africa and on Saturday (10 October) World Mental Health Day was observed. In opinion pieces for <em>Daily Maverick</em> and <em>Health24</em> respectively, Profs Jason Bantjes (Department of Psychology) and Soraya Seedat (Department of Psychiatry) highlight some of the main mental health challenges and how they could be addressed. Click on the links below to read the articles.<br></p><ul><li>Jason Bantjes (<a href="https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-10-06-theres-an-app-for-that-mental-health-treatment-has-come-a-long-way-since-the-days-of-lobotomies/"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style="">Daily Maverick</strong></a>)<br></li><li> Soraya Seedat (<a href="https://www.health24.com/Medical/Depression/News/opinion-world-mental-health-day-under-investment-in-mental-health-has-never-been-more-acutely-felt-20201010-3"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style="">Health24</strong></a>)</li></ul><p><br></p>
Ten SU finalists compete for SA’s ‘Science Oscars’ https://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7411Ten SU finalists compete for SA’s ‘Science Oscars’ Corporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie [Alec Basson]<p>​​Over the past few years, Stellenbosch University (SU) has featured prominently at the annual <a href="http://www.nstf.org.za/awards/about/"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)/ South32Awards</strong></a>. This year is no different with 10 SU finalists competing for the 2019/2020 NSTF/South32 Awards at South Africa's “Science Oscars". As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the announcement of the winners will take place through a live-streamed Gala Event on Thursday, 30 July 2020.</p><p>Regarded as the most sought-after national accolades of their kind in the country, the NSTF/South32 Awards recognise, celebrate and reward the outstanding contributions of individuals, teams and organisations to science, engineering and technology (SET) in the country. Among the competitors are experienced scientists, engineers, innovators, science communicators, engineering capacity builders, organisational managers and leaders, as well as data and research managers.<br></p><p>According to the organisers, it is an extraordinary honour to be a finalist given the quality of the nominations received every year, the fierce competition that nominees face and growing interest from the SET community over the years.<br></p><p>The SU finalists (with department or environment) and the categories in which they will compete are as follows:<br></p><p><em>Lifetime Award:</em></p><ul><li><strong>Prof Leslie Swartz </strong>(Department of Psychology)</li></ul><p><em>TW Kambule-NSTF Award: Researcher:</em></p><ul><li><strong>Prof Christine Lochner</strong> (South African Medical Research Council (MRC) Unit on Risk and Resilience in Mental Disorders and Department of Psychiatry)</li></ul><p><em>TW Kambule-NSTF Award: Emerging Researcher:</em></p><ul><li><strong>Dr Wynand Goosen</strong> (Centre of Excellence for Biomedical TB Research, Division of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics, Department of Biomedical Sciences)</li><li><strong>Prof Richard Walls</strong> (Fire Engineering Research Unit)</li><li><strong>Dr Jacqueline Wormersley</strong> (Department of Psychiatry)</li></ul><p><em>​NSTF-Lewis Foundation Green Economy Award:</em></p><ul><li><strong>Prof Thinus Booysen</strong><em> </em>(Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering). He is also a finalist in the <em>NSTF-Water Research Commission Award</em> category.</li></ul><ul><li><strong>Prof Wikus van Niekerk</strong> (Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies)</li><li><strong>Sharksafe (Pty) Ltd</strong> with CEO and Co-Inventor Prof Conrad Matthee (Department of Botany and Zoology)</li></ul><p><em>Data for Research Award:</em></p><ul><li><strong>Stellenbosch University Computed Tomography Scanner Facility Team with Leader Prof Anton du Plessis </strong>(Department of Physics)</li></ul><p><em>Communication Award:</em></p><ul><li><strong>Dr Rehana Malgas-Enus</strong> (Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science)​<br></li></ul><p><br></p>
Do you have what it takes to build the career you want?https://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=4324Do you have what it takes to build the career you want?Development & Alumni/Ontwikkeling & Alumni-betrekkinge<p style="text-align:justify;">Do you have what it takes to build the career you want? This is the question that the Alumni Relations office will try and help students answer during a series of<strong> </strong>Careers Cafés to be hosted by Alumni Relations, in conjunction with various faculties at Stellenbosch University (SU), starting in October. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The first of these Careers Cafés will be held in collaboration with the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences on 12 October in the form of a TedTalk-styled talk by Google SA Country Manager, Luke McKend, who is also an alumnus of the Faculty. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">McKend completed a BA degree in English and Philosophy and after working for a number of online businesses abroad, joined Google UK in 2007. Over the years he has worked with some of Google's largest clients developing their digital marketing strategies across a number of industries in the UK and is now responsible for building Google's business in South Africa.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">By collaborating with the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences for the pilot talk, the Alumni Relations office hopes to provide a platform for alumni to engage with the university in a different manner by offering their time and skills to help current students prepare for the careers they want.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"Whilst we are always very thankful and appreciative of the financial contributions and gifts that our alumni continue to make to their alma mater, it is not the only way for alumni to support and engage with our university and faculties. We have come to realise that there are alumni who would like to give back to their university and/or faculty, but would prefer or are only able to contribute their skills and time, which are equally valuable resources," says Mr Shaun Stuart, Manager: Alumni Relations at SU. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">While a graduate destination survey conducted by the Cape Higher Education Consortium (CHEC) amongst a 2010 cohort of graduates from Western Cape universities indicated that SU had the lowest number – 4,1% – of unemployed graduates in South Africa in 2012, also of concern is a global trend that indicates that while degree studies may equip students for the jobs they will perform in future, they often tend to lack the soft skills, such as communication, time management, conflict resolution, presentation and interpersonal skills, to further excel in the workplace. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"So while this institution and our faculties are equipping students with the relevant skills and knowledge to perform the work required from them when they enter the workplace and as it relates to their specific degrees, we are realising that there is also a need to focus on improving our students' soft skills in the long run."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The first Humanities Careers Café in October will allow the university to do just that and at the same time build more personal relationships with past graduates. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"This is part of a bigger drive at the university to connect with our alumni in a variety of meaningful ways, to build more intimate relationships between alumni and their faculties, and to start connecting with our future alumni and inspire them to think about their lives beyond university and start building the career they want now."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Invites have already been sent to students from the Faculty and those who RSVP will receive a free bagged lunch that they can enjoy during the talk, which will held between 13:00 and 13:50 in Room 230 of the Arts building. Students are also encouraged to like the University and Alumni Facebook pages to receive more information about the talk in the weeks preceding it and to enter the Facebook competition to win a free dinner with Luke and members of the faculty and the Alumni Relations office on the evening of the talk. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"This will be a great way for two of our students to get to know Luke in person as well," says Stuart. </p><ul style="text-align:justify;"><li>After the event, a survey will be conducted amongst students on ways to improve the Café going forward and a lucky student will also stand the chance to win a voucher for two from Hudsons in Stellenbosch during this exercise. If you want to follow this event, tag us by using #BuildYourCareer |#BouJouLoopbaan and #SUCareersCafe | #USLoopbaanKafee.​</li></ul>