University of the Free State: Qwaqwa Campus gears up to showcase research and scholarship at the 2022 research conference

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Recent global happenings have challenged communities and humanity’s capability to solve immediate and major problems. Science has been one of the spaces in which the communities have looked for solutions regarding real threats to lives related to climate change, wars, as well as social and health pandemics. The Qwaqwa Campus will be showcasing Qwaqwa Campus research and scholarship at this year’s research conference, a two-day event which will be held in person, on 29-30 September 2022 at the Senate Hall on campus.

‘Scholarship, Innovation and Science: how can research be used as a tool for the betterment of society?’

Under this theme, the conference will be a space for intellectual debate and the processing of scholarship in innovation, said Prof Pearl Sithole, Vice-Principal: Academic and Research. “Some of the societal challenges have been urgent and pressing, yet some are slow dilemmas shattering the hope of generations for a better future. This conference will present the products of ‘disciplinary and scholarly crafts’, but it also seeks to explore whether science does (or should) have a strategic direction, and perhaps this is what the concept of innovation should entail. It will ponder on whether in the age-old binary between exploratory research and praxis there is a defeating taming of the entrepreneurial edge for the expanse of science in Africa,” she said.

Prof Sithole said the campus would also be launching its research strategy for 2022 to 2026.

Guest speakers include:

• Prof Percy Hlangothi is an Associate Professor of Physical and Polymer Chemistry at the Nelson Mandela University. He is also the inaugural Director of the Centre for Rubber Science and Technology, a research entity in the Faculty of Science at the same institution.

• Mr Lukhona Mnguni is a governance, politics, and development specialist and prolific political analyst specialising in Africa and international relations, as well as a PhD intern at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He currently serves as the Head of Policy and Research at the Rivonia Circle. His work includes a current affairs analytical show on eNCA dubbed On the Spot with Lukhona Mnguni.

• Prof Dipane Hlalele is a Professor of Education and a C2 NRF-rated researcher. He is a highly rated scholar in inclusive education, critical pedagogy, and educational psychology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Prior to joining UKZN as an associate professor in 2017, he was an assistant dean and senior lecturer at the UFS, a college of education lecturer, and a high school deputy principal and teacher.

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