UFS Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice
The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice
Institute Staff (2016)
Photo: Lihlumelo Toyana
The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (IRSJ) at the University of the Free State (UFS) – conceptualised through a long consultative process since 2008 – came ‘formally into being’ in January 2011. With a flexibility and trust extended to the IRSJ – not easily found in the higher-education sector, the university management gave us the latitude and support to fashion an outfit that responds to social life within and outside the borders of the university, locally and globally.
Like all ‘new’ arrangements, we struggled at first, trying to find a way in which the university’s strategic pillars of academic excellence and the human embrace could manifest in our work. The idea that a vibrant, agonistic intellectual culture will bring the strategic pillars together, slowly grew into a major focus area of the work of the IRSJ. As such, we collapsed the distinctions between the social and the intellectual; the ‘everyday’ and the academe; the institutional and the national; and the personal and the political. We also made many ‘not so good’ choices within our space. Nevertheless, out of these struggles we were able to shape our work around the following themes: social justice, social cohesion and reconciliation; higher education transformation; human rights, democracy and citizenship; student activism and ‘the publics’; and arts and social justice. These themes generally steer our work and are expressed in our research and postgraduate studies programmes.
Through our various critical conversations, public lectures, seminars, book launches, arts events, and colloquia, fresh understandings and ideas emerged for doing life as an inclusive narrative of progress. Apart from the extra-ordinary potential of the young people who have been co-workers at the IRSJ since 2011, we have attracted and established national and international collaborations with scholars from various parts of our country, our continent, and the globe. There is no doubt that the ‘events’ hosted by the IRSJ and the intellectual camaraderie generated through it, are the source of these research developments. Over the past two years, and with great support from our students, staff, and campus management, we were also able to expand our programmes substantively on our Qwaqwa Campus.
We owe a sincere appreciation to the students, staff, friends, associates, the university management, senate, and council for providing the space and backing for our work.
To be continued; e tla tswela pele.
Prof André Keet
Director: Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice
DF Malherbe House
University of the Free State
Internal Box 125
PO Box 339
T: +27 51 401 9808 | +27 51 401 9806
F: +27 51 401 9006
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