UFS strip research

Prof Melanie Walker
Higher Education and Human Development
Chair: Higher Education and Human Development 2023-2027

Prof Melanie Walker is a South African capabilitarian scholar whose research is informed by her own biography, the profound impact of struggling against apartheid in education and civic life, and hence enduring commitments to removing inequalities and injustices. Her research over the past two decades has been deeply informed by human development and the capability approach. She focuses on (higher) education, mostly in the Global South, and transversal research and practice challenges of decoloniality, methodology, inequalities, and justice. She holds a BAHons and MA in History (both cum laude) from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and a PhD from the University of Cape Town.  Since 2012, she has been working at the University of the Free State in South Africa, where she is currently Distinguished Professor, and holds a prestigious South African Research Chair in Higher Education and Human Development.  Previously, she was Professor of Higher Education at the University of Nottingham and has held senior positions at the University of Sheffield, the University of the West of England, the University of Glasgow, and the University of the Western Cape. She directs an internationally highly regarded research programme on higher education and development at the UFS, including high-quality capacity building of cohorts of PhD students and postdoctoral fellows, the majority from sub-Saharan Africa. Since 2016, this dynamic group has produced 23 doctoral theses on higher education and human development and numerous monographs, constituting a significant collective body of Global South scholarship. She is an A1-rated education sciences scholar with the National Research Foundation (NRF) in South Africa, honorary professor at the Universities of Nottingham and Pretoria, and a fellow of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf). She was vice-president of the Human Development & Capability Association (HDCA) from 2014 to 2017, an editor of the Journal of Human Development and Capabilities (2007-2010), associate editor (2014-), and is the current President of the HDCA (2022-2024). She has been the recipient of numerous research grants in the UK, Europe, and South Africa, has delivered keynotes in South Africa, the UK, Europe, Australia, South Korea, and Taiwan, and is widely published – both books and journal articles.

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