Research programme focuses on optimised potential
Optentia is a recently established research programme at the Vaal Triangle Campus of the North-West University (NWU Vaal Triangle). The word “Optentia” originates from the combination of two words, namely “Optimal” and “Potential”. The aim of the research programme is to develop knowledge about how individual, social and institutional potential can be optimally expressed and to make this knowledge available to individuals and decision makers. The Optentia Research Programme is functioning as a focus area on the Vaal Triangle Campus and efforts are underway to apply for recognition as a formal focus area of the North-West University.
Prof Ian Rothman
? The programme collaborates with research institutions in Southern Africa (including South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia). Researchers from the fields of Psychology, Industrial/Organisational Psychology, Educational Psychology, Sociology, Labour Relations and Social Work provide specialist inputs to study how individual, social and institutional potential can be optimally expressed.
? Optentia researchers take a humane scientific perspective in their work. They study ways to measure and promote individual, social and institutional potential. Rather than focusing on what goes wrong, they focus on what goes right and try to find ways to build on things that go right.
According to Prof Ian Rothmann, leader of the research programme, such an approach is essential for understanding both positive and negative human experiences, to help individuals and institutions to deal with rapid change, unpredictability, complexity, and to enhance the optimal utilisation of potential of individuals, communities and societies.
? Research further focuses on the factors that allow individuals, institutions, communities and societies to flourish and to become strong, provide pathways to resilience (which is defined as the ability to bounce back from difficult experiences), the building blocks of well-being in individuals and families, and factors that enable positive relations in institutions, communities and societies. The School of Behavioural Sciences aims to implement a master’s programme in Applied Positive Psychology in 2012.
? The Optentia Research Programme will support the research in the master’s programme.
? The new degree offers a logical career progression from the undergraduate and honours programmes in Psychology and Industrial Psychology.
? Furthermore, it is highly relevant for employed people in the business or public sectors, graduates who want to develop careers in the health and educational sectors, organisational or business consultancies, business executives, human resource practitioners and managers. Skills and knowledge obtained can be usefully applied in the charity, voluntary and social enterprise sectors, as the programme educates for cooperative systems and sustainable well-being and development.
? The degree will also be useful for qualified clinical psychologists, counsellors, psychotherapists, nurses and doctors who intend to use positive psychology theory, research and applications in their clinical work.