Vol 4 2017

NWU taking research to new heights

Welcome to the fourth edition of the North-West University's newsletter, Research@NWU.

The aim of the newsletter is to showcase research projects, researchers and related events. This edition highlights the impact of research in community engagement.

Follow this link to see Prof Refilwe Phaswana-Mafuya, the NWU's deputy vice-chancellor for research and innovation, speak about the importance of research for communities.


NWU at the forefront of community research

Community research is undergoing a major shift in South Africa, and the NWU is at the forefront of the changes.

Where previously the emphasis was on working on philanthropic projects in communities, community research now uses scientifically based methods to tackle critical community challenges.

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AUTHeR: Community based research with a difference

The research activities of the Africa Unit for Transdisciplinary Health Research (AUTHeR) on the NWU's campus in Potchefstroom are focused on bio-psychosocial health and specifically on preventing illness, maintaining and promoting health and facilitating quality health systems.

AUTHeR supports the World Health Organisation's definition of health. This definition states that optimal health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

The transdisciplinary health research team takes a holistic approach to problems and opportunities specific to Africa and developing countries, where health is affected by HIV/Aids and rapid urbanisation, and where the empowerment of people and the development of human capital is a high priority.

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Optentia: Research starts with the community

The 1990s concept of “giving psychology away” has come to life at Optentia in 2017 where research is being done with the purpose of “giving science away”. For the Optentia research focus area, the community is the starting point for any research project. “At Optentia, we do research together with the community,” says the director, Prof Ian Rothmann.  

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Capacitating small-scale farmers

A 10-year-old partnership between the NWU, Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is going strong, continuing to produce good results for small-scale farmers. Launched in 2007, the North West Nguni Cattle Development Project is the province’s contribution to the ongoing national drive to capacite small-scale farmers.

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Sharpeville 2020: research inspires

More than 55 years after the Sharpeville massacre, the township is still bleeding, and the youth are suffering the consequences. This is according to Prof Danie Meyer, associate professor in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the NWU's campus in Vanderbijlpark. He is spearheading the Sharpeville 2020 Development Plan intervention.

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The science behind absent fathers

A large number of South African children are living their lives without the presence of a father figure. The issue of absent fathers has been a major problem in the country for a number of years.
Dr Fazel Freeks, who is a senior lecturer and the coordinator: community engagement at the Faculty of Theology at the NWU, has published a research thesis that explores this crisis.

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NWU proves that MASDT training project is beneficial

For the past 12 years the Mobile Agri Skills Development and Training (MASDT) nonprofit company has been empowering farmers from selected rural communities in the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces.

Now it wants to know how effective its programmes have been – and who better to assist than the NWU?

MASDT offers emerging farmers practical training and comprehensive support services within the agricultural sector.

However, many similar training programmes have a low success rate and so MASDT took the bold step of requesting an independent evaluation.

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NWU Law Clinic is making a lasting impact in the local community

The NWU Law Clinic in Mahikeng has been in operation for 33 years. It started as a small advisory office with the assistance of students who participated on a voluntary basis.

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TRADE and DSM help Rwanda to boost exports

Rwanda is striving to reach its export market potential, with help from the team from the research focus area Trade and Development (TRADE) at the NWU.

Using an innovative approach called the Decision Support Model (DSM), Rwanda's export potentials have been mapped in detail, both in terms of the most promising export products and a detailed overview of which markets currently demand such goods.

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NWU's top researchers are a hard act to follow

The NWU's Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences again took top honours at this year's Excellence in Research Awards on 27 October. The faculty won the titles of Most Productive Senior Researcher and Most Productive Junior Researcher, just as they did last year.

Many outstanding staff members from other disciplines were also acknowledged for excellence in research, innovation, community involvement and creativity.

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Please share your comments and input by sending an email to the newsletter editor, willie.duplessis@nwu.ac.za