Dr Lusilda Schutte (above) and Prof Itumeleng Khumalo (below) chaired the conference. Lusilda is a senior lecturer and clinical psychologist at the NWU’s Africa Unit for Transdisciplinary Health Research (AUTHeR). Itumeleng, previously from the NWU’s Optentia research focus area, recently joined the University of the Free State.


The birth of new support bodies


The Africa Network for Positive Psychology (ANPP) and the South African Positive Psychology Association (SAPPA) were launched during the conference. These two bodies will organise the second conference. The date of this conference will be announced.



NWU hosts first Africa Positive Psychology Conference

The NWU, in collaboration with the University of Johannesburg, hosted the first-ever Africa Positive Psychology Conference on the NWU's campus in Potchefstroom.

The three-day conference, with 233 delegates from all over Africa and other continents attending, took place from 5 to 7 April 2018 and was preceded by pre-conference workshops on 4 April.


With the conference theme being “Embracing well-being in diverse contexts” invited speakers and delegates from the African continent, Europe and the USA shared their knowledge and experiences.


Some of the topics and areas of study included resilience, positive relationships, positive education, positive organisations, positive communities and societies, the role of well-being promotion in medical contexts, constructive journalism and sustainable peace development, among others.


Positive psychology as a discipline


“Positive psychology seeks to understand and promote well-being and quality of life, despite life’s inevitable difficulties in diverse domains of functioning, such as work, education, community, leisure and interpersonal relationships,” explains Dr Lusilda  Schutte, who chaired the conference with Prof Itumeleng Khumalo.


The theme of the conference was “Embracing well-being in diverse contexts”.“Our hope and belief,” says Lusilda, “is that the conference is a step towards firstly enhancing the well-being of the people of Africa and secondly contributing to and promoting the global discourse on well-being among the diverse world population.”


Itumeleng says the conference was intended to help enhance international networks and research collaborations, as well as to deepen members’ understanding of psychology of well-being studies in Africa, and direct their future research endeavours towards relevant questions.


“I observed delegates being particularly intrigued by the novel angles of inquiry and the critical questions posed about something as abstract as considering the third wave of positive psychology to something as practical as rugby players listening to music.”


Lusilda and Itumeleng agree that the National Research Foundation, the International Positive Psychology Association, the NWU and UJ had been generous in their support for this conference.


For more information on research and opportunities for postgraduate studies in positive psychology at the NWU, visit the websites of AUTHeR and the Optentia research focus area.




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What delegates say about the conference

  • Prof Ansie Kitching

    “The conference gave us as researchers in the African context the opportunity to engage with researchers from other parts of the world. We could reflect on our contribution to the promotion of well-being on our continent.


    It was wonderful to experience how colleagues in the different disciplines integrate the values and principles of positive psychology into effective, practice-orientated research during their interactions with each other.” – Prof Ansie Kitching, delegate

  • Prof Marié Wissing

    “The conference displayed high-quality scholarly presentations from many countries, and a vibe of warmth and relatedness in our diversities.” - Prof Marié Wissing, senior advisor on the Local Organising Committee

  • Prof Antonella delle Fave

    “The conference represented a true milestone – for the first time, a continental meeting on positive psychology took place outside the usual western contexts. The conference gave voice to the many scholars, researchers and practitioners who cannot afford to attend the expensive international positive psychology conferences.


    “Positive psychology was founded and started growing in the western labs, where theories, constructs and scales were developed. At the conference, the debate was opened up to scholars coming from different nations within a complex and multicultural continent.


    “This is important given that Africa’s historical and social features call for careful analysis and potential revisions of positive psychology models – too often considered as universal.” -  Prof Antonella delle Fave, former president of the International Positive Psychology Association

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