Liesel Ebersöhn is Full Professor and Director of the Unit for Education Research in AIDS (Department of Educational Psychology, Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria in Pretoria, South Africa). She is known for her work on pathways to resilience in emerging economy settings—especially chronic high contexts. Her work on indigenous pathways to resilience (generativetheory on Relationship Resourced Resilience) often leads to invitations to disseminate research findings globally. She leads a Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund investigation in the Southern African SADC-region (South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland) into indigenous pathways to promote resilience. She is a team member of the Resilient Africa network of 20 African universities (USAID-funded and initiated by Tulane and Stanford Universities) to develop and incubate innovative solutions/interventions to build resilience of African communities following adversity.
Her research accomplishments have been recognized by many awards, including the Department of Science and Technology Women in Science Awards 2012, the Exceptional Young Researcher Award of the University of Pretoria (2005), The Young Researcher Award of the Education Association of South Africa (2005), the Dean’s Award for International Scholarship and Excellence in Postgraduate Supervision, Faculty of Education (University of Pretoria) (2011), and the Dean’s Award for Intellectual Leadership, Faculty of Education (University of Pretoria) (2002).
She has mentored numerous colleagues and postgraduate students by including them in a variety of funded projects—all aimed at increasing knowledge of how resilience from a strengths-based perspective, rather than pathology, is an alternative response to adversity. She has published five books and also extensively in peer-reviewed journals, and contributed numerous chapters to international education-specific books. She has supervised more than fifty postgraduate students to completion—many of whom are now young education scholars at higher education institutions. Her completed work has had a decided impact on curricula for teacher training in South Africa. Since 2003 thousands of enrolled in-service distance education students have studied knowledge which argues for teachers to view children from a strengths-based perspective. Development outcomes of her long-term, participatory social research include educational psychology services to more than a thousand children in a remote high school since.
Prof Ebersöhn is the executive editor of the South African Journal of Education, and serves on editorial boards and committees of multiple other journals, including the Global Journal of Psychology Research, Education as Change, Educational Research for Social Change, Teaching Educational Psychology, and the International Research and Capacity Building Foundation IRCAB Journal of Arts and Education.
She has participated extensively on projects of worldwide scope and dimensions. She has present to international audiences in keynote addresses and invited symposia, and she has served as chair and discussant of sessions. As past president of the Education Association of South Africa (EASA), she was the official representative of EASA to the Council of World Education Research Association (WERA) (2010-2012). Also, she is currently serving as co-chair of the WERA Task Force on Poverty and Opportunities to Learn where her leadership role is substantial.