Public lecture series by Prof Melanie Walker

Posted on October 10, 2019

Professor Norman Duncan, Vice-Principal: Academic at the University of Pretoria,cordially invites you to a public lecture on Curriculum Transformation presented by Prof Melanie Walker, Senior Research Professor in Higher Education and Human Development, University of Free State.

Title: ‘No Curriculum Transformation Without Epistemic Justice Capabilities’

Date:     Thursday, 31 October 2019
Time:    17:00 –19:00
Venue:  SRC Chambers, Conference Centre, Hatfield Campus, UP
Dress:   Daywear
RSVP:   here by 30 October 2019
Enquiries: Ms Maliga Govender, 012 420 2444
Persons with disabilities are kindly requested to contact Neo Maseko on 012 420 2631 if assistance is

The lecture does not set out a prescriptive roadmap or the details of what a transformed curriculum might look like at the micro-level, ‘on the ground’. Rather it steps back to consider first, the broad outline of a decolonial public-good praxis in relation to the ‘good’ university and our society, and then considers epistemic justice capabilities as a foundational dimension of such a praxis and hence of curriculum changes. The claim is that the epistemic matters because it is fundamental to human flourishing and participation in egalitarian social meaning-making. Nonetheless, the lecture considers the challenge of
enabling epistemic justice in the space of higher education where curriculum, pedagogy and research practices may all have exclusionary epistemic effects. Drawing on Miranda Fricker’s influential account of epistemic injustice, the focus is first on wrongs done to someone (a student) in their capacity as a knower, whether in the testimonial form in which credibility is withheld from a speaker, or the hermeneutic form where legitimacy is denied to some understandings, or where a person or group may struggle to make an experience intelligible to themselves, with structural effects. The paper then explores Fricker’s ‘epistemic
contribution capability’ – and sketches Amartya Sen’s capability approach – specifically for the work capabilities and functionings can do in the space of higher education curriculum transformation. The lecture draws on empirical examples to flesh out the ‘broad and vague’ capability. Examples show the importance of social uptake, or what Martha Nussbaum describes as ‘combined capabilities’, that is having both internal capacities and suitable external conditions. Fricker’s argument for individual virtues is outlined against the challenge of structural inequalities, before the case for accepting non-ideal epistemic justice in the higher education curriculum is made.

Professor Melanie Walker holds a PhD from the University of Cape Town and is an A-rated NRF scientist. She situates her work as interdisciplinary, drawing on education, sociology, philosophy and development studies, and working especially with human development and Amartya Sen’s capability approach (CA), as well as Martha Nussbaum’s ‘capabilities approach’. She has held the SARChI chair in Higher Education and Human Development at the University of the Free State since 2013. Here, she established and now directs a vibrant group of early career researchers and supervises doctoral students, building together an impressive body of capabilities-facing scholarship. This includes nine single authored monographs by past PhD students in the last few years. She has published over 150 books, book chapters and articles and presented keynotes and conference papers in the UK, Europe, Australia, USA, Canada, Latin America, Taiwan, South Korea, and South Africa. Her 2013 book with Alejandra Boni published by Routledge, Universities and human development. A New Imaginary for the University of the XXI Century, was the winner of the Manuel Castilo Book Prize in Spain in May 2014.

Her forthcoming book (2020) from Palgrave is titled Participatory research, capabilities and epistemic justice. A transformative agenda for higher education. She was previously professor of higher education at the University of Nottingham where she is now an honorary professor. She is a fellow of ASSAF and a fellow of the Human Development and Capability Association of which she was also vice-president from 2014 to 2017. She has held research grants from the Higher Education Academy, HEFCE, the ESRC and DfID in the UK, the EU Commission, the British Council and the NRF. She holds editorial roles on the Journal of Human Development and Capabilities and Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning. Previous editorial roles include: Cambridge Journal of Education, Educational Action Research, Teaching in Higher Education, Power and Education, American Educational Research Journal, Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, and the Journal of Professional Development.

Copyright © University of Pretoria 2024. All rights reserved.

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share Cookie Preferences