Chair lay property law foundation for democratic SA

Prof Zsa-Zsa Boggenpoel specialises in property law, constitutional property law, and property theory. She believes that a more progressive reading of the law could solve many of South Africa’s challenges around a more equitable distribution of land rights. “I try to think of ways in which we can be more progressive in protecting marginalised groups, for instance. I want to unlock possibilities that have not been opened before. The law has the potential to do that, but we need to be more creative in the way that we see things,” she says.

Research with real-world impact

Understanding the twin scourge of poverty and inequality in South Africa, and figuring out how best to combat it constituted the main focus of Prof Servaas van der Berg’s initial studies and, later, his academic career. As a professional scholar, he views research as a powerful tool, yet takes care not to neglect another important implement in the academic’s toolbox: teaching.

More than just words — developing tools to measure early language development

How do we know what they know, and don’t? Without a set of tools to determine what gestures and, later, words and grammatical structures children typically learn in the first 30 months of life, there is no reliable way to gauge any individual child’s language development. Until now, there has been a lack of reliable tools to measure language development in African languages.

SU fire engineers explore risks for humans and dwellings

“As a society, we need to understand how fires spread if we are to prevent them from becoming total disasters,” says Prof Richard Walls, who heads up the fire engineering team at Stellenbosch University (SU). “Urban fires can be incredibly dangerous, particularly in informal settlements.” Established in SU’s Department of Civil Engineering, this group of researchers is helping train the next generation of fire safety experts.

It’s not just about the guns

The question as to why certain disarmament programmes work while others don’t is the focus of DISARM, a project on the effect of disarmament on conflict recurrence. The project is a pivotal collaboration between Stellenbosch University and the Peace Research Institute Oslo. The project is the first systematic global study to look at what causes conflict recurrence after disarmament has taken place.

Advances in forensic art explore and preserve our common humanity

In her work on projects aimed at restoring personhood for missing and unidentified people of the past — both recent and ancient — Dr Kathryn Smith, Departmental Chair of Visual Arts at Stellenbosch University (SU), is unearthing shared histories and untold stories through art, science, and collaborative work.

Forensic facial imaging laboratory promotes interdisciplinarity

Stellenbosch University (SU) is the first tertiary institution in Africa to offer research and casework expertise in forensic facial imaging, a critical tool in human identification. VIZ.lab is an imaging laboratory based in SU’s Department of Visual Arts. The laboratory was launched by Dr Kathryn Smith — an interdisciplinary visual artist and curator — and Pearl Mamathuba, an academic researcher.

Cape Colony economic history project most extensive of its kind

How was wealth created in the Cape region of South Africa during the time it was governed by the Dutch East India Company (VOC)? For the past seven years, this has been a central research question posed by the economic historians of the Cape of Good Hope Panel, the flagship project of the Laboratory for the Economics of Africa’s Past (LEAP). This laboratory focuses on the quantitative study of African economic and social history.

Digital advancements expand Africa’s economic history

Interdisciplinary research at Stellenbosch University shows that a topic such as the economic history of South Africa in the colonial era has substantially more to it than can be claimed by research done in a single traditional subject area. Moreover, it shows that such topics can now be unlocked on a scale previously impossible.