2020/21 Medal for Social Sciences and Humanities

UJ/HSRC CoVID-19 Democracy Team

UJ/HSRC CoVID-19 Democracy Team

The University of Johannesburg's Centre for Social Change (CSC) in partnership with the Human Sciences Research Council's Developmental, Capable and Ethical State (DCES) division, has, since April 2020, been conducting an ongoing cross-sectional survey among adults living in South Africa to determine the social and economic impacts of the CoVID-19 pandemic. The partnership was created out of mutual recognition of the need for rapid response social science research that could inform the response to the pandemic and understand the unfolding effects on society.

The leaders of the UJ/HSRC CoVID-19 Democracy Team are:

  • Professor Kate Alexander, South African Research Chair in Social Change based at UJ (until 31 January 2021).
  • Professor Carin Runciman, Director of UJ's Centre for Social Change (from 1 February 2021) and an associate professor in Sociology
  • Professor Narnia Bohler-Muller, Executive in the HSRC's DCES division.

Walter Sisulu University and HSRC team of researchers

The Walter Sisulu University and HSRC team of researchers collaborated on a project commissioned for the Eastern Cape government from April 2020. The study considered the impacts of the lockdown restrictions on funerals and customary practices in rural communities in the former Transkei region of the province.

  • Dr Nelly Sharpley (Vuyokazi Kolisa) is a sociologist and the former head of the Department of Social Sciences, at Walter Sisulu University.
  • Professor Leslie J. Bank is a Deputy Executive Director at the Human Sciences Research Council in Cape Town and an extraordinary professor of Social Anthropology at Walter Sisulu University.
Walter Sisulu University and HSRC team of researchers

The Accelerate Hub (UKRI Accelerating Achievement for Africa's Adolescents)

The Accelerate Hub team

The Accelerate Hub (UKRI Accelerating Achievement for Africa's Adolescents), based at the University of Cape Town (co-PI: Toska, Co-I: Ward) and Oxford University (PI: Cluver), is focused on developing the potential of African adolescents to accelerate their achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals across the African continent.

At the onset of the CoVID-19 pandemic, leading social scientists in different Accelerate Hub teams identified key initiatives in response to pressing needs exacerbated by CoVID-19 in South Africa. This included remote parenting support to address increased stress, mental and physical health in households as schools closed down, infections increased and economic shocks unfolded; understanding needs of adolescents and young people for service provision; access to service provision and the impact of interruptions of such services for adolescents and young people; and cost-effective programming combinations that may best address the most pressing emerging and exacerbated needs of vulnerable children, adolescents and their families, especially in the face of the CoVID-19 pandemic.

  • Catherine L. Ward is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Elona Toska is a Senior Research Officer at the Centre for Social Science Research, University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Professor Talita Greyling

Professor Talita Greyling

Talita Greyling is an Associate Professor in the School of Economics at the University of Johannesburg. She specialises in well-being economics and quality of life studies and has a keen interest in fourth industrial revolution applications. She developed the first real-time "Happiness Index", making use of Big Data. Subsequently, she founded and is the Director of the Gross National Happiness Today Project (GNH-today).

Professor Greyling is the author of numerous articles in both multi-disciplinary and economic journals. These journals include, among others, Social Indicators Research, Plos One and the South African Journal of Economics. Since 2020 she has been actively involved in CoVID-19 research projects and has published numerous working papers and journal articles related to this subject. Recently she co-authored a chapter "Big Data and Happiness" in the Handbook of Labor, Human Resources and Population Economics, edited by Klaus F. Zimmermann. She is the associate editor for Pioneers in Quality of Life Theory and Research, for the Journal of Applied Research in Quality of Life and a co-editor for economics in the Journal of Happiness Studies. She is the Vice-President (Membership) of the International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies and is a Research Fellow of the Global Labour Organisation (GLO).

Professor Greyling is also involved in several international research collaborations related to well-being. The collaborating institutes are: The German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), Auckland University of Technology, Victoria University of Wellington, STATEC (National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Akhawayn University of Ifrane, Morocco). She frequently consults with governmental organisations on the measurement of Quality of Life.

Today's edition is the last in the series in which we have been profiling our outstanding and nominated researchers for the HSRC-USAf awards in three categories: Established Researchers, Emerging Researchers and Research Teams. We look forward to D-Day tomorrow. Remember to link in from 16:00 to 18:00.