Professor van Onselen Awarded with 2nd Annual HSRC Medal in Pretoria
Professor Charles van Onselen, Research Professor in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria was on Friday honoured with the Human Science Research Council’s Medal in Social Sciences and Humanities at its second awards ceremony.
These Awards recognise the role of the social sciences and humanities in transforming society. Professor van Onselen is an internationally renowned historian and is one of only a few A-rated scholars in South Africa. His work straddles a number of disciplinary domains and has a bearing on the fields of historical studies, sociology, criminology and cultural studies.
“It has become more important than ever that we in the social sciences understand what drives human behaviour so that we are able to implement meaningful and sustainable solutions to increasingly severe challenges. Despite all our knowledge the human condition is severely affected by deepening conditions of poverty and inequality. The answers we need to resolve these conditions lie in the social sciences and humanities”, said the CEO of the Human Sciences Research Council Professor Crain Soudien.
Professor van Onselen said that in accepting the Medal in Social Sciences and Humanities and in contextualising the value of the social sciences to South Africa, “Unlike the natural sciences there simply are no ‘iron laws’ in our disciplines that determine the myriad ways in which class and colour, culture and gender, ethnic and racial identity, modernity and tradition, honour and shame, the law and social justice, or poverty and wealth can either help bind or divide us as we yearn to reduce the appalling levels of conflicts and violence that wrack society, the key to understanding most of these formidable and elusive interactions lies not so much in the natural or biological sciences, in engineering, medicine or technological innovation but in the core disciplines of the humanities and the social sciences”, added the professor.
During the award ceremony, Professor Charles van O also gave speech to the audiences. Professor Njabulo Ndebele was also awarded the 2016 Medal in Social Sciences and Humanities.
By: Fortunate Machaba