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Summerschool Zuid Afrika

From 6 - 21 December 2014, the Kosmopolis Platform of the University of Humanistic Studies (the Netherlands) organises another International Summer School on Pluralism, Development and Social Change, in cooperation with HIVOS (Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries), the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice at the University of the Free State (South Africa), the Global Centre for Pluralism (Canada) and Glocal University (India).

The Summer School Program brings together activists, academics and social practitioners from South Africa, India, the Netherlands, Indonesia and Kenya to exchange knowledge about pluralism and social change and reflect on its implications for social practices and academic research.

When: 6 -21 December 2014
Where: Hosted at Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice at the University of the Free State in South Africa.

Participants are graduate students from (1) the University of Humanistic Studies (only MA), (2) the University of the Free State and (3) Glocal University, India with current (or recent) relevant work - and study experience in civil society practices of social change. Also, staff members of Civil Society-based Organisations will join, as well as social change activists and policy makers from Hivos Head- and Regional Offices and partner organisations in Southern or Eastern Africa, India or Indonesia, and staff of Civil Society-based Organisations of the Global Centre for Pluralism partner organizations in Kenya.

General information

The program is conducted between 6 – 21 December 2014 and hosted by the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice at the University of the Free State in South Africa. It involves a 16 day full time program of lectures, excursions, seminars, literature study, discussion, guided individual - and small group work and assignments. The maximum group size will be between 20 – 24 people. Selected participants are required to prepare a pre-summer school assignment. The course will be completed with a group presentation and a design for a pluralism workshop which participants conduct after they return home. Upon successful completion, participants will receive a Kosmopolis/University of Humanistic Studies Certificate in Pluralism, Development and Social Change.

The summer school aims to

  • Bring together a diverse and international group of participants who are interested in social change and wish to enhance their critical understanding of social theory of change, practices of pluralism and the politics of difference at local and global levels
  • Intensify links between development practitioners and scholars in order to (1) enrich both their knowledge bases with new perspectives, insights and skills, and (2) stimulate the creation of international networks of civil society initiatives around issues of social change and pluralism
  • Facilitate international dialogue on theories and practices of pluralism and professional and personal experiences with cultural- and other forms of diversity and difference, leading to a critical international comparative analysis of pluralism approaches in various social, political, economic and ecological contexts
  • Integrate theoretical and practice-based knowledge of all participants and help them to translate it into new insights, strategies, policies and/or practices for pluralism
  • Create a learning environment in which participants simultaneously learn about as well as simultaneously live with difference in a pluralist, international and intercultural setting. Critical reflexivity, reading and writing, dialogue, experiential learning, active participation and skills training are central to the program.
Brief information about the content of the Program
The last few decades witnessed significant changes across the world, mediated by technological revolutions, economic liberalisation, political upsurges, the rise of new identity politics, aspirations of regime change, grave concerns about ecological crises and movements for a broader understanding of ‘gender’ equality, including the rights of the LGBT persons. In an increasingly interconnected world, societies and communities become more diverse and complex, that is: more plural. Theories and practices of ‘pluralism’, or ‘living with difference’ and how they relate to social change, are central in the program. We depart from the idea that pluralism can enhance an ethos of democratic engagement and that differences can be a creative source for social change.

We focus on three interrelated and intertwined perspectives:
  • worldview/religious perspectives which focus on how states, societies, NGOs and religious communities themselves, address challenges of religious co-existence as well as new meanings and manifestations of secularity
  • social-political perspectives which address the social tensions, inequalities and conflicts that often accompany diversity and difference
  • ecological perspectives which refer to diverse ways in which humans interact with their environments by drawing on pluri-cultural values and their modes of symbolic awareness of the human–earth relationship.


Contactpersoon Caroline Suransky
Locatie University of the Free State, Zuid Afrika
Periode van 6-12-2014 t/m 21-12-2014