UFH co-hosts SA Economic Society’s first-ever National PhD Conference

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Economic Researchers and practitioners from across academia, government and the private sector in South Africa have converged on the University of Hare’s East London Campus for the inaugural National PhD Conference hosted by the Economic Society of South Africa (ESSA) in collaboration with the Economic Research Southern Africa (ERSA) and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC).

The conference seeks to afford PhD students from all economics programmes at SA universities the opportunity to present their work and get feedback from the economic researchers and practitioners whose roles are to be discussants and to give comment on the research presented.

The gathering is held from the 6th to 8th of February at the Phyllis Ntantala Collaborative Library.

The presenters were selected from an application process which entailed an invitation from ESSA to PhD students to submit an extended abstract based on a completed or near completed paper from their doctoral thesis which has not been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The submissions were evaluated by a conference scientific committee with the help of nominated discussants and a maximum of 25 applicants were invited to present their papers at the conference.

The discussants include economics gurus such as:

  • Elias Masilela – Author and Executive Chairman of DNA Economics and a Commissioner of the 1st & 2nd National Planning Commission
  • Reza Daniels - Associate Professor in the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town
  • Daniela Casala – Economics Professor at Wits University
  • Matthew Simmonds - Executive Director at the ERSA
  • Debra Shepherd – Senior Economics Lecturer at Stellenbosch University
  • Forget Kapingura – Associate Professor at the UFH Economics Department
  • Chris Desmond - Economist specializing in health and social policy research related to human development over the life-course.
  • Steve Koch- Managing Editor of the South African Journal of Economics
  • Allan Davids – Senior Economics Lecturer at the University of Cape Town

Speaking during the opening ceremony, ESSA President, Heinrich Bohlmann said when the idea to host the conference was sparked, they approached one of the Senior Lectures at the UFH Economics Department, Dr Palesa Makhetha-Kosi who got the ball rolling. 

“We are honoured to hold this first PhD Conference at the University of Fort Hare. We are here to learn, we are here to work.” 

Bohlmann encouraged the conference goers to engage each other during the session saying: “We are a very small economics society and there are a lot of big brains in this room which presents a great opportunity to get to know each other to build networks and expand our society,” said Prof Bohlmann.

Welcoming the delegates to this important gathering, the UFH Dean of Management and Commerce, Prof Richard Shambare took the opportunity to remind the doctoral students about one of the fundamentals of research which is to produce and disseminate studies that has a positive impact on ordinary citizens. 

“There are millions of South Africans that depend on the theories, models and findings that you will come up with in your studies. We must look into topics that impacts on people’s lives and we should not forget to investigate topics and test theories that are Afrocentric because it is critical for us to do so,” said Prof Shambare. 

In addition to the paper presentations, a masterclass on Writing for Publication was conducted by Steve Koch, Managing Editor of the South African Journal of Economics.

One of the doctoral students, David De Villiers from Stellenbosch University presented his paper titled: Can macropudential policies prevent extreme capital flows?  He described the gathering as insightful and exciting.