Madiba Day tea Reply

Tea time

Tea time

When last did you knit a scarf, or crochet a beautiful hat? If you have ever tried your hand at crafts such as these, you will know that (as I recently discovered after a horrifically failed attempt at crocheting) they are no mean feats.

The women of the Holding Hands project just outside of Potchefstroom perform these crafts daily, and with flair. We had the pleasure of hosting these ladies to a tea on Friday, 18 July in honour of Madiba Day.

Though we hope that the occasion provided some welcome rest to these hard-working ladies, it is the School of Economics that actually was treated. What a privilege to share a cup of tea with a group as dynamic as this. Ranging in ages from 23 to in the sixties, these women form part of the Holding Hands project which aims to develop skills in the local community so that people can find gainful employment.

For these women, their handiness with a needle and thread provides that opportunity. Sophie wore an example of such handiwork; a hat that she had knitted herself. We also got to know elegant Dorkas, who spoke with pride about her son who is currently in high school. Maria, Dora, Julie and Sara are also some of the people we got to know. It was wonderful to meet all of the ladies who attended, and we look forward to working more closely with Holding Hands in future.

If you are interested in finding out more about Holding Hands, visit this website.

Research round-up Reply

The start of the new semester is approaching fast and before everyone goes back to lecture prep and setting tests and quizzes we want to post a round-up of the School’s research outputs and the first semester’s research posts. Our research posts included:

For a complete list of our outputs in academic journals have a look at the list: Research round up June 2014.

RPP: Recovery and reform in the SA economy Reply

This article first appeared in the Sunday Independent on 6 July 2014.

Prof Raymond Parsons

Prof Raymond Parsons

The 20th anniversary of SA’s democracy, the 2014 elections and the advent of the National Development Plan (NDP), have converged at a time when key decisions must be taken and implemented to change SA for the better. The need for economic recovery and the reform agenda must now operate in tandem.There is no need to tick the boxes again, as the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality are sufficiently well-known. Having successfully walked the long road to freedom, SA is now inevitably involved in a long walk to shared prosperity. Its roadmap to 2030 is the NDP, with an action plan outlined in the state-of-the-nation address last month and in subsequent Ministerial initiatives.

Where many critics of the NDP are at fault is in not judging it by the test of using it. Of course, the NDP and its action plans have several pitfalls, but on the whole they are greatly superior to their many predecessors. Critics of the NDP look at the new model car from the pavement and point out all sorts of features which they think unsatisfactory. But they lack the courage to get into it and drive away. If they do so, they will not want to return to the ‘bad’ old way of doing things, but instead to get real movement into a better future for all. We may not get this opportunity again, so it is imperative to capitalise on it. We need to use the time given by the recent credit rating agency warnings wisely to tackle what has to be done. A week may be a long time in politics but five years is unbelievably short for delivery. More…

Publication tips and tricks Reply

It is winter break on campus and the time of year when academics try to finish up that paper, or the revisions of that paper. There may even be some time for reading, so we want to help with some tips and tricks for getting your papers into a better quality journal.

The advice for writing better papers comes from a recent ERSA Economic History workshop at which James Fenske presented some ideas about how to publish better economic history work in top Economics journals. His approach was to look at some famous economic history papers in top journals and see what they have in common. Talking about top-5 journals is daunting, but we believe that the principles also apply to much lower level efforts. This is advice for aiming just a little bit higher. The errors and omissions in what follows remain our own.

First off, your paper needs a good motivation. You need to explain to people why it matters. Often this means pitching it to a more general audience. The better journals have a wider readership and you have to convince them that your work is interesting. The four other specialists in your field may know that your are pushing the boundaries, but if you cannot explain it to everyone, they will not look at it. This may also mean linking to broader themes and current issues. It will depend on the field, but in the broader field of economics it means that you need to link to themes like institutions and issues of conflict, trust, social capital, human capital externalities and the roots of development. More…