Change the world

Research @ Mandela

Research Chair: HIV&AIDS Education

Prof Naydene de Lange

Professor Naydene de Lange

Faculty: Education

The HIV AND AIDS Education Research Chair, located in the Faculty of Education at the Nelson Mandela University, was initiated in 2009. The HIV and AIDS Education Research Chair aims to promote research and engagement within educational settings in general

and within poor communities in particular. The role of the Chair is to provide academic leadership, conduct research, publish, supervise postgraduate students, ensure academic engagement and facilitate learning processes within the field of HIV and AIDS. (See website,

Prof Naydene de Lange, holding the current chair position, focuses on using visual participatory methodologies in addressing gender and HIV&AIDS issues, and integrating HIV&AIDS into the academic curriculum. Her background in Educational Psychology and her interest in Inclusive Education has led her to work, using a research-as-social-change approach, towards the inclusion of those who are marginalised. The years of productivity culminated in being awarded ‘Distinguished Woman Scientist Runner-up’ in the Department of Science and Technology 2014 South African Women in Science Awards (Social Sciences and Humanities).

HIV&AIDS remains a challenge which requires every South African’s eff ort in addressing it in her or his sphere of life. While an invigoration has been seen in the government’s approach in the health sector, the education sector has a key role to play. In this instance, the core business of universities, i.e. teaching, research and engagement, can make a considerable contribution in addressing the epidemic. Research in particular, has a key role to play in contributing to knowledge production, but also to positive social change, by locating HIV and AIDS and related research more often within a critical paradigm, which has a social change agenda.

Engaging, for example, in participatory research, with the participants themselves determining the focus of the research, shaping the research process, making their voices heard by also envisaging relevant solutions to their problems, and disseminating their solutions in dialogues with stakeholders, could contribute to social change on the ground. In this way not only is knowledge produced, but it also contributes to making a difference, especially in the lives of the people in the communities we as universities serve. In doing so, we can “democratize” research and contribute to transformation in South Africa in the age of AIDS. This conceptual framework underpins the teaching, research and engagement of the Chair.