What we do

Dr Heidi Van Rooyen, Executive Director

Human and Social Development (HSD) is a research sub-programme that promotes social science and humanities research concerning the social conditions and identity markers that shape people's life opportunities (or human development) and promote social cohesion in the midst of ongoing and dynamic change, and alongside the social movements that emerge in response to these challenges. The HSD team researches individuals, social contexts and public policies in six main thematic areas, which arise from the current move toward a knowledge-based economy as well as a renewed focus on Human and Social Dynamics, identified by the Department of Science and Technology as one of grand challenges facing South Africa. The core thematic areas of the programme include two cross-cutting themes—that of the humanities and diversity—and four focused research target groups, namely, children, youth, families and communities.  

Read more about our themes.

How We Make A Difference

HSD’s goal is to inform policy that impacts on the definition of government and private sector policies on human and social development issues, while contributing to knowledge generation and dissemination. Our research enables evidence-based decision making by our partners, be they government, non-governmental organisations, Chapter 9 institutions, African or international universities or research councils, as well as international funding agencies.

We package and present our research outputs in a way that makes them easily accessible and digestible by a wide range of audiences and the public.

We welcome the exploration of new research dimensions in human and social development including:

  • An international dialogue on restitution, morality and inequality
  • Social and emotional development for children in impoverished communities 
  • Navigational capacities for youth employment
  • Intergenerational relationship issues including equity, conflict, and mobility
  • Family involvement in preventing addiction and transference of family resources
  • The social dimensions of climate change
The range of skills, competencies, and approaches that HSD offers enable the programme to produce a high standard of relevant, innovative research resulting in an impressive, policy-relevant, publication record. We continue to engage with colleagues elsewhere in Africa and the rest of the world through networks and joint programmes of research on pressing social issues relevant to human welfare.

The range of skills, competencies and approaches that HSD offers enable the programme to produce a high standard of relevant, innovative research resulting in an impressive, policy-relevant, publication record. We continue to engage with colleagues elsewhere in Africa and the rest of the world through networks and joint programmes of research on pressing social issues relevant to human welfare and prosperity.

Contact details: +27(0)12 302 2206