Six Masters in Social Science Research Psychology students and their lecturer Professor Mary van der Riet visited the Human Sciences Research Council’s (HSRC)Centre for Community Based Research (CCBR) in Sweetwaters outside Pietermaritzburg.
The students Mr Nqobani Zuma, Ms Mbali Phakathi, Ms Banele Ndebele, Ms Emelda Tselana, Mr Tim Hardwick and Ms Nikita Chetty were hosted by Dr Hilton Humphries of the HSRC. They were introduced to the HSRC’s research and were accompanied by the CCBR’s community team to visit several projects currently underway in the community surrounding the site. This was a good introduction to conducting applied social science research.
Said Van der Riet, ‘The visit developed out of the strong relationship between the Discipline of Psychology (School of Applied Human Sciences) in Pietermaritzburg and the HSRC. Many UKZN alumni have been employed as researchers, and even executive members of the HSRC. The Masters Social Science in Research Psychology programme aims to develop professional researchers with a broad range of skills who can design, co-ordinate and manage programmes and interventions. Seeing how the HSRC conducts social and health related research, exposes students to social science research in action, and develops their professional identity and aspirations.’
Hardwick said he ‘enjoyed getting to see what a research site looks like first hand, as well as interacting with the people who work there who were all really warm and welcoming.’
For Chetty, ‘the opportunity to observe research projects being carried out on a much larger scale was interesting. It was interesting to learn about the different environments in which research work is carried out. It’s not an office and a laptop, but involves being physically active and building relationships with different individuals.’
Tselana added that, ‘learning about the different aspects of research, especially on a larger scale was an eye-opener. I found the various ongoing projects conducted by the HSRC interesting. The lengths the researchers go to collect data and maintain relationships with participants were insightful. I gained more knowledge about the HSRC and the daily life of a researcher which I found helpful as I am nearing the end of the coursework part of my Masters.’