The mission of the Optentia Research Unit is to develop and organise knowledge for the optimal expression of individual, social and institutional potential, with a specific interest in the African context. The research unit utilises the inputs from multiple disciplines: Economics, Educational Sciences, Employment Relations, Human Resource Management, Information Technology, Philosophy, Psychology (Work and Organisational Psychology, Educational Psychology, Counselling Psychology, and Clinical Psychology), Risk Management, Social Anthropology, Social Work, and Sociology. We study the optimisation of the potential of people and institutions by focusing on pathways from precarity to capability and optimal functioning. Optentia's research is organised into six programmes

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A festival of diverse qualitative research perspectives - 03 to 06 September 2024

The research festival aims to promote qualitative research expertise by showcasing diverse perspectives, methods, tools, techniques, and best practices that are associated with qualitative-based research. This may be of interest to students, researchers, practitioners, community partners and members from industry who are interested in qualitative research.
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International Spring Week - Faculty of Humanities - 16 to 20 September 2024

Title: Humanities Horizons: Navigating Modernity and Innovation. The aim of the international week is to bring together higher degree students, study leaders and researchers from different study fields in the humanities to learn and converse about the future of Humanities while navigating modernity and innovation. This week will provide opportunities to meet with renowned and expert researchers, attend workshops/seminars, but also presenting your own current and completed research.
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17th International Federation on Ageing Conference - 09 to 12 September 2025

Join us for an insightful and impactful event dedicated to exploring the diverse dimensions of ageing and its implications on society. As the world’s population continues to age, it’s imperative that we come together to address the challenges and opportunities associated with this demographic shift. Our conference features thought-provoking keynote addresses, inspiring symposiums, skill-building workshops, interactive oral and poster sessions and most importantly the voices of older people from around the globe. Go to the following link for mor
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Recent news

NRF Rating for Prof. Marita Heyns

Prof. Marita Heyns, a research professor in the Optentia Research Unit of the NWU recently received her National Research Foundation (NRF) rating as an established researcher. Optentia is proud of yet another participant who ...Read article

9 Lessons on Effective Leadership from Man’s Best Friend

When we welcomed Toffie, an 8-month-old American Pocket Bully into our lives, little did we know this decision would be a crash course in effective leadership! Training, nurturing, and bonding with Toffie revealed that successful ...Read article

Andrew Banda makes history as first PhD graduate specialising in ageing and development

On 16 May, Andrew Banda made history by becoming the first graduate to receive a PhD in social sciences from North-West University (NWU), with a focus on ageing and development in Africa.

This PhD is the product of the ...Read article

Empowering Growth: Innovations in Academic Capability Development

Academic mentorship is important for academics in higher education institutions in South Africa, just as it is globally. Mentorship programmes provide various benefits including professional development, guidance on navigating the...Read article

Newsletter, March 2024

Upcoming events





ECPP 2024 Conference
11th European Conference on Positive Psychology: Innsbruck, Austria....

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