2017 HDCA Conference – Cape Town, South Africa

HDCA 2017 Conference

“Challenging Inequalities: Human Development and Social Change” 

September 6-8, 2017

Cape Town, South Africa

Hosted by University of Cape Town


with University of the Free State, University of the Western Cape and the Human Sciences Research Council

ufs-logo   uwc-logo

The 2017 HDCA Program Committee cordially invites scholars, government policy makers, practitioners and other interested parties from all over the world to participate in the 2017 HDCA conference.  Original empirical research, theoretical issues, case-studies or reports of experiences, or findings from major research projects, and book panels relevant to conference theme or more broadly related to human development/capabilities approach will be presented.

Please use the conference menu on the right to find more information. The conference organizers can be contacted at hdca.conference@uct.ac.za

Privacy Policy

HDCA respects your privacy and will not sell or share information collected.  Our payments are processed through First Data which is a secure payment processor for businesses.

Refund Policy

Conference registration and payment will open up to 5 months in advance of the conference and all registration must be complete by the start  of conference. Registration will close once all available spots have been filled. Once registration is complete, your payment will be processed.  You will receive email with confirmation.  All registrations are final. No refunds will be issued,  unless there are extenuating circumstances (e.g. serious illness or death of close relative). There are no refunds for payments of membership dues.

Conference Theme

“Challenging Inequalities: Human Development and Social Change” 

Economic inequality is bad for political equality and political freedoms which are key conditions for the expansion and securing of human capabilities and the building of decent and inclusive societies. The conference theme explores this as a dynamic challenge of human development and social change, together with the potential of the capability approach to offer a powerful normative framework to advance justice in unequal societies. The capability approach is now a widely-used framework for evaluating equality and justice in terms of human well-being, freedom, and development. It has been developed partly because traditional approaches focusing only on income or utility do not adequately capture the diverse, plural, and multidimensional nature of human lives and development experiences, nor provide the informational basis of justice in policy making and implementation. As a concept originally developed by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, capability works to understand and explain inequalities and injustices in the social, political, economic and historical arrangements that shape human experiences, and the valuable functionings that people have reason to choose for flourishing lives.

The capabilities emphasis on plural human freedoms allows us both to examine the experiences of real lives but also to develop methodologies to aggregate and index multiple aspects of human development and capabilities across significant in/equality dimensions (for example, youth, cities, education and social cohesion), viewed and researched from multiple disciplinary perspectives. One of the main goals of the HDCA 2017 Conference will be to assemble and compare a variety of research approaches – theoretical, conceptual, philosophical, methodological, empirical – in global South and global North contexts in order to shed light on the benefits of, and challenges human development and capability expansion confronts.

By selecting ‘challenging inequalities’ and also ‘social change’ as an overall theme for the HDCA 2017 Conference, we want to explore the normative and empirical power and scope of the capability approach to describe, assess, and promote change in the direction of human development and social justice in an increasingly globalized world where people’s circumstances and values are vastly different and in which inequality is rising within and across countries.

The capability approach itself is evolving and open to extensions, modifications, criticisms, and revisions. We would like to invite scholars, policy-makers, practitioners, and students who are working at the frontiers of this expanding field of research. Anyone new to HDCA is of course more than welcome, as we appreciate diversity of participants in terms of research topics and methods, professions, and regions.

This conference is being held at a key and historic moment for the continent and for South Africa – economically, socially and politically – offering the possibility to bring the approach to the attention of wider audiences of researchers, young scholars, practitioners, and policy makers and brokers. It will be an exciting opportunity for all of us to meet for the first time on the African continent.


Call for Papers & Deadlines

April 26, 2017 – Announcement of acceptance/rejection

Extended to July 15, 2017 – Deadline for conference registration at early-bird rates

July 15, 2017 – Submission of full papers for those applying for the Kuklys Prize. Please submit here: https://www.conftool.pro/hdca2017/

August 15, 2017 – Final deadline for conference registration at standard rates

August 23, 2017  – Submission of full papers/posters for all authors other than Kuklys Prize applicants. Please submit here: https://www.conftool.pro/hdca2017/



Keynote Speakers

Martha Nussbaum
Martha Nussbaum is Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago. From 1986 to 1993, she was a research advisor at the World Institute for Development Economics Research, Helsinki, a part of the United Nations University. She has chaired the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on International Cooperation, the Committee on the Status of Women, and the Committee for Public Philosophy. She has received honorary degrees from fifty colleges and universities in the world. Her books include Women and Human Development (2000), Hiding from Humanity (2004), Frontiers of Justice (2006), Creating Capabilities (2012), Political Emotions (2013), and Anger and Forgiveness (2016). Among her awards are the Prince of Asturias Prize in the Social Sciences in 2012, and the Kyoto Prize in 2016.


Crain Soudien, CEO, Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
Crain Soudien is the Chief Executive Officer of the Human Sciences Research Council and formerly a Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cape Town where he remains an emeritus professor in Education and African Studies. His publications in the areas of social difference, culture, education policy, comparative education, educational change, public history and popular culture include three books, three edited collections and over 190 articles, reviews, reports, and book chapters.

He is also the co-editor of three books on District Six, Cape Town, a jointly edited book on comparative education and the author of The Making of Youth Identity in Contemporary South Africa: Race, Culture and Schooling, the author of Realising the Dream: Unlearning the Logic of Race in the South African School, and the co-author of Inclusion and Exclusion in South Africa and Indian Schools. He was educated at the University of Cape Town and UNISA, South Africa and holds a PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

He is involved in a number of local, national and international social and cultural organisations and is the Chairperson of the Independent Examinations Board, the former Chairperson of the District Six Museum Foundation, a former President of the World Council of Comparative Education Societies and had been the chair of the Ministerial Committee on Transformation in Higher Education and is currently the chair of the Ministerial Committee to evaluate textbooks for discrimination. He is a fellow of a number of local and international academies and serves on the boards of a number of cultural, heritage, education and civil society structures.

Jayati Ghosh, Amartya Sen lecture
Jayati Ghosh is one of the world’s leading economists. She is professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru university, New Delhi, and the executive secretary of International Development Economics Associates (Ideas), a network of economists critical of the mainstream economic paradigm of neo-liberalism. She previously held positions at Tufts University and Cambridge University, lecturing meanwhile at academic institutions throughout India. She is one of the founders of the Economic Research Foundation in New Delhi, a non-profit trust devoted to progressive economic research. She is a regular columnist for several Indian journals and newspapers, a member of the National Knowledge Commission advising the prime minister of India, and is closely involved with a range of progressive organisations and social movements. She has  received the NordSud Prize for Social Sciences 2010 of the Fondazione Pescarabruzzo, Italy. She is co-recipient of the International Labour Organisation’s 2010 Decent Work Research prize.

Tereza Campello, Mahbub ul Haq lecture
Born in São Paulo, Tereza Campello’s career in political management began in Rio Grande do Sul, where she participated in the governments of Raul Pont and Tarso Genro. She is a former mayor of Porto Alegre, and Olivio Dutra, both in the capital city and the state government.

In Brazil, she helped the transition team of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in 2002. She held the position of Articulation and Monitoring of Staff, in which she coordinated important government projects, such as the National Biodiesel Program. She also participated in the creation of the Bolsa Família.

She was nominated by President Dilma Rousseff, and elected to the Ministry of Social Development and Fight against Hunger of his new government, and served in that position from 2011-2016.

Conference Program

Information to come

Pre-conference Events

All pre-conference events will take place on Tuesday, September 5, 2017 on the UCT campus, unless otherwise indicated. Information on additional events will be added as it becomes available.

September 5 pre-conference day schedule:

8:30 – 16:30
Engaging with African Philosophies: Ubuntu and Justice
SOE Seminar Room, Economics Building, UCT

What can we learn from African Political Philosophies, and ‘Ubuntu’ in particular? How can Ubuntu transform our ideas about justice? More generally, how can we meaningfully enter into conversations with views outside ‘mainstream’ political philosophy? This pre-HDCA conference event brings established and emerging African scholars together to introduce and explore key concepts in African Philosophies as they apply to issues of justice. Papers explore themes such as: human rights, corporate social responsibility, health, rectification, corruption, economic distribution, and others. As such, the event provides opportunities for capability scholars and practitioners to learn about these ideas, and to reflect on the way that these ideas are able to transform capability scholarship and practice. Confirmed Keynotes: Prof Thaddeus Metz (UJ), Dr Motsamai Molefe (UKZN), Dr Uchenna Okeja (Rhodes). Invited Graduate Students: Motlatsi Khosi (UNISA), Khali Mofuoa (UJ), Wade Seale (UCT), Tony Shabangu (UJ), Tlhogi Swaratlhe (UJ).
Register here:  https://www.google.co.nz/amp/s/www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/engaging-with-african-philosophy-ubuntu-and-justice-tickets-33205849590/amp
Contact: K.Watene@massey.ac.nz; George.Hull@uct.ac.za

9:00 – 13:00
Workshop on Participatory Video through the capability approach in an educational context
Eco LT 1, Economics Building, UCT
Download brochure here
Registration required prior to August 20: https://goo.gl/DN7bHi

In this workshop we will explore the value of using participatory video as a methodology to study the expansion of capabilities in educational contexts, both for young people and adults. In order to do this, we will conduct a 4 hour workshop in which the participants will identify educational capabilities related to their participation in the HDCA conference. These capabilities will be the main themes of the videos that will be planned, filmed and screened during the workshop by the participants themselves. We will use mobile phones as digital tools. During the screening, a capability approach analysis of the content of the videos and of the process itself will be conducted using the main elements of the approach.
Sandra Boni – aboni@dpi.upv.es

11:00 – ?

The Human Rights Thematic Group is organizing a site visit to Robben Island.
(This tour will be offered on both Mon. 4 and Tues. 5. We will cancel one only if no one signs up for that day.)
Every participant is responsible for booking their tickets and arriving at the meeting place at the Westin on time (time TBD).
Please note that the ferries tend to sell out so those interested are urged to purchase tickets as soon as possible.  There are three ferries per day, so be sure that you are buying the 11 am tour on 4 or 5 September (the afternoon trips can become extra windy, while the earlier tour will not leave much time to get everyone to the right place at the right time).
We will meet at the conference hotel (The Westin) and take a shuttle bus together to the V&A Waterfront. Details about the cost thereof will be confirmed once we have an idea of numbers. (Since the hotel is close to the waterfront, we do not expect that it will cost too much per person on top of your tour tickets.)
We are coordinating only the meeting point (at the Westin) and transportation to the Waterfront where we catch the ferry.  Everything else is organized by the official Robben Island tour and ferry company.
 Once you have bought tickets for the tour, you must RSVP here so that we can organize a shuttle for the right number of people.  You can bring cash for your portion of the shuttle cost that day (we will let you know how much ahead of time).
Stacy, Leo, and Stephen
Coordinators, Human Rights Thematic Group

14:30 – 17:00
Roundtable Discussion: The use of participatory methods concerning youth and education: bridging the gap between research and practice
Eco LT 1, Economics Building, UCT
Download brochure here
Registration required prior to August 20: https://goo.gl/DN7bHi

The session intends to facilitate an exchange of views between scholars and practitioners on the instrumental role of participatory research methodologies within development projects, especially concerning youth and education. The discussion will be guided by the following questions: How can participatory research be used to design development programmes concerning youth and education? How can participatory research be used to evaluate development programmes concerning youth and education? How can development programs enhance participatory research? What can practitioners expect from researchers and vice versa? The roundtable will involve the following external speakers: Vivienne Bozalek, Director of Teaching and Learning at the University of the Western Cape. Her areas of expertise include the social justice and the political ethics of care perspectives, innovative pedagogical approaches, including the use of educational technologies, feminist and participatory research methodologies and critical family studies. Ronald Wesso (TBC), Research and Policy Lead at Oxfam South Africa. He has worked as an activist researcher on land and agrarian studies, and before that, democracy and public power in order to support struggles for progressive social change. He has also been involved in various initiatives to build autonomous movements of the poor. Joanna Wheeler, Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Political Studies, University of the Western Cape. She is researcher, facilitator and trainer in participatory processes, including creative storytelling approaches, with a commitment to increasing the voices of those less heard through citizen action. She is also Founder and Director of Transformative Story.
Caterina Arciprete – caterina.arciprete@unifi.it

Complexity and method: bridging the divide
(Time and place to be determined)
In this workshop we will explore how to use complex systems approaches to understand and engage with ‘wicked’ policy problems, such as food insecurity, income inequality or poor health. In order to do this it will start with an overview of complexity theory and its implications for the social sciences. Included will be a discussion of how complexity theory can enrich applications of the Capabilities Approach in the real world. We will then cover a range of practical tools to assist researchers and practitioners in operationalising complexity, drawing on Luke Craven’s work on food insecurity. Finally, we will split into small groups, where workshop participants will discuss their work-in-progress, and engage in a discussion about they could effectively incorporate complexity into their own projects.
Luke Craven – luke.craven@sydney.edu.au


Registration, fees & scholarships, visa information

Register online at: https://hd-ca.org/2017-conference-registration. Early registration rates are available through July 10. Students and scholars from low- and mid-income countries will pay a significantly reduced registration fee, as the following schedule indicates:

  • Professional, high-income country, early ($380)
  • Professional, high-income country, standard ($430)
  • Professional, low- or mid-income country, early ($190)
  • Professional, low- or mid-income country, standard ($240)
  • Student, high-income country, early ($190)
  • Student, high-income country, standard ($240)
  • Student, low- or mid-income country, early ($90)
  • Student, low- or mid-income country, standard ($130)

Please note that the registration fee includes a year’s membership in the HDCA. As in previous years, the HDCA aims to make partial financial assistance available to those who need it. Details to be made available in due course on this page.

Scholarships for young scholars (35 or under)

Applications for partial funding are accepted from participant’s who have an average review score of 80 or above. Due to limited funds the HDCA places a cap on scholarships of $1,000 with average funding in the region of $500. Applicants should send:

1) An overview of costs (travel, accommodation, conference fee)

2) Institutional affiliation

3) A statement of age

Applications should be sent to hdca.conference@uct.ac.za

The deadline for applications is 12:00 Monday 22nd May

Decisions will be sent by 31st May.



All visitors to South Africa are required to have a valid passport and visa.

There are countries that are visa exempt and these can be found on the South African Home Affairs website given below:


You may also visit the nearest South African Embassy or Consulate in your country for more information.

Immigration law in South Africa also requires all visitors to have a passport with a minimum of one empty page. The passport must also be valid for a period of at least 6 months after the intended date of departure. All visa applicants to South Africa must have proof of funds to support their stay in South Africa and satisfy immigration offers at the port of entry.

Visitors who have a visa requirement in their country should visit the nearest South African Embassy or Consulate in their country for visa application. For a full list of all South African embassies and consulates you may visit: www.dirco.gov.za/webmissions/index.html


Invitation Letters

If required, a letter of invitation can be organized on request from the Conference Organizers. All requests are to be sent to hdca.conference@uct.ac.za

It should be noted that this letter of invitation is not a commitment of financial support. The letter of invitation will only be sent to registered delegates who have paid the stipulated registration fee.










The organisers of this year’s conference have selected The Westin Hotel, Cape Town (http://www.westincapetown.com/) as the primary venue for the conference. The Westin Hotel boasts the largest conferencing facility in Cape Town, making it the logical choice for the organisers. An added bonus is the location: situated in the CBD, the hotel is adjacent to the the Cape Town International Convention Centre and a shuttle drive away from the busy Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. The latter is the site of the gateway to Robben Island, where the late president Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for most of his life.

The organisers highly recommend that participants book their stay at the Westin Hotel – to this end, preferential rates have been secured for all participants.  Room rates start at R3,000/night (approx. 225 US $). Please use this booking portal:

In addition to the Westin Hotel, the organisers have also arranged preferential rates at the establishments below. Note that the Protea Hotel and All Africa House are located in suburbs outside the city. Transport will be arranged for participants staying here to and from the conference each day.

    Book your group rate for HDCA

    This historical Cape Dutch Manor house is centrally located adjacent to the N2 highway, Just 11 minutes from the Newlands Rugby Stadium and only 15 minutes from Cape Town International Airport. Connecting business travelers to a vast commercial office complex that houses numerous national and multinational companies, all whilst escaping to a view of beautiful lush gardens. And while the current manor house dates back to approximately 1880, records indicate that the site has been settled since the 1660s. The hotel will offer GUESTS a comfortable, period sensitive lounge in which to socialise or hold meetings, as well as breakfast and a swimming pool at which to relax. Attractions in close proximity to the Protea Hotel Cape Town Mowbray are Table Mountain, Canal Walk Shopping Centre, Camps Bay and Clifton Beaches, V&A Waterfront, Cavendish Square, Cape Town Convention Centre, Green Point Urban Park, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and the Riverclub Golf Range.
    Single en-suite rooms, including breakfast, are available at the reduced rate of R1,100.00/night (approx. 83 US $).Please quote booking reference HDCA2017 to receive the preferential rates.
    All Africa House was created as a concrete expression of the University of Cape Town’s mission to be “an outstanding teaching and research university, educating for life and addressing the challenges that face our society.”
    Expanding on this key aspect, it is central to UCT’s mission to “recognise our location in Africa and our historical context, claim our place in the international community of scholars, and strive for inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional collaboration and synergy”. This spacious, modern complex is set against the spectacular backdrop of Table Mountain.
    A range of rooms and suites, ranging from R500.00 – R1,100.00/night (40 – 83 US $) are available. These rates include breakfast. All Africa House is situated on UCT’s Middle Campus in Rondebosch.
    Please send a request for a booking to cally.dewaal@uct.ac.za stating clearly that your booking is related to the HDCA conference.

If you have registered for the 2017 summer school and are interested in keeping costs down by sharing accommodation during your stay in Cape Town please contact Madhulika Sahoo with your details (madhulika.sahoo@hotmail.co.uk.)  Madhulika is a student who is attending the 2017 summer school who has offered to facilitate sharing contacts with those interested in sharing accommodation.  Please note that the HDCA takes no responsibility for any arrangements you make in this regard.

Other accommodation options are listed below.

Grading Hotel Name Website Room rates
ððððð Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront https://www.radissonblu.com/en/hotel-capetown From R3752/single occupancy (approx. 270 US $)
ððððð Portswood Hotel http://www.legacyhotels.co.za From R2100/single occupancy (approx. 157 US $)
ðððð Cape Town Victoria Junction http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/cptvi-protea-hotel-victoria-junction-waterfront/?scid=bb1a189a-fec3-4d19-a255-54ba596febe2 From R1700/single occupancy (approx. 122 US $)
ðððð Southern Sun Waterfront www.tsogosun.com/Hotels/Waterfront From R2800/single occupancy (approx. 225 US $)
ðððð The Capetonian


http://www.raya-hotels.com/rayahotels/capetown/index.html From R1200/single occupancy (approx. 95 US $)
ðððð Southern Sun The Cullinan https://www.tsogosun.com/the-cullinan?chebs=gl-hotel_southern-sun-the-cullinan&utm_source=google&utm_medium=businesslisting&utm_campaign=hotel_southern-sun-the-cullinan From R4300/single occupancy (approx. 325 US $)
ððð City Lodge Victoria and Alfred Waterfront https://clhg.com/hotels/180/City-Lodge-Hotel-Victoria-and-Alfred-Waterfront- From R1473/single occupancy (approx. 113 US $)
ððð Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town Foreshore https://www.parkinn.com/hotel-capetown From 1230/single occupancy (approx. 95 US $)
ððð Hotel on St Georges http://www.hotelonstgeorges.com From R1030/single room  (approx. 80 US $)
ððð Altona Lodge http://www.altonalodge.com From R660 per room  (approx. 51 US $)
ððð Breakwater Lodge http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/cptbr-protea-hotel-breakwater-lodge-waterfront/?scid=bb1a189a-fec3-4d19-a255-54ba596febe2 From 1250/single occupancy (approx. 96 US $)
ððð New Tulbagh Hotel http://newtulbaghhotel.com From R1395/single occupancy (approx. 110 US $)
ððð Happy Rhino Hotel www.happyrhino.co.za/




From R565/single occupancy (approx. 45 US $)
ððð Cape Diamond Hotel http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/cptbr-protea-hotel-breakwater-lodge-waterfront/?scid=bb1a189a-fec3-4d19-a255-54ba596febe2 From R1100/ single occupancy (approx. 83 US $)


Venue and attractions

The Westin Hotel, Cape Town (http://www.westincapetown.com/) is the primary venue for the conference. The Westin Hotel boasts the largest conferencing facility in Cape Town. An added bonus is the location: situated in the CBD, the hotel is adjacent to the Cape Town International Convention Centre and a shuttle drive away from the busy Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. The latter is the site of the gateway to Robben Island, where the late president Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for most of his life.


Information to come

HDCA Summer School

Human Development and Capability Association Summer School

University of Cape Town , Sunday 3 and Monday 4 September, 2017

 Ahead of the annual HDCA Conference taking place in Cape Town this year there will be a two-day HDCA Summer School aimed at doctoral students working with the capability approach.  It will take place over two full days at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, on Sunday 3 and Monday 4 September 2017.  The aim of the summer school is to introduce students to foundational concepts within the capability approach as well some core themes where current theoretical and empirical work is taking place.  Participants will also have an opportunity to get group feedback on their research projects from senior scholars in the field.  This year we are delighted to be welcoming Melanie Walker, Mario Biggeri and Alejandra Boni as guest tutors on our summer school teaching team.


Applications to the 2017 Summer School are now closed. Acceptance letters have been sent.

If you have registered for the 2017 summer school and are interested in keeping costs down by sharing accommodation during your stay in Cape Town please contact Madhulika Sahoo with your details (madhulika.sahoo@hotmail.co.uk.)  Madhulika is a student who is attending the 2017 summer school who has offered to facilitate sharing contacts with those interested in sharing accommodation.  Please note that the HDCA takes no responsibility for any arrangements you make in this regard.

Summer School Team

Caroline Sarojini Hart, HDCA Education Officer, c.hart@sheffield.ac.uk
Sridhar Venkatapuram, HDCA Officer at Large,
Graciela Tonon, HDCA Secretary,