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

June 15, 2017 – Deadline for conference registration at early-bird rates

July 15, 2017 – Submission of full papers/posters

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


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.

Ifeanyi Menkiti, Martha Nussbaum Lecture
Born in Onitsha, Nigeria, Ifeanyi Menkiti first came to the United States to attend Pomona College from which he received his undergraduate degree. Later he went on to Columbia University and New York University for further studies. He received his Ph.D in Philosophy from Harvard University. He has taught Philosophy at Wellesley College for more than 30 years.

Ifeanyi Menkiti is the author of three collections of poetry, Affirmations (1971),  The Jubilation of Falling Bodies (1978) and Of Altair, the Bright Light  (2005). Other poems have appeared in journals and periodicals such as the Sewanee Review, Ploughshares, New Directions, New Letters, the Massachusetts Review. In addition, such other publications as the Evergreen Review, Stony Brook, Bitterroot, the Southwest Review, Chelsea and theAfrican journals Okike, Transition and Nigeria Magazine have also carried his work. In 1975, he was honored with a fellowship in poetry from Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities through the Artists Foundation, followed in 1978 by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Menkiti’s poetry has also been aired on National Public Radio and he has given public readings in the New York City public schools under the auspices of the Academy of American Poets as well as for radio stations WBAI (NYC) and WGBH (Boston).

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

Information to come

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.

    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 quote booking reference HDCA2017 to receive the preferential rates.

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

Information to come


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.

As the first part of a two-step process, we are now inviting expressions of interest from doctoral students wishing to join our summer school.  If you would like to take part in the 2017 summer school please complete the form hereWe will be making offers to successful applicants by 31 May so please submit your expression of interest as soon as possible. Applications received after 31 May will be wait listed. Once accepted, students will be required to formally register and make payment in order to confirm their participation in the program.

The cost of the HDCA summer school this year will be US$65.  This fee will cover teaching materials as well as lunch and refreshments on both days.  Participants will need to make their own accommodation and travel arrangements to the venue on the Cape Town University campus.  Our conference hosts in Cape Town have kindly reserved a limited amount of student accommodation on site which will be available to firm applicants until the end of June on a first come first served basis.  Details will be available from the end of May.

Please note, last year our summer school was full within one week of registration opening.  For this reason we strongly advise you to apply early and please note that priority will be given to students who have not previously attended an HDCA summer school.

We are looking forward to hearing from you and wish you the best of luck with your application.  If you have any queries please contact one of the summer school team below:

Summer School Team

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