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4th S-Direct Seminar 2018 





About Seminar

4th S-Direct Seminar 

October 2, 2018

University of the Western Cape

The 4th S-DIRECT seminar is an initiative of the International Joint Research Group (IJRG) combining the expertise of imec-Smit (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), University of Gent, University of the Western Cape (UWC) and its extended partnership.

Theme : The role of Universities in the Age: A human-centric approach to e-Inclusion in the Digital Economy

You are invited to participate in the 4th S-DIRECT seminar scheduled for 2 October 2018 at the UWC Campus


It is without doubt that the international and national discourse about the changing digital society (with specific to the cyber-physical networks) and its impact is intensifying.


Data-driven technologies, intelligent automation and 21st century skills are some of the concepts that form part of multiple conversations and strategies in an attempt to prepare individuals, communities and societies for the future


The October S-DIRECT seminar is aimed at providing a perspective on the role of Universities within this context with specific reference to human-centric approaches for the inclusion of people (communities) in the digital economy.


This discussion will be informed by relevant perspectives on national digital transformation developments and challenges, and by key initiatives within the Western Cape Provincial digital strategy. The afternoon session will follow a workshop approach to explore and unpack two critical topics, namely:


  • Approaches and instruments to assess the outcome, progress made and “impact” of digital-related skills and inclusion interventions (concrete examples such as the Belgium Digimeter will be discussed)

  • The privacy implications of the changing digital society

Please join us for the day and participate in the sharing and learning experience.  

Partners & Participants



Program & Speakers


4th S-DIRECT SEMINAR- The role of universities in the digital era
02 Oct 2018, 08:30 – 16:00
School of Public Health,
School of Public Health, Bellville, Cape Town, South Africa


Speaker Profiles

Prof Rik Van de Walle,  Rector, Ghent University 


Rik Van de Walle (°1970) is Rector at Ghent University since October 2017. In his role as Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, he was involved in CESAER and welcomed the new impetus recently given to the network. In collaboration with the EU Office in the university’s Research Department, he proactively supported the involvement of his faculty and of Ghent University in European Public Affairs activities. 


He graduated in engineering physics in 1994 and obtained his doctoral degree in engineering physics in 1998. He was a visiting post-doctoral fellow at the University of Arizona (USA), before returning to Ghent University to set up the Internet and Data Lab which became one of the founding research groups of IBBT/iMinds, now part of IMEC. As a senior full professor, his specialties involved multimedia applications, systems and signals and data science. Between 2012 and September 2017, he was Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture until he was appointed Rector at Ghent University. 


Additional positions 

  • • Member of the Board of Governors IMEC, since 2016 

  • • Member of the Board of Governors Greenbridge Incubator, since 2015 

  • • Member of the Board of Directors IBBT/iMinds, 2007 – 2016 

  • • Member of the Board of Governors Ghent University, 2008 – 2012 

  • • Head of Delegation Belgian National Body MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group), 2007-2010 




  • Rotblat Medal for most cited paper of the last 5 years, in Physics in Medicine and Biology, "GATE: a simulation toolkit for PET and SPECT", Physics in Medicine and Biology (2004), 2009. 

  • "Certificate of Appreciation for outstanding contributions to International standardization for ISO/IEC 21000-10 MPEG-21 Digital Item Processing from the Moving Picture Experts Group", awarded jointly with Frederik De Keukelaer and Jeroen Bekaert, 2006. 

  • "Certificate of Appreciation for outstanding contributions to International standardization for ISO/IEC 21000-2 MPEG-21 Digital Item DeclarationSecond Edition from the Moving Picture Experts Group", awarded jointly with Frederik De Keukelaere, 2005. 

  • "Certificate of Appreciation for outstanding contributions to International standardization for ISO/IEC 21000-2 MPEG-21 Digital Item Declaration-First Edition from the Moving Picture Experts Group", 2005. 

  • Scientific Award BARCO NV for PhD Thesis, 1998. 

  • BARCO Award for Master Thesis, 1995. 




  • • Articles ISI Web of Science: 150+ 

  • • Articles in peer-reviewed conference proceedings: 600+ 

  • • (co)editor of books: 2 

  • • (co)author of book chapters: 20



Prof Carolien Pauwels, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Vrije Universiteit Brussel


Since 2016, Prof. dr. Caroline Pauwels is rector of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. She studied philosophy and communication sciences, and is a member of the communication sciences department since 1989, that she presided for the last years. She promoted in 1995 with a dissertation on the audiovisual policy of the European Union. From 2000 to 2016, rector Pauwels directed the research center SMIT, that specializes in information and communication technologies, and that became part of iMinds (now IMEC) in 2004. Within iMinds, rector Pauwels was head of the Digital Society Department that unites research groups from the universities of Ghent, Leuven and Brussels. From 2012 to 2014, the University of Ghent awarded her the Francqui Chair. In addition, she was/is a member of several boards of directors, functioned as government commissioner for the VRT and is a member of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts.



Prof Tyrone Pretorius, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, University of the Western Cape.  


Prof Tyrone Pretorius is currently the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Western Cape.  He was previously the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at the University of Pretoria responsible for Teaching and Learning, all faculties of the University, the Gordon Institute of Business Science, Resource Allocation and Institutional Planning.


Prior to his appointment at the University of Pretoria he was the Pro Vice-Chancellor of Monash South Africa, a campus of Monash University, Australia. Before joining Monash, he was Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and spent 10 years as Dean of Community and Health Sciences at UWC. 


With a background in psychology, he holds two doctorates, one from the University of the Western Cape and one from the University of the Free State. In addition he is a past fellow of the Yale University Southern Africa Fellowship Programme and also participated in the Oxford University Leadership programme.


In respect of professional associations, Prof Pretorius is a member of the European Association for Institutional Research, the Psychological Society of South Africa and currently serves as the Statistical Editor of the South African Journal of Psychology.  In addition, he is a past member of the New York Academy of Science, The American Psychological Association, the International Liaison for the Division of Counselling Psychology of the American Psychological Association and Reviewer for several International Psychology and Social Science Journals.


Post 1994, Prof Pretorius held membership in several civil society structures such as the Prisoners After-Care League, Rural Support Network and Western Cape Mental Health Advisory Group.  In addition, he chaired or was active in several structures that contributed to policy development in the new South African democracy, amongst others the Ministerial Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, the Ministerial task team on Abuse and Malpractice in Psychiatric Institutions, the Economic Advisory Group of the Premier of the Northern Cape and the Statistics Council of South Africa.

Tyrone Pretorius has published extensively in respected national and international journals in the fields of career psychology, coping, stress, statistics and research methodology. In addition he has authored/co-authored a number of books, monographs and chapters in books. In 2001 he was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Psychology Society for his contributions to the discipline in South Africa.





Prof Lieven de Marez, Department of Communication Sciences, Ghent University

Lieven De Marez is a professor ‘Media, Technology & Innovation’ & ‘User-centric innovation research’ at the department of communication sciences at Ghent University. At the department he is heading the multidisciplinary research group for Media, Innovation & Communication Technologies (MICT), affiliated to imec, the world-leading R&D and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. Within imec, Lieven is the founding father of the Digimeter (, a reference monitor on the adoption & use of digital technologies.  Leveraging on the combination of imec’s panels and insights, and the broad methodological expertise of social science research methodologies (self-reporting, ideation, network analysis, digital methods, forecasting, physiological measures, human-computer interaction, quality of experience, adoption potential assessment, willingness-to-pay …) Lieven and his team are widely recognized for assessing the potential and impact of technological innovations in a broad diversity of markets. He published >70 articles, was already the promotor of 12 PhD’s.


Prof Leo van Audenhove, imec - SMIT Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Leo Van Audenhove is professor for new media and international communication at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). He is currently the Head of the Department of MEdia and Communication Studies at VUB.  Since 2014 he is also extraordinary professor at the University of the Western Cape. Apart from his academic work, Leo is currently also the director of the Flemish Knowledge Center for Media Literacy, which develops media literacy content, initiatives and projects in Flanders. His research interest covers e-inclusion, media literacy, ICT4D and Internet Governance.


Prof Jo Pierson, imec - SMIT Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Jo Pierson is full-time Associate Professor in the Department of Media and Communication Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) in Belgium (Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences & Solvay Business School). He is part of the research centre SMIT (Studies on Media, Innovation and Technology) since 1996 and holds a PhD in Social Science since 2003. In the past he has worked as researcher-advisor for the Dutch knowledge institute TNO in Delft. In his current position as senior researcher and executive committee member in SMIT, he is in charge of the research unit 'Privacy, Ethics & Literacy’, in close cooperation with imec (R&D and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technology). He lectures undergraduate and postgraduate courses at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Hasselt University and University of Amsterdam, covering socio-technical issues of digital media development and use. Drawing upon media and communication studies, in combination with science and technology studies, his interdisciplinary research focus is on data, trust, privacy, public values and user empowerment in media technologies. He is also elected member of the International Council of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR).


Dr Ilse Marien, imec - SMIT Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Ilse Mariën is working as a post-doc researcher at imec-SMIT, a research centre attached to the Free University of Brussels (VUB) where she has been involved in several projects related to digital inequalities, e-skills and other policy aspects related to digital media. For the moment, she is leading a 4-year federal research project - IDEALiC - that aims at setting the future scene of e-inclusion policies in Belgium. In 2016, she also successfully defended her Ph.D. that entails (1) a more contextualized and comprehensive theoretical framework for digital inequalities; and (2) a concise strategic framework for developing sustainable e-inclusion policies.


Dr Rob Heyman- SMIT Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Rob Heyman is working as a post-doc researcher at imec-SMIT, a research centre attached to the Free University of Brussels (VUB). He obtained a PhD in communication sciences at Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 2016. His dissertation researched social media's evolution and increasing use of personal information for advertising purposes. He identified privacy impacts by observing daily use of social media and the specific way these interfaces are designed. After his PhD, he used these methods to identify privacy impacts in smart cities, advertising and IoT applications through privacy impact assessments.


Olivia Dyers, Director for Digital Leadership, Western Cape Department of Economic Affairs and Tourism

Olivia Dyers is a career civil servant and currently the Director for Digital Leadership at the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism. Qualified as a City planner, Olivia has spent most of her working life of almost 20 years, employed as an economic development practitioner, having been at the cold-face of the development and implementation Western Cape Government’s biggest single recent investment, namely the Western Cape Broadband programme.


Prof Walter Claassen- Chair, NEMISA Board

Walter Claassen started his academic career at Stellenbosch University, where he became Professor in the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Studies. He was Director of Research of the University (1991-1993), Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) (incl. research) (1993-2000) and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) (2000-2007). As DVC he was responsible for introducing and implementing numerous policies relating to, amongst others, research and internationalisation at the University, and he played a key role in developing the University to its current standing. He was Chairperson of the Council of the South African Academy of Science and the Arts (“Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns”) (1993-1995) and founding member and Member of the Council of the new Academy for Science in South Africa (ASSAf) (1996-2004).

From 2009 he acted in various capacities regarding research in the Department of Information Systems and the CoLab for e-Inclusion and Social Innovation at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). In the period 2012 to 2015 he also acted as Senior Researcher in ResNeS (Research Network for e-Skills), a component of the national e-skills initiative. He is currently involved in research and the development of approaches and materials relating to digital skills development, amongst others matters regarding digital skills frameworks. He is responsible for the development of Digital Skills Framework One. At the same time, he pursues the links between modern ICTs (including mobile digital devices), the digital economy, digital life, and innovation (including social innovation).

Dr Leona Craffert - Director, Western Cape CoLab for eInclusion and Social Innovation, UWC

Dr. Leona Craffert is a research psychologist (HPCSA) with leadership experience in the research, business and academic sectors. She is the Director of CoLab for eInclusion and Social Innovation, based at the University of the Western Cape; a multi-disciplinary research and project unit focusing on human and institutional capacity building for the digital society. Her interests and expertise lie in organisational development, social change and open innovation, human capital and leadership development predominantly within the ICT and digital economy context.

UWC (through the CoLab) is one of seven South African Universities participating in the national digital skills initiative of NEMISA, sponsored by the National Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services. 

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