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Valerie Møller ENDOWED Track FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF QUALITY OF LIFE AND WELL-BEING IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA 

Named for an ISQOLS leader and pioneer in the advancement of the theme of the quality-of-life studies in sub-Saharan Africa, contributions made to the “Valerie Møller Endowed Track” will permanently endow a track on the “The Valerie Møller Endowed Track for the Advancement of Quality of Life and Well-Being in Sub-Saharan Africa” to be held as part of each ISQOLS international conference program. This track will include as least two sessions consisting of three or more participants whose research activities overlap with the purpose of this endowment.

Until recently, there has been a dearth of quality-of-life research conducted in Africa beyond health-related studies. Most of this work was conducted by outsiders, mainly by scholars based in international organisations or at universities elsewhere. For example, Frank Andrew’s 1989 symposium on quality of life featured a single contribution on Third World countries presented by a representative of the World Bank. Nigeria may be only sub-Saharan country whose quality of life has been documented in successive social indicator reports since Hadley Cantril’s classic 1966 study of human concerns.

This situation of under-reporting of quality of life in sub-Saharan African countries has changed dramatically in the new millennium. A new generation of local scholars based in Africa are now examining the lived experience of quality of life and well-being across a wide range of life domains in their own countries. Some of these emergent scholars trained abroad and have returned to apply their knowledge locally in order to contribute to the advancement of their society. Others have been able to gain their knowledge at local institutions. This group of local scholars from Africa may be better equipped than outsiders to understand the unique challenges and opportunities for enhancing quality of life in the region.

This endowed track aims to showcase insights on sub-Saharan quality of life gained by local scholars that contribute to a better knowledge of universal and unique experiences of well-being.  

Only the income earned from this Fund will be used to support the endowed track.

Short CV of Valerie Møller

Valerie Møller has lived and worked in sub-Saharan African for the greater part of her life. She and her architect husband first arrived in North Africa in a white Volkswagen kombi they’d converted into their ‘white elephant’ camper; it had standing room under the canopy attached to van’s roof. When their elephant van was stuck in the sand tracks of the Saharan desert in Algeria in 1972, they changed course and drove back to Europe where they boarded a Portuguese immigrant boat sailing from Lisbon down the west coast of Africa to Luanda in Angola. From there they followed a route along the southern coast of Africa, until they reached today’s Zimbabwe and found jobs there. On route, they and their white elephant met up with real grey African elephants!

Valerie is a sociologist by training with a PhD from the University of Zürich, Switzerland. Since 1973, she has held positions in social research institutes at three universities in southern Africa. She was appointed Director of Rhodes University’s Institute of Social and Economic Research in South Africa in 1998 and is currently Emeritus Professor there. In the late 1970s, Valerie pioneered the first systematic quality-of-life studies in South Africa. The trend study tracked happiness and satisfaction among South Africans from all walks of life over four decades from the apartheid period to the transition of democracy. Valerie’s qualitative and quantitative research on a wide range of life domains has been published as chapters in books and in Indicator South Africa and Social Indicators Research, among other journals. She has edited a number of Springer volumes on South African and international quality-of-life studies, including Barometers of Quality of Life Around the Globe. Her recent research looks at the history of human well-being in sub-Saharan Africa and the prospects for future happiness in the region.

Valerie served as President of the International Society for Quality of Life Studies and hosted its 7th conference at Rhodes University in 2006, the first to be held in Africa. In 2016, she received the Society’s lifetime Distinguished QOL Researcher award.

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