Professor Laetitia Rispel joins DSPI as part of her Senior Africa Oxford Fellowship

laetitia rispel

Professor Rispel joined DSPI between February and June 2022 as part of our Visitor Programme, which hosts academics and practitioners interested in contributing to and participating in its work. She describes her experience at Oxford University as unforgettable, with each day presenting an opportunity to learn something new. 

Laetitia Rispel, Professor of Public Health at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and South African Research Chair, was hosted in the Department of Social Policy and Intervention (DSPI) as part of her Senior Africa Oxford (AfOx) Fellowship.

Professor Rispel said: "the AfOx Senior Fellowship provided an opportunity for renewal and recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic and a beautiful space for reflection."

When asked to reflect on her time at Oxford, she stated that she had been very productive. Among her professional accomplishments are:

  • Presentation of her research on the health workforce, both at the AfOx Insaka and the DSPI Research Colloquium. 
  • Completion of four peer-reviewed journal articles 
  • Extensive supervision support to post-graduate students at the University of the Witwatersrand and mentoring of junior researchers. 
  • Completion of her thesis for the degree of Doctor of Science in Medicine, and submission for formal review/assessment, which would not have been possible without the Fellowship. 
  • Revitalisation of the idea of a book on the History of Nursing in South Africa for the period from 1960 until 2010.  
  • An interview with the Africa Channel of the South African Broadcasting Corporation programme called Womanity. This is a weekly gender-based talk radio programme that “campaigns for progress and development amongst women in Africa and aims to celebrate prominent and ordinary African women's milestone achievements in their ongoing struggle for liberation, self-emancipation, equality, human rights, democracy”
  • Teaching sessions both for the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and the Master of Public Health Programme at Wits University. 
  • Establishing new networks: Laetitia has been in ongoing discussions with colleagues at Oxford about a new research project.
  • Participation in research colloquia and methodology seminars of DSPI, with a commendation from the Head of the Department for her active participation.  

Oxford and the surrounding towns and cities offer a broad range of social and cultural spaces, Professor Rispel enjoyed learning about the history of the University of Oxford, the city of Oxford, and England while travelling by bus and rail. She also liked being able to walk around Oxford safely and visit new places. She describes the historical buildings' art and architecture as "a feast for the eyes." 

Professor Rispel expressed her gratitude to DSPI for hosting her and thanked the Head of Department (Professor Jane Barlow), her host Dr Rebecca Surender, and other DSPI colleagues for the dynamic environment, their generosity, and making her feel so welcome.