Liesel Ebersöhn

Director: Centre for the Study of Resilience, University of Pretoria

Prof Ebersöhn is regarded as a leading scholar and teacher in resilience and resilience promoting interventions in high-risk school settings. Her research is positioned in contexts characteristic of an emerging economy country in transformation. She combines emancipatory and intervention methodologies to investigate pathways to resilience as human-ecological and cultural adaptive responses to chronic and cumulative adversity. Her recognised scientific contributions include a generative theory (relationship-resourced resilience) describing an emic system to counter chronic adversity, as well as ‘flocking’, a word she coined to depict a collectivist indigenous psychology pathway to resilience. Her research focus has had a decided impact on curricula for teacher training in several higher education institutions in South Africa. Her teaching and research outputs attest that higher education can effectively integrate research, teaching and learning as well as community engagement. Her pedagogy aligns with global citizenship and education as key strategies to restructure postcolonial conditions.

Professor Ebersöhn is Director of the Centre for the Study of Resilience and Full Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria. She is a National Research Foundation-rated researcher, and registered educational psychologist. She has received several awards for her research in Education and Educational Psychology, including a place in the coveted Women In Science Award (Distinguished Researcher category) of the South African Department of Science and Technology, the Exceptional Researcher Award of the University of Pretoria, and the Emerging Researcher Award of the Education Association of South Africa. She was a Co-Chair of the Poverty and Education Task Force (World Education Research Association - WERA), and currently serves as Secretary General of the WERA, Executive Editor of the South African Journal of Education and the Chair of the Ethics Committee (Faculty of Education). She serves as Chair of the International Research and Scholarship Committee (Division C, Learning and Instruction, of the American Educational Research Association), and was the South African international representative to the Building Resilience in Teacher Education (BRITE) Project Reference Group , Murdoch University.
Liesel has published prolifically with more than 75 peer reviewed articles, book chapters, several edited and co-authored books and close to 80 master’s and doctoral students completing their studies under her supervision. She has been an Associate Professor and Research Fellow respectively at Yale University’s Department of Psychology and Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in AIDS, and Visiting Professor at the Fogarty Learning Centre, Edith Cowan University. She has read keynote papers and has been invited to present lectures across the globe on themes related to her research niche. Examples include a plenary session in March 2016 as an invited speaker to the Global Development Network 17th Annual Conference in Lima and an invited symposium on Indigenous Pathways to Resilience at the 2014 meeting of the American Psychological Association.


  • –present
    Director: Centre for the Study of Resilience, University of Pretoria


  • 1999 
    University of Pretoria, Educational psychology

Grants and Contracts

  • 2018
    Director: Centre for the Study of Resilience
    Funding Source:
    National Research Foundation