Associate Professor Linda Newman forged an interest in social justice while working as a childcare centre director in the 1970s, when she realised that children with special needs were not well catered for in mainstream early childhood education.
Her development of outreach programs to bridge that gap eventually led to a new career as a teaching and research academic and, several decades on, those principles remain a driving force in her work.
Newman juggles administrative and teaching tasks in the Early Childhood program in the Faculty of Education and Arts with a substantial research agenda that takes her to places as diverse as Chile and South Africa - and often to the poorest parts.
"My research interests have always been closely aligned to my work with children, families and teachers, and more recently curriculum and pedagogy," says Newman, whose doctoral studies into professional ethics led to the development of the widely used Ethical Response Cycle [available in Newman & Pollnitz (2005). Working with Children and Families: Professional, Legal and Ethical Issues].
Newman and Professor James Albright are part of a team working with three South African universities - Fort Hare, Western Cape and North-West - to build capacity among academics for developing teacher education programs for the kindergarten-equivalent Grade R (or reception year). Enrolments in Grade R, a non-compulsory pre-primary year for five-year-olds, have increased considerably in that country as part of a national education improvement plan.