Knowledge, engagement and higher education in Africa

Article Authors: Shirley Walters, George Openjuru


Africa’s wide diversity of culture, language, socioeconomic conditions, climate, politics, and history is relected in the diversity
found in its multiple community–university engagement (CUE) approaches. African scholarship has an ancient and diverse multiethnic base that has been impacted by the historical forces of slavery and colonialism. Recent shifts from regarding communities as ‘beneficiaries’ to a view of ‘equal collaborative partnership’ between communities and universities are beginning to gain momentum and to yield mutually beneficial outcomes. A constructivist framework describing ‘scholarly’, ‘benevolent’, ‘democratic’ and ‘professional’ discourses is used to describe and illustrate CUE approaches in Africa. Examples are given of national policies and legislative CUE frameworks, and challenges to implementation are discussed. These require ‘boundary-spanners’ who understand cross-cultural dynamics and have the ability to co-create hybrid cultural spaces where people can collaborate to develop shared visions. The scholarship of CUE brings into focus questions of belonging and identity, which in Africa can manifest as a bricolage of traditional and modern elements of culture. CUE in Africa suggests directions for the transformation of higher education as a social responsibility to citizens and societies both locally and globally. CUE is, however, undertheorized, and more research is required to understand, learn and teach how to mediate the complex relationships that CUE requires.

Bibliographical metadata

Journal Global Universities Network for Innovation (GUNI)
Pages 142-152
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