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Educational Research for Social Change

On-line version ISSN 2221-4070

Abstract

SATHORAR, Heloise  and  GEDULD, Deldre. A Critical Approach to University-Community Partnerships: Reflecting on the Diverse Realities. Educ. res. soc. change [online]. 2021, vol.10, n.2, pp.88-104. ISSN 2221-4070.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2221-4070/2021/v10i2a6.

Postapartheid South Africa has seen a greater focus on community engagement by universities, and its inclusion as one of the core focus areas of higher education in addition to teaching and research. This focus on engagement with the community was ignited by a requirement to enhance the university's social responsibility through establishing partnerships with the communities it serves. Higher education institutions have traditionally positioned themselves in engagement projects as the singular organisation that has knowledge to offer when compared to what the community can offer. In this paper, we propose a critical engagement process to enhance collaboration in engagement projects. Our qualitative study resides in a critical theory paradigm, and we used drawings as well as narrative free writing to reflect and explore our perceptions regarding community engagement. We used the collaborative self-study methodology because it provides opportunities for critical and self-critical reflection that could lead us to discovering valuable insights, as well as provide suggestions on how to enhance university community partnerships. Our findings suggest that, despite legislation and efforts to enhance university community engagement, this remains a contested space where power relations, inequality, and claims to knowledge ownership continue to pose challenges.

Keywords : collaboration; collaborative self-study; critical community engagement; critical pedagogy.

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