Towards a conceptual understanding of community engagement in higher education in South Africa

  • Raisuyah Bhagwan, Professor Durban University of Technology, South Africa
Keywords: Conceptual, Community, Engagement, University


As attention to community engagement grows, it is critical that academics, students and community collaborators understand how it is conceptualised. This paper presents findings from a qualitative inquiry with academics and community engagement administrators nationally with regard to how they conceptualise community engagement. Six universities were included in the sample that was selected purposefully from the South African Higher Education Community Engagement Forum (SAHECEF) list. Four major themes emerged from the data and focussed on context, process, mutual beneficial relationship and knowledge production. The data reflected a diverse array of conceptualisations on a continuum that ranged from the university-community dyad to that of the co-production of knowledge.


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