The scholarship of university-community engagement
This article is co-authored by HEMA masters student Ntimi Mtawa. The article draws on his master's dissertation and was published by the International Journal of Education Development (Issue 49).
Albeit with different conceptualisations, the engagement between universities and external communities continues to gain significant currency. While the emphasis has been on more socio-economic relevance in a period of significant financial constraints and a changing clientele, a more significant area of engagement has been on promoting the scholarship of engagement towards regional/local development. The praxis and outcomes of community engagement continues to be surrounded by strong debate on issue such as its impact on the core functions of the university, teaching and research. This article sheds light on the community engagement practices from a case-study university in Africa. Using Ernest Boyer’s proposed scholarship of engagement model as a framework, findings provide evidence that, different contextual specificities affect the way university-community engagement practices evolve. The methodology involved an analysis of primary and secondary data collected through interviews with policy and academic staff. The article concludes with an argument that the success of university-community engagement in fostering social and economic development significantly relates to how much the practices of engagement is foregrounded in the universities’ core policy and practice. But also on how much academic scholarship draws on engagement activities. The challenge lies in ensuring this balance.