The Role of Universities in Civic Engagement and Social Transformation (72818)

Session Information: Education, Sustainability & Society
Session Chair: Débora Cristina Fonseca

Thursday, 21 September 2023 16:00
Session: Session 4
Room: Gracia
Presentation Type:Oral Presentation

All presentation times are UTC + 2 (Europe/Madrid)

The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of universities in community engagement, particularly with regard to the subaltern struggle against dehumanisation in postcolonial societies. I argue that redefining our role in social and community engagement creates more relevant universities and committed graduates that will be activists for social transformation and justice. The paper will draw from the South African experience of institutional and curriculum decolonisation. The reconfiguration of the university landscape across the world towards a market-driven paradigm that accentuates massification, competition and new managerialism, leans strongly on neoliberal conceptions of institutional reforms. The processes and policies of reform in the guise of transformation, is in reality largely an attempt at rationalisation, curbing government spending and capitalising on commercial opportunities in the global economy. The notion of the university as central to the knowledge project has been eroded and is geared towards individual economic investment by the student.
The academic agenda has morphed into the neoliberal mission that foregrounds graduate attributes linked to entrepreneurship and economic development, and skills for the global economy. The increase in contract academic staff has resulted in precarious employment with serious implications for student achievement. There is strong emphasis on quality assurance, programme audits, performance management and benchmarking. The paper will critique the neoliberal agenda using a decolonial lens, re-examine the purpose of a university and advocate governance frameworks that value community engagement and promote values of social citizenship. The methodology used is reflective practice as I reflect on my role as an activist academic for the past three decades.

Rajendra Chetty, University of the Western Cape, South Africa

About the Presenter(s)
Professor Rajendra Chetty is a University Assistant Professor/Lecturer at University of the Western Cape in South Africa

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Posted by Clive Staples Lewis

Last updated: 2023-02-23 23:45:00