Exchange around community engagement fruitful

Social inclusivity was at the centre of the 2017 International Summer Academy on Student Leadership in Community Engagement hosted in China at the Guizhou University of Finance and Economics (GUFE).

This gathering, the third of its kind, came about as a result of a triad partnership between CPUT, GUFE and the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences in Germany.

CPUT students and staffers Na-eem Thebus (Education), Nawaal Carelse (Education), Mfundo Mbali (Management and Project Management), Ziyanda Tobani (Civic Engagement) and Theresa Burns (Service Learning) participated in the academy, while Jacqui Scheepers (Manager: Service Learning and Civic Engagement) and Nicholas Pinfold (Lecturer : Town and Regional Planning) facilitated workshops and co-taught with their international counterparts.

Dr John Volmink (former Acting Vice-Chancellor) visited the academy to confirm CPUT’s commitment to a long-term community engagement partnership with the two other universities.

This year’s academy provided a forum for participants to share interests and problem-solving strategies and encouraged a sense of caring, sustainable development, social entrepreneurship, voluntary activity and the development of citizenship.

“Our [former] Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dr Volmink, spoke warmly of Ubuntu and how community engagement can significantly enhance our existing teaching and research practice, as well as providing tangible benefits to communities. The 2017 Summer Academy has provided our students and staff with an opportunity to look outward in our quest for social inclusiveness,” says Pinfold.

The three universities have agreed that the lessons learnt during the three-year academy will now lead to the implementation of a tri-national, multi-platform summit on leadership in community engagement.

The partnership has over the last couple of years had far-reaching benefits for students and lecturers culturally, academically and socially. The academy provides support and guidelines for the development of collaborative community engagement projects for implementation in the three different countries.

The project themes are the development of an application for matchmaking community needs to student volunteers, two education projects to provide learner and teacher support in schools, and an environmental educational awareness project.