North-West University: New book on community engaged research sees the light

The North-West University (NWU), in partnership with Van Schaik Publishers, recently launched the book Community engagement research in South Africa – Methods, Theories, Histories and Practice. This book is a collaborative effort by three editors, well versed in community engaged research.

The three scholars, representing various disciplines, are Prof Elize van Eeden from the NWU, Prof Irma Eloff and Prof Hanlie Dippenaar.

During the launch of the book held at the NWU library, Prof Linda Du Plessis, deputy vice-chancellor for planning and Vanderbijlpark Campus Operations, commended them for their great work.

“The focus on community engagement is much needed. Community engagement is one of three core responsibilities of higher education, alongside research and teaching. There is a commitment to social justice in our university, and this book is an example of how we can integrate community engagement into our core business,” she said.

The book comprises 26 chapters and include contributions from 44 researchers from 20 national and international institutions. It provides insightful information on fostering sustainable and positive social change through engaged research and teaching in, with and for, research and community engagement.

The book proposes a transformative model for engagement, in which societal involvement is the driving force behind all university activities. It joins the split between core higher education and training activities and community engagement. It also advocates for teaching to prepare students to be agents for a proactive positive social change in all spheres of life.

Contributions in this book also suggest community engagement interventions in the intersections of fields such as education, social sciences, psychology, health, planning, engineering, and architecture.

They share best practices and draw from theoretical scholarship and practical experience, innovative ways of conceptualising, establishing and “community experiencing” projects. Based mostly on original research, the contributors encourage the thought of modelling the practical implementation of community engagement at universities (thus engaged institutions).