Rhodes sees community engagement differently. Not as something that's bolted on - an afternoon's volunteering here and there. But as something that is woven in to the fabric of the University, that is about authentic relationships, which make a difference to everyone involved - students, staff and the organisations and community members they work with. "Engagement in Action" talks to the people who are bringing that vision to life.
Listen deeply, tell stories
Digital storytelling is a growing movement across the world. Using simple digital tools, it helps people from all walks of life tell their own stories - to heal, to share, to be listened to. Rhodes Community Engagement is part of Common Good First, a global digital network of universities that showcases and connects social innovation projects around the world, and digital storytelling is at the heart of it. In this latest edition of Engagement in Action, hear how RUCE is helping the community make its voices heard.
8. "Into the messy spaces ..."
“If you were to ask in the modern university how much engaged research there is, it would be very, very small. We are living in an era when society is pushing back at universities and saying, ‘for us to see that you are valuable we want to see you take the risk of getting into the messy spaces’.”
Professor Tally Palmer, Director of the Institute of Water Research, won the 2018 VC’s Distinguished Community Engagement Award for her championing of ‘engaged research’ – research that partners with communities and shares knowledge and information, rather than imposes knowledge or extracts information. Instead of giving a lecture, Tally decided to engage and invited the community to a workshop – Makana: Water Works For Everyone. Hear what happened that night in the City Hall and find out more about a new kind of research for the 21st Century.
7. Professor Chrissie Boughey
"If you walk across the stage at graduation and all you have is knowledge, then we have failed you as a university."
Professor Chrissie Boughey retired as Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic and Student Affairs in June 2019. Central to her work at Rhodes was a focus on the integration of community engagement into all aspects of university life, driven by her deep conviction that Rhodes is uniquely placed to create graduates who have acquired much more than just information and skills. In this edition of Engagement in Action, she tells Jayne Morgan about the realisation of her vision of community engagement as a key pillar of what the university has to offer.
6. The Reviving Grahamstown Schools Programme (aka the VC's Education Project)
"It is better to light a candle than to curse darkness.” Public schooling in Grahamstown is broken. Just kilometers away from some of the most expensive and well-resourced schools in the country, are schools that are crumbling, teachers who are not coping and a system that is failing an entire generation of learners. In his inaugural speech in 2015, Rhodes Vice Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, vowed to do something about it. Three years on, and no one could have predicted how much difference his remarkable education initiative would make.
5. Clement Simuja
“For many people, technology is not empowering, it's disempowering.“ Clement Simuja arrived at Rhodes from Malawi to do a PhD in Information Systems about “something to do with agriculture“. Then a desperate head teacher from Alexandria arrived in the department asking for help. His school had plenty of computers but no one who knew how to use them. Clement went to see what he could do. It changed his research, it changed his life and the lives of many others. This is a story of technology, inspiration and insight into increasing Africa's chances of a genuine digital revolution.
4. Professor Tally Palmer
“Every single human being on this planet lives in a catchment. You are upstream of somebody or downstream of somebody. Water is the great integrating factor.“ Professor Tally Palmer is Director for the Institute for Water Research and founder of the Unilever Centre for Environmental Water Quality. What does she believe we can we do to meet the challenges of quantity, quality and access to water in this country?