Civil engagement in Higher Education and its role in human and social development
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Over the past century, the world has seen many social, economic and political ransformations. A largely colonial era has given way to a largely democratic one. Yet, while the democratization of the political culture guaranteed citizens’rights and freedom, it did not result in the democratization of learning and knowledge production. Changes in education systems have been slow in coming. Economic trends and civil society movements in the past decade have changed perceptions of what constitutes ‘knowledge’ and redefined the mission and mandate of higher education institutions (HEIs). With increasing demands to scale up their teaching and research functions, HEIs are facing new challenges in contributing to human and social development. The meaning and agenda of human and social development have also changed, and new civil society actors have been closely associated with this phenomenon. This paper looks at how the engagement of civil society organizations with the world of higher education has resulted in interesting trends in social policy formation and knowledge production. It presents examples of effective engagement between HEIs and the social and human development efforts of civil society (PRIA in Asia and Mpambo Multiversity in Africa), draws lessons from these interventions and highlights future potential for HEIs. Advocating the view that the research and teaching functions of HEIs should serve the larger mission of human and social development, it looks at the gains to be obtained from such partnerships. By exploring alternative sources and modes of learning and knowledge production, the paper provides a vision of the possibilities that engagement with civil society can open up in terms of HEIs’ contribution to social and human development in the coming decades.
CitationHigher Education in the World 3: New Challenges and Emerging Roles for Human and Social Development