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Towards a community engagement turn? Historians debate forms of engagement in 21st century-higher education

New Contree

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Title Towards a community engagement turn? Historians debate forms of engagement in 21st century-higher education
Creator van Eeden, Elize S.
Subject — Community engagement turn; Historians; History research; History education; Higher education
Description Should the luxury we currently enjoy of focusing our research mainly on debating and/or philosophising about the discipline of History in centres of Higher Education and Training (HET) not be transformed in the 21st century? Recently, the trend is that community engagement in these environments should become infused with the tertiary education sector vision by means of engaged research; and engaged, teaching and learning, and that HET scholarship should focus on community engagement that complements sustainable livelihoods. With this in mind a webinar was organised by North-West University’s Regional History Research Group. This was held on 29 November 2021, with the title “Engaging community/ies in regional histories research: Sharing experiences and best practice.” Prof Sulevi Riukulehto (Finland), and Prof Sekibakiba Lekgoathi (University of the Witwatersrand) were among the prominent speakers. Interesting ideas and experiences of working with communities were discussed and ideas were put forward on community engagement in the process of fieldwork.Historians are familiar with working in communities and engaging with them proactively, especially with selected individuals in communities. However, for the most part this tends to remain a one-directional process with the purpose of reaching a specific research goal and often has little community agency. In this discussion – here viewed as a commentary – my aim is to instil debate; to rethink the historian’s involvement in communities and how this can encourage the involvement of the wider community. Therefore, this discussion will be presented in two major parts. In the first, a brief discussion is inspired by the Annales approach, and this is then infused with ideas from several theoretical approaches that are more recent. These will be considered for their possible role in historical analysis and how they might be useful to historians as historical tools. In the second part I argue for a 21st- century approach to historical research that requires that historians associate more widely with communities close to their particular institutions/universities which will then function as spaces to allow students to learn from and to give back to the communities concerned. Thus, the positioning of (traditional) History in this visionary space for research, is linked to teaching and learning practices, particularly in undergraduate and honours modules. It is hoped that this will be a learning curve to gain and implement new, refreshing ideas that will contribute towards community sustainability and also create new research opportunities.
Publisher AOSIS Publishing
Date 2021-12-30
Type info:eu-repo/semantics/article info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersion — —
Format application/pdf
Identifier 10.54146/newcontree/2021/87/08
Source New Contree; Vol 87 (2021); 12 2959-510X 0379-9867
Language eng
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Rights Copyright (c) 2023 Elize S. van Eeden