STADIO acknowledges community engagement, along with teaching & learning and research, as the three core responsibilities of higher education in South Africa. At STADIO, community engagement embraces the principles of engaged scholarship. We aim to grow new and nurture existing relationships with local communities towards knowledge sharing, empowerment and capacity building, in a reciprocal manner that addresses issues of social and economic justice towards a meaningful contribution to the lives of all people in South Africa.
At STADIO we want to bring together academic pursuits and community needs through collaborative discussions to incorporate the voices, skills and knowledge of students and the community to their mutual benefit. We find inspiration in the work of Bhagwan (2017) who proposed four themes - context, process, mutually beneficial relationships and knowledge production - towards a conceptual understanding of community engagement. According to Bhagwan, the context of the community and of a higher education institution are often contrasting realities, and community engagement should entail a convergence of these two unique milieus.
Moving forward our goals are to consolidate sustainable relationships with non-profit organizations and communities, coordinate community engagement activities on an institutional scale, provide internship opportunities for our students in and through community engagement initiatives and to fund our initiatives through collaborations with private and public stakeholders to ensure that our engagements are meaningful to all participants.
Recent community engagement initiatives include the promotion of the importance of reading by the School of Education. They reached out through the Chatsworth Library to children in the local community by workshopping grammatical concepts through drawing and storytelling. The Faculty of Art and Design already has many student-driven community outreach programmes.
Projects in the pipeline include participation in the development of and additions to two schools in the Western Cape. Both projects focus on the incorporation of sustainable and natural building technologies. The STADIO community engagement working group is currently collaborating on a research project towards developing a conceptual framework for community engagement at STADIO as a private higher education institution. For future community engagement, STADIO plans to integrate community engagement with teaching, learning and research and will contribute to developing literature in advancing theoretical underpinnings for community engagement.
Recent community engagement initiatives include the promotion of the importance of reading by the Faculty of Education. They reached out through the Chatsworth Library to children in the local community by workshopping grammatical concepts through drawing and storytelling. The Faculty of Art and Design already has many student-driven community outreach programmes.
In support of Mandela Day 2020 a team of academics, the STADIO A-CARE-DEMICS , led by Prof Divya Singh, initiated an outreach to the Alpha Primary School and a baby project at the Tygerberg Children’s Hospital. Scarves and beanies, knitted by our academics, were donated to the children at the school and a collection of baby goods to the Children’s Hospital.
Bhagwan, R. 2017. Towards a conceptual understanding of community engagement in higher education in South Africa. Perspectives in Education, 35(1): 171-185