The Centre for General Education in collaboration with the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Engagement (DVC: RIE) at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) hosted a Community Engagement Seminar hybrid at the Coastlands Musgrave Hotel and also online, via Ms Teams on Friday, 03 June 2022.
The webinar was facilitated by Dr Benita Bobo from the Centre for General Education. Delivering the welcome address was Dr Juliet Ramohai, the Head of Department: Centre for General Education at DUT who thanked all attendees for being present at the first Community Engagement Seminar.
She specifically welcomed the DUT presenters, Professor Sibusiso Moyo, DVC: RIE, Prof Darren Lortan, Associate Professor of Mathematics, and Ms Phumzile Xulu, Community Engagement Practitioner.
Delving into the Engagement Framework 2030, Prof Moyo said: “By 2030, we want DUT to be an engaged University that produces research and innovation products that in turn provide unique solutions to solve societal problems.”
She added that the engagement framework doesn’t really focus only on community engagement, but it also focuses on engagement with other stakeholders and quad-helix partners. Prof Moyo explained the engagement pillars and stated how they are aligned to the University’s ENVISION2030 strategy. Her emphasis was also on the impact, visibility and reporting of engagement which she indicated are key elements in measuring DUT’s performance.
Speaking on what is happening at DUT in terms of community engagement, and focusing on some of the projects that are earmarked for the institution was Ms Xulu.
She first spoke briefly on the DUT Engagement App saying: “We developed the app for essentially two reasons. One was to create a platform where we can learn more about engagement activities, engagement projects that are happening here DUT, from all faculties, directorates, and units, initiated by both staff and students. So that was the first purpose, to just have this platform where we can showcase the work that we do in regards to engagement. The second one was to also create a platform for collaboration because we felt that in most instances we are not aware of what each person is doing, in our respective units and faculties or departments.”
DUT Technology, Transfer and Innovation Director, Prof Keolebogile Motaung also spoke briefly about the innobiz DUT Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and its involvement in engagement work, highlighting the collaborations they have with social partners to offer training to learners from schools in understanding research, innovation, and design thinking.
Looking at the national/international landscape and the philosophy of community engagement was Prof Lorton, who is also the Chair: SAHECEF.
“My definition of community engagement is couched in words phrased by a friend of mine, a long time ago. She felt that we need to unpack the definitional anarchy that pervades community engagement. Community engagement is referenced to a collection of people, engaged in practices that are governed by a set of principles underpinned by philosophies and paradigms, guided by policies impervious to power and mindful of platitudes. The kinds of people that are usually involved in community engagement are academics, students and representatives of communities or actual community members themselves,” said Prof Lortan.
He further discussed the practices, policy, principles, power, platitudes, places, paragons and perspectives and lastly focused on the present issues of community engagement.
Further on an open discussion and brainstorming session on how to get involved at the Centre for General Education was held with attendees. The day concluded with final reflections from Dr Bobo.
Pictured: DVC: RIE, Professor Sibusiso Moyo.