Moving towards engaged scholarship in the context of community engagement


Engaged scholarship defined

Engaged scholarship refers to the utilisation of an academic’s scholarly and/or professional expertise, with an intentional public purpose or benefit (which) demonstrates engagement with external (non-academic) constituencies. It aims to generate new knowledge, promote knowledge integration, the application of knowledge, or the dissemination of knowledge.

At the University of the Free State, we have categorised engaged scholarship into engaged teaching, engaged research, and engaged citizenship. The following picture represents our model of ES:


1.1 Engaged teaching and learning

Engaged teaching and learning involve the transmission, transformation, and extension of knowledge, which includes learning with various audiences through either formal or informal arrangements. The focus is primarily on higher education teaching, where students engage in collaborative learning platforms to learn with and from the communities. Thereby, students learn to think and act on local as well as global issues of real importance, as well as to integrate theory and practice for the development of praxis. In engaged teaching-learning, students are broadly prepared with in-depth knowledge and professional skills and attributes required for the world of work. They also gain a sense of existing social, political, economic, and ecological complex and dynamic challenges in greater society. Therefore, engaged teaching-learning educates students to live as socially responsible citizens, mobilising multiple forms of knowledge to make the right decisions, and use their capacities to contribute to the well-being of society. To ingrain the principles of engaged scholarship, the university curricula must unify the learning of knowledge with concrete actions, so that the teaching model is anchored in a real-life situation. Engaged teaching and learning can include pedagogies such as community service-learning, community-based learning, interprofessional learning, and clinical learning.

1.2 Engaged research

Engaged research incorporates reciprocal community engagement practices into the discovery, teaching, integration, application, development, and mobilisation of knowledge to the mutual benefit of community and academic interests. Engaged research can also include creative outputs and other expressions or activities. Of essence is that engaged research must be systematic and rigorous. Results need to be disseminated in publications for debate and have to be critiqued by peers.

The relevance of engaged research is not limited to developing science based on the latest theories and methods. It also includes the integration of theory and practice, as well as the inclusion of community partners as active contributors to identify relevant goals, research questions, and methodologies. An essential element of engaged research is to benefit the community and actively calls for appropriate research methodologies. Engaged research should be action-oriented and participatory in nature. These methodologies can include, but are not limited to, community-based participatory research or community-based research, participatory action learning action research (PALAR), action research or applied research.

1.3 Engaged citizenship

Engaged citizenship is an educational platform of preparing and supporting staff and students to play a leading role through building sustainable partnerships with other stakeholders, to respond to pressing societal challenges by deploying intellectual, human, and other resources for the development of communities.

The university will pursue the following three categories of engaged citizenship to ensure that all staff and students are offered an opportunity and support to apply active citizenship in our communities:

1.3.1 Academically engaged citizenship

Academically engaged citizenship refers to all the professional work, skills, time, and involvement of academics in professional, community, and other bodies rendered for the benefit of such communities outside of the standard university work. This may include

  • consultancy work for policy development;
  • fundraising activities;
  • community leadership roles;
  • training rendered to outside university organisations;
  • facilitation of workshops;
  • serving on professional boards and community organisations;
  • serving on expert panels;
  • providing expert help and advice to professional and community organisations;
  • providing expert advice to government departments; and
  • presentation of public lectures.

1.3.2 Student engaged citizenship

The student engaged citizenship category refers to all the work and involvement in community development done through professional and voluntary student organisations, residence programmes, as well as student affairs management programmes. This may include

  • Gateway and Kovsie ACT;
  • professional voluntary student organisations;
  • student voluntary associations;
  • residence programmes;
  • leadership roles in student formations;
  • student leadership training and development; and
  • fundraising activities.

1.3.3 University engaged citizenship

University engaged citizenship refers to the university as a corporate citizen and its contribution to the development of communities. This is done in a partnership formed at an institutional level to facilitate the development of communities. This may include

  • broad-based black economic empowerment;
  • fundraising activities;
  • the higher education sector;
  • technical and vocational education training education;
  • government;
  • community organisations;
  • religious and faith-based organisations;
  • traditional leadership organisations;
  • business and industry organisations;
  • professional bodies;
  • sports organisations; and
  • cultural organisations, etc.

For more information, contact:
Bishop Billyboy Ramahlele
T: +27 51 401 2822
C: +27 82 401 3279


We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful, to better understand how they are used and to tailor advertising. You can read more and make your cookie choices here. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.