21 February 2024 | Story Leonie Bolleurs | Photo SUPPLIED
Bridging Knowledge Cultures
A group of academics from the University of the Free State (UFS) and the North-West University (NWU) contributed to a chapter in the book Bridging Knowledge Cultures in Rural Health Education, which was recently launched during an online event.

The Directorate of Community Engagement at the University of the Free State (UFS) celebrated the publication of a chapter in the book, Bridging Knowledge Cultures. This transformative book was edited by Walter Lepore, Budd Hall, and Rajesh Tandon, Unesco co-chairs of the Unesco Chair in Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education.

Chapter 10 of the book – ‘Bridging Knowledge Cultures in Rural Health Education’ – was contributed by a group of academics from the UFS and the North-West University (NWU). The UFS contributors included Dr Karen Venter, Head of Service-Learning in the Directorate of Community Engagement; Alfi Moolman, former coordinator in the same department; and Dr René Walter Botha, Coordinator for Community Based Education and Rural Health in the Faculty of Health Sciences. From the NWU, the contributors included Prof Lesley Wood, Extraordinary Professor in Community-Based Educational Research; Beatrix (Bibi) Bouwman, Director for Sustainability and Community Impact; and Prof Hendri Coetzee, Extraordinary Associate Professor in the North-West University’s COMPRES research unit.

Identify knowledge differences/gaps

According to Dr Venter, the study conducted in the Xhariep District was considered a unique context for an in-depth exploration of participants’ subjective experiences to identify knowledge differences/gaps, and recommendations to bridge them. She states, “The aim of the initiative was to improve health outcomes by establishing lifestyle groups to enable the sharing of health information among participants and thereby encourage sustainable, accountable lifestyle practices.” 

Three questions derived from the case study were discussed during the launch: Who has the right to create knowledge? Who decides if knowledge is valid? And who will have access to the knowledge?

Other case studies included in the book also explored the dynamics of equitable research partnerships, providing practical recommendations to overcome obstacles and forge effective collaboration between academia and diverse communities.

Embrace the richness of diverse perspectives

Dr Venter believes that the launch event inspired the next generation of researchers and professionals to embrace the richness of diverse perspectives and knowledge cultures.

To access the rest of the case studies, including those from Indonesia, Malaysia, and India, you can download the book here. Access the discussion on YouTube here.

Parallel to the book, a guide was launched: Bridging Knowledge Cultures: A Guide for Community Practitioners and Community Organisations. You can access a copy here.

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