An interdisciplinary and inter-school - Social Sciences and Education - research partnership between UKZN and the University of the Free State was announced recently on the Pietermaritzburg campus.

The research partnership study will focus on community engagement and service learning. 

The study started with a brief but informative workshop to discuss ways in which service learning students can engage more collaboratively with local NGOs. 

A total of 40 participants, comprising academic staff, students, local NGOs and their community members participated in the workshop.  

Feedback was also given on a recently completed action research project involving multidisciplinary teams of students who worked on specific tasks that had been requested by NGOs Ujamaa, CREATE, and Lifeline in Pietermaritzburg. 

A new phase of this project, funded jointly by the University Teaching and Learning fund (TLRCG9) and the National Research Foundation’s Community Engagement funding stream was also introduced. 

‘The aims of the research are to explore the benefits of community-led responsible engagement, involving students working in cross-disciplinary teams.  Workshop participants worked together to explore potential projects for the new phase,’ said Professor Julia Preece of the UKZN School of Education.

Six postgraduate students from the two schools on the Pietermaritzburg campus will assist with researching eight case studies involving NGOs or community based organisations and students from a number of disciplines.

The workshop was jointly organised by Preece and Dr Desiree Manicom of the School of Social Sciences.

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