Departmental approach to Community Interaction (CI)
The Department considers much of what it does in terms of teaching, research and service delivery as meeting most of the formal criteria set for Community Interaction. As such it has a delegated functionary (Prof SLA Ferreira) tasked with liaising with the Office for Community Interaction at SU, and ensuring that departmental activities meeting the stringent requirements are registered on the university’s community interaction data base. Community interaction is part of the department’s mission, and attempts are made to promote community interaction in the department.
Four types of community interaction are recognised:
- Type 1: Integration of Teaching and learning, Research & CI. In some rare occasions, this is achieved where projects integrate aspects of all three core functions.
- Type 2: Integration of Teaching and learning and CI. Examples of this type of CI are service-learning and short courses.
- Type 3: Integration of Research and CI. Examples of this type of CI are contract research, community-based research and science for society initiatives.
- Type 4: Volunteerism and public service. Examples of this type of CI are student volunteerism, public service by faculty, community outreach and partnerships.
Most of our teaching focus is on subject matter relevant to the understanding and improvement of development conditions in diverse communities and constituencies. Many practical exercises and fieldwork as part of our courses require direct contact and in situ involvement with local communities and institutions. Moreover, many departmental staff members have established long-standing relationships with governmental entities and advocacy groups at all scales to effect social and economic developmental
Integration of Teaching and learning, Research & CI
DiMP/RADAR’s fifteen year-long interaction with local and provincial disaster management officials has provided a vehicle for at least three community risk assessments annually. These participatory risk assessments in disadvantaged settlements constitute an integral component of short course or honours module teaching, and result in the co-production of risk-related knowledge that enables developmental action. This is most clearly illustrated by recent student research undertaken in Doringbaai, while the Cape-Winelands Disaster Risk Assessment Training initiative is currently in process.
Integration of Teaching and learning and CI
Departmental community-related short courses both technical and applied, equip authorities and the public with skills to better analyse, understand and improve often difficult social and environmental conditions. The Disasters and Development short course offered by DiMP/RADAR is one example where, for 13 years, the course has been offered to a defined ‘community of practice’, in order to strengthen capacities related to disaster risk management in African contexts.
Integration of Research and CI
Two strong examples of ‘science for society’ CI projects are DiMP/RADAR’s ex post study on the Eden and Central Karoo municipalities 2009-2011; Drought and Humanitarian Trends research across 14 southern African countries, respectively commissioned by the Provincial Disaster Management Centre and the Regional Interagency Standing Committee of the United Nations.
Volunteerism and public service
Departmental staff members are actively involved in a wide range of public service activities that extend from local volunteerism to transnational and global advocacy. For example, DiMP/RADAR’s continuing advocacy for increased engagement of higher education institutions in the advancement of risk averse development has been concretely expressed through the mobilisation of its transnational academic partnerships on a global platform. Similarly, staff members actively engage in policy advocacy to effect transformation of legal frameworks (for instance, DiMP/RADAR engagement in recent amendments to the Disaster Management Act).