Monday, 14 September 2009

Tailloires Network to feature CPUT in upcoming international projects

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CPUT has been selected to participate in two international initiatives – the Talloires Network Book Project and the Talloires Network Twinning Programme.

The Talloires network is an international association of institutions committed to strengthening the civic roles and social responsibilities of higher education institutions.

Talloires Network Director Susan Stroud, who is based in the USA, visited CPUT in August and met with various roleplayers to collect information for the book.

The book will document the management of community engagement in higher education at 29 of the 130 higher education institutions that form part of the international network.

Stroud said that when looking at which universities to showcase, the network took in account diversity and location. CPUT is one of three universities in Africa selected to be part of the book.

Stroud said the institution was chosen because it is “different from the other institutions” in Africa .

“It is a merged university,” she said.

Stroud said CPUT also has an outstanding community engagement record.

Earlier this year, the Theewaterskloof International Community Development Project, spearheaded by CPUT, was awarded the MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship. This prestigious prize recognises exceptional student civic engagement initiatives at higher education institutions.

The institution is also actively involved in a large number of service-learning projects, which involve students and academics across various disciplines.

Stroud said she will spend the next few months travelling to the 29 institutions to collect information for the book, which will be published in 2011.

Universities in Asia, Europe, Australia and the Americas will also be showcased in the book.

The first phase of the book project involves completing an institutional questionnaire and the second phase a series of interviews to supplement information gathered through the questionnaire.

While at CPUT, Stroud held interviews with Executive Management, staff members of the Centre for Community Engagement and Work Integrated Learning and senior staff responsible for relevant policies and programmes.

She also met with academic staff involved in service-learning and community outreach projects, representatives of community partner organisations and government departments, and students involved in the various programmes.

“It is a huge project. However, the important thing is that we are putting something together that will be useful for all universities,” she said.

Stroud said civic engagement is a topic universities across the world are paying more attention to.

“Universities already understand teaching and research. It is only recently that service learning has been given the same attention,” she said.

Launched in 2005, the network believes that higher education institutions do not exist in isolation from the communities in which they are located.

Stroud said the network envisions universities as a “vibrant and dynamic force in their communities”, tasked with incorporating community service into research and teaching.

Dr Joyce Nduna, Director of the Centre for Community Engagement and Work Integrated Learning who has been instrumental in developing the relationship between CPUT and the Talloires Network, said this is a great achievement for the institution.

“We are getting international recognition in terms of community engagement,” she said.

The other two African institutions that will be showcased in the book are Afhad University for Women in Sudan and the University of Dar-es Saleem.

The institution will also participate in the Twinning Programme that aims at linking universities who are part of the Talloires Network.

The network will make $100 000 available to each institution to develop working relationships with a partner institution.

CPUT will partner with Tulane University in New Orleans.

Photograph: Dr Joyce Nduna, Susan Stroud

Written by CPUT News

Email: news@cput.ac.za