ACU encourages universities to prioritise engagement with communities

​​​The second day of the ACU Centenary conference took place on Thursday, 17 October 2013, at University of London’s Senate House in Central London, UK, and according to Professor Tinyiko Maluleke, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Internationalisation, Advancement and Student Affairs at UJ, proceedings kicked off on the theme of “universities, civil society and social engagement”. Speakers emphasised the importance of universities prioritising community engagement, and not alienating religious beliefs and practices.


ACU’s centenary conference, themed Future forward: design, develop, deliver, brings together top academics and high-profile speakers to discuss the role universities play in social and economic development.
According to Prof Maluleke, the first speaker, Professor Prabhu Guptara, management professor at William Carey University, India, expressed the need for universities to connect with NGOs; how they are just as valuable as government and business connections. Professor Janice Reid from the University of Western Sydney, Australia and one of the female speakers at the conference, suggested that universities need to prioritise community engagement amidst a plethora of other pressing activities, and local schools are an important entry point for community engagement.
“Universities need to approach community service with humility, realism and openness to the possibility of failure. Knowledge may make us powerful, but it’s in service that we find our humanity,” Prof Reid said. ​
Professor David Ford, Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge, UK, and Director of the Cambridge University Inter-faith Programme, focused on religion within universities and how religions are major shapers of human life and civilization.
Prof Ford suggested that universities of the future must be religiously literate when it comes to areas such as admissions, accommodation, and food. “Universities should aspire to be models of best practices in dealing with multiple religions; and academically-mediated religions should be clearly and formally acknowledged by universities,” Prof Ford said.
Dr David Rampersad, Executive Director for Regional and International Affairs at the University of the West Indies (UWI), later addressed the topic research partnerships with a focus on developing countries. He elaborated that for a regional university like West Indies, partnership is not optional and careful, strategic selection of partners, mutual benefit and capacity of partner are key considerations. He added that it’s important to that partners be upfront and clear about roles and responsibilities.
The University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) attendance at the Association of Commonwealth Universities’ (ACU) Centenary Conference, once again demonstrates the University’s commitment to become an international university of choice anchored in Africa, determined to shape the future.
Follow via Twitter, Prof Maluleke (@ProfTinyiko​), as he reports on the conference proceedings.


David Ford
Prof David Ford​


Janice Reid
Prof Janice Reid


Prabhu Gupta
Prof Prabhu Gupta
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