Understanding Social Responsiveness: Portraits of practice at the University of Cape Town

Judith Favish, Sonwabo Ngcelwane


Abstract

In 2004 the University of Cape (UCT) launched its first annual report on social responsiveness at the university. As a public institution receiving considerable funding from the public purse, it was deemed appropriate that the university should report annually on how it was addressing major development challenges facing the country. The first part of this article describes the process of developing a shared definition of and conceptual clarity about social responsiveness. The second part develops this further by outlining how practices on the ground helped to inform a conceptual framework defining the links between social responsiveness and the other core processes of the university: research and teaching. The third part of the article describes ways to support and reward social responsiveness. Finally, the article assesses the extent to which UCT has been able to institutionalise social responsiveness. The article outlines progress that has been made and suggests that the participative processes employed in the policy development phase have helped lay the foundations for institutionalisation. Despite this, however, challenges remain with respect to ensuring a consistent implementation of the policy across the institution and maximising the impact of social responsiveness on addressing critical challenges facing the country.

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