Partnership for change: A collaborative framework for transformative engagement with the communities

Main Article Content

Purva Bhatt
Manju Singh


Institutes of knowledge production, namely higher educational institutes, interpret their role in relation to engagement in various forms. This article focuses on one such collaboration between academia and a local rural community intended to address their socioeconomic problems through a technological intervention based on an integrated community engagement and asset-based community development framework. Whilst these collaborative partnerships between academic and community experts can themselves take a range of forms, this article argues that, to be effective, researchers have to deal with not just the practical issues of how the community participates in research, but also the sublime issues of knowledge and power, especially in places where colonial imprints still persist. Thus, drawing on empirical examples from two significant initiatives of Indian academia, namely the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan and the Rural Action Technology Group, this article, through a project initiative, highlights the significance of the relational dimensions to these collaborative partnerships and the significance of equitable partnership-based trust, reciprocity and mutual respect using case study analysis. Through ethnographic field experiences of a rural Indian village, it identifies what could produce epistemically just dynamics, critical to achieving transformative engagement. In doing so, the article makes a case for meaningful ways in which the efforts of the higher education institutes could be interlinked with assets of the community to help restore them to thriving and resilient communities, as witnessed in the pre-colonial rule of India. It further offers researchers and community-engagement practitioners a pragmatic way forward, along with caveats for achieving such transformation.

Article Details

Research articles (Refereed)
Author Biography

Manju Singh

Professor of Economics, Malaviya National Institute of Technology Jaipur


Andersen, L & Malone, M 2013, All culture is local: Good practice in regional cultural mapping and planning from local government, UTS ePRESS.
Balagangadhara 2012, Reconceptualizing India Studies, Oxford University Press, ,
Bhatt, P & Singh, M 2023,‘Decoloniality, Community Engaged Scholarship and Epistemic Justice’, in, Community Engagement in Higher Education From Theory to Practice, Routledge India, India, viewed 18 June 2023,
Bhatt, P, Singh, W, Singh, M, & Pareek, KS 2023,‘Community Engagement in the Indian Higher Education Landscape’, in, Community Engagement in Higher Education From Theory to Practice, Routledge India, India, pp.45–66, viewed 18 June 2023,
Callon, M 1987, ‘Society in the making: the study of technology as a tool for sociological analysis’, The social construction of technological systems: New directions in the sociology and history of technology, pp. 83–103.
Chinyowa, KC, Sirayi, M, & Mokuku, S 2016, ‘Doing Things Differently: Using the ABCD Method to Negotiate with Local Leaders in Community Engagement Projects.’, Journal of International Education and Leadership, Vol. 6, No. 1, p. n1, ERIC.
Collinson, B & Best, D 2019, ‘Promoting recovery from substance misuse through engagement with community assets: asset based community engagement’, Substance abuse: research and treatment, Vol. 13, p. 1178221819876575, SAGE Publications Sage UK: London, England.
Gandhi, MK 2014, Hind swaraj: Indian home rule, Sarva Seva Sangh Prakashan.
Ganeri, J 2010, ‘The Study of Indian Epistemology: Questions of Method—A Reply to Matthew Dasti and Stephen H. Phillips’, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 60, No. 4, pp. 541–550, University of Hawai’i Press.
Giroux, HA 2002, ‘Neoliberalism, corporate culture, and the promise of higher education: The university as a democratic public sphere’, Harvard Educational Review December 10, Vol. 72, No. 4, pp. 425–463, Harvard University.
Hall, B, Tandon, R, Lepore, W, Singh, W, Easby, A, & Tremblay, C 2016, ‘Theoretical pedagogical framework for community based research’, Knowledge and engagement: Building capacity for the next generation of community based researchers, pp. 7–39, Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA).
Hall, BL & Tandon, R 2017, ‘Decolonization of knowledge, epistemicide, participatory research and higher education’, Research for All, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 6–19, UCL IOE Press.
Heredia, RC 1999, ‘Interpreting Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj’, Economic and Political Weekly, pp. 1497–1502, JSTOR.
Holland, B & Malone, M 2019, Institutional engagement-intentional, innovative and rigorous.
Kempers, M 2002, Community matters : an exploration of theory and practice, Burnham Publishers.
Korkut, U 2007, ‘Participatory Policy-Making, Participatory Civil Society: A Key for Dissolving Elite Rule in New Democracies in the Era of Globalization’, World Futures June 19, Vol. 63, No. 5–6, pp. 340–352, Routledge.
Movsesian, ML 2017, ‘Markets and morals: The limits of Doux Commerce’, Wm. & Mary Bus. L. Rev., Vol. 9, p. 449, HeinOnline.
Naily, N, Farisia, H, Umam, MH, & Wahyudi, N 2023,‘University–Community Engagement within the Indonesian Context: A Case Study of UINSA’, in, Community Engagement in Higher Education, Routledge India, pp.84–96.
Nye, DE 2006, Technology matters : questions to live with, MIT Press, Cambridge.
Olssen, M & Peters, MA 2005, ‘Neoliberalism, higher education and the knowledge economy: from the free market to knowledge capitalism’, Journal of Education Policy, Vol. 20, No. 3, pp. 313–345.
Paranjape, MR 2017,‘Tagore’s Nation: Swadeshi Samaj and the Political Novel’, in KL Tuteja & K Chakraborty (eds.), Tagore and Nationalism, Springer India, New Delhi, pp.77–94, ,
Rajan, R 2019, The third pillar: How markets and the state leave the community behind, Penguin.
Ravi, MR, Dhar, PL, & Kohli, S 2007, ‘Energy audit and improvement of a n updraught pottery kiln’, Department of mechanical engineering, Indian Institut e of Technology Delhi, New Delhi, India.
Rural Technology Action Group (RuTAG) n.d., viewed 18 June 2023,
Saha, SK & Ravi, MR 2019, Rural Technology Development and Delivery: RuTAG and Its Synergy with Other Initiatives, Springer.
Singh, DP, SU, SL, & Saha, SK 2020, ‘Pursuit of inclusive and sustainable technology development for rural population: Role of RuTAG at IIT Delhi’, Scientific Voyage, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 27–36.
Singh, W, Bhatt, P, & Singh, M 2021,‘Social Capital Creation by Higher Education Institutions: Fostering Partnerships for Common Goals’, in, Social Capital: Issues, Challenges and Perspectives, Nova Science Publishers, viewed 9 November 2022,
Skrtic, T 1991, ‘The Special Education Paradox: Equity as the Way to Excellence’, Harvard Educational Review, Vol. 61, No. 2, pp. 148–207.
Sulanam, S, Naily, N, & Iwanebel, FY 2016,‘PROCEEDINGS OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON UNIVERSITY-COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT’, in, The Committee of International Conference on University-Communitiy ….
Tandon, R, Hall, B, Lepore, W, & Singh, W 2016, ‘Training the next generation of community based researchers’, Retrieved January, Vol. 20, p. 2021.
Tussman, J 1999, ‘The Religion of the Marketplace’, NEW OXFORD REVIEW, Vol. 66, pp. 29–35, NEW OXFORD REVIEW INC.
Unnat Bharat Abhiyan n.d., viewed 18 June 2023,