Community Engagement Symposium 2021

CE Symposium 2021
CE Symposium 2021

Rhodes University Community Engagement and Durban University of Technology will host their annual Community Engagement Symposium with an adapted blended format on 19 to 21 October this year. Rhodes University Community Engagement has been organising these spaces for sharing and learning for over six years, and this year, the symposium will feature a virtual component in response to the Covid pandemic.

The Community Engagement Symposium bring together academics, community partners and students to share and critically discuss their experiences and learnings, and the theoretical implications of all the elements of community engagement. Community Engagement is broad and encompasses volunteering, service-learning and engaged research. By bringing together diverse perspectives, the CE Symposium serves as a unique space for learning and is one of a kind in the community engagement space.

The last edition of the CE Symposium was in 2018 and a selected number of presentations were published this year in a book, ‘Challenging the "Apartheids" of Knowledge in Higher Education through Social Innovation,’ edited by RUCE staff, Dr Jo Bezerra, Dr Sharli Paphitis and Dr Craig Paterson.  

The CE Symposium is a three-day summit of talks, activities, and workshops. This year, the theme is "The role of Community Engagement in the reimagination of higher education during and post the Covid 19 Pandemic."  Noteworthy speakers include Mapula Maponya, winner of 2019 Rhodes University Vice Chancellor's Distinguished Community Engagement Award; Darren Lortan of the South African Higher Education Community Engagement Forum (SAHECF) and the Nine Tenths Mentoring Programme team, winners of the Talloires Network 2021 MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship.

This year’s theme is a response to Higher Education being based on an economic foundation that has been severely challenged and shaken by COVID-19. The pandemic has clearly shown that the current education system which educates for certainty is unable to cope with the uncertainty caused by the pandemic. Importantly, the pandemic has highlighted the need for all of us to be socially responsible - to take care of ourselves and care for others - be responsible for ourselves and be responsible for others.  The current discourse on the re-imagination of higher education reflects the lexicon of CE - for example, the purpose of HEIs is for the public good; social and civic responsibility; care and compassion; community development.

RUCE called on stakeholders to submit abstracts under three related themes: CE’s contribution to the re-imagination of higher education; Rethinking Community Engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic and post pandemic and Community Engagement Perspectives: Sustainable Development during and post the Covid 19 Pandemic, and abstracts will be presented in a range of formats, including posters, storytelling, workshops and performance pieces. English, IsiXhosa and Afrikaans contributions were also encouraged.

As well as talks, three pre-conference short courses are on offer to attendees: Digital Storytelling for CE; Introduction to Volunteer Programme Development for HEIs and Re-envisioning Higher Education through an Integral Education lens.

You can find more information, FAQs and information about the sub-themes on the symposium website here. For information regarding registration payment, please contact Thulani ( and for more information about the symposium, please contact Joana Bezerra (