Community Engagement is an emerging discipline globally and the potential of engaged research is widely being acknowledged and incorporated into the academic agenda. In this year’s October graduation, the Community Engagement team proudly watched their second PhD candidate walk across the stage to receive their degree. Dr Theodore Duxbury, has been a dedicated, engaged researcher and volunteer throughout his studies and time at Rhodes University, contributing significantly to both the academic project and the Makana community.
Theo was supervised by Dr Sharli Paphitis and Dr Joana Bezerra, and the Pharmacy Dpartment’s Prof Roman Tandlich. Theo collaborated with the Amakhala Foundation and local communities, adopting an Asset-Based Community Development Approach. His thesis titled 'Understanding Critical Concepts in Engaged Research to Promote Health Resilience: The Case of a Systems Analysis and Epistemically Just Rural Health Development Project in South Africa,' received excellent feedback from the academic community.
Professor S. Khamanga, Dean of Pharmacy atRhodes University wote, “Of critical significance, Theodore's thesis highlighted the utmost importance of interdisciplinary, researcher reflexivity, collaboratory and inclusive approaches in the field of rural health development research. These approaches advanced the principles of epistemic justice and promoted sustainability and health resilience within marginalised communities. This fervent advocacy for the adoption of these principles within this context underscored its vital importance. Theodore's research contributes significantly to the existing corpus of scholarly literature and provides invaluable insights for guiding future initiatives aimed at addressing the multifaceted challenges inherent in rural health development research.”
Theo’s research highlighted the prevalence of hypertension and its risk factors as a major concern, while also shedding light on numerous community assets that could contribute to its management. Of paramount importance, Theodore's work emphasised the significance of interdisciplinary collaboration, researcher reflexivity, and inclusive approaches in the field of rural health development research. These approaches advanced the principles of epistemic justice and bolstered sustainability and health resilience within marginalised communities.
Theo is the second PhD graduate supervised by Community Engagement. In 2022, we celebrated Dr Mazvita Nyanhongo who was supervised by Dr Sharli Paphitis. Mazvita’s PhD research sought to investigate second language English speaking students’ experiences of language in Community Engagement learning within an English medium university in South Africa; and what role Community Engagement plays for second language English speaking students, as they navigate complex questions of identity and belonging within universities. The study was informed by the challenges students may face in the process of acquiring knowledge in higher education institutions.