Social responsibility is no longer a ‘fashionable’ term when it comes to education, especially within the realm of higher education. Over time, it has become an inherent part of many universities, globally, side-by-side with the more traditional mission and understanding of the institutions. More so, considering that their roles are expanding in engaging with the community at large. In other words, higher education is part and parcel on the community in co-learning and co-creating knowledge that forms part of education, in particular with higher education. This is clearly demonstrated in the various chapters in this volume. Most interesting is that it spans across the globe, illustrating its relevance as an important element in the new construct of higher education, moving forward. Simply put, higher education has moved from the metaphor of an ivory tower to that which is more democratic, people-centred and equitable.
That said, to do a foreword for a book as comprehensive as this is no easy task. Not only is it rich with new concepts and ideas, it is also enriched by many examples, practices and case-studies, making it even more relevant and practical, especially for beginners. Its publication is indeed very timely, to support the “third mission” of universities and higher institutions of learning in engaging the community more meaningfully. Many who are keen to be involved but are inundated, given the limited experiences and capacities to deal with diversely different challenges at almost all levels – local, regional and global – can find solace in the book. What is more, with the widening disparities and divides that affect more communities like never before, given the phenomena of global warming and climate change, it becomes more challenging in seeking for lasting and sustainable solutions. It is exactly for such reasons that this book is welcome, as it provides a spectrum of creative solutions and worldviews based on the 22 chapters, contextualised by no less than 10 countries. Edited by the UNESCO Chair in Community Based Research and Social Responsibility, co-chaired by Budd Hall of the University of Victoria, in Canada, and Rajesh Tandon of PRIA, in India, readers are privileged to have “a foundation of [their] thinking and practice over a period of 40 years” with respect to providing “an organisational framework for the theoretical and practical discourse” since the 1970s. More so, it is built largely in the context of community-based research and social responsibility in higher education in the global South, unlike most, which is to the exclusion of the North. This makes the volume rather unique!
Clearly, the motivation behind this book is to familiarise a new breed of young researchers and practitioners in acquiring better skills and training needs, as compared to their predecessors, in building capacity. It draws on
What with the COVID-19 pandemic that is now engulfing the world, and literally threatening the whole-of-humanity, the UNESCO four pillars of learning to know, to do, to be and to live together in relation to learning to become provides open another window of opportunity in equalising the power imbalance, while building better relationships of mutual trust to address the coronavirus outbreak through a collaborative process between the various stakeholders. Indeed, the strategic moves in this regard are by and large community-based, as well as socially-oriented. Physical distancing, social bonding and solidarity, personal and societal hygiene, basic sanitation and effective communication are among the many ‘laudable’ habits that must now be co-created and co-organised as part of the multiple modes of enquiry involving multiple sources of
Dzulkifli Abdul Razak
Immediate Past President, International Association of Universities, Paris; Rector, International Islamic University, Malaysia