Friday, 17 May 2013

The place of community-based learning in Higher Education: a case study of Interchange

an article by Louise Hardwick (School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Liverpool, UK) published in Journal of Further and Higher Education Volume 37 Number 3 (May 2013)


This article focuses on one strand of community engagement: community-based learning for students.

It considers in particular Interchange as a case study.

Interchange is a registered charity based in, but independent of, a department in a Higher Education Institution. It brokers between undergraduate research/work projects and Voluntary Community Organisations who are seeking to address issues that require research-evidence or assistance with a discrete work project related to the organisation.

The case study is used to discover aspects of this pedagogy peculiar to Interchange as well as those common to other community-based learning initiatives in Higher Education (HE). The case study cannot be properly understood without reference to broader notions of community engagement, predominantly the policy agendas that shape initiatives in UK HE.

These initiatives tend to be geared towards business and the needs of the economy above reciprocal engagements that contribute to civil society. It is argued that this bias may eclipse the benefits of community-based learning initiatives that engage with civil society. This is especially pertinent in the current context of financial cuts to HE. Given this, the local community perspective facilitated by community-based learning should not be overlooked and should be recognised, not only as part of the diverse range of knowledge exchange and teaching enhancement within universities, but also as a progressive pedagogy that has the potential to contribute to civil society.

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