Towards the idea of the interconnected university for sustainable community development

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Universities have long been considered to possess the capacity that can foster local community development in a developing context such as in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet, it is not clear what disposition the university should adopt, given the complexity surrounding its mission in a changing landscape. Drawing on the meaning of community development and the centrality of the idea of ‘working together’ to effect ‘change’ associated with it, the research underpinning this article investigated how well the university can effectively respond to local needs and stimulate development. Interviews and focus-group discussions took place with university and community participants drawn from disparate backgrounds within a Cameroonian context on the nature of a local university's community engagement. The findings reveal that the university's capacity to enhance local development could be engendered through interconnections within its community, as well as with the wider community. This article maintains that the premise of the interconnected university can be drawn on African philosophy of Ubuntu and buttressed by narrowing existing power gaps through the fostering of transparency, decentralisation and democratic values so that constructive dialogue can ensue within the university and between it and the wider community.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1228-1241
Number of pages14
JournalHigher Education Research and Development
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2016


  • Cameroon
  • community development
  • engagement
  • interconnection
  • university


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