About the Journal

Universities need to move towards a knowledge democracy, which embraces multiple epistemologies, knowledge created and represented in various ways, and the sharing of knowledge through open access channels, as we aim to decolonise and transform higher education in the 21st century (Hall and Tandon 2017: 13).

AJHECE  is an online open-access journal hosted by Rhodes University Library, Makhanda, Eastern Cape, South Africa.  It originated from a need for an African-based academic journal on Community Engagement, as such a journal could herald the significance of this core function in universities and (further) embed community engagement in learning, teaching and research activities.  While several community or civic engagement journals exist around the world, most of these journals come from North America (and the West in general), and very few editions speak to the South African or African context and its developmental issues.

For the continent of Africa, the engagement of higher education institutions with communities is imperative if we are to address and challenge the horror of civil wars, the problems of social injustice, poverty, corruption, unemployment and epistemic injustice as examples of some of the almost insurmountable struggles confronting Africa. An African journal of higher education community engagement has a critical role to play in promoting a global South perspective of the scholarship of engagement, building community engagement as a discipline and highlighting the importance of community-university partnerships for addressing some of the issues of development that beset the continent.

There is a noteworthy gap in terms of spaces where South African and African community-engaged researchers (both in the university and community) can publish and contribute to academic discourse on community engagement and community development issues.  Community engagement for the African continent needs to be established on philosophies and theories relevant to Africa's history and context, which resonates to varying degrees with other countries of the global South. An African Journal of Community Engagement has the potential to provide a space for African perspectives on the contribution of community engagement in higher education.

This new journal on higher education community engagement could, therefore, be a significant contribution to embedding community engagement in university functions and growing an African canon on community engagement and moving towards knowledge democracy.

Focus, Aim and Objectives of AJHECE

In comparison to teaching, learning and research in higher education, community engagement is a recently introduced and less-known core function of higher education in South Africa and other parts of the African continent. Community engagement is intended to advance the developmental role of higher education institutions and inculcate civic and social responsibilities in students. The focus of AJHECE is community engagement and development research addressing topics on social injustice, poverty, corruption, unemployment and epistemic injustice, among other social and economic issues.

The main aim of AJHECE is to contribute to building a body of knowledge on Community Engagement for the African continent. The journal aims to publish and report on a wide range of aspects relating to Community Engagement and Community Development in Southern Africa, the region and elsewhere, with a strong focus on research and praxis. The journal’s publications will not only reflect the diversity of practice in Community Engagement but the diversity of voices that participate in the co-creation of knowledge for individual, community and societal well-being. The journal actively seeks out international dialogue within the global South and partnerships between the global South and the global North that provide perspectives on and for Community Engagement in South Africa and the rest of the African region. By providing a forum for researchers, scholars, practitioners and policy makers, the key objectives of AJHECE are to: 

  • Contribute to the body of knowledge on Community Engagement produced in Africa; encouragement of the African voice and voices from the global South in general, which may aid in combating epistemicide and marginalising alternative knowledge paradigms at higher education institutions.
  • Grow community engagement as a discipline with philosophies, theories and praxis relevant to the African context, and a practice that contributes to the various dimensions (social, economic, cultural, psychological, spiritual, and political) of human and community development.
  • Embed community engagement in all activities of the university, especially research, and signal the importance of scholarly work on community-university partnerships.
  • Advance collaborative research methodologies, especially community-based participatory research (CBPR), where communities and academics are knowledge co-creators and collaborators in research practice and knowledge dissemination. This kind of research, which values the input of and produces
    knowledge for and with local communities, can contribute to the process of decolonisation of universities in Africa.
  • Provide a space for professional development, discourse and debate on community engagement and sharing knowledge through the scholarship of engagement in the African context, the global South and partnerships with the global North that provide perspectives on and for Community Engagement in South Africa and the rest of the African region.
  • Incorporate an author and young editorial board members support programme to encourage new authors in the field to establish themselves as scholarly writers and as a new generation of editorial board members

Frequency of Publication: Once a year in November. First publication in November 2023