What Is Academic Citizenship?

Effective members in society are those that understand their roles and have a firm grasp on the reasons why their role is necessary. As the academic year begins in South Africa (and everywhere else with a January-Dec academic year) new students join academic institutions after gaining acceptance based on identified intelligence that could be of use across many fields.

We may all know of the opinion that people enter institutions of higher learning only to end up as professors who write work that is only read by their peers and nobody else; which implies (painfully) that all the work done in academia is ineffective, irrelevant, and fulfills no real purpose outside of boosting a publication record.

The University of Pretoria, as an example of an institution whose mission is to centre quality, relevance, diversity, and sustainability, aims to produce students who can be responsible academic citizens in a diverse world. This can only be achieved through inquiry, research, initiative, observation, and discussion.

The suggestion with academic citizenship is that participants in higher education understand the responsibilities they assume, which affects their contribution to a country’s performance and people’s livelihoods. This can be achieved through an interest (out of necessity) and understanding of society, which aims to enhance feasibility studies even in engineering and physical sciences. The foundation of effective academic citizenship are human rights.

The discussion that happens in the video was born out of a presentation to University of Pretoria first year students during their orientation week programme, and it was set up by Prof Christi van der Westhuizen who is a sociologist; while the initiative for the discussion was taken by Phethelo Fakude who runs a multi-content YouTube channel and also writes wonderful original stories on his own blog.

Enjoy. #PuffAndPass


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