Community engagement in rural contexts: a relational leadership strategy

  • Project Leader(s): Prof Dipane Hlalele (UKZN) (Principal Investigator); Prof Aliza Le Roux (UFS), Dr Jared McDonald (UFS), Ms Bianca Naude (UFS)
  • Funder: NRF
  • Project details: Community engagement in rural contexts: a relational leadership strategy

The purpose of this multidisciplinary and qualitative study is to propose a relational leadership strategy to community engagement in rural contexts. Relational Leadership finds relevance as an approach that seeks to work for positive change in organisations whilst observing inclusivity, processes, empowerment, ethics and purposefulness (key elements of RL). The four disciplines involved include Zoology, History, Political Science and Governance, and Education. Our posture would consciously seek to observe a win-win-win symbiotic relationship where all participants would be treated as such and their knowledge and participation will be highly valued. The study unfolds as case studies in the different fields of study held together by the relational leadership thread with its five key elements (purposefulness, empowering, inclusivity, process-oriented and ethical). Three core entities who will execute this study are communities represented through their formations, students and the university. During the course of this project, we will add to the ongoing debates around community engagement (theory and practice), as well as rules of engagement in rural contexts, from a relational leadership perspective. Rural contexts are diverse and solutions for one may not necessarily be applicable to the next/rest of rural communities. The study draws on heterogeneously constituted case studies and employs participatory methodologies where techniques include meetings, conversations with a purpose, dialogues and discussions.