Social responsiveness


UCT has set a strategic goal to expand and enhance its contribution to South Africa's development challenges.

We are committed to engaged, policy-relevant research and teaching, as well as to expanding opportunities for students to become directly involved in socially-responsive learning. Our aim is to ensure that our research contributes to the public good through sharing knowledge for the benefit of society and through fostering in our students the acquisition of the civic literacy, knowledge and skills necessary to build a more just, equitable and unified South African society.

Work in this regard continues across campus, reflecting innovative partnerships between UCT academics and external stakeholders, including government at all levels, local communities, national and international social movements, continent-wide organisations, institutions from the global South, and various international organisations.

Our social responsiveness engagements take varied forms including:

  • research activities
  • engagement with policy development
  • public commentary on development issues and strategies
  • social outreach activities by students
  • programmes to empower external constituencies
  • the improvement of the relevance of the curriculum
  • providing opportunities for lifelong learning

Social Responsiveness Report

UCT produces an annual Social Responsiveness Report which makes the multiple ways in which the university engages with social, economic, cultural and political needs more visible to UCT and the wider community.

The report also stimulates ongoing debate within the university and in the broader social sector about the role of higher education in contributing to development.

UCT believes that focused engagement enhances excellence in both teaching and research. The report contributes to the university's public accountability, both reflecting on what it has achieved, and identifying through reflection and analysis what it still needs to do to improve.

Download the latest Social Responsiveness Report.

Conceptual Framework for Social Responsiveness

UCT has developed a Conceptual Framework for Social Responsiveness which covers different kinds of activities and provides examples of the range of scholarly outputs that emanate from its activities.

The following activities are contained within the notion of social responsiveness:

  • Externally applied scholarly activities that match, contribute to, or engage with development and transformation challenges, policies or plans at international, continental, national, provincial, local or community levels
  • Production and dissemination of knowledge for the public good
  • Engagement with non-academic external constituencies
  • Public dialogue about development challenges
  • Volunteer activities amongst students
  • Community-based education or service learning
  • Compulsory and non-compulsory community service

Examples of scholarly activities

  • Strategic research
  • Monitoring, evaluation or project reports
  • Policy document preparation and review
  • Teaching in continuing-education courses
  • Models and monographs
  • Knowledge transfer through articles in popular journals, booklets, or the production of learning materials
  • Public dialogue, e.g. through newspaper articles
  • Submissions to government
  • Discussion papers
  • Maps and plans
  • Consultancies or contract research for public benefit

Read more on Social Responsiveness at UCT.