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Community Based Research & Learning Symposium, University of Alberta, Canada, March 21/22, 2016

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Pedagogy of Hope, For Public Good

Dr David Turpin, the president of University of Alberta declared that the new strategic plan of the university is titled ‘for public good’. In this perspective, systematic and sustained community-university engagement is critical for the entire university system to practice. He was inaugurating a public lecture at the campus on March 21, 2016 entitled “ Community-based Research and Struggles for Knowledge Democracy”, convened by Community Service Learning of University of Alberta at Edmonton, Canada.

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Dr Budd Hall, UNESCO Co-Chair, had earlier in the day given a seminar which focused on co-design of curriculum and pedagogy of a course that focused on refugees and community development (http://unescochair-cbrsr.org/pdf/presentation/Refugees_Democracy_and_Action_March_2016_Dr_Budd_Hall.pdf). Students in that course learn about the issues of community development by practicing and analysing results from community-based participatory research. When results of research have a public relevance for community and society, the pedagogy of learning/teaching becomes hopeful, as it brings hope for transformation.

Speaking during the public lecture, an indigenous Cree Nation scholar, Patricia Makokis emphasised the criticality of understanding the knowledge system of indigenous communities, which have evolved your centuries. With spiritual roots of learning, indigenous knowledge systems seek to establish balance and harmony in everyday life.

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Dr Rajesh Tandon, UNESCO Co-Chair, highlighted the Brahmanical tradition which controlled knowledge production and dissemination (including learning of Sanskrit language) in Indian history, a tradition that continues to de-legitimise certain forms of knowledge. He argued that ‘co-construction’ of knowledge with communities can only be realised authentically if the underlying power differences between university and community are recognised, and some steps taken to deal with those.

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