© 2017

University Community Engagement and Lifelong Learning

The Porous University


Table of contents

About this book


This book offers a conceptual re-think of how university community engagement functions as a lifelong learning resource for communities. While having a specific focus on the South African context, it has important implications for other universities which are concerned with their communities, and makes a compelling argument for the university as a public good, in spite of current trends towards marketization and commodification of higher education. The book draws on a theoretical framework of capabilities, asset-based community development, and the adult learning concept of dialogue, to propose a model whereby the boundary walls of the university become metaphorically ‘porous’, so that community members feel free to interact with the university as equal members of society. A historical outline of African universities is provided, as well as an exploration of the evolution of terms for community engagement, service learning and learning cities; and an examination of the policy and practice implications for the ideological model of a porous university.


capability approach asset based community development South African communities university as a public good service learning

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Durban University of Technology Unit of Adult and Community EducationDurbanSouth Africa

About the authors

Julia Preece is Professor of Adult Education at the Durban University of Technology and Honorary Professor at the Universities of KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State in South Africa.  She has published widely on adult education, lifelong learning and community engagement.

Bibliographic information

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“Julia Preece’s book is an exciting and very important book for the community engagement field—not just in South Africa and the global south where many of her case studies are located, but for the field more broadly too. … this is an excellent book and an essential read for SL and CE practitioners and students in both the global South and North.” (Janice McMillan, International Journal of Lifelong Education, Vol. 37 (6), 2018)