Building knowledge societies to achieve the SDGs

Building knowledge societies to achieve the SDGs

Published on 26 April 2018

The ACU hosted a talk today on a new UNESCO initiative, led by two ACU Engage Community members, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by building knowledge societies.

Dr Rajesh Tandon and Professor Budd Hall, joint-UNESCO Chair in Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education, and both longstanding ACU Engage Community Steering Committee members, were in London to discuss their newly launched initiative called Knowledge for Change (K4C) – a global consortium for training in community-based research.

They explained that K4C had grown out of 40 years working together and independently on issues of knowledge democracy, participatory research and action for social justice. ‘The initiative has been informed by five years of research on current global trends in community-based partnership research within the framework of our UNESCO Chair’, said Prof Hall.

‘K4C will train the next generation of mentors and leaders in Community Based Research (CBR) to a global standard developed by UNESCO Chair on CBR around the world, especially in global south and excluded north’, said Dr Tandon.

In their impassioned presentation to a group of 40 people working in the field of community engagement at universities and NGOs, they made a case for why participatory knowledge – locally, contextualised knowledge – is a critical dimension in any aspiration to achieve the UN SDGs.

Budd Hall and Rajesh Tandon talk

‘The critical challenges facing humanity today require new understandings and solutions,’ they said. ‘Achieving SDGs will require new insights and connections locally and globally. New understandings and innovative solutions have been shown to be catalysed through co-construction of knowledge carried out in respectful partnerships with local communities.

‘UNESCO Chair has developed global standards of curriculum and pedagogy for training next generation of researchers in CBR. Recent studies have demonstrated a growing demand for learning CBR methodology amongst practitioners and students alike, especially in hitherto excluded contexts in the global south.’

In attendance were representatives of member universities and local civil society organisations, including the universities of Bath, Brighton, Sheffield, Sydney, as well as SOAS, Christian Aid, Democracy Watch, Worldwide Universities Network, and the Social Innovation Exchange.

More information

The UNESCO Chair in Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education grows out of and supports the UNESCO global lead to play ‘a key role in assisting countries to build knowledge societies’. For more information on the Knowledge for Change (K4C) initiative, please visit the UNESCO Chair website.

Dr Rajesh Tandon is co-founder and President of Participatory Research In Asia (PRIA), and Professor Budd Hall is Professor of Community Development at the University of Victoria, Canada. They are friends, work colleagues, and serve on the Steering Committee of the ACU Engage Community.

Read Prof Hall's blogs on 'Reimagining the concept of a Commonwealth university' and 'Indigenous Knowledge Keepers and Mulembe Mutinze Cuusansi (the great turning) – The Confluence at the Nile River'.