Learning relational ways of being : what globally engaged scholars have learned about global engagement and sustainable community development
Ulrich, Mary Eileen
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How does higher education contribute to finding workable and lasting solutions to complex social issues that face communities globally today? How does higher education contribute to global sustainable development goals? The scholarship of engagement encourages faculty, scholars, and students to work together with communities on solutions to relevant, pressing, and important social issues. The purpose of this grounded theory study was to understand the capacities of engaged scholars involved in global engagement and to explore a theoretical model of change used in global engagement in the setting of several rural and urban communities in Africa. The participants in the study were exemplar and experienced engaged scholars who have worked in engaged scholarship and global engagement with Western and other college students in Africa. The main findings of the study are that these engaged scholars employ specific relational and intercultural competencies to develop and maintain long-term, committed relationships with partners in local African communities. The scholars express orientations of relational axiology, ontology, and epistemology that include a focus on people, relationships, and community-driven processes. These orientations serve to develop approaches to global engagement that understand social change as located in the community and that contribute to developing a shared purpose and an understanding of and membership in a global community. A theoretical model of change is presented that may contribute to understandings of how to achieve global sustainable development goals.