What contribution do the social sciences have in realizing the democratic ideal of equality and inclusion? What are the possibilities and barriers of engaged science within different national and institutional (academic) contexts? What is the contribution of engaged scholarship in fostering and defining the conditions and narratives of change for refugee inclusion in the face of competing societal and academic demands and structures?
These research questions are central to this comparative, qualitative research project in South Africa, the United States and the Netherlands. This project aims to create a more transformative and comprehensive perspective of how engaged scholarship can contribute to the inclusion of refugees. Engaged scholarship refers to transformative and critical forms of academic work with the ambition and ability to stimulate reflection, leading to more inclusive practices in society and academia. The underlying assumption here is that the social sciences play an important role in expanding the social and academic imagination by connecting local, historical and analytical knowledge and thereby truly promoting the inclusion of disadvantaged groups.
While the project engages with insights from an extensive body of literature on the constraints of democracy, this project is particularly inspired by the interesting literature on the role of deep democracy in creating social inclusion. Using qualitative research methodology and a comparative perspective (South Africa, the United States and the Netherlands), this project has three main objectives:
- Collect country-by-country data documenting two sets of stories (that of refugees and of engaged scholars) about the contribution and challenges of engaged scholarship in the lives of refugees. In addition, the project itself will be a site of scientific engagement with societal stakeholders and communities.
- Gain a deeper understanding of the views and position of engaged scholarship within academia and society in each country.
- Exploring historical and contextual differences through a comparative analysis of the data (stories and participating locations) from the three countries, aiming to reflect on national blind spots related to societal change and engaged science in each setting.
For more information about the 'Engaged Scholarship and Narratives of Change' research project, visit the project's website: www.engagedscholarshipnarrativesofchange.org.