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Teaching, Learning and Community Engagement

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About Teaching, Learning & Community Engagement

Teaching and Learning at SMU is envisioned to be globally recognized and locally relevant to offer holistic and innovative health sciences education.

SMU is committed to providing programmes that are relevant to the needs of its surrounding communities and the country. It is the only health Sciences University in South Africa, and well positioned to demonstrate its relevance to the transformational Health Needs of South Africa and the World all over.

The comprehensive nature of SMU offers it the opportunity to reach deeper into the pool of available students, to expand by playing to the University’s existing strengths while contributing to the sustainability of the University through:

  • Creating an environment conducive to excellence in teaching and learning professionalism and student centered pedagogies
  • Student retention to graduation
  • Student mobility through exchange programs in teaching and learning
  • High level technology to develop professionals with relevant competencies for health care within local and global contexts
  • Capacitating academics and administrative staff to be competent and committed to their roles


Community Engagement Definitions for SMU

Community engagement refers to the initiatives and processes through which the expertise of the institution in the areas of teaching, learning and research are applied to address issues relevant to its community. For SMU, Community engagement is a process of integrating inter-professional education and practice with mutual benefit to both the institution and receiving community.

The communities for SMU:

Internal community
The staff and students formally affiliated with the institution comprises the SMU internal community.

External community
Civic organisations, schools, townships, the government departments relevant to the function of the university as a higher education institution, professional bodies, industries, local government and the people in general constitute the external SMU community for social responsiveness purpose.

SMU Partners for community engagement
The regional, national and international community engagement partners are as follows:

  • Regional – Service providers, clinics, health care facilities/hospitals, industries, universities and schools, nursing colleges, municipalities and non-governmental organizations.
  • National – Funding agencies, statutory bodies, research institutions, alumni, professional associations, state-owned enterprises and sport organisations.
  • International – Funding agencies, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and universities within the SADC as well as other continents.

Community Engagement Activities

Community engagement activities range from informal and relatively unstructured activities to formal and structured academic programmes involving teaching, learning and research activities performed by academics as well as students that address particular community needs. Involvement of communities and their active participation in activities to identify and resolve their needs will be the point of departure for informal unstructured programmes.

Formal structured programmes will be planned and circulated within formal academic programmes in an integrated manner of the academic project.

A variety of activities embracing social responsiveness may include but not limited to:

  • Teaching and Learning:
  • Research:
  • Professional / Discipline based Services
  • Student service learning
  • Community service
  • Distance education
  • Curriculum based community engagement
  • Community engagement/action research
  • Partnership health drives
  • Volunteer programmes/social development and empowerment

SMU strives to integrate community-related matters

SMU strives to integrate community-related matters as part of teaching, learning and research, aimed at ensuring:

  • Optimal use of SMU resources to support and sustain community development programs
  • Community engagement activities within teaching, learning and research that are relevant to the SMU context as the only health sciences university in South Africa
  • Knowledge production and provision of education enriched by scholarship of societal engagement and the values of academic citizenship
  • Skills training relevant to the needs of the identified community