Community of Practice workshop

8 – 9 May 2017


Communities of Practice are defined by the National Research Foundation (NRF) as “research-led alliances, in which established researchers collaborate to produce solution-oriented research findings with an intention to translate research outputs into tangible outcomes, and influence policy development and implementation through communication of the necessary research findings”. A Community of Practice must be strategically aligned to government policies aimed at addressing key social challenges and problems.

As part of the Mandela Initiative’s research programme, the NRF’s community of practice funding programme supports eight research projects which are fronted by SARChI Research Chairs from different universities. These projects were designed to contribute to key national debates on critically important aspects of poverty and inequality and focus on the themes of education, health policy, labour markets, gender and family relations, urban planning and development, land reform, rural job creation, and inequality broadly.

The Community of Practice workshop brought together the Research Chairs and researchers for each topic, as well as policy-makers, practitioners and other researchers for each topic. The workshop shared research outcomes, supported development of collegiality and understanding within and across themes, and held a quality of space where new ideas could be generated. This required a process that engaged participants in dialogue and relationship building while retaining, and extending, intellectual depth and rigour.

The event offered opportunity for:

  • Providing a platform for research findings to be shared with others within the theme, as well as across the theme.
  • Exploring the interconnections between themes and seeking synthesis where possible.
  • Exploring the research–policy interface and what it might take to support application of research outcomes into the National Development Plan goals, across policy and practice, right through to systems and regulations for implementation.
  • Convening meetings of eight possible communities of practice, as well as a large overarching one, testing and stretching the idea of “community of practice”, through active engagement with doing it.

Communities of Practice workshop report