Chapter 5 Planning with the community: engaged professional education in ethno-nationally contested city
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This paper explores the potentials and challenges of community-engaged professional education in an ethno-nationally contested city. It provides a reflective note on challenges of shared learning with underserved communities in conflicted urban arenas. Community-engaged learning provides opportunities for students to explore professional practice in meaningful learning about others, as well as about themselves. As agents of the academia and future professionals, students enrich the connection between society, knowledge and context. But, as students mobilize change in less privileged communities, they are also being changed; they undergo an identity formation that often confronts their professional with their personal identities and forces them to re-think their place in society. The paper joins a search for new venues for teaching and learning; indicating the return of the academia to its traditional social role as a promoter of democratic values and civic engagement. It offers lessons learned from the instructor’s point of view, based on a critical perspective on the course and its evolution over ten years. It reviews the course, its aims, leading principles, structure and course of action. It explores the reflective approach adopted to allow students to critically rethink their positionality and reconsiders the formation of their multiple identities. In encountering challenges and limitations, it points to a basic dilemma inherent in the course, between engagement and activism, i.e., between critique and dissidence.

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