n South African Journal of Higher Education - Environment (education) as a community project : deliberative democracy in action : perspectives on higher education

Volume 18, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



One way of enacting environment (education) as community in relation to higher education, is for a university, selected schools and the Cape Metropolitan Council (local government organisation) to engage critically in deliberative discourse with the aim of cultivating a sense of citizenship amongst participants. This article reports on a Schools Water Project (SWAP) implemented by a university in partnership with a local government organisation, specifically showing that environment (education) as a community project can engender willing and cooperative participation, rational discussion and debate, relations of trust and a sense of democratic citizenship within and among participants, particularly at schools 3 and 4 of the case studies. Moreover, the research findings suggest that willing participation through critical engagement and rational argumentation would not necessarily be outcomes of contrived deliberation as has happened at schools 1 and 2. Unlike at schools 3 and 4, learners lack the ability to work independently and to engage critically in SWAP activities, which make the achievement of defensible deliberative practices highly unlikely.

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