Developing Sustainable and Culturally Sensitive Ethiopian University Community Engagement through a Multi-University International Partnership: A Concept Mapping Analysis

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Addis Ababa University


The study explores the concept of international academic partnerships among three higher education institutions and their community linkages. Using concept-mapping techniques, this exploratory and descriptive case study investigated a Triangle Partnership among three schools includingboth North-South and South-South components. With the objective of understanding the development of a community-inclusive-partnership model, this case study examined group perceptions of purpose, process and product of the Triangle Partnership between Addis Ababa University School of Social Work (AAU, SSW), Institute of Social Work Tanzania (ISW) and the Jane Addams College of Social Work/Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center (JACSW/MATEC) at the University of Illinois at Chicago. A total of 72 participants contiributed their perspectives to the study. They were organized into three equal groups of 24 whichconsisted of: (1) representatives of community-based organizations in Ethiopia, (2) faculty members from allthree institutions, (3) students from AAU, SSW. A set of 82 statements were ―brainstormed'' by these groups to describe the purpose, processes, products as well as challenges within the partnership. After sorting the 82 statements for conceptual similarity, all study participants also rated each statement‘s importance three times:oncefor their importance tocapacity building, and once for their importance tosustainability, and finally for their importance forcultural sensitivity. Using the concept maps developed by the groups, a set of 17 pattern matches were performed to investigate stakeholder divergenceand convergence both within (intra) and between (inter) groups. Correlation (Pearson r) coefficients were also calculated for each pattern match and displayed in tabular form for comparison. The overall results revealed that all stakeholder groups agreed reasonably well about the importance of the partnership for its significance to capacity building. However, substantial differences were found regarding the partnership in terms of its importance for sustainability and to cultural sensitivity. These differences were further found to correspond quite well with the unique institutional interests of each stakeholder group. Based on the findings, a system-level community inclusive partnership model is suggested and the results are discussed in terms of the potentials and limitations of concept-mapping analysis in partnership-model development and their implications for social work practice.



Universisty Community Partnership