M. Mahlomaholo

University of the Free State (SOUTH AFRICA)
Through this paper I want to demonstrate how as part of the Sustainable Learning Environments research project, university academics became members of Financial Services Cooperative in order to contribute in a respectful manner to its economic, social and cultural growth, and development. The academics through a participatory action research approach consciously depowered themselves as so-called experts on these three matters so that together with the community members constituting this cooperative, they could formulate a vision, conduct a SWOT analysis that helped them to identify priorities that grounded their strategic action plan geared towards the realisation of the three above mentioned goals. The outcome of this engagement was an action plan that was operationalised by this collective and after a six months period there was evidence that many of the participating members were " able to demonstrate expertise and critical knowledge" on the three issues referred to above. They were also able to conceptualise new " initiatives and create new knowledge and practice" relating to these goals. In general in compliance with the critical cross field outcomes they were able to: "identify and solve problems in which responses display that responsible decisions using critical and creative thinking have been made, work effectively with others as a team, organise and manage themselves and their activities responsibly and effectively, collect, analyse, organise and critically evaluate information, communicate effectively using visual, mathematical and language in the modes of oral and written presentation, use science and technology effectively and critically, showing responsibility towards the environment and health of others”.