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Issues of 'Engaged Scholarship' in South Africa, with particular reference to university-civil society research relationships

Wednesday, May 5, 2010
10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. | Heritage Room, Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center


  • David Cooper picture
  • David Cooper, Ph.D.
  • Head of Sociology Department, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Dr. David M. Cooper has been in the Sociology Department of the University of Cape Town in South Africa since 1981 and has served as head of the department since 2005. Currently he is a Fulbright New Century Scholar (2009-2010) under the theme, "The University as Innovation Driver and Knowledge Centre."

Prior to his appointment at Cape Town Dr. Cooper undertook a nationwide migration study for the Central Statistics Office of Botswana (1978-1980). While undertaking postgraduate studies in Britain, he was also a tutor (1973-1975) and research associate (1976-1977) in sociology at the University of Birmingham and before that a high school physics teacher at Kensington High School, Cape Town (1971-1972). He received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Birmingham (1982) and a bachelor's in electrical engineering from University of Cape Town (1970).

Dr. Cooper's forthcoming book is titled, The University in Development: The Role of Use-Inspired Research (case studies of research centers and units at universities of the Western Cape). Recent publications include also several journal articles and book chapters.

In addition to his current Fulbright award, Dr. Cooper's funded research has included projects on research groupings at higher education institutions (2000-2004), student and staff trends at South African universities (1988-1998), research program enhancement at historically Black universities (1994-1997), and comparative labour union movements in Western Europe and South Africa (1986-1990).


Dr. Cooper's presentation will consider issues of engaged scholarship, utilizing some of the concepts developed at Michigan State University in recent years. His empirical focus, linked to his current research as a Fulbright New Century Scholar, will be on certain case studies at South African universities which he is examining, past and present. As a sociologist, he will refer in particular to the idea of "organic public sociologists," which the president of the American Sociological Association introduced in 2004.

Video of the Presentation