Karen Venter

Karen Venter is Head of the Service-Learning Division within the Directorate of Community Engagement, at the University of the Free State (www.ufs.ac.za/servicelearning), South Africa. She is responsible for facilitation of various aspects related to institutionalisation and promotion of service-learning, namely quality management, development of academic staff, student and community partners, as well as networking for collaborative research initiatives towards improvement of higher education engagement (local, regional, national and international). Karen completed her master’s degree in Higher Education Studies in 2014, at the University of the Free State (UFS), South Africa with a specific focus on knowledge-sharing in partnerships for the development of champions for Service-Learning. Karen’s research focus in her current doctoral study is on the development of an ‘Integrated Appreciative Leadership Service-Learning Praxis Framework to flourish professional learning and development of scholar-practitioners within extended community-higher-education partnerships’.

In May 2016, Bloemshelter in partnership with the UFS, and in affiliation with GULL co-designed a pathway to holistic development. Participants embarked on a uniquely designed Professional Bachelor Pathway to Holistic Development. This pathway is rooted in spiritual, personal, and professional development, where the learning of skills for entrepreneurship is key to gain personal and professional viability, moving from dependence to independence. The aim of this collaborative approach among scholars, students and community members learning together, is to flourish professional learning and development of scholar-practitioners within a university-led community engagement learning network. What makes the Bloemshelter-UFS-GULL affiliation so unique, is that action learning and academic service-learning is run in parallel, which in synergy strengthens mutual and reciprocal professional learning and development of all partners.

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