Experiential learning in higher education: beyond the classroom. Experiencies in the Student Representative Council at the University of the Free State (South Africa) from the Capability Approach for Human Development

Carlos Delgado Caro
Budapest, Hungary
The university, as a formal community, can be understood as a micro-political space where power relations are developed as a mirror of South African society. For most students, this is their first contact with politics as adults, and thus with democracy. How is this first experience? What do they learn from it? And ultimately, how does it affect them? This experience, as a part of their university experience, can be read in terms of Kolb’s cycle as an experiential learning process. The objective of this working paper is to understand whether the experience of students at the University of the Free State (UFS) Student Representative Council (SRC) can be understood as a transformative learning process. For it, eight interviews were conducted with different former SRC members (2016–17) during the months of October–November 2018. The working paper asks if this experiential learning can be recognized as a transformative process for students in terms of expansion of their capabilities and agency from the Capability Approach. The focus will be on how they manage the strain between their own wellbeing as students and their critical agency for social justice as political agents. At present, South Africa is living through a transformative political context after the death of Nelson Mandela, and the influential political role that the student movement has had historically for national politics may be relevant. Thus, the author considers it necessary to listen, reflect and try to understand what students really wish to be and do,
currently and in the future, and especially those who were part of the student governance, thus of the democratic system.
Fecha de celbración: 
Tuesday, 25 June 2019 to Thursday, 27 June 2019