Nelson Mandela University

Offices for Engagement and Transformation embedding Ubuntu values into higher education


Nelson Mandela University




South Africa

founding year


student body



Institutional Approach

In 2010, the Nelson Mandela University (NMU) in South Africa initiated a transformation to become a dynamic African university built on the values of Respect for Diversity, Excellence, Social Justice and Equality, Integrity, Sustainable Stewardship, and Ubuntu - the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity. These values inform and define the university’s ethos and educational purpose and philosophy, guided by their Vision 2030 framework agenda. Specific institutional offices and task forces concerning Engagement and Transformation translate Ubuntu values into praxis via community engagement programs and social justice/restorative programs fostering student personal development. Programs run by the Transformation Office include Redefining Positive Masculinity, Mandela Pride and Campus Safety. Engagement Office programs include so-called ‘Hubs of Convergence’ to facilitate community engagement around issues such as food systems transformation, and extensive continuing education offerings. An innovative research project led by the Chair in Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation used experimental and play-based methods to facilitate student-led hope initiatives in the Faculty of Education. The pedagogical project sought to foster future educators as agents-of-hope, and led to the formation of the ‘Hopeful Vision Gang’ with the aim of spreading hope within the faculty and beyond.


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