Globally, universities are meant to contribute to development and positive transformation of societies through three cardinal functions of teaching, research and outreach. However, the relevance of African universities in responding to community needs has been variously questioned. The “ivory tower” orientation (which detaches universities from the community of end-users) is one of the factors believed to negatively affect the contribution of African universities to community development. Agriculture is still the main livelihood base of the vast majority of the African population and as such, agricultural universities are expected to play meaning roles in generating actionable innovations for community development. This calls for re-modelling the manner in which agricultural universities “conduct business” in order to respond effectively to community development needs. As part of a wider effort to re-position agricultural universities in Africa, the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) is championing an eight-year (2016-2025) initiative “Transforming African Agricultural Universities to Meaningfully Contribute to Africa’s Growth and Development (TAGDev)”. One of the critical elements envisioned under TAGDev is practical orientation of students to enable them become champions of development in Africa. At the core of the TAGDev initiative are two models, i.e., the StudentCentred Outreach model and the Agribusiness Innovation model, that constitute what is referred to as a “new (TAGDev)” model of agricultural education, and is being piloted by two early adapter universities, Gulu University in Uganda and Egerton University in Kenya. Violent conflict has resulted to a huge refugee population in Africa. At the same time humanitarian assistance from various agencies has reduced over the years to a bare minimum and has become unsustainable. Therefore, using the refugee situation in northern Uganda as a case, this paper provides insights into how Gulu University is applying the TAGDev model to position agricultural graduates to respond to community development challenges at both local and international levels.
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RUFORUM Working document series
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