The university-territories relation in the African context: a lesson from experiences in Senegal

Sambou Ndiaye


Formerly isolated and symbol of the supremacy of scientific knowledge, after cyclical crises, Universities in Senegal are questioning their public service mission. The author analyses the recent tendencies in several Senegalese universities, emphasizing the third mission of higher education, namely community service focused on local territories. Even if a critical mass of experiences is beginning to coalesce around this topic, the link between university and territory still needs a more suitable strategic framework to be implemented in a context of institutional reforms both in the higher education sector and in the process of decentralisation-territorialisation.

The article starts from the Senegal case to study the evolution and setup of the university-territory relationship in an African context. It describes the journey of universities in Senegal in order to track the three levels of relationship between University and territory. It then illustrates the experience of a national platform for knowledge in participatory local development, that is to say the national contest on innovative practices of local development. The third part focuses on a plan for knowledge-building and co-production of actions between territorial actors and universities, highlighting the experience of the Alliance of ARUT (Action-Research University-Territory). Finally, the conclusion offers new lessons and perspectives.


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Local development; Sustainable development; Innovation

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