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Publication Details

Sogge, David (2006) Inquiring Activism: The Centre for Civil Society Five Years On. Centre for Civil Society : 1-36.

Background to the Evaluation

The Centre for Civil Society was established at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in 2001. Three years later, it underwent an external assessment, a mid-term review, as stipulated under terms of the grant by Atlantic Philanthropies. Atlantic had made continuation of its funding dependent on its results; as the outcome was broadly positive, the full amount of the Atlantic founding grant, €1,6 million, was paid out.

With the grant at an end, Atlantic’s Head of Office for South Africa, Gerald Kraak and Dr. Michael Savage, a Senior Consultant to Atlantic, urged the Centre to commission an end-of-grant evaluation. With their concurrence, the Centre’s Director Dr. Patrick Bond approached the evaluator, David Sogge, whose prior knowledge of the Centre had been chiefly by way of his 2003 review of Atlantic grantmaking in South Africa.

As outlined by the Centre’s Director, the evaluation’s chief purposes were to assess activities and outcomes and to reflect on the Centre’s positioning and its prospects for future funding. Internal management was not among focal points; subsequently, however, there was encouragement to consider that as well.

The evaluator drew together information chiefly during a five-day stay in Durban, 15 to 19 May 2006. Basic methods consisted of:
  • reading documents by and about the Centre, mainly upon arrival in Durban; these are noted in Appendix C;

  • interviews with Centre staff and associates, with officials and other key informants in the University; contact by telephone and e-mail with other informants sought out because of their prior contacts with the Centre or their knowledge of civil society studies; these are noted in Appendix A;

  • preparation of a draft report, submitted on 26 June; a written staff response was received on 22 July; that response and subsequent communication with the CCS Director have been taken into account in drawing up this final version.

  • Limitations of this Study
    The study was limited in time and thus in range and depth. There were no opportunities to visit township venues of Centre work or to interview informants there. Similarly, time has not allowed exploration of the Centre’s international connections or its standing among comparable institutions.

    The evaluator would like to express his appreciation to all Centre staff for their cooperation, with special thanks to Helen Poonen for her efficient and helpful support.

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