Thursday, 4 February 2016

Brendan Ogle to speak at next week's event


Unite's Education and Development organiser Brendan Ogle will be speaking alongside Ruskin College Oxford's Ian Manborde at next week's event (Thurs 11th) "What education do union organisers and other activists need?" Other details TBA but there is a lot going on right now!

Brendan Ogle has been secretary of the ESB Group of Unions and Executive Secretary of the Irish Locomotive Drivers Association. He is one of the organisers of Right2Water.

Full details of the event here.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

How to apply / fees and funding 2016-17


Who should apply?
We are keen to have a mix of backgrounds and experience on this course, so please don't assume that this course isn't for you! We very much welcome activists who want to go back to education, as well as students who are keen to get involved in movements, mature students as well as traditional ones, and people with different community or movement points of reference. Our students come from a range of different countries and ethnicities, genders and sexualities and different kinds of ability. 
We are used to students with caring or work responsibilities. Many of our students have left school early or had a bad experience of college education previously. Maynooth as a whole has a very high rate of non-traditional students by international standards and there are some supports available. Beyond this our bottom line on the course team - as activists, as adult and community educators and as sociologists - is that we are committed to making it possible for you to do this course and thrive. We can't offer guarantees, but we are usually successful in supporting people in difficult circumstances to do CEESA and enjoy the experience! 

Contact details:
For general information and queries, please contact the Dept. of Sociology, NUI Maynooth, Co. Kildare, Ireland at or (+353-1) 708 3659.

To apply to this course, you need to go through Ireland's online application system for postgraduate courses at The PAC code for the MA is MHA64. The deadline for applications is 30 June 2016, but we suggest you register for PAC well in advance so you can see what information they will be looking for. Our form asks you for two references. These can of course be the usual academics etc., but for this course they can also be activists or community educators etc. who can talk about your practitioner knowledge and skill.

The basic requirement for entry is a BA with a 2:2 result or higher, or the equivalent of a BA. If you are in doubt about whether you meet this requirement, please email us via the address above and one of us will get back to you.

Along with the usual information for the online form, we will look for a short (one – two pages) statement about any aspects of your experience which you feel are relevant to the course, and what you are hoping the course will be able to offer you that will benefit your practice. The personal statement isn't a test! We want to tailor the course to bring out what students already know and can share with each other, and what their priorities are in terms of learning needs, and we can't do that if we don't know where you're coming from. 

International students may need to have an offer of a place earlier than the deadline - if this is your situation please let us know and we will handle your application accordingly in such a way as to neither advantage nor disadvantage those whose applications are handled at different times. (We also handle late applications along similar lines.)

Interview and follow-up:
Usually we will get in touch with you and arrange an interview. These are typically with two members of the team and are as much about you getting a chance to ask us questions and see what you think as the reverse - after all, you are putting a year of your life into this, and we don't want anyone to do that if the course isn't for them! The interview is face-to-face if possible (of course sometimes this isn't) and will be held as soon as possible after the deadline so you have as much time as possible. It's not a formal occasion - do please come with your toughest questions and a clear sense of what you are looking for and we will give you the best answers we can!

If all goes well we will send you an offer of a place (via PAC). PAC then gives you a deadline by which you have to accept the offer or lose it. To accept the offer you pay an acceptance fee which comes out of the overall course fee (see below).

If we don't accept you, it is because we genuinely don't think you would enjoy or benefit from the course. We don't want "bums on seats" - taking people's money and time for the sake of numbers - and we would prefer everyone to find a course that really suits them.

Preparing for the course:
We make available a set of preliminary readings for the course, as far as possible available free online. This is to help people prepare, particularly in the areas which are new to them - and it can also be a useful resource for people who aren't currently in a position to do the course but are interested in the subject anyway!


Tuition fees have not yet been set for the academic year 2015 / 2016, but should be in the region of €5,250 (the 2015-16 rate) for Irish and other EU students; for non-EU students the tuition fee is likely to be in the region of €13,000 (the 2015-16 rate). There is also a €112 levy on registration. NB that the "student contribution" paid by undergraduates (a backdoor way of introducing fees) is not applicable to postgraduates, so your total costs consist of tuition fees, the €112 levy and the PAC application fee.

For EU students, half of the tuition fee is payable prior to or on registration and the other half is usually payable before February 1st. There is also a "Postgraduate Easy Payment Plan" in which you pay 40% of the total fee plus the €100 levy prior to registration and the remainder in 7 equal instalments by direct debit - this is available only to those who don't have any grant or other internal / external funding. For non-EU students resident overseas, the full fee is payable before registration. In either case €200 of the fee is paid when accepting the offer of a place (however this comes out of the tuition fee and is not an extra cost).

Up-to-date information is available via the Fees and Grants Office and
Graduate Studies.

You will probably need to set aside some time to find out about funding possibilities. 

Ultimately fees are set by government policy on higher education, according to which Irish and other EU students are partly subsidised while those from outside the EU pay what is calculated as the full cost of their education. The state has been running down support for postgraduate education as part of a broader politics that aims to make higher education in general a paid-for privilege rather than a right. For some history of how austerity-related cuts have affected access to postgraduate study see this post. 

The system is complicated and takes time to explore. Below are some starting points:

From the state:

The Student Finance website has some useful information on this. All student funding from the state is now processed and administered through the newly centralised system SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland). This system has a number of well-publicised problems but it is important to say that delays in SUSI have not prevented students taking part in the course - they simply had to spend more time than they should have done trying to get the system to work.

There are two ways postgraduates may qualify for student grants. 

1) Low-income applicants in receipt of one of a number of specified social welfare benefits may get a fees grant up to €6,270.

2) A flat rate, means-tested fee contribution of €2,000. The initial income threshold is €31,500 but there are a number of other factors taken into consideration when assessing eligibility, including how many family members are in full-time study. 

All applications are made through Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) and the process will probably open around mid-May for the coming academic year. It is important to say that the grant covers a range of different nationalities and statuses. More on this at the SUSI site.

SUSI Helpdesk contact details:, tel. 0761 08 7874, facebook

There is more detail and clarification at the Student Finance site here.

Some people may be able to benefit from tax relief on fees: details here.

If you are already in receipt of state benefits / supports, the type you have (e.g. Jobseekers, Lone Parents, Back to Education etc.) can make a big difference in terms both of what funding might be available to you but also in terms of whether you will be able to maintain your existing benefits while studying. (NB also that information-gathering is now very centralised so your new student status will show up where it might not have before!) If you are currently on benefits, we strongly recommend that you talk to your local Citizens Information Centre well in advance of taking the course to discuss your options. Some people may be in a position to change from one type of benefits to another but this takes time.

From the university:

There are two funding sources at NUI Maynooth; for more details see this page.

1) Taught Masters Bursaries at a value of €2,000. Last year there were 60 of these which will be shared across all taught MAs in Maynooth. To apply you must have achieved a minimum 2:1 in your undergraduate degree and have been in receipt of a SUSI or city / council Higher Education Grant for your undergraduate studies. Details of this year's scholarships have not yet been released.
2) Maynooth Alumni Scholarships at a value of €5,000. These are open to NUIM graduates (including 2015-16 graduates). Details of this year's scholarships have not yet been released.

It is also worth doing a search online as there are a limited number of specific scholarships and bursaries offered on the basis of criteria like the area of research (e.g. this site) or the North/South Postgraduate Scholarships which support students from Northern Ireland pursuing postgraduate studies in the Republic. Some trade unions also have schemes for members. Again Student Finance has a good starting list of possibilities.

Beyond this, there are grants, supports and even occasionally scholarships, for fees and for maintenance, as well as tax relief on fees, student medical entitlements and support for students with disabilities. You can find information about these from Citizens' Information, the HEA's Student Finance site, and the Graduate Studies page on funding and finances. You can also contact the Maynooth Fees and Grants office.
International students will find useful information on funding and many other practical issues at the Irish Council for International Students.

And lastly:

Finally, you can find practical information for prospective Maynooth students at this page, including access students, mature students, international students, and childcare.

The basic message that we hear from CEESA students is that postgraduate study is not easy but is doable for people from a wide range of different situations and backgrounds. As a team we are committed to supporting people in difficult personal circumstances to be able to complete the course.

Play about Ken Saro-Wiwa, Majella McCarron, Owens Wiwa and the Ogoni Nine

Uhta! The Last Part of the Night has been devised and created by the award-winning theatre company Come As You Arts in commemoration of the recent anniversary of his death and will have its world premiere at Smock Alley Theatre as part of the Scene + Heard Festival of New Work at 7pm on 23rd and 24th of February, 2016. Some special guests are coming that will make it a great evening.

The play features the Griot storytelling, including live music and performance, of Sidiki Dembele (from a 66th generation West African Griot family) as well as performances by local actors from Ireland and Nigeria.

“Highly imaginative…The stories are delivered with the cast surrounded by a Djembe drum circle comprising drummers, percussionist and flutist who contribute powerful pounding rhythms dressed in Joanna Mason’s bright tribal costumes. The effect is both exciting and intoxicating. It is a stirring reminder of the ability of the human spirit to survive atrocities.”
            Whatsonstage on our last production Mugabeland!

“A remarkable story – moving and funny, with a unique perspective on just how important art, including theatre of course, can be at times of crisis.”

Manchester Evening News on our production of The Play That Killed Me

Thursday, 28 January 2016

What education do union organisers and other activists need?

What education do union organisers and other activists need?
Public talk and discussion

Thursday, February 11th at 6 pm
Unite, 55-56 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1

Ruskin College Oxford is well known as a strategic educational location for the labour movement in Britain and beyond, with a continuing educational mission to provide radical, socially transformative education to working class men and women. For the past ten years its MA in International Labour and Trade Union Studies has been the only programme in the UK written specifically for those employed or active around issues of worker organisation, mobilisation and representation. This year it has been updated as the MA in Global Labour and Social Change. Its coordinator, Ian Manborde, will talk about the experience of the MA so far and the debate about what education union organisers and other activists need most.

Ian Manborde is coordinator of the MA in Global Labour and Social Change at Ruskin College Oxford, with its close links to the labour movement. A lifelong trade unionist, he was a convenor with the CPSA (now PCS), was projects manager for the General Federation of Trade Unions and is a founding member of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (UK). Ian has worked in workers’ and trade union education for over twenty years, including the Workers’ Educational Association and Northern College, Barnsley. He has also worked extensively as consultant and / or teacher for many trade unions and federations in the UK and internationally.

Unite's Education and Development organiser Brendan Ogle will also speak at the event, further details TBA.

Brendan Ogle has been secretary of the ESB Group of Unions and Executive Secretary of the Irish Locomotive Drivers Association. He is one of the organisers of Right2Water.
Organised by the MA in Community Education, Equality and Social Activism at Maynooth

Many thanks to Unite the union for hosting this event.

Free, all welcome.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Changing the world and changing ourselves: activist sustainability / engaged Buddhism event

The MA CEESA is joining forces with Macalla Farm (yoga / meditation retreat centre and organic farm) to offer this event:

Social movements and communities can seem to be up against overwhelming odds at times. Personal burnout, organisational collapse and movement decline are all familiar experiences – taking energy, skills, networks and whole communities out of the fight. How can we sustain ourselves and our movements so as to bring about the really big transformations that are needed? And how can we bring more creativity, solidarity and liberation to our relationships with others who are struggling for change?

This six-day event explores sustainability in how we relate to our bodies, minds and emotions; in how we relate to each other in our movements, networks and communities; and in how we relate to the wider social and natural world. It draws on activist and community learning about personal and collective sustainability in action; the radical tools developed by engaged Buddhists in Asia and the west; and the practical experience of sustaining an organic farm with a broad ecological perspective. New campaigners facing the wall, experienced activists looking for inspiration and a bigger picture, and spiritual practitioners committed to change in the wider world will all benefit from this event.

A typical day will start with yoga and meditation (suitable for all levels from complete beginner). The morning will be workshop-style explorations of the theme of the day. In the afternoon there will be some free time as well as time spent getting more physical – helping with different aspects of the food cycle and spending time with our horses. Evening sessions around sunset will help us go deeper emotionally. There will be some periods of gentle silence and only limited Internet access, so the retreat will offer a bit of space from the busyness of our everyday lives. All of this in the wild and beautiful setting of Clare Island, with our delicious organic food to nourish both body and soul.

This course starts on Tuesday evening 17th May and ends on Sunday 22nd May before lunch.

This course is run on donation. Suggested contribution €250 to €750 (euros) to cover all meals (delicious organic vegetarian food, most vegetables grown on our farm), tuition / group sessions and five nights accommodation (sharing in twin/double rooms). Additional accommodation options are camping or a single room in a local airBnB.

We are happy to provide receipt and certification of course completion for those who are being funded to attend.

For more information about the course and Macalla, and to apply, go to

Monday, 21 December 2015

Scholarship and activism

This article on scholarship and activism just appeared in Studies in Social Justice. It discusses some of the political and intellectual roots of the CEESA MA from a personal point of view.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Latest issue of Interface now online

Interface: a journal for and about social movements  
Volume seven, issue two (November 2015):
Movements in post/socialisms

- Apologies for any crossposting -

Volume seven, issue two of Interface, a peer-reviewed online journal produced and refereed by social movement practitioners and engaged movement researchers, is now out on the theme of “movements in post/socialisms”. Interface is open-access (free), global and multilingual. Our overall aim is to "learn from each other's struggles": to develop a dialogue between practitioners and researchers, but also between different social movements, intellectual traditions and national or regional contexts.

Like all issues of Interface, this issue is free and open-access. You can download articles individually or a complete PDF of the issue (3.9 MB). Please note that you can also subscribe (free) on the right-hand side of the webpage to get email notification each time a new issue or call for papers is out. This issue of Interface includes 275 pages and 19 pieces, by authors writing from / about Australia, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Palestine, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, the UK and the USA.

Articles in this issue include:

Jiři Navrátil, Kevin Lin, Laurence Cox,
Movements in post/socialisms

Call for papers volume 8 issue 2
Social movement auto/biographies

Themed pieces
Ágnes Gagyi,
Why don’t East European movements address inequalities the way Western European movements do? A review essay on the availability of movement-relevant research
Kacper Szulecki, Tomasz Borewicz and Janusz Walusko,
A brief green moment: the emergence and decline of the Polish anti-nuclear and environmental movement
Monika Uhlerová,
From political neutrality to strategic alliance: the trade union movement as a political actor after the post-socialist transformation in Slovakia

General pieces
Andrea Rigon,
Unequal power relations in the governance of the World Social Forum process: an analysis of the practices of the Nairobi Forum
Alessandra Renzi,
Info-capitalism and resistance: how information shapes social movements
Sandra Smeltzer and Daniel J. Paré,
Challenging electoral authoritarianism in Malaysia: the embodied politics of the Bersih movement
Valeria Pecorelli,
Wondering while wandering: living between academia and activism
Alissa Starodub,
Post-representational epistemology in practice: processes of relational knowledge creation in autonomous social movements
Peter Waterman,
An enfant terrible of international communism (and international communication)
Brian Martin,
How activists can challenge double standards
Claudia Saba,
Palestinian armed resistance: the absent critique

·       Laurence Cox and Alf Gunvald Nilsen (2014). We Make Our Own History, Marxism and Social Movements in the Twilight of Neoliberalism. Reviewed by Christopher Gunderson
·       Chris Dixon (2014). Another Politics: Talking Across Today’s Transformative Movements. Reviewed by Lesley J. Wood
·       Theresa O’Keefe (2013). Feminist Identity Development and Activism in Revolutionary Movements. Reviewed by Annette Behrens
·       Betsy Leondar-Wright (2014). Missing Class: Strengthening Social Movement Groups by Seeing Class Cultures. Reviewed by Bob Eastman
·       Wolfson, Todd (2014). Digital Rebellion: The Birth of the Cyber Left. Reviewed by Gino Canella
·       Martinot, Steve (2014). The Need to Abolish the Prison System: An Ethical Indictment. Reviewed by Nick J. Sciullo
·       Oriola, Temitope (2013). Criminal resistance: the politics of kidnapping oil workers. Reviewed by Tomás Mac Sheoin

A call for papers for volume 8 issue 2 (November 2016) on social movement auto/biographies is now open, deadline May 1st 2016.

We can review and publish articles in Afrikaans, Arabic, Catalan, Czech, Danish, English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Maltese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish and Zulu. The website has the full CFP and details on how to submit articles for this issue here.

The forthcoming issue of Interface (May 2016) will be an open (unthemed) issue.