Friday, 19 March 2010

Who is this course for?

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This course is designed to be suitable both for recent graduates who are interested in social change and emancipation and for mature students with experience in social movements and community activism of various kinds. The course is based around sharing knowledge and experience around the common goal of moving towards equality.

Among the groups whose needs this course is designed for are:
  • people in adult learning, community activism, workers in NGOs and state agencies, and advocates with minority groups, looking for a programme that will develop their knowledge base and their competences and wish to study the issues that impinge on their work in a critical, post-graduate environment that spans the concerns of community education and social activism;
  • social movement activists and organisers who are taking time to think strategically and develop a broader perspective on their own activism and the possibilities for radical social change;
  • students who have completed Continuing Education or university courses in different areas of community action and mature students who seek a post-graduate programme that would further their critical community education and equality studies;
  • adult and community educators, who may have completed their Post-graduate Diploma some years ago, or who have the equivalent in experience, who are also looking for further study;
  • students in both sociology and politics who are concerned about social and global injustice and keen to draw on their analytical skills to develop a professional life in these areas.  

Each year we have between 6 - 15 students along with our core and visiting staff, who are themselves also practitioners. There is typically a mix of people coming from community activism and adult / community education; people coming from social movements and radical politics; people involved in NGOs etc.; and students committed to working for social change. 

We have attracted some very experienced activists along with relative newcomers; academic high-flyers as well as thoughtful practitioners who are cautious about the idea of academia; people very committed to a particular local area along with organisers from abroad; people who are not quite sure where they fit or who are taking time to rethink their activist practice along with people who identify with a very specific movement.

So how would you know if this course is for you? 
  • The course asks you to be reflexive about your own practice, and everyone finds themselves challenged both to articulate what that practice is and to think harder about it in many different ways. So if you have, or would like to have, a sense of yourself as an agent for change over the long haul, you may be in the right place. 
  • We are really serious about "learning from each other's struggles", in the sense of respecting, listening to and learning from other people in very different movements and situations. Our classrooms are very diverse in terms of people's background, experiences, politics, and ways of being - which is great for some people and hard for others. If you find the diversity of links and material on this site off-putting, this is probably not the course for you. If you find it reaffirms your own activism, helps you feel less isolated, or opens the possibility of creative networking, perhaps you should consider taking the course.
  • The course is not "academic" in the bad sense: it does involve reading, thinking and writing, not always in conventional ways. We are very committed to alternative teaching practice and it is one of the core elements of the course. If you like thinking and learning but have had bad experiences of mainstream education, you could well be in the right place.
  • Lastly the course is about helping people who want to make a real change in the world, and we will constantly be encouraging you to think about how to relate the very different range of activities and topics we look at back to your own movements, communities and struggles for change - without assuming that there is only one way of doing that. If this sounds like what you want, welcome aboard!