Monday, 11 March 2013

CEESA thesis topics to date

A key goal of the course is to support students in carrying out research that will be a genuine contribution to their practice as educators and activists, and which will be read and used by their peers. The thesis usually grows out of a student’s own activism or educational work and emerges over the year as the experience of the course helps them to think about their questions differently. We encourage theses which are at least in part in a format which is used by participants in the field. Past theses have included toolboxes and workshops, DVDs and interview recordings, poetry and a school curriculum as part of the overall thesis. 

The process should involve genuine learning and not simply document a known problem. We also aim to produce theses which do not simply “sit on the shelf”, as is all too often the case with research aimed at “raising awareness” which do not reflect on audience, distribution and the interests of the mainstream media and academia – and with research aimed at policy-makers when it is not convenient for them. In other words a CEESA thesis is about real learning that has a real effect in the world.

In broad terms theses follow the three main areas of the course. Some arise out of the practice of popular education and are intended as contributions to that; some arise out of the struggle for equality; and some come from the needs and problems of social movements. Below is a rough list of general topics pursued in CEESA theses over the first three years. An archive of theses is being developed and we hope to make it publicly available around May 2013. 

This is not an exact list of titles for a range of reasons but rather an indication of the kinds of areas which course participants have researched to date, for the benefit of people considering taking the course. If anyone feels this is a misrepresentation of their thesis please drop us a line!

Social movement practice

  • The voices of women in the water charges movement
  • A grassroots anti-water charges community campaign
  • Articulating and systematising the principles developed in a working-class women’s community project
  • A toolkit for rural community organisers trying to make “the system” work for them
  • Participatory action research among environmental justice campaigners to share what they have learnt over the years with other communities who are now facing similar problems
  • The politics of NGO alliances with community-based environmental struggles
  • Ethnic tensions in ecological direct action
  • An oral history project among long-term community activists in an inner-city area
  • A local history of social movements in a single city
  • Graffiti and gentrification
  • Life histories of activists engaged with alternative spirituality
  • Assessing a programme of personal sustainability for activists
  • The strategic choices involved in food politics
  • The role of social media in the Arab Spring
  • Activists in the Egyptian revolution
  • Overcoming the barriers to large-scale mobilising around housing issues
  • Radical politics among soccer fans 
  • The policing of protest


The struggle for equality

  • Migrant women's self-organising
  • Poetry, women’s experience of migration and the struggle with boundaries of culture and states
  • A toolkit for workers in women’s refuges doing artwork with children
  • The role of art in movements for reproductive choice
  • The experiences of addicts in oppressive residential institutions
  • Social policy on drugs and associated services
  • The struggle for recognition of Irish Sign Language
  • Barriers to independent living for people with impairments
  • Mapping rural homelessness
  • Struggling with the issue of sibling incest
  • Social capital in small-town organising
  • The struggle for reproductive rights in Ireland
  • Single mothers and the reproduction of masculinity
  • Gender issues in the GAA
  • Video games and patriarchy
  • A participatory action project developing interfaith work around social justice


Radical education

  • Popular education and women's empowerment
  • The potential role of critical education in community settings
  • Developing a civil rights curriculum for secondary school students in the Mississippi Delta
  • Understanding the choices traveller children make in leaving or staying in education
  • The politics of deaf education
  • Community gardening as popular education
  • Developing an equality initiative for secondary schools
  • Poverty and educational disadvantage – the community education response
  • The challenges of politicising secondary school students and adults
  • The impact of institutionalised homophobia on GLBTQ teachers in Ireland
  • Participant research on the college experience and life choices of mature students
  • The practice of Theatre of the Oppressed