A couple of months ago Steve Fuller posted here about a radical educational project based in Lincoln. The Social Science Centre (SSC) is a not-for-profit co-operative university which will offer a participatory and co-operative education in the social sciences, at the same level as mainstream UK universities, while being organized in a profoundly different way. The SSC is managed on non-hierarchical democratic principles with all students & staff having an equal voice in the functioning and direction of the organization:
The co-operative principles on which the management of the Centre is based extend to the ways in which courses are taught. All classes will be participative and collaborative, so as to include the experience and knowledge of the student as an intrinsic part of the course. Students will have the chance to design courses with the professors and lecturers, as well as deliver some of the teaching themselves with support from other students and the teaching staff. Students will be able to work with academics on research projects as well as publish their own writings. A core principle of the Centre is that teachers and students have much to learn from each other.
Those involved in the SSC are also engaged in fighting the coalition government’s higher education agenda, particularly with regards to the removal of funding for teaching social science in English universities. The SSC is a radical attempt to forge an alternative model for higher education, able to stand independently without being subject to the whims of marketizing politicians and managerial bureaucracies. In doing so, it will reconnect with the academic values which find themselves increasingly under threat within the contemporary university system: critical thinking, experimentation, sharing, peer review, co-operation, collaboration, openness, debate and constructive disagreement.
I’ve been fascinated by the SSC since I first came across it and, last week, I made the long trip over to Lincoln to attend a meeting for the first time. I came away determined to be actively involved in the centre: if you find the current situation within academia profoundly frustrating, as all manner of externalities impinge upon and distort the core functions of academic life, then you should support the SSC. It is a radical, optimistic and most of all practical attempt to discover alternative ways of teaching and learning within the present climate.
As well as those able to travel to the centre regularly and actively involve themselves in its activities, the SSC welcomes associate members who wish to support the centre’s work from a distance. On the website you can join the centre and keep up to date with the SSC’s development.
Categories: Higher Education