REVIEWING OUR HISTORY AND MAKING PLANS

27th August 2016, 10am-4pm
Croft Street Community Centre, Lincoln LN2 5AZ

Please join us at this event to look back at our activities
since 2011 and make plans for our future.

MORNING SESSION (SSC MEMBERS ONLY)

10:00–12:00 – SSC on reflection

A chance for all past and present members of the Social Science Centre to reflect on their experiences in the Centre, our activities, roads we have not taken, changes we should make and hopes for the future. Highlights to be shared with others later in the day.

LUNCH (public, everyone welcome)

12:30–1:30

AFTERNOON SESSION (public, all welcome)

1:30–4:00 – Co-operative Higher Education in Lincoln

Ideas and making plans for the term/year. It has already been suggested we run courses on Brexit, women political writers, ‘where is capitalism going next?’ and the co-operative movement in Lincoln and the UK.

What is the SSC?

We practice a kind of higher education that explores the everyday experiences of our members – who are both students and teachers – through concepts and ideas developed in the social sciences. This includes making critical sense of social problems (like ‘austerity’, racism and nationalism or the privatisation of schools) and important local and global events like ‘Brexit’, learning how they affect us and how we might have an effect on them. Our past courses – The Social Science Imagination, Co-operation and Education, and Know How: Do-It-Ourselves Higher Education – all used different approaches for this learning.

We are a co-operative organisation owned and run by our members. This means that we not only experience higher education, but decide together what this learning should be, how it works and why it matters. All our members can help run the Centre by taking part in democratic decision-making processes and collective ownership and responsibility. No one pays for learning or gets paid for teaching at the SSC because we do not believe knowledge should be for sale. Members with financial means make small monthly contributions to the co-operative to pay for room hire and other running costs. For more information about the SSC, visit our website: socialsciencecentre.org.uk.

Why do we need co-operative higher education?

The Social Science Centre, Lincoln was established in 2011 when the UK Government stopped funding the teaching of social science and other subjects that were deemed ‘non-essential’ in English universities, and raised student tuition fees at the same time. It was also born out of a deeper worry that as universities transform themselves into businesses and focus more on satisfying the short-term, competitive, profit-driven demands of the capitalist market, people are denied opportunities for higher learning and critical and creative thinking (and opportunities for any higher learning not linked to enormous amounts of personal debt).

The state of higher education in England has not improved since that time. Policies to raise student tuition fees were followed by policies to reduce need-based educational grants, and then by policies that changed remaining grants into more student loans. There is evidence that these fees deter people from state schools from applying to university. There is evidence that students are limiting their choices in study based on vocational and ’employability’ criteria which are based on flawed measurements of ‘return on investment’. There has been a very significant fall in the number of mature students applying to university.

At the SSC, we believe even more strongly today that higher learning oriented towards intellectual values of critical thinking, experimentation, sharing, peer review, co-operation, collaboration, openness, debate and constructive disagreement is an essential part of making a better future for us all. This is why we are working to create alternative spaces of higher education whose purpose, societal value and existence do not depend on the interests and decisions of the powerful, places where everyone can learn and everyone can teach.

Autonomous pedagogical experiments by social movements in Brazil and the UK

From 13–17 October, two researchers will be in Lincoln to talk about new educational experiments in England and Brazil. They have invited members of the Social Science Centre to collaborate on a project in which we can share our experiences, knowledges and questions about this movement, which is becoming important for many social movements and educators across the world. They are interested in issues of self-organization, self-management, the creation of informal education projects, and the development of self-determined knowledges and pedagogies (ways of organising learning). This is also a rare opportunity to learn first-hand about the work of a school run by the Movement of Rural Landless Workers in Brazil, the Escola Nacional Florestan Fernandez, and to explore possibilities for future collaborations. The title of the project is ‘Autonomous pedagogical experiments by social movements in Brazil and the UK’.
  • October 14th, 6-9pm, Croft Street Community Centre: Join Ana Dinerstein and Paolo Vittoria for a conversation to share experiences and ideas (SSC members only)
  • October 15th, 1:30-4pm, University of Lincoln, Joseph Banks Laboratories, 2C04: Public lecture by Paolo Vittoria on ‘Social movements, popular education and universities: a proposal for an international network’ (public seminar open to all)

IF Project – Annual Humanities Summer School

 

IF

In June 2015 the IF Project is launching its second Summer School and cordially invites members of the Social Science Centre and anyone else who is interested to attend.

“IF is an experiment in alternative higher education where the courses are free, lecturers donate time and expertise, and the syllabus includes taking in the free events happening in the many cultural institutions of London. It is a community of those who want to teach and learn for the love of doing so.”

“The Summer School is designed as a taste of university-level study. Over four weeks you will lay personal foundations in the study of the humanities. Lectures and discussions will introduce undergraduate-level Literature,

History (what do historians do?), Visual Arts and Sound (as critical practices) and Political Philosophy (what is the relationship between freedom and social justice?).

The theme of foundations encourages students to discover how Humanities disciplines provide interpretative tools to get beneath the surface of everyday life: to discover the foundations of the familiar, from personal identity to our visual appreciation, to the laws that govern us, global trends and even our own opinions.”

I have attached a flyer for those who would like further information and a link to the IF Project’s website: http://www.ifproject.co.uk/

2015 IF Summer School Programme 1.3

Best wishes,

Gary

Please donate to our solidarity fund

At a recent meeting of the SSC, we agreed to set up a ‘solidarity fund’ to assist people who want to attend the research workshops to develop a model of co-operative higher education. In particular, we’re hoping it will help students who want to come to Lincoln and get involved but don’t have the money to do so. In short, we’re asking you to donate via the PayPal ‘Donate’ button in the right-hand sidebar of this page so that we can help people out with travel and any other miscellaneous expenses they incur. Any money left over after the project has ended will be retained by the SSC and used to pay for public educational projects. We will report on this in our regular financial reports.

You probably want to know a bit more about how both the SSC and the research project are funded. The full grant application, including outline budget, is published here.

The SSC is a member run and member funded co-operative. Members voluntarily contribute the equivalent of one hour of their net salary each month. Our financial reports show that we usually have somewhere between £1000-£2000 in the bank to pay for building rental, putting on public seminars, our AGM, last year’s conference, etc. At our recent meeting, SSC members agreed not to use the membership fund to pay for or subsidise the research project, but set up a specific hardship fund instead.

The research project is funded by the Independent Social Research Foundation, through the University of Lincoln. The applicants for the grant were Joss Winn and Mike Neary, who are both founding members of the SSC and work at the university. All money received from the ISRF is used to pay for the workshops and interviews. The SSC does not hold the grant funding in its bank account, but does direct how it is spent. None of the grant funding is used to cover people’s time/salaries. The ISRF have a clause in their funding agreement that says that any additional money received for the running of the project (such as the donations we are asking for), must be agreed with them. The ISRF agreed to this via email yesterday.

With that in mind, we hope you’ll consider donating to the project and help people get involved in developing a model for co-operative higher education. When asked to enter the purpose of the donation, please enter ‘research project’ to help us keep track of things. If you have any questions about this fund, please use the comment box below or email info@socialsciencencentre.org.uk. Thank you.

Joss Winn

‘A remarkable teaching and learning co-operative’

A new book, Co-operation, Learning and Co-operative Values, is published this month by Routledge in which the authors ‘describe, analyse and assess the growth of co-operative education’. In a chapter by Stephen Yeo titled ‘The co-operative university? Transforming higher education’, he describes the Social Science Centre as

“a remarkable teaching and learning co-operative named ‘The Social Science Centre’. This will be well able to speak for itself, offering ‘free, co-operative higher education’, ‘organised on the basis of democratic, non-hierarchical principles, with all members having equal involvement in the life and work of SSC’ (socialsciencecentre.org.uk). The Centre’ s name may be seen as a direct heir of the Owenite understanding – indeed invention – of social science as critique of the anti-social or dismal science of competitive political economy.”