Hope, fierce resilience and education.

 

Notes from the Social Science Imagination course, Autumn 2015.

Lucy and I planned the course together, meeting in a pub near the Witham river in the centre of Lincoln. She brought her knowledge of running training sessions for voluntary sector organisations, while I was trying to unlearn how to be a university professor.

This was to be a free course for anyone who wanted to learn more about how the social world works and how we can change it, with the help of social science.

The format was to be open and encouraging, taking a lead from the reading and people’s life experiences. The course would be taught in an informal environment that is inclusive, and that encourages and supports participants to share and think about their experiences. Both teachers and students are considered scholars who can learn a lot from each other. Everyone doing the course was to be encouraged and supported to read authors who have written about their concerns, and to write short essays setting out their own ideas.

We wanted to encourage participants to think about ideas, problems and issues that are important to them based on their own life experiences. Rather than viewing these experiences solely as individual problems, which can often overwhelm us and make us feel powerless to act, we wanted the course to consider how we can make connections between the individual problems we face in our everyday lives and wider public issues that affect us all, such as cuts to public services, rising food prices, and racism, sexism and homophobia in daily life.

The course was based on a close reading C. Wright Mill’s The Sociological Imagination. This book provides a framework for thinking about our own life experiences and understanding the world around us in a way that gives us confidence rather than feelings of frustration, fear, anxiety and indifference. For Mills, it was important to understand how our personal lives are affected by power in the wider society and how, by making these connections, we can start to overcome the difficulties we face individually and collectively.

The group was made up of Laura, Lucy, Mahmood, Andrew, Wendy and Mike.

Continue reading

Minutes from 5th December 2015 general meeting

SSC Cooperative Meeting

5th December 2015

Present: Wendy, Mike, Andrew, Joss, Laura Apologies: Lucy, Sarah, Mahmood

Last meeting’s minutes have been shared and agreed

Radical Histories Conference – 1-3 July 2016

“Towards a Radical Future of Education” – Wendy will get in touch to see if it is to late to submit a proposal. If not, Wendy offers to write a proposal and send to mailing list for comments.

SSC to support Wendy to attend, funds permitting.

Validation of Courses and Awards

Wendy asked about “next steps” for validating work. Joss described the various routes that SSC could support scholars to get accreditation from the state, which would include working in partnership with another university, e.g. the Open University, or with an accreditation body regulated by OFQUAL to award degrees. This route would have high resource and administration implications and would be suitable if we have hundreds of students. Alternatively, SSC can support scholars to obtain a PhD by publication, and they would need to apply to a university to do this.

Marx Law of Value

Wendy requested a lecture to help her move forward with her study.

Mike & Joss offer to share some online links via email (reading and recorded talks).

Curriculum for next term

Joss is keen to offer a ‘Politics of Archiving: Archiving Politics’ online course, supported by TESA, a US workers’ cooperative. It’s unlikely he will be able to do it this academic year though due to other commitments.

Raul Espejo http://syncho2.blogspot.co.uk/ offers a course in Social Cybernetics. Laura suggested that he might offer it on alternate weeks with SSI course in the new year. Mike will discuss dates with him. We would want to advertise this course.

Andrew, Wendy, Mike and Laura are all keen for SSI course to continue.

Gary offered to lead an SSC session in the new year – Mike will arrange a date with him.

 

Anarchist Research Group

Wendy gave feedback on a trip with Cassie and Lucy to the MayDay rooms. They gave a short talk about the SSC, and had interesting conversations with others who were there.

Others from the anarchist group suggest using libraries as a radical public space for meeting.

Cassie offers to do a write up.

Update on ISRF project

Project is continuing according to plan.

It is reassuring the ideas coming out of the focus group and workshops are similar to our own ideas.

People attending come from across the world and have lots of Cooperative experience.

Joss has put in an abstract to do a talk at the Cooperative College.

Savings Pools

Laura will organise another workshop in the new year for people who are interested but missed the last one, and a subsequent meeting for those who decide to start a Lincoln Savings Pool. It will likely include people who are not currently scholars at the SSC, but Laura will send all info to the SSC email, and put info on the website.

Christmas Event

Mike invites us to his place on 19th December.

AOB

Laura is getting a DBS check through the Voluntary Services Centre; others can get a DBS check but would need to pay for it. Mike (Secretary) agreed to file the VSC paperwork with other SSC documents.

Minutes from 7th November general meeting

SSC planning meeting 7th November 2015

Attendees: Lucy, Wendy, Mike

Apologies: Sarah, Laura, Andrew, Joss

  1. Minutes from last meeting

No minutes from the last meeting as only Mike and Laura attended.

  1. SSI

Wendy found it difficult to engage with the ‘Sociological Imagination’ but found the session brought the book to life when it related to people’s lives. Laura picked out parts in the book that related to values and as a group we decided to re-write our biographies from a values viewpoint. The Sociological Imagination is a useful book to refer back to. It gives practical advice for research and the value of research. The SSI course is going well. Mike has written some prose. We discussed the value of life history as a research method. A colleague from Middlesex University gave a talk this week on methodologies for professional doctorates.

  1. Reciprocity Pools

Laura would like to set something up. A group of 20-30 people all putting in approx £10-20 to see how it goes and if its a success, talk about putting in bigger amounts.

  1. ISRF
  • Project is going well. 3 out of 5 workshops have been delivered. 3 out of 5 focus groups have been delivered.       Joss and Mike have been regularly interviewing people. The summaries have been posted on the website. An interim report is going to be written and submitted to LATISS, an open access journal.

The green paper on higher education has been published. Some notable aspects are:

  • New entrants only need 1,000 students to be classified as a University.
  • It will be possible for Universities to award degrees in six years rather than ten.
  • This could be exciting for the cooperative movement
  • Green paper appears confused as there are no incentives for Universities to positively respond to changes, there are more regulations.

Mike and Joss are writing a response to the green paper and invite SSC members to read the paper and give their thoughts. We could write a collective response.

Unfortunately the green paper shows no sensitivity to history, social justice or cooperative values. It would be interesting to analyse the paper through the values and principles of the cooperative movement.

  1. Validation

Wendy has started a PHD through Lincoln University, however is struggling to finance this. Is there a way SSC can offer assistance with validation?

SSC is unable to award at this stage, however, can provide ongoing support. Wendy could enrol at a University in France and the SSC will still support Wendy through this. Wendy could also get her PHD through publication. Write and submit at least 5-6 articles (with ongoing support from SSC) to peer review journals and then compose 10,000 word commentary to pull all the work together. This is how Joss obtained his PHD.

  1. SSC online course

There has been a proposal to build an online course around archiving and the politics of archiving. TESA, a workers cooperative in America helps organisations do online teaching and training around cooperatives. They would be able to support us to build an online course. They can provide a handbook on how to do online courses and research into the best technologies for online courses. This can be trialled as an addition to the research project as it is a relevant aspect. It needs to be ready for around March-April 2016.

  1. A.O.B

Wendy and Lucy are visiting the Anarchist Study Group in London on 28th November with Cassie Earl to speak about the SSC. SSC have offered to fund travel.

Notes from SSI course week one

Social Science Imagination week one

Thursday 8th October 2015

After brief introductions, we recognised that it was a course where theory would meet with personal experience, and we agreed some principles for the course:

  • no pressure to share our thoughts, feelings, beliefs or experiences
  • confidentiality among those present
  • notes to be published on website will be read aloud and agreed at the end of the meeting; also to re-view the content of our meeting

Lucy shared a biography of C Wright Mills that she had prepared: this context was appreciated.

Mahmood talked about the novel he is writing about his experiences.

Discussion on pedagogy, and explaining as a teaching technique; and post-modernism and how hard it is to understand ourselves without theorising.

Suggested reading:

Foucault (on Iranian revolution)
1984 (generating fear)

For next time:

Write ~300 words with the title (borrowed from C Wright Mills’ essay):
On Who I might Be & How I Got That Way

Social Science Imagination: Seeing the world differently with social science

Thursdays, 7–9pm, from 8th October, every two weeks, until 10th December 2015

Involve@Lincoln Centre, Mint Lane, Lincoln, LN1 1UD

This free course is for anyone who wants to learn more about how the social world works and how we can change it, with the help of social science. Today, the economy is in crisis; people are struggling to find work and homes, pay debts and make ends meet; prejudice and discrimination are rife; social policies are changing fast; and new social movements and experiments are springing up everywhere to respond to this situation. This course, offered by the Social Science Centre, Lincoln, can help.

The course encourages participants to think about ideas, problems and issues that are important to them based on their own life experiences. Rather than viewing these experiences solely as individual problems, which can often overwhelm us and make us feel powerless to act, the course considers how we can make connections between the individual problems we face in our everyday lives and wider public issues that affect us all, such as cuts to public services, rising food prices, and racism, sexism and homophobia in daily life.

The course is based on a close reading C. Wright Mill’s The Sociological Imagination. This book provides a framework for thinking about our own life experiences and understanding the world around us in a way that gives us confidence rather than feelings of frustration, fear, anxiety and indifference. For Mills, it was important to understand how our personal lives are affected by power in the wider society and how, by making this connection, we can start to overcome the difficulties we face individually and collectively. During the course, we will explore various ways of doing this by examining our questions through many different ideas that have been developed within the social sciences.

The course is taught in an informal environment that is inclusive, and that encourages and supports participants to share and think about their experiences. Both teachers and students are considered scholars who can learn a lot from each other. Everyone doing the course will be encouraged and supported to read authors who have written about their concerns, and to write short essays setting out their own ideas.

Please contact us on info@socialsciencecentre.org.uk if you want to learn more about the course. We hope you can join us.

Lucy McGinty and Mike Neary