What is the Social Science Centre?
The Social Science Centre offers opportunities to engage in a co-operative experience of higher education. Run as a not-for-profit co-operative, the SSC is organised on the basis of democratic, non-hierarchical principles, with all members having equal involvement in the life and work of the SSC. We study themes that draw on the core subjects in social science: sociology, politics and philosophy, as well as psychology, economics, journalism and photography. The Centre organises study and research at all levels including undergraduate, Masters and Doctorates in Philosophy.
Why is the SSC ‘co-operative’?
The co-operative principles that guide the organisation of the SSC also extend to the ways in which we design and run our courses. All classes are participative and collaborative in order to ground inquiry in the experiences and knowledges of the participants. Student-scholars and teacher-scholars have opportunities to design courses together, and those new to teaching and independent learning are offered generous support from others. All members are able to work with academics and other experienced researchers on research projects, and to publish their own writings through the SSC. One key guiding principle of the Centre is that ‘teachers’ and ‘students’ have much to learn from each other.
We continually draw inspiration from the experiences of our members. We also learn much from exploring other forms of alternative education which recognise the importance of co-producing knowledge. These include the Transition Town movement and its focus on re-localisation; the networks of Social Centres across the UK and elsewhere, which demonstrate the value and possibility of autonomous life; and many past and present projects in popular, adult and community education.
Read our constitution.
Why was the SSC created?
The SSC was born in 2010, out of a desire to preserve public space for social science education and research after the Conservative–Liberal Government withdrew funding for the teaching of social sciences and other forms of knowledge deemed ‘non-essential’ in English universities. Members of the SSC, some of whom also work in universities and colleges, object to his decision. We are also concerned that the promises of the university are being impoverished by a system of higher education that is increasingly oriented towards satisfying the perceived needs of business and industry, and that embraces the short-termist, highly competitive, profit-driven motives of the capitalist market.
We believe that higher learning oriented towards intellectual values of critical thinking, experimentation, sharing, peer review, co-operation, collaboration, openness, debate and constructive disagreement point towards a better future for us all. We are working to create alternative spaces of higher education whose purpose, societal value and existence do not depend on the decisions of the powerful.
How is the SSC funded?
The SSC is entirely self-funded and operates on the basis of its members’ contributions. All members of SSC are asked to pay an annual subscription, which is based on the level of their salary (usually one hour’s wage of a monthly net salary). There is no subscription fee for anyone who is unemployed or who has a low income. The SSC also accepts monies and other forms of ‘payment in kind’ from donors who share the SSC’s ethics and values. No one is paid for their work with the Centre. The Centre’s members donate their time and expertise freely and do not receive any monetary payment; all monies received are reinvested into the Centre’s work.
View our financial documents.
What is it like to be a student-scholar in the SSC?
The Centre is especially designed for people of any age who do not wish to take on the burden of student tuition currently imposed by the government, but do wish to undertake a higher level of education. All student-scholars will be part-time, with most study taking place in the evenings and at weekends. While a full-time univeristy degree normally takes three years, it is envisaged that students of the Centre might take up to six years to earn an undergraduate-level certificate, up to four years for the equivalent of a Masters and up to eight years for the equivalent of a PhD.
Student-scholars will undertake a higher level of education, but will not leave the Centre with a university degree. We do not award degrees or other government recognised further or higher education awards. We will make awards of our own and each student-scholar will receive a certificate in higher education, with an extensive written transcript detailing their academic and intellectual accomplishments. This portfolio of work created during the course of their studies with the SSC may be useful for demonstrating these accomplishments to potential employers and/or universities and colleges, where it may in some cases be accepted as evidence of Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL).
Why should I teach at the Centre?
The SSC offers opportunities to practice progressive teaching practices in a culture of mutual support between student-scholars and teacher-scholars. Those who join wishing to teach will also be creating educational experience for students who are unwilling to take on high levels of debt, making social science education more widely available. You will be part of an exciting project in higher education and a valued member of the co-operative, with the possibility to contribute to its direction. As a scholar, you will also be able to help strengthen the research culture of the SSC and the places in which it works.
All members of the SSC are part of a unique project in higher education. We think that our work in co-operative higher learning has the potential to transform the way in which higher education is imagined, designed and undertaken, and invite all who are interested in being part of this project to get in touch.
Where is the SSC located?
The SSC will make use of the most up to date educational technologies, but this is not an online or web-based provision. It is important that the Centre works in real places at the heart of its local community. We work in a variety of public spaces across the city, including the Mansions of the Future, Pathways Centre, the Collection and Usher Gallery, and Revival. While we are located in Lincoln and oriented towards work in the social sciences, we hope and expect that similar projects of small scale, self-funded higher education will be created for different subject areas and in different locations nationally and internationally. These multi-various Centres can provide a supportive and co-operative network to further advance such sustainable and resilient forms of higher education.