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

Notes from SSC meeting 16 July 2015

Attending: Cassie, Martha (opening and closing), Mike, Sarah, Wendy
Apologies: Andrea, Andrew, Graham, Joss, Laura, Lucy, Paul

Matters arising from minutes (of 4 July 2015)

The curriculum planning day has been rescheduled for two meetings on September 5th and 12th. The first will start with a general discussion about the aims of the curriculum for the term, responsibilities and etc.

Sarah will put a call out for new courses and set up Loomio discussion(s) for preliminary discussions.

Courses and activities will start in October 2015 – Wendy’s must be as early as possible.

Report from ISRF/SSC project

There is a new report on the first workshop. It will be out soon after participants have seen the transcript.

All SSC members have been invited to take part in a funded workshop in US; details to follow from Mike.

The second workshop on ‘governance’ is to take [took] place on 17 July 2015.

Trips and visits

There is a trip planned to London to the London Metropolitan University archives and MayDay Rooms on 10 September; we will take train, Mike to buy tickets. Contact Mike N. if you want to go.

We have been invited to visit the New Anarchist Research group – Cassie and Sarah to follow up

Members of the SSC with an interest in alternative forms of higher education are invited to a ‘Gathering of Kindred Spirits for Re-imagining Higher Education’ in Portugal, 20-26 August; Sarah and Mike are going; contact Kelly Teamey for details.

Planning

We will have a break over the summer and come back in the fall, to regroup about the aims of SSC work and make plans for new courses and activities; also to organise a new campaign to let people know what we do and make connections with other people and groups: who we are, what we are doing, where we are going?

Notes from SSC meeting 4th July 2015

Present:  Mike, David, Wendy

Apologies: Peaceful, Joss, Andrew, Andrea, Laura, Gerard, Lucy,

Curriculum Planning Day

26th of July scheduled as curriculum planning day for next year’s programme Currently a number of apologies have been received. Mike to check that this event to go ahead on 26th of July or to reschedule.

SSC[ISRF]

Mike gave a report on progress of research project to establish a model for cooperative higher education funded by the Independent Social Research Fund. The work done so far has included a workshop on Pedagogy for Cooperative Higher Eduation, interviews with authorities on cooperative learning, as well as educational instittuions, e.g., Workers College in South Africa, as well as worker coops providing educational resources, e.g., Toolbox for Education and Social Action (TESA).

Trip to London

Mike to confirm names of those going to London to visit London Metropolitan University Library and London Mayday rooms and to buy train tickets.

Workshops

Wendy would like to run a workshop on Marx’s social theory: not a presentation but to use her word: a ‘germinatis‘, (trans. ‘of sprouting’). This to be discussed at the curriculum planning day. It may be that the curriculum next year is organised around a series of workshops on matters of particular interest to participants and facilitated/taught by the participants themselves.

AGM 2015 Minutes, financial report, draft statement of values

Download key documents:

AGM minutes

Financial report (AGM)

Financial report (May 2015)

SSC and ISRF Project Plan

Draft statement of values

Social Science Centre, Lincoln

4th Annual General Meeting, 16th May 2015.

Croft Street Community Centre, Lincoln. 11-4pm.

Apologies:

Paul Boyce, Lucy McGinty

Attending:

Andrew McCulloch

Angela Porter

Bob Cannell

David McAleavey

Gerard de Zeeuw

Joss Winn (Note-taker)

Laura Stratford

Martha Vahl

Mike Neary

Peaceful Warrior

Sam Kelly

Sandie Stratford

Sarah Amsler (Chair)

Stephen Hopkins

Bradley Allsop

Andrea Abbas

Simon Legg

Stephen Hopkins

Tony Jeffs

Wendy Vause

Agenda:

Morning: Co-operative business (11:00am–12:30pm)

  • Opening of the day & review of previous AGM minutes/actions
  • Review of the SSC Constitution
  • SSC financial report
  • Report on courses (Know-How: Do-It-Ourselves Higher Education) and information about upcoming curriculum design workshops + activities/events
  • Any other business

Lunch (12:30–1:00pm)                                                                                    

Bring and share!

Afternoon: Talks and discussions (1:00–4:00pm)

1:00–1:15pm     Co-ops – It’s all about the people

Bob Cannell, Suma Co-op

1:45-2:00pm     Co-operatives in the East Midlands

Angela Porter, Lincolnshire Co-operative Development Agency

2:30–2:45pm    The history & archive of the Lincolnshire Co-op & the place of education

Andrew Jackson, Bishop Grosseteste University

3:15–3:30pm    Informal education and the free university

Tony Jeffs, Durham University

4:00pm                Closing

Minutes

  • Agree 2014 minutes
    • SSC [ISRF] project will look at governance
    • ACTION: We will organize a half day workshop on decision-making and technologies. Sarah to bring paper on democratic decision making.
    • ACTION: Meeting on 28th May about SSC [ISRF] project – decide whether to use the project to discuss governance issues. (see subsequent project plan linked above)
    • Wendy noted that she did attend the 2014 AGM
    • 2014 minutes (2b) on ‘conflict resolution’ – the proposal relating to termination of membership was not agreed.
    • 2014 AGM minutes agreed.
  • Matters arising
  • Constitution
    • Question around what is a ‘member’? Socially, intellectually, politically? Who is the co-operative? This was also discussed last year.
    • Should statement of values be included in the constitution?
    • Should membership be open?
    • ACTION: Andrew to send statement of values around again
    • ACTION: We agreed to organise a year-long project using the constitution to develop meaningful definitions and practices of ‘democracy’, ‘non-hierarchical self-organisation’, ‘membership’, and ‘consensus’, with attention to issues of power and communication, and with a view to revising the constitution, our ‘business plan’, statement of values if necessary and producing principles of organisation, teaching and how to propose and run courses/activities (also to discuss whether the constitution should include a stronger statement of SSC values) Stephen has written an outline of this up. See attached plan. [All]
    • The series of research workshops organised by Joss and Mike to develop a framework for a co-operative university may be part of this, as the SSC is the site for it; there will be a meeting on 28 May to discuss this link.
    • ACTION: Sarah, Lucy and Andrea will work on producing principles for the new short courses and share experience and suggestions from this perspective.
    • ACTION: We agreed to use some of our money to pay for training in decision-making and other relevant skills — to be determined and organised at a meeting in the near future — these may be related to the co-operative university research workshops. [All]
    • We agreed constitution on the basis that it’s a working document for next year.
  • Financial report (attached)
    • Need to revise the business plan or dispose of it.
    • Members agreed the processes of reporting the finances.
    • Members thanked Stephen for his work on role as Treasurer.
  • Secretary: Mike Neary agreed. Treasurer: Stephen Hopkins agreed.
  • Stephen will step down in one year.
  • Agreed that elected roles (secretary and treasurer) should be for maximum fixed terms of 3 years. Changing of roles should not coincide.
  • Know-how course: Mike gave summary of the course. It struggled to find a focus of study but did look at methodology and process. In the New Year, we developed a more structured timetable of discussing our own research. Moved to Mint Lane, well attended. Didn’t write up each session as we had before.
  • Curriculum planning day for Fall 2015 will be on 26 July, 1-4pm, Mint Lane
  • ACTION: Ask for 200w from each person to publish on the website. Thanked PW for helping coordinate the use of Mint Lane building. [All]
  • ACTION: Sort out website and how we find information. [Joss]
  • ACTION: Prioritise discussion about co-ordinator role at next meeting (June 6th).

 

Agenda for our 4th AGM

Here’s the Agenda for Saturday’s AGM. In addition to our previously advertised speakers, we’re lucky to have Angela Porter joining us from Lincolnshire Co-operative Development Agency.

Download the Agenda.

Social Science Centre, Annual General Meeting, 16 May 2015

Croft Street Community Centre, Croft Street/Baggholme Road, Lincoln LN2 5AX

Morning: Co-operative business (11:00am–12:30pm)

  • Opening of the day & review of previous AGM minutes/actions
  • SSC financial report
  • Report on courses (Know-How: Do-It-Ourselves Higher Education) and information about upcoming curriculum design workshops + activities/events
  • Any other business

Lunch (12:30–1:00pm)                                                                                    

Bring and share!

Afternoon: Talks and discussions (1:00–4:00pm)

1:00–1:15pm     Co-ops – It’s all about the people

Bob Cannell, Suma Co-op

 

1:45-2:00pm     Co-operatives in the East Midlands

Angela Porter, Lincolnshire Co-operative Development Agency

 

2:30–2:45pm    The history & archive of the Lincolnshire Co-op & the place of education

Andrew Jackson, Bishop Grosseteste University

 

3:15–3:30pm    Informal education and the free university

Tony Jeffs, Durham University

 

4:00pm                Closing

Let us know…

If you are planning to come with children or would like to talk to us about help with childcare and children’s activities on the day, please contact the Childcare Working Group through sarah@socialsciencecentre.org.uk.

If you have any other needs we can be aware of when organising the day, please also get in touch.

Minutes from general meeting 2nd May 2015

SSC minutes

Saturday, 02 May 2015

Present:  Sarah, Gracie, Joss, Mike, David, Stephen, Andrea, Peaceful, Laura

Apologies: Martha, Gerrard, Lucy, Andrew, Paul, Wendy

  1. Last meeting’s minutes
  1. Matters arising

London Met archivists can’t do date suggested.  Mike will email round to suggest alternative date.

  1. Plan for AGM  

Croft Street Community Centre booked, 11am-4pm

Agenda

11am – business (look at constitution, business plan & financial report, discuss possible role for paid coordinator, agree what we will do this year to progress discussion around role of consensus and supporting new members, agree dates for new member welcome meetings);

12 noon – Bring & Share lunch;

1pm – Talks by Tony Jeffs,  Bob Cannell (Suma workers Coop), Andrew Jackson (Bishop Grosseteste);

Questions and discussion with speakers;

3:30pm – Reflect on implications for SSC.

Joss will record event and take minutes.

Mike will check that venue has a screen for Andrew Jackson’s presentation.

David will bring a projector.

Mike will send link to constitution for people to read beforehand and bring paper copies on the day.

Mike & Stephen will bring pens & flipchart.

Mike proposes Sarah as Chair for AGM, Joss seconded.

It was noted that we have three white men as speakers at AGM!  The women speakers we invited were unable to attend.   Peaceful suggested inviting Angela to speak.  Joss will email Angela to invite her to speak.

Members & Membership

Joss wrote a paper about SSC membership which was discussed and resulted in a working group. However, the working group has not yet met to develop better support for new members. We agreed to organise four meetings a year to welcome new members – dates and details to be agreed at AGM.

Statement of Values

Need to look at how we can deal with dis-census.  It was suggested we ask Bob Cannell about this at AGM.

Status & Role of monthly general meeting

We congratulated ourselves on being much better at organising our meetings, and increasing to twice-monthly meetings!

Andrew stood down as secretary.  Mike has taken this role over.  Need to record role & responsibilities of secretary in central place where new members can access it.

We had a discussion about how new members can get involved.

Business plan/statement doesn’t reflect SSC, and needs re-visiting.  Suggested to bring it to forthcoming Cooperative Governance workshop for discussion.

Childcare working group: we looked into it and we can do it! We need people to give advance notice of bringing a child to AGM so that we can make appropriate provision for them.

Curriculum design:  We agreed that we’re doing this much better now!

Accommodation:  Offered to join LincolnShare

  1. Paid Coordinator

Need to look at financial report to consider ability to pay a coordinator.  Add to agenda for AGM.

  1. SSC Independent Social Research Foundation Project

Joss has advertised it widely, to a few hundred people via email and also via twitter.  About 40 people have responded to say they would like to participate.

Mike & Joss working on June & July workshops (on Pedagogy and  Governance ) – soon to be finalised.

Funding will be used to enable experts to come who otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

Question over appropriate numbers – aim is to get a lot of work done in a day.

Ethics form went through – no problems.

Students For Cooperation invite us to hold a workshop at their National Meeting.

Request by a member for financial help to come to Workshops:

Should we use SSC funds to give Financial support to enable members to participate in workshops?  Agreed to invite donations for a solidarity fund – advertise before AGM.  Donate by paypal via website.

It’s an SSC project, but funding is via the university.  There is a conversation to be had around how the project relates to the direction of the SSC, and the (shifting) relationship between SSC and university.  Need to discuss in greater detail around how members can apply for funding.

  1. Report on Know How sessions

Final class next week; many sessions have been well attended; people have appreciated the structure; interesting to have each class focussed on a different person’s research – we’re all doing, or wanting to do, research.  Laura proposed a scheduled “emergent” session each month next term.

Curriculum Day – Sunday 26th July, midday-4pm at Mint Lane – Bring a picnic!

  1. London Met Archive & May Day Rooms – Mike continuing to arrange date for visit.
  1. Short courses/ scholarship workshops

Short courses on Marx & Marxism & Feminist Social Imagination in June/July  – to be advertised and people sign up.  Sarah will send out an email; David to share with Framework.

Darcy Leigh – Radical Higher Education & anti-colonial projects in the Canadian Arctic.  21st May, 7pm at Mint Lane.

AOB

Rent – Some emails haven’t got through to Stephen.  Stephen will email Mike so he can send an invoice.

Congratulations to Joss, who submitted his PhD this week!

Congratulations to Sarah who had her book published – celebrate Friday 26th June (Andrea to organise)

Sarah asked Gracie’s help to think of ways to make SSC meetings more fun for children.