Minutes of 2016 Annual General Meeting

Social Science Centre Annual General Meeting

Croft Street Community Centre

7 May 2016, 11am-4pm.

Attending

Sarah Amsler, Steve Hanson, Clare Lynch, Andrew McCulloch, Carol MacRea, Mike Neary, Karolina Szynalska, Joss Winn

Apologies

David McAleavey, Laura Stratford, Lucy McGinty, Peaceful Warrior, Wendy Vause

Minutes from AGM of 16 May 2105

Approved

It was proposed that in the future, note-takers should summarise each section of the meetings, including actions, and read this out for approval from those in attendance on the day.

Action: trial this proposal in practice in forthcoming meetings

Matters arising from minutes of 2015 AGM

We reviewed the actions agreed at this meeting.

Completed actions:

  • Met on 28 May 2015 to discuss the SSC [Independent Social Research Foundation] ‘co-operative university’ project; those attending were in favour of using this as a way to discuss governance issues in the SSC
  • Mike circulated a description of the role of the Secretary.
  • Andrew (again) circulated a proposed statement of values; however, it was not discussed.
  • Lucy, Sarah and Andrea drew up plans for a new short course; however, they did not run it.
  • Alex Dunedin from the Ragged University has agreed to work on the SSC website.
  • Members discussed the possibility of paying a co-ordinator and decided against it.

Actions not completed:

  • We did not organise a half-day workshop on decision-making and technologies for decision-making. Sarah did not bring a paper on democratic decision-making.
  • We did not discuss the statement of values that Andrew circulated.
  • We did not 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 (or whether the constitution should include a stronger statement of SSC values).
  • Lucy, Sarah and Andrea did not produce principles for new short courses.
  • We did not use some of our money to pay for training in decision-making and other relevant skills.
  • We did not ask each member for 200 words about themselves to publish on the website.

Action: Sarah to organise a discussion for members to reflect on the above.

Election of officers

Mike was nominated, seconded and approved as Secretary for the coming year.

Laura was nominated, seconded and approved as Treasurer for the coming year.

Thanks to Stephen for his long service as Treasurer to this point.

Action: Laura to arrange transfer of signatures, documents, etc. from Stephen.

Financial report

Approved. It was noted that this year we spent more money than we earned from member contributions. Stephen had said that this might happen. We will need to monitor this in the coming year.

Action: Future accounting reports to include more details of expenditure and income (e.g., precise figures for member contributions)

Review of the Constitution

No amendments were deemed necessary.

Members attending the AGM reviewed the Constitution and raised the following points for discussion:

  • Membership – did we make a decision about the definiton of ‘active membership’? Yes, and it remains broad to include a range of forms of participation and contribution.

We need to improve the process of ‘becoming a member’ to include face-to-face meetings and discussions, rather than only an online registration and email. It was acknowledged that meetings with new members have been offered and organised in the past, with little take-up.

  • Quorum – it was suggested that we reconsider the number of members needed for quorum, to avoid a situation in which decisions cannot be made at meetings.
  • Expulsion – it was suggested that the language defining grounds for expulsion from the SSC be revised to be more specifically related to violations of the values and principles.

New SSC Manchester

Steve Hanson introduced a new project, the Social Science Centre, Manchester. It grew out of the Manchester Left Writers project (which will continue), and aims to offer its first Sociological Imagination course in September 2016 at the Friends Meeting House. All agreed this is both an honour for the SSC, Lincoln and an exciting project that we are keen to learn from.

Action: Steve to write a brief blog about the SSC Manchester that we can publish on the SSC Lincoln website.

Other business (AOB)

It was noted that elements of SSC organisation have been adapted elsewhere; e.g., the Co-operative Institute for Transnational Studies, based in Greece. Several delegates from Mondragon University came to visit Joss and Mike recently to discuss co-operative education and student-as-producer pedagogy and curriculum.

Action: Mike to update the bibliography of SSC-related news, articles and publications on the website.

The AGM finished around 1pm and we had lunch, followed by a discussion about the research project: Beyond Public and Private.

Five Years On: The Social Science Centre AGM, 2016

The Social Science Centre will be holding its Annual General Meeting on 7th May at Croft Street Community Centre, Lincoln, LN2 5AX, from 11 am to 4 pm. (map)

The first part of the meeting will be taken up with business matters as well as financial reporting. Lunch will be provided.

After lunch we will be looking at recent research on co-operative higher education: Beyond Private and Public: A Framework for Co-operative Higher Education. This research was carried out by Mike Neary and Joss Winn, and funded by the Independent Social Research Foundation.

Please see minutes from last year’s AGM

TIMETABLE FOR THE DAY

11.00 – 12.30  Social Science Centre (SSC) Annual General Meeting

Agenda

  1. Approve Minutes
  2. Matters Arising
  3. Review SSC Constitution
  4. SSC financial report
  5. Proposed new SSC in Manchester
  6. AOB

12.30 – 1.30 Lunch

1.30 – 3.30 Beyond Private and Public: A Framework for Co-operative Higher Education. Mike and Joss to present this research followed by a discussion of how the outcomes of this research might be taken up by the SSC as a model for its future development.

3.30 – 4.00 Review the day and close.

Minutes from SSC meeting of April 2nd

Present: Mike, Andrew, Carol, Laura

Apologies: Lucy, Joss, Peaceful

Minutes agreed

Website:
Alex happy to help us with our web site. We suggest offering him £200, and will check with Joss who is currently stand-ing in for treasurer.

Workshops/Seminars:

Rituals in Education
Robert Hamm, booked, Saturday 16th April, 10-4.
Croft Street
Bring & share lunch.
Please share poster, everyone!

Distress in the City
Linden West
Suggests 7th July – Mike will book this.
Laura or Andrew offer to put him up if needed. Mike will invite him to arrive early to have dinner/spend some time.

Mike will book mint Lane for Thurs 30th June, and will ask Linden to send reading we can look at on this occasion.

Research Projects:
Mike & Joss beginning to disseminate findings from ISRF project. Conferences in Manchester, Spain and Denmark in April/May/June.

New Leadership Foundation for Higher Education research project: ‘Co-operative Leadership for Higher Education.
Mike & Joss met people from Mondragon.

AGM:
7th May, 11am-4pm

11-12:30 business meeting
12:30-1:30 bring & share lunch
1:30-3:30 Making the cooperative university report workshop.

Mike is booking Croft Street. Will spend part of AGM looking at report, and ready for relaunching SSC!
Will include business meeting.
We need new treasurer!

AOB:
British sociological association: A splinter group has emerged! They’re having a meeting 7 April at Aston university – they have invited SSC. Mike is planning to go.

No course for next term – but two seminars.

Minutes from SSC meeting of March 5th 2016

SSC Monthly Meeting

Saturday 5th March 2016

Apologies: Joss, Lucy

Present: Andrew, Carol, Laura, Mike, Sarah, Wendy

Read & agreed last month’s minutes

Curriculum reports: SSI

Andrew outlined our recent seminars looking at dystopian novels, and questioning their relevance and usefulness.  Many people struggled to do the reading in advance, especially whole novels, and we agreed that people should come even not having done the reading, and we will spend some of the time reading during the seminar.

Curriculum reports: Cybernetics with Raul Espejo

People are getting lots out of these sessions, and are stretched by them.  These sessions are attracting a slightly different group of people than our SSI regulars.  Last seminar is a week on Tuesday.

SSI people will discuss what we would like to follow after the Cybernetics course, and brings some suggestions to the next meeting.

Gnawed by Rats

Unable to attend today’s meeting due to snow, but they have an event coming up on Friday 18th March, 6:30-9pm at the Pavilion Building.  Sarah will put this on twitter and the blog.

Website

Joss suggested that we ask Alex (from Ragged University) if he would be interested to do some work on improving and modernising our website for us.  We should pay him for this.  We agreed that this would be a good idea; Mike will get back to Joss to ask Alex.

ISRC Project

We have had the final workshop on transnational networks, which was well attended.  Joss & Mike have written a short article to publish in a journal, and will be working on further articles and presenting it at conferences.  Next SSC needs to prepare a report to share at our AGM, to see how it might develop the SSC.  There is a lot of interest in the establishment of a cooperative university.

Maria & her colleagues are setting up a Cooperative Institute for Trans-National Studies, much like Mondragon in structure; they will charge a fee; a multi-stakeholder coop; working on getting accreditation through the autonomous university in Mexico.  SSC could use them as a proxy accreditation institute.

Mike got a grant this week from the Leadership Foundation, on Cooperative leadership, and putting it into a higher education context.  Suma, Mondragon, a cooperative school, and John Lewis will all be case studies.  Create a tool/vehicle/critical device to assess cooperativeness within university.  It’s one year; £10K, to include a part time research assistant (who can speak Spanish), with a steering committee.

Mondragon delegates are coming over to visit, to look at Student as Producer and what the SSC are doing.

Rituals in Education – Robert Hamm

Joss has invited Robert on 16th April.  We need to check the status of this, and help with advertising.

Distress in the City – Linden West

Linden has written a book on Stoke-on-Trent and the rise of Islamophobia.  Mike will invite him get back to him to arrange a date for him to visit.  We need to get some basic posters made.

Antipode Project

Grant available for scholar-activist fellowship.  “Hull City of Culture” is gentrifying Hull, and resulting in the enclosing and privatising of previously open and public spaces.  Campaign is currently happening around keeping a school building public instead of selling it off; she would like help documenting it.  The SSC could be recognised as an institutional partner in the grant, which would mean we would handle the money.  It would cover materials and space, but not time.  Do we want to contribute? Do we have the knowledge & skills? What would we do with the money?

There were concerns raised about complications around, and the big responsibility of handling the funds, in partnership with people we have not yet had chance to build up trust with.  Might it divert our energies?

There was a concern raised that Lincoln is a long way from Hull – we are not aware of what is going on there; would we spend a lot of the money on travelling between?  Does this make sense as a partnership?  We do have people who are experienced in facilitating community learning who could offer this support on a consultancy capacity.  We are not local enough; we don’t have a capacity; our budget is not set up for this sort of thing.

Savings Pools

A pool is in the process of being set up, including contracts and legality.  It is a closed group, but we will run further workshops in future, and support who are interested in setting up a pool.

AGM

We propose Saturday 7th May at Croft Street Community Centre for AGM.  It will include business meeting, and look at ISRC report and research project and how it can support the SSC, and how we might review our governance structures, and invite people who have been part of the project to contribute (rather than guest speakers).

Actions from last AGM: workshop on decision making process & technology (hasn’t happened yet).  Why hasn’t this happened – there isn’t the energy?  We will discuss paper on consensus decision making at SSI, and bring this back to AGM.

Re-visit values at AGM.

Short course on feminist social theory and gender, offered by Andrea, Sarah and Lucy – this has been disrupted by people’s circumstances, but the issues are still of interest.

Suggestion that each of us write 200 words about who we are, why we’re involved, etc.   Let’s do this ready to re-launch the website.  (We will ask for this when we advertise the AGM)

Stephen has asked to stand down from treasurer’s role.  We need to appoint positions at AGM – treasurer, secretary, etc.

AOB

Next meeting Saturday 2nd April.

Wendy asks to talk about the origins of capitalism, and Helen Meiksins-Wood’s work.

Social Cybernetics: Week Five

This was the final seminar of our Social Cybernetics course. An audio recording of the session is below and the slides referred to can be downloaded here.

This week Raul Espejo discussed his work on the Chilean Cybersyn project. Raul was the Operations Director of the project and one of the people to invite Stafford Beer to Chile to design a cybernetic system of industrial co-ordination for Allende’s socialist government (1970-73). Following the military coup of 1973, Raul left Chile for Manchester to continue his work with Stafford Beer and has remained in the UK ever since, now residing in Lincoln.

During this week’s seminar, Raul refers to three publications on Cybersyn:

Espejo (2014) Cybernetics of Governance: The Cybersyn Project 1971-1973

Medina (2011) Cybernetic Revolutionaries (PhD thesis here)

Morozov (2014) The Planning Machine

If you have any questions about this course or for Prof. Espejo himself, please use the comments form below or email the SSC.

Happiness and freedom: Social Science Imagination notes 25/02/16

SSC 25th February, 2016, Mint Lane, 7-9.00 pm.

Present: Mike Neary, Andrew McCulloch, Paul Boyce, Laura Stratford, Lucy McGinty.

The subjects of the discussion, led by Paul and Mike, were the dystopian novels “We” by Yvegeny Zamyatin (1921) and “1984” by George Orwell (1949). “We” was not published in the Soviet Union until 1988 and slipped awkwardly into English and French in the nineteen twenties. Not all of us had managed to read both novels but partial reading should not and does not stop discussion at the SSC meetings.

Mike introduced a discussion about “We”, which is now in a newer, superior translation by Clarence Brown (1993) when compared to the wooden US translation of 1924. The Brown translation recognises that this dystopian novel is a constructivist work, which reads almost like a poem or series of poems. Orwell reviewed a French translation of the book for the journal Tribune on 4th January 1946. He found much to admire in the book but did not enjoy the style of writing. Paul introduced a discussion of the much better known “1984”. Orwell’s book owes much to “We” and the influence was never denied. Of course, Orwell’s book is much bleaker than “We”. However, both books present a picture of an imaginary society in which, as Orwell put it in his review of “We”, “happiness and freedom are incompatible.” Both books portray a society of the future where the capacity for imagination and free thought is only an undesirable source of mental torment. Affection and love are therefore dangerous, and disturbing emotions because they are unpredictable. In both portrayed societies human beings live under constant surveillance and the source of this surveillance is a remote and inaccessible centre of unchallengeable power.

Laura asked, why should we read these novels when their message appears so depressing. We saw them as warnings, imaginative forays into possible futures which still have purchase on our by no means perfect present. We acquiesce in trading away our freedom of thought and action lulled by an empty affluence. The deliberate political presentation of a constant rumble of war and terror around the world, promotes a general sense of helplessness and personal and social insecurity.

Laura suggested that we read for next week some research which was positive and appeared to demonstrate, on the contrary, that freedom and happiness are indeed compatible.

We will read together on Thursday 10th March at 7.00 pm at Mint Lane, the following:

When Freedom is Not an Endless Meeting: A New Look at Efficiency in Consensus-Based Decision Making.

If you have not had time to look at the paper but are interested, do still come, as we will read the paper together. If you can print out your own copy, that would be great. Depending on how the meeting works we might continue reading this another week, or even another week after that.

 

Social Cybernetics: Week Four

Here is the recording from the fourth seminar on Social Cybernetics with Prof. Raul Espejo.

The slides for this week can also be downloaded and will be especially useful as we spent some time discussing illustrations of the Viable System Model and different case studies of complexity, including the case of ‘Baby P’, a firm in Birmingham, and UK national energy policy.

As always, reading material for the course can be downloaded from the SSC website, and new people are still welcome for the final seminar on Tuesday 15th March, 7-9pm. The reading for the final week is Raul’s paper on ‘Cybernetics of Governance: The Cybersyn Project 1971-1973‘. Raul was the Operational Director of Project Cybersyn and worked closely with Stafford Beer.

SSC planning meeting minutes 13th February 2016

Attendees: Joss, Laura, Lucy, Andrew, Wendy, Rob Goemans, Sara Ahmed, Hadiza Abdulrahman

Apologies: Paul, Mike, Sarah

1. Minutes from last meeting

Social Cybernetics and SSI are running alternate weeks.  A lot of interest from the last SSI course when Mike circulated some notes.

2. Curriculum this term

SSI – try and find the notes from the planning session, we are leading a week each starting with looking at 1984.

Cybernetics – scholars from as far as London are attending.  Feedback is that it is interesting, stimulating and challening, but some are struggling with new terminology and concepts.  Pitched at a very high level.

3. ISRF

The last workshop has now been run and notes have been circulated amongst participants. There will be an online focus group on Thursday which will be attended in place of SSI.  Can join in from home or all meet at Mint Lane.  Looking at co-operation among cooperatives, an international network, need to think bigger than just one university.

 

There is the possibility of a further grant to do more research on Co-operative higher education.

Joss and Mike have had good discussions with people from Mondragon co-operative university in Spain, as well as UniCoop in Mexico.

4. Community Art group

Gnawed by Rats – Laura has contacted them but as yet they have not got back in touch.

5. Savings pool

Some people who attended the worskshop are interested in setting up a savings pool.  There has been discussion on the public/private nature of savings pools.  Another workshop will be put on.

6. Curriculum offer

½ day/ 1day workshop has been offered to SSC on the theory of rituals in education.  There is interest in the group for this.

7. Birbeck – Mike has offered to go and speak, if anyone is interested in joining Mike, please let him know.  This will be 25th April.

8. Paulo Vittoria is coming back to Lincoln on a research project Februay 9-17th.  Initial meeting will be confirmed by Joss.  Joss will circulate the research proposal.

9. Planning for AGM May 2016

Need to book the venue, Joss to confirm the date, Mike will look at the minutes from the last AGM, need to give at least 1 months notice, we shall publish an agenda in the next few weeks.

A.O.B – Wendy asked new comers to the group if they wouldn’t mind writing a short paragraph on what they would like to get from attending the SSC so we can look at accommodating their needs.

Social Cybernetics: Week Three

Here’s a recording of the third seminar for our course on Social Cybernetics. The reading for this (and next) week is Raul Espejo’s Good Cybernetics is a Must in Policy Processes. Raul’s slides for this week can be downloaded, too.

As you can see from the slides and recording, the themes for this week were variety engineering, interactions and self-organisation, effective organisation and relationships, and recursive management. We also discussed how cybernetic theory might improve the running of social services, looking at the case study of ‘Baby P’, which prompted a discussion about the relationship between politics and cybernetics.

Our next seminar is on Tuesday March 1st, 7-9pm, followed by the last seminar on Tuesday 15th March. All welcome!

Notes for Planning Meeting 9th January

Social Science Centre – Notes for Planning Meeting 9th January, 12 noon, 12 Mint Lane Lincoln

Present: Peaceful, Paul, Mike, Laura, Sarah, Lucy, Joss
Apologies: Andrew, Gerald and Martha
Laura chaired the meeting. We spent the first part of the meeting catching up with what we had all been up to over the Christmas vacation. Peaceful is living in the woods, Laura has a new job. Any issues to be discussed under matters arising were to be covered in the main agenda.
New course – Social Cybernetics
Prof Raul Espejo is to run a course on Social Cybernetics starting on 21st of Jan – for more details see link:
Mike is to publicise this event through the usual channels, e.g., The Lincolnite
SSI
The Sociological Imagination Course to start again on 14th Jan. Mike and Lucy to meet up to discuss programme and facilitation. Notes from last term’s session have been written up and can be seen at link here – to be posted
Cooperative University research
Cooperative University – Independent Social Research Foundation research project continues to go well. The last workshop on Transnational Networking is to be held on the 29th of January.  Those present at the meeting were reminded that they were very well. Publicity and invitations has gone out about the event.
Joss and Mike have submitted a grant proposal for £10k to the Leadership Foundation in Higher Education to further develop this research on the topic of Co-operative Leadership
LCDA
Lincolnshire Cooperative Development Association. Mike and Joss are now co-directors of the LCDA. For further information about the LCDA see link here:
Savings Pools
Following the meeting to consider setting up a local money savings pool, Laura is to arrange a meeting on a Thursday evening at Mint Lane on the 28th of January at 7pm.
Gnawed by Rats 
Gnawed by Rats are an art group, hired as artists in residence to organise public art events to celebrate the anniversary of the Charta of the Forest. We agreed to invite to the planning meeting on the 5th of March 12 – 1 at Mint Lane to discuss how we might collaborate on the theme of ‘the commons’.
AGM
We need to make preparations for our AGM later this year. Mike will look at last year’s minutes to make sure all matters arising have been/are being dealt with.
Date of next meeting – 6th Feb, Lucy to chair