AGM-Planning meeting 28/4/18

Aside

28th April – Angel Coffee House 

Who: Laura S, Laura W, Phil, Bradley, Mike, David H, Hannah

Summary:

Met to plan AGM and discuss future of SSC (currently not running sustainably and not cooperatively). Decided that AGM will be space to consider what it means to run as a cooperative (and alternatives) – and to commit/understand roles and constitution (the constitution can change), and the idea of being run by its members and for its members – not a free service of drop-in lectures. There are ways to make it more financially viable too. AGM (26th May) will include different themes including roles, courses & being a cooperative as well as affirmation and elections.

Plan for AGM:

  • Read through constitution together
  • Open space discussions
    • Cooperatives (Mike)
    • Roles (Bradley)
    • Courses (Phil)
    • Surprise! Anything that emerges on the day
  • Bring & Share lunch
  • Elect roles; change constitution if needed; AOB

Meeting notes (thanks to Hannah for note-taking!)

What
AGM is on 26th May, we need to think about if the SSC will continue to run before the AGM (so that the AGM is either celebrating of what we have achieved, or giving direction for next year).
Now SSC is running unsustainably – is this still viable? If we want it, how can we make it possible?

What will the AGM look like?

Why is it unsustainable?

Financial – Running a loss – but there are ways to make that better

People – SSC has a fluctuating group, so there is a feeling that we constantly have to discuss/decide what to do next, rather than getting into anything.
It has become more like drop-in classes (lecturers don’t often come to the other classes, so the dynamic is different).
= not a cooperative?
positive feedback for lecturers but not cooperative.
There is a feeling that this is “not the SSC”- just a series of lectures

(which is the same as what the university and others in Lincoln do) –
Our thing is coming together, cooperative HE, writing together
etc…we’ve lost that.

Just a few members left (Mike resigning as secretary, Laura resigning as treasurer) –
do we have the people to step up without it becoming a burden.

Discussion

Now there are around 10 core members  – it’s enough, but will people actually commit?
Discussion about people’s feelings about this
– Mike has been secretary for a long time, if SSC continues he will resign as secretary, he is ready to stop the SSC, it has been a struggle to keep it going, AGM as a celebration – something new could be created after.

– Laura –

– Bradley- more optimistic – a lot more engagement than previously (more numbers),
Feels that it seems wrong to close it now when we have just put out this
membership survey (?) We cannot decide to close now, people need to have chance
to put their names forward  

– Phil- mentions that Joss says it wouldn’t have to carry on as a cooperative- but wants to know what alternatives would be. Also suggests he could do the website (intends to contact Joss about this)

– Laura W – Feels like as a new member finds it difficult to comment on dynamics. But says that it would be shame to abandon it; SSC is fantastic – still so eager –

SO- looks like maybe it will continue= maybe it will take on a different look.  – a rebranding?

– Laura S- a “rebranding” is exactly not what she wants – worried that this will be the same thing as the neoliberal higher education but run by volunteers = this is “the opposite of what I want from the SSC”. It should be different from NL HE  I’m very concerned about the idea that we’re providing a service: we’re doing this for us, and anyone who joins us is doing it with us.

SSC is a cooperative at its essence.

We want cooperative HE, and we want a way to study together in a way that is
different to the NL uni. .. so let’s think about if it’s possible with SSC:

what needs to be done

Bank-money stuff

Income = roughly 300 (going down), member contributions

Expense= about 800 at the moment. -room hire, website/email host, insurance, Co-operative membership

reduce expenses?
venue costs = public cafes -not ideal, make people uncomfortable

mintlane- coffee for 50p? .

Cut costs of website= can be free,
Phil could do this if coordinates with Bradley & Joss.
Insurance = a big expense, protection against being sued about £200 a year – we could reconsider that?

Raise income?

More people might be interested in paying in – at the moment we don’t
really put out the fact that we want contributions  – if we have greater
clarity of where we’re going, might be easier to ask for member
contributions.

Roles:

(Do we need all of these?)

Secretary – (Mike atm but resigning) arranges meetings, rooms, minutes etc.

Membership – (Joss atm)  i.e. list of who’s a member, first point of contact,

Treasurer – (Laura S atm but resigning)

Publicity

Bradley- How about working groups? A person who does it, but then others that can
be involved in it.  

(Can we even have this conversation today?)
Difficult to know if carrying on is viable as not everyone’s in this room?

Laura: But we’ve had the past 2 months trying to get all these people in the room?

Bradley: haven’t had the chance since the membership survey,
Also a way for other people to join who can’t necessarily be there. We can’t
decide this in this meeting
Laura: Worried that in the AGM will have the same conversation, and be unable to
close bank accounts and whatnot
= SO we will have the AGM- and if it’s not viable then, SSC closes, but should be a chance to recommit/establish roles etc

 

AGM – 26th May.

Venue: 10-2pm Crofts St. main hall; transfer to small room at 1pm

So what will AGM look like?

    1. Affirming, reading the constitution at the beginning but only affirming it after conversation.
    2. Widereaching discussion before and then towards the end electing and
      the constitution etc.
      Do we need a wider discussion about if SSC will be a cooperative.
      Mike says that AGM is about affirming what an organisation is – If it’s not a
      coop it’s not a SSC, so that’s not the conversation for an AGM
      Heart of the problem – we don’t have enough people that
      understand/committed to cooperative We do have guests but this
      should be the exception. People can come who are not members, but
      we need enough committed members to run as a cooperative.
    3. David asks – what actually are we meaning by cooperative? An organisation run by its members for the benefit of its members (and the community)
      This can be a question/point of discussion for the AGM, what is it to be
      a coop HE? (and what are alternatives?)

Bradley says – in his entire time at the SSC it’s not been fully cooperative so
this discussion/table needs to have someone who knows about this.

    1. Working groups – people choose what they are more into, i.e. some people not so interested in the philosophy of running as a coop.
      BUT can’t spread too thinly if there aren’t many people.
    2. Courses (offers historically jointly run by an academic and others)
    3. Pedagogy
    4. Electing roles? – maybe at the end, so understand who/what SSC is first.

Open Space:

Cooperatives (Mike): what does it mean to be a coop? What are non-cooperative options?

Roles (Bradley): What named roles are needed? What do they involve? What support & training is needed? Opportunity to sign up?

Courses (Phil): offers, ideas, pedagogy

Surprise” table: anything that’s needed that comes up on the day

(a sheet on a table, people can put their name down/comments on roles they
would be interested in, and also any training needs for these).

Engagement with the community?  

Could include discussions about research?

Who’s facilitating?
Noone- Roll with it

Need:

Big paper and pens

Food

Publicity?

Not too much – we primarily want members.

BUT clear message to the group.

 

Notes from the ‘Transnational Solidarity’ workshop for co-operative higher education

Summary of ‘solidarity’ workshop held at Croft Street Community Centre, Lincoln, on January 29th, 10-4pm.

This final workshop of the project was concerned with ‘co-operation among co-operatives’ and other international organisations providing higher education.  We sought to identify the features of a transnational network for co-operative higher education as well as acknowledge existing models and organisations to learn from. Not only were the well-established organisations such as the ICA, CICOPA and UNESCO mentioned, but also the various student co-operative groups in the UK, USA and elsewhere, the national co-operative colleges that already undertake research and coordinate educational activities within the movement, like-minded institutions such as Antioch College, the WEA, Northern College, and other worker education initiatives, the Trade Unions, and national and international campaigns within higher education such as #RhodesMustFall. This activity highlighted how participants understood the role and purpose of co-operative higher education as connecting to and serving a broader concern with social, political, economic and ecological issues. It emphasised both the breadth of existing organisations and campaigns that share similar values and principles with the co-operative movement, as well as the need for the co-operative movement to address a long-standing need for higher education provided by and for its members.

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Notes from the Co-operative Higher Education Governance Workshop

Date: 17th July, Lincoln, 10-4pm.

Venue: Croft Street Community Centre, Lincoln, UK

This was the second of five workshops being run for our research project on co-operative higher education. The workshops are being held at Croft Street Community Centre, a place that the Social Science Centre uses regularly for its meetings and seminars. There were nineteen participants (nine members of the Social Science Centre), including seven women and twelve men. Three people had been specifically invited for their expertise in co-operative governance. Participants also included academics (sociology, education, policy, business and management), a co-operative legal specialist, an ex-university administrator, a local educational consultant, a long-time member of a worker co-operative, a schoolteacher, someone from the Leadership Foundation, a student, and community educators.

A draft report from the previous workshop on ‘pedagogy’ was handed out to everyone and discussed. We emphasized that our project is intended to develop a model, rather than the model, for co-operative higher education. We recognized that there are different routes that have been proposed: conversion of an existing university, dissolution by establishing co-operative structures, strategies, services, etc., and the creation of a new form of co-operative higher education.

Among participants with experience in the co-operative movement, there was a strong sense that a ‘co-operative’ refers to an organization that identifies with the International Co-operative Alliance’s statement of identity, values and principles. We discussed these so as to make them clear to everyone and establish a shared understanding of what we mean by a ‘co-operative’:

“A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.”

Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity.

The co-operative principles are guidelines by which co-operatives put their values into practice.

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership
  2. Democratic Member Control
  3. Member Economic Participation
  4. Autonomy and Independence
  5. Education, Training and Information
  6. Co-operation among Co-operatives
  7. Concern for Community

Drawing from what we learned at the previous workshop on pedagogy, we noted that the theory and practice of ‘Cooperative Learning’ does not explicitly identify with the international co-operative movement. The co-operative movement is a social, historical and political movement that, beyond the identity statement, is not prescriptive. For some it is simply a better way of doing business and not necessarily about changing society; for others it is a radical social movement. When developing ‘a model for co-operative higher education’, we need to be clear about what ‘co-operative’ means to us. For those at the workshop, there was general agreement that we do wish to draw on the radical, social and political history of the co-operative movement.

We agreed to focus on five themes for the day:

  1. The relationship between pedagogy and governance
  2. Membership
  3. Size and scale
  4. Methods of governance
  5. Existing governance in HE

The group split into four tables and discussed each of these themes for the rest of the day, having lunch between (2) and (3). After lunch, new groups formed.

We questioned what we mean by ‘governance’ and noted that it involves relationships of power and is politically situated. We discussed governance as:

  1. The mechanisms through which an organisation is accountable to its stakeholders/members.
  2. Systems and processes ensuring overall direction, effectiveness, supervision and accountability of an organisation.
  3. Broader politics and social processes that define and organise – relational – addressing issues of power.

Related to this, we questioned the difference between ‘stakeholders’ and ‘members’ and noted how we need to use language carefully and consciously to avoid reproducing the neo-liberal status quo.

As the day progressed, we reported back from each table to the whole group. People at each table focused on different ‘routes’ to a co-operative university: some discussing issues of governance when converting an existing university; others thinking about governance and membership of a newly created co-operative university. It wasn’t until the end of the day that we made the distinction between co-operative higher education and a co-operative university – a university being one institutional form of higher education.

Reading notes taken by Andrea, who has offered to be our project’s ‘ethnographer’, I have highlighted the following representative points made by different participants:

Who are the members?

Everyone should be multi-skilled not a division between manual and intellectual work and roles.

Students should be paid like other workers.

Who is in the community of interest? Who will continue to come to the university because they need it?

People would not be coming to be educated but to be part of the running of the organisation.

Cooperation is knocked out of us, we have to learn how to govern co-operatively.

It’s the idea of an organisation where members are jointly producing knowledge.

People have to have commitment.

You have to work to become a member.  

There are different stakeholders – internal and external.

How the decisions are made is as important as who is voting.

Teaching the social and political economy is social and political. Teaching the capitalist relationships and how they affect teaching and learning.

Talked about a horizontal structure. Whoever is in the decision-making positions should be rotated very regularly.

The process of governance is a process of learning and governance.

Would probably want consensus decision-making. It would be small and networked. It wouldn’t comply with HEFCE codes.

What is learned in the classroom should inform the governance. The people who are teaching and learning are deciding what is taught and learned.

Employability – there might be an alternative agenda that enables students to create their own cooperatives. The Co-op university would give people the confidence and skills to go on and create their own co-ops.

Students and their associations should not just be a sounding board but should have constitutional recognition. People may be transient but it is about the associations they represent which are permanent.

Could be both individual and institutional membership.

Distinction between members and ‘stakeholders’ who may have an interest but not constitutionally members.

Wage labour changes the way an organisation is governed. Could categorise core (those who learn or work in the cooperative) but also there may be other forms of stakeholders and representation.

There is always an issue of scaling up. There is a size of community that people can identify with.  

Rather than define by size, it could be defined by place. In a town the size of Lincoln the identity can be distinctive.

There may be a ‘hub’ that connects to the various coops: cleaning coop, catering coop, academic coop, etc. Separate identities joined to the hub.

Specialists can do things like cleaning which should not be an identity.

Can we have smallness on a big scale? Can we have a scaling up of ‘cells’ that multiply?

The learning environment of smallness is more suited to educational purposes and especially cooperative educational approach where you learn from doing and need to build up relationships.

Space and the type of space is critical.

Once the people are cooperative learners then you can have big groups.

The principle of ‘subsidiarity’. Only do at the centre things that have to be done at the centre. Radical devolution is when all power is at the bottom unless the bottom gives power to the centre.

Alumni as custodians of the vision as well as retired staff.

‘Graduated to’ rather than ‘graduated from’ the co-op university. Membership is not immediate upon ‘enrolment’ – a probationary period.

Equalise subsidiary groups. Equalise and get away from low and high function groups – such as cleaners and academics

Grow small organisations who in the course of growing would link up with other similar organisations.

Some kind of federation. Generating – synthesising – coordinating and accrediting.

Incorporation might be problematic but also could be helpful. There could be advantages to one in the middle being incorporated but the rest only legal and cultural framework but the others do what they want. Small enough for direct democracy to work at the level of the individual educational grouping.

We are learning how to govern and this is a process of empowerment.

If you do not have executive management and keep operational management you will save a lot of money on cost and administration of cost.

The cooperative movement is concerned with housing. Housing cooperative could be a way to raise funds.

With the potential failure of existing universities, what can this project contribute to a potential worker takeover? There is no legal impediment to a worker takeover.

Everybody at the workshop ended up focusing on the small-scale creation route.

General state of the radical imagination: inability to think at scale. Why is this? Where have the institution-building skills gone? Big institutions are so easy to capture. Almost any reasonable person can run a group of people of 50 so it is enabling and democracy can survive.

It’s important to link to the unions.

==

As you can see, the governance workshop ended up focusing primarily on the creation route, allowing participants to imagine co-operative higher education in an ideal democratic form. However, the question of converting an existing institution was not lost as we recognized the need to respond to the possibility of a worker takeover of a failing institution, as has often happened in other industries past and present in the UK and elsewhere.  The two scenarios of 1) small, federated social co-operatives for higher education; and 2) action planning for worker takeover of an existing (possibly failing) institution, provided us with something concrete to take to the next workshop in October, where we focus on the legal frameworks for co-operative higher education: What legal structures currently exist in the UK (and elsewhere) that might enable and/or prohibit 1) the creation of a federated network of social co-operatives for higher education, and 2) a worker takeover of an existing university?

Attendees

Andrea Abbas (SSC and University of Bath)

Sarah Amsler (SSC and University of Lincoln)

Edwin Bacon (Birkbeck Collegee, University of London)

Bob Cannell (Suma whole foods co-operative)

Gerard de Zeeuw (SSC and University of Lincoln)

Elio Di Muccio (City University of Birmingham)

Cassie Earl (SSC and University of Lincoln)

Judy Harris (Leadership Foundation for Higher Education)

Stephen Hopkins (SSC and Independent Consultant in Education)

Pat Juby (Secretary of the UK Society for Co-operative Studies)

Joel Lazarus (University of Warwick)

Mike Neary (SSC and University of Lincoln)

Rory Ridley-Duff (Sheffield Hallam University)

Peter Somerville (University of Lincoln)

Ian Snaith (Independent Consultant in Co-operative Law)

Martha Vahl (SSC and University of Lincoln)

Wendy Vause (SSC)

Mervyn Wilson (Co-operative College)

Joss Winn (SSC and University of Lincoln)

Notes from the Co-operative Higher Education Pedagogy Workshop

Date: 19th June, 2015, 10-4pm

Venue: Croft Street Community Centre, Lincoln, UK

Wheel of cooperation

Wheel of Cooperation

This workshop sought to explore  a pedagogy for cooperative higher education, starting from the practices and principles of Student as Producer, the foundational pedagogy for the Social Science Centre, Lincoln. Student as Producer is based on the notion that students are co-workers with academics and other university staff, contributing to the development of knowledge and science. At the core of Student as Producer lies the intention to overcome the social relations of capitalist production so that humanity-in-nature is the project rather than the resource for a post-capitalist society. The pedagogy that emerges from the workshop and from further discussions and research will provide the structuring principle of a framework for cooperative higher learning.

The workshop was interactive, involving high levels of collaboration and cooperation. The participants said how much they enjoyed the event, especially the format of the activities and the space, the hall of Croft Street Community Centre.

The main themes for the workshop were:

  • Content and subject matter of curriculum: cooperative studies or discipline focussed, or interdisciplinary based on themes, for example, current global and local emergencies
  • Assessment and evaluation, perhaps taking peer review of academic and student practice as the model
  • The learning environment and ecology: how to make a sustaining intellectual space for cooperative learning
  • Technologies for teaching: using web-based technologies in ways that avoid machinic and automated learning
  • Programme for first year of teaching and research, with plans for development through subsequent levels of higher education
  • The process of learning cooperatively: enabling students and teachers to learn how to cooperate in ways that sustain a cooperative educational institution

Nature and Scope

The workshop crystallised our understanding about the real nature and scope of the cooperative university that is being modelled:

The aim is to establish a cooperative form of higher learning conscious of its connection to and engagement with the historical and logical development of the cooperative movement.

The institutional form of the cooperative will substantiate the political, moral and ethical values of the cooperative movement, set within an educational context.

The pedagogy will be grounded in the practices and principles of cooperative learning, recognising that much can be learned about how to be a cooperator-student/teacher (i.e. ‘scholar’), while at the same time acknowledging that cooperative practices are already endemic in radical social interactions.

Areas for further development

No concrete plans for the curriculum were decided, however a number of areas were identified for further development:

The relationship between students and academics as well as other members of the cooperative is the central issue. These relationships will be complex and fluid depending on the nature of activities, but should be grounded within a constitutional framework that confronts issues of power, difference and desire, as well as (in)equalities, while at the same time recognising the importance of deliberative leadership.

The curriculum should be open and enquiring, based on outcomes that are not predetermined. At the same time there should be a sense of progress and structure. This structure might be validated by an accreditations programme that could be established.

Cooperative learning develops in a context within which the relationship between the individual, ‘I’ , and the collective ‘We’, is brought into sharp relief: as the social individual, or radical individuality.

The curriculum should be embedded in the real lives of the members as well as the communities within which the cooperative is situated. This community extends to the community of cooperatives engaged in related social and public issues: housing, health, employment etc.

The content of the curriculum should reflect the nature of cooperative society: critical political economy, the history of the workers movement, working class intellectuality and philosophy, gender studies (cooperative women), making links between the natural and the social sciences and  not merely as versions of  interdisciplinarity but as ‘troublesome’, ‘useful’ and ‘critical-practical’ knowledges.

The cooperative would need to establish its own resources (‘Library’)  to support teaching and research, making use of already available materials on-line and elsewhere. Care should be taken not to duplicate what is being provided elsewhere for similar purposes and for the cooperative model to find its own way of making a distinctive contribution to what could be shared and offered to others.

The technology should be open source making use of the legal frameworks that have been established to support mutualism and other collaborative ways of working. Examples of these can be found in the free software and free culture movement, creative commons regimes and commons based peer production, as well as the newly emerging open cooperatives.

The cooperative for higher learning to be part of a network of progressive, alternative higher learning provision, including Mondragon, Unitierra, and cooperative universities in Mexico and Colombia and elsewhere, yet to be discovered; and to make links with the ‘enlivened learning’ project.

Wheel of Cooperation

There was a recognition that all of these aspects are closely interlinked with other parts of the model for cooperative learning that is being developed, including governance, legality, the business plan and the transnational network. There should  be a recognition of the close connections needed to ensure the day to day running of the cooperative, so that roles need to be shared and supported within a culture of equivalence, respect and trust.

Attendees:

Andrea Abbas (University of Bath)

Maureen Breeze (International Association for the Study of Cooperation in Education)

Keith Crome (Manchester Metropolitan University

Dunya Dunda (University of Brighton)

Nathan Fretwell (London Metropolitan University)

Luke Gregory-Jones (Goldsmiths College, London)

Mike Neary (Social Science Centre and University of Lincoln

Patrick O’Connor (Nottingham Trent University)

Spyros Themelis (University of East Anglia)

Joss Winn (Social Science Centre and University of Lincoln)

Tom Woodin (Institute of Education, UCL)

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.

SSC General Meeting, Saturday 4th April 2015, Mint Lane.

April 8th 2015, in meeting notes, combines some notes from pre-meeting about supporting scholarship at SSC.

Mint Lane, 12pm.

Apologies: Joss, Paul, Gerard, Martha, Laura.

Attending: Sarah, Lucy, Wendy, David, Peaceful, Andrew, Mike.

Previous minutes. These were agreed and matters arising were dealt with through the agenda.

Update on Know-How. Aniko’s session was widely praised. Sarah will email her for her whole thesis. Sarah will check that it is not detrimental to Aniko’s future publishing plans to have it available to SSC members only via the website.

Mike’s talk is next week and he has provided one reading for us and will circulate his own written piece shortly.

Andrew informed the group that his was personal, experimental and theoretical. He is going to talk about race in a way that might be sensitive. It is about the importance of history in research and what use it will be. He will send some materials around shortly. It is about Dachau, art and place, the Nazi’s and anti-semitism. It is a critique of Richard Evans a historian who claims it is just a case of ‘getting it right’. Andrew has chosen this over another possible talk on the interferometer, which was briefly discussed. Scholars would also like Andrew to do this session if time can be made by extending the schedule.

Martha’s reading is already circulated.

Visit updates. A summer day trip is to be planned to the London Metropolitan Archive http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/visiting-the-city/archives-and-city-history/london-metropolitan-archives/the-collections/Pages/default.aspx and The May Day Rooms http://maydayrooms.org/. Mike will organise it after Easter.

AGM and Visiting Speakers. The AGM is to be held in the Main Hall at Croft Street Community Centre. This has been booked. Tony Jeffs http://www.infed.org/writers/tony_jeffs.htm, Andrew Jackson http://www.bishopg.ac.uk/staff/Pages/andrew-jackson.aspx, Bob Cannell http://bobcannell.blogspot.co.uk/ and Keri Facer http://www.bristol.ac.uk/education/people/keri-l-facer/ have been invited to speak.

Bob Cannell is a specialist in cooperative businesses. He is associated with Suma a food-based cooperative wholesaler specialising in vegetarian, fair-trade organic food.

Keri Facer has been involved in many large projects which encourage the use of arts and technologies she is currently leading the Connected Communities Programme (www.connected-communities.org)which aims to create new relationships between communities and universities, drawing on arts and humanities perspectives and methods to enable new forms of knowledge production to address urgent contemporary issues.

Tony Jeffs is a specialist in informal education from Durham. He has made a donation and has offered to put himself up but David will ask him if he wants to stay at Andrew’s instead.

Andrew Jackson is interested in the history of working class education and has done work around early 20th century Lincolnshire. He is on the SSC mailing list.

The room for the AGM is hired between 10.30 and 4.30. There is a plan to bring food to share. The poster is ready but it will not be completed until all the speakers have confirmed. Once this has happened there will be a group walk to fly-post.

There was a suggestion that we should have tea after the AGM at 4.30.

Discussion to support scholars. Sarah and Lucy had met for an hour before the General Meeting to begin discussing possibilities for sessions to support scholars to engage in the sessions run by the SSC. At the moment the priority is to support people to engage with Know How but shorter and longer term aims were discussed at the pre-meeting between Sarah and Lucy and Sarah outlined these. Basically they involved two sets of actions and ideas, one around theory and the other around supporting scholarship skills.

Theory: Longer term ideas and plans were about supporting scholars to engage with key theoretical ideas that they were unfamiliar with andor that they wanted to engage with to enhancedeepen their existing understanding of. It was suggested we should do this with a series of workshops that not only explored the concepts and but also creatively engaged with how different pedagogical ‘dialogues’ and relationships could be engaged with. In addition the issue of childcare should be addressed.

At the pre-meeting specific theoretical ideas were discussed: Marx and the traditions that have built on Marxist thinking, Freire, Bell Hooks, C.Wright Mills, Freidan, Rowbotham and other Feminists. Also a list of concepts: gender, race, age, ethnicity, sexuality, disability; the media and young people, etc. The theoretical ideas were discussed and they were generally well received by those at the meeting and people were keen to get involved. The concepts were not discussed but are noted here for reference purposes.

We also discussed (at the pre-meeting and the general meeting) more creative pedagogies: using images, films, books, painting, knitting etc. as ways of changing both the forms of engagement with concepts and the relationships between participants in workshops. Steam Punk, the RSA drawings by Ken Robinson were also discussed. The idea of running a session at SSC during the Steam Punk Festival was raised.

As part of this attempt to engage with ideas more creatively Lucy will draft an email to Ben Goldacre http://www.badscience.net/about-dr-ben-goldacre/ who wrote a book called Bad Science that Lucy has read. She will write on behalf of the SSC. The draft will be circulated for comments. The plans for the workshops will be developed by those who want to be involved towards the summer months.

Scholarship skills: At the pre-meeting a list was drawn-up for a regular class which should support scholars to develop the skills they need to engage effectively with the courses run by the SSC. The following list was discussed: how do you evaluate different pieces of work; how do you do academic writing; how do you get an idea out of your head and onto paper; what does it mean to work together; and how do you critique. The SSC general meeting agreed a course should be designed for next year. This will take place over the summer. A welcome pack will be developed as part of this. However short-term plans are also needed for Know How.

Short term plans to support scholarship and theoreticalconceptual material of Know How: It was agreed that a one hour session would be run before Know How every 2 weeks. This would focus on exploring concepts associated with that evening’s session. The first meeting would be on the 9th April. Sarah is to circulate notes and book room. Then those who participate will review and plan forward.

AOB: a) Rent. Over £100 rent is due. Mike will pay it and then liaise with Stephen Hopkins.

b) Coordinator role. This will be discussed when Laura is present.

SSC General meeting, 21st March 2015

SSC Notes Saturday, 21st March 12 noon, Mint Lane

Apologies: Joss, Sarah, Gerard, Martha, Lucy, Wendy, Paul, David

Attending: Peaceful, Andrew, Laura, Andrea, Mike

1. Know How : the session this week was based on Joss’ work on co-operatives. Those present got a great deal from the session, which included a discussion about what is the real nature of research and what is the relationship between research and scholarship. There was also a debate about the extent to which co-operatives can exist inside a capitalist economy.

Aniko Horvath is presenting at the session next week. We can all go out to poetry/drinks night in Jolly Brewer after the session.

2. Visits: to London Met Archive on Worker Education and May Day Rooms still to be sorted out. Mike to get on with this and discuss with Joss.

3. AGM – to be held on 16th of May in the Main Hall at Croft Street Community Centre from 11am – 4pm, subject to availability. ( Mike to check). The first hour, 11-12, will be taken up with business, including a planning meeting. We can have lunch from 12 – 1 pm. We agreed that we would bring food to share, making use of the kitchen and the dining area. We can then have presentation and discussion session after lunch. Bob Cannel and Tony Jeffs to be invited, by Joss and David.

4. Planning Meetings: These are now to be held every two weeks, on Saturdays at 12 noon and on Thursday evenings at 6pm, before the Know-How sessions. The dates for these meetings are:

Saturday 4th April 12 noon

Thursday 16th April 6pm

Saturday 2nd May 12 noon

Saturday 16th May – AGM

5. Study Skills: All felt it was a good idea to organise a series of study support sessions. This will be discussed at the next meeting.

6. Rent and Keys: Mike to confirm payments up date as well as arrangements for key holders for Mint Lane premises

Meeting ended 12.50.

Notes for Know-how (fifth session): Community, connections, methods, mad world

13th November

Dog and Bone Pub, 10 John Street, Lincoln @dogbonelincoln

Present: Andrew, Lucy, Gerard, Laura, Tim, Martha, Joss, Mike

Localism in the Local

We had agreed to meet in the local pub as a way of making more contact with the local community. The Dog and Bone is not only an award winning CAMRA (Real Ale) pub, but hosts the meetings for many community groups.

Community Development Projects

We discussed the Community Development Projects (CDP) from the 1970s. This was publically funded local research across a range of issues of general concern: unemployment, housing, health, welfare. The publications from the programme are all well produced, written in an accessible academic style with photographs and illustrations. They are usually very critical of government policy. We decided this is a good model on which we might frame some of our own work

We heard about work to develop a transnational co-operative university, including the Cooperative College,  Co-ops UK, academics and agencies and a range of other people. There is as yet no clear idea of what the form this facility would take but it might be arranged horizontally as a network of different types of institutions and structures that respond to local need.

Local evaluations and community connections

Members of the group have strong local connections and we heard about previous research and evaluation projects that they had been involved with in Abbey Ward. One of the group raised the concern that this kind of work that we are developing had been tried before and often not very successfully. They were particularly concerned about our relationship with Abbey Ward. This led to a fuller discussion about the meaning of the concept ‘community’. One of the points that came out of this discussion was how we might connect with other localities in Lincoln, for example, the St Giles ward, where other members of the Centre live.

Research methodology and methods

The programme is still in the process of deciding how to frame the research that we will be doing. One idea that emerged from the meeting is that members might want to organise a research project around their own occupations, particularly those who are working in Abbey Ward in areas of social concern. We discussed that this is not simply about content, what they do every day at work, but how they frame that research: what kind of research method and methodology they might use.

The Enemy Within

One kind of research method is film documentary. One of the group had been to see the film ‘Still The Enemy Within’, about the miners strike in the 1980s. ‘The Enemy Within: The Secret War Against the Miners’  is the title of a book by the Guardian journalist, Seamus Milne using a journalistic methodology.

Extending the network

The group heard about contacts that had been made with local groups, including meetings with Lynsey Collinson at  Development Plus and the council’s Neighbourhood Development Officer, Paul Carrick. Both of these local community development workers are very positive about the SSC and are keen to support the work we are doing. They have given us a number of people and agencies to contact, including immigrant groups. Meetings are to be arranged with these contacts to discuss ways of taking the research forward programme forward. One idea is to write a history of the area based on the experiences of residents and their own writings and recordings. It emerged from the discussion with the Lynsey and Paul that there are many immigrants living in Abbey Ward with experience of higher education, but have difficulty maintaining an  ‘intellectual life’ given the difficulty in accessing higher education without incurring high levels of debt.

New Deal for Communities

The main part of the session was taken up discussing a paper, written by one of the members of the group, Andrew McCulloch, and published in Capital and Class in 1984 on ‘Localism and its Neoliberal Applications’. The paper was about a more recent government funded community development programme, New Deal for Communities, with reference to a particular programme in the North East of England. This was a wide ranging discussion, including the nature of the concept of community, research methodology and methods, research ethics, and the role of the police. An important issue was the way in which the local state had come to control and contain acts of local activism  in ways that perverted the original aims of the New Deal programme.  We also discussed forms of  resistance to the state that members of the group had been involved with, including squatting in Amsterdam, Climate Camp and Reclaim the Streets. All agreed what a deeply politicising experience this had been for those who took part in these actions.

On Know-how

At the end of the meeting the comment was made that the programme does not have a set objective that is likely to be recuperated by the state, but that we are learning for ourselves and with others how to do research about things that have meaning and purpose for us in this local context. An important aspect of the research process is sustaining and nuturing the SSC. In that sense it is not possible to say that this work had been tried before and had failed.

The meeting ended at 8.55. We agreed to meet next week at Croft Street Community Centre, but that we should return to the Dog and Bone about once a month. The reading for next week is an evaluation undertaken recently by Martha on Abbey Ward.

Sound track

While we sat and talked and drank some beers and juice and coke and water songs were played out of the pubs audio system. These songs included:

Tears for Fears’ ‘Mad World’; George Michael’s:  You Gotta Have Faith; Huey Newton’s  Power of Love ;  Paul Simon’s Call me Al; Tears for Fears’: Everybody  Wants to Rule the World; Tracey Chapman’s Fast Car and Don MacLean’s American Pie.

Notes for Know-how: Do-It-Ourselves Higher Education (first session)

16th October 2014

Venue: Croft Street Community Centre, 7 pm

Present: Gerard, Martha, Joss, Mike, Tim

We spent some time at the beginning of the session looking at and agreeing the outline of programme of work for Kh:DIO.

We then spent some time thinking about the meaning and purpose of the SSC. We reminded ourselves about the main aims and objectives of the SSC with reference to an article that was written jointly by members of the SSC and published in Radical Philosophy in 2011. We agreed that although based in our own community of Lincoln we are not a community development project, rather we were established as an act of resistance against government policy for Higher Education. While criticising the latter we are not against particular institutions that implement that policy such as any British University.

We spent some time discussing the extent to which we provide a service for student/scholars who join us on the courses, and to what extent student/scholars are collaborators with us in the production of new knowledge. Reference was made to the idea of prosumers that has come out of the business school-management literature, where consumers are encouraged to think of themselves in having a role in creating the products for sale.

The main focus of the Kh:DIO course is research: learning through the process of research, especially by understanding it rather than by emulating some of its popular procedures. The main research question would concern the provision of HE in the city of Lincoln, starting in Abbey Ward. We felt it important that through the process of learning about research we should learn about Abbey Ward. We rehearsed some of the arguments from earlier meetings about the efficacy of doing this work, the nature of our relationship and commitment to the local area as well as what we hoped to get out of the course and what other local residents would get out of the course. We also concluded that

As part of learning about the local area, participants agreed to bring some information about Abbey Ward to the next meeting as Community Reports, local newsletters as well as a list of contacts to be made. One of the participants is to do some similar research into the area where they are currently working and where they are hoping to carry out a research project on the health and well being of local residents, starting with young people in a local FE College. We all agreed it would be good to have this comparative analysis.

We all agreed it was important to attract more participants to the course. Contact has been made with DevelopmentPlus, a local community development enterprise, although that relationship needs to be developed, and an advance notice of the course has been advertised through the Lincolnite.

Making ourselves accessible and open to people with child-care and other caring responsiblities is a key issue. We discussed a paper that had been written by the Child Care Working Group. We agreed to use the suggested paragraph, see below, in our publicity and would put into practice other suggestions made by the paper depending on demand and with one exception: we all felt that running the course in the same space as child care arrangements would be too distracting.

‘Please let us know if you need help with childcare. We are able to offer support and activities on site during the classes, and would be happy to talk with you about your needs. Please get in touch a week in advance of the session you want to attend so that we can make the best plans possible. Contact sarah@socialsciencecentre.org.uk or info@socialsciencecentre.org.uk.’

At the end of the session we spent time discussing one of the participants research project in his college, offering advice and support. This member of the course said how important the SSC is for the work he is doing as a counter project and as an alternative way of doing higher education.

September general public meeting notes

The minutes and financial statement from our September 6th general meeting are below and can be downloaded here:

SSC notes September 6th 2014

Financial Report Sept 2014

SSC Planning Meeting

Time: 12 noon, Saturday 6th September, 2014

Venue: Croft Street Community Centre

Present: Andrew, Paul, Gerard, Jade, Sarah, David, Joss,   Martha, Mike, Neil, Maria Kety Gordon

Apologies: Wendy, Gary, Laura, Richard, Peaceful, Lucy, Stephen.

Observers

The meeting was joined by colleagues from the University of the West of Scotland (UWS). They had come to Lincoln to find out about the work of the SSC. They are thinking of setting up a similar initiative outside their own institution, as well as carrying through with some of the associated ideas inside UWS based on their own approach to Student as Producer.

We spent the first part of the meeting telling them about our principles and activities, and were fascinated to hear about the work that they are doing in Scotland. We resolved to keep in touch after the meeting and to find ways of working together.

The second part of the meeting focussed on our meeting agenda. Colleagues from UWS remained as observers, and sometimes added to the discussion.

Accommodation

We agreed to publicise our work on the Croft Street Community Centre website , and to attend the Centres Open day on the 22nd of September. The SSC does not have its own premises and is an independent autonomous organisation not affiliated with any other organisation in Lincoln. At the moment we enjoy making use of other premises around the City. We are looking forward to being more involved with the recently opened Lincoln Share premises and to holding meetings and running events in their new space.

Child care and accessibility

All agreed this is a key issue for the SSC. We want to make our activities as accessible as possible for parents and carers and the children and other for whom they are responsible. We received a report from Sarah on the work of the working group so far. Sarah informed us of the legal implications and liabilities of providing child care facilities. We discussed the benefits and drawbacks of members of the SSC registering with the Disclosure and Barring Service as well as gaining First Aid qualifications and registering with OFSTED. These matter sto be discussed at next meeting when decisions about how to proceed will be taken.

Curriculum Development Planning

We reminded ourselves about the Curriculum Development Planning day and the decisions we had taken. We all agreed to proceed in the way that had been suggested at the planning event: this year’s course to be a research-based curriculum.

Mike and Gerard are to deliver the course this term. This is to be a research-based curriculum organised around an issue to be decided by those involved in the course. As the course is taking place in the Croft Street Community Centre it was felt that the issue could well be a local matter relating to Abbey Ward, the part of the city in which the community centre is located.

MN to write an outline of the course for comments and publicise the course locally. It was agreed that it would be good to advertise the course at the Open Event on the 22nd of September. MN will make contact with other groups operating in Abbey Ward, e.g., Development Plus to ask for advice, support and as a way to plug into local networks.

Membership of the SSC

Joss to redraft proposals for applying for membership to the SSC, based on comments on an earlier draft and discussions from previous meetings and on-line comments. Joss will circulate this paper for further discussion so we can hopefully resolve this matter at the next meeting in October.

Statement of Values

An updated Statement of Values has been rewritten by Andrew. He will send out this redrafted statement again prior to next meeting so we can consider it before confirming it or not at the meeting in October.

Democratic decision making

Paper to be presented for discussion by Sarah and Gary at the November meeting

Business Plan

Mike to finalise draft of Business Plan once the membership issue has been resolved.

Financial report

We have £1426. 89 in the bank

The meeting closed at 2pm.

MN

12.09.14