On Saturday 21st April, I attended an open day for the Social Science Centre (SSC) in Lincoln.
The SSC is a co-operative education initiative offering people the chance to study social science courses (politics, sociology, philosophy) in an autonomous and non-hierarchical environment, with students and staff having equal participation and input into designing how the courses are taught as well as how the Centre operates. All courses are taught by experienced academics and professors, many of whom have been recognised both nationally and internationally for the quality of their scholarship. SSC member Professor Mike Neary also ran a workshop on alternative methods of education at the LUC Skill Share last year and has registered an interested in doing so again at the 2012 Skill Share this summer.
The open day began with a short but detailed introductory talk from Professor Neary on the reasons for setting up the SSC and how it intends to be organised. He outlined how the Centre’s existence is a response to the increasing commercialisation of Higher Education, with increasing privatisation and rising tuition fees cutting off access to millions of potential students. He was quick to point out that the Centre is in no way opposed to ‘official’ universities, but that it intends to offer a more democratic education. He also stressed the point of equal involvement from both staff and students in a non-hierarchical setting, stating that rather than differentiate between the two groups, everyone involved on courses would be referred to as ‘scholars’, as the academics themselves have as much to learn from their students as the students do from them.
Following this, there were a variety of talks and workshops to choose between. I attended an interesting talk from writer John Andrews entitled ‘The Quest for Truth’, where he discussed, amongst other things, the Occupy movement, the dangers of corporate media influence, and Orwellian characteristics of contemporary society.
The SSC is of great interest to the LUC. As anti-authoritarians, we are huge proponents of autonomous education and non-hierarchical organising, and the Centre provides a fantastic opportunity for this in Lincoln. We ourselves ran a workshop on autonomous education on the 14th March student walkout and intend to host a further discussion on it in the near future. We look forward to getting involved in and working with the SSC in actively pursuing alternative forms of education.
The SSC has been developing for a while and is now at the stage where meetings are due to be held involving staff, potential students and others who wish to be involved so as to begin planning how courses will operate. Ten-week courses will start in October this year and then again the following January, and there is also the possibility of a summer school being run next year. For more information or to get involved yourself, visit the SSC website: http://socialsciencecentre.org.uk/