There are many students and academics involved in the Really Open University, however we have strived to ensure that the ROU is not completely beholden to the academic calendar. Therefore, while meetings have lessened in regularity during the academic summer, the ROU has retained a presence at a variety of events.
In May several individuals involved in the ROU attended a conference at the University of Nottingham – “Critical Education for Critical Times” – organized by the Critical Pedagogy and Popular Education Midlands Working Group and sponsored by the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice at the University of Nottingham with support from the Nottingham Freeschool and the Critical Pedagogies Group. It was an opportunity to look at what constitutes critical education in critical times – through a series of participatory workshops and dialogues. The organizers from the University of Utopia (http://www.universityofutopia.org/) also attended the event and expressed interest in possible future collaboration with the ROU.
On 22nd May, the ROU held an event – The Logic of Occupation: demand nothing, occupy everything! – at the Common Place Social Centre in Leeds. The event involved several presentations on the use of occupation in struggles both in the UK and abroad, as well as a general discussion about the tactic. The event was well attended and it generated a good discussion. Food and music followed the discussion – both a benefit for the ROU.
In June, members of the ROU were invited to participate in an Alternative and Radical Education Skillshare as a part of a series of skillshares held at the Sumac Centre in Nottingham (http://www.veggies.org.uk/sumac/). The skillshare was organized by the Nottingham Freeschool. The idea of the skillshare was to bring together a number of individuals and groups to share their perspectives on education. Although turnout was low, the ROU members that did attend had a useful conversation with members of the Nottingham Freeschool – which could lead to further collaboration.
In response for a call for presentations, several ROU members submitted a proposal to participate in Social movement, activist & militant research workshop: producing knowledge for change – or “Learning From Each Others Struggles” (http://actionresearchireland.blogspot.com/2010/04/learning-from-each-others-struggles.html) – a weekend of workshops on activist and militant research in Maynooth and Dublin, Ireland. The convening was held June 18-20 at the National University of Ireland (NUI), Maynooth. Three members of the ROU gave a presentation on the history, ideas, opportunities and struggles of the Really Open University and then facilitated a discussion about whether our ideas of education fit in a vision of destroying, transforming, or preserving the current academic institutions. The weekend was an initiative of the Participatory Action Research Programme in Social Movement Practice (NUI Maynooth Sociology) and the Political Ethnography Group, Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice (University of Nottingham). A copy of the presentation we gave can be downloaded here (large file).
On 31st August, as a follow-up to the initial discussion with the members of the Nottingham Freeschool at the Education Skillshare in June, we are planning to have a joint ROU-Nottingham Freeschool discussion to examine attempts inside, outside and on the periphery of the academy to create spaces for alternative, radical education. Please join us!