“The Engineering & Design Institute, known as TEDI-London, which believes that its mix of online learning and collaborative hands-on tutorial teaching, allied with deep industry links, will prove a hit with students and would-be employers alike.” So, stated in the The Higher Education (THE) online email summary which arrives daily in my Inbox.
Something is missing…community. Deep industry links, when you scratch below the PR of the commercial language, is community.
I have been a scholar in studies in religion and Australian-American intellectual history for 41 years, and I have been a disciplined philosopher for 20 years more or less. I am a community participatory teacher for The Philosophy Café Brisbane Meet Up, and the Brisbane Meetup Intellectual Network. I am currently discussing with Garrett Lang of the Free Thinker Institute, New York (USA), for international collaborations with The Philosophy Café and Sea of Faith in Australia Inc. online platforms. Our organisations, where we have been community teachers and facilitators, have already have had several online international collaborations, for example, on the Meet-Up platform with The San Diego Philosophers’ Roundtable (San Diego, USA). There are also exchanges with organisations in the United Kingdom, less regular, but not less important.
So where does this leave the local history and philosophy schools of the university? Under current government higher education policies, it is a dilemma for the schools, but one, that if the schools bite the bullet, will work towards serious community collaborations, rather than ‘research experiments’ on the community, with the token community researcher contracted (often pro bono) for good looks.
There has been a tremendous growth, in the last decade, of both traditional, community, physical-space-room meetings and community online meetings. In our organisations, around the world, there has been no substantial conflict between human interaction online and those in the air of the physical space room, ‘conflict’ which has been imagined in the glib conversations in the school staff rooms of the past. Do those conversations continue? I wonder.
Furthermore, there are many youth, middle aged, and senior, participants in our community organisations. But ‘here is the thing’. Many community organisers feel unsupported by the local university schools. Schools are missing out on potential enrolments because of the current higher education policies which deliberately work against the humanities.
It would be so simple and smart if the schools looked for ways to practically support our community organisations. It is only a matter of negotiation with our businesses of history and philosophy consultancy.
Image: Illustration 240081819 © Adonis1969 | Dreamstime.com
Have a look at Robert Sellers’ 1979 article, Methodology for Evaluating University Public Service Outreach to State and Local Government in State & Local Government Review , May, 1979, Vol. 11, No. 2 (May, 1979), pp. 64-69 (http://www.jstor.org/stable/4354649)