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New MA in Community Education, Equality and Social Activism at Maynooth
Thursday March 18, 2010 08:45 by Laurence Cox - Dept of Sociology, NUI Maynooth
Another world is possible: learning from each other's struggles
For decades community groups, the women's movement and other social justice movements have been the driving force behind equality in Ireland, while global justice activists have highlighted the crisis of climate change and neo-liberalism. As economies falter and social partnership collapses, what do we already know about how to change the world? This course brings together experienced activists in community education and social movements with those interested and motivated about social justice to create new knowledge and develop alternatives. Do you want to join us on this learning journey?
What is this course?
How can we bring about social justice and environmental survival in Ireland and beyond? This course will offer some answers to this question with a view to enabling students to think about how to build real alternatives to challenge existing structures of oppression and injustice. It seeks to develop the capacity of ordinary people to change the world through community education, grassroots community activism and social movement campaigning.
One of the main forces behind positive social change in Ireland and globally has always been "people power": those who were not "on the inside", without property, status or power coming together to push for change where it was needed. Community activism, the women's movement, global justice campaigners, self-organising by travellers and new Irish communities, trade unions, GLBTQ campaigning, environmentalism, international solidarity, anti-racism, anti-war activism, survivors of institutional abuse, human rights work, the deaf movement and many other such movements have reshaped our society and put human need on the agenda beside profit and power. Participants have developed important bodies of knowledge about how to do this, which are fundamental resources for anyone trying to make a better world possible.
The Departments of Sociology and Adult & Community Education are collaborating to develop thinking about critical pedagogy in community education; power and praxis in social movements and understandings of equality, transformation and sustainability. Our commitment to the public use of academic knowledge is a long-standing one and we have a wide range of practical experience as well as research-based knowledge. This includes involvement with social movements, community activism and issue-based campaigning; media work and public debate; active involvement in political parties, trade unions and lobbying groups; community education and literacy; development and human rights work. Our student body is very diverse, with a wealth of different experiences and a strong tradition of involvement in community development and social activism.
Three core strands of thinking will be explored in this course –
1. Critical and praxis-oriented forms of thinking: critical adult and community education; critical media and cultural pedagogy; knowledge for social change; critical social and political theory; community art; politics of knowledge, utopian imagination and social change .
2. Understanding equality and inequality: economics of equality; development education; politics of gender; environmental justice; politics of sustainability; political economy and alternatives to capitalism; the search for good work; world-systems analysis.
3. Power, politics and praxis: social movements; active citizenship; critical community development; participatory and radical democracy; popular praxis; skills for grassroots organising; history and politics of social change; revolutionary theory and practice.
The course content is all taught from the standpoint of "praxis": the understanding that theory without practice is meaningless, while practice without theory is likely to fail. The basis of our work is dialogue between reflective practitioners, systematically including both elements.
Both Departments have a long history of attracting students who are concerned about social and global justice and keen to draw on their analytical skills to develop a professional life in these areas. This includes a body of mature students who have already had such an engagement and want to develop their practice further. This programme is designed to meet the needs of this diverse cohort of potential or continuing students. This includes those involved in adult learning, community development, social movements, grassroots activism, workers in NGOs and state agencies, and advocates with minority groups.
The course is geared to bringing together the best of practitioner skills in the field with the best of academic research. Our workshops are not traditional classroom experiences but draw on our extensive experience with community, popular and radical educational practice to bring out and work with participants' existing knowledge. We bring our own lived experience into the classroom, and encourage other participants to do the same, creating a conversation between practitioners in which students are not passive learners and teachers are not unquestioned experts.
This full-time MA programme consists of 90 Post Graduate credits, at Level 9 on the Qualifications Framework. Students will complete the Thesis and Research Module (30 credits), four core modules (10 credit) and select 20 credits from the rest of the programme of elective modules 5 credit each). The programme will offer a choice of 3 elective modules per semester, of which, students will complete 2.
Participants will leave the course with a deeper understanding of how the politics of equality and inequality works in a range of substantive areas. They will have developed the skill of practicing "politics from below": active citizenship, civil society, community education and development, social movements and other forms of popular agency. They will have gained skill as a reflexive researcher, developed their writing and presentation skills and completed a practice-based research project.
The course involves two days a week on campus (typically Monday and Tuesday) over two twelve-week semesters, along with independent reading and study which you should expect to take another two days equivalent during the rest of the week. Your thesis, which is usually linked to an activist project you are involved in or aiming to develop, typically takes about four months after the end of formal classes.
For more information, please contact the Dept. of Adult and Community Education, NUI Maynooth, Co. Kildare, Ireland at firstname.lastname@example.org or (+353-1) 7083937.