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The future of our university

an interdisciplinary experiment in cooperative learning
The Future of our University

The Future of our University

an interdisciplinary experiment in cooperative learning

About the course

A group of Edinburgh students and staff who met during the student occupation of March-April 2018 worked together over the summer of that year to design a course we called: The future of our university: an interdisciplinary experiment in cooperative learning. Astonishingly, perhaps, we managed to persuade the relevant people in the university to make this experiment a credit-bearing course. Starting in September 2018, the course ran over two semesters.

Taking the university as field site for enquiry, the course experiments with cooperative learning approaches, including project-based learning. Students and staff participate on an equal basis, and their questions and concerns about the university are our starting point: initial possibilities include student debt, democratizing the university, decolonizing curricula, sustainability and health/well-being. We decide collectively on how to run the course, how participation is evaluated and how assessment is done.

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How did this course come about?

The idea of this course was generated by students and staff during the 2018 strike action, which created unusual and exciting solidarities.

In 2018, the Universities and College Union (UCU), which is the largest trade union for academic staff and some support staff in British universities, called for a 14 day long strike, following the failure of negotiations between Universities UK (UUK) and UCU regarding a crucial change to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), the main pension scheme for most British academics. For some people, this change could cause loss of up to 40% of their pension. A set of papers written by staff and students which unpacks the complexity of this pension dispute and demonstrates that the proposed change was completely unjustified is available here.

The strike started in the last week of February and was supported enthusiastically by UCU members of all levels, from young academics working on precarious contracts to professors. Students were extremely supportive across the UK. They produced statements, organised events, discussions and direct action, but most importantly occupied University buildings, sometimes over very long periods of time. In Edinburgh, about 50 students occupied the Gordon Aikman lecture theatre in George Square in the morning of 13 March. The building was released on 24 April.

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What we do

Learn together

critical pedagogy

creative pedagogy

collaborative learning

learn what pedagogy is

learn how pedagogy is pronounced!

critical reflection

learn, share and practice facilitation skills


engage in our learning

reflect on what we do and how we do what we do

reflect on what kind of learners university infrastructures foster – are we active learners or passive learners?

engage with university infrastructures which are usually behind the scenes for students (and sometimes for staff too!)

meet with other academics involved in these roles and discuss how learning and courses are organised

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Most recent blog posts

About session records

Posts in this section are a week-by-week digest of what we did, with minutes, slides from guest speakers, visuals and so...

About the Education / Pedagogy group

Within our education and pedagogy cluster we attempted to draw on a number of the diverse, repeating themes that appeared in...

Permaculture Process

The Future of our University course began with no template. We had all the choices in the world, but also all...

Casualization In Our University

Hi everyone! Here are some blog posts by members of the casualization group that we drafted up as a summary of...

Casualization group – summary and final thoughts

We created the Casualization (formerly called 'Bureaucratization') group because we wanted to engage critically with the university administration in an academic...

Assessment options for the course next year

What we currently have in the proposal: Two components: Participation in activities decided by the group: pass/fail Grade for course depends...

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