In a country with a hung parliament, and where our society is divided into extreme factions of perspective; it is important to take the time to study such juxtaposed order if we want to not only understand it, but take action. What can students do to survive internal divisions constructively? Are HE institutions in the UK currently encouraging guerrilla research and free-thought? “Attaining educational goals and success in educational transitions is one of the most important factors directing young adults’ life paths” (Vasalampi, et al. 2012, pp. 591).
Universities often become spaces where political sides vary, and controversy regarding curriculum structures and ideas, arise often. Some students feel that their faculties force programmes that are convenient to one side of the equation, rather than also incorporating the equally valid counter perspective that makes the whole democratic picture. “It is uncontroversial to note that contemporary universities articulate two main purposes or core activities: the transmission of knowledge (education or higher education) and the production of knowledge (or research)” (Fergie, et al. 2014, pp. 44).
Nowadays, the rise of interdisciplinary scholarships has created a wider scope through which students can explore their position in the professional, academic world. The Open University is known as a leading pioneer when it comes to multidisciplinary studies within contexts of practice. “Interdisciplinary study allows for synthesis of ideas and the synthesis of characteristics from many disciplines. At the same time it addresses students’ individual differences and helps to develop important, transferable skills” (Open University, 2015). The OU also offers free courses, such as their OpenLearn’s “The Digital Scholar” course, which teaches “The Art of Guerrilla Research” and its importance in the contemporary world of academia.
According to Adéle Emm, the author of “Researching for the media”, crowdsourcing is a type of brainstorming applied in research to “raise money for projects, especially independent films and theatre productions” (Emm, 2014, pp. 16). This technique is also used to discover new interests, events, and ideas stemming from people. Plymouth College of Art (PCA) is known for encouraging their students to question everything, and to bring new ideas into their educational experience. TEMPLO’s recent crowdsourcing campaign “#KeepCreating” is a great example of how PCA welcomes raw ideas from their students. Moreover, some of their courses are awarded by the Open University.
When it comes to politics and the market, more and more universities are becoming aware of the importance of pluralism within their academic structures; as more students raise their voices in order to survive programmes that fail to keep up with the interdisciplinary approach to teaching. “Delanty’s extended thesis is that the democratization of knowledge, while disturbing the university’s historic, monopolistic hold, creates the opportunity for its new and most critical role. The gaps between the creation of information – data, in its rawest form– and knowledge– senses of meaning, purpose, and direction– can revitalize the university’s purpose of critical analysis and discourse” (Cutright, 2003, pp.123).
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. David Brockington (Ph.D. 2000. Political Science), a great lecturer in Social Science Methods at the University of Plymouth; who is heavily involved in activism and social change. This is what he had to say about society.
Betshy X0: Why is it important to build the people around us?
Dr. Brockington: It’s incredibly important. My daughter will become a woman in this society. My little sister committed suicide when she was 24. You never get away from that. You see what went wrong. One thing why I think it is important, and why I found myself in a status in the labour party and Plymouth is that I am accidentally a role model as I never tried to do this. I accidentally found myself in this position without ever seeking it. This means others can be more confident if I help them see what they are capable of. It is ultimately a human reaction.
– Why is confidence important in politics?
-That’s an interesting question. There are two strands here: one is the politicians. Those who have the face. They have to say what they say, and they have to say it with confidence. Then you also have real politics, which happens behind the scenes. Real politics is a series of organic relationships that take a lot of time and a lot of it is accidental. And you make these relationships and connections with people. And that’s how you have influence. As my friend Tommy Sprague said whilst we were drinking: “Dave, we are backroom boys. That’s our politics”.
– How does individual identity influence political choices?
– Jesus Christ. We have a big problem in understanding this in political science. Identity matters in politics. These days with the labour party, supporters are young, educated and the identity is liberal. The same with the democratic party in the United States. As political scientists we don’t have an answer to this question. Identity matters, we are just not entirely sure how. Support for the labour party, empirically speaking, comes from the young and the educated. Which makes it a middle class party. The problem we have with the new members over the last two years is that they are all comfortable middle class people. The party has become a social, narcissistic endeavour, rather than a centre for conscious social change.
– How do you think intelligent anarchist groups such as Wikileaks and Anonymous are impacting people’s views on political corruption?
Wikileaks and Anonymous are two completely different things and they approach hacking from two very different perspectives, and two completely different agendas. Wikileaks are right wing, and the evidence supports that. Anonymous on the other hand are left wing, truth to power, as we say in America.
– Why do you think people get offended when someone they know adopts a “winner’s mentality” towards life?
– People get offended for two reasons when someone wins: They could have done that and they didn’t get the credit. My response is that I don’t know why people get offended, because ultimately it is entirely a psychological question and I am not an expert in that shit. I mean, I understand jealousy, even though I don’t do it. So I don’t know.
– Why is it that empowered women are often seen as a threat?
– Because we live in a misogynist society. Period. Boys are scared they are losing their positions because A: they have small minds, and B: they have small dicks. Period. It’s that simple. Next question.
- Emm, A., (2014). Researching For The Media. 2nd ed. Oxon: Routledge.
- Vasalampi, Kati, et al. (2012). The Role of Goal-Related Autonomous Motivation, Effort and Progress in the Transition to University. European Journal of Psychology of Education, vol. 27, no. 4, 2012, pp. 591–604 [Online] Available at: www.jstor.org/stable/43551100 [Accessed on 25th October 2017. At 12:57].
- Cutright, M. (2003). Higher Education. Higher Education, vol. 46, no. 1, 2003, pp. 123–125 [Online] Available at: www.jstor.org/stable/3447564 [Accessed on 26th October 2017. At 07:07].
- Fergie, et al. (2014). University Transitions in Practice: Research-Learning, Fields and Their Communities of Practice. Universities in Transition: Foregrounding Social Contexts of Knowledge in the First Year Experience, University of Adelaide Press, South Australia, 2014, pp. 41–74 [Online] Available at: www.jstor.org/stable/10.20851/j.ctt1t304xh.6 [Accessed on 26th October 2017. At 06:06].
- Appleby, M. (2015). What are the benefits of interdisciplinary studies?. [Online]. Derby: The Open University. Available at: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/education/what-are-the-benefits-interdisciplinary-study [Accessed on 24th October 2017. At 11:11].
- Weller, et al.(n.d.) Week 2.1: The Art of Guerrilla Research [Online]. The Open University. Available at: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/ocw/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=48679§ion=2.1 [Accessed on 22nd October 2017. At 08:08].
- Profiles: Dr. David Brockington [Online]. Plymouth University. Available at: https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/staff/david-brockington [Accessed on 26th October 2017. At 13:13].
- Creative Review (2017). #KeepCreating: TEMPLO’s campaign for Plymouth College of Art [Online]. Available at: https://www.creativereview.co.uk/templo-plymouth-college-of-art-courses/ [Accessed on 26th October 2017. At 10:30]