31 Jul 2008
In mid-June around 70 people gathered in a community arts centre in Stroud to launch Stroud Communiversity – a space for shared learning on the road to a sustainable future.
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In mid-June around 70 people gathered in a community arts centre in Stroud to launch Stroud Communiversity – a space for shared learning on the road to a sustainable future. The evening featured a presentation by Professor Hugh Bartonóa Stroud resident who is also an academic planner at the University of the West of Englandóhelping us to develop our vision of the town and countryside where we will be living in the next decade.
It is my working life in a university that has convinced me that each community needs its own educational institutions, and that Stroud needs a Communiversity. In this late phase of global capitalism our institutions are being captured by the market and the university has not escaped. Our academics are trapped between seeking politically motivated research funding and achieving market-driven targets. Students arrive as consumers and buy degrees as passports to more lucrative jobs. Education is no longer the point.
The role of the universities in questioning and inspiring a critical attitude in young people is no longer encouraged. This would be serious at any time, but in an era when we are facing such serious problems it is a disaster that the very places where creative solutions should be developed are so neutered and contained. This is why we need alternative structures where intellectual creativity can flourish.
Ever year I spend a pleasant weekend teaching green economics at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales. It is an enlightening and refreshing experience! One of the learners said excitedly how much she enjoyed the space to think. How can we possibly imagine a better future without this sort of space? We called it toga time’, remembering how good the ancient Greeks were at solving problems by drifting around in good company, great weather with scant clothing! We are lucky in Stroud because we have creative thinkers who have so much to shareóand people like Hugh who have spent their lives becoming experts. We intend to find the space for inspirational exchange creative learning in the Communiversity.
Our first event is an opportunity for the community to share the examples of sustainable living that are flourishing here in Stroud. It is a weekend summer school (1st – 3rd August) where visitors will be able to directly experience our projects and to develop their own ideas from them. We hope to make this an annual eventótogether we will celebrate what makes Stroud a successful and sustainable community, and discover collectively what we still have to learn.
Image: Stroud Communiversity
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