By Grace Jeffery, Jack Smith (School of Social and Political Sciences)
Supervisor: Dr Gary Saunders
During our time participating in the UROS project, we have developed some invaluable skills that we can utilise during our remaining time in higher education, and also for the rest of our lives. Our initial vision for our project ‘Reading Beyond the University’ (RBU) was to develop a short outreach programme working with people who may never have considered studying in higher education. This programme would be a short introduction into the social sciences and display a brief example of how a course at university level would work.
During the development of this project our attention was brought to ‘Student as Producer’ and ‘The Civic Mission’, which are underpinning progressive principles of UROS and the University of Lincoln, and crucial instruments in the advancement of our project. Student as Producer “is grounded in the human attributes of creativity and desire, so that students can recognise themselves in a world of their own design” (University of Lincoln, n.d.) Throughout our work for this project we were able to share our own ideas, as well as collaborate with others, meaning that we could fully immerse ourselves within its development. Student as Producer additionally emphasises the importance of “research-like and research engaged teaching”, linking to our role as it was necessary and encouraged that we conduct our own research, in order to implement critical pedagogy within our project (Neary, 2020, 2). The objective of the Civic Mission is to focus on civic engagement, supporting communities to thrive, such as through working in partnerships or volunteering (Civic University Working Group, 2019). In consideration to this, our work benefitted the community, especially the YMCA and its service users.
Our key role within this project was to be networkers, and form relationships with services across Lincolnshire, who we believed would be perfect candidates and benefit the most from this opportunity. We held an interview with Heather Saunders who was pivotal in our project development. By undertaking this independent interview with Heather, we were not only provided with contacts who supported our project, further expanding our networks, but we also gained a great deal of confidence in regard to conducting interviews.
We decided to work with the YMCA in Lincoln and following a few online meetings, as well as a meeting on the university campus with a representative from the YMCA, we held a further discussion at the YMCA to further develop our relationship. During these meetings we were able to develop our confidence in communication with new individuals, and an understanding of how we could create a course that would be fitting to specific needs of our participants. We realised, following communication with the experts in the YMCA, that engagement would be of a higher standard if a mutual benefit was achieved. In order to attain this, we decided to provide some shorter courses, in areas such as resilience, mindfulness and employability. These areas were chosen with consideration to what we believe service users would benefit from the most. Following a continuous dialogue between ourselves and the YMCA, we are pleased to report that our first short course in resilience will be held on the 3rd of October 2022. This constant imparting between ourselves and the YMCA has highlighted to us that changing plans and compromising with others is incremental to making sure our project has the best quality results. Overall, this project was a great experience and extremely useful for our confidence development, involving networking and building on skills of articulation. Finally, and most importantly, our belief in the success of ourselves, our ideas, and project evidently enhanced throughout this process.
Civic University Working Group (2019). The University of Lincoln: a strategy for civic engagement. [online] The University of Lincoln. Available at: https://www.lincoln.ac.uk/media/responsive2017/abouttheuniversity/managementandstrategy/A,Strategy,for,Civic,Engagement,PDF.pdf [Accessed 29 Sep. 2022].
Neary, M. (2020). Student as Producer: A Pedagogy for the Avant-Garde; or, how do revolutionary teachers teach? [online] Joss Winn, John Hunt Publishing Limited, pp.1–196. Available at: https://josswinn.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/15-72-1-pb-1.pdf [Accessed 29 Sep. 2022].
University of Lincoln (n.d.). Student as Producer. [online] Student as Producer. Available at: https://studentasproducer.lincoln.ac.uk [Accessed 29 Sep. 2022].
University of Lincoln (n.d.). Undergraduate Research Opportunities Scheme- Lincoln Academy of Learning & Teaching. [online] LALT. Available at: https://lalt.lincoln.ac.uk/student-as-producer/undergraduate-opportunities-research-scheme/ [Accessed 29 Sep. 2022].
University of Lincoln (2021). University of Lincoln. [online] Lincoln.ac.uk. Available at: https://www.lincoln.ac.uk [Accessed 29 Sep. 2022].
YMCA Lincolnshire (n.d.). YMCA Lincolnshire. [online] Available at: https://www.lincsymca.co.uk [Accessed 29 Sep. 2022].
*To view the research poster for this project, please click on the thumbnail below: