Community Seminar

The below questions summarise the key issues brought up through discussion and debate by those that attended the seminar on ‘Rebuilding Community’ on 18th February, 2016.

  • How do we foster community between students and the rest of the university when many are being treated and see themselves as customers? How can students be made to feel they belong within communities of scholarship?
  • Structures of line management make every individual responsible to a superior rather than to colleagues at the same level. How can we restore collective responsibility to collegial communities?
  • Does the devolution of authority to schools really allow for greater decentralisation or does it put schools in competition with each other so as to increase power at the centre? Is there still a role for Colleges in fostering cross-school community?
  • Can we have less management and more leadership? How can we reduce the gap in understanding and communication between those at the ‘top’ and those at the ‘bottom’ of the university hierarchy?
  • How can we make better use of physical spaces for fostering community at the University of Aberdeen?

Please comment on this post and/or bring your thoughts around these questions to the assembly on Tuesday 22nd March, 2016, 5-7pm, New Kings Lecture Theatre 6.  These themes will be what structures the open discussions at the assembly.

The aim of the assembly, ‘The Manifesto’, is to review what we have achieved so far, and to lay the foundations for a manifesto for the future of the University. This is the opportunity for you to have your say in shaping this future. The manifesto will be drafted over the Easter break, after which the draft will be opened to consultation. We propose to launch the final version with an event in King’s College on the afternoon of Tuesday 24th May.

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Education Seminar

The below questions summarise the key issues brought up through discussion and debate by those that attended the seminar on ‘Restoring Education’ on 4th February, 2016.

  • What is the meaning of ‘education’ in ‘higher education’? Is the educational mission of the University compatible with current articulations of teaching and learning?
  • Is education about providing an experience or questioning it? Can its effectiveness be judged by measures of satisfaction? Are students consumers or producers?
  • What matters most: new ideas in the subjects we study or new methods of studying them? Is pedagogic innovation an end in itself or a means to the rejuvenation of scholarship?
  • What does it mean to claim that our teaching is led by our research? How can the division between research and teaching be overcome?
  • Are digital technologies a help or a hindrance in higher education? Are they rendering ‘traditional’ methods obsolete? Are they any substitute for face-to-face engagement?

Please comment on this post and/or bring your thoughts around these questions to the assembly on Tuesday 22nd March, 2016, 5-7pm, New Kings Lecture Theatre 6.  These themes will be what structures the open discussions at the assembly.

The aim of the assembly, ‘The Manifesto’, is to review what we have achieved so far, and to lay the foundations for a manifesto for the future of the University. This is the opportunity for you to have your say in shaping this future. The manifesto will be drafted over the Easter break, after which the draft will be opened to consultation. We propose to launch the final version with an event in King’s College on the afternoon of Tuesday 24th May.

Trust Seminar

The below questions summarise the key issues brought up through discussion and debate by those that attended the seminar on ‘Regaining Trust’ on 21st January, 2016.

  • What managerial assumptions are made about staff and students? Are staff assumed to be professional or incompetent? Are students assumed to be conscientious or complacent? What values underpin these assumptions?
  •  What role do trusting relationships play in a learning community and workplace environment? What benefits do they bring?
  • Trust is easily lost. How can it be rebuilt and fostered? How can we restore goodwill between academic staff, students and university managers?
  • How can we balance trust with necessary checks on staff and students, while maintaining a sense of collective responsibility?
  • How can we make space for mistakes and fallibility while maintaining trust?

Please comment on this post and/or bring your thoughts around these questions to the assembly on Tuesday 22nd March, 2016, 5-7pm, New Kings Lecture Theatre 6.  These themes will be what structures the open discussions at the assembly.

The aim of the assembly, ‘The Manifesto’, is to review what we have achieved so far, and to lay the foundations for a manifesto for the future of the University. This is the opportunity for you to have your say in shaping this future. The manifesto will be drafted over the Easter break, after which the draft will be opened to consultation. We propose to launch the final version with an event in King’s College on the afternoon of Tuesday 24th May.

Freedom Seminar

The below questions summarise the key issues brought up through discussion and debate by those that attended the seminar on ‘Reclaiming Freedom’ on 26th November, 2015.

  • What do we mean by ‘academic freedom’, what responsibilities does it entail, and how is it exemplified in the practices of teaching, research and scholarship?
  • How can we ensure that our choice of study and the pursuit of truth within our chosen fields are not compromised by interests from outside the academy?
  • What are the consequences of our concept of academic freedom for the governance of the university?
  • What does free speech mean in today’s university, especially when it might entail internal and public criticism of the ‘employers’?
  • Do we have the freedom to determine the content and presentation of our own teaching?

Please comment on this post and/or bring your thoughts around these questions to the assembly on Tuesday 22nd March, 2016, 5-7pm, New Kings Lecture Theatre 6.  These themes will be what structures the open discussions at the assembly.

The aim of the assembly, ‘The Manifesto’, is to review what we have achieved so far, and to lay the foundations for a manifesto for the future of the University. This is the opportunity for you to have your say in shaping this future. The manifesto will be drafted over the Easter break, after which the draft will be opened to consultation. We propose to launch the final version with an event in King’s College on the afternoon of Tuesday 24th May.

Next step: THE MANIFESTO

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As the culmination of our campaign, we will be holding a follow-up assembly which we urge everyone with a concern for the future of the university, both staff and students, to attend. It will take place on Tuesday March 22nd, 5-7 p.m., in New Kings Lecture Theatre 6. Please note the date and time, and come along. It is vitally important for the success of the campaign that we should have a really impressive turnout. We urge you not only to attend yourself, but also to do all you can to encourage your colleagues and fellow students to come along too. Please spread the news, by word of mouth or by any other means. If you will be holding or attending any lectures or classes during the coming week, we would be really grateful if you could take a few moments to announce the assembly.

The aim of the assembly is to review what we have achieved so far, and to lay the foundations for a manifesto for the future of the University. This is the opportunity for you to have your say in shaping this future. The manifesto will be drafted over the Easter break, after which the draft will be opened to consultation. We propose to launch the final version with an event in King’s College on the afternoon of Tuesday 24th May.

Please comment on this blog post if you have any suggestions for The Manifesto. Alternatively, you can email us at reclaimingouruniversity@gmail.com.

Launching the campaign

Dunbar
On October 15th 2015, we launched a campaign for Reclaiming Our University, with a very well-attended assembly in the Dunbar Hall.
Some quotes from the meeting:
“The university trumpets its success, in its newly minted and glossily illustrated Strategic Plan, whilst academic life at the coal face has never felt less secure, less supported, less collegial and less conducive to scholarly endeavours in research and teaching”
“We live in a culture of fear and alienation at Aberdeen.”
“Students are treated like streams of profit and that influences the way we teach them”
“We create knowledge to inform the world, but don’t apply it in the university. Why are we not applying it to our own institutional practices?”
“What are the values that might define the type of university we can dream of in the future?…We cannot fall for the dichotomy of values versus business”
Since then, extensive and very constructive discussions have taken place right across the campus and its constituencies, about the kind of university we want, how it should be run and how to achieve it. These included a series of open seminars on the four pillars of freedom, trust, education and community.