For Everyone’s Information: About What Ragged University Is…
Ragged University events are all free and never involve any money. People are warmly invited to bring along an item of food to share on the table and help take away what is left at the end, but there is no obligation. This is a free education project.
It is nice to be nice. The etiquette is to listen to others and not talk over what others are saying – the idea is to be interested in discovering other people’s worlds. The events are informal and you can come and go as you please.
If you say that you are coming along to an event please do come along as a lot of preparation goes into each one ensuring that there is some food for everyone. You dont have to share any information you dont want to with other people, and rather than the question “what do you do ?” it is a space to ask “what do you like doing ?”…
Everyone is welcome to share a talk, an activity, performance or workshop through the project. This is not about setting people up as experts but more about getting an opportunity to share what you care about with other people in your community. We learn through dialogue, and it is a space for dialogue. You dont have to agree with everything that people say or think, but it is a more interesting world to get the chance to find out what other people have to share.
There is a website which everyone is welcome to guest write on to share what they have learned on something, to highlight a free event in Edinburgh, or to write a citizen journalism article.
As a voluntary project, we have no funding and dont do any metrics or analyses of who is in the room. The events are private to us bar the audio recordings which record the speakers (if they want) so that they can be shared with those who cannot be in the room. It is a registered charity to prevent the idea becoming commercialised (SC048364).
Those who have attended events may have noticed that there are no feedback forms because we are not doing metrics for funders. We (the charity trustees) dont think this is a healthy culture but we do welcome feedback in the form of emails, suggestions and involvement. This is about an open learning community doing shared activities.
I (Alex Dunedin) am the primary driver behind the project organising the events in Edinburgh and being largely the janitor ensuring that people can share what they are passionate about. If other people would like to be involved in the organisational side, they are most welcome; it means starting small and following through with what you have planned.
There are extensive links with academics, universities, colleges and other community groups although Ragged University events never take place within institutional spaces – only spaces which belong to everyone (in terms of the public). The project is about each person generating their own educational experiences practicing, learning, creating and sharing without finance being involved.
For example I (Alex) have written papers for journals like PRISM and attended various conferences such as the ARPCE conference in Oxford and the CDSS conferences in Blackburn. If people are interested in being involved in these kinds of activities, they are very much about harnessing our own self motivation in collective spaces. Get in touch and we can discuss companionship, cooperation and collaboration.
Otherwise, I am very much enjoying using the Ragged University model to get the education I have always wanted and discover the community I have always needed. It is about meeting the world with an open mind and reaping the rewards of being an active learner for me.
I hope this gives you some insight into what ‘Ragged University’ means and stands for in my life; what might it mean to you ?