What is the ‘Ragged University’ and how might you, and/or students, get involved?

Ragged University began with four people thinking about how ideas behind the Ragged Schools initiative might be applied in a Higher Education context.  It takes learning outside the walls of formal higher education institutions. The project has at its core a belief in the value of creating opportunities for people, who love what they do, to share what moves them.  It is founded on the idea that universal education, free of charge, is a basic human right.   The Ragged University project draws on many traditions of free education, adapting them to local contexts.

Ragged University events take place in informal spaces - those which belong to, and are anchors for, communities.  At the moment it operates in Manchester and Edinburgh, though has the potential to expand.  Ragged University events provide a forum for knowledge - of many and varied kinds - to be shared on equal terms.  Meeting places are freely and highly accessible, have food and drink available and are relaxed and cheery. They include libraries, cafes, pubs and community centres.  Ragged University events are open to all and aim to encourage dialogue, with everyone encouraged to contribute. Learning is all around us and flows through us, throughout our lives.  The Ragged University makes such learning visible, proving opportunities for it to be celebrated, shared and built upon.

Ragged University has a website which provides a flavour of its activities and events and hosts resources. Amongst these are a list of other free education projects around the world, and the Mad World Archive - a collection of critical perspectives in the area of Mad Studies. As with many of Ragged's resources, this grew out of a talk - in that case given by Steve Tilley.   Formed by Daniel Zambas, Ragged Music takes the Ragged philosophy and applies it to the music industry, with the aim of involving the musical arts in social capital and collaboration.

Recent blog postings on the Ragged University site include one on the forthcoming Asylum conference and party (to be attended by 'Bob Dylan'); a short provocation by Gordon Asher on being and becoming critically academically literate, as part of a recent event on 'the porous university'; and a piece on the importance of music within society.  Visit the website to discover more.

How can you or your students get involved? 

  • Write something for the website, of 500 words or more, on your area of particular interest - in the form of a personal narrative and including links to free resources which will enable people to delve deeper.
  • Attend an event or offer to give a talk on something that you are passionate about. 
  • Put on a free learning event, making contact with those within your own local area who have a passion they would like to share.   Such an event will be free, relaxed and open to all.  See this helpful Melbourne Free University guide to How to Start a Free University.
  • Get involved in citizen journalism: Take a 400 word excerpt from a published article, quote it verbatim, and write an article expanding the subject.
  • Contribute to the coordination of the project.  Lots of people have been involved in that, on a voluntary basis, since its inception on 2010.
  • Pass the word around about the Ragged University project, and make it more widely know.

If you are wondering whether a contribution will be suitable, refer to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which provides the parameters that the project works within. 

Want to find out more?  See Ragged’s list of FAQ or do make contact.

 

 

 

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