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Katie Kirakosian, Virginia McLaurin, and Cary Speck

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In this article, we discuss how adding a final film project to a revised ‘Culture through Film’ course led to deeper student learning and higher rates of student success, as well as increased student satisfaction. Ultimately, we urge social science educators to include experiential projects in their courses that connect to all learning styles. Such projects should also challenge students to ‘create’, a task that requires generating ideas, planning and ultimately producing something, which, according to Bloom’s revised taxonomy, engages students in the highest cognitive process (). Although this class focused on the intersections of culture and film and was taught at an American university, we believe these lessons apply more broadly.

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Barbara Grant and Penny Welch

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Sarah Amsler

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This article considers the role of experiments in learning in movements to democratise higher education ‘under the rule of capital’ (). It focuses on the emergence of a new generation of ‘free universities’ in the United Kingdom, situating these in a historical tradition of educational experimentation and a current context of global movements for autonomy from the state, capital and dominating epistemologies. It argues that free universities can contribute to transforming the relationship between knowledge, university and society, but that these contributions are often invisible within the logic of the dominant institutional systems. Conceptualising the projects as struggles for autonomy renders these contributions visible and valuable for educational reformers working both within and independently of the university.

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Fern Thompsett

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Free universities are diverse but loosely networked projects that resist repressive capitalist and state configurations of power by re-imagining teaching, learning and research on their own terms, often through radical and ongoing experimentation. Drawing from my own experiences as a co-founder and organiser of the Brisbane Free University, along with research I conducted with around twenty-five different free universities across the U.S.A., Canada and Mexico, I focus in this article on activists’ attempts to develop emancipatory counter-capitalist pedagogies. Using notion of the tension between ‘study’ and ‘education’, with the former connoting a vast realm of possibilities for learning and the latter pointing to the presence of pre-defined end-points, I ask: when does activists’ prefigurative work orbit around explicitly counter-capitalist end-points to learning (against capitalism), and when do they attempt to abandon end-points altogether, in favour of ‘radically open’ forms of ‘learning for its own sake’ (beyond capitalism)?

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Susan Wright and Davydd J. Greenwood

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Catherine N. Butcher

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This report describes my field visits to Berea and Deep Springs Colleges in the U.S.A. and explores their forms of ownership/control, governance, financing and organisational structure. Berea and Deep Springs are small, liberal arts colleges, distinctive in American higher education, in which students actively participate in a spirit of democracy. This report highlights the relationship between these heterodox organisational forms and student outcomes. It examines the practical significance of these two colleges for education policy and how certain features could be resources for hope used in constructing heterodox higher education institutions in other parts of the world. This report complements that of on Mondragón University – a cooperative in the Basque country of Spain – by adding to the body of knowledge on alternative models of higher education institutions.

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Mike Neary and Joss Winn

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This report provides an interim account of a participatory action research project undertaken during 2015–16. The research brought together scholars, students and expert members of the co-operative movement to design a theoretically informed and practically grounded framework for co-operative higher education that activists, educators and the co-operative movement could take forward into implementation. Our dual roles in the research were as founding members of the Social Science Centre, Lincoln, an autonomous co-operative for higher education constituted in 2011 (), and as professional researchers working at the University of Lincoln. The immediate context for the research was, and remains, the ‘assault’ on universities in the U.K. (), the ‘gamble’ being taken with the future of higher education (), and the ‘pedagogy of debt’ () that has been imposed through the removal of public funding of teaching and the concurrent tripling of tuition fees ().

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Susan Wright and Davydd J. Greenwood

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After analysing the organisational pathologies and societal ills created by the neoliberalisation of universities, the article engages in an organisational critique of the pseudo-business model currently in use. It poses as a solution the re-creation of universities as trusts, with a model of beneficiary ownership, a matrix form of organisation and renewed relations with society. For inspiration it looks to beneficiary-run organisations on the model of the John Lewis Partnership or the Mondragón University. The article explains why such beneficial matrix organisations are superior to current universities and how they offer an opportunity to recreate universities for the public good.

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Hans Karl Peterlini and Mary Brydon-Miller

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Critical pedagogy and Socially Responsible Investing (SRI)

Questioning our post-secondary institutions’ investment strategies

David P. Thomas

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This article explores the use of critical pedagogy in addressing the important issue of Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) in the post-secondary context. I argue that tools of critical pedagogy – in this case student-centred learning and sharing power in the classroom – provide a productive avenue for post-secondary students to engage with SRI. In addition, analysing current debates and trends in SRI offers an excellent opportunity to encourage active, engaged, student-centred learning, with the ultimate goal of producing citizens who are capable of questioning the world around them. The article presents a case study of a course on SRI at a small liberal arts university in Canada to illustrate the potential of critically teaching and learning about SRI.