Transforming the University Organising School

Wednesday 31-03-2021 - 16:49
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NUS launch Transforming the University Organising School, in collaboration with The World Transformed and Red Square Movement.

Brought to you by NUS, The World Transformed, Red Square Movement, RENT STRIKE, Pause or Pay UK, Liberate the University, Young Labour.

National Union of Students (NUS), alongside campaign organisations The World Transformed (TWT) and Red Square Movement (RSM), are calling for students, sabbatical officers and activists to join us at a two-day organising event to develop a new generation of campaigners.

The organising school will take place online, over the weekend of 24th-25th April. Applications are open for students who are actively involved in campaign work, officers in students’ unions and activists who are already engaged in the student movement, but keen to grow their skills and knowledge around organising.

The programme includes interactive workshops, lectures, debate panels, networking and social events. Participants will get the chance to learn and practice campaigning and organising around marketisation, colonialism, and reimagining our education system, as well as sessions on direct action, solidarity, anti-racism, narratives and power mapping, and more.

The training has been designed to provide participants with key insights, tools and resources to build effective campaigns, mobilise & energise students, and secure big wins collectively as a movement. There will also be lots of space for networking and collaboration, so participants can start to build their own activist networks.

This is a brilliant opportunity for students who hope to learn new skills, refine their knowledge, and progress their organising journeys.

We recommend that you come in teams with your fellow organiser in order to get the most out of the training.

Register Now
 

Programme Highlights

Participants will be able to choose from a wide range of sessions across the programme, including:

INTERACTIVE PANEL SESSIONS

  • How education became a product: the Marketisation of HE
  • Students as consumers: how to approach the fee debate
  • Decolonising the university
  • Free, democratic, liberated: reimagining the university

WORKSHOPS

  • Power mapping
  • The power of narrative 
  • How to run a meeting
  • Direct action training 
  • Making our organisations anti-racist
  • Organising student workers and building student-staff solidarity within and outside universities
  • Organising & mobilising to win campaigns
  • Solidarity and dialogue
  • Wrap up workshop: what happens next? 

Plus we’re excited to be hosting ‘the alternative careers fair’ - and the big organising school party on the Saturday night with a quiz, music, and socialising.

Agenda

Please note: Agenda may be subject to change.

Saturday 24th April

13:00 - 13.15 - Welcome

We’re excited to have so many organisers coming to the school. We’ll be starting with a welcome, sharing a bit more about how it all came about, and giving you a taste of what you can expect over the weekend. 
It’s a 2 on the interactive scale and there will be no breakout rooms in this session.
There’s nothing to think about in advance.

 

13:15 - 14.30 - How education became a product: the marketisation of HE

This session will give you an overview of how dramatically marketisation has reshaped higher education, how students and university workers relate to each other and their institutions and the importance of this for struggles to transform universities into public democratic institutions - democratically organised by students of staff to meet social needs.
It’s a 7 on the interactive scale and there will be breakout groups.
There’s nothing to think about in advance.

 

14:30 - 15.45 - Parallel Workshops

There is a choice of 4 sessions during this slot, you will need to book for ONE parallel workshop. You'll find the information in your email once you've registered.

1. Power mapping: how you can make sure you win your campaigns
Winning improvements at your university will most often require putting pressure on the managers, trustees and others who make decisions. To do so effectively, it's vital to understand who they are, what makes them tick, how they coordinate, what their weak points are, and more. This session is an introduction to power analysis - a time-tested set of techniques for preparing a winning campaign strategy.
It’s a 7 on the interactive scale and there may be breakout groups.
Please think about any effective campaigns you have seen at your university or elsewhere, where the campaign has communicated who the decision makers are.

2. Narrative
A (very quick) run through the role of narratives in constructing ourselves as political actors/organisers, and how these can help to understand others' strategies and mobilisation.
It’s an 8 on the interactive scale: there will not be breakout groups, but this will be an interactive workshop. There'll be a mixture of presentation and group discussion. We may also ask some of you to read some narratives from other organisers (which we'll provide), but there will be no expectation to participate / share your personal information (it’s optional).
We ask you to come with a pen and paper or something you can draw your personal journey to organising on. 

3. How to run a meeting
We go to meetings ALL the time - but how effective can we make them? This session will help to build confidence in organisers and attendees of meetings by exploring the structure and process of meetings.
It’s an 8 on the interactive scale: there will not be any breakout groups but it will be an interactive workshop, with a mix of presentations, group discussion. 
We ask attendees to think about the issues they have faced when planning or running or attending meetings. What are you hoping to learn about running good meetings?

4. Direct action training
Ready to step things up a notch? This session is for organisers to learn the basics of the three types of direct action (rent strikes, fee strikes and occupations) and give confidence for negotiation.
It’s a 5 on the interactive scale: it’s an interactive workshop with breakout rooms and roleplay exercises.
We ask attendees to think about any questions you have about negotiations, and how you would normally approach it.


 

16:00 - 17.00 - Panel Discussion: Students as consumers: how to approach the fee debate

An exploration of why the fee refund debate is a dead end, and a discussion of how we can revive the free education movement in the UK.
It’s a 6 on the interactive scale - there will be breakout rooms.
We ask attendees to think how they think we should revive the free education movement in the UK.

 

17:15 - 18.00 - The Alternative Careers Fair

Wondering what happens... post uni?? There are loads of ways to keep organising, educating and agitating. Meet some excellent speakers who've incorporated politics into their lives in interesting ways, and quiz them on how they do it. Speakers are: Ellen Clifford, from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), Sonali Bhattacharyya, Momentum National Coordinating Group, Chris Townsend, administrator and UNISON rep at the University of Sheffield and Milly, an organiser. Lotte Marley, student organiser, will be hosting this session.
It’s a 6 on the interactive scale, and there will be breakout rooms (but you don’t have to contribute!)
We ask attendees to think about any key questions they might have for people who have left uni but have kept up activism.

18:00 - Social: The big quiz of university culture wars, and the organising school party!

A chance to chill, chat, and get quizzical... the organising school party will be the highlight of your 2021! We've got some very special guest speakers lined up, so BYO drinks and snacks and settle in for a night of entertainment.

We are delighted to be joined by Moses Nkambako, student union president at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and Tony Boardman from the UC Santa Cruz strikers.
It’s a 7 on interactivity, and there will be brief breakout rooms for the quiz.
There’s nothing to think about in advance.

Sunday 25th April

13:00 - 14:00 - Decolonising the University

From laboratories of scientific racism to training schools of colonial administration, Higher Education in the UK is a product and producer of historical genocide, enslavement, displacement and colonialism. Their colonial nature continues today from the ways of seeing the world they valorise and marginalise, legitimise and de-legitimise, to the super-exploitation of casualised migrant workers.
Join NUS President Larissa Kennedy, coauthor of Decolonising the University Kerem Nişancıoğlu, founder of the Free Black University Melz Owusu, and Abolitionist Futures organiser Hajera Begum to consider the colonial past and present of British universities and how we can organise to decolonise higher education.
It’s a 5 on the interactive scale: there will be speeches at the beginning and then breakout groups.
Attendees don’t need to think about anything in advance.

 

14:15 - 15:30 - Parallel Workshops

There is a choice of 4 sessions during this slot, you will need to book for ONE parallel workshop. You'll find the information in your email once you've registered.

1. Making our organisations anti-racist
In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist." ― Angela Y. Davis. Organising must centre an anti-racist praxis to disrupt institutional oppression; however, anti-racism requires practice and action. How do we organise and create a transformative education system that doesn't reproduce violent structures? Join us to discuss the importance of having an anti-racist, decolonial, community-based approach in organising.
It’s a 5 on the interactive scale.
Attendees should think about their own groups and the extent to which anti-racism is embedded in their practices.

2. Organising student workers and building student-staff solidarity within and outside Universities
Most students work during their studies and face a precarious and exploitative labour market before and after university, while over 400,000 workers are employed in the Higher Education sector. The power we hold in our labour has the potential to transform not just universities but society as a whole. Join us to discuss how we can get organised in our workplaces, build unions and work in solidarity with university workers.
It’s a 7 on the interactive scale, with speakers, breakouts, feedback & discussion.
Attendees don’t need to think about anything in advance.

3. Organising & mobilising to win campaigns
Key to building a winning campaign is to organise effectively. Organising can make the difference between 10 people taking part and 1,000, which can be the difference between winning and losing a campaign. However, student campaigns often don't take a methodical approach to organising. Luckily organising is a skill that can be learned. This interactive workshop will introduce key organising and mobilising skills and give an opportunity to learn through practice.
It’s an 8 on the interactive scale, and there will be breakout rooms.
Participants should think about campaigns they have taken part in, how did they get people to take part, and what worked well / what didn't work so well.

4. Solidarity and dialogue
How do we build solidarity into our organising? We will discuss thinking and moving beyond a model of charity and towards an understanding of acting in solidarity with others.
It’s a 7 on the interactive scale, and there will be two sets of breakout rooms.
We ask attendees to think about what the words Solidarity, Help and Charity mean to them.


 

15:45 - 16:45 - Panel Discussion: Free, democratic, liberated: reimagining the university

What should the true purpose of a university be? And what would it actually look like for universities to serve this purpose? Get inspired and creative in this session, where we will be reimagining what a transformed higher education system would mean for students, workers and the wider community. With Nehaal Bajwa, PhD student and organiser, and Professor Gargi Bhattacharyya.
It’s a 6 on the interactive scale: there will be breakout rooms.
We ask attendees to think about the following question: When you imagine a free, democratic and liberated university, what does that look like in practice?

 

17:00 - 18:00 - Wrap up Workshop: What happens next?

As a group, we'll reflect on what we've learnt over the weekend and think about what this means for our collective future. What comes next? How will we stay in touch? Critically, how will we transform our universities?
This is a 9 on the interactive scale: there will be breakout groups.
We’ll ask attendees to think about what they’ve learnt over the weekend - what do you want to take forward? What more do we need to do as a wider group?

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