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Diving from the Bridge – an Action Research project on student community engagement in Bosnia-Herzegovina (2006 – 8) Juliet Millican Cupp University of.

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Presentation on theme: "Diving from the Bridge – an Action Research project on student community engagement in Bosnia-Herzegovina (2006 – 8) Juliet Millican Cupp University of."— Presentation transcript:

1 Diving from the Bridge – an Action Research project on student community engagement in Bosnia-Herzegovina (2006 – 8) Juliet Millican Cupp University of Brighton

2 Key questions What is or should be the role of universities in a period following civil conflict? Can engagement with civil society really develop bridging social capital? Why should we be concerned about this?

3 Is a neutral stance an option? Education is always political, educators and students should become transformative intellectuals (Giroux 1998) cultural workers (Freire 1998) capable of identifying and redressing the injustices, inequalities and myths of an often oppressive world. (Gruenewald 2003)

4 Observations that emerged through the research The importance of context in adapting and transferring pedagogic approaches and in making sense of research findings The difficulty of combining a participatory action research project with a piece of accredited academic study The importance of local ownership

5 The Bosnian Context Still post conflict more then ten years after the war Weak civil society with low local participation and ownership An imposed democracy, no culture of involvement High unemployment, low aspirations and a very passive student population Missing generation of professionals, older professors with young teaching assistants keen to develop practice

6 Djemel Biedjic A university in exile Predominantly Bosniak student population Open to multi cultural entry Strong awareness of importance of cross cultural relationships

7 Background is Foreground (Stephens 2007) Contextual levels: Cultural, National, Regional Global (Crossley and Watson, 2003: 16)

8 Action Research project over 2 years (participatory? collaborative?) Worked with tutors and students in Drama Pedagogy: workshops in a local orphanage Engineering: design of prosthesis for disabled people English Literature: writing text for voluntary organisations English Language: teaching in a local primary school German Language: working with local tour guides Fine Arts: running arts workshops with special needs children and developing logos for voluntary organisations

9 Participatory Action Research Principles : Participation, Reflection, Linking of theory to practice, Solutions to issues of concern Flourishing of individuals and communities, Reason and Bradbury 2001:4 subject to constraints imposed by academic convention unable to be entirely responsive to process of action/ reflection needed strong involvement from local teachers, but ultimately not owned by them responsibility for writing up lay with a single author

10 Adapting existing curricula New pedagogical approaches, Similar specified learning outcomes, Experimental methods of assessment through Reflection Practical project Written Exams

11 Outcomes of engaged activities MOSTAR Personal sense of achievement Ability to build relationships with people in unfamiliar contexts A new sense of themselves A concern with the future as well as the past BRIGHTON Personal journey from aspirations to realities Importance of relationships built with individuals An understanding of self in relationship to other A more realistic understanding of what they might achieve

12 So is this citizenship? Graffiti on prison wall in Mostar All different: All equal.

13 Citizenship can only be learned through doing it Students rejected taught ideas of responsibility to a new state but connected with altruistic feelings of wanting to support those with whom they shared the space. Merrifield 2002 – Citizenship education without an experiential component can have little impact on behaviour. Programmes should start with a communitarian rather than civic republican conception of citizenship

14 The role of the individual The need for individuals to understand themselves in order to understand another The danger of dehumanisation or othering that can lead to violence To the degree that individuals can learn to think for themselves – and so become true individuals- they can free themselves, one by one, from the deadly dynamic of the narcissism of minor difference. In that sense the function of liberal society is not merely to teach the noble fiction of human universality, but to create individuals sufficiently robust in their own identity to live by that fiction.(Ignatief 1998)

15 The next generation needs to learn how to live with peace The need to connect with and establish other identities than ethnic identities ( Relationship building across divides based on needs and interests rather than being nice to each other Davies2004 ) The importance of work, engagement and stability in building a democracy and a stronger society ( There will always be political extremism but if you have jobs, houses, friends you will enjoy them, you will not be afraid Mostar 2008 )

16 Svijet u kojem živimo se mijenja (students with community in co-operation)


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