News Release

REF NO.: 208

SUBJECT: Group brings open learning to campus

DATE: June 11, 2007

A group dedicated to open learning is starting a series of classes by examining a contentious subject. The Learning Co-op (TLC) is an effort to bring equality to the learning process, said Alanna Felt, a TLC committee member and third-year social cultural anthropology student at Memorial.
The group’s first discussion takes place Thursday, June 14, in room A-1043 of the Arts and Administration Building. It’s provocatively titled So, You Want to Free Newfoundland?
The movie Hard Rock and Water will be shown, followed by a public discussion with a panel made up of artist and art critic Craig Francis Power, Philosophy professor Dr. Natalie Oman and Lorraine Michael, head of the provincial New Democratic Party and MHA for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.
The film starts at 7:30 p.m. Panel members will speak briefly, and the plan is to open the room to a wide-ranging discussion, said Ms. Felt.
The concept was inspired by Toronto’s Anarchist U, a volunteer-run collective which organizes a variety of courses on arts and sciences, Ms. Felt explained. She was further encouraged by anthropology professor Robin Whitaker’s course on engaged anthropology, which brings anthropology into the public realm.
The idea is to create a learning environment without a hierarchical structure, but using people who could act as sources for learning, she said. There is no formal admission requirement, and the group encourages people from around the city to come out and take part in the discussions. Ms. Felt said the broader the range of participants, the broader the debate, which she encourages.
“I love debates, not preaching to people,” she said. “We encourage any kind of discourse.”
The group plans to continue the series throughout the summer with a variety of classes. And it won’t be a purely intellectual exercise. The Learning Co-op plans to offer hands-on sessions on topics such as bike maintenance and repair and composting.
In July, the Learning Co-op will explore the politics of food and the many issues surrounding that subject.
Ms. Felt said the TLC will also partner with community groups for some of its sessions. The group is planning a forum on sexuality to coincide with Pride Week activities, and will engage the LBGT community in its sessions. Another session on international development will include a member of Engineers Without Borders, a group which promotes human development through access to technology.
Open to suggestions for future discussions. The group can be reached at learningcoop@gmail.com.

- 30 -