Minutes from our Education and Social Change Think Tank Meeting, March 3, 2012

Present: Art Warmoth, Michael McAvoy and Marilyn Jackson

Marilyn suggested we call ourselves Education and Social Change Think Tank. Art and Michael discussed various related phrases, Education is Social Change, Activism is Scholarship, and vice versa. We discussed the relationship between education, social change, and degrees in WISR’s core mission.  Marilyn suggested we keep the title simple but develop some writing on this topic for a possible brochure or newsletter and definitely for blogging at wisrville.  We agreed that the Educating for a Change blog would be the best place, and Marilyn said she would add Art and Michael as authors to that blog.

We discussed several areas where WISR could offer programs that could promote social change and help the 99% movement.

  • Community-based coaching/mentoring, events, and seminars/classes combining face-to-face and online pedagogy. We discussed different venues such as the oldNewCollegebuilding or places inBerkeley.
  • Integrating all levels of community-based education from pre-school through graduate school.
  • Content offerings using expertise of faculty beyond action research and MFT, including pedagogy, alternative economics, and health care.
  • Development of funded project by WISR faculty that would employ students and thus help offset their tuition costs.
  • Mentoring and coaching for students in other postsecondary programs who do not get enough of it from the faculty in the program in which they are matriculated.
  • Periodic faculty-mentored portfolio evaluation requiring active synthesis and self-assessment by learners (this satisfies bureaucratic assessment requirements and offers students the opportunity to create a useful persona in today’s information rich virtual environment).
  • Separate the costs of offering learning facilitation, the cost of maintaining state approval to offer degrees, and basic fixed overhead (e.g. rent, maintaining nonprofit status) so that various educational activities can be priced in relation to actual operating costs.

Both Art and Michael talked about the importance of portfolios as a way for self-assessment and to qualify oneself for a job.  Michael has written materials on what they were using atNewCollegebefore it folded.  It was suggested that each semester students tie together their learning and do a self-assessment.  Marilyn said she had just been thinking that it would be good to meet with students once a year to show them their WISR portfolio and to get their help in keeping it updated.  This will look good to the state if the portfolios are in good shape as well.  Both Art and Michael have samples of portfolios to share.

Michael talked about a student mentoring program inPalo Altoand how WISR could help with that. He mentioned Theodore Roszak who wrote the Making of a Counter Culture Elder.  Art said that the learning done in the 60’s through 80’s could be helpful for what we’re going through now; there is so much that people from those movements could offer younger people today.

Michael mentioned Learning Alliance of New York as a good model for continuing education, though it is no longer functioning.

John’s comment on using scripted improvisation was discussed as a good concept to think about in terms of how to combine the best of both worlds to have a functioning organization.

Art mentioned some events on economic alternatives that are taking place in SonomaCounty:

-On Sunday, April 1, Praxis Peace Institute, in collaboration with MondragonUniversityand DominicanUniversity, will present two events on Models for a New Economy:  Worker Ownership & Entrepreneurship.  The Mondragon Corporation in Northern Spainis the largest and most successful network of worker-owned cooperatives in the world.  There will be a workshop by the MondragonTeamAcademyfrom 10- 4, and a program of presentations by Mondragon and Bay Area Coop representatives on worker owned businesses from 7-9.  More information is available at http://www.praxispeace.org.

-Community Action Partnership, The Leadership Institute, the GoLocal Cooperative, the Sonoma State TimeExchange Club, and the local branch of the Public Banking Institute are planning a symposium on “Engineering the Turnaround: Community Approaches to Job Creation” for April 7.  Strategies to be explored include Time Banking, Local Currency, Public Banking, Micro-Banking, Worker Owned Co-ops, and Foreclosure Moratorium.

-Art is planning a course on “Economic Democracy: The Next Revolution,” starting sometime in July.  There will be 5 Saturday face-to-face meetings with two weeks of online dialogue in between.  The course also will be available online. It will cover structural alternatives to the conventional monetary and banking system currently in use as strategies to promote sustainability and economic recovery. It will also consider topics that still need to be addressed from a whole systems perspective, including pension and tax reform.  The course will be co-sponsored by the WISR.  Marilyn suggested we have an introduction at WISR on a Saturday and we discussed doing it in June, on a Saturday after the 15th.

We discussed offering to show You Got To Move on the Saturday after the conference in the evening at WISR on the big screen which should be available by then.


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