OU needs you!

Part of the beauty and frustration of the Occupy movement is that we don’t know what it will do next.

But, as the fateful year of 2011 draws to a close, we can at least try to get a grip on what it has done so far. ‘Archiving’ Occupy is complicated, despite and because of the millions of words and tens of thousands of hours of audio and video that have been devoted to the phenomenon and that have emerged from within it.

But there are a few coherent streams of activity that we can look back upon and describe with some certainty. One of them is ‘Occupy University’, the series of talks/workshops/lectures that has run at Dublin’s Occupy Dame Street, and which started just a few days after the occupation itself began in October.

Anyone who has spent time at an Occupy site knows that the experience is to a great degree about conversations. Occupy University has been an attempt to create some specific conversations on topics of relevance to the movement, including but not limited to the economics of the current crisis and the role of social movements in addressing it. People with a wide range of backgrounds and expertise have come to the Dame Street camp - and occasionally, in bad weather, to the pub across the road - to help get the conversations started.

The result has been a learning experience in every sense of those words, one that offers a vision for how we share knowledge and information outside the increasingly commercialised structures of the so-called education system. And it hasn’t cost a cent.

There have been, unbelievably, 77 sessions in the ‘University’, give or take a cancellation or two, reaching back to 11 October. The website tells an extraordinary tale, of speakers ranging from community activists to academics, from economists to comedians. The ‘classes’ haven’t been large -20 is a big crowd in this ‘University’, and usually they have been far smaller - but, taken together, what an education they constitute!

Topics covered in the ‘University’ have been equally wide-ranging, including film, the euro, drugs, taxes, social media, the New Left, racism, war, Corrib, Gaza, NAMA, culture, class, capitalism, communism, revolution and even reform! And there is more to come...

As the camp hunkers down for the holidays, Occupy University is taking a short break. We would love to get more people involved in organising sessions, and in giving them. In the next ‘semester’ plans include sessions at universities and ITs, and one or more series of themed discussions at particular (indoor) venues. We want to make links with others who share our concerns and our vision. It has proven remarkably easy to convince people to give their time to this activity, but the circle needs to be wider, the activities more diverse, the intervention more pointed.

Occupy University needs you! {jathumbnailoff}

 Image top: wsmireland.