Another university is possible – one that really does live the values of the ‘common good’ but is also one where a new generation of students is created – a generation that lives our values, debates them with staff, and helps ‘co-create’ a curriculum that helps change Scotland, the UK and indeed the planet in this time of Climate Emergency.
Dr Ben Shepherd, of History/ Social Sciences department, Dr Gill Murray, Yunus Centre, and Laura Yapp, 2nd year Social Science student and member of Student Solidarity engaged their audience of staff and students with three short talks, which were so interesting that the conversations were still going after we had finished our allotted hour slot in the Student discussion space in the Students Association building, and had to take the conversations upstairs to the coffee space. (Thanks to Ewan Kerr for organising this!)
Ben as usual, used his encylopeadic knowledge of history and some great insights into what universities should do to help create democratically active citizens. His particular interest was how to help create a new generation of informed students willing and able to intervene positively into society to promote progressive values.
Gill looked at the lessons of the Covid pandemic and quoted three quite frightening facts. Firstly, that age standardised deaths were twice as hight for those living in the poorest 20% of the population than those living in the richest 20%. (As we know, GCU recruits more students from this first group, than any other Scottish university – apart from the University of the West of Scotland). Secondly that digital poverty became a severe barrier to poorer communities were there was a turn to on-line teaching during the pandemic – again something experienced by our staff’s observations.Thirdly that existing inequalities were exacerbated with a stalling of mortality improvements – with 300 thousand excess deaths caused due to austerity policies (figures from the Glasgow Centre for Population Health).
Laura, finished off by describing how relentless work (and FOIs) had unearthed the fact that although GCU direct investment in Fossil Fuels and other undesirable areas may have finished in 2017, indirect investment in this area had continued and was only drawing to a close now. Watch this space for further information on this soon.
This all followed a very collegiate, if also very dreich picket earlier in the morning where we said hello to three paramedics, Logan, Chloe and Phil, some of whom were student members of the union. Ben Shepherd was interviewed by the GCU postgrad journalists, on the Teach-In – (many thanks Ben). However, we missed Karen and Catriona’s usual uplifting Spotify playlists, and were left with granddad’s choice from myself till Suzanne stepped in to bring a bit of quality back.
Will see you all tomorrow and Wednesday at the main gate from 8!
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