Last Wednesday the 22nd of March 2017, I joined in a celebration of the Learning Together cooperative learning approach as it is currently being conceptualised and practised at Liverpool John Moore University’s School of Law.
Building on wonderful experiences of institutional co-design, driven at the University of Cambridge, the LJMU leaders of the module, Drs Helena Gosling and Lawrence Burke, have decided:
- To bring together students from academia and lived experience into the same university environment: lecture rooms, university libraries, intranets and all.
- To define us as university students, not learners, who are led but who also lead – and above all, learn and become comfortable with evidencing our intuitions.
- To make a lived experience, from both service users, volunteers and staff of the Criminal Justice system, as well as MA students themselves, a common and fundamental underpinning of the direction and content of the module.
- Finally, to encourage the fullest participation of everyone who wishes, in Dr Helena Gosling’s words, to make a gift to the class within those circles of Learning Together trust.
Below, you can find most of the presentation I gave that glorious afternoon. But I was only one amongst many other thoughtful and once suffering souls.
Towards a sensory criminology?
My second goal with the presentation you will see, which is a little more than the presentation that day, is to begin – in some toe-dipping and tentative way – to rehearse and move towards what I have begun to call a criminology of the senses. Here, like some others in the academia of criminology, we are little by little looking to reintroduce the “I” of the researcher and reader, of the men and women and children of lived experiences, back into the fields and dynamics of academic delivery and study.
What I think those of us who are beginning to believe in this approach hope may happen is that via such consistent and damning contact with those senses, we will find it more and more difficult to conceptualise criminology in terms of state-sanctioned punishment and violence. Put yourself almost literally in the shoes of the brutalised, and maybe, one day, we shall brutalise less.
This is certainly my hope.
I do hope it will be yours.
If you do wish to contact me, I am @zebrared on Twitter; @miljenko_williams on Instagram, at miljenko_williams on Skype, and my email for LJMU currently can be reached by sending me your communication to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Look forward to engaging with yous!