There has been an abundance of enthusiasm for a new School for Civil Society. It’s clear that many people have opinions about what this school can be.
What are the key things from your perspective that are important to consider in our efforts to build a school for civil society?
nonpartisan, positive/safe space where no questions are bad questions
1) Openness (I mean real openness!) 2) Good communication skills (capacity of dialogue) 3) Happiness 4) Engagement
While being open to new ideas and original input can be good, I personally feel that it is very important to examine the notion of civil society in terms of its historical background in political economy. The civil sphere was clearly differentiated from the political sphere and the economic sphere. If the state and the market are also included in the conceptualization of civil society then you simply wind up with a very abstract idea of “society” in general.
1. Working with effective organizations
-Organizations should have clear goals, strong reporting measures and have priorities which sync up with our priorities.
2. Being at forefront in responding to social, environmental and economic change/challenges.
-This includes not just working with organizations which are responding to such changes, but being a centre of excellence for responding to such changes. In other words, say if there is massive drought in Ontario, don’t just wait for an NGO to start working on it, create an environment where NGOs who want to work on it, come to you for help and guidance.
3. Tackling Youth Unemployment through all of U of G community
-This can be done by two ways. First, Making sure that the School works with appropriate organizations. Secondly, and more importantly, creating links through U of G coursework/co-ops/voluntary activities that help youth build skills that will help them in the labour market.
1. Pay attention to growth of Coursera etc. Offer free online courses every semester (but change them up) as way to engage and also draw in students for fuller programs.
2. Don’t be anti-business—take the point of view that business can be positive force for change. In fact it once was….
3. Be systems oriented. Focus research on system level changes required to solve civil society related issues.
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