Curious Communities and Critical Citizens report

Fred Edwards Trust logoThe Fred Edwards Trust has produced a report of its activities in 2015, which focused on active citizens and empowered communities. The report explores the potential role of 'popular education' in fostering critical thinking by citizens and community-based organisations.

In  September 2015 the Trust joined forces with SCDC to organise a ‘Curious Communities & Critical Citizens' event in Perth. This event gave individual active citizens, community groups and professionals from public and third sector organisations the chance to share their own experiences of education for active citizenship and to learn from those involved in putting popular education into practice both in Scotland and overseas.

The report, which is partly based on the findings of this event, provides a series key points regarding popular education, including:

  • If citizens and communities are to be expected to meet the demands now being placed on them to participate in decision-making and to help shape and sustain the fabric of local communities, as is increasingly the case, they need to have the knowledge and skills to critically analyse policies and fully understand democratic structures. Popular education approaches would help to achieve this.
  • While the term ‘popular education' has lost currency in Scotland, the philosophy of citizen and community learning for social change remains to some extent.
  • There is a lot of good work going on, some of which could be described as ‘popular education', although there does not appear to be a common language around this kind of work.
  • There is a need for access to training and support in popular education approaches and the use of tools.
  • There is a potential role for community learning and development professionals to play a significant role in supporting popular education and a view that the focus of CLD should shift from employability to empowerment.
  • There needs to be a re-calibration of relationships between public bodies and communities (including individual citizens, community groups and the third sector) to foster genuine local partnerships for social good.

Download the report to read the full set of key points and appendices.