I’ve read a lot about engaging anthropology, but I came across a program run through Concordia that works to engage academia. The University of the Streets Cafe is a program that hosts conversations about social issues. They invite participation from a broad audience, and their website and information pamphlets highlight the importance of conversation as a way of learning:
That is the big question! Why not lectures, or talks or even participatory workshops to explore issues? Conversations put the individual’s experience, or in the case of a public conversation, the experience of many individuals, at the centre of the learning process. By creating an open space for discussion, everyone is a learner (even the guest!) and each person is also an expert and has a chance to share their perspectives, thoughts and questions.”
Experiences on this blog, and probably all blogs, have shown how difficult it is to develop conversations between different groups. Experts often want to speak to other experts, and expectations aren’t always met. This program points out how there ways of learning together, and that doing so is something that takes practice. The University of the Streets Cafe shares a lot in common with the academic blogsphere…
did I smell coffee?