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Association for Academic Outreach Conference 2019 to be held at Warwick this April

Dr. Anil Awesti, Senior Teaching Fellow and Tutor and Jim Judges, Senior Academic Technologist will be reflecting on two examples of the Centre for Lifelong Learning outreach activities at the Association for Academic Outreach 2019 Annual Conference on 27 April 2019.

The conference, which will be held at the University of Warwick and supported by the University of East Anglia, aims to advance critical reflections on national and international higher education outreach policy and practice and its implications for practitioners, academics, students and their communities.

Presenting under the title ‘Post-truth politics and public trust: how can universities regain legitimacy in the public sphere?’, Dr Anil Awesti and Jim Judges will be analysing how universities can work to regain their legitimacy in the public sphere, particularly amongst disadvantaged communities, in an era of ‘post-truth’ politics and a seeming lack of public trust in expert knowledge. Engaging with local communities, specifically those with low rates of participation in higher education, is at the core of the mission of the Centre for Lifelong Learning (CLL) at the University of Warwick.

The workshop presents two differing examples of recent outreach activities organised by CLL. Anil Awesti will reflect on the experience of teaching a free, open access ‘Analysing UK-EU Brexit Negotiations’ monthly seminar series amongst members of the public in a city which voted ‘Leave’. Additionally, Jim Judges will examine the initiative of using student Digital Skills Mentors to provide support with the use of technology to public users of two local libraries, a programme which was launched in November 2018.

"The era of ‘post-truth’ politics and a seeming lack of public trust in expert knowledge poses a series of existential questions for higher education institutions. The CLL is at the forefront of engaging and creating links between the University and local communities." Dr. Anil Awesti says. "However, reflecting on the outreach work of Jim and I highlights the benefits and challenges of undertaking such work and the commitment required in order to facilitate fundamental change."

The papers aim to analyse the extent to which university outreach activities are effective in tackling inequality and disadvantage experienced in communities which surround higher education institutions and explore the role of universities in public engagement in a period in which ‘people in this country have had enough of experts’ (Gove).