This webinar will encourage attendees to revisit youth and community education through the lens of ‘thinking co-operatively’, asking questions about what would be required to reset youth and community education as a practice grounded in co-operative values and principles.

Youth and community work is cited as having its roots in ‘an approach to working in neighbourhoods that helps local people to decide, plan and take action to meet their needs’ (Ledwith, 2005)

A short history of youth and community work

The earliest forms of youth and community education were often set in the grass roots context of neighbourhoods they aimed to serve and worked in partnership with local people to construct learning, action and social change.

Today some youth and community education is located within institutions: schools, colleges and universities, where institutions prescribe the terms of engagement for youth and community learning, often requiring the individual to bend towards institutional procedures, comply with predetermined criteria and make do with what is ‘on offer’.

The challenge 

The tensions between the neoliberal, marketised institutions jar with the Youth Work and Community development (YWCD) sector values. However, the YWCD field remains strongly committed to informal learning, with a focus on grassroots engagement.

It also maintains a strong tradition and affinity with the co-operative movement, sharing many of the same values including equity, mutuality, recognition, care, solidarity, democracy and social justice. Higher education plays an important role in opening up possibilities and imagining alternative ways through research, teaching and learning and organising differently. 

The webinar

The webinar will explore three aspects of educational practice with a short, introductory, presentation followed by virtual break out groups and a final plenary discussion.

1. Teaching and Learning Differently

Speaker: Paul Fenton (The Professional Association of Lecturers in Youth and Community Work) followed by breakout discussion

2. Organising Differently

Speakers: Gill Hughes and Christine Smith

3. Researching Differently

Speaker: Janet Batsleer (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Join us

To help us manage numbers, we're asking all those interested in joining the webinar to book a free ticket below. You will then receive further information, including details of how to join the session.


The outcomes will contribute to a continuing conversation between The Co-operative College and The Professional Association of Lecturers in Youth and Community Work in assessing the potential for shaping future developments in youth and community education.

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