The Communiversity continues to grow. This partnership initiative between Maynooth University, Local Leader Partnership Companies and Local Libraries is now in its sixth year. 2016 saw the involvement of the Southcity Partnership and the Ballyfermot Partnership for the first time with the Communiversity programme. This year we have started in Dolphin's Barn Library adding Chinese Studies and Media Studies to the list of modules that people have been able to enjoy. We are hoping to expand to Ballymun and Blanchardstown later in this year and further information on these programmes will be forthcoming. Courses are full for programmes currently running but if you are interested in participating in future courses and live in the following Partnership areas you should contact: Southcity Partnership contact Claudia or Lucy on (01) 4731 296; Ballyfermot Communivesity contact Declan on 01 6235 612. Northside Partnership contact Paul on 01 848 5630. A free Communiversity Concert and Lecture in Local History will take place in the ILAC Library on Thursday 11 May. 2017 12.45-2.30. Come along and find out what it's all about.
The Communiversity is a first point of contact pre-access programme where people can attend higher education courses in the familiar surroundings of their local libraries. To date Maynooth University has set up Communiversities in Dublin, Kildare, Louth and Monaghan. Each course begins with a taster session at which the tutors outline their planned programme also explaining to the student that they can ask for specific topics or other subjects to be explored. The tutors use short hand-outs on different subjects to stimulate discussion but they are directed by the interests of the group and are encouraged to follow their lead by being flexible with the modules they teach. The use of the public libraries as venues mean that university education can be brought out and delivered to people in their own communities.
One of the aims of the project is to de-mystify the idea of higher education in the minds of people who might feel alienated from universities and academics and to date the feedback from students has been overwhelmingly positive. When asked what they liked most about the course people spoke about the variety of subjects that were covered. They also commented on the professionalism of the lecturers/tutors and the fact that, they were not patronised but were being '... taught to think and not being told what to do.' This aspect of critical thinking and self directed learning is of enormous importance. The social aspect and the intergenerational make up of the groups play a very significant part towards community development.
This project is a good example of what can be achieved through partnership between different sections of the public service in implementing policy for the benefit of wider society. In some cases students have been stimulated to begin thinking about returning to education. For some, participation in the programme was enough in itself to forge new relationships with people in their own communities and combat a sense of isolation; the mix of ages and genders has been very important in achieving this. This is real community education in practice. The Department of Adult and Community Education is happy to talk to any Local Partnership Companies about the possibility of setting up a Communiversity in their area.