Master Class: Poetry & Creative Learning with the MasterCard Scholars

 

Upile

I’ve been delivering writing workshops for a long time now, most regularly at the Scottish Poetry Library to people who, though at various points in their writing careers, have poetry on the brain. Since starting as Projects and Engagement Coordinator for the Institute for Academic Development (IAD), it has been interesting to think about how my skills as a writer and writing teacher could be of use in my new work which has the wider focus of encouraging and exploring creative learning, innovation and collaboration across the University of Edinburgh.

One of my early meetings after starting here was with Johanna Holtan who used to run the Festival of Creative Learning which I now look after. She is a powerhouse and the job she has moved on to is running the University’s MasterCard Foundation Scholars Programme, which ‘supports the brightest and best African scholars with great potential but few educational opportunities’. When Jo found out that I am a poet, she asked if I would deliver a workshop for some of her scholars, and I was delighted to accept.

Jo mentioned that the scholars were having a visit from the poet Upile Chisala, and while I wasn’t able to attend her reading (which I was very sad about as I knew it would be amazing and from the reports of the scholars it certainly was), I wanted to respond to Upile’s poetry in my workshop. Jo works on the project with Stephen Kaye who sent me over some of Upile’s poems, and these were the starting point.

It was such an inspiring session, and all of the scholars produced work which was original, authentic and thrilling. We started by reading out a selection of Upile’s poems together and discussing them, then we did free writing with prompts like:

I am beautiful because…

and

I celebrate myself because…

and

I am a fire because…

We then wrote poems, shared them with one another and celebrated one another’s creativity and original vision. I think only one of the scholars was a poet who had written, performed and won awards before, along with her many other activities, so for the others I suspect the exercises were somewhat more unusual but they were all brilliant at diving in and having a go, and what each one wrote was really special.

It is encouraging to realise that poetry workshops can be used to work with people from various backgrounds (academic or otherwise) in this way, as I have always believed that reading and writing poetry is for everyone. Not everyone will do it all the time, and not everyone will be published, but everyone can enjoy and learn from poetry, and gain insights about themselves and how they communicate their inner life and work. We are already planning a poetry workshop as part of this year’s Beltane Annual Gathering, looking at how researchers can incorporate poetry workshops into the teaching and sharing of their work, and I’m hoping we can use poetry in other areas as well, as do other academics working at the IAD such as Daphne Loads. Daphne has a book coming out in which she explores engaging with poetry and other writings as a way into thinking about teaching practice and teacher identity. Due out in 2018, Rich Pickings: Creative Professional Development activities for University Lecturers, is to be published by BRILL (formerly SENSE).

Poetry can seem like a foreign language to people when they are not used to it, but one of the great things about it is that it is our own language used in new and exciting ways which are often even closer in form and structure to how we think, feel and dream, and ways we can all understand if we open our minds to the forms. Often when we try to communicate with one another we run up against the shocking realisation that not everyone thinks the same way we do, even though we’re all humans in bodies with minds, and yet if we embrace the diverse ways we think and express ourselves rather than closing ourselves off, we can learn so much. This is something poetry teaches.

Resilient Researchers

A great blog post from our IAD colleague Sara Shinton on resilience (including a discussion of what resilience actually is!)

iad4researchers

First of all a huge thank you to the speakers at the Resilient Researcher event which I was involved in today. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, resilience is my word of the year so I was really pleased to be able to work with two sponsors, SUPA and the IOP, to put on a day of talks, discussions and (best of all) live music to help some of our researchers understand and develop their thinking around this idea. It was a huge pleasure to work with Anne Pawsey from SUPA and the School of Physics and Astronomy on developing and delivering the day.

It was amusing that most of the speakers started by admitting they had looked up the word as part of their preparation. This echoes my own experiences of writing a guide to resilience for the IOP last year (in my pre-Edinburgh existence). My favourite definition was…

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Pop-Up Event | Law and Artificial Intelligence Hackathon

hackathon

Artificial Intelligence by GLAS-8, under a Creative Commons license

Is the future here? Not a long time ago when one came across a term “artificial intelligence”, one’s first thought about it was probably a sci-fi kind of concept where human-like machines perform mundane tasks. In the last decade, the technological developments, such as the use of smart technologies in the era of the Internet of things, have proved that once unimaginable hi-tech solutions can become a usual affair of our everyday lives.

Likewise, the development of machine learning and artificial intelligence has steadily influenced many industries. The approaches and methods of indexing and analysing information have advanced to the point that machines are potentially capable of replacing humans.

The legal field has not escaped the influence of advancement in technology.

The legal landscape has changed dramatically over the last decade with advances in technology, the launch of new types of law firms and more international firms than ever before. Notably, while there is still much to develop, artificial intelligence may be a game-changing innovation in the legal market.

Even though questions about the potential of artificial intelligence in the legal field have received a significant amount of academic attention, there is a still a lack of discussion among stakeholders. When practical tools that use artificial intelligence are developed, the questions of ethics and liability arise. Moreover, these developments mean that we already have entered a phase where machines do at least some work of lawyers.

Are we ready to accept the future and do we know what the full potential of artificial intelligence is? Will data scientists be employed along with lawyers by law offices in near future? This would mean that both lawyers and data scientists would need to learn to speak one language. Therefore, it is crucial to bring future professionals – Law and Informatics students – together to think about how artificial intelligence can transform the legal industry.

The event – Law and Artificial Intelligence Hackathon – which take place on Friday 31st March 2017 in the Outreach Centre basement, Holyrood campus, will deal with some of the questions discussed above. The event is open to Law and Informatics students, but anyone can join in for the panel discussion.

There is an opportunity to take part in the panel discussion with three distinguished speakers from the field. David Halliwell is Director of Knowledge and Innovation Delivery at Pinsent Masons LLP. Akber Datoo is the founder and managing partner of the legal data consultancy, D2 Legal Technology (D2LT). Jimmy Vestbirk is the founder of Legal Geek, the biggest LawTech startup company, and the co-founder of F-LEX, an on demand paralegal service.

As an added value, students will have an opportunity to develop some practical ideas at the workshop and pitch their ideas in front of a jury. The workshop has already been sold out but Law and Informatics students are encouraged to join the waiting list.

Get your tickets for the panel discussion or join the waiting list here.

Liva Skolmeistare

Edinburgh Law Connections

 

Meet Eat Drink Think

A great blog post on very interesting (and award winning!) event for #FCL17

A World of Words - Lucinda Byatt

Robbie Bushe from University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Open Learning organised this great event at the end of February as part of the University’s Festival of Creative Learning. It was held in collaboration with one of Edinburgh’s newest and most innovative restaurants, The Food Studio, brainchild of Benedict Reade and Sashana Souza Zanella. The restaurant was started in November 2015 and has garnered praise and The List’s Newcomer of the Year award in 2016.

Meet Eat Drink Think was run on three consecutive evenings and the purpose was to highlight the contribution of Europe and Europeans to Scottish food and culture. Each evening four university tutors from the Centre for Open Learning gave short talks on various aspects of food and culture, and the menu served by Food Studio was inspired by the subjects of these presentations.

MEDT photo

Alongside me were Carina Dahlstrom-Mair, John Gordon and Pasquale Iannone.  Carina started the proceedings with a lovely talk…

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Pop-up Event | Human Rights Objects & Photography: Looking at Human Rights Practice from New Angles

Camps-Kigali

20th Genocide Commemoration at Camps Kigali, 2014, Rwanda, by Astrid Jamar

This Thursday 16th March, Astrid Jamar (Political Settlements Research Programme (PSRP), Law School) and Laura Martin (Centre for African Studies) are pleased to invite you to a workshop which will be experimenting with creative teaching methods that involve the use of objects, photographs and academic texts to explore human rights and transitional justice. It will encourage participants to combine artistic and analytical skills to look at these disciplines from new angles.

Extensive human rights and transitional justice research underlines frictions between policy and practice. Many institutions are unable to assist individuals most impacted by these violations. Our innovative workshop aims to impact on students’ learning experiences by encouraging them to think beyond normative discourse and consider what human rights violations really are, what they mean to different individuals and how to engage with conflict-affected societies.

By using photographs, the workshop will encourage participants to think beyond standard learning practices. The participants will discuss issues raised in these pictures and how the selected academic quotes connect to the images. Throughout these discussions, the use of objects and images will underline ethical issues often obscured in traditional text-based teaching methods. It will encourage students to think critically and pragmatically about their future professional environment.

Registration is required so please sign up here. Priority will be given to students whose studies are related to transitional justice and human rights.

The workshop is a pop-up event which is part of and supported by the Festival of Creative Learning.

Astrid Jamar

Featured Event – See and Inspire – Art/Science Exhibition

see-and-inspire

A New Perspective by Harold Wolstenholme. 2016 Student Prize Winner.

This year will be the third time that I run an art exhibition where we celebrate the natural world. I really enjoy this time of year as the exhibition creates a great buzz in the Crew Building (where the exhibition takes place and where I spend the majority of my time). In my role as a University Teacher I am lucky to interact with many students but I find this event gives me the opportunity to talk to staff and students about what they are planning to submit (many of whom I haven’t seen before).

My overall aim for the exhibition across the years is to help us communicate our interest in science and nature better. This year I am asking a bit more of people and I want them to focus more on the unappreciated world. For instance, you likely pass splendid things everyday on your way to work or to your field site which you don’t notice or take the time to enjoy. For staff and students doing research there may be things in your data collection that are actually beautiful but you overlook.

This year the event is called See and Inspire and that is exactly what I hope to achieve from the event. Not only for people to be inspired by the beauty of the painting, photograph or sculpture which is being displayed but also in the natural environment or research on which it was based.

see-and-inspire-2

Art being displayed in the Crew Building, King’s Buildings

If you are interested in participating in this event, you need to get your submission in quick as spaces are filling up fast! If you would like to submit a painting, sculpture or photograph please contact me ASAP to reserve a space (Christina.Coakley@ed.ac.uk).

Deadline for submissions is Wednesday 15th February.

All artwork will be displayed from Monday 20th February and a formal drinks reception with special guest, prizes and potentially live music will take place on Thursday 23rd February, 2-4pm in the Crew Foyer.

This year’s event is in collaboration with The Arty Scientists and The Community BEES. The Community BEES are a group set up to help create a sense of community within the Ecology and Environmental Science Programme, click here to read their blog. The Arty Scientists are a group of scientists who also want to communicate science through art. They are hosting two workshops in the Festival of Creative Learning; make sure you check these out and click here to visit their events page.

For more information regarding the art exhibition please check out our events page or contact me at Christina.Coakley@ed.ac.uk.

We look forward to seeing you art!

To learn about our past events please use the links below.

2016 Art Exhibition Blog

2015 Art Exhibition Blog

Christina Coakley

If you like the sound of this event you may also be interested in: A Public Art Puzzle: A symposium on Sir Eduardo Paolozzi’s Tottenham Court Road Mosaic Arches at University of Edinburgh, Discovering the Unseen World, Communicating science with art: we’re lichen it!