by Andrew Ryder, Fellow at the University of Bristol, Associate Fellow at the Third Sector Research Centre, University of Birmingham, and Visiting Professor at Corvinus University Budapest.
It is my contention that universities are institutions of central importance in maintaining humanist values. Alas we live in age where such a vision seems to be at risk through an audit culture which seems to commodify and tame knowledge production. I come from a background of service provision and activism, as a teacher and later community organiser working for Gypsy, Traveller and Roma (GTR) communities, and have sought to base this work on emancipatory practice. Since I started lecturing full time in higher education five years ago, through employment at the Corvinus University Budapest and a series of fellowships at the University of Bristol and Third Sector Research Centre, Birmingham, I have sought to fuse my previous background of emancipatory work with knowledge production. This has primarily been achieved by promoting collaborative research with GTR communities. There is a growing interest in the co-production of research knowledge involving academics working in partnership with marginalised citizens and communities. However, the concept of community participation in research – certainly as equal partners – has been, and remains, contested. Is the knowledge generated ‘tainted’ by activism and engagement or can it be critical and objective? Continue reading