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The Annual Conference of UK’s Professional Association of Lecturers in Youth and Community Work has a very interesting and provocative title this year: “Expressions of Freedom: Revisiting the role of Young and Community Work as Emancipatory Practice”. This conference will take place at the University of Hull on 5-7 July 2017. In the year that Hull is celebrating its status as the UK City of Culture, the University of Hull will host the Annual Conference of an association that represents youth and community work educators, academics and researchers across and beyond the UK.  The City of Hull is curating four seasons of culture and July marks the beginning of the City’s summer seasonal theme of ‘Freedom’ with events that ‘celebrate Hull’s rebellious streak and its freedom of thought, unbound by convention.’ The City is setting out, in its third season, to:

not only explore the pivotal role Hull played in the emancipation movement [notably through William Wilberforce] that helped to ignite the still unfinished global journey towards equality and social justice for all; but also to look at broader interpretations of freedom as a platform to create and debate, share and enjoy, reflect and reimagine.

The Association’s Annual Conference is embracing this seasonal theme of freedom by revisiting the role of youth and community work as emancipatory practice. A principle that has underpinned the youth and community work movement since its fledging activities in the 1800’s and is, perhaps, all the more urgent in the 21st century when so many young people and communities are increasingly disenfranchised, marginalised or ‘left behind.’ Part of the conference, there will be three seminar streams, delivered in partnership with BERA‘s (British Educational Research Association) Special Interest Group on Youth Studies and Informal Education:

Freedom of Expression: Youth and Community Work as a creative space for expression through the arts, music and culture

Freedom of Speech: Youth and Community Work as a vehicle of young people’s and community voice, political activism and social change

Freedom of Mind: Youth and Community Work as a process of liberating (informal) education

On 7 July, I will be part of a seminar under the first stream to present a paper on the potential of youth work as emancipatory museum practice. I will join other scholars and researchers interested in the theme of ‘Freedom of Expression’ and share knowledge looking at the possibilities of youth and community work to vibrate new museum educational approaches. The topic has strong resonance to my research exploring how young people from socially disadvantaged backgrounds engage with museums. In the interplay of power relations between museums and young people at the margins of society, the paper will explore theoretical underpinnings of youth and community work in museums in concert with critical pedagogical perspectives. The paper is shared here.


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