From Ken Danford, North Star and Liberated Learners
“We are pretty busy with Liberated Learners these days. We have about a dozen centers in the network, and one opening in Dover, NH, called BigFish. There are a few more in the planning stages.
- Bucks Learning Cooperative – Langhorne, PA
- Princeton Learning Cooperative – Princeton, NJ
- Raritan Learning Cooperative – Flemington, NJ
- Bay State Learning Center – Dedham, MA”
The Western Institute for Social Research (“WISeR”) by John Bilorusky, PhD, WISR President
In 1975, the Western Institute for Social Research (WISR) was founded in part as an attempt to improve on both conventional and alternative higher education as they had evolved into the 1970s. At that time, many educators and students were debating the merits of the university’s role in the community and in social change, and the “relevance” of the curriculum to each individual student. After 43 years, and given growing income inequality, continued racial injustice, threats to our democracy, and the intensified and narrowing pressures to use education only for career advancement, WISR’s mission and learning methods are more needed and important than ever.[ www.wisr.edu/welcome ]
- WISR combines theory and practice. All students do active reading, writing, thinking, and discussing while they continue wrestling with specific, practical problems, with the guidance and support of faculty and their fellow students.
- WISR is intensive and individual. Each student builds, and continually revises, a personal learning plan and works with faculty, other students, and community resource people, on the problems s/he deeply cares about.
- WISR is a small, multicultural learning community. WISR is designed as a living experiment in cooperation among people of different races, cultures, and personal backgrounds. Active collaboration with others, not competition and distance, lend richness and interest to each person’s learning process.
- WISR is inquiry-oriented. Learning at WISR builds on the excitement of actively doing one’s own research, growing out of action, experience and observation, and dialogue with others. We aid and support one another to use curiosity, imagination, and critical mindedness, while probing for insights beneath the surface of everyday impressions, and searching for the interconnections between our immediate experiences and the “bigger picture.”
- WISR focuses on professional study that is also mindful of personal growth and values, along with developing leadership skills for community and/or professional transformation.
- WISR is dedicated to social change. WISR students and faculty are people committed to changing today’s oppressive patterns of race and gender relations, of wealth and poverty, of extreme power and powerlessness, in peaceful and constructive ways.
- WISR offers distance learning to all students, as well as the option to meet with faculty and students on site, in advising sessions, seminars, study groups and conferences. All seminars, study groups and conferences are available to students both on site and from a distance by internet and phone access to video and audio conferences with those on site.
- Most importantly, WISR helps students to build bridges to fulfill their plans for the future. We believe it is important to consciously and continually help students to design learning activities—action projects, research, and writings—that help to build bridges to the student’s desired career and life paths, and oftentimes this includes working toward a more sustainable and just future. We believe that people should not have their visions limited by the definitions of existing jobs and careers, and that they can, and should, be encouraged to be both visionary and realistic in pursuing a life path that makes sense to them. Consequently, WISR’s educational programs are suited for learners with many different types of future goals, including but not limited to: changing careers, pursuing advancement in one’s existing career, becoming more capable and more meaningfully engaged in one’s existing job or career niche, writing books and articles, organizing people and networks for social change, or creating new organizations and programs.