Working Class Academics: A Conference

Online on Tuesday 14th and Wednesday 15th July 2020

Image: WE ARE BLACKBURN by Cath Ford

The Bureau Centre for the Arts

Going Online

The decision to move the conference was not very hard to make, it was quite obvious that we could not all meet together and sit together BUT we can STILL BE TOGETHER.

Rather than communal spaces in Blackburn we can stay in our various spaces of isolation and hold a conference that we very much need. 

If anything, the COVID-19 crisis shows class as a fundamental aspect of all we do and how we live as a society.  As working class academics it is important that we have a place to voice the issues that are presented every day – the upside down reality of the mega-wealthy being largely useless and demanding more and more support – while the powerful lifeblood of society reveals itself as the underfunded, unrewarded key workers.   The need for us to find a place to have this conference will not be shut down by the lock-down of movement and physical coming together.  Just as this time offers a powerful reminder of the fragility of the world in which we live, we can meet online and establish the responses we might generate to challenge the unfairness, inequality of a conventional, exclusive education Academy.

We will build this together.  I have never done this before – just as I had never been involved in organising a working-class conference before.  We will begin knowing the first time is a great time and we will make this memorable as a thing we created collectively. 

We will extend the call for papers/ abstracts until Friday 17th April.  These will require presentations that can be delivered remotely.  We still intend to hold at least a day conference where we meet online to chat/create/debate/dialogue and argue.  Positive, supportive, developmental communication is what we hoped to generate and that can happen just as well in these spaces.  Tuesday 14th July was Day one, so let’s stay with that.  If we get enough submissions, we can have a second day on Wednesday 15th July. 

Going online, becoming virtual, requires a different set of skills and no one set either.  We will do what we can to help everyone that wants to present to be able to do so.  Already, we have asked submitters of abstracts if they can do their work online – so far, we have had a very positive response and that warms the heart.

In short, the proposal is that we take the submissions and move to a designated online space – upload the videos/files/presentations/films and then have live chat/Q & A after these have been viewed.  A few key thoughts and suggestions have led us to start off with these pointers:

  • We use pre-recorded to allow as many as possible to access and not reliant only on those with bandwidth/ network or devices that allow live presentations as a feasible.
  • We allow as any type of submissions you are comfortable in making. These can be voiced over PowerPoints. Films shot on a phone, professional films, podcasts, audio files, documents, images – anything we can share digitally and that you can make. 
  • We will develop a network of supporters and the process of submitting will ensure you have access to others that can help develop the presentation with technology you may be unfamiliar with. Examples might include, recording an interview, turning images into a slide presentation, helping edit films, putting sound to slideshows.
  • Conversation/communication is essential and we will host real-time discussion spaces after each presentation. But…
  • ….we recognise that streaming ‘live’ requires additional expense and we will also host asynchronous conversations with every presenter engaging in online discussion for two days past the event itself.

This is the first step.  Please continue to write and submit your abstracts, it is your voice we wanted to hear and that remains the sole purpose of the conference. 

If you have purchased tickets for the gallery event, we are processing refunds right now.  We also have the opportunity to continue to support the shift to online in return for a First edition print from artist Jamie Holman.  We will send out details of the print in the next day or two.

We are unsure how this will work but we know we can make it happen together.  Please stay involved and help make it happen.  Help is required in a number of ways, contact us to add your expertise.  We will also have a subscription/ donation option rather than selling tickets.  More about in the next weeks.

Much love