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Links with Schools

Outreach work with school-aged students

StudentsPPR runs a number of activities and events for schools. These include on-campus events for Sixth Formers aimed at encouraging applications to Lancaster. The most ambitious and extensive work has been undertaken in the mindOUT programme mounted originally by Philosophy. In response to the rapidly increasing interest in philosophy among students in schools and sixth-form colleges, outreach and on-campus study events for students from Year 5 to Sixth Formers (including support for A-level students and teachers) have been available since 2005. The programme has involved students from some 40 different schools across Lancashire, Cumbria, Cheshire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester.

This programme continues, and has now been extended to include events around political and religious studies themes. For more details, see below.

Want to study at Lancaster ?

We are naturally keen to encourage both students and their teachers to consider Lancaster as an excellent place to do a degree in Politics and International Relations, Philosophy or Religious Studies. To find out more about undergraduate study in these disciplines, please use the tabs at the top of this page.

You can find out more about studying at Lancaster, and about visit days, open days and campus tours by visiting Lancaster's main website.

Teachers who would like to discuss group visits to the Department, to learn more about the courses in PPR, should contact Dr Brian Black.

Within the subject area of Politics and International Relations there are occasional on-campus study events for sixth formers, with the specific intention of encouraging undergraduate applications to Lancaster. These events are co-ordinated by a designated member of staff, Dr Mark Garnett, and involve "master-class" lectures given by himself and other academic colleagues. Events are free of charge to schools/students attending.

mindOUT: Philosophy, Politics and Religion for Schools

This programme offers sessions that are inclusive, challenging and involving. Events introduce and explore key concepts in the relevant areas, introducing classic figures and writings as appropriate. Our methods are informed by academic teaching, 'philosophy for children' methodology and extensive school experience. We combine film clips, stories, pictures, role-play, games and other stimuli with group and individual work, structured research and whole-class teaching in order to engage all students to the fullest possible extent.

We work with younger students on exciting and surprising questions:

  • Could animals ever talk?
  • Could your pet be your best friend?
  • What does it mean to be brave?
  • What's fair?
  • What makes you you?
  • Can anyone tell you what's right?

At this level, activity-based thinking about ideas and concepts sparks creativity and develops key skills in communication, enquiry and evaluation.

For older students we extend the citizenship curriculum at Key Stages 3/4, or Sixth Form General Studies, by addressing topical political, moral and social issues, including:

  • new biomedical science and technology;
  • climate change and sustainability;
  • mental health, deviance and morality;
  • communities, rules and laws.
  • evolution and religion (visiting Planet Dawkins);
  • terrorism and security
  • freedoms and their erosion in the surveillance society;
  • fundamentalisms (how science, knowledge, culture and religious commitment interact).

Grappling with the underlying concepts here - rights, responsibility, knowledge, the role of science, "nature" - is thinking for real, while effectively developing learning and thinking skills. Reasoned argument and critical engagement build team-working and participation. Structured research, group and individual work reinforce creative, responsible, and reflective learning.

Years 5/6 to 11

Outreach and on-campus study days for students from various age-groups. These are arranged in response to specific requests. They can also be combined with campus visits. In some circumstances these can be free to participating schools.

Sixth Forms

  • Sixth-Form Study Days for students working on topics for AS/A2
  • Extension events introducing students to structured thinking about issues of contemporary importance.

Engaging with Philosophy

We have also developed an alternative to the current Philosophy A-level using the new Extended Project Qualification. Find out more about Engaging with Philosophy including sample materials.

For further details, contact John Foster or phone 01524 592655.

Homer Simpson and Socrates. You know I just can't live an unexamined life.

Event Review

Winning Review of one of our outreach courses (featured in review of the month, Aspire, the house magazine for the former National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth, Spring Edition March 2005):

'Philosophy - the big questions'

by Cathy Spence, aged 14, from Cheshire

We all gathered patiently outside, eager to begin the day discussing thought-provoking topics and issues. I have never studied philosophy before but the subject interested me considerably. I have always had an inclination for questioning ideas and beliefs.

After a short brief on the topic we were about to embark on, we were presented with the first philosophical question of the day - "can we ever really know anything?" To begin with, I had a strong opinion on one side of the argument. Nevertheless, as we were presented with further opinions and viewpoints, I realised that it was not that simple and I was now more confused! Even as we uncovered more and more ideas, the questioning increased.

As the day progressed, we moved on to our next session - analysing arguments. We looked at how the arguments were constructed and how they could prove or disprove philosophical theory.

After a short lunch break we had an ardent desire to return to our work. Subsequently, we ventured into the computer laboratory to play on a variety of philosophical internet games. I found these to be extremely amusing, yet on the other hand very enlightening! Afterwards, we looked at an entirely new topic: "can the body be separated from the mind?" This issue raised many engaging opinions and provoked a heated debate.
Finally, at the end of the day, we were required to write our own views on a philosophical idea - using all of the techniques we had discovered throughout the day. This was a very challenging exercise!

After a very tiring yet satisfying day, I have learnt much more in the field of philosophy. It has taught me to think in depth and much more clearly about some aspects of life and not take everything at face value as we are often inclined to do.

mindOUT Core Members

John Foster (Honorary Research Fellow)

Photo of John Foster

BA in English (Cambridge), PGCE (Leeds), MPhil in Philosophy (London). Formerly a school teacher, John has researched and published in the areas of environmental philosophy and policy. He has experience teaching philosophy at postgraduate, undergraduate and GCE A-level and to school students at Key Stages 2,3 and 4.
Email John Foster.

Dr Myfanwy Williams (Honorary Teaching Fellow)

Poto of Myfanwy Williams

BA in Philosophy (Cambridge), MA in Genetics, Culture and Society (Lancaster), PhD in Philosophy (Manchester). Research interests in ethics, philosophy of psychiatry and philosophy of mind. Philosophy teaching experience at undergraduate, Sixth Form and Key Stages 2,3 and 4 levels.

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Department of Politics, Philos ophy and Religion County South, Lancaster University, LA1 4YL, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 1524 594260  Fax: +44 (0) 1524 594238 Email: ppr@lancaster.ac.uk

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