The Participatory Imperative; why addressing poverty with lived experience is vital for social justice

Dr Katy Goldstraw, Senior Lecturer, Staffordshire University

The Action on Poverty and Hardship course is committed to participatory teaching and activism. The title of this blog; the participatory imperative refers to the imperative to include, involve and empower people’s lived experience of poverty in anti-poverty learning, research and policy making. The learning and teaching approach of the Action on Poverty and Hardship staff teach is participatory, modelling the approach that we seek to nurture in the anti-poverty researchers and policy makers of the future.  

Participatory approaches to teaching on the Action on Poverty and Hardship course seek to involve and include students in the development, delivery and analysis of anti-poverty learning and activism. Participatory approaches are designed around the imperative to democratise knowledge and address power hierarchies by creating a more inclusive space for knowledge sharing. Recognising and valuing the knowledge and expertise that sits within the lived experience of poverty is vital to achieve social justice.

Participatory approaches to learning and activism framed within the course have so far included participation in the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty poetry jam led by ATD Fourth World, shared learning with invited voluntary and community groups, Voice of Hope, Stoke on Trent and Stoke on Trent Food Bank, participated in a wear it pink breast cancer campaign on campus and a partnership with Stoke City Football Club Sleep out. Learning and Teaching takes a participatory approach, with interactive activities and discussion and debates.  

The course team, staffed by SCLOPP innovators have taken a participatory approach to the curriculum development, working with a steering group of local and national voluntary sector organisations to reflect on the learning on offer, build connections and offer the students an opportunity to develop working relationships that will build their leadership experience. This opportunity to work alongside and reflect together with voluntary sector leaders complements the core activism of the course which has students engaged in work experience from the start of their studies.  

As a staff team we strongly believe that only by taking a participatory approach to learning which values the knowledge held by lived experience of poverty will we ever solve poverty.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *