Affirmative Ethics

Creating a Community Education Imaginary

I am a PhD student at The University of Huddersfield and if you are reading this it is probably because you have seen a link from the mass observation survey which is my key research tool.

(You can access the survey here).

I’m conducting this research by taking an affirmative posthuman approach to ethics. By this I mean I’m not relying on an external framework because that might cause me not to figure things out for myself. Instead, guided by the ten components of a Thinking Environment, I have a daily practice of checking in with thinking, to ensure that every one of us can contribute without risk.

What is #FEImaginary about?

#FEImaginary has two parts.

Firstly, I am attempting to retheorise community education in England through a posthuman lens: ‘an affirmative move towards new alternatives’ (Braidotti, 2016). I am doing this by reading lots and talking with people in various face-to-face and online spaces, whose thinking provokes my own.

Secondly, I am hoping to create a Community Education Imaginary of what those alternatives could be, one which goes way beyond the limits of my own imagination by crowd-sourcing ideas from many. I’m doing this by putting out a survey on social media which contains one simple, open question, in the spirit of the mass observation movement, which invited responses from anyone who wanted to contribute. I’m hoping for 200 responses (fingers crossed).

Why do you want to hear from me?

I’m casting the net wide, because newness does not always come from people who are used to the limitations of old thinking. I say this with the greatest respect – and include myself in drifting back to referencing what already is. So of course I want to hear from you if you’ve ever been involved in community education (adult learning, community learning), wherever in the world that was. And I also want to hear from you if you have never had any involvement. What do you imagine community education could be, even if you don’t know what it presently is?

So the more, the merrier. I’m inviting the freshest and most left-field of ideas, so don’t hold back.

What will I be asked to do if I take part?

If you decided to take part, this would involve completing an online survey anonymously. It has three parts:

  1. Answering a single, open, mass observation question, in your own words. This is to bring ‘newness’ into the study.
  2. Share some self-chosen aspects of your identity. This is to help me see any patterns which emerge from the question responses.
  3. Complete an ethical permission form. This is to establish that you fully understand what you have signed up to do.

What are the possible benefits from taking part?

Mass observation, like all crowd-sourcing, has a delayed pay-off, but I’m hoping that the insights you share will contribute to a re-imagining of community education which can become real and meaningful. How this happens depends on how effective the research is. I will be exploring this in my final written piece.

So no direct benefits to you, except that I hope you will enjoy being part of something which is affirmative and hopefully useful.

Do I have to take part?

No, your participation is entirely voluntary.

What if I change my mind?

Once you have submitted your survey responses, you are of course free to withdraw from any further participation. In theory, your survey response can be withdrawn and I am happy to do this. In practice, it may be difficult to figure out which response is yours, as the survey is anonymous. If you think you might withdraw at some point, it’s worth noting the precise date and time you submitted the survey. We can then check responses from around that time against your IP address (the unique trace left by your computer or device).

What are the possible disadvantages and risks of taking part?

Unless you choose to give a response which identifies you, you will be completely anonymous. This minimises risk to you. If you do choose to write anything which makes you identifiable, however broadly, we will redact this so that if your words appear publicly they cannot be traced to you.

Will my contribution be identifiable?

Your contribution will not be identifiable, unless you choose to make it so, by giving detailed personal information in your response. If you do this, I will redact it from anything that gets published.

Potentially, you are identifiable via your IP address (the unique trace left by your computer or device). In practice, it would take a world-class hacker to trace your IP address back to you. Nobody is going to do this.

How will I use the information you have shared with me and what will happen to the results of the research study?

I will use the information you have shared with me only in the following ways:

I will use it for research purposes only. This will include my PhD thesis and other publications (for example journal articles). I may also present the results of my study at academic conferences. I will share anonymised ‘soundbites’ on social media. In the interests of co-production, your data may be used in future research and evaluation under exactly the conditions I lay out here.

In writing up the project I will only use anonymised quotes from your response to the mass observation question, so that although I will use your exact words, you cannot be identified.

The survey responses will be saved in an encrypted file, once any personal information shared in them is redacted. In accordance with University guidelines, I will keep the data securely for a minimum of ten years.

What if I have a question or concern?

If any thing at all concerns you or makes you curious, please contact me or either of my supervisors:

Lou Mycroft

loumycroft@loumycroft.org (you can also contact me at louise.mycroft@hud.ac.uk if you want to reassure yourself that I am affiliated with the University of Huddersfield).


James Avis j.avis@hud.ac.uk

Martin Purcell m.purcell@hud.ac.uk

If you have any concerns or complaints that you wish to discuss with a person who is not directly involved in the research, you can also contact the Dean of the Graduate School, whom I do not know personally:

Nigel King n.king@hud.ac.uk


Braidotti, R. (2016). Posthuman Critical Theory. In: Critical Posthumanism and Planetary Futures. Springer. p.13-32

This study has been reviewed and approved by the
Research Ethics Committee at The University of Huddersfield