The School of Commons (SoC) is a community-based initiative dedicated to the study and development of decentered knowledge, located at the Zurich University of the Arts. Promoting a broad, integrative understanding of knowledge, we focus on matters of organization surrounding the production and mediation of knowledge. Founded in 2017 as a student-run space for self-organized education, our aim is to build an open environment that enables participants to collaboratively innovate, scrutinize, and discuss knowledge practices under their own direction. For this purpose, we invite public, collectives, and individuals of all disciplinary backgrounds to share their curiosity and become members of our epistemic community. Apart from opportunities to contribute to events and publications, we specifically offer temporary positions in three different ‘research labs’:
LEARN is an acronym for ‘learning environment and research nucleus’. LEARNs are collaborative, self-directed research projects supported by the SoC for the initial duration of one year. They are free in their methods, style, content, and results. They are collaborative units, consisting of at least two members. LEARN’s ought to cooperate with each other regarding the presentation of their work in the context of the SoC, that is, they cooperatively organize and decide how they are going to mediate their work publicly. LEARNs are selected on a peer-review basis by trusted members of our community at the beginning of each year. The application window for the first round of 2020 has now closed.
The Study-Lab is the mitochondrial hub of the SoC, building practical methods and approaches that enable their users to meaningfully engage with different sites and forms of knowledge production. The SoC hosts a varying number of local and international residents in two respective residency programs for an intense period of 2-3 weeks each. Residents are invited to rethink established ways of knowledge production and innovate knowledge practices accordingly. Their work cumulates in a short series of mediations of their results in a public context. We are currently preparing our selection-procedure for the first two residencies that will be held in Summer 2020.
The Studio is the RNA of our institutional apparatus, synthesizing and translating different topics pursued at the SoC. The Studio provides theoretical tools that allow participants of the SoC and public to fine-tune their practical inquiry and contextualize them within the larger field of knowledge self-/organization. The SoC annually invites 2-3 young researchers to build mediated ‘knowledge units’ (readings, conversations, found footage etc.) closely related to their own work, presented online and at the main events of the SoC. Participants are selected internationally and join the school for roughly nine months. While they work mainly independently on their own contributions, they build a decentralized research group discussing and synthesizing main theoretical issues surrounding the work of SoC. We are currently preparing our selection-procedure for the group of 2020.
With these labs, we hope to gather a wide range of participants, guests, and otherkindly contributors sharing their curiosity, skills, and vision. We offer personal support, financial resources, and a thriving community of peers and experts engaged in a kaleidoscope of topics. The content and position of the School of Commons is defined by our community rather than a predetermined program. Our aim is to enable self-organized learning and research while maintaining an adaptable and self-critical attitude, open to change and evaluation. In order to achieve and sustain a balanced management of the institution, the program managers actively integrate the wider community of the SoC in their decision-making process. For the purpose of mutual understanding and policy control, we aim to make our decisions according to a number of core norms and values:
[Collaboration] We understand self-organized education as a collective enterprise in which the participants jointly determine which form of practical research corresponds to their interests.
[Reciprocity] We are committed to fostering an educational environment in which all participants become active learners and co- creators of the SoC program.
[Pragmatism] Projects ought to be developed, assessed, and supported according to actual, practical circumstances rather than pre-established rules, values, and expectations.
[Impartiality] We accept contributions from any disciplinary and institutional background.
[Pluralism] We aim to gather a broad variety of people, topics, and viewpoints.
[Grass-Root] We don’t require any formal education or institutional legitimation in order to become a member of the SoC.
[Low Barriers] Contents of the SoC must be publicly accessible and entrance free. Participants present and debate their work and those of others in a respectful, relatable way. They pursue clarity and simplicity of expression and pay attention to the different needs of a diverse audience.
Our website is still under construction. Come back soon for updates and the German translation.