Is this not every academic’s dream? A keen, engaged audience (likely because you are providing interesting, dynamic and interactive content):
It is 3.55pm on a dark winter’s afternoon, but the philosophy seminar on “Radical democracy and Rousseau” shows no sign of flagging.
Eager, earnest students are still desperate to make their final points before the hour is up, awaiting that split-second pause that will let them jump back into the debate.
Close your eyes and you might well think you were listening to a typical undergraduate tutorial, complete with idealistic, left-wing students keen to challenge their classmates, the lecturer and society in general – that is until you hear the sound of the No 76 bus to Waterloo thunder past just a few yards away.
This is actually Tent City University, the centrepiece of the Occupy London camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral, a “pop-up” seat of learning spinning off from the anti-capitalist protest movement.
The flimsy plastic sides of the makeshift marquee are the only thing that separates visitors from the freezing elements and the din of central London traffic, but Tent City University has become one of the camp’s big success stories.
Thousands of people have sat down here to listen to academics, writers and political activists hold forth on a variety of subjects since the camp was set up on 15 October last year.
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Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.