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Making and Remaking the Political: Putting the Politics Back into Teaching and Learning

Alasdair Blair

In 2013 the Department of Politics and Public Policy at De Montfort University established a Policy Commission whereby students would work with academic staff. The first Policy Commission set out 100 ideas to change Britain. The second set out 100 ideas to change Leicester. This paper reflects on the work of the Policy Commission, noting the manner by which the Commission engaged with students across the University. In so doing, the Commission not only brought the teaching of Politics into the lives of students outside of the Department's reach, but also more importantly established a 'political community' across the University. The work of the Policy Commission engaged students in the act of 'doing Politics'. This resulted in them having to compromise on their ideas and to negotiate among themselves. It also brought these ideas into a public environment and built resilience and self-confidence into the students that were engaged with the work of the Policy Commission. This paper argues that the Policy Commission is a means by which students are able to make and remake the Political landscape and in so doing connects students to the political world through a process of change that is part of a critical pedagogy. This marks a shift by moving the teaching of Politics outside the bounded nature of what can often be an oppressed and confined learning environment through structured regulations of what can and cannot be done because of the constraints of the likes of time and learning outcomes.

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