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School of Commons 2024
Call for projects: The application deadline has been extended to the 6th of Dec 2023, at 23.59pm CET .
School of Commons, a global community learning space, is looking for individual and collective projects to form the SoC informal learning space from April 2024 - February 2025.
For 2024, we will be selecting 10 Funded Projects: each receiving a total budget of 3,500CHF (- 8.1%VAT) alongside access to publishing opportunities, accommodation in Zürich, mentors/speakers, workshops on peer learning, collaborations and more. And 7 Self-funded Projects: which gain access to publishing opportunities, accommodation in Zürich, mentors/speakers, workshops on peer learning, collaborations, and more.
For 2024, SoC wants to offer ‘solidarity positions’ to persons who would like to participate in the SoC programme but do not need our financial support. If you are in a financially stable position and are not in need of a project budget, however, you’d still like to participate in our programme, please select "solidarity position” below. We do not wish to encourage unpaid labour, so please only select this option if you are in a financial position to do so. By choosing a solidarity position you give space to others who are not in a position to support their participation in SoC.
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What is School of Commons?
School of Commons is a community-based initiative dedicated to peer learning, and the study and development of self-organized knowledge production, located at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK).
We have supported 140 projects since our foundation in 2017, with the content and position of SoC defined by our community. Research is conducted as peer-based collaborative endeavours with annually changing members. Each year brings together a wide range of participants, guests, and contributors who share their curiosity, skills, and visions. We offer personal support, financial resources, and an active community of peers and experts engaged in a wide range of topics.
SoC’s programme is developed bottom-up rather than top-down; instead of providing a fixed curriculum, we encourage our participants to actively shape our programme, either by organizing and hosting events themselves or by inviting guest speakers and tutors who are relevant to their research. SoC is there to support and help organize the educational programme you would like to have.
In short, SoC:
Is a global community-learning space dedicated to the study and development of self-organized knowledge through commons-based methods and practices
Is located at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), but mostly hybrid in format, taking place online, with some select offline events at the ZHdK, and selected venues across Zürich
Brings together practitioners, researchers, facilitators, and activists from all disciplines for its 10-month peer-led learning programme
Has a structure which is shaped based on the needs, requirements and wishes of the participants
Works with a broad network of partners who help to explore, shape and share the future of Peer Education as an important strategy and method of lifelong learning.
If you would like to familiarise yourself with some of the key terminology School of Commons uses within this application pack, and as part of the learning environment, please refer to our Ways and Workings. If there is a term used in this application pack that you are unfamiliar with, please search for it in the Ways and Workings for further information and context.
What does School of Commons offer to selected participants?
For funded projects:
A stipend of 3,500 Swiss Francs (- 8.1%VAT)
For funded and non-funded projects:
A supportive learning environment
Opportunity for collaboration and exchange, as well as peer-group and public presentation platforms
Online and offline spaces to experiment with ideas, concepts, and practices
Support with presentation structures such as the planning of exhibitions, events, and workshops
Access to publishing opportunities, including an annual end-of-year publication: ISSUES
Access to ZHdK’s infrastructure. Specifically: Tech material, Room access, Library access, access to faculty members of ZHdK
Participation in our ongoing research project into “Accessibility and Inclusion in Digital and Hybrid Learning Environments”
Introduction to a growing SoC alumni network for mutual support and exchange
Workshops introducing methodologies for peer learning and co-creation
What do School of Commons’ participants have in common?
It is essential that SoC participants feel a connection to the main ingredients that form the SoC learning environment, these are:
Openness (towards one another, towards definitions of, and approaches towards learning and knowledge, towards the process of commoning)
SoC is open to all countries, backgrounds, ages, and disciplines, for applicants who are interested in the production and sharing of knowledge in the broadest sense, and who feel a desire to actively engage with, work as part of, and be in collaboration with a community of fellow thinkers and producers.
SoC has no set criteria in relation to formal or informal educational backgrounds. Previous participants have had a broad range of qualifications from non-academic to BA to PhD level, with backgrounds ranging from technical schools to art schools, to universities, as well as makers, activists, and those with lived experience and tacit knowledge. SoC has previously admitted artists, scientists, architects, geographers, designers, writers, and those who consider themselves between and outside of these categories. SoC does not select based on discipline but is instead focused on those interested in, or working with alternative methods for learning, with an emphasis on wider definitions of knowledge and experience, as well as the desire and commitment to learn with and from others, and to engage critically and thoughtfully with the wider SoC community.
The main learning agenda of SoC is to produce and share practices based around the methods of peer learning and commoning. In doing so, we aim to encourage spaces for exchange and alternative ways and workings. Overall, SoC endeavours to be a place that produces and reproduces alternative modes of thinking and doing across research, disciplines and focuses.
What does School of Commons expect from participants?
Over the 10-month programme School of Commons expects, from each participant, their commitment and active participation, within their individual capacities, in all SoC activities and the wider learning environment. Thursday evening between 18.00-20.00 CET/CEST is scheduled School of Commons time, so participants should make this time free, as well as committing to the following:
Weekly School of Commons meetings, Thursday evenings 6-8 pm CET/CEST
Facilitating one of the series of Kitchen Sessions
Attending the SoC Gathering (29th - 30th June)
Contributing to the end-of-year ISSUES publication
Participation (in a variety of ways, tbd.) to the School of Commons Assembly in and across Zürich, 7th-9th February 2025
Actively using and contributing to our growing compendium of ways and working, peer learning and commoning methodologies
For the full schedule please refer to page 4 of this document
Participants will work on a project surrounding a topic or subject of their choice, in a manner of their own choosing. Participants are thus considered experts with their own research. SoC offers impulse activities including workshops, info sessions and tutorials that aim to provide inspiration and foundational frameworks. This said each participant is responsible for their own learning process, as well as that of one another. You will therefore be expected to take care of and communicate your own needs and requirements, for which we can support by co-seeking the (re)sources, tutors, mentorship, methods, and collaborators necessary.
There are no set outcomes expected or required as part of acceptance into the programme. SoC values experimental ways of working which do not necessarily work towards predetermined outcomes.
Successful applicants should demonstrate clearly how they will contribute to the SoC structure by expressing the ways in which they plan to engage with the wider SoC community and shared learning environment, as well as the ways in which they plan to work collaboratively.
Selection is made by a group of peer reviewers who are current or former participants at SoC. The selection committee chooses new participants anonymously based on the submitted project plans and the applicants’ willingness to actively contribute towards a collaborative learning environment.
Successful proposals will therefore:
Present clear information about the aims, methods, and openness of their project
Provide sufficient information on the ways in which they wish to work within and contribute towards the collective learning environment of School of Commons
Demonstrate a clear interest in peer education and knowledge production and distribution
(If the project already exists, or is part of a larger body of work) clearly state what specific area of the work will be developed within SoC, and how this area of the research specifically connects to SoC
(If applying as a collective) explain how the collective will be consistently present in the programme. E.g. Will all, or a select number of collective members attend the meetings and events, or will tasks be divided amongst the collective?
Selection is based on the completeness of submitted materials, the feasibility of the project, and how well the project connects to the aims and values of SoC.
There are two main categories for which applications are assessed. Under each category or sub-categories which must be taken into consideration:
CATEGORY 1: CONTENT OF THE PROPOSAL
Content looks at the clarity of the proposals’ key questions, lines of inquiry and suggested ways of working, as well as the relevance of the project in relation to major societal issues, tensions and questions, the current discourse on the topic, and the use of innovative and/or experimental approaches.
CATEGORY 2: MOTIVATION TO BE PART OF THE SCHOOL OF COMMONS LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
Motivation looks at the proposals’ ambitions towards contributing to alternative forms of knowledge production and circulation, peer learning, and the overall SoC learning environment. It also assesses the commitment to exchanging, sharing and collaborating with fellow participants and the approaches proposed to support this.
Please note: Applicants may submit one application only to the 2024 Open Call. Previous participants can only apply with a new project with new collaborators.
You can find out more about previous SoC participants and projects here.
We encourage you to access our directory of Ways and Workings to help guide your application.
How will School of Commons be structured for 2024?
SoC offers a learning environment and a 10-month programme structure that can be evolved and shaped in dialogue with participants. As part of the 10-month programme, SoC helps facilitate an internal programme of open spaces and sessions with participants, this is combined with a series of public offerings, all of which are open access, which helps to make the knowledge and practices that arise from the programme through our participants and their processes, publicly available and shareable.
The proposed structure for the preliminary programme over the 10 months from April 2023 - February 2024 is as follows. *Please ensure you are available for the following dates before applying:
Kick Off 19th- 21st April Online, 10.00 - 18.00 CET (with breaks)
Kitchen Sessions Meetings April – July - Attendance is mandatory
2 projects / 45 minutes each to share something about yourselves and/or your project
Thursday, April 25
Thursday, May 9 (Note: Regional holiday)
Thursday, May 23
Thursday, June 6
Thursday, June 20
Thursday, July 4
Thursday, July 18
Planned Open Space for Individual meetings with the SoC team or other SoC participants
Thursday, May 2
Thursday, May 16
Thursday, May 30 (Note: Regional holiday)
Thursday, June 13
Thursday, June 27
Thursday, July 11
School of Commons Gathering 29th – 30th June. Attendance is mandatory
In-person across various selected locations in Zürich, including ZHdK, Zürich University of the Arts
Summer Break 23. July - 24. August
Self-Organised Curriculum Here you can find examples of our previous sessions.
Thursday, September 5
Thursday, September 19
Thursday, October 3 (Note: Regional holiday in Germany)
Thursday, October 17
Thursday, October 31 (Note: Regional holiday)
Thursday, November 14
Thursday, November 28
Thursday, December 12
Winter break 16. December - 11. Jan.
School of Commons Assembly -February 7-9, 2025
How to Apply
Applications are submitted via a Google Form where you will be asked a set of mandatory questions.
No CVs, biographies, or formal educational requirements should be included anywhere in the application form. Please refrain from including any key identifiable information about yourself. Applications must be submitted either in English or German. The programme is facilitated in English, so a good grasp of the English language is required for full participation.
We strongly emphasise that if the above information is not followed, including if names or key information is included in the application, or if the application exceeds the word limits, the application will not be considered.
APPLY HERE The link to apply is: https://forms.gle/H4SfCxfhZqtkFUua7
The application deadline has been extended to the 6th of Dec 2023, at 23.59pm CET . For any questions, please get in touch at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You will hear back with a response by February 07, 2024.
A dedicated Q+A session for the Open Call will be held via Zoom on Wednesday 15 November, 16.00-17.30 CET which we encourage you to attend.
SoC and Accessibility
We actively encourage applications from individuals or collectives from underrepresented groups who are LGBTQIA+ and those with a disability and neurodiverse conditions.
Current participants are also allowed to apply. Each participant will receive an access rider ahead of the SoC kick-off weekend, and we organise a welcome meeting for each participant or collective to discuss their needs and requirements ahead of the start date. Furthermore, over the course of the next few years, we will be undertaking extensive research on “Accessibility and Inclusion in Digital and Hybrid Learning Environments”. We intend to implement our findings directly within SoC, and welcome participants to contribute towards the research if they are interested or may find it useful.
The programme is facilitated in English, so a grasp of the English language, or access to translation tools is essential for participation. This said we endeavour to find methods for making the programme accessible to include other languages. In previous years we have experimented with alternative methods for such accessibility including a range of transcription methods, and we are open to adopting further communications and documentation tools that may be useful for participants. Most events are facilitated digitally and can be recorded upon request.
SoC Code of Conduct
This code of conduct is a basis for all our activities, gatherings, communications, and internal and external outputs.
It forms part of our committed pursuit to engendering a SAFER space (we acknowledge “Safe” is a constantly evolving environment and set of conditions and commit to continuously revising and responding in relation to this). We further acknowledge that we come from different backgrounds, contexts, disciplines, and approaches and all have certain areas of unawareness, experiencing processes of learning and unlearning. Therefore, this Code of Conduct cannot account for all the ways that people might feel excluded, unsafe, or uncomfortable. We commit to open dialogues, and as such this Code of Conduct is never finished and should change whenever needed. We will amend this document over time, so it reflects the priorities and sensitivities of SoC as it changes.
It is a collective responsibility for all of us to enact the behaviour described below and bring it to the physical and digital space of SoC.
The code of conduct is a set of guidelines that help establish shared values and ensure that behaviour that may harm participants is avoided. This document equally applies to School of Common’s, participants, contributors, collaborators, and all those who engage and attend in our outputs and process. The document also applies to users and contributors to SoC’s online channels. The word “we” is used in this document as it applies to all the above.
Read our full code of conduct, here.
OPEN CALL 2024 FAQs
Do I need a finished project/fixed project outcome to apply?
No, project or research proposals are eligible. Our only stipulation is that the jury should be able to clearly understand the questions, lines of inquiry, and/or topics you wish to work with within your proposal, the methods you wish to adopt to support this, and why this proposal fits with the framework of the SoC program. You will not be assessed on project outcomes.
Can I apply with a pre-existing project?
Yes, but you must specify what of the existing project, or larger body of work you will focus on specifically within SoC and how this part of the project directly connects to the SoC learning environment.
Can I submit multiple applications?
Due to the high volume of applications we typically receive, applicants may submit one application only.
Do I need to collaborate with others on a project? No, you can also work on an individual project, but you should be interested in peer learning processes, which means: to share your working methods with others and to be interested in learning from your peers in exchange.
Can I apply as a collective? We strongly encourage collectives to apply, we do however ask that you state in your application how your collective will be present in the programme to sure the representation of your collective remains consistent. For example, will all collective members attend meetings or only a select few? Will all collective members oversee all responsibilities or only a select few? This gives us a better idea of how to accommodate the collective in the programme, and to manage participant expectations.
What is the breakdown of the number of selected projects? In total, we will be selecting 17 projects for School of Commons 2024. This will be broken down into 10 funded projects, of which 3 will be individual projects (one person involved in the project) and 7 duo/group/collective projects (more than one person involved in the project). We will also be selecting 7 non-funded projects, which will not receive the 3,500 CHF budget.
What is the School of Commons Assembly, 2024? The School of Commons Assembly 2024 will be a three-day event from February 7-9, 2024, that gathers internal participants and externally invited guests to explore questions and hypothesis around the future of education, and alternative forms and structures for knowledge production through the format of workshops, lectures, performances and open forums.
What are the limitations of the budget? How the budget (3,500 CHF –8.1% VAT) is allocated is at the discretion of each applicant. The only stipulation we ask for is that the applicant/collective reserve part of the budget for 1 x return trip to Zürich for the School of Commons Gathering in June (accommodation will be provided).
Can I reapply if I have previously participated? Previous participants can only apply with a totally new project with new collaborators.
Can I be currently enrolled in a school/university? Current students may apply. Please be aware of the key dates we expect you to be present for during the programme, including Thursday evenings from 18.00-20.00 CET/CEST, to ensure you have the capacity to participate in full.
Do I need to move to Zürich? No, since most of the project takes place online.
Do I need specific knowledge to participate? No, the program is open to all levels and disciplines.
What are the criteria for selection? Selection is based on the completeness of submitted materials, the feasibility of the project, and how well the project connects to the aims and values of SoC. There are two main categories for which applications are assessed. Under each category or sub-categories which must also be taken into consideration:
Content of the proposal.
Content looks at the clarity of the proposals’ key questions, lines of inquiry, and suggested ways of working, as well as the relevance of the project in relation to major societal issues, tensions and questions, the current discourse on the topic, and the use of innovative and/or experimental approaches.
Motivation to be part of the School of Commons learning environment.
Motivation looks at the proposals’ ambitions towards contributing to alternative forms of knowledge production and circulation, peer learning, and the overall SoC learning environment. It also assesses the commitment to exchanging, sharing, and collaborating with fellow participants and the approaches planned to support this.
When do I find out if my project has been accepted? The deadline for applications is November 29, 2023. You will hear back with a response by February 07, 2024.
Remember that if you include key identifiable information about yourself such as your name, place of work, or level of education, or exceed the stated word count in the application form, your application will not be considered for review.
I am not familiar with writing proposals; is there support on how to formulate project proposals/fill the Google form?
The application form contains specific questions that, when answered clearly in simple language, contribute to writing a successful proposal.
Tip: If you encounter difficulties with writing, you might want to consider using voice typing for your proposal. Afterward, let ChatGPT correct it by providing a prompt such as: "Correct this proposal and adhere to the original as closely as possible."
Thank you for reading the full School of Commons Open Call 2024 document. If you have any questions regarding this document or your application, please contact us at email@example.com.
We very much looking forward to receiving your applications.
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