North West Region

Learning and Research

Learning and Research
About u3a Research and Shared Learning

Contact: Maggy Simms

Learning is one of u3a's core activities. It can happen in many different ways, including collaborative and interactive learning. This section includes projects that you and your u3a contacts might take part in.

The u3a's Research and Shared Learning Committee is run by volunteers who work on behalf of the members. Projects take many forms. Some are devised on a national or regional basis, and others are devised and run by the members themselves.

Before reading on, why not take a look through the list of projects others have done so far. This database might stimulate ideas and get you going quicker than you thought possible: Research Database ...... the database isn't yet complete, because we need our members to tell us what to put in it!

Projects cover anything that stimulates the interest of those taking part
Some may want to work with a university department, others might be counting species for a local wildlife initiative, but they are all valid and valued.

There may be organisations in your own area that you can partner with for a project: local history societies, arts groups, libraries, museums, town twinning committees and so on.

Current Research and Shared Learning Projects, May 2021

These are open to any member, and you can sign up for information about related events and opportunities.
You can use these projects as a starting point for a local or network-wide u3a group.

The High Street Project

The new website is now being populated in discussion with participants. It is possible for any u3a member to enrol and take part. Groups or individuals can engage in a range of activities:
- surveying their local high street
- taking photographs
- making local guides or walking trails ‘explaining’ the area, in all formats including mobile
- local focus studies such as street histories, area change, key turning points

Workshops to support these activities have been taking place in March and April and can be requested

Visit the High Street Project website

Future Lives
This project aims to take a long view to investigate, discuss, and gather views on how to improve our quality of life as we age. Issues such as co-housing, ageism, giving and receiving care, health and wellbeing, attitude, fulfilment, purpose. The discussions we have held with members so far have been exciting, visionary and moving as well as full of practical considerations for those issues that will affect all of us to one degree or another. Keep in the swim via Janet Sutherland of Crouch End u3a, and you can add your name to our mailing list using the contact above.
Visit the Future Lives website

Slow Ways
Dan Raven-Ellison and Rob Bushby of ‘Slow Ways’ are leading a national initiative to create a Great Britain-wide network of walking routes. A vast network of routes has been plotted, and volunteers are being asked to test them out and assess them. From the u3a side, we are encouraging and supporting groups who want to add to their walsk an additional dimension, such as an environmental study or historical / archaeological notes.
The roll-out and timetable of this project depends totally on Covid safety regulations, so your patience is appreciated.
There is a u3a webinar led by the Slow Ways originators on 17th may at 2.00pm, book here Slow Ways webinar

Want to volunteer to be a learning coordinator?
Training and support is available if you want to join the Research Network of project volunteers. We have meetings every few months to keep in touch. Contact Maggy if you want to know more about this role.

Showcase your U3A
If you have already completed a project or a piece of research and would like others to know about it, we are happy to feature it here on our website. Use the 'contact' page to get in touch.

Bury in the Cotton Famine has three booklets produced by members studying the effect of a specific economic downturn in 1861-65 in their area, with contextual information about the wider picture of national and international events.

The Talking Kirkby reminiscence project is an excellent example of this way of working. Members of Kirkby & District U3A worked with local residents as part of a lottery-funded initiative to record their memories, and these are now preserved and made accessible to all by Knowsley Archives.

One of our regional aims is to make lasting links with learning organisations so that it becomes customary for providers to 'think U3A' when they are planning ahead. These organisations range from local societies to universities, museums, archives and libraries.

Take a look at the Events page for more information about training days and meetings.

The U3A has a research database. It contains all the research we know about that has been done in the UK. You may access the information on the database by region or topic or keyword.

Research requests
u3as are now being approached regularly to advertise research programmes (often medical) or to encourage their own members to take part in these.
There is extensive advice on the u3a national website but we urge all members to bear in mind that these are not u3a-endorsed projects. The overriding responsibility we have is to our members enjoyment and wellbeing and you are under no obligation to support requests from researchers.