West Midlands Region

Research & Shared Learning

About u3a Research and Shared Learning Contact: Maggy Simms slp@u3a.org.uk

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 u3a volunteers on behalf of the members. Some projects are national or regional, others are devised and run by individuals.

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
These are open to any member: 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
Visit the website at the u3a High Street Project
Any u3a member or group can take part by:
- 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.Notes and pointers at Making mobile walking trails
Workshops have taken place to support these activities and can be requested.
You can find more information on the High Street Project website at High Street Project website

Voices Through Time, with the Coram Foundation
The earliest, most fragile texts from the Coram Foundling Hospital collections need to be transcribed into digital format. Using a standard online format, so no need to worry about saving or sending your work. Excellent for family history and social history as 18th century foundlings often became 'apprenticed' into regional textile mills, taking their names and identities into new areas.
See the enrolment form on the right

Further coverage from TAM September 2021 TAM article Voices through time-1 TAM article Voices through time-2

Future Lives
More information is on the page Future Lives further information
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.

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. u3a is encouraging groups who want to add an additional dimension to their walks, such as an environmental study or historical / archaeological notes.

Visit All About SLOW WAYS

As well as future national and local events - at the bidding of YOU, the members!- here is a handy list of walking-themed books prepared by Jo Livingston of Bexley u3a.

Kerri ANDREWSWanderers; a history of women walking2020Ten women over 300 years who found walking essential to their well-being
Oscar BURTONAny Porth in a Storm2021South West Coast Path in pain and often in rain
John HILLABYJourney through Britain1968Land’s End to John o’ Groats(the classic)
Kate HUMBLEThinking on my Feet2018A year of walks and runs and thoughts on the benefits of walking
Rachel JOYCEThe Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (fiction)2012An unplanned trek from S.Devon to Berwick
Tom KINGThames Estuary Trail: walk round the end of the world2001A review called it ‘not useful but interesting’
Robert MacFARLANEThe Old Ways – a journey on foot2012Tracks, sea-roads and forgotten paths which traverse collective memory
George MAHOODFree Country – a penniless adventure the length of Britain2014Land’s End to John o’ Groats with no money and hardly any clothes
Stephen PEACOCK Geology for Walkers2021 U3A member writing on how to include and identify geological features
W.G.SEBOLDThe Rings of Saturn1995A short walk in Suffolk, flâneur-style, a hybrid of fiction and non-fiction
Nan SHEPHARDThe Living Mountain2019Exploring the Cairngorms on foot – sometimes barefoot
Gail SIMMONSA Country of Larks2020A walk through the Chilterns in the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson
Iain SINCLAIRLondon Orbital2002A walk round London close to the route of the M25
Christopher SOMERVILLEThe January Man – a year of walking Britain201712 walks across GB, from flood plains of the Severn to the sea cliffs of Foula
Alfred WAINWRIGHTCoast to Coast Walk1970St Bee’s Head to Robin Hood’s Bay, with typical Wainwright illustrations
Mark WALLINGTONTravels with Boogie – 500 mile walkies1982South West Coast Path with a dog
Raynor WINNThe Salt Path2018South West Coast Path after homelessness and a terminal diagnosis
Chris YATESNightwalk2014A few hours in Dorset by moonlight

Want 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.
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Useful how-to sheet on Resizing digital images

If you want a web version of the how-to sheet, click here Digital image resizing