BUILDING A BODY OF KNOWLEDGE THROUGH COLLABORATION BETWEEN THE UNIVERSITY SECTOR AND THE COMMUNITY EDUCATION SECTOR. COMING TO SOCIAL SCIENCE THROUGH CONCERN ABOUT DRUG PROBLEMS
For many years, local community groups in Ireland have been involved in education about drug problems. They are part of a vibrant community education sector in the country which has been involved in many issues at local level.
The involvement of communities in solving drug related problems is a central aspect of Irish National Drug Strategy. The School of Applied Social Science in University College Dublin worked with the community education sector to design courses which would increase the capacity of Irish communities to fulfill this role, and develop the necessary body of knowledge. Two distinct programmes are offered through partnerships with the community and voluntary sector. A new progression route into the Bachelor of Social Science honours degree has been opened up for the coming academic year.
In Europe it is recognised that grassroots experience and expertise are important for EU policymaking on drugs (EU drugs strategy 2005–12). The European Parliament in March 2008 acknowledged the fundamental role of civil society in supporting the development, implementation, evaluation and monitoring of drugs policies.
Community involvement is influenced by ideas of Social Capital (Robert Putnam), Transformative Education (Paulo Freire), as well as Critical Community Practice (Margaret Ledwith 2005); and concepts of Active Citizenship (Task Force on Active Citizenship 2007).
This paper specifically analyses data from a baseline questionnaire which was administered to the intake on partnership drugs courses in the autumn of 2009. The study aims to track the involvement of the students on these courses. All students on the courses were invited to take part in a short, quantitative questionnaire. 92 completed questionnaires form the basis of analysis for this paper, over 90% of the registered cohort.
The paper will give a profile of the participants, to include gender breakdown, age profile, level of education, main reasons for undertaking the course, and current employment situation.