The first day of our knowledge hub event we facilitated a master:CLASS that revolved around exploring the glossary of terms we are looking to use in our civic curriculum as well as challenging the name Civic University and all that it represents.
master:CLASS is a prime example of a term that has many varied understandings and a term that we are keen to challenge. Is a masterclass a class which only those who already have grounding knowledge in a subject can attend? Or is a masterclass rather an introduction to a subject, providing an overarching summary to the attendees? Both definitions were suggested during the discussion, can the term be applied to both?
Other terms up for discussion were master, expert, civic, university, common, public. The list of terms naturally grew and evolved as more and more definitions were drawn into the discussion.
Intriguingly a large number attending thought an expert was a less approachable figure then a master. It was also suggested that To master something is a process and therefore it is less final/ specific than the term expert.
We experimented with using tools like antonyms to compare terminology, which only reinforced the contrast between master and expert.
student —> master amateur —> expert
When discussing the word university, opinions were fairly united as to it’s meaning and connotations.
a high-level educational institution in which students study for degrees and academic research is done.
synonyms: college, academy, educational establishment/institution, institute
As a high-level institute of learning it was agreed that the term university could be perceived as slightly inaccessible and does not represent all the forms of learning that the civic curriculum aims to include. After much discussion another name has yet to be found, but ideally the chosen term should have both spatial connotations as well as allowing for suitable non-academic accreditation to be awarded for civic skills acquired through the network.
All in all it was a really engaging session and a great way to further interrogate our use of language moving forwards.