An OPEN SPACE is a safe space where everyone is welcome and different perspectives can be explored. No one establishes the boundaries of what one should think or do in their lives. In an open space for dialogue and enquiry, participants are not committed to an identity, to an ideology or to achieving consensus, but to a process of self-transformation through the encounter with difference.
DIALOGUE is an encounter with those whose view of the world is significantly different from our own: an encounter of worlds. The primary purpose of this opening out is for each to gain a new insight into reality. Such a dialogical encounter enables each of us to view ourselves, others, and the world, as well as our understanding of it, from a new perspective, enriched through the eyes of others*.
An ENQUIRY is a questioning process where we ask ourselves what our assumptions are, how they have been constructed and what are the implications of our ways of seeing and being. We also ask these questions in relation to the perspectives of others - as all perspectives (and knowledges) are partial and incomplete. This is done in order to open our hearts and minds to difference and to train our imagination in other (un)imaginable ways of relating, seeing and being. .
CRITICAL ENGAGEMENT with perspectives is the opposite of critical disengagement (where perspectives are silenced) and uncritical engagement (where 'anything goes'). Engaging critically with perspectives is a respectful attitude that promotes attentive and serious listening and tracing of assumptions and implications.
CRITICAL LITERACY is the capacity to trace assumptions and implications. It is knowledge about knowledge construction, the connection between knowledge and power and the implications of this connection to the ways people see and act in the world and relate to others.
SELF-REFLEXIVITY is the capacity to see one's own lenses - to look at the image in the mirror and perceive how one's assumptions and identity are socially constructed (in order to re-construct it).
POST-COLONIAL THEORY is a set of debates that come from struggles for independence in former colonies, experiences of immigration and the study of representations of peoples from the 'Third World' in documents and literature of the 'First World'. This set of debates has colonialism and its effects on assumptions, relationships and distribution of resources as a starting point of analysis of what is going on today.
POST-STRUCTURALISM is a theory of knowledge that states that one's undertanding of reality is shaped by one's culture. Culture is understood as a verb - a dynamic process of production of meaning (interpretations of reality). The lenses one uses to understand the world are bound to their context and lived experience and therefore, are partial, incomplete and dynamic. Post-structuralism questions universal claims of objective or neutral knowledge (everyone is 'naturally' biased) and reminds us that ultimate reality is still a mystery (even for science). In this project it is used as a strategy to develop specific cognitive skills - NOT as a political agenda.
DEVELOPMENT EDUCATION is a term used in 'First World' countries (which is referred to as 'the North') to refer to education about the 'Third World' (which is referred to as 'the South') and 'North-South' relations and interdependence. In the UK, it is part of the National Curriculum (the Global Dimension) and the training of teachers in mainly done by small NGOs (Development Education Centres). The UK government has stated that development education should not be based on notions of charity or compassion, but on an understanding of global interdependence.