Nowadays the term empowerment is used abundantly, most often in relation to ‘the people’. Platforms that claim to offer instant solutions to entitle and educate the poor and ignored pop up on a daily basis, without an in-depth understanding of the context they are working in. Paradoxically enough, self-criticality about one’s own advocacy is often absent. In ZK/U’s view, real empowerment and education begins and ends with a question. It requires problematizing existing hierarchies of learning, and creating inclusive spaces for sharing knowledge - spaces of non-formal and self-education. Instead of empowering citizens from a position of authority, ZK/U wants to create spaces for self-empowerment. This involves eradicating the roles of the professional or expert and the amateur, and replace them with an emphasis on learning by doing.
ZK/U works on establishing hands-on platforms for reciprocal exchange between citizens from diverse backgrounds and with varied foreknowledge. One of these platforms is the CityToolBox: a freely accessible online-learning format where citizens from all walks of life can share and reach guidelines, methodological frameworks, tools and manuals for urban actions. ZK/U welcomes initiatives and projects that aim at making urban knowledge, processes and practices approachable and transferrable with the active self-empowerment of citizens in mind.
Our leading questions are:
How can everyday wisdom be linked to acknowledged research?
How can academic knowledge production become more accessible to a wider audience?
How can consumers become (co-)producers?
How to work outside of your own professional bubble?
How to practically work interdisciplinary?
How can visionaries talk to conservative powers?
How can newcomers talk to established forces?
Related ZK/U projects: Z/education, ZK/U Press
NON-FORMAL & SELF-EDUCATION, SELF-ORGANIZATION, LEARNING BY DOING, AMATEUR-PROFESSIONAL/PROFESSIONAL AMATEUR, URBAN PEDAGOGY, LOCAL STORYTELLING