Learning for Life: The People’s Free University and the Civil Commons

Howard Woodhouse


This article stems from the author’s experience as one of the organizers of an alternative form of higher education, which drew its inspiration from the civil commons.  In the early years of the new millennium, the People’s Free University of Saskatchewan (PFU) offered a wide variety of courses to members of the public without charge, adopting as its founding principle the belief that “Everyone can learn, Everyone can teach.”  As a form of community-based education, the PFU accommodated the needs and aspirations of a diversity of individuals and groups too often denied by “research-intensive” universities.  The civil commons itself is a web of interlocking institutions based on the life-code of value, which strengthens the public interest and enhances the growth of organic life.  Unlike the money-code of value, whose goods are only available to those who can pay, the goods of the civil commons are accessible to all.  This inner logic enables a full realization of life value as exemplified in the living tradition of popular university education.


commons; learning; value; social justice

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.26522/ssj.v5i1.993


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Copyright (c) 2014 Howard Woodhouse