Free Home University

Image by Luigi Negro

A project of Loop House (Lecce, IT) and Musagetes, Free Home University (FHU) is a pedagogical experiment grounded in experiencing life and creativity in common. FHU is a response to the need to generate new ways of sharing and creating knowledge. Created in collaboration with a pool of diverse international artists and thinkers, FHU is based in and around the city of Lecce, in the Puglia Region of southern Italy.

FHU approaches the possibilities of education by producing collaborative artistic projects and coalitional knowledge. A positive alternative to the neoliberal and service-oriented system, FHU provides a home for radical thought, experimental action, learning-by-doing. It opens up existing competencies and encourages personal enrichment. The name Free Home University (FHU) refers to how a horizontal, inviting, energy-liberating environment (Free), within a protected and intimate space (Home), can provide an alternative, yet universal experience of sharing knowledge (University).

The FHU includes a series of projects in 2013, 2014 and 2015.  A group of artists from various backgrounds collaborate to explore an inquiry into ‘how we want to live’ Through artistic projects. Our definition of inquiry is open and includes alternative forms of research, artistic processes, and experimental practices. The group of artists meet regularly to live and work together while pursuing their inquiry.

The form and contents of each project is determined collaboratively by the invited artists: each person is both a teacher and a student, sharing the responsibility of contributing and nurturing each other’s perspective. The group lives, cooks, eats, and experiences the local context of Lecce and the surrounding area together. Intimacy, immersion, mutual learning, collaboration, and hands-on practice are fundamental values. FHU is an experience building on many kinds of knowledge or saperi from the intersection of different disciplines and perspectives.

The expression ‘teacher-students’ and ‘students-teachers’ refers to Paulo Freire’s definition in his Pedagogy of the Oppressed, in which he says that “through dialogue, the teacher of the students and the students of the teacher cease to exist and a new term emerges: teacher-student and student-teacher. The teacher is no longer merely one who teaches, but one who in turn learned in dialogue with the students, at the same time as they learn, teach, getting together responsible for a process of mutual growth.” More…

Free Home University is a project meant to create an open, modular, and replicable structure to investigate practices and theories and to experiment with different approaches, frameworks, and methodologies in order to create a shared knowledge; to form ourselves with an ongoing critical knowledge; to cross-pollinate disciplines; to practice self-education and co-training; to disseminate different forms of existing knowledge; and to enrich our communities.

In this sense, FHU becomes heir to the lessons of the ancients (the Socratic, the Cynics, Aristotle) and resumes the practice of the humanist workshops in the Renaissance. FHU welcomes the spirit of Eastern traditions of learning, and develops as a natural continuation of the radical and revolutionary visions of the Free International University of Joseph Beuys, the Situationists, the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, and the Leningrad Free University, to name a few. FHU explores the methods and experiences of radical pedagogy and third site pedagogy; it engages the possibilities offered by the work of contemporary artists and cultural practitioners who are invested in learning practice and social processes, and art as life.

FHU is an experiment, in the form of an open invitation. It is a neo-humanist and empathetic experience that focuses on the importance of knowledge, study, and critical thinking, in contrast to the value of consumption that reduces cultural life to entertainment and spectacle.

FHU values the organic cross-pollination of knowledge that gives meaning to existence, and the political and social act of learning. It strives to recover a holistic approach that draws on various disciplines and create a space for formal and informal knowledge exchange, where individual and collective learning is possible.