'It was wonderful experience to receive the TESS award, in recognition of the Deliberation Day that we hold annually during Induction Week', says Dr Foster. 'The aim of the event is provide an enabling context for new students - many of whom are international - to experience a setting where dialogue and the revision of views - rather than their dogmatic reception - becomes a distinct possibility.'
Dr Foster received his award, along with other colleagues from across the Faculty, at a reception in the ICOSS building at the University. During his acceptance speech he elaborated more on the influences he drew from for the Deliberation Day event. 'I believe that a democratic approach to learning and teaching is needed more than ever in a contemporary climate, increasingly pervaded by authoritarianism and technical decision-making', Dr Foster says.
'While the immediate inspiration for the event resides in the tradition of deliberative democracy, its more distant roots derive from the work of the American pragmatist John Dewey in particular his work on Democracy and Education.'
'John Dewey was someone who believed that education should be directed towards democratic social ends. In this respect, he believed that there are two practicable standards against which we can measure the worth of any form of democratic social life: "How numerous and varied are the interests which are consciously shared?" i.e. a standard of diversity; and "How full and free is the interplay with other forms of association", i.e. a standard of cooperative dialogue and discourse within and between those interests. Therefore, a worthwhile education for John Dewey is one in which we develop a) a capacity in our students to recognise a diversity of interests ii) a capacity to engage in dialogue with the interests of others, and c) to choose to revise our views in the light of that dialogue.'
Dr Foster's case was supported by a comprehensive case study, and at the award ceremony a testimony was also given by current PGT student Noora Ahmed Albalooshi, who attended the last Deliberation Day event.