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Why riot? Community, choices, aspirations

Free statement of participation on completion
Why riot? Community, choices, aspirations

Why riot? Community, choices, aspirations is a free resource for young people to help them think critically about the choices they make and about how to act positively for change, around the issues they care about. This short course was made in the aftermath of violent street disturbances in working-class areas of Northern Ireland in the spring of 2021. It was developed with boys (aged 14–16 years) from the Shankill in Belfast, a Loyalist community and one of the areas where these disturbances took place and is for all young people, but especially those growing up in contested societies, and anyone interested in these issues. Course content includes understanding what community means to you; exploring different perspectives; questioning and evaluating information and influences, including on social media; decision-making; finding your voice and becoming positive changemakers.

About this course and how it was made

This short course was made with eight teenage boys taking part in an ACT Initiative and Belfast Boys’ Model School project: Adam, Ashton, Brandon, Dylan, Matty, Ryan, Stephen and William. It is based on a face-to-face course and workshops developed by William Mitchell, a Loyalist ex-prisoner and former Open University student from the Action for Community Transformation Initiative (ACT), based in the Shankill.

Why riot? is a collaboration between The Open University in Ireland’s Time to Think initiative and the ACT Initiative.


Time to Think is both an oral history archive and ongoing collaboration for teaching, research and knowledge exchange between The Open University (Open University in Ireland, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and Open University Library) and participants in the Time to Think archive. This includes Loyalist and Republican ex-prisoners who studied with The Open University in British and Irish prisons during the years of conflict (1972–2000), Open University tutors and office staff, and prison staff and governors. You can explore the archive collection here.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • consider how external factors shape personal identity and choices
  • ask questions and think critically about information
  • explore different perspectives
  • broaden thoughts about the future and develop a voice to work with others for a positive change.

First Published: 21/07/2022

Updated: 21/07/2022

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