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Why riot? Community, choices, aspirations
Why riot? Community, choices, aspirations

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Introduction and guidance

Why riot? is a collaboration between the Action for Community Transformation Initiative in Belfast (ACT) and The Open University.

This free online course was co-produced over a 12 month period, by The Open University in Ireland’s Time to Think initiative and ACT, in response to the riots that took place in the Shankill and other Loyalist communities in Northern Ireland in the spring of 2021.

Why riot? is based on a face-to-face course and workshops developed by William Mitchell a Loyalist ex-prisoner, former Open University student, and project director of the ACT Initiative in the Shankill. It was made with eight boys taking part in the ACT Initiative and Belfast Boys’ Model School project: Adam, Ashton, Brandon, Dylan, Matty, Ryan, Stephen and William. This online course draws specifically on the experiences of these teenage boys from the Shankill, a Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist area in Belfast City and one of many communities deeply affected by the legacy of violent conflict in and about Northern Ireland. It has however been designed to be a flexible resource that can be adapted to different contexts of social and political division and taught in a range of individual and group settings and to diverse audiences and communities.

This course is divided into 3 sessions:

  • Session 1 is about community
  • Session 2 is about choices
  • Session 3 is about aspirations.

The whole course is approximately 12 hours long. Each of the 3 sessions can be broken down into four 45-minute teaching sections or workshops.

You can view and download a visual index (map) of the course here. [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

This course can be taught in small groups, or you can study it on your own on a computer or smartphone.

By the end of 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.