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Human Library

Borrowing people instead of books to challenge your preconceptions and beliefs

Photo of Kate Rushton
8 11

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The human library is an international movement where people can 'borrow' people they would not normally meet and have a dialogue with them. 

There are local 'chapters' who hold events where you can borrow people who are stigmatized e.g.  a political refugee in the UK. 

I have attached a video of an example of a Human Library event. 

I have mentioned the Human Library a few times but I decided to write a post about the Human Library after I realized that I completed a final year project on a medical condition without ever meeting someone who had the condition or anyone treating someone with that condition. 

I attended several lectures about environmental justice. If I was studying it today, instead of reading about Exxon Valdez or Brent Spa, maybe I could learn from the perspective of the people involved in current issues around the world today e.g. the conflict between the Sami and Britain's Beowulf Mining over an iron ore mining project in the north of Sweden from the perspective of the Sami, other locals, the Swedish government, Beowulf Mining and shareholders in the company, and buyers of iron ore. 

I first became aware of the Human Library from Melita Lumanto post here - https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/financial-longevity/research/human-library/

Specifically, please check all that apply:

  • An Individual

Tell us about your work experience:

I am the Community Guide for this challenge.

I have studied at Birmingham, Nottingham and Leeds University in the UK and graduated with qualifications in Biochemistry, Toxicology, and Environmental Management. I have held a number of jobs including being a TEFL teacher and energy analyst. I love to learn new skills and loathe stagnation.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

How can Higher Education help people challenge their preconceptions by exposing them to the people they have preconceptions about?

How can Higher Education use people to bring the learning material 'to life' and make it more relevant?

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Photo of Madiha

Hi Katie,

This concept of Human Library is so interesting.

I believe this will work well in areas where there are refugees or immigrants from different parts of the world. It may work in USA.

This kind of learning will -
*be interesting and interactive as students will have access to a human being who can explain,demonstrate and feedback can be generated instantly.
*include diverse learning and teaching methods because people from different regions may have varying methods. Example-The Indian method of the past was a Guru teaching his students in the open space,amidst nature.
*the elderly of the community,the different individuals with knowledge,talents and skills from different parts of the world will enhance the experience of the students,connect them to the global community and learn and apply to their local concepts and issues.

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