We are Roger and Sue Mitchell….
Married now for nearly 42 years, we have worked together ever since meeting at Lancaster University all those years ago! Even that early context was of significant social change with the rise of student political involvement (the French riots of 1968 etc…) where, part of a radically enquiring group of Christian students, we revelled in the challenge of ruthless academic examination of faith and its proper involvement in society. Roger went on to do a Masters in International Literature and Society during the time when part of the English department and part of the French, which was Sue’s discipline, withdrew from the University system to establish a department of Marxism, specifically to challenge and change predominant social thinking. It was a heady and formative experience and set us on the road of examining the covert worldviews behind all social organisations!
So, formally trained in education and academic research, we moved first to Sussex and then to London spending some years in further research, teaching, then detached youth and community work. From there the obvious need was to develop alternative training and curricula both for and through local voluntary and faith groups in the attempt to bridge the gap between the resources and aspirations of the third sector and the real, felt and changing needs of local communities.
Our own somewhat eclectic church background also necessitated some careful re-examination. More formal church involvement suited to personal faith often proved somewhat inflexible in considering the new needs and challenges of today’s changing society. So we were grateful for the opportunity to have helped develop some radical new Christian communities exploring fresh ways of being useful members of society. But the questions continue…
We have both travelled widely. We lived for two marvellous years as the employees of a student organisation based in Suva, Fiji, but working with students and graduates from 11 nations across the South Pacific islands (somebody had to do it?!) We have also both been involved in long-term reconciliation initiatives between European and ex-colonial nations as a foundation for building restorative partnerships both internationally and in more local inner-city multi-ethnic work.
Most recently we have returned to our northern roots and Roger has even returned to Lancaster University to give further intensive time to doctoral studies to inform seriously our understanding of the immense social, historical and philosophical/theological worldview changes happening today in western society and the vast implications for learning and effective communities.