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"Activism is my rent for living on this planet."

- Alice Walker


PEN Scotland was established in 2015 by a group  of activists in Scotland, all of whom share the belief that education is the most important way in which we can discover our own oppression and find ways to fight back against it, in whatever form that might take. 

Some of us have been deeply involved in third sector organisations, with others working in formal education, local government, voluntary organisations, and the trade union movement. We have cut our political teeth in the struggles against war, workers' strikes and community cutbacks. While we have all come from many different political persuasions, traditions, parties, and backgrounds, what unites us is the understanding that education has the power to liberate.

 WHAT WE DO     

PEN Scotland aims to identify the learning needs of activists and communities across the country and, where appropriate, respond to those needs through the delivery of learning opportunities based on popular education methods.

We do this by:

  • consultation with community activists to identify learning needs.

  • design and deliver learning opportunities based on popular education methods.

  • research community issues highlighted by activists.

  • publish and disseminate articles, views, and voices relevant to the work and values of PEN.

  • support the development of research, learning and networking opportunities in relation to community and political activism. 

 OUR VALUES        

PEN Scotland is a community network of activists who believe in the overthrow of systems of oppression through the transformative power of education. 

In our activism, we will be:​

  • Tolerant of difference, and inclusive of diversity.

  • Cooperative in our endeavours and comradely in disagreement.

  • Respectful of all contributions.

  • Welcoming to new ideas and creative in our approach.


To uphold these values,  PEN Scotland strives to create a space for everyone, regardless of backgrounds, ethnicity, gender or ability can come together to share experiences and to envision a better way for our future. To achieve this, we have adopted the Fearless Cities recommendations for creating a positive group culture. These ideas come from 'Marea Feminista', the feminism section within the municipalist platform 'Marea Atlantica' (tr. 'Atlantic Tide'). Although these were identified pre-Covid, we would encourage everyone to adapt these in online events as well as in person, and treat each other with respect, curiosity and encouragement.


  1. When you arrive at the assembly, try to avoid sitting in the most important spot.

  2. Even when you want to sit with people who are politically most like you, try to mix with people who are less politically similar to you too, particularly women.

  3. When the debate is opened to the floor, don’t be the first to speak, and remember there is nothing wrong with having a few minutes of reflection for those who have greater difficulty in expressing their ideas.

  4. When you participate in a debate, consider whether what you are about to say has already been said by someone else and whether it’s necessary to repeat it in order to add something. In this case, make reference to the person who already expressed the idea and add your contribution without repeating what’s already been said.

  5. Never try to translate, clarify or interpret what someone else has said, especially a woman. If you think something is unclear, ask her to explain it again or ask concrete questions about anything you find confusing.

  6. When you’re responding in a debate, try to space out your contributions.

  7. Always try to bear in mind how many men and women are participating in the debate.

  8. Try to estimate how long the interventions of other men and women in the group last and try to adjust your own to the average.

  9. Consider your non-verbal communication, your physical position, and how you feel and gesticulate.

  10. Moderate your tone of voice: shouting or being forceful shouldn’t make an opinion count more. 

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