Learning Together: forging belonging among students with experience of the criminal justice system

  • Helena Gosling Liverpool John Moores University
  • Lol Burke Liverpool John Moores University
  • Sarah Maclennan Liverpool John Moores University


The Learning Together methodology at Liverpool John Moores University attempts to open up higher education for people with criminal convictions.  Applied in a criminal justice course, Learning Together aims to create a safe space for criminal justice academics, students, service users and practitioners to come together and form a unique community of practice whereby scholarly activity, life events and professional experience are recognised, applied and practiced within and beyond the classroom.  As the initiative has grown and developed, course co-creators have recognised how community engagement as a pedagogical framework holds the ability to reduce cultural distance between academic researchers and the communities in which they work whilst at the same time enriching learning and strengthening communities.  This paper provides an insight into the initiative and reflects on how belonging can be embedded via a connected curriculum framework.