Creating and Organising a Ragged University Event

Here are instructions for creating a Ragged University event. This is part of the list of processes which are used as guides to bring the project together. Anyone can create their own free education project and Ragged aims to share information about how to do this.

Events management


Identify two (or more) speakers who love their subject. The people who love their subject are the ones motivated to share, also they have less problems sharing with a diverse audience.


Invite each to do a talk in a public space in a polite and warm way. Showing enthusiasm and warmth demonstrates your appreciation of what they do and creates a welcoming setting. Everyone is to be treated the same and given the same provision of time.


Meet each speaker face to face, buy them a coffee, chat with them, put them at ease, inform them of the process and answer their questions. There is no substitute for personal contact.


Follow up with an email after you have met with them, asking them to fill out a speakers information sheet outlining what they will talk about and a little about themselves as well as their contact details. This is vital for advertising and demonstrates the speaker as organised enough to work with.


When you have received the speakers information sheet(s) back then program the order of speaker. Let life decide what content comes – the audience will make their own connections between the subject matter through similarity or juxtaposition. The eclectic reigns supreme in organisational terms.


With the content of the event organised, now arrange your venue. Ask a local pub, cafe, library or other venue, if they would support the event for free. Get a collection of 3 possible dates ideally three months in advance, selected on their mutual convenience between you and the manager. Get the managers contact details.


Pick days and times which are most accessible for people – i.e. not during the working hours of the working week; not during typically populated days such as feast days or Friday nights. This means that more people can come and that you are taking quiet times from the venue managers point of view.


Don’t involve finance; don’t ask for a bar take or charge on the door – this complicates things immeasurably and changes the nature of the event. Keeping things simple means that it is an exchange of a clear charitable nature. Money changes people’s behaviour.


Use scheduling tool to arrange a final date and time which suits all parties. Use a spreadsheet to arrange all the information in one space for your reference – the grid pattern aids quick reference. Once organised confirm this in a clear email with all parties (including the venue manager) so that it is in writing – make no assumptions so repeat all the information you have previously given; politely ask for a response to confirm receipt and that all is in order.


Now you have prepared:

  1. The speakers at the event
  2. Information about the talks written down
  3. The place and time confirmed

Repeat this mantra to yourself to help you think about what you need to do and what you have done:


The Right People

With The Right Stuff

In The Right Place

At The Right Time


This is all with at least 10 weeks to spare so that you can get the word out and ensure that the public know about it and can come along. You are now ready to go into the advertising phase.


By doing everything well in advance and in a sequence it keeps the complexity to a minimum.  Once people have got their speakers information sheets back to you it is an indicator that they are prepared and you can confidently book a venue.