Who is behind North Star Study Group?

North Star Study Group has been set up by artist & educator Rachel Dobbs in response to her own difficulties in trying to learn about the historical and present-day contexts and impacts of colonialism & colonial activity.

Rachel lives in Plymouth, UK, a city that is preparing to mark the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage from Europe to North America.

When she first moved to Plymouth from the north west of Ireland (about 20 years ago), she realised that people in England seemed to learn a different history in school than the history she learned in Ireland. This was pretty confusing for a teenager, as she had always assumed that ‘history’ was a neutral, factual record of events and times past.

As a generally curious person, Rachel has recently (in her spare time) been trying to learn more about colonialism & the present-day impacts of things that happened hundreds of years ago. She is also interested in better understanding how capitalism, globalisation and cultural imperialism continue to reinforce colonial thinking in the present. When talking about this with other people in Plymouth, she has noticed that lots of other people would like to know more about these topics so that they can better understand lots of things that are going on in the world today. 

With all of this in mind, Rachel is setting about putting her skills and experience as an artist & educator to use – using what she knows about collaborative and cooperative learning to start North Star Study Group as a way to make learning about colonialism easier.

Our ethos

North Star Study Group is a grassroots project with peer-led learning at its heart. We want to acknowledge the complexity of learning about emotive and controversial topics by bringing curious people together to learn alongside each other. In the words of peer-led lifelong learning advocates Enrol Yourself, we believe that “people achieve more when they’re part of a peer group”.

We also want to acknowledge the complexity and troubled realities of colonialism & its present-day impacts.

We aren’t experts – we are learning all the time.


North Star Study Group is open to anyone who agrees with the project’s aims, which are to:

  • promote, sustain and increase knowledge & understanding of the historical and present-day contexts and impacts of colonialism & colonial activity
  • develop informal, creative and engaging educational strategies & activities for adult learning in self-directed, peer-to-peer and community contexts
  • support an inclusive process of ‘unlearning’ – of questioning, exploring, information gathering, discussion, discovery & sharing of findings
  • gather, produce and share learning resources that promote a deeper understanding of the topics investigated by the North Star Study Group
  • support people to develop their own capabilities, competencies, skills and understanding of the topics investigated by the North Star Study Group


Would you like to be involved?

You can register your interest in being part of North Star Study Group, or in supporting the project in other ways by filling in a short online form – follow the link below to the form…

North Star Study Group sounds great – sign me up!!


I’ve still got questions…

Here’s a few FAQs – please do get in touch if you have other questions…