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December 2016

SR in the Curriculum

(8 December 2016)

In support of the priority to encourage socially responsible graduates, Humanities provides funding to course leaders through the annual Social Responsibility in the Curriculum competition. The aim is for Humanities students to be encouraged to think how their enthusiasm for their subject can communicate, connect or be relevant beyond the immediate demands of their course. 

Over the coming months we will be featuring a project which has benefited from this year’s competition. This week, we introduce you to a project by Dr Kevin Gillan, Lecturer in Sociology at the School of Social Sciences, who is planning a Global Social Challenges module that will be delivered to around 120 students every year. 

The module will introduce students to a range of current social issues affecting human society on a large scale (e.g. climate change, terrorism). Students will discover a sociological approach to major social challenges through emphases on: 

  • understanding and describing pressing social problems through reference to their social and cultural dimensions;
  • analysing competing explanations for contemporary global social issues with reference to core sociological themes such as inequality, globalisation and power;
  • assessing potential solutions to contemporary social challenges in relation to the ways in which they are embedded in society and culture;
  • recognising the potential implications and limitations of the notion of ‘social responsibility’ in relation to academic practices and economic behaviours. 

The course will also help our students to recognise that one purpose and responsibility of developing subject knowledge is to communicate that knowledge to a wider audience in order to take part in debates about crucial social challenges. Students should feel equipped from their first year to be thinking in this way. 

All students will produce two 750-word blog posts in response to recent news items on global social challenges and offer a social scientific interpretation of them. The best blog posts will be published on a public-facing course blog set up for this purpose, with prizes for the best three posts. 

By participating in the course, students will appreciate the potential role of social scientific knowledge in public debate, and gain confidence in communicating serious issues in public settings.