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SR in the Curriculum

(23 May 2017)

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.

This week, we introduce you to a project by Dr Aashish Velkar, School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, who has developed the new undergraduate module, ‘A History of Capitalism in Seven Commodities’, which seeks to enhance students’ understanding and awareness of inequality and social justice evident in the histories of capitalism and global commodity trades.

The students have explored themes such as women in the workplace and the fight for equal pay, child labour in the past 200 years, and the ethics of advertising. The funds made available by the SR in the Curriculum grant meant they were able to source primary materials. For example, the payment of expenses allowed students to travel to an archive to obtain digital copies of advertisements, images, illustrations, diaries, wage books, etc. or to a museum to obtain images of objects, or visit a site of historical relevance. They then produced a poster and made a presentation based on their materials.

By investigating a specific case in the context of capitalism, students confronted issues of social justice and inequality by learning how best to express and communicate these problems in creative ways.

Aashish said: “The students learned that communicating effectively is one of the important steps in confronting these challenges. Such active learning methods will prepare them as future employers and employees in more direct ways than they would otherwise be exposed to at the University. Confronting these issues within the curriculum enabled students to combine both intellectual and practical approaches to unpacking some of the challenges of social justice and inequality arising from modern capitalism.”