Thursday, 20 July 2017

Dr Briony Birdi speaks at Engaged Learning Conference

At the Engaged Learning Conference 2017, hosted by the University of Sheffield 6-7 July 2017, Senior Lecturer Dr Briony Birdi gave a paper on 'Engaged learning and the development of cultural awareness and social responsibility in students', as part of a session on 'Active citizenship and social change'.


It has been argued that universities will become socially irrelevant unless they develop and maintain strong links with the local communities in which they are based, and unless their research is perceived by those communities as related to their real-world concerns. Although many of our degree programmes provide students with a set of vital tools to function effectively within an organisation in a particular field, are we failing to fully equip them with the skills they need to operate effectively within a broader public, societal context? What are these skills, and how can they be developed within a higher education degree programme?

Firstly, Briony made a case for the value of an engaged learning and teaching approach, by presenting key arguments in support of the inclusion of cultural awareness and social responsibility in degree programmes. Secondly, using an approach that has been tested on students on Masters programmes in Library and Information Science, she presented a simple model which has been developed to provide students with an opportunity for reflection, giving them the time and space to apply what they see in the communities outside the classroom, and to start understanding and even modelling that behaviour themselves.

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