19 March 2013
The SDP programme has been awarded a Teaching Innovations grant from UCL to undertake the project entitled ‘Engaging Leaders for Social Change: An Action-Learning Platform’. The Teaching Innovations grant is designed to support projects that undertake creative and novel methods of teaching and learning. The ‘Engaging Leaders for Social Change’ project will run during the first two terms of the following academic year (2013-2014), and will be used to deepen the engagement of MSc students during the London-based exercise of their practice module.
This project will establish a partnership between SDP and London Citizens (LC) (http://www.citizensuk.org/), an alliance of London-based civil society groups that works to grant residents greater decision-making control over their lived space. Together, students and LC will work with a London neighbourhood to support a process of community engagement—pinpointing priorities and understandings of well-being from resident perspectives. This form of ‘action-based learning’ is designed to encourage the development of practical skills for students to support processes of social change, while simultaneously exploring more theoretical discussions on well-being and equitable citizenship related to the course.
The concept for this proposal emerged from the practice module research undertaken in the current academic year, manifesting in a project to explore the impacts of the Olympic regeneration process on the well-being of residents within a community in Stratford. This project (resulting in a pending report, an open forum debate within the community, and film and discussion session) granted students the opportunity to explore interviewing techniques, negotiation strategies to engage diverse stakeholders, and various tools for community outreach. The upcoming ‘Engaging Leaders’ project will widen the scope for the following academic year, drawing further upon the experience, networks, and techniques of London Citizens to add a greater emphasis on how to affect policy change for social justice, and adding the component of training and support in the use of participatory video as a research and advocacy tool.
Beyond the anticipated learning outcomes for the Masters students, this project will generate outputs such as a publication, audio-visual documentation, and a series of events and discussions in support of the community and issues highlighted. At the forefront of this collaboration is the intention that these outputs will be generated and used by LC and local residents to strengthen their continued activism, and support a process of social change.