X Close

IOE Student Blog

Home

A blog on life at IOE and education affairs written for students by students.

Menu

Creating space for Black voices at UCL: A student (and now alumni) perspective

By IOE Blog Editor, on 18 April 2024

Two students in the library studying.

Credit: Drazen via Adobe Stock.

By Olivia Amponsa-Gyasi and Kelly Cummins, Child Development MSc

Since our original conversation in 2022, we recognise that departments at IOE have invited non-white guest speakers to talk or promote their work and have done more to champion inclusion within the university.


It started with an assignment…

Kelly:
Being from a minority background within academic spaces is something you quickly become hyper-aware of, knowing that the way you navigate the space will be different and often more challenging. Exploring these experiences has always been something I was interested in so when I had the opportunity to choose my topic for a Master’s assignment, I knew exactly what to do.

I interviewed Olivia about her experiences as a Black Master’s student at UCL. The importance of this topic became even more apparent after researching systemic racism within higher education institutions and particularly data surrounding Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students’ progression, or lack thereof, within higher education. The statistics were both Read the rest of this entry »

A deep dive into academia: Reflections from an undergraduate research assistant

By IOE Blog Editor, on 20 March 2024

Alex Wong in front of the river, with a background row of houses. Credit: Alex Wong.

Credit: Alex Wong.

By Alex Wong, Social Sciences BSc

Looking back, completing my undergraduate journey at University College London (UCL) was a most unique and fulfilling experience despite, or perhaps in addition to, being one of the lucky few to start tertiary education during the pandemic. Of the many memorable experiences I have had, one definitely stuck with me. During the summer before my final year at UCL, I had the wonderful opportunity to deep dive into academia beyond my programme diet by interning as a Research Assistant (RA) under Dr Katie Gaddini.

Dr Gaddini taught one of my core course modules during my second undergraduate year. Throughout the term, dissecting what good research is and being exposed to the multitudes of methods that are used in qualitative research increasingly motivated me to explore how the research process would look like ‘on the ground’ – the complexities behind brainstorming, data collection, analysis and write-up that did not make it onto the pages. 

Additionally, the political sociology classes I took further inspired me to explore some of Dr Gaddini’s publications on the intersections between religion and politics.

So, with a little courage, I reached out to her to share my interests in her research area as well as a rough idea: if I could take part in one of her current research activities. This marked the beginning of an exciting six-week journey.

Dr Gaddini very generously suggested that I could help with her ongoing research project as an RA. In our initial meeting, I learnt about the role I would play in her project, ‘The Politics of Religion.’ It was a steep yet highly rewarding learning curve, as I turned my attention to focus on how religion, specifically Evangelical Christianity, played a role in influencing people’s political beliefs in the United States. The experience was unforgettable, knowing that my contribution would work towards creating a more in-depth and nuanced understanding of the co-constitutive relationship between religion and politics globally. Being able to see in real time how the findings concur or challenge what I have previously discussed in my political sociology classes was an added bonus, further deepening my knowledge in the field during my internship.

Read the rest of this entry »

Gathering student perspectives to direct university decisions on climate action and sustainability education

By IOE Blog Editor, on 2 January 2024

AI-generated illustration of hands holding planet Earth surrounded by planets and plants.

Credit: Hurca!, generated with AI / Adobe.

By Batool Wajiha Zaidi, Arts and Sciences BASc.

Climate change is one of the most significant global challenges that humanity has ever had to face. Such a complex challenge requires a collective effort across all sectors of society to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change and protect the future of our planet. In particular, universities are uniquely situated to respond to the climate crisis through education and academic research. 

Students are profoundly affected by university policies and have raised concerns as to the current education system’s ability to prepare them for the uncertainty of the future. Yet, their voice and impact is almost non-existent in climate change and sustainability education policy. Students have an insider perspective and are motivated to challenge the existing practices of an institution, as such; with proper engagement, they can make meaningful recommendations for sustainable futures in higher education. 

In order to address the lack of engagement of students in policymaking for sustainability in higher education, we conducted a research project co-led by two undergraduate students to better understand students’ perceptions of climate change and sustainability education in universities and produce a collaborative policy brief.
Read the rest of this entry »

‘Psyched’ about education research

By IOE Blog Editor, on 21 December 2023

People walking around and looking at research posters during the conference. Image permission: Miriam McBreen.

Image permission: Miriam McBreen.

By Zahra Siddiqui, Psychology and Human Development MPhil/PhD

This year, our Department of Psychology and Human Development (PHD – yes, the department, not the title!) organised the Psyched in Education conference to showcase all our ongoing work and research. This celebratory event featured presentations from every level of our development, from Master’s students through to professors. It was a great day to spend time with the department, celebrating the remarkable research we’ve been conducting, and fostering a supportive environment for discussing our work together. I’ll be going through some of my personal highlights from the day – and all the new things I learnt from the department!

The day was divided into four topics: mental health and wellbeing; schools and education; literacy and numeracy; and disability. I’ll be giving an overview of some of my favourite pieces of work from each of the four sessions. Read the rest of this entry »

UCL’s wacky wonderland: A glimpse into UCL’s unusual festive traditions

By IOE Blog Editor, on 12 December 2023

A Christmas tree lit up with lights. The UCL Portico is lit up in green behind it.

Credit: IOE Marketing and Communications.

by Navyasara Jaiswal, Education Studies BA

As the sun dips below the historic structure of UCL, a hushed anticipation blankets the iconic Portico. It’s that magical time of year when the campus comes alive with twinkling lights, the aroma and warmth of mulled wine filling the air. Arguably, the festive season only starts for members of the UCL community with the switching on of the Portico Christmas lights. Even with UCL’s diverse background, it is fascinating to see the sea of faces illuminated by the lights, celebrating the festive season united together for the beginning of the celebrations.

12 grapes

Fires lick over a barbecue.

Credit: Navyasara Jaiswal.

For me, as someone with an Indian background, the festive season has never been the typical white Christmas that one usually sees in the media with a tree and presents. However, we still call Read the rest of this entry »

Global citizenship education in post-conflict Iraq

By IOE Blog Editor, on 25 October 2023

By Michael Jones, Development Education and Global Learning MA* 

*This programme has been renamed the Global Learning MA. 


As an MA student in development education and global learning, my research journey formed a crucial part of my dissertation, which focused on the role of global citizenship education in post-conflict societies. I was drawn to the Iraqi context due to its unique challenges and the potential for education to contribute to peacebuilding and social cohesion, and due to my current position working at the American University of Iraq, Sulaymaniyah.

During my research journey, I had the opportunity to work closely with the ‘Iraqi Travellers Café’ (ITC) initiative, an inspiring organisation that was actively promoting aspects of global citizenship education through its workshops and events in the capital, Baghdad. I was fortunate to witness first-hand the dedication and passion of the ITC team, who were committed to creating transformative educational experiences for participants. The workshops provided a safe and inclusive space for individuals from Iraq’s diverse backgrounds, including the limited foreigners that live in the country, to come together, exchange ideas and engage in critical dialogue about global citizenship.  Read the rest of this entry »

Black student experiences in London, 1950s to 1970s – would you like to be interviewed?

By IOE Blog Editor, on 11 October 2023

A group protesting in a rally organised by the West Indian Student Centre, May 1970. Courtesy of Black Cultural Archives, ref no: PHOTOS/173, photographer unknown.

A group protesting in a rally organised by the West Indian Student Centre, May 1970. Courtesy of Black Cultural Archives, ref no: PHOTOS/173, photographer unknown.

By Uduma Ogenyi, PhD student at SOAS/IOE.

When considering what it means to build solidarities, particularly in the context of discussions around ‘decolonising’ universities today, there is much to learn from lessons of the past. My research is funded by a Bloomsbury Studentship and explores the day-to-day experiences of Black students on university campuses from 1956-1981, with a focus on SOAS, UCL and IOE (then a separate college of the University of London). In this period students in London were active in a range of anti-imperialist and anti-racist struggles, including the Anti-Apartheid Movement and the fight against the National Front. At the same time, however, Black students faced isolation, loneliness, racism, and discrimination on campus.

Why do Black students’ day-to-day experiences of discrimination so rarely inform our writing of student histories? And what can these experiences tell us about the struggles students face today, especially in the context of institutional co-option of radical demands? Read the rest of this entry »

Navigating London’s pricey terrain: Student edition

By IOE Blog Editor, on 10 August 2023

Reka with nature on a grassy hillside. There is an ocean on the right side below. Image permission: Reka Olah.

Réka Oláh. Image permission: Réka Oláh.

By Réka Oláh, Social Sciences BSc

When I envisioned my university years, I was well aware that they would not revolve around extravagant expenses, and that I would have to work to support myself. This made me a bit anxious, as university life often seems geared towards wealthier students who can afford things like lavish brunches, fancy bars or endless clubbing. But fear not! Even with limited funds, you can still have a fantastic experience in London, this truly wonderful and diverse city. Here’s how I made the most of my undergraduate years at IOE without breaking the bank: 

Making money

While many (over)emphasise the importance of securing a summer internship for future career prospects, for some of us, a job is first and foremost a means to pay for our daily expenses. The good news is that there are numerous job opportunities available for students in London. Websites like Student Job UK are great for finding part-time work you can fit around your studies. What is, in my opinion, even smarter is regularly checking UCL Careers vacancies and subscribing to their newsletter for opportunities – trust me, it’s a total game-changer! Another invaluable resource is the UCL Job Shop website, where you can find several on-campus jobs with better pay compared to many external ones. Top tip: get involved with the Students’ Union or other university roles as soon as you can! Working in these roles can help you become part of an awesome community and unlock further job opportunities that often stay within these circles. Most of these jobs are on campus, making them super convenient to juggle alongside your studies. Plus, roles like Welcome Ambassador or Transition Mentor also allow you to immerse yourself more in UCL and/or your department. 

Read the rest of this entry »

When a girl makes a choice…

By IOE Blog Editor, on 27 July 2023

The opening page of the gamebook. The title reads 'A girl's life journey in one day'. A set of multicoloured stairs rise towards the top of the image. A young girl runs up them. Image permission: Wendy Wen, Yifan Chen, Yiwei Lu and Yiping Tang

The title page of the gamebook. Image permission: Wendy Wen, Yifan Chen, Yiwei Lu and Yiping Tang.

By Wendy Wen, Yifan Chen, Yiwei Lu and Yiping Tang, Education Studies BA

*From the 2024/2025 academic year onwards, the Education Studies BA has been renamed the Education, Society and Culture BA.


As part of our assessment in one second-year Education Studies BA module (EDPS0253: Children in Society: Anthropological, Historical and Sociological Perspectives), we created a gamebook. We were given the opportunity to produce engaging materials to show children an underrepresented aspect of their lives.

In the module, we learnt to challenge assumptions about childhood based on our own historically-situated and culturally-constituted ideologies, and we truly got to see how childhoods are wrongly universalised – not from a bird’s eye view – but from a perspective that constructs childhood ‘from below’. Such spirit inspired us to make this gamebook, which explores underrepresented gendered aspects of children’s lives.

Have you ever noticed that girls are often restrictedly described as ‘quiet’ and ‘obedient’, or have you ever had a strange feeling when someone says, ‘girls are just like that’? Do you recall from childhood that your parents made decisions for you without consultation beforehand? Our gamebook about a girl’s experience may lead you to think about these questions and the essence of a girl’s decision.

Read the rest of this entry »

Intercultural studies’ role in the quest for a place to belong

By IOE Blog Editor, on 6 July 2023

A photo of Aziz in front of Tower Bridge. Image permission: Aziz bin Arsyad.

A photo of Aziz. Image permission: Aziz Bin Arsyad.

by Abdul Aziz Bin Arsyad (MPhil/PhD candidate)

When Professor Jeff Bezemer (Head of IOE’s Department of Culture, Communication and Media) delivered his welcome speech at an event marking the revival of the International Centre of Intercultural Studies (ICIS), he posed a straightforward yet significant question: “why do we still need a research centre that looks into intercultural studies?”

To respond to the question with a single answer would be reductive. But during the event on 8 March 2023, distinguished and experienced speakers from various fields of intercultural studies shared their insights. From a translation and dubbing project with Netflix to redefining intercultural competence for neurodiverse individuals, and poetry writing with refugees, a common thread ran through each presentation: a quest for a place to belong.

Intercultural studies and belonging

In his presentation, Professor Adam Komisarof asked the audience to think about the place of belonging in an intercultural world. For him, belonging is ‘personal involvement in a system or environment so that persons feel themselves to be an integral part of that system or environment’. Yet the question remains: how do intercultural studies help people find a place to belong?

One way to achieve it, as was evident in the inspiring work presented by intercultural studies scholars during the event, was the unyielding pursuit to redefine our places of belonging and the ongoing process of reimagining the role of culture in society, education and communication. This includes reconceptualising the notion of culture, language and learning, rethinking communication beyond human-human interaction and understanding the place of languages in fostering one’s sense of identity and belonging. Read the rest of this entry »