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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 »

‘What are the Social Sciences?’: Exploring something new from an interdisciplinary perspective

By IOE Blog Editor, on 29 June 2023

Students listening to a presentation inside a classroom. Image credit: Mat Wright for UCL IOE.

Image credit: Mat Wright for UCL IOE.

By Ziqi Huang, Social Sciences BSc (class of 2023)

The Social Sciences BSc programme appeared as something similar to Sociology three years ago, when I was applying for my undergraduate study. It was a while after I began my study at IOE when it occurred to me that this title often seems strange to others. As I was discussing my future plans with a senior student one day, she commented in surprise, ‘You study Social Sciences? What programme is that?’ 

I tried to explain that it was close to Sociology. ‘But it is not Sociology, right? It sounds like your modules include a lot more than Sociology, and it’s a bit… confusing.’ 

She was not wrong. As Social Sciences BSc students, we had the opportunity to choose from a variety of modules that wouldn’t appear in a Sociology programme. I learned Psychology, Social Psychology, Anthropology, game theories, and even a bit of Criminology. It would be difficult for a Social Sciences student to summarise what they have learned over the years in one word. Surely, some see it as a disadvantage, as it feels like the programme has no clear focus and is therefore, ‘confusing’. 

At the time, I felt more or less disturbed by this idea – that my programme was too broad and not focused enough. The turning point emerged this year, as I started to work on my undergraduate dissertation. Read the rest of this entry »

Fear and amazement: Writing a queer history dissertation

By IOE Blog Editor, on 23 June 2023

Molly giving a tour in Bloomsbury. Image permission: Molly Edwards.

Molly giving a tour. Image permission: Molly Edwards.

By Molly Edwards, Education Studies BA

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

I realised over the past year that a lot of my academic outputs have involved me holding my breath, either out of amazement or fear. In the two blog posts I wrote for the UCL Student’s Union last September, I reflected on my Education, Practice and Society Research Fellowship, which involved researching the queer history of UCL under the supervision of Professor Georgina Brewis as a small part of her Generation UCL project. In my first post, I discussed my amazement of the UCL Special Collections archive. In my second post, I noted my fears of sharing my queer history tour of UCL with historians.

After my experience with the archives and my plea to others to research them further to create a more comprehensive queer history, I was drawn to write my dissertation on UCL’s queer history. This is not because I was fully confident in my abilities (hence my prior plea), but because I know the importance of this history from my personal experience. While writing the rationale for this, I realised that others felt the importance of this history in creating community and belonging. However, I was still worried that I would not be able to accurately represent the history, even after I had narrowed the time frame down to the 1970s. An added pressure was that I also decided to include the history of LSE, so my topic became, ‘Queer student political and social organization at University College London and London School of Economics from 1970 to 1979.’ I found the only way to resolve my worries about representation was to draw on the lessons of established queer scholars and continually question my motives for writing this history. I had to do this before I could begin to accept that I could be the right person to approach my topic. Read the rest of this entry »

Make the most out of UCL: My EPSURF fellowship experience

By IOE Blog Editor, on 15 May 2023

By Jianuo Vivian Yang and Yuvin Lawela Kim, Education Studies BA*

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

The Education, Practice and Society Undergraduate Research Fellowship (EPSURF) is a research opportunity for undergraduate students in the Department of Education, Practice and Society at IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society. It gives students the chance to collaborate with a member of academic staff on an ongoing research project that interests them. Read the rest of this entry »

Why go into teaching?

By IOE Blog Editor, on 5 May 2023

A teacher sitting on a desk with a laptop and books. They are reading a student's notebook.

Image credit: Angelov via Adobe Stock.

By Johnny Farrar-Bell, History PGCE, class of 2023.

There was an article in a well-known magazine last September that, just for a moment, made me panic. ‘Why I’ve quit teaching’ was the headline. Not great timing. I’d just resigned from my secure civil service job in the Department of Transport to start a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) in secondary level History at IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society. My thoughts raced. Have I made a serious blunder? What if I’m not cut out for this teaching gig after all? Will I end up an emotional wreck and go crawling back to Whitehall? Read the rest of this entry »

My visit to William Tyndale Primary School: A dyslexia-friendly school

By IOE Blog Editor, on 28 April 2023

Students creating a poster on dyslexia.

(Image source: Elisabeth Herbert).

By Eleni Kanta, Special and Inclusive Education (Specific Learning Difficulties) MA

The Special and Inclusive Education (Specific Learning Difficulties) MA at UCL is a must for all teachers who are keen to have a more in-depth knowledge of specific learning difficulties with a focus on Dyslexia. Dyslexia is a phenomenon teachers around the world come across often.

The sessions are delivered by specialists in the field of literacy difficulties, which makes the course rich in knowledge and gives an extra point-of-view. In addition to lectures, students attending this programme have the opportunity to attend a school visit at William Tyndale Primary School in Islington.

This was organised by UCL and our programme leader, Associate Professor Elisabeth Herbert. As this MA course encourages both international and home students to apply, the school visit was something particularly beneficial for international students, who had the chance to see how a “dyslexia-friendly school” works in the national context. Read the rest of this entry »

Experience, Exchange and Learn – a student’s reflection on a student-staff exchange with the University of Porto

By IOE Digital, on 22 December 2022

A view of Porto Ribeira from the sea

(Image source: Paula Santos via Wikimedia Commons).

By Arthur Sun, Education Studies BA

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

In September 2022, I took part in the first student-staff exchange between IOE and the Education Science programme at the University of Porto (UPorto) in Portugal. The visit was supported by IOE’s International Office and my department Education, Practice and Society, with the aim of fostering international relationships and piloting a possible short exchange scheme. I was extremely lucky to be selected with four other peers as student representatives from the BA Education Studies. We spent three days in Portugal that included a seminar with Porto staff, leading a day of activities with Porto students and taking a walking tour of the university’s historic campus.

We students were given the autonomy to develop a seminar to be shared with the students in Portugal on the second day of our trip.

As students, we didn’t need to teach, but wanted to share things with the Portuguese students. We knew the engagement of the students would be essential, so we created many engaging games: one guessing song titles and a truth or lie activity taking inspiration from the different colonial histories. We also shared some concrete knowledge with the students such as introducing the colonial histories of the UK and Portugal to demonstrate the different impacts of modern university education.

I personally learnt a lot and have been very inspired by this trip. The following are two key ideas that I want to share:

Read the rest of this entry »

‘African Apocalypse’: Unveiling the trail of colonial violence and its enduring legacy

By IOE Digital, on 22 December 2022

African Apocalypse

Film screening and debate at University College London, 15th December 2022

By Sabina Barone, Social Science MPhil/PhD

‘This film is about ghosts. Ghosts of the past that even while they slumbered have continued to influence the present’ wrote Rob Lemkin, the director of the docu-drama ‘African Apocalypse’ screened at UCL on December 15th 2022. The ghosts are those of the victims of the 1899 French mission in what is now Niger, the uncountable men, women, and children brutally assassinated, whose obliteration broke the continuity with the ancestors and whose pain still troubles their descendants. But those ghosts are also the spectres of the perpetrators’ evil conscience, the ruthless inhumanity at the core of the so-called civilising mission of colonialism.

Read the rest of this entry »

Learning about “Community Music”

By IOE Digital, on 20 December 2022

A woman plays flut in the casual setting with a conductor in the centre.

Image by Jason Ilagan for IOE

By Amy Ellis, Music Education MA

The Music Education MA offers a varied view of music education, splitting two of its modules ‘The Disciplines of Music Education’, into three strands, one of which is Sociology. Over the course of term one we have covered many varying topics, including multiculturalism and gender, and a lecture about ‘Community Music’ led by guest lecturer Tim Palmer.

Tim Palmer is Head of Education at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, with 25 years’ experience as an orchestral musician, a community musician, and in outreach work. His passion for community music is inspiring, and Tim describes music education as a tool for ‘communal change.’

Read the rest of this entry »

Lessons from a Laidlaw Scholar

By IOE Digital, on 26 October 2022

Group of female international students making registration for online courses together via laptop computer, women collaborating on research browsed information on netbook for creating designing project

(Image source: BullRun via Adobe Stock).

Do you want to research topics that you are passionate about? Do you want to be a better leader?

Perhaps the Laidlaw Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholarship is for you!

by Princess Emeanuwa, Education Studies BA, Laidlaw Scholar 2022-23

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

It is pretty unusual to have the opportunity to work with researchers and experts in their field as a first-year undergraduate; therefore, the Laidlaw Scholarship programme is exceptional. What I have enjoyed so far is not only undertaking a research project (which I will talk about later) but also improving my leadership skills and personal development. Over the course of the scholarship, research projects are completed in the first summer over 6 weeks, and in the second, a Leadership-in-Action experience takes place in challenging environments.

Before I tell you about my experience as a first-year Laidlaw scholar, I want you to know that it’s okay if you are unsure whether you’re a fit for the programme because initially, I wasn’t even planning to apply. I only considered it because Gemma Gronland, who was my incredible tutor and Module lead for Education in an Age of Globalisation, encouraged me to check it out. I  looked at the research project titles, and when I saw the ASPIRES project and their passion for social justice, I was convinced to apply. And here is my first lesson, have an open mind. An open mind, for me, is the precursor to taking risks that could pay off in the end. After all, I had I not been open to Gemma’s suggestion; I would never have got the opportunity to work with the awesome ASPIRES team.

Now about my experience on the programme:

Read the rest of this entry »