Scholarship of Engagement for Politics

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The Scholarship of Engagement for Politics Conference:

Conference invitation

At the final stage of the project, we organised a national two-day conference to promote the main findings of the project, including the transferability phase. We were also keen that the conference should have a broader focus, including other forms of engagement and the themes of employability and citizenship education more generally.

The conference was a great success and attracted representatives from the four main stakeholders involved in the project: academics, placement and careers service officers, placement providers, and, most importantly, former and current students. We were very pleased that three of the transferability partners gave papers at the conference.

In addition to productive talking circles on the themes of active citizenship and employability, the following papers were presented (PowerPoint presentations, when they were used, can be accessed below):

Keynote Address:
Professor John Annette, ‘Civic, Public and Employer Engagement and the Scholarship of Engagement’. Professor Annette (Professor of Citizenship and Lifelong Learning and Pro-Vice Master, Birkbeck College, University of London) gave a wonderful tour d’horizon of the theme of engagement in higher education in the UK and abroad - presentation (.ppt format, 318Kb).

Modes of Engagement:
Professor Barrie Axford, Anna Walker, Andy Wade and Elaine McGladdery, ‘The Scholarship of Engagement for Politics’. Professor Axford (Oxford Brookes University), a member of the project team, presented the main conclusions of our project - presentation (.ppt format, Kb). Former Coventry University student Anna Walker (now at Warwickshire County Council) and Andy Wade (Coventry University) spoke about their experiences of going on placements and the benefits that they gained in terms of their knowledge of politics and their employability. Elaine McGladdery (West Midlands Local Government Association) provided a placement-provider’s perspective - presentation (.ppt format, 2.93Mb).

Dave Edye, Alvaro Mellado Domínguez, Ali Ahmed and Hannah Lewis, ‘Simulating Conflict Situations for Peace and Conflict Studies’. Dave Edye (London Metropolitan University) spoke about London Met’s relationship with International Alert, an NGO specializing in conflict resolution with a great deal of experience in preparing and training field workers. Members of International Alert with extensive experience of working in conflict zones ran a simulation for students as part of the level-two employability module for Peace and Conflict Studies students. Alvaro Mellado Domínguez and Ali Ahmed (London Met students) reflected on their experience of the simulation. Hannah Lewis (International Alert) gave the NGO’s perspective, focusing on the skills that NGO workers require to survive and succeed in conflict zones and the use of simulations as a substitute for placement learning where placements would be too dangerous.

Placements, Citizenship and Assessment:
Dr Andrew Mycock and Jordan Walmsley, ‘Re-imagining Work Placements’. Andy Mycock (University of Huddersfield) presented the significant changes he has made to the Politics Work Placement module - presentation (.ppt format, 176Kb), and was followed by his second-year student Jordan Walmsley who spoke about his placement experience at Kirklees Council, especially his activities in building council-university-community relationships and the regional democracy initiative he worked on - presentation (.pptx format, 96Kb).

Professor David Woodman, ‘Up Close and Personal: Some Issues in the Assessment of Placement Learning’. Professor Woodman (Director of Crucible, Roehampton University) addressed some of the problems that arise from students’ attempts to reflect on their experiences while on placement, especially the tendency to overly personalise their accounts in reflective logs - presentation (.ppt format, 397Kb).

Employability for Politics:
Dr Matthew Wyman and Sarah Longwell, ‘Teaching the Practice of Politics’. Matthew Wyman (Keele University) presented the innovative level-two module he has developed with Sarah Longwell to prepare students for careers in politics, and discussed issues of reflection and assessment - presentation (.pptx format, 109Kb).

Fiona Buckley, ‘Work Placement in Political Science: Justification, Preparation, Implementation and Evaluation’. Fiona Buckley (University College, Cork) spoke about the efforts she has made to embed employability throughout the BSc Government programme at her institution and the impact of the mandatory placement module on the career success of her students - presentation (.ppt format, 156Kb).

Conclusion:
Active Citizenship and Employability: Dr Andy Mycock and Dr Simon Philpott (University of Newcastle) reported the main insights and issues discussed by their talking circles.

Professor Alasdair Blair and Steven Curtis, ‘Models of Placement Learning’. Professor Blair (Coventry University) and Steven Curtis (London Metropolitan University) talked about their experience of leading the transferability phase of the project and gave a brief presentation on the models of placement learning that are currently used by Politics departments in the British Isles and the alternative models that have emerged from the project and its final transferability phase - presentation (.ppt format, 383Kb).

Conference Proceedings:
The above papers along with some additional materials will be published in:

A.Blair and S. Curtis (eds.), The Scholarship of Engagement for Politics: Placement Learning, Citizenship and Employability (Birmingham: C-SAP, 2009).