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Four reasons we should all learn about Green Careers (+ some top job hunting tips!)

Joe Simms, Louise Krupski, Bilvalyn Asamoah all talking at the Green Careers Day at Goldsmiths.

Councillor Louise Krupski, Deputy Mayor of Lewisham and responsible for the Environment, Transport and Climate Action in the Borough, offers this top tip to the schools who are attending a Green Careers’ Event at Goldsmiths. She urges everyone to find out the real truth about what is going on with the environment. She says, ‘There’s a backlash at the moment against climate activism, but let’s be in no doubt, we face a climate emergency, and one way of addressing it is by getting as many young people as we can involved in green careers.’

Her belief in the importance of green careers is echoed by other people on the panel, who include the new Young Mayor of Lewisham, Bilvilyn Asamoah,13, Joe Simms from RAFT, a social enterprise which retro-fits housing so it’s environmentally friendly, and performance poet and youth advocate Laila Sumpton. The panel is the culmination of a day where pupils and teachers at schools local to Goldsmiths, academics, museums, business people, and local government workers have come together to explore and learn about what green careers involve. There are a number of lessons we all learned throughout the day. Here’s my summing up of them.

Many careers now have a green element

Marta Martinez, the Head of Business Decarbonisation at West London Business, where she manages the Green Business Action programme, gave an engaging keynote speech about the work she does with small businesses to decarbonise their work. She pointed out that there are many careers now that had to have a green element. She cited as a great example, a small fashion business, who sourced materials from the leading fashion brands so that their ‘cast-offs’ didn’t go to waste. She pointed out that every business needs to consider how they use their energy efficiently, how they might cut the environmental impact of their supply chain, how they might encourage their employees to travel to and from work sustainability.

Other speakers during the day amplified upon this point. Carole Destre, the Climate & Ecological Coordinator at Horniman Museum and Gardens, spoke powerfully about the work she does so that museum considers how its energy use might be decarbonised to save the environment and costs, which can amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds a year. She emphasized the importance of collaboration, saying: ‘I cannot achieve anything by myself in my role and the goals are only achievable if every one else in their respective position plays ball and puts in place the changes needed.  At every level. So as Marta said every career could be green, the light green, pending on the choices we make.’

Joe Simms at RAFT enumerated the skills shortage that there is in the construction industry because not enough people are qualified to ‘retro-fit’ housing with more energy efficient heating systems and insulation.

Laila Sumpton pointed out that everyone in the arts and culture sector has to consider the climate emergency in the work they do in some way or other because it’s such a burning issue on many levels: politically, culturally, financially and, of course, environmentally.

Green careers are a positive way forward

What was fascinating about the day was the way in which the day was a really positive experience. Everyone came together to share their expertise and problem-solve. As Marta had pointed out, one of the problems about the climate debate is that it causes a great deal of anxiety amongst people, and this switches them off actually doing anything. But at this Green Careers Day, there were a lot of solutions which involve helping young people understand the  opportunities that there are to problem-solve. Laila asked everyone to think about what activism involves and how they might get involved in changing the world for the better, even on a small level.

The Young Mayor Bilvalyn also spoke very eloquently about the need for young people to do the so-called ‘small’ things right: to pick up litter, to avoid getting into fights, to be kind to other people and themselves. In such a way, she outlined the values and aims of working with a green mindset: ultimately it’s about being kind to yourself and the environment.

All our homes, places of work and outdoor spaces need a green re-think

Laila Sumpton lead an interactive workshop about the Parklife Project I have been the principal investigator of for the last three years. We have learnt during this project that getting young people to use creative methods to research their local parks has been particularly effective. We’ve encouraged them to write poems, draw pictures, take photographs and make films about their local parks in order to learn more about them, and consider how they might be improved. Laila asked one workshop group from Forest Hill school, 13-14 year olds, to write ‘recipe’ poems about the park. Here’s is one of the poems written on the grid Laila devised for the session:

As you can see the poem advocates for there to be more activities in the park, such as basketball, a skate park, a café, shade and trees, a kid’s playground, and air conditioned shelters. The aim here was to get young people creatively devising their own visions of how a new future might work, re-envisioning their local green spaces.

Tania Jennings, the Net Zero Carbon Manager at Lewisham,  helpfully noted that ‘green means clean’, and listed this key issues that we as a society must address:

  • Electric heating, not gas boilers
  • Locally grown food, not global agriculture
  • Natural fibre insulation, not petroleum-based
  • Renewable energy, not coal and oil
  • Electric cars & active travel, not petrol cars
  • Circular Economy, not single use & trash

All of this means re-thinking where we live, work and play. Green careers will play a major role in reshaping how we live, work and play in lots of different ways.

 

Green careers are a growth area

Tania Jennings pointed out that over one in ten Londoners will work in the green sector in 2050, listing these jobs as being needed:

  • Electrical Vehicle Technician –Maintains & Manages EV Parts & Charging Stations
  • Renewable Energy Installer –Installs and maintains Solar PV, Wind, and Wave technology
  • Environmental Engineer –Developing Efficient & Cost Saving Renewable Technologies
  • Waste Worker –Keeping Our Communities Clean & Safe from Harmful Waste
  • Urban Planner –Designing Better Spaces for our Towns/Cities
  • Landscape Artist –Installing Green Walls to Buildings to Help Improve Air Quality
  • Conservation Officer –Preserves & Cares for Natural Habitats
  • Greywater Engineer –Designs Water recycling systems for buildings, including homes
  • Retrofit Coordinator –Manages Retrofit projects from Assessment to completion
  • Sustainable Fashion Designer –Uses recycled and locally produced fabrics
  • Sustainable Delivery –Uses Cargo Bikes or Electric Vehicles to deliver materials
  • Sustainable Farming –Includes urban farming, reducing the embodied carbon in food growth

 

Throughout the day, we learnt about how all of our major work sectors, from the arts/culture, education to business and construction all will need to embrace a green mindset, with many jobs involving people considering how to reduce our carbon footprint in sustainable, creative and exciting ways.

Dr Francis Gilbert, Head of Mas in Educational Studies, MA Creative Writing and Education, Academic Co-Director of the Connected Curriculum and Principal Investigator on the Parklife Project, Goldsmiths University.

 

Huge thanks to the participating schools (Forest Hill and Christ the King), Victoria Willis, Schools Climate Network Co-ordinator at Lewisham, Megan Bastable of the Widening Participation Team at Goldsmiths, and Eleanor Hamblen, Schools’ Learning Officer, for organising and running this day so well.

 

APPENDIX

Elena Draganova, Employment and Training Advisor at Lewisham Council, ran a successful CV writing workshop on the Green Careers Day, offering this advice.

Top tips & links for getting ahead in the jobs market

Job Searching:

Student Work: Save the Student – Guides and resources specifically for students looking for part-time or summer jobs.

E4S (e4s.co.uk) – Connects students with employers in various sectors.

Caterer.com – For those interested in hospitality careers.

Milkround (milkround.com) – Focuses on graduate jobs and internships.

Indeed (uk.indeed.com) – General job search engine with a wide range of opportunities.

 

Crafting a Great CV:

Free CV Builders:

Canva (Free CV Maker: Create professional CVs online – Canva) – Easy-to-use platform with creative templates.

Reed (reed.co.uk/cvbuilder) – Build a professional CV with expert guidance.

CV-Library (cv-library.co.uk/free-cv-builder) – Streamline the CV creation process.

 

CV Writing Video Tutorial: YouTube – A helpful video guide to walk them through writing a strong CV.

Job Profile Exploration:

Prospects (prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles) – Explore different career paths and learn about specific job roles.

Bonus Resource:

Barclays Life Skills (barclayslifeskills.com/) – Free online programme offering resources on employability and financial education.

 

Devised by Elena Draganova

Employment & Training Advisor

Economy, Jobs and Skills Team | Lewisham Council

Elena.Draganova@lewisham.gov.uk

 

Social Justice and Education: why exploring ‘difficult’ and ‘messy’ questions matters

“Education does not transform the World. Education changes people.
People Change the World”
– Paulo Freire

Whether in the streets of London, primary schools in Nairobi or universities in Santiago, we witness and experience the impact of social injustices almost every day. We know that different people experience complex crises differently: from ongoing conflicts and anti-gender movements to racial inequalities and the climate emergency. There are of course geographical differences. For example, the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report found that while the out-of-school population fell by just 9 million globally, it increased in sub-Saharan Africa by 12 million. According to the United Nations, ‘inequity is perhaps the most serious problem in education worldwide’.

At Goldsmiths’ Educational Studies, we delve into the impact of these various issues on education and simultaneously explore how education might provide solutions. Through our MA in Education: Culture Language and Identity (soon to be MA Social Justice in Education) we explore ‘difficult’ and ‘messy’ questions such as: what is the role of teaching and learning in struggles towards social justice? How can education in diverse learning spaces (schools, universities, civil societies, museums) help us understand what social justice is and how to ‘get there’? How can we make classrooms more inclusive of and a safe space for diverse identities, languages and cultures?

While there is, of course, no single answer to these questions, take inspiration from the above words of Brazilian educator and revolutionary Paulo Freire. We believe that it is through people engaging in critical conversations that spark new ideas, consider new solutions, and potentially, ‘change the world’. In this MA programme, you will draw from your own professional and personal experiences, whether you are a primary school teacher, a school leader, a charity worker, a community facilitator, a museum practitioner or simply someone passionate about education. Through engaging with these difficult questions, you will have the opportunity to contribute to meaningful discussions and broaden your perspectives.

We believe that it is through people engaging in critical conversations that spark new ideas, consider new solutions, and potentially, ‘change the world’.

In this MA programme, we don’t only understand and identify issues but also explore existing initiatives from different parts of the world and how they address these challenges. We have sessions, for instance, that look at the role of language in bringing diverse communities together. We also engage in conversations with student activists who have successfully lobbied for policy change in their communities. The teaching team in this programme bring years of research and teaching experience in areas such as race and education, gender, language and global education and policy.

While we look at current research, we also learn from examples shared by our students. Many students have been catalysts for change in the schools they lead, in the movements they participate in and the initiatives that they spearhead. Following the course, some have pursued further studies, some taking up leadership position in their schools and some have worked on their government ministries.

The pursuit of social justice in education is complex and requires people from different professions and disciplines to come together. Our MA in Education, Culture, Language and Identity (soon to be MA in Social Justice in Education) offers a space for critical dialogue with like-minded peers and teachers. Join us in this journey as we continue to learn, question and advocate for a more just and inclusive society!

Written by Chris Millora and Veronica Poku

—–

More about our MA in Education, Culture, Language and Identity.

Learn more about this MA in an upcoming free event for offer holders and potential students here. We will be joined by Dominic Grego from Goldsmiths International Office who will share support available for international students.

More about Dr Veronica Poku’s (Head of Programme) research and teaching.

More about Dr Chris Millora’s research and teaching.

Book a one-to-one chat with Dr Chris Millora about the MA programme here.

Unleash Your Potential: Why You Should Pursue a BA Degree (Hons) at Goldsmiths, University of London

Embarking on the journey of higher education is a monumental step in shaping your future. And choosing the right university can make all the difference. If you’re considering pursuing a BA (Hons) degree in Education, Goldsmiths, University of London, stands out as a landmark of opportunity and innovation. Here’s why you should seize the chance to study at Goldsmiths: 

Goldsmiths has a rich history of academic excellence dating back to its founding in 1891. Over the years, it has cultivated a reputation for nurturing creativity, critical thinking, and academic rigor. With a commitment to pushing boundaries and challenging conventions, Goldsmiths continues to set the standard for excellence in higher education. 

At Goldsmiths, you’ll become part of a vibrant academic community that thrives on diversity, creativity, and collaboration. As a student of Education, you’ll find a supportive network of peers and mentors who share your passion for learning and discovery. The exchange of ideas and perspectives will enrich your educational experience and broaden your horizons. 

One of the hallmarks of a Goldsmiths education is its distinguished academic staff. Comprised of accomplished scholars, artists, and professionals, the Department of Education brings a wealth of expertise and experience to the classroom. They are not only leaders in their respective fields but also dedicated mentors who are committed to nurturing the next generation of thinkers and innovators. 

Located in the heart of London, Goldsmiths offers unparalleled access to one of the world’s most dynamic and culturally rich cities. London is a melting pot of cultures, ideas, and opportunities, providing a stimulating environment for intellectual growth and personal development. From world-class museums and galleries to cutting-edge industries and vibrant neighborhoods, London becomes your extended campus, offering endless possibilities for exploration and experiential learning. 

Goldsmiths is known for its interdisciplinary approach to learning, encouraging students to explore connections across different fields of study. Whether you’re combining art and education, politics and education, or technology and education, you’ll find course material that will speak to your unique interests and career aspirations. This interdisciplinary perspective fosters creativity, innovation, and adaptability, preparing you for success in a rapidly changing world. 

In conclusion, pursuing a BA degree at Goldsmiths, University of London, is more than just an academic endeavour—it’s a transformative journey of personal growth, intellectual discovery, and professional development. With its legacy of excellence, vibrant academic community, world-class faculty, London location, and interdisciplinary approach, Goldsmiths offers an unparalleled educational experience that prepares you to thrive in an ever-changing world.  

So why wait? Seize the opportunity to unleash your potential at Goldsmiths and embark on a journey that will shape your future. 

 

Written by Dr Amina Shareef. April 2024.

Learn more about Dr Amina Shareef’s teaching and research.

Learn more about the Staff at the Educational Studies Department.

Learn more about BA Education at Goldsmiths.

 

How do I become a better writer? How do I become a better teacher of creative writing? Podcast with Ardu Vakil

Ardu Vakil, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, and co-founder of the MA Creative Writing and Education along with Professor Vicky Macleroy, talks about the factors that lead people to become better writers and better teachers of creative writing in this video podcast. He is interviewed by Dr Francis Gilbert, currently Head of the MA Creative Writing and Education.

No language left behind; no student left behind

Last time I flew into the UK from my hometown I had a revelation. It was the first time I heard my mother-tongue spoken through the plane tannoy. I cannot tell you how elated I was. After over 20 years of shuttling between Barcelona and London, it was the first time my language, Catalan, was used by the usual formal welcome of the pilot and their technical account of the flight path, the weather conditions to be encountered, and the duration of the flight. My mother tongue, the intimate, personal language that had accompanied me through the early part of my life, had suddenly made it big. My heart filled with joy, my language suddenly connected with the privileged aerospace realm, and its beautiful tinted blue skies and sea of clouds. I wanted to get up and give a huge hug to the pilot to show my infinite gratitude for the bravery of including my language, a minority language, in his announcement. I felt visible and validated. It was at this moment that I fully realised how linguistically deprived, and how different my relationship with my mother tongue was to those of monolingual speakers of English or Spanish. Whilst in my life-time Catalan had so far travelled hidden from view and unheard, it finally travelled first class.

In the Department of Educational Studies, we welcome and value students’ linguistic and cultural baggage and their knowledges and ways of viewing the world so that they travel comfortably in their educational journeys. We acknowledge that languages other than English do not just belong to the community or to first generations of migrants, but we consider languages as a key aspect of lived experience, that we take with us wherever we go, as a shell on our backs. In the Department of Educational Studies, we welcome and value students’ linguistic funds of knowledge and their cultural diversity.  

 In our MA in Education, Culture and Identity, students’ language repertoires are seen as deeply entangled and in connection with people, spaces, and materiality, whilst acknowledging the power of inequalities permeating their use. Given that in the UK approximately a third of students speak another language at home in addition to English, adopting a linguistically and culturally inclusive and socially equitable approach to languages and language education is key. One of the aims of this MA is to counter monolingual ideologies and approaches to education that see the English as an Additional Language (EAL) student as deficient. Honouring a considerable amount of research into literacy, bilingualism, and intercultural communication, we start from the premise that students and their linguistic diversity bring a wealth of experiences and cultural capital to the learning process. We believe that languages and the linguistic and cultural diversity of the student population should not only be valued for the functional skills, the cognitive benefits and social mobility they bring, but also for other equally important social, creative and compassionate benefits. By valuing students’ languages and their cultures, we not only help decolonise teacher’s knowledge and minds, and diversify ways of seeing, but we promote fundamental human qualities both in teachers and learners such as empathy, hospitality, and care for others, whatever their linguistic background.

 When you come to the Department of Educational Studies your languages and those of your students will be valued and harnessed as vital parts of one’s identity and ways of being in the world. Such an approach is guaranteed to facilitate speedy boarding next time you embark on a new linguistic and cultural adventure. In acknowledging languages and cultures as alternative and genuine resources for knowledge in your future teaching career, no language will be left behind, and no child will be travelling to school without their languages and cultures neatly packed in their school bag.

By Cristina Ros Sole, cristina.ros@gold.ac.uk

MAs in the Department of Educational Studies which you might be interested in are:

MA Education: Culture Language and Identity, soon to be MA in Social Justice

The MA Education: Culture, Language and Identity has been developed into the MA Social Justice in Education (new from September 2024). We build very much upon the strong and popular basis that is the MA Education: Culture, Language and Identity drawing upon the expertise of talented and knowledgeable academics. This programme is designed for you if you are interested in how questions around social justice impact upon education as well as lived aspects of our lives. In part, this new MA  aims to address issues faced by those in informal learning contexts as well as formal educators at all levels, international settings and related fields.

You can find full details about this very popular MA on the website here:

MA Children’s Literature

You can find full details about this very popular MA on the website here:

MA Children’s Literature: Illustration Pathway

You can find full details about this very popular MA on the website here:

MA Arts and Learning

You can find full details about this very popular MA on the website here:

MA Multilingualism, Linguistics and Education

You can find full details about this very popular MA on the website here:

MA in Creative Writing and Education

You can learn more about the MA in Creative Writing and Education here. 

Producing a dissertation in the department of Educational Studies will change your life!

In our BA (Hons) Education programme, our students write an undergraduate dissertation.

Embarking on the journey of an undergraduate dissertation may seem daunting at first, yet it is a transformative experience that holds immense value. Beyond the requirement for academic fulfilment, undertaking a dissertation offers a myriad of benefits that extend far beyond the classroom.

Firstly, it fosters independent thinking and research skills. Unlike regular coursework, a dissertation demands self-initiative, critical analysis, and problem-solving abilities. Students are tasked with formulating research questions, gathering data, and drawing conclusions, all of which cultivate intellectual autonomy and confidence.

Moreover, a dissertation provides an opportunity for in-depth exploration of a subject of personal interest. It allows students to delve into areas they are passionate about, enabling them to become experts in their chosen field. This depth of understanding not only enhances academic knowledge but also prepares individuals for future careers or further study.

Furthermore, the process of conducting research and writing a dissertation hones a range of transferable skills highly sought after by employers. These include time management, organization, communication, and the ability to work independently under pressure. Such skills are invaluable in today’s competitive job market, positioning graduates as adaptable and capable individuals.

Additionally, completing an undergraduate dissertation instils a sense of accomplishment and pride. It signifies the culmination of years of study and demonstrates perseverance and dedication. This achievement can boost self-esteem and provide a solid foundation for future academic or professional endeavours.

This is why joining our BA (Hons) Education programme holds out the promise of academic growth, equipping students with essential skills, preparing them for success in their chosen paths.

Our BA (Hons) Education programme is a gateway to great personal and intellectual development.

See you around the Department!

Written by Dr Amina Shareef. March 2024

Learn more about Dr Amina Shareef’s teaching and research.

Learn more about the Staff at the Educational Studies Department.

Learn more about BA Education at Goldsmiths.

‘I need you to jump out of your seat and go plant more flowers!’ What do primary school children in Lambeth want for their local parks?

It’s a cold, rainy morning outside Hillmead Primary School, but inside their assembly hall, the Year 3/4 (8-9 year olds) pupils are happy and engaged. Some of their classmates are delivering speeches about what they want from their local parks to three Lambeth councilors:

  • Councillor Rezina Chowdhury – Deputy Leader of Lambeth Council and Cabinet Member for Sustainable Lambeth and Clean Air, Ward –
  • Councillor Donatus Anyanwu – Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities, Leisure and Sport, Ward – Brixton Windrush – Streatham Hill East
  • Councillor Scarlett O’Hara – Ward – Brixton Windrush

They’ve been assisted in researching their local park – Brockwell Park – by their teachers and Goldsmiths’ research partners and the “Soak Up Lambeth” Team at Lambeth Council. They have turned their research into powerful resources, including pictures of their perfect parks, leaflets to promote their ideas and persuasive speeches to convince their council to take action. The whole Parklife project is part of research set up by myself at Goldsmiths in 2022 from Strategic Funding from the Goldsmiths’ Research office and British Academy SHAPE funding. This academic year, 2023-2024, SHAPE funding has been used to support work in primary schools led by:

  • Laura Dempsey, founder of Volunteers for Future who deliver action-led climate programmes that equip young people with the skills, tools and confidence to build a better future for all
  • Rebecca Deegan, founder of I Have a Voice, an organisation which helps young people advocate for change.

Building on our previous Parklife project at John Donne Primary School, Laura and Rebecca have worked intensively with primary schools in Lambeth and Tower Hamlets to produce a ‘Parklife Toolkit’ which will enable primary schools and community groups working with young children to encourage them to become creative researchers into their local parks. Approximately 60 Year 3/4 pupils conducted research into Brockwell Park by visiting it, making observations about it, interviewing park users, and producing creative responses to the parks. In particular, they were encouraged to draw and label their perfect park:

 

The pupils also wrote speeches for their local councillors about how they would like Brockwell Park to be improved. Four key points emerged from their lively, entertaining speeches:

More wildlife areas. Many of the speeches outlined the pupils’ desire for Brockwell Park to become more of an ecological haven for animals, birds, bees, insects, and for plants and trees. One pupil memorably looked the councillors in the eye, and said, ‘I need you to jump out of your seat and go plant more flowers!’

  • Greater safety. The speeches often spoke about the pupils’ fear of dogs in the park. Many speeches asked for dog-free zones and/or designated areas for dogs.
  • Greater accessibility. Pupils wanted better access for wheelchair users in the park, and for people with mobility issues.
  • More facilities for playing. Many of the speeches spoke about the need for more sports facilities in the park, and for the existing areas of the park not to be flooded when it rains so children can play there easily.

The councillors were all very impressed with what the pupils said, and invited a group to go and speak at the full council meeting when it is in session.

Cllr Chowdhury, cabinet member for Sustainable Lambeth and Clean Air, said: “The pupils at Hill Mead Primary School have been working incredibly hard to think about how they could suggest actual improvements to Brockwell Park. “They had three clear suggestions for us: create more biodiversity and habitats for wildlife, have separate places for people to play and walk their dogs, and to introduce more drainage to stop the park getting too muddy when it rains heavily. Their work was truly impressive, and they were really interested in how Brockwell Park can be improved by introducing measures to prevent flooding or what we can do to support the wildlife who live there. We will keep the pupils’ work in mind when we consider further enhancements to Brockwell Park and we really value their contribution.”

You can read more about this event on Lambeth’s website: Hill Mead Primary students pitch their Brockwell Park improvement ideas   – Hill Mead Primary students pitch their Brockwell Park improvement ideas   – Love LambethLove Lambeth

The value of an education degree

Discover the joy of an education degree!

In a world brimming with diverse career paths and opportunities, one field stands as the cornerstone of social, political, and economic progress: education. The pursuit of an education degree is not merely a journey towards personal growth; it is a commitment to re-shaping the social world, one child at a time. As we navigate through the complexities of social inequalities, of racism, sexism, nationalism, and other isms, the value of an education degree cannot be more important now than ever. 

Education is the foundation upon which societies thrive. At its core, an education degree equips individuals with the knowledge, skills, and insights needed to foster learning environments conducive to growth. Whether in a classroom, a community centre, or a virtual setting, educators play a pivotal role in nurturing the intellectual curiosity and critical thinking abilities of learners. They are architects of inspiration, guiding students towards realizing their fullest potential. 

Beyond the transmission of subject matter knowledge, an education degree cultivates essential competencies such as communication, empathy, and adaptability. Educators serve as mentors, counsellors, and advocates, championing the holistic development of their students. By fostering socially just spaces where identities are affirmed and recognised, they lay the groundwork for a more socially just society. 

Moreover, an education degree serves as a catalyst for social, racial, economic, and political change. In an era characterized by growing inequalities, the need for socially just approaches to education has never been greater. Educators equipped with a solid understanding of critical pedagogies are better positioned to address these historical challenges and creating opportunities for radical transformation. 

Furthermore, the value of an education degree extends far beyond the confines of traditional classrooms. Beyond preparing individuals for careers in teaching, it opens doors to a myriad of professional pathways. From educational leadership and curriculum development to educational technology and policy advocacy, the possibilities are limitless. By empowering graduates to effect change at systemic levels, an education degree becomes a catalyst for broader educational reform. 

In conclusion, the value of an education degree cannot be overstated. It empowers individuals to re-shape the social, political, and economic opportunities through education. By fostering socially just learning environments, driving social change, and opening doors to diverse career opportunities, an education degree enables the radical transformation of tomorrow.  

Written by Dr Amina Shareef. February 2024.

Learn more about Dr Amina Shareef’s teaching and research.

Learn more about the Staff at the Educational Studies Department.

Learn more about BA Education at Goldsmiths.

Four ways education can make the world more socially just

It was a very rainy cold night in New Cross, London, but it was warm in the Margaret McMillan Building on the Goldsmiths Campus! Several Educational Studies staff, former and current students, and prospective students had gathered both in the building and online to discuss a vital issue for our times: how can education make the world more socially just?

It is a huge topic, but a very important one to consider. The discussion was very fruitful and a few key points emerged by the end of the evening, which I’ll sum up here.

ONE: Make every voice count.

If there was one strident point to emerge from the evening, it was this. If we are going to institute social justice in the world, then both formal and informal educational settings need to foster listening cultures where everyone feels they can be heard and listened to with respect, kindness and consideration. This is not to say that there shouldn’t be disagreements, but the crucial issue here is that people should feel their opinions, their thoughts, their feelings, their experiences count. This is something that all the programmes at Goldsmiths encourage. The BA Education as Dr Amina Shareef, a lecturer and tutor on the degree, pointed out, is all about giving students the confidence to articulate their views, and to listen to other people. Equally, within the Masters’ programmes in Educational Studies, this theme was a constant. Dr Chris Millora, module leader on globalization and education on the MA Education, Culture, Language and Identity, highlighted what happens when people are not given a voice. He showed us a photograph of a bulldozer ploughing down homes in the Philippines, where he is from, in order to build a resort, and pointed out that while for some the bulldozer is a symbol for helping communities become richer by building a resort that fosters tourism, for other people, particularly the local community, the bulldozer represents losing their homes. His module and others on the MA interrogate these issues. Whose voice really counts in the world? Who is listened to and respected? Too often, the voices of the economically disadvantaged and of marginalized groups are ignored at best, and at worst obliterated.

 TWO: Help everyone become critical and creative thinkers.

Professor Vicky Macleroy, Head of the MA Children’s Literature, talked powerfully about the ways in which her MA explores the ways in which people, children and the world are represented in children’s literature. This MA is innovative in the way it helps students on the degree become critical and creative thinkers simultaneously. They read so many wonderful children’s texts – written by staff on the course like Professor Michael Rosen and alumni like Dean Atta – and then are given space to respond both critically and creatively with their own analytical essays, podcasts, pictures, and creative writing. On the MA Creative Writing and Education, students are encouraged to use creative writing in all sorts of educational ways: to use it as a form of self-healing, to get communities writing poems, plays and stories about the injustices they see around them. Seb Duncan, alumni of the MA Creative Writing and Education, is just about to publish a novel, The Book of Thunder and Lighting, which explores these issues in some depth. His time-travelling hero undergoes a fantastical psychic and physical journey through London’s past and learns about the injustices that have happened throughout the ages to emerge as a changed person.

 THREE: Foster the spirit of rebellion against injustice.

This was a theme that was raised initially by a student on the MA Creative Writing and Education, Denise Dixon Roberts. She’d run a wonderful workshop earlier in the term for the general public on Creative Rebels. She pointed out that it is often the rebels that change the world for the better. We talked about artists like William Blake and Linton Kwesi Johnson (Goldsmiths’ alumni) who fostered this spirit.

FOUR: To use research as a tool for social justice.

This was another theme that came up again and again. Dr Chris Millora talked about his own research into literacies in the Global South, and how the label ‘literacy’ can be oppressive when used in certain ways, if, for example, certain people and communities are labelled ‘illiterate’. Emeritus Professor Eve Gregory spoke about her research into literacy which had highlighted a similar issue in the United Kingdom and London. Her research conducted with many other academics over the years has shown that there are many hidden literacies amongst groups who are often labelled as lacking literacy skills, such as the Bangladeshi community and the white working class in the East End of London.

Exciting research within the Educational Studies Department with Social Justice as a key theme:

BeLiFS:  www.belifs.co.uk

‘Becoming literate in faith settings: Language and literacy learning in the lives of new Londoners’ (BeLiFS) is a research project funded by the Economic and Social Science Research Council. This is a 3-year long project on four faith groups: the Pentecostalist community from Ghana, the Catholic community from Poland, the Muslim community from Bangladesh and the Hindu community from South India/Sri Lanka.

Multilingual Digital Storytelling Project (goldsmithsmdst.com)

The Critical Connections Project, initiated in 2012 with funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, is about enabling young people across the primary and secondary age range to create and share multilingual digital stories. It offers an approach to language learning, literacy and citizenship which recognises that communication is enhanced when plurilingual and digital resources are drawn upon purposefully and creatively. Consistent with Project Based Language Learning (PBLL), the value of a wider cross-curricular orientation, particularly in relation to the arts (drama, music, visual art) is also viewed as highly significant.

Other MAs in the Department of Educational Studies which you might be interested in are:

MA Education: Culture Language and Identity, soon to be MA in Social Justice

The MA Education: Culture, Language and Identity has been developed into the MA Social Justice in Education (new from September 2024). We build very much upon the strong and popular basis that is the MA Education: Culture, Language and Identity drawing upon the expertise of talented and knowledgeable academics. This programme is designed for you if you are interested in how questions around social justice impact upon education as well as lived aspects of our lives. In part, this new MA  aims to address issues faced by those in informal learning contexts as well as formal educators at all levels, international settings and related fields.

You can find full details about this very popular MA on the website here:

MA Children’s Literature

You can find full details about this very popular MA on the website here:

MA Children’s Literature: Illustration Pathway

You can find full details about this very popular MA on the website here:

MA Arts and Learning

You can find full details about this very popular MA on the website here:

MA Multilingualism, Linguistics and Education

You can find full details about this very popular MA on the website here:

MA in Creative Writing and Education

You can learn more about the MA in Creative Writing and Education here. 

Spotlight interview: Amina Shareef

We have a series of blog posts introducing colleagues who have recently joined Goldsmiths’ Educational Studies Department. Find out more about their role at Goldsmiths, why they decided to join, the areas they teach and what they do during their spare time! This gives you a glimpse of the vibrant research and teaching community at our department.


Dr Amina Shareef, Lecturer in Education, joined Goldsmiths in September 2023

What was your role before you came to GS?

I was a doctoral candidate at the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge.

Tell us a bit about your research and teaching expertise – what do you specialize in?

My research is animated by an abiding interest in understanding how young British Muslim women are subjected by power—made into liberal female subjects—by anti-Muslim racism. My understanding of anti-Muslim racism is grounded in the discourse and practice of the War on Terror on the home-front, particularly the PREVENT policy which I take as a gendered regime of security. And I am particularly interested, following Saba Mahmood’s work on secularization, in understanding how the management of British Muslim populations takes place through the remaking of religious subjectivities into liberal subjectivities.

What drew you to Goldsmiths? And to the department?

I was drawn to the department of Educational Studies at Goldsmiths by its reputation for being committed to the project of racial justice and for encouraging radical intellection in the areas of race and racism. I was also drawn by the diversity that is reflected in the student body which I see as an opportunity for a rich and meaningful teaching experience.

Which programmes do you teach on here and what your contribution to those programmes?

I teach on both the MA and BA programs at the Department of Educational Studies. On the BA program, I teach on a number of modules. They are: Culture and Identity, Race and Representation, Children’s Cultures, Children and the Construction of Identity, and Youth Cultures. I also supervise undergraduate and master’s dissertations.

What makes the programme(s) interesting and important? How do you think potential students might benefit from taking the programme?

What makes the BA programme an incredible program is that it offers our students a more analytical perspective on educational institutions and systems. Our program allows our students to explore the following questions: What is education? How is education experienced by young people? How do educational systems intersect with other axes of domination such as race, class, gender, and nation? Whose knowledge counts as knowledge? How are identity and belonging produced through education? Our program gives potential teachers a robust understanding of the system of which they are a part as well as frameworks for doing education differently. Our program nicely positions our students for pursuing a master’s and doctoral degree in the future if they so wish to do so.

What do you do in your spare time?

What spare time! Between work and my two young sons, I do manage to find some time to pursue a pastime beyond research and teaching. I am active in anti-racist advocacy that serves marginalized communities in Britian. And I am currently training to run my first half-marathon in October!

What reading/books/resources would you recommend to students who might be thinking of taking your programme?

Some of the areas of critical thinking that have been fundamental in making me into the researcher and teacher that I am have been Islamophobia Studies, Critical Race Theory, Black Studies and Feminist thought. Arun Kundnani, Sherene Razack, and Mimi Thai Nguyen have been some of my favourite thinkers.

 


Learn more about Dr Amina Shareef’s teaching and research.

Learn more about the Staff at the Educational Studies Department.

Learn more about BA Education at Goldsmiths.