BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

    'I felt really inspired by it, it was really interesting to interact with the pupils’: active citizenship in the British undergraduate social science curriculum

    Watt, Paul and Gifford, C. and Koster, S. and Clark, W. (2009) 'I felt really inspired by it, it was really interesting to interact with the pupils’: active citizenship in the British undergraduate social science curriculum. Greek Social Science Tribune. Special English Edition: From a National Identity to a European One 14 (55), pp. 153-173. ISSN 1105-1167.

    Full text not available from this repository.


    This paper explores the research findings from a project on active citizenship and citizenship learning in higher education in the UK, more precisely the South East of England. It provides an evaluation and discussion of social science undergraduates’ experiences of studying citizenship in one particular first year module, ‘Citizenship and Identity’. The paper addresses some of the possibilities, and limitations, of embedding a meaningful experience of citizenship within the higher education curriculum. There is an emerging national and European policy agenda focused on active citizenship and citizenship education. There are two key contexts for this. The first concerns the construction of a European political community and the attempt to constitute a meaningful European identity. Secondly, there is a crisis over social and political integration at the national level indicated by low levels of trust for political elites, ‘crises’ over immigration and cultural and ethnic diversity, as well as the perceived negative effects of the individualisation of everyday life (Giddens 1991). Active citizenship and citizenship education in such an environment could mean nothing more than the extension of mechanisms of state control and market discipline. Historically, citizenship education at the national level has been concerned with inculcating children with dominant ideologies and cultures. Meanwhile, the image of the active European citizen appears to be that of the liberal, self-governing individual with the skills to negotiate the highly competitive global ‘knowledge’ economy (Wright 2004). Educators are in this sense faced with the dilemma of a policy agenda open to citizenship education but contexts which may constrain and direct the form this can take. Despite recent moves to standardise higher education curricula, it is possible to argue that this remains a space where academics still negotiate and control key aspects of the construction and dissemination of knowledge. The starting point of this paper is that of citizenship as a contested and open concept that can be meaningfully translated into the learning experiences of higher education students.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Moving Image, Birkbeck Institute for the (BIMI)
    Depositing User: Sarah Hall
    Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2013 13:59
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:07


    Activity Overview
    6 month trend
    6 month trend

    Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.

    Archive Staff Only (login required)

    Edit/View Item Edit/View Item