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This time of the year, it always feels a bit, well odd! I prepare for the new academic year, in terms of the administrative tasks but most importantly for the academic material. For many years now, I have been returning to the same space, sit on the same chair and talk to the same old people. I am aware that this may demystify the role of the academic, but this is only the obvious side. What I left out from this annual ritual is the most important part of the process; the time used to contemplate content, to reflect on the pedagogies used and to explore new ideas; this is a process whose gestation will commence at the end of the last year and will mature just before the new academic year begins.
This year things are going to be slightly different; the last academic year I was on the old campus and now we have moved to a brand-new campus. Admittedly, this is a very interesting experience so far. In a way, it feels like I have changed employment although I still see the same recognisable faces around. Getting used to the new buildings will take a bit of time, so for those reading this blog, and coming to the campus, please bear with me and of course, if you see me going the wrong direction point me to the right one. This is a year the myself and my colleagues and our students will be discovering the new campus together. This will be a shared experience to remember.
The move to the new campus is also aligned to the way we have developed our institutional pedagogies, although our subject has long been involved in those, either espousing the changemaker ethos or getting involved with local organisations and engaging with the community. We have already been thinking of ways of working with our students to become more civic minded which will help in connecting the academic experience, with a different kind of social learning.
This is a year like all other years, in terms of preparation and planning but at the same time this is a year like no other. It is a year all students and staff will remember beyond their educational experience. Years ago, I told a group of students that the place of study becomes such an important point of reference because as people we combine experiences together. The new campus will shelter the dreams and aspirations of many generations of students and transfigure them into the level of academic maturity that lead our graduates to professional success. The process is so simple and at the same time so incredibly vital. The students who come will progress through their studies, master the importance of becoming independent learners with confidence, who will return to their communities, to enhance them with their knowledge and ability. This is an incredibly satisfying academic process that encouraged myself and many other colleagues to join academia in the first instance.
Let’s have a great new academic year. One of many
Every year in late autumn, all universities prepare to welcome new students onto their campuses. In the media, we know this as “Freshers week”, a period when new students become familiar with university life. Throughout the years this particular week has grown in importance for the students’ social life, activities and other out of classroom activities. Students can taste the nightlife of the campus and that of the nearby town, engage in group activities, join a society and of course have, in many cases, their first taste of independence away from home. For the University, it is the first opportunity to engage students and get them involved in societies, volunteering and other after hours activities.
Year by year, this week is becoming increasingly important for the student calendar.
Returning students participate and graduating students remember when they were involved. A clear watershed moment in the student diary, so much so that special wristbands are produced and different special events are organised, only for this week. There is clearly some attraction, into being part of “freshers” so strong, that is now recorded into our collective vernacular. Finally, the freshers apart from the commercial, cultural attractions, is even connected with health, the infamous “freshers flu” is presented as the scourge for many students who will suffer some ill-health in their first term at Uni/life.
For an academic welcome week is interpreted differently. It is definitely an important week because it signifies the start to another form of education. It is transitional in terms of age for those who just crossed the 18 year old threshold marking the first part of adult education. It is a declaration of independence for many students and the time to make one of the many transitions into the world of academia.
This is why, instead of wristbands, I was frantically preparing my plenary lecture last week. Every year, I dig deep inside to find something that will signal to our newest cohort why I feel so passionate about criminology. This year, using the 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality, I considered the importance of criminology, as a discipline. The main points focused on the multidisciplinary nature of criminology, the ability of criminology to holistically explore complex phenomena and the immense service, criminology offers to understanding crime from a dynamic/ever changing standpoint. The reason for going through the “pains” of delivering a plenary is clear to me: welcome week is the first week of the next three years of academic study. The start of a wider conversation that allows lay people to embrace those skills that will allow them to understand, evaluate, critique and argue with evidence and knowledge. Unfortunately there is no wristband for that, only a certificate at the end of the road, that will just about quell the thirst for knowledge. For many, this thirst will grow further and whilst the wristband may fade and the band attended may break-up, the knowledge that our students will acquire will be with them forever. This is the tool we offer and this is the beginning of how we do it.
To all of our new students, Welcome!
Welcome to the Criminology Team’s blog, live from Fawsley 1!
Over the forthcoming weeks and months we plan to write some short opinion pieces, as well as longer narratives, focused on all different facets of criminology, as well as wider social issues.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here belong to individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the team or the institution.
If you have any suggestions for subjects you might like to appear on the blog, please get in touch