We continue our series of winter postcards from Psychology and Counselling modules. Dr Karen Hagan, the Staff Tutor for DD317 Advancing social psychology, writes about what’s happening on this module.
What’s happening at the moment on DD317?
DD317, Advancing Social Psychology, is a Level Three module taken by students not only on the BSc (Honours) Psychology and BSc (Honours) Social Psychology degree, but also on a range of other qualifications such as the BA (Honours) Philosophy and Psychological Studies.
Boundaries between disciplines are in many ways artificial and constructed, so Advancing Social Psychology merges these boundaries to accommodate more dynamic conceptualisations of social psychology topics. It is concerned with the individual-social relationship and diversity, in terms of similarities as well as differences. It is an exciting and relevant module, exploring the contemporary subject in contemporary contexts. As a trailblazer, it compels social psychology to critically engage with future developments in social psychology in a fast-changing world.
Having studied culture, multicultures and intercultural encounters in a globalised world in autumn, DD317 students are currently engaged with what it means to engage with ‘small-p’ politics and personal power; citizenship, participation and political action.
The assignment they are working on at the moment develops valuable applied skills that will be extremely important for future career opportunities. It requires students to produce a report for a government committee concerned about public protests against knife crime. The report must apply social psychological concepts to this specific contemporary socio-political issue to inform the committee’s work.
These topics move cogently into related areas such as work and gender. Later in the module, lively chapters on psychodynamic theory, conflict and violence are extremely popular with students.
What are the students enjoying about this module?
DD317 adopts an applied and critical approach to social psychology. In doing so the topics addressed are current and relevant to the students. The skills of critical thinking, of critical analysis and evaluating arguments and evidence are challenging, but the students thrive on applying these skills to real-world issues. Debates are lively! However, students are richly rewarded for their engagement with a deeper understanding of topics and a diversity of positions. Students with little previous involvement in social and political issues can be seen, on forums, at tutorials and in assignments, producing their own strong voices. DD317 students learn a lot about themselves.
What do you yourself find interesting about it?
DD317 is thoroughly enjoyed by students, with feedback being some of the most positive I have seen in almost 30 years working in the OU. Many of them share my own interest in interrogating the social practices and, particularly, power relations that impact our lives. For me, the module explains aspects of the social world which can baffle and frustrate. It opens up new ways of thinking and opportunities for more positive engagement with challenges. On a personal level, I have always been concerned about social issues but did not want to be ‘political’. However, my involvement with the module has encouraged me to take a more assertive stance and to use my own power more effectively. I hear similar reflections from the students.
What message would you send to current and future students?
If you are interested in political and social structures, social divisions and processes and what they mean for the people in local and global societies, this module is for you. It examines how we live in our social worlds and the relationship between the ‘individual’ and the ‘social’. In this time of uncertainty, ‘alternative facts’ and rapidly changing global relationships and issues, DD317 provides theoretical and methodological approaches to discussing, challenging and understanding the ‘big issues’, as well as issues which are close to each of us.
DD317 is a complex and thought-provoking module. It requires engagement to get the most of out the materials – but it is worth it. The relevance and application of theory and methods to real-world issues means it has an applied standpoint. Students who take the module will find they develop a much deeper understanding of many worthy topics, from political activism, global cultures and conflict/violence to positive psychology and happiness. They will take away skills and knowledge to challenge themselves and others, and to have an impact on the world around them. Be a more interesting person to know and realise your power!
If you’re particularly interested in social psychology, you can access the School’s social psychology blog here https://learn1.open.ac.uk/mod/oublog/view.php?u=sjt38