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Cultivating the civic identities and agency of undergraduates at a university in the UK

Von Berg, Piers; (2021) Cultivating the civic identities and agency of undergraduates at a university in the UK. Doctoral thesis (Ed.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

In recent years, many universities in the UK have claimed that citizenship is a benefit of attending their institution. This is at odds with the changed landscape of higher education which incentivises students in a competitive pursuit of valued grades and experiences for CVs to attain well paid employment. This study aims to discover what form of citizenship education can help nurture civic identities and agency of students at university. There is a lack of research on how citizenship education can achieve this in the marketised environment of UK universities and as part of a teacher’s professional practice at university. This study used an action research approach and an interpretive framework of analysis that drew on Friere’s ideas of authentic reflection, Mezirow’s theory of transformational learning and Boal’s forms of Forum and Image Theatre. This involved a series of activities combining discussion of personal beliefs, norms and values, critical incidents with marginalised groups in society, and, experimentation with issues from the students own lives in Forum Theatre. The findings show the development of an inexclusive sense of community premised on solidarity. This arose from reversing processes of othering and reduced senses of loneliness at university, which created potential for collective agency. The crucial medium was experiences of empathy and compassion followed up by critical and authentic reflection in liminal spaces. This process is termed ‘felt and attentive practice’, a rethinking of how civic identity entwines with civic agency that produces powerful examples of deep learning of civic identity. A liminal space away from the pressures of study facilitated felt and attentive practice even though some students attended to improve their CVs. The approach trialled here offers potential for a new form of professional practice that stimulates self and social awareness, expands collective agency and aids transition to university for students.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ed.D
Title: Cultivating the civic identities and agency of undergraduates at a university in the UK
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Education, Practice and Society
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10131232
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