Queen Mary University of London has launched the UK’s first degree focused solely on Social Change. After receiving more than 500 applications, the university has chosen 13 to begin the course this academic year.
The degree, titled Charted Manager Degree Apprenticeship (Social Change), is designed to encourage students to become the leaders and activists who can confront the social challenges posed by the world today.
The course combines theoretical work – with modules focusing on accountancy, law and social media – and on-the-job experience. Each student on the course has been paired up with a charity that will employ them throughout their four year course.
The charities who helped design the course include Scouts, Alzheimer’s Society, WaterAid, and Action for Children.
Dr. Philippa Lloyd, vice-principal of Queen Mary, spoke of the growing desire in young people to create social change: “You have generations growing up now – the Greta Thunbergs of this world who want to take action to make the world a better place. They want to make a social impact as well as an economic impact. That is what this is tapping into.”
Queen Mary has also made sure to pay attention to the student make-up of the course. The current group has an equal gender split, with around 80% of the students coming from non-white backgrounds. It is the diverse and, in some cases, disadvantaged backgrounds of these students that has encouraged them to seek a career in this area.
Shania Thomas, 19, from Chiswick, wants to be a role model for the BAME community: “Coming from a disadvantaged background I think about how I can help other people and be a role model. This degree will help us find out how to do something about the problems we see. Being a role model in the BAME community has partly motivated me to do this.”
The charities which helped to create of this degree will be keenly aware of the lack of individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences in senior leadership teams across the country; in 2018 it was revealed that a third of the largest charities in the UK had leadership teams with only white individuals, following a study of 100 organisations.
On the importance of diversity, Dr Lloyd added: “You can appreciate it, but you can’t fully understand it unless you have lived with people or have had that experience yourself. I think that diversity is really important, and getting that into the senior leadership, not just of charities.”
Diversifying senior leadership teams in organisations across the country will be a key goal for this degree programme.