May 1, 2019 @ 11:19 by Richard Dawson
Students are searching for solutions to the rising tide of inequalities locally, nationally and globally as part of the very first masters programme of its kind launched in the North East.
With welfare reforms and the rising cost of living since the recession in 2008 pushing vulnerable families into poverty, coupled with the concerning rise of hate crime and the far right as well as the impact of Brexit, a team of social scientists at the University of Sunderland felt the time was ripe to introduce a research-based course to focus on inequality, why it exists and how can we tackle it?
The Inequality and Society MSc offers an understanding of the major causes of inequality in our world, why some groups face unique forms of disadvantage in areas such as health, sexualities, gender, age, domestic abuse, childhood and socio-economic issues.
Aimed at post-graduate students as well as a wide range of professionals who want to upskill, from health and social care, teaching to psychology criminology to community and community work, the course explores strategies for change, through research.
Drew Dalton, programme leader for the course and a Senior Lecturer in Sociology, said: “Never has it been more important that we look at this area with a theoretical research-based Master’s degree. We are certainly seeing a rise in race and religious crime which is up by 400 per cent, hate crime against the LGBTQ community is up 147 per cent, we are also seeing inequality on a socio-economic level since the introduction of the austerity cuts.
“The impact of inequality we are seeing is happening at every level of society and it seems to be deepening at the moment. But this is not just naval gazing at the UK, we’ll consider the impact on a global scale.”
He added: “It is our intention that this course can become a movement for change and get students thinking how they can influence change on a bigger scale.”
One of the first to sign up for the programme is Izzy Finch, a learning and participation officer at the Customs House in South Shields.
She said: “Challenging and working to eliminate the impact of inequality is something I feel passionately about. In my current role at The Customs House and as a freelance music practitioner I have worked with diverse communities to engage people in artistic and creative experiences.
“Working with marginalised and hard to reach communities has helped me to recognise that working in the arts to promote social change is where my ambitions to be a part of a fair society can be realised.
“In a pluralistic, diverse society and during a time of austerity and division, I feel it is more important than ever to research and find ways to address the inequalities that affect us all. I am excited and optimistic about the MSc. It offers a great opportunity to explore and contribute to research about the burning issues that affect every community.”