Sociology and field trips

Not had much time to blog recently and thinking through the field trips we are running this year and looking back through old posts makes me wish I had more time. Next year on the field trip module we will be introducing blogging into the assessment to help students make more of their reflective diaries that they keep as part of their research process. Just looking back at some old posts and I realised I hadn’t written about the importance of having a ‘sociological’ imagination or ‘geographical’ imagination when entering into field trips. It’s a well known fact that I value field trips and whilst often students find the process of developing research ideas a challenge and methods courses aren’t always the ones they enjoy the most, for me, it’s great to see the impact that these can have on students after they have completed them. Thinking back over the years of field trips one of the things that stands out is it gives students a chance to use their imagination and to develop their own initiative. The ones who are really engaged and enjoy their subject, who want to immerse themselves in the world around them and make the most of the opportunities, they are the ones who tend to get the most out of these experiences. It gives students an opportunity to develop their own interests as well as develop their ability to conduct research in a real world setting. Getting the balance between guiding them to topics and ideas versus letting them develop their own interests can be hard to balance.


For example … Last year we made all the students go to the Museum of London as it is full of exhibitions, interactive displays and information that relate to all fields of sociology – from the sociological and economic make up of London, to how it has changed over time and specific exhibitions on crime in the city, gender, homelessness and religion. Feedback from students told us that many of them couldn’t see the link between their specific research topic and the museum – so we took it out of the plan for this year. But sitting here now thinking about this I’m wondering if that was a good idea. It may be that there are other exhibitions, other places to go and immerse yourself into your research topic and places where you can go to observe and learn about your topic by just being there …. So I’m writing this to ask students to think about creative things they can do to make the most of the time that they have and make the most of the opportunity – to use your sociological imagination !


The exhibition above in the Museum of London covers issues around burial, religion, crime, night time economy and there are other exhibitions on gender feminism and the work of William Booth mapping poverty in London – all topics relevant to studying sociology …. How do I know all this … because I went there, read the information, took photos and notes …. now the question is what will you do ?

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