COVID-19 shows worth of arts, humanities, social sciences


For the earlier 10 years or so, we have been continuously bombarded with a loud, aggressive and alarming information that university graduates from specified arts, social sciences and humanities majors are irrelevant to the information financial state, sick-outfitted for today’s entire world, unready for work and uncompetitive compared to those majoring in science, technologies, engineering and arithmetic or STEM in certain.

This message has been conveyed in several content articles, experiences and briefings from numerous international and nationwide organisations, primary to the closure and shrinking of college programmes in sociology, anthropology and philosophy about the globe.

This discourse is so potent and frequent that numerous university administrators, professors, students, businesses and moms and dads have internalised and reproduced it so a lot that the irrelevance message has grow to be the norm and an unquestionable real truth.

This discourse has also lowered quite a few decades of college instruction to basically one particular detail: employability. The problem of transformation is absent. Similarly, the a lot of ways that pupils of such majors can effect their societies and the environment in typical by way of their schooling, expertise and skills are ignored.

Like some other students, this kind of as Paul Ashwin in his College Entire world News article “Higher instruction is about transformation”, my learners and I obtain the irrelevance discourse remarkably problematic as it ignores the holistic uses of instruction and, for instance, its position in acquiring compassion and treatment for humanity and in group service, volunteering and education-driven engagement.

These are the quite values and academic orientations that have proved to be essential for the effectively-currently being of societies, peoples and the surroundings, as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has proven us this past 12 months.

For this explanation, University Planet Information is launching a series, Sociology Learners Write Back again and Forward, which aims to interact audience in fruitful, productive and non-binary conversations about higher instruction. It will element a number of commentaries which pupils on my 2020-21 module “Society and schooling in a globalised world” and I have co-published.

It foregrounds the voices of sociology and anthropology pupils and their views about their education’s relevance and great importance to themselves and individuals all around them. They will draw on specific local community engagement tasks that they have done throughout and further than the program.

The learners also make specific the character of the transformation they have absent as a result of and mirrored on. Similarly, the college students highlight how the communities all-around them have acquired and responded to the initiatives to make social and academic enhancements for all.

In advance of the collection commencing, I am sharing excerpts from a few letters I have prepared to my students considering the fact that the pandemic strike as they demonstrate the way we have performed the module at this challenging time for pupils, instructors and communities and exhibit plainly its price.

Initial Letter – April 2020

“As constantly, I hope you and your beloved types are all very well and in good spirits. In examining the reflection notes that you have been sharing with me more than the earlier couple of months on the readings, conversations and assignments released in this module, I am additional certain of the worth of the purpose of reflection in instructing, discovering and expertise output and in instruction a lot more broadly.

…The pandemic has brought about unprecedented experiences that will leave an incredible effects on our life. Never prior to have our simple day-to-working day things to do been so profoundly interrupted. Billions of people have been impacted. Jointly with losses, many by now deprived groups have been pushed to hunger and homelessness with zero health-related awareness.

We have witnessed growing inequalities, poverty, helplessness, unequal obtain to assets, marginalisation, struggles and struggling in each culture. Training has seen many issues and is working in complete chaos. At the exact same time, there have also been aspirations amongst establishments and folks to generate greater and extra meaningful finding out spaces for all.

…You can attract, doodle, create a story, a novel, poems, preserve diaries, sketch, structure anything, do patchwork, knit, embroider, increase a plant, occur up with a task, volunteer, build an thought into an motion prepare, jot down some random thoughts, etcetera, etc … that may possibly best capture and mirror your thinking and feelings at this place in time. And when we are out of this pandemic, I’d really like to have an exhibition to showcase all what we (will) appear up with.

Pricey learners, due to the fact Brunei carried out journey limitations in February, followed by the latest vacation ban by each Brunei and Vietnam, I have been incredibly anxious and nervous about my mom and dad in Vietnam. I am longing to see them and I’m not confident when items will be back to normal so I can go household at the very least for a quick check out.

Even though this may feel particular, I’d still like to share with you a poem I have created for/about my mom. It is called “The Story of Champaca Bouquets”. I believe we all have affectionate and loving views about our moms that we really do not commonly express …”

Next letter – June 2020 (not despatched)

“For numerous educators in the area of education like myself, reflective exercise is not new, as it has always been a sturdy dimension and core benefit of instruction, of instructor teaching and of classroom exercise and I am quite pleased to see that lots of of you in sociology and anthropology have now located this new way of discovering transformational, refreshing and stimulating.

“Mom, why are you crying?”, my daughters wondered as they noticed me in tears immediately after the past online session I had with my students in April 2020.

“Because I’m content that I can be with my college students during this tricky time. This semester has been challenging. Listening to them, conversing to them, exchanging worries, anxieties and hopes with them, singing with them, reading through poems with them, just about every solitary tiny issue we’ve been by means of this semester, on campus and virtually, have humbled me and strengthened me.

“I’m blessed to be surrounded by the elegance of kindness, ache, humility, treatment and sharing. I’m crying mainly because I’m satisfied,” I responded.

“I listened to anyone participating in the guitar and singing. Is that ideal, Mom?”

“Yes, two college students ended up playing the guitar and singing and the rest have been listening. This course I have both next-year and fourth-calendar year learners enrolled. We did not want the session today to be a goodbye session but it was mainly because 17 last-12 months learners will graduate. This is the very last course for them and I may possibly not see them once more on campus. This helps make me unfortunate, sort of pleased unhappy, sad happy, I really don’t know.”

I could experience so a great deal bonding with you, despite the fact that I only understood you briefly for a lot less than a semester. The bonding we had with one one more was not only fashioned via the instruction of material understanding and our discussion of matters incorporated in the syllabus and assigned readings and created responsibilities, but it also arrived from the continual reflection that I experienced shared with you and invited you to share with me and the course in the course of the semester.

And all through the online training and social distancing time period beginning in March, I proactively shared with you my individual feelings on on the internet training and mastering and the difficulties I was heading via. I am human, following all.

And do you know that sharing and reflecting were between the most lovely functions that we have shown throughout the module? Soon after I sent you the link to the poem I wrote about my mother, I felt we connected even more strongly, as you started off to react much more openly to me.

Even the quietest learners in class responded. Electronic mail right after e-mail landed in my mailbox. Some of you confessed that you experienced been so targeted on your personal annoyance and concerns about COVID-19 that you forgot about the quite a few international instructors and learners on campus who must have been so homesick and fearful about their kin in other places.

You certain me that you would be there for me and that you were being wondering of me and that my relatives and I had been in your prayers.

…1 college student read through my poem to her mother and her mother cried simply because she missed her individual mom. A pupil whose mom experienced handed absent also arrived at out to me to share with me her reminiscences of her late mom. 1 student reported she would like to draw her mother. One more pupil informed me that it experienced been a although due to the fact she final walked with her mom and she now felt like likely for a wander with her mother.

And my poem by some means inspired a person of you to write poems. She also sent me a observe stating she hopes to glimpse back again at her poems in the potential when the pandemic has ended and to never take items for granted once more.

I am nicely mindful that some of you have also been associated in volunteer do the job and have been energetic in training and group initiatives led by NGOs. For occasion, Ahmad Syauqie bin Haji Satia, who is also president of SCOT (Culture for Group Outreach and Schooling), will be donating laptops and info playing cards to 120 underprivileged pupils all about Brunei to aid with their online studying throughout this time of disaster (this has led to a longer-phrase electronic literacy programme qualified at marginalised communities in Brunei).

For 2020, we were being only capable to satisfy each and every other on campus for about half of the semester and the rest of it was absolutely on the internet owing to the pandemic… But you persevered and discovered strategies to even now complete all your documentaries and video jobs on distinct areas of education and modern society… This spirit was admirable and educational.

Dear students, the semester I had with you in 2020 will for good remain in my heart. I am humbled by your gratitude, really like and humility.”

3rd letter – April, 2021 (not sent still)

“…This semester we have been able to meet facial area to encounter. I remember asking you suitable at the beginning of the semester if you would also choose a hybrid method of shipping with both equally on line and in-particular person sessions. And you all reported ‘NO’. This confirmed me how a great deal we would want to be collectively in one particular area. We missed the campus and the facial area-to-face interactions.

The pandemic compelled us all to rethink so lots of existing theories, techniques, initiatives and conceptualisations regarding instruction, globalisation, mobility, internationalisation, (in)equality and obtain that I have introduced to you in this module. And I’ve also needed to make the module suitable and responsive to you and the new predicament we are all heading by.

…I was thrilled to see you occur up with nuanced observations and analyses of rising norms, meanings and discourses associated with instructional mobility, belonging, residence, id, the country condition, sustainability and educational systems as the pandemic unfolded.

You were being also talking about the implications of individuals nuances to your possess circumstances and the diverse social and academic contexts of Brunei.

I was touched by your have confidence in in me and your willingness to share your thoughts, thoughts, anxieties as properly as your ongoing reflections and the new options that could come your way.

…You’ve all conducted your jobs in the group: they array from taboo education, sexual harassment and gender difficulties to the sociology of particular education and learning from training and capitalism as experiential to the price and relevance of increased education from peer tension in education and learning to psychological health and fitness troubles between young persons from educational reform to training streaming and its accompanying societal biases from instructional attainment amid those people dwelling on and off campus to the position of well known society on instruction and poverty reduction from college alternative to the impacts of class streaming to youth employability and from the educational part of folklore to the emerging value of the imaginative industries in Brunei.

I am also thrilled to know that some of you are already performing with an organisation to establish the initially textbook for sign language in Brunei.

The incredibly spirit of group engagement and of instruction as serving, setting up and inspiring has penetrated your work this semester. I am again humbled by all this. Staying with you in this module has consistently enriched me and held me pondering about humanity and the significant role of your schooling to yourselves, all those close to you and the world much more broadly.”

Sociology learners compose again and forward

Sharing these letters is a way to thank my 2020 and 2021 college students and to introduce our series of content which is a single way to have interaction with, increase and enrich the meanings and relevance of our academic journeys versus and alongside the dominant and biased global narrative of graduate employability and work options.

The mother nature of the module I have supplied to my learners more than the past two semesters, the strategies we have interacted, the subjects we have examined, the inspiration my college students have supplied me and the initiatives my college students have carried out all arrive collectively so powerfully to remind us all of the meanings and relevance of our expertise and our discipline to the societies and communities close to us.

They carry humanity back again to the centre of schooling through caring, a perception of function, a feeling of put, compassion, intellectual and local community engagement and motion-primarily based initiatives.

Phan Le Ha is head of the Global and Comparative Training Study Team and senior professor in the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Institute of Schooling, Universiti Brunei Darussalam. Her learners are keeping a Showcase Day, “The Academia Prom”, on 12 May perhaps.&#13