The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

University as a site to learn citizenship from the perspectives of students in the UK

University as a site to learn citizenship from the perspectives of students in the UK
University as a site to learn citizenship from the perspectives of students in the UK

The role of universities in preparing students to be active citizens within civil society has gained increasing attention. However, only limited research has been conducted on students’ views of universities as sites to learn representative democracy. To address the research gap, this article conducts eight semi-structured interviews with staff, student leaders and students without any positions in a case university. The students are undergraduate and post-graduate from different academic majors. Community of practice theory is employed to help understand students’ views of their experiences of representative democracy at the university. After analysing the interview data, the article finds that student leaders regard their role as mainly representing students and that all students in the study realise the importance of such democratic representation through participation. Importantly, through participation in representative democracy, students, especially student leaders, gain knowledge and skills on voting and elections. Interestingly, students’ sense of belonging is a result of participation in student union, society and club activities, which very likely includes voting and engagement with elections. Learning and belongingness are likely to make students participate more in future democratic representation activities. Although students give credit to the university’s role in promoting representative democracy, there are challenges. Specifically, the university is supposed to promote more participation in voting and elections for first-year students, and there is also concern that the short-term nature of positions in the student union may not allow real changes to be made. The findings shed some light on how students learn representative democracy in universities in neoliberal countries.

Belongingness, Community of practice, Higher education, Learning process, Representative democracy
2071-1050
Yang, Jinyu
6b13266f-3b2a-4c9f-92d1-4510984860ca
Kinchin, Gary
04cfb5e4-89a6-479a-9426-8534944436a4
Yang, Jinyu
6b13266f-3b2a-4c9f-92d1-4510984860ca
Kinchin, Gary
04cfb5e4-89a6-479a-9426-8534944436a4

Yang, Jinyu and Kinchin, Gary (2022) University as a site to learn citizenship from the perspectives of students in the UK. Sustainability (Switzerland), 14 (3), [1939]. (doi:10.3390/su14031939).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The role of universities in preparing students to be active citizens within civil society has gained increasing attention. However, only limited research has been conducted on students’ views of universities as sites to learn representative democracy. To address the research gap, this article conducts eight semi-structured interviews with staff, student leaders and students without any positions in a case university. The students are undergraduate and post-graduate from different academic majors. Community of practice theory is employed to help understand students’ views of their experiences of representative democracy at the university. After analysing the interview data, the article finds that student leaders regard their role as mainly representing students and that all students in the study realise the importance of such democratic representation through participation. Importantly, through participation in representative democracy, students, especially student leaders, gain knowledge and skills on voting and elections. Interestingly, students’ sense of belonging is a result of participation in student union, society and club activities, which very likely includes voting and engagement with elections. Learning and belongingness are likely to make students participate more in future democratic representation activities. Although students give credit to the university’s role in promoting representative democracy, there are challenges. Specifically, the university is supposed to promote more participation in voting and elections for first-year students, and there is also concern that the short-term nature of positions in the student union may not allow real changes to be made. The findings shed some light on how students learn representative democracy in universities in neoliberal countries.

Text
sustainability-14-01939-v2 - Version of Record
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.
Download (259kB)

More information

Accepted/In Press date: 1 February 2022
e-pub ahead of print date: 8 February 2022
Additional Information: Funding Information: The APC was funded by [The National Natural Science Foundation of China] grant number [72174025].
Keywords: Belongingness, Community of practice, Higher education, Learning process, Representative democracy

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 457615
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/457615
ISSN: 2071-1050
PURE UUID: fba2d6da-f267-4b82-92d7-7ecd3a2bcc5e

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 14 Jun 2022 16:42
Last modified: 23 Jul 2022 00:26

Export record

Altmetrics

Contributors

Author: Jinyu Yang
Author: Gary Kinchin

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton: eprints@soton.ac.uk

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/cgi/oai2

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×