“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.” – Noam Chomsky
According to the Library and Information Association, intellectual freedom represents the right to access and share information, from intellectual activity and creativity, to expression and debate. The association states that in order to build a prosperous, fair and inherently democratic society, the population must be able to access unrestricted information, discuss ideas, cultivate knowledge and freely communicate with anyone they choose.
In the university setting, the same concept applies, only we call this academic freedom. This is a freedom that allows students, scholars and teachers alike the right to discuss, research and publish findings on their subject of choice. Ultimately, for higher education to produce meaningful, honest and virtuous results, its activities need to be conducted in an honest and open environment – and as the world becomes increasingly connected, various issues can arise.
“International higher education plays an unprecedented role in the globalising world,” writes Elizabeth Liu of the European Association for International Education.
“The rapid development of globalisation gives international higher education a valuable mission,” she adds. “Educators have to foster global, multi-cultural citizens who can participate in social issues that require critical thinking. However, a barrier has emerged: breaches of academic freedom.”
According to Liu, academic democracy, purity and leadership, plus other factors like cultural tolerance and shared communication, can all have an adverse effect on the overall concepts of academic and intellectual freedom.
To uphold these necessary pillars, global education is in need of courageous, knowledgeable and contemporary trailblazers who lead by flawless example; it’s about knowing when to employ a critical eye, but also understanding the correct time to administer a vibrant dose of creativity. It’s about looking beyond face value and inspiring debate, spurring collaboration and defying set conventions.
The Social Sciences are known to produce graduates who demonstrate these skills; they not only stand as figureheads of intellectual and academic freedom, but also take the time to understand the complexities around issues like globalisation.
As Karly Williams of The News Record concludes: “Social sciences study human interactions and relationships on mostly broad scales.
“Many STEM majors have vast knowledge, but don’t understand how to think critically on abstract social issues. This skill is necessary to be an informed citizen and voter in our democracy,” she explains, adding that, “…the skills developed from achieving in social sciences classes and simply being exposed to thinking outside the box about various concepts is a skill any student can use endlessly in their life.”
Do you think you’ve got what it takes to succeed in the Social Science sphere? Here are 5 UK Universities producing graduates who thrive in an increasingly globalised world…
Dedicated to delivering internationally-recognised teaching and research, Queen Margaret University (QMU) Edinburgh, consistently produces graduates who positively influence the world. The University’s postgraduate programmes are designed to be professionally relevant in order to cultivate well-prepared, well-rounded and confident global graduates, sought-after by global recruiters in a wide variety of professional fields.
Offering comprehensive courses in Business, Enterprise and Management; Media, Communications and Performing Arts; and Psychology and Sociology, QMU’s School of Arts, Social Sciences and Management is continuously refreshing its programmes to offer the optimum balance of theory and practice and to instil students with the tools needed to successfully navigate a competitive, globalised world. Through highly relevant research-informed teaching and abundant opportunities for knowledge exchange, the University is able to meet the ever-changing demands of students, employers and society as a whole.
With the institution’s expertise in the fields of sustainable business, social sciences and creativity and culture, QMU graduates are known for their intellectual rigour and professional expertise.
With a reputation for innovation, excellence and regional engagement that resounds around the globe, Ulster University is a figurehead of Northern Irish higher education. Through its core principles of providing outstanding teaching and learning, research and innovation, technology and knowledge transfer, and a mission to widen access to high quality education, Ulster is producing the talented graduates who contribute and help shape the modern world.
“Social Sciences are concerned with the study of social processes, social institutions and the organisation of society,” Ulster’s Social Science Faculty notes. “Important features of provision are the social, political, economic and legal aspects of social life, as well as issues of social diversity.”
With a long-established heritage of prestige, Social Sciences at Ulster offers a diverse range of short courses, certificates, diplomas, bachelor degrees, masters and doctoral qualifications. Its unique population of 3,800 students benefit from an experienced faculty from whom they learn to appreciate the importance of intellectual freedom and academic integrity in a connected and globalised world.
Ranked within the top 2 percent of universities worldwide, Plymouth University delivers high-quality, research-led and professionally-relevant teaching. Known to harbour a global outlook, as well as for making an increasingly positive impact on the lives of students and global civilians, Plymouth stands as a trusted partner within the student voyage of discovery.
“Through the provision of creative learning we build a culture of ingenuity, diversity and distinctiveness,” claims Plymouth’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities, “a culture that has far reaching benefits that go beyond the Faculty, beyond the University and reach into the community, industry and economy at large.”
Bringing together the School of Art, Design and Architecture; the School of Humanities and Performing Arts; and the Plymouth Institute of Education, the faculty produces graduates who consistently transcend the borders of global academia.
Teaching more than 34,000 students from all four corners of the globe, Derby is a renowned higher education provider in the heart of the UK. With an investment of more than £100 million in the course of the past five years, students here get access to some of the best facilities in the nation, ensuring they leave with the real-world practical experience employers increasingly seek.
Derby’s Department of Criminology and Social Sciences explores the diverse fields of Criminology, Policing, Social and Political Sciences. Courses here are known to be comprehensive, engaging and dynamic, refining students’ professional expertise as they are given the tools needed to navigate an intricate social world.
Students learn at One Friar Gate Square alongside Derby’s students of Law. Here, students benefit from a cutting-edge, integrated and like-minded learning community, letting them engage with students of separate disciplines and draw upon their unique skills.
Guiding more than 21,000 students and 2,800 staff from virtually every global region, the University of Brighton is a diverse, inclusive and inherently international institution of the UK education scene. Striving to produce confident, internationally-minded graduates, Brighton puts students at the heart of everything it does, letting them play an active role in their overall learning experience as they aim to positively impact the world.
The College of Arts and Humanities at Brighton serves as a respected platform for education, research and community enrichment, honing unparalleled opportunities around the highest levels of practice.
“As the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Brighton we take responsibility for future creative citizens, for the innovations that lead to social creativity and to the raising of cosmopolitan and global citizens,” the College website writes. “…We draw on innovative ways of understanding and function as society’s testing ground for the way expression, intuition and creativity can play their role in human development.”
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International