In this post Dr Claire Fox, our Academic Director here at the Resource Centre and Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the University’s School of Law, introduces a recent student engagement project and the Race and Crime blog post series.
The Resource Centre has a wealth of resources that are regularly accessed by members of the public, community groups and professionals, as well as staff and students from across the University of Manchester and beyond. However, we recently identified a bit of gap in our user groups – that of undergraduate students from some sections of our own university. Our collections are highly relevant to undergraduate study across a wide range of humanities disciplines, but facilitating students to come down from campus to our location in Manchester Central Library is an ongoing challenge.
Keen to explore how we can overcome this gap in engagement we consulted with some of the outgoing students from the BA Criminology programme and put together a project proposal for funding from the University’s Centre for Higher Education Research, Innovation and Learning (CHERIL).
The students were keen for the project to be linked to things that they had already studied, enabling them to develop existing knowledge, with some topics such as hate crime and other forms of discrimination, being identified as areas of interest. There was enthusiasm for the project to be linked to Manchester, so producing resources for the Resource Centre, which is based in the city centre, was an obvious choice. The students were also mindful of assessment deadlines, not overcommitting themselves, and the timing of any project, and these issues needed to be considered when writing the proposal. Finally, the idea of using research skills that had been gained via their studies, whilst also gaining new skills through designing and producing online resources, was seen as highly beneficial.
With all of this in mind, the project brief was based around recruiting current BA Criminology students to research the library collection and produce posts for the Resource Centre’s thriving blog, reporting back on their research and evaluations. In line with what had already been suggested at the proposal stage, certain criminology and criminal justice-related topics were singled out for attention. These included police stop and search practices (which are known to disproportionately affect those from Black and Minority Ethnic groups); hate crime and Islamophobia; racial disparities in sentencing practices and high profile cases.
The Resource Centre is delighted to publish a series of blog posts by some of the students who were involved in this project. In the posts that follow, readers will find out about different race-related aspects of the criminal justice system and criminology. All of the posts have involved researching our collections and there is more information available about our criminal justice resources on our website, from staff in the Centre and via the catalogue search facility.
If you are an undergraduate or postgraduate student interested in blogging about a race-related issue from your own discipline, adapting one of your assignments for a blog post, or would like to do a book review for us, then please contact Hannah (email@example.com) to discuss your ideas.