The Researching Race and Ethnicity module is the basis for a collaborative co-curricular initiative between sociology and the arts called 'Taking Race Live'.
This module and the project were recognised by the Kingston University 2015 Student-Led Learning and Teaching Awards for Most Innovative Teaching. The initiative is also recognised by the Higher Education Academy's Strategic Enhancement Programme.
The module and project represent the Department of Criminology and Sociology's commitment to innovation and excellence in teaching, and staff expertise in critical race and gender studies.
The project was inspired by the work of critical race scholars Les Back and Nirmal Puwar. Their book, 'Live Methods' is about 'doing sociology' in ways that make social research responsive to social life and to bring it alive. Those ideas were brought into the Taking Race Live project through shared exploration of race, ethnicity and culture.
Students from sociology and drama came together and were given opportunities to engage in a series of joint field trips and extracurricular activities. Students visited the National Portrait Gallery, the Black Cultural Archives, listened to a guest talk from actor and playwright Clint Dyer, and saw a play at the Tricycle Theatre. These events and a student-organised festival built towards an end-of-year event.
The event 'Taking Race Live: Stories of Race, Faith and Culture' showcased a range of intellectual and dynamic student work. The audience were privy to a reflection on encountering the portrait of Ira Aldrige, the first black actor to perform the role of Othello. This was accompanied by a dramatic reading. A social ethnography of a black hair salon was brought to life by drama students. There was a critical reading of whiteness in the popular US television show 'Breaking Bad'. The event was supported by the very hip and uplifting sounds of the Kingston University Gospel Choir!
Many of the 'Taking Race Live' events were organised by a dedicated student committee. Students went through a formal application process and were compensated for their work through an honorarium. Throughout their internships, students learned new skills, met new friends, gained knowledge on critical race theory, and achieved a sense of accomplishment for having their work recognised.
If you are interested in doing sociology at Kingston University and want to be part of the excitement when the social sciences and arts come together, look out for opportunities to be part of 'Taking Race Live' next year we team up with music!