Welcome to this issue of Learning and Teaching: The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences.
The issue opens with an account of an experiment undertaken by team of climate-change postgraduates and their tutor. Anna Frank, Rebecca Froese, Barbara Hof, Maike Scheffold, Felix Schreyer, Mathias Zeller and Simone Rödder explain how important it is for climate-change scientists to have an understanding of the social sciences and some familiarity with social research methods. It was decided that the experiment should be about social norms and what happens when they are breached. The article reports what occurred in two buildings on the University of Hamburg campus around lunchtime when the experimenters asked to ride in the elevator alone.
In the second article, Stacy Keogh George explains the purpose and results of a simulation included in a sociology course about globalisation. The simulation, provided by the organisation World Relief, is based on the experiences of refugees in the U.S.A. and is intended to enable participants to understand the link between global processes and the lives of individuals and social groups. The effectiveness of the simulation was enhanced by carefully planned pre- and post-simulation activities, and the majority of the students felt that the whole exercise had extended their awareness and deepened their knowledge.
Nana Clemensen and Lars Holm interviewed students on an international master’s degree in anthropology about the academic literacy practices on their programme. In the third article, they analyse the responses they received and conclude that many students believed their tutors to have a common expectation of the sort of writer identity these postgraduates should develop. The authors conclude that, while the students use the diversity of their disciplinary backgrounds as a collaborative learning resource, they could be encouraged to use the multilingualism of the group in a similar way.
In the fourth article, Cameron Lippard shows how higher education teachers can teach about highly controversial issues. As a White sociologist in a Southern university, where less than 20 per cent of the students and less than 10 per cent of the academics and other employees are Black or from ethnic minorities, he is concerned with enabling students to hear all the different interpretations of the symbolism of the Confederate Flag. At the same time, he wanted to be very open with them that for him it is a symbol of racist hatred. His pedagogic approach was to start with a small-group activity exploring the symbolism of flags in general, followed by a lecture on the history of Confederate flags, a structured class debate and the collection of student responses to the debate.
The issue ends with reviews of books about the state of public universities in the U.S.A., the spread of standardised and high-stakes testing in schools across the world, a research agenda for the investigation of higher education systems, the experiences of women academics who migrate to universities in the Global North and the lives of students who are single parents.
Our thanks go to the authors of the articles and book reviews, the anonymous referees who commented on the manuscripts, the publishers who provided review copies of the books, our own publisher Berghahn and the Editorial Board.