Campaign promotes social sciences to students

22 February 2016

The Campaign has continued its work promoting the social sciences to schools and colleges around the country.

At the first ‘Social Sciences Student Conference for Further and Higher Education’ earlier this month, Mike Danson FAcSS, Professor of Enterprise Policy at Heriot Watt University, gave a talk on social science and careers to more than 60 students from Moray College UHI, in Scotland.

At the event, organised by the college, Danson said that the social sciences were key in finding solutions to some of the biggest problems, from climate change and migration, to international terrorism and health.

“Social science degrees are very much about transferable skills,” he said. “They equip you with the critical analysis, reasoning, and problem solving skills necessary to tackle big challenges.

“What you gain from a social science degree is the ability to think on a different scale, to critically analyse and ask the right questions, to understand and respond to complex issue in ways that other degrees do not prepare you for.

“You’ll have fascinating career options because of this, opening more doors to you than a STEM degree would.”

He cited the instrumental work of social scientists in combating last year’s Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and said that such expertise would be fundamental in dealing with similar health epidemics, such as the Zika virus.

Sir Peter Housden, former Permanent Secretary of the Scottish Government and a graduate in Sociology from Essex University, highlighted the usefulness of his social science background throughout his career. “It gave me the ability to stand back and see things more clearly,” he said.

Students also heard about research from Jennifer Smith, Professor of Sociolinguistics at the University of Glasgow, examining how young children learn Scots at an early age and move between that language and English, as well as from Tara French from the Institute of Design Innovation at The Glasgow School of Art, on tackling health and social care challenges using Design Innovation approaches.

Asked what she thought of the event, one psychology student said: “I always thought the social sciences were what you studied when you didn’t know what else to do. Now I know that it gives you lots of options.”

Danson’s talk is a continuation of the Campaign’s work with schools and colleges, showcasing the breadth of the social sciences and providing support to social science students early on. This is part of the Campaign’s remit of promoting the social sciences within society more generally.

Read more on careers in social science.