The University of Bedfordshire welcomed seventy, sixth form students to its campus in Luton last week, eager to find out about a career in social science research.
The sixth formers from Milton Keynes Academy, Luton Sixth Form, Biddenham School, Stratton School and Bedford Academy were at the University to talk to researchers from the University’s award winning research institute The International Centre: Researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking.
The International Centre was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize, last year for its pioneering applied research in child sexual exploitation (CSE), while in June it secured £500,000 to establish a national centre of expertise to improve the police response to child sexual exploitation.
The students attending the event had the opportunity to see a series of short films produced by the Centre with young people as part of a research project, hear from researchers about how they began their careers in research and get a taste of what it’s like to carry out research in focus groups.
The Applied Social Research Workshop for Young People was organised as part of the annual ESRC Social Science Festival.
During the workshop the sixth formers heard a from Dr Carlene Firmin founder of the MsUnderstood project at the University and the youngest black woman to receive an MBE. She was recently named by the Huffington Post in its list of the 14 Inspirational Women Who Embody ‘What’s Working’ In The UK By Striving To Improve The Lives Of Others. Her research centres on peer-on-peer abuse in young people’s relationships and peer groups, and gang related violence.
Research Fellow Roma Thomas organiser of the event said: “Students from Bedford Academy were partners with us in our bid to the ESRC for a small grant to support this event. We worked with a group of 14 students from the Academy to prepare them to play a leading role, as facilitators, observers, timekeepers and note takers in the focus group part of the programme.
The attending students also took part in a series of social science research careers buzz groups.
Roma Thomas said: “The young people had three minutes to ask to ask each of the researchers about their careers. After three minutes at the sound of a whistle the researchers moved in a clockwise direction to the next table to answer young people’s questions.
“This was a great opportunity for the young people to really question researchers about careers in social science research.”