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Learning through the Assumption of Social Responsibility: Social Inequality, Poverty and Housing

COVID-19 needs to be addressed

The first very intensive phase of work took place before the start of the Covid 19 pandemic, a research workshop on the topic of poverty took place, a visit was made to Uniaktiv at the University of Duisburg-Essen, all involved students took part in a social city tour in Bochum and developed project ideas. Initial contacts with community partners were made and the three project ideas were presented and discussed. This was followed by a phase of intensive revision of the project ideas and data collection instruments.

Due to the many changes that occurred after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the cooperation of the students was transferred to virtual teams and meetings, and the overall conception of the course was adapted several times according to the specifications and currently valid regulations.  The developed project ideas could not be implemented in practice due to the necessary protection against infection. A practical implementation of the projects had to be postponed after consultation with the community partners, who were also very much involved in other ways according to the current situation. The general additional SL-ideas developed by the students for support during the Covid 19 pandemic could not be implemented in the form originally planned, in accordance with the requirements for holding courses during the Covid 19 pandemic. Instead, selected community partners were supported on a voluntary basis through donations.  The research ideas developed were presented and introduced at a virtual final conference after 12 months of intensive work.

Country: Germany

Year: 2019-2020

Institution: Ruhr University Bochum

# of students: 16

Person in charge: Janine Bittner

Email: Janine.Bittner@rub.de

Interaction with beneficiaries: Face-to-face

Academic Degree: Undergraduate

Discipline(s): Human geography | Sociology | Economics

Community Service Area & ODS: Reducing inequalities | No poverty | Cultural diversity

Brief description

The project which ran for more than a year dealt with social inequality, poverty and also partly with the housing problem. The spatial focus was on the two cities Essen and Bochum in the Ruhr area.

The aim was to combine the approach of community-based research with the approach of service learning. The students worked together in three project teams and developed research and service ideas for community partners.

Students should be given the opportunity to combine professional, methodological and social learning. Through the project work in three student teams and the cooperation with community partners certain skills have been  trained that fall into the area of social competence, methodological competence as well as individual competence. The following skills are worth to be mentioned: respect and tolerance, time management, working in teams, project management, communication strategies, persuasive power, self-discipline, emotional intelligence.  These are all key competencies and skills that are important for later professional life and for working in interdisciplinary and international teams.

The intensive substantive discussion of very complex socio-geographical as well as methodological questions and the preparation of proposals should also promote a deeper interest in scientific work and the adoption of a research-oriented behaviour at an early stage of study. In addition, the overall aim was to raise awareness of social issues and  of different dimensions of diversity in society in practical action and theoretical approach.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my thanks to the Institute of Geography for the additional support of the project, without which it would not have been possible to complete the accompanying research activities during the Covid-19 pandemic.