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News article

Institute for Social Justice event highlights students’ work to drive positive change

Published: 15 April 2024

  •   Featured
A student at a display board talks someone through their work

York St John University’s Institute for Social Justice has proudly hosted its annual Doing Change event, a celebration of student research and activism focused on driving positive social change. Held in the University’s Creative Centre, the event brought together students, academics, guest speakers and members of the local community in a vibrant atmosphere of collaboration and inspiration.  

Attendees were treated to a diverse range of presentations and discussions, showcasing the breadth of student engagement with social justice issues. With research projects including peer support for recovering addicts, and the impact of gendered language in the classroom.   

Some of these projects were brought to life through a series of specially commissioned short films featuring student engagement with social justice, including:    

  • The Prison Partnership Project which explores the perspectives and perceptions of women in and on the edges of the criminal justice system 
  • York St John Law Clinic which offers advice and assistance to people and small businesses who cannot afford to pay  
  • The Living Lab Food Stories which is an exploration of food culture in the cost-of-living crisis 
  • It's Not OK a collaboration with the NSPCC which uses Theatre in Education to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation
  • The Community Language School which offers free classes to help stop heritage languages from going into disuse amongst younger generations.   

For many students the sense of community was a standout aspect of the Doing Change event. It offered a chance to network and feel empowered and inspired by the positive research projects taking place.   

Isabel Anderson, second year Psychology student and Living Lab student as researcher said “The event offered an incredible chance for students to present their remarkable research endeavours. Being part of the bustling university community was truly exhilarating. The guest speakers were phenomenal, and the entire evening left me feeling immensely inspired.”  

Fleur Jardine is studying Creative Writing and English Literature and is a student as researcher on the 'My Own Front Door' project, she said:  “I thoroughly enjoyed being part of such a well run event that allowed me to create connections with influential people and develop my own connection with the concept of social justice.”  

Maisie Wilson who is studying MA Environment and Social Justice, and ISJ Intern said: “The Doing Change event was a great time; I really enjoyed meeting all of the other students doing incredible things at YSJ, and I loved feeling like a part of the bigger social justice community.”  

Professor Matthew Reason, Director of the Institute for Social Justice said: “My thanks and congratulations to all involved in Doing Change 2024. The event was a testament to the power of student-driven initiatives and the collective determination to make a difference.   

“We’re pleased and proud to showcase the proactive stance our students are taking in effecting meaningful change in society and look forward to seeing the positive impacts that their work will have in the days and years to come.”  

The evening culminated with the Archbishop of York’s Annual Lecture in Social Justice, this year delivered by Enver Solomon, Chief Executive Officer of the Refugee Council on the topic ‘The UK’s Changing Asylum Landscape - is this a watershed moment?’   

Enver said: “It was a pleasure to spend time with staff and students and hear about the important research work being carried out. It is vital that research feeds into evidence informed policy making so that credible solutions are found to meet the needs of refugees who come to the UK.   

“It was refreshing to see that the University is so keen to take this approach especially given the prospect of a change in government and the opportunity to influence a new direction in policy development.”  

For those who couldn’t attend on the night, the short films have now been made available online. Please visit this ISJ webpage to view them reports and videos 

Find out more about the work of the Institute for Social Justice


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