In contrast with standard methodological social science modules, Researching Social Problems aims to exploit the synergies stemming from the various backgrounds of students by focusing on creative problem solving techniques related to empirical social science research. The participants of this module are expected to gain direct contact with the studied empirical field related to a clearly defined socioeconomic problem. In order to successfully realise the selected project under the close supervision of the module leaders, students work in small groups of 3-4 participants to simulate the features of “real-life” research collaborations.
Students are required to choose from three types of research.
Policy: offering solution- (policy paper)
Research Plan: substantiation knowledge – (research proposal)
Essay: instigating debate – (academic essay)
Each research type requires the completion of different research objectives: 1) a policy paper (“Policy”), 2) a research proposal (“Research Plan”) and a problem-centric academic essay (“Essay”). Students have the possibility to freely choose between research types and a wide range of interesting thematic areas including “Subculture and leisure”, “Economic sociology” or “Post-modern missionaries”. A detailed description of the research types, requirements and available topics can be found in the assignment section of the current syllabus.
The guiding principle of the module is that “theory” and “method” are not mechanically separable concepts, but the interplay between them holds the promise of producing state-of-art science as well as meaningful socio-economic impact. The module leaders, who are themselves experienced researchers, provide targeted methodological and subject-specific readings corresponding to the topics selected and hold regular consultations with their “research teams” to advise on daily challenges, strategic planning, theoretical contextualisation, group dynamics, the definition of clearly defined research objectives and to keep the expectations on realistic grounds regarding the desired outcomes.
1.2. Module Format and Credits
Level: Immersion 1
Division: Social Sciences
Pathway: Regions, Development, Enterprise
Module Format: Four individual sessions (session 1-3; 8) and two double sessions (session 4-5; 6-7) for consulting the in-progress research results. The weeks after session 3 and session 5 students have “research weeks” dedicated to the empirical research.