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'Making an Exhibition of Yourself': Employability and History at the University of Greenwich (TLC 2010)

Author: June Balshaw and sandra dunster

Type: conference presentation


In response to the theme of ‘Employer Engagement’ identified by the subject centres as an area for engagement in 2007-8 , the sometimes ‘thorny’ issue of employability – particularly in the non-vocational subjects – has become high on many institutions agendas over the last few years. Specifically, the questions of WHAT we can do to enhance the employability prospects of our students and HOW we should approach the task.

At the University of Greenwich over the last three years, we have moved from a rather laissez- faire approach to one that requires all History undergraduates to engage in a range of activities relating to employability. In the same way that we expect our students to understand how people have existed, acted and thought in the context of the past, we need to encourage them to understand the importance of acquiring additional skills and experience beyond the attainment of a degree.

We have approached this task in a number of ways with varying degrees of success. This paper offers a summary of our experiences alongside an exploration of how innovation and creativity can lead to real – and sometimes unexpected – opportunities for history students, including researching and creating an exhibition for a local archive. Although employability is our starting point, the links to assessment; inclusion and widening participation; student skills and teaching methods are integral. Of equal importance, has been the development of links with central University services resulting in customised activities and support for History students.

The main areas we will be exploring are: work placements, volunteering, student research and publications, teaching and learning resources, personal development planning and reflective logs. Reflecting on our own practice and responding to feedback from employers and students has meant that we are now able to offer a ‘package’ for all History students across all three years which they can engage with fully or initially test with caution.

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(Powerpoint Presentation) Presentation