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Change: Critical Understandings, Practices and Action - IL032/IL132


In our current political and social environment, many of us face circumstances and environments of oppression within which we don’t fully understand how to operate, how to survive, find our agency or bring about change. In order to be effective citizens in a democracy we need to be able to understand what resources we have, including the ability to critically read our world, recognize our agency, make use of our imaginations, hope, and anger, cultivate and sustain community, and feed our desire for better. This module aims to explore the conditions and circumstances that foster oppression, our own positionality in relation to oppression and agency, and to consider how we move from critique and understanding towards action and change.

Drawing on a variety of theoretical and applied critiques including, among others, critical pedagogy, contemplative pedagogy and action research, and taking a critical approach to reading the concept of ‘change,’ this module will explore how academics, artists and activists have understood the imperative for change and how that has translated to action. We will explore our own positionality within social structures, communities and power relations with a view to considering how we can ask questions of and develop our agency, understand the imperative for change and the ways in which change for the better might be achieved.

The module will provide an interdisciplinary opportunity for undergraduate students at Warwick to work with an international cohort of experts and practitioners engaged with analysing and making social change. Students will have an opportunity to engage critically with literature, practice and will be required to design a project for their assessment bringing about change and locating their efforts within theoretical frameworks of change. Students will be invited to take an explicitly critical approach to their position in this historical moment, the status quo, social change, and their role as agents of change.

Indicative Weekly Structure

Week 1 Cultivating community: Paying Attention, Beginning Here
Week 2 Building our resources
Week 3 Silence, voice, listening
Week 4 Giving our attention: critical contemplative pedagogy
Week 5 Turning private problems into public issues
Week 6 Contemplation week: reading and independent study [NO CLASS]
Week 7 Being activist and doing activism, with Dr Emma Craddock
Week 8 Hope, Anger, Fear: the role of emotion in inciting and sustaining engagement and action.
Week 9 Effective and courageous conversation, with Prof Bob Thomson.
Week 10 Bridges to the future.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module students will:

  • Have experienced contemplative practices and engaged with the questions of whether they are foundational to enacting change.
  • Have developed a critical understanding of the imperative of agency toward change within a critical, epistemological context.
  • Begun to formulate an understanding of the complexity of the enactment of power relationships and dynamics (interpersonal, professional, etc.), positionality, privilege and intersectionality and their own relationship to those concepts.
  • Be able to critically “read” their world, and articulate patterns of oppression and opportunities for change.
  • Locate themselves as historical subjects (human beings in a present moment and circumstance who can affect change), and imagine transformations of a social, political, economic, ideological and/or ethical nature.


Student Devised Assessments/Practical Projects are a well-established form within IATL. They offer an opportunity for students to work in collaboration with the tutor to create a piece of work that engages with a topic or question that has interested them during the module. Students are encouraged to undertake their own research utilising methodologies presented during the module. The form or medium of the assessment is expected to have a relationship with the ideas, theories and/or practices explored in the project. An SDA can include: material objects, interactive displays, music, performance, poetry, etc. Additionally, all SDAs are accompanied by a statement from the student which explains both the process undertaken for the project and a critical analysis of how their project relates or responds to themes or ideas from the module.

Module code:

IL032 - Level 5 (Intermediate)

IL132 - Level 6 (Third year/Finalist)

Module Convenor

Dr Holly Langstaff

Any questions about the module? You are welcome to email!

Class Time 2024-25

Term 2 (Spring)

Tuesdays 14:00-16:00


Teaching Grid (Library) TBC



Student Devised Assessment (SDA) (100%)

Curious to see what assessment on this module looks like?

See our Assessment ExhibitionLink opens in a new window