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Wednesday 20 November 2019
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Degrees in social change

Browsing the news before settling down to write this week’s column, it was refreshing to see this update in the UK Guardian: “The UK’s first degree course in “social change” has attracted six times more candidates per place than Oxford University, as young people flock to activist careers to reshape a world strained by environmental and wealth inequalities.”

The course being offered at Queen Mary University of London has charted a pioneering path with the introduction of this course, and 80 per cent of its applicants are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds The Guardian reports. Important to note is that the programme partners with charity organisations for students to gain the experience while studying.

In the wake of Brexit, and in recent years, the growing movement of people, both forced and voluntary within their own homelands and across international borders, it is no surprise that a programme of this nature would attract youths from minority backgrounds. Understanding social change is a powerful tool for the upcoming generation who are increasingly focussed on righting the wrongs created by the generations preceding.

Greta Thunberg’s recent speech at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York, taps into many youthful sentiments, at least from where I stand.

“You have stolen my childhood and my dreams with your empty words. You're failing us, but young people are starting to understand your betrayal,” she stated to world leaders. She should not have to be there, she began, instead she should be in school, but sometimes it takes a revisioning and weighing of the "shoulds" to begin a course of change. The human and social geographies of our own country are beginning to see changes with incoming migrants to these shores, and we have more use for those in the humanities and social sciences than ever before.

Greta Thunberg’s words speak to my own sentiments. They should be what we should be saying to our own leaders. Term after term, we vote because "not to vote, is to give up our right, to give the vote to the other party." I have never understood this. Call me naive and unthinking but I have never understood why I should have to when there are no suitable choices. I do not like the feeling of being trapped into a vote when my choices are not only severely limited (to call a two-party option "limited" provokes dark humour), but, that I am supposed to choose from a monoculture.

Perhaps it is time to revise how we vote? Perhaps it is high time to hold people by the collar and pull them square? Given no choice, how am I supposed to make a choice? The better of both evils? Is this how we justify it? I am only one voice however, a tired voice, just content now to write personal essays as a way of exploring the human condition even if it is considered navel gazing. The games must go on and anyone wanting power in any form must perform for it. Monkeys performing to the beating of the drum. I remember this image from my school days when the performance monkeys came around during school hours. We would hear the drum in the distance and students would crane their necks to see them outside the window. The man walking with mother and baby would sit at the back gate knowing full well that he had an audience, and make the poor animals dance. This was a part of our peripheral education, how to make the monkeys dance. I suppose those drums were not unique after all.

Social change is a reality with which I do not believe we have come to terms as yet. It is a reality with which we have been struggling our entire developing life as a nation or whatever we call ourselves nowadays. On offer in the UK edition is "ethics, advocacy, accounting and law with modules on starting-up organisations, mentoring others and using social media." I figure all our politicians are in dire need of such an education, understanding everything about the rape of the nation but not the nurturing of it. Or perhaps I am wrong. For to successfully abuse, we must nurture the victims well in the art of victimhood.

I do not understand the political mind nor would I pretend to. I know what everyone else knows, that leaders are simply so by name, not in full control of the reins. Social change must therefore come from the masses.

Leadership is a farce, best used for self-development but certainly not national development. So be it. So then, we really are in a pickle aren’t we, or will the youths follow a 16-year-old and begin to take the reins into their hands to raze this old house?

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