Walked lecture

Posted on Friday 2nd November 2012

Dr Chris Allen with Birmingham Foundation Academy Social Policy students outside the Council House on a 'walked lecture'

Ask the general public what they think a lecture might look like and they might be forgiven for conjuring up an image of being stuck in a stuffy lecture theatre while an academic talks about their research methods and findings.

Few would imagine what the Birmingham Foundation Academy’s Social Policy students had planned for them earlier this week. Instead of their normal lecture, the students were taken on a ‘walked lecture’ around the city of Birmingham. Lead by IASS’s Chris Allen, a route was planned that provided opportunities for students to consider both old and new Birmingham, about how it is structured and governed, and about what institutions play an integral part in delivering a range of different services, from health through employment to crime and justice and beyond.

Starting in Centenary Square, the students found themselves between the old and the new: the gold statue of Boulton, Watt and Murdoch and the new library. From there, the walked lecture took in the Council House and a talk about local government, St Philip’s Cathedral and a reflection on the role of religion in the city, the commercial centre around Colmore Row and the difference between the private and public sectors, before heading towards the Children’s Hospital, Police headquarters and Law Courts to see how social policy becomes manifested through institutional buildings and entities.

From there, students were walked towards Digbeth where a different side to Birmingham could be seen, one that appeared much affluent to the Bullring for example. Walking through the markets area, the walked lecture ended in the Chinese Quarter where students could see the impact of migrant communities that had come to Birmingham to make the city their home.

Reflecting on the lecture, Chris believed that the students enjoyed the experience. Having prepared them the week before by telling them to wrap up warm and prepare for inclement weather, he was also thankful that it stayed dry !