Updated: 06/04/18 : 06:55:05
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New “blended” Masters in Social Care and Social Justice programme at IT Sligo

A new Masters programme at IT Sligo is the first online blended programme in Ireland to make post-graduate accreditation in the rapidly growing field of Social Care and Social Justice accessible to students based anywhere in the country.

The Masters in Social Care and Social Justice programme, which is currently being run at IT Sligo for the first time, is a part-time, two-year course that has already attracted students from all over Ireland.

“You can be anywhere in Ireland – or the world for that matter – and still do this Masters,” said Dr. Karin White, a social anthropologist at IT Sligo. “Normally opportunities like this are only accessible to people who take up residence near a university.”

Each module that Dr. White teaches with Community Arts Practitioner Kate Brown and other members of the IT Sligo Social Sciences Department includes weekly, two-hour online lectures that students can attend in the comfort of their own homes. The online portion is then blended with two on-site residentials of several days each, one at the start of the semester and the other at the end.

“This course gives a critical platform to people who want to use a social justice base in their work and to contribute to social change in a meaningful, effective way,” Dr. White said. “It trains students in both the theory and practise of social care, providing them with the capacity to actively participate in policy development and decision-making which promotes social inclusion and equality.”

The eight modules in the programme include Introduction to Social Justice Theory and Practice; Social Transformation; Human Rights Policy and Law; Management and Leadership in Social Care; and Research Design and Development. The fourth semester involves writing a Social Inclusion and Diversity Research Project.

“Karin and myself lecture on historical and contemporary social movements, as well as approaches to mobilising for social justice,” Ms. Brown said. “Our students explore questions about the contexts of global social movements and community empowerment. This includes critically analysing the transformational potential of the arts, such as Theatre of the Oppressed and the work of specific arts-based agitators. Also, as part of their learning students research and assess community organisations in the context of civil society in order to gain practical knowledge about the most effective ways to promote positive social change in their own areas.”

Discussion forums

Students attend lectures by logging in to an online portal on their computers. They are then able to interact with the lecturers and other students either by typing questions and comments on their keyboards or by activating their webcams and microphones. Online discussion forums and interactive quizzes are additional aspects of the programme which enhance students' learning experiences.

“Even if you aren’t available to log in during the actual lecture you can still view it afterward because all lectures are recorded,” Dr. White said. “This is just one of a number of ways that we support students who are on the course, including through one-to-one contact and mentoring.”

Dr. White added that in recent years IT Sligo has become a national leader in the area of blended learning, with offerings including a Masters in Leadership and Advocacy for the Early Years.

“Both the Social Care and the Early Years fields are ones that are well developed in other countries but at a critical stage of development in Ireland,” Dr. White said. “The IT Sligo blended Masters programmes in these fields and others provide students with convenient, supportive access to a professional qualification from a highly respected institution which will allow them to advance in their careers and to become leaders in their chosen areas.”

More information about these and other blended learning opportunities at IT Sligo is available on the school's website at itsligo.ie