have collected and published this edition with the main purpose of offering a very warm welcome to all the new students who are joining us this year. We may be social distancing but we hope we can make this year as fun, engaging and interesting as any other year—so have a read and find out how you can get involved! Welcome to our Second Special Edition & First Bumper Issue of the Social Science Community Newsletter! Welcome from our Programme Leader, Dr Ruth Lightbody Trimester A 2020/21 Issue 2 Special Edition Welcoming … The Social Scientist The Social Science Community Newsletter; a Glasgow Caledonian University student and staff collaboration for the Common Good. Hello all. I always love this time of year when we get an intake of new students and we welcome back familiar faces. I enjoy seeing how students grow in confidence as they find their way, find their feet, and find their friends. In June of 2010 I gradu- ated from GCU myself, after entering university at the age of 25. For me, coming to GCU was life changing. Like you, we faced a global recession during our time at university. It was a daunting time and many of us felt a sense of panic and fear. But I threw myself into the university experience – I studied and partied hard, went on an Erasmus trip, debated and argued, and laughed with my new found friends. We challenged and supported each other through the hardships of full time study – juggling families and jobs. You face different challenges today and for many of you, this is not how you imagined your first day of university would look. But the staff will endeavour to make your university experience as engaging and rewarding as we can. We too will miss the face to face, and hope we can return as soon as possible. For now, jump in, don’t hold back, get everything out of this experience that you can. I wish you luck and good health. Welcome to GCU! Ruth.
it for me? 3 Welcome from the Social Science Society—find out how you can join 3 Got some news? Tell the Student Newsroom! 4 Staff Perspective; What would I tell my Under- graduate Self? 4 Student Perspective; Coping with Study Whilst Social Distancing 5 Induction Week Oppor- tunity; Politics Explained. 6 Interested in History? 6 The Social Science Community 6 Linda Sherry, 3rd Year BASS student. Age 43 and 2/3rds. I completed the SWAP (Scottish wider access Programme) Access to Humanities course in 2017 and was accepted onto the BA Social Science degree the following year. On first impression, GCU was a welcoming and friendly environment and I noticed immediately how diverse the mix of students, academics and staff were. Having been out of education for a long time and being a mature student, this made me feel instantly more at ease and confident that I would fit in. The campus is well laid out and easy to navigate with plenty of study areas, as well as comfortable relaxed areas for socialising or taking some well-deserved time away from the books. Having two chil- dren and being a single mum that suffers from bouts of less than perfect mental health, I found the support network at GCU amazing. Each year group has a Level Tutor and each student has a dedicated ‘go to’ person – your Personal Tutor. They will help with questions about your studies as well as disabilities and well-being and they can put you in touch with a great team of people who were there for me on more than a few occasions to give advice or practical help no matter what I was having difficulties with – you are never on your own! Since March of this year the global pandemic has changed so many aspects of university life, however I have nothing but praise for the communication and forward planning that GCU have put into practice. I am sure starting Uni under these unprecedented times must feel a little strange but I can assure you all that GCU always have their student’s welfare at the heart of all that they do and I am positive you will still have a great experience. Good luck to you all! Find out more about the Health and Wellbeing Support services at https://www.gcu.ac.uk/student/support/ Student Focus: Starting University as a Mature Student with Kids? Linda Sherry did that and she is thriving! Read about her experience below… Now more than ever being part of a community is very important. Here at GCU we are one big community, and whether you are on campus learning or at home we are all in this to- gether. Everyone is ad- justing to a new way of teaching in order to pro- vide all the services the university usually offers. Societies will be running online and community groups will be doing their best to continue to make a difference – so don’t forget to get involved. GCU is full of different people with many different interests and meeting these new people are a major part of the university experience. So, check out the societies and opportunities on the GCU Students Association website. With over 60 soci- eties there must be one that fits your interests. Re- member, to stay in the loop about what is happening within the Social Science department via news- letters, gcu learn, podcasts and the Facebook group. Welcome to GCU, we can’t wait to have you join our community. … and Welcome from our Fab Student Engagement Team!
me? Page 3 The Social Scientist Welcoming … Ella Scarr, 3rd year Social Science Student explains … As a Senior PAL, I thought I should spread the word on PALS is in case any of you newbies felt you wanted to partake. Peer Assisted Learning Support. In simple terms it’s a buddy system for freshers, in these chaotic times it could be extremely useful to have direct access to students who are in similar courses so that you can easily and quickly reach out when you need help. When signing up you will be added to a whatsapp group for your course with a few senior pals and a few level 1 students. As stated by the University, “PALS is a support tool for our 2020/21 level 1 and direct entry students designed to help new students settle at GCU, creates a sense of community and allow students to make social con- nections” - something that will be particularly beneficial during these times. Personally, I believe this could be an asset to any new student to GCU and recommend signing up if you haven’t already. These are very peculiar times, and having access to people in your course could really help. On top of this it’s a great way to mingle, I imagine much of our mingling will be through technology for now so this is a great way to fast-track yourself some new friends who are in the same position as you, as well as some oth- ers who may be able to help. While I can't guarantee our senior PALS such as myself will be able to answer every question directly, we can certainly point you in the direction of who can. As a new student it can be difficult to navigate all the different departments, tutors, lecturers etc to find the right person to contact for specific concerns, so hopefully this could help. It will allow you a safe place to speak to fellow students who can understand and relate to your concerns directly. While this may not be for everyone, if you feel nervous, anxious or stressed about the coming academic semester, PALS could ease this slightly, some- times just knowing there’s people you can reach out to helps enough to calm you down (talking from personal ex- perience there). Hope this helps anyone who is unsure about this scheme, and most of all I hope all you new stu- dents really enjoy your first semester at GCU! “Sometimes just know- ing there’s people you can reach out to helps enough to calm you down” Welcome from the Social Science Society!! As a society we are very new. It was thought that social sciences was missing from the list of societies the university offers and so it was set up. As a society we aim to spread awareness of current issues relating to social sciences, complete activism work and to act as a place for those studying social sciences and those interested to meet on a social level and discuss their inter- ests. As a committee we are very open to new members coming on board and helping us to shape the society and bring great new ideas for the future. We can’t wait to help build on the great community we have in the social sciences department. For more information and to join our society go to: www.gcustudents.co.uk/groups/gcu-social-science-society Keep up to date with what we are doing by following our facebook page or drop us a message if you’d like to be involved in the committee or if you have ideas you’d like to see come to light www.facebook.com/gcusocialsciencessociety
What I would tell my undergraduate self! University is a life changing positive experience for many but it can also be over- whelming and stressful—especially at the start. All our Social Science lecturers went through it at the beginning of their academic careers and reflect here, what they wished they had known all those many (!) years ago ... Dr Fiona Skillen. Lecturer in History. “I would tell my un- dergraduate self Don’t be afraid to speak in class and ask more questions! Don’t as- sume that everyone else in the class is smarter than you and understands everything. If you haven’t understood there is a strong chance someone else hasn’t too.” Dr Neil McNulty. Lecturer in Politics. “I would tell my undergraduate self to take advantage of the long summers off. Everyone applying for that gradu- ate job or Masters course have the re- quired qualifications. Therefore, it is im- portant for you, and your application, to stand out. Get relevant work experi- ence, go for those internships or volun- teer. The job market is an increas- ingly com- petitive place so it is important that you bolster your CV and skill-set and the sum- mer months are a perfect time to do that”. Got Some News? Tell the Student Newsroom! Hi everyone! I’m Rachael and I work for the Student Communications team at GCU. My job involves promoting student activity for both SCEBE and depart- ments within GSBS – including Social Sciences! My favourite part of the job is writing articles about the great things that students are doing while at univer- sity – whether you have won an award, are volunteering in your local commu- nity, or maybe you’re the record holder of the person who has eaten the most biscuits in 5 minutes….anything that you’re proud to share! Get in touch with your stories at Rachael.McAlonan@gcu.ac.uk . You can see previous stories from Social Science students, and others, on our website. Just click on ‘Student Newsroom’ on the University Student Web Page or follow this link https://www.gcu.ac.uk/student/news/ “I would tell my undergrad- uate self to relax more about my grades, to be bolder in seizing opportuni- ties that are there and to get more involved in stu- dent life. It was the best three years and if I had the chance I would do it all again!” Dr Maureen Taylor. Lecturer in Criminology and Policing.
5 The Social Scientist Welcoming … One of our recent graduates, Erin Kane, offers some very helpful advice on how she coped with the pressures of her final year during a national lockdown. 2020 has been an eventful year which has left many people feeling over- whelmed and anxious. Anxiety can make it feel as though everything is out of your control and for many people these feelings have intensified with lockdown. Social distancing re- strictions have left many with feeling isolated and power- less. Social media has also, at times, become a source of conflict and overwhelming content as people have attempt- ed to make sense of the changes and events that have oc- curred this year. I personally have experienced increased anxiety and feel- ing overwhelmed but found that meditation and yoga have become very powerful coping tools over the past few months. I had always heard about the amazing benefits of both but remained skeptical until I gave it a try for the first- time during lockdown - I have never made a better deci- sion! Both yoga and meditation can help with anxiety and overall mental and physi- cal wellbeing. Resources are accessible to everyone as they are widely available online, and many are completely free. YouTube for example, has loads of free yoga and meditation videos to help with anxiety, low mood, stress as well as ones to boost motivation and productivity. (My personal favourite is ‘Yoga with Adriene’ on YouTube.)There are even classes you can do without standing up – just search for ‘chair yoga’! You can also find out about similar classes being run by the GCU Health and Wellbeing service – just sign up for their newsletter on the web pages. Yoga can help reduce our stress hormones, ease anxiety and promote relaxation. It can also assist with easing physical pain and can improve general energy levels. For those of you who are interested in learning more about mental health, self- care and supporting others, I can recommend some resources I found. The website Future Learn is an invaluable and mostly free resource. It has a wide range of cours- es on almost every subject, but it is a really great place for learning about mental health and our personal wellbeing. For example, this course on young people and their mental health (https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/young-people-mental- health ) provides information on the most common mental health issues and what you can do to help yourself. Additionally there are courses on improving your mental health through diet and nutrition (https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/food-and- mood) and there is even a course specifically designed to help you cope with low mood and depression during the current Covid-19 Pandemic ( https:// www.futurelearn.com/courses/low-mood-during-covid-19). These types of re- sources aren’t for everyone but I think they are great. There is nothing more im- portant than looking after our wellbeing as we head into winter and another aca- demic year. Take care Everyone!
please like/follow our social media pages. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter and we would love you to subscribe to our blog. Details below! socialsciencesgcu.wordpress.com @GCUSocialScience @SocialSciences_GSBS Glasgow Caledonian University Social Science Community Department of Social Sciences Interested in History? Then this is for you. Doors Open Days have gone digital so many of their events, tours and talks are now online. There are spe- cific pages for events relating to history in Glasgow and Edin- burgh but also cities across Eu- rope. Details here https://www.doorsopendays.org.uk/ Induction Week Opportunity: Politics Explained. We are delighted to have secured this opportunity for you to participate in this free virtual event which will offer an unprecedented opportunity to emerge yourself in the Scottish political landscape. The event will take place on the 30th September and 1st October. Keep reading for a summary of the even and see the extensive programme of events here: http:// www.scottishpolitics.co.uk/ The transformation of the political landscape, particularly over the last decade, has great ramifications for Scottish Politics. Politics Explained 2020 will ask two key questions - What is next for Scotland? And how you can be part of shaping that? As Scotland's award-winning current affairs publication, Holyrood is in a unique position to provide a forum where we can examine the current po- litical climate in Scotland - including the effect of the COVID-19 crisis on pol- itics, which currently remains unknown. We've organised two days for you on politics in Scotland and how it oper- ates. The first day will focus on the Scottish Parliament, giving you an in- depth look behind the scenes of our legislature and how you can lobby and engage with law makers. The second day will centre on the exec- utive branch, giving you everything you need to know to understand and engage with the Government here in Scotland. Any students wishing to attend should check the induction information on our Programme Pages for registration instructions. The Social Science Community @ GCU As you can see, we have a thriving community within our Social Science programme with loads of different stuff going on. We want everyone to feel welcome and involved so make sure you like and follow our various social media pages (see above) so you don’t miss anything. Also, make sure you check out our week of ‘Induction’ blogs—one to be published each day of induction week. All are written by current or past Social Science students and all discuss what it was like for them, starting University. There’s also some friendly hints and tips on how to survive and thrive during your time here. If you have anything that you would like to share with the rest of your new community, either in the blog or newsletter or you have an idea for something else—get in touch with Katy at Katy.Proctor@gcu.ac.uk!