Ruskin Modules

Ruskin Modules will "creatively develop the capacity for critical reflection and reasoned argument, integrating the acquisition of graduate capitals with wider societal concerns and challenges, bringing together students from different disciplines around key challenges." Education Strategy 2018-2022, p.8.

Context

The UK's Industrial Strategy states "This fourth industrial revolution is of a scale, speed and complexity that is unprecedented [...] It will disrupt nearly every sector in every country, creating new opportunities and challenges for people, places and businesses to which we must respond" (2017, p.32). In their commissioned report Building higher education curricula fit for the future, Emma Coonan and Simon Pratt-Adams (Anglia Learning and Teaching) describe the creative ways in which HE institutions and graduates will need to respond to this pace of change (2017, p.10).

Additionally, to prepare for this challenging future the World Economic Forum (WEF) identifies that students will need skills of complex problem-solving, persuasion and emotional intelligence (2016, p.22) to possess "a greater ability to understand increasingly complex subject matter, also the ability to evaluate, analyse, interrogate and present the subject matter, and … create original knowledge" (Universities UK, 2018, p.4). Whilst subject disciplines will continue to scaffold knowledge there is increasing recognition that interdisciplinary learning, teaching and thinking will meet global and societal challenges and "prepare[s] students for a changing world" (Lyall et al., 2016, p.v); "individual intelligence is no longer enough" (Syed, 2019).

About the Ruskin modules

"Contemporary problems call for new professionals" (de Greef et. al., 2017, p.10) who are developed through a transformative and imaginative education. Here students are engaged as active participants in their own journey.

To facilitate interdisciplinary learning, teaching and thinking to prepare students with skills for a changing world, Ruskin modules will bring together students from different disciplines around societal concerns and key challenges. By engaging in interdisciplinary activities students will learn to translate and integrate theories and methods from fields that may appear to be unrelated to recognise connections beyond their discipline to create innovative solutions.

Ruskin modules are an invitation to broaden perspectives, develop intellectual flexibility and the creative capability to address challenges in collaboration with others. As such, Ruskin modules will furnish students with the confidence to actively seek out and maximise opportunities to reach their full potential, giving them a distinctive edge in the global labour market and enhancing their success in the workplace. 

The inclusion of Ruskin Modules enables students to: 

  • work collaboratively, respecting diversity, and being culturally sensitive;
  • critically reflect on the limitations of a single discipline to solve wider societal concerns; 
  • create meaningful connections across disciplines, and apply new knowledge to key challenges;
  • participate as a responsible citizen in the life of local, national and global communities;
  • recognise, and critically reflect on issues of social responsibility, ethical conduct and sustainability;
  • encourage an appreciation of ambiguity.

Supporting interdisciplinarity

Workshops and webinars to support the Ruskin Modules proposal, approval and design process are available here.

References and further reading

Coonan, E., and Pratt-Adams, S., Building Higher Education Curricula Fit for the Future. AdvanceHE. Read more

de Greef, L., Post, G., Vink, C. and Wenting, L., 2017. Designing interdisciplinary education: a practical handbook for university teachers. Amsterdam University Press.

HM Government, 2017. Industrial Strategy: building a Britain fit for the future. doi: 10.1787/9789264266490-en.

Lyall, C., Meagher, L., Bandola, J. and Kettle, A., 2017. Interdisciplinary provision in higher education: current and future challenges. Higher Education Academy Read more

McKie, A., 2019. How to equip graduates for the future. Times Higher Education. Read more 

Syed, M., 2019. Rebel Ideas: the Power of Diverse Thinking. John Murray Press. 

Universities UK, 2018. Solving future skills challenges. London. Read more

World Economic Forum, 2016. The future of jobs: employment, skills and workforce strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Read more