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Building Character through Youth Social Action

Learn about the history of social action, and how youth social action can help build character in young people.

3,439 enrolled on this course

Young people litter-picking on a beach
  • Duration

    2 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Learn about how you can support young people on their social action journey

Youth social action – activities young people do to help others and the environment – is becoming increasingly recognised as a way to improve communities and develop young people’s characters.

Educational institutions, businesses, voluntary organisations and governments are investing in social action to provide opportunities to young people of all backgrounds.

On this course you will explore the historical and theoretical roots of youth social action, and learn how social action can be a journey for young people, helping them build their character and confidence.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds TOM HARRISON: There is a double benefit when young people take part in meaningful youth social action. Undertaking activities that help others and the environment, such as volunteering, makes a difference to others, and also helps society to flourish. Undertaking these activities also builds character virtues, such as compassion, and courage, confidence in children and young people. This MOOC looks at this double benefit in more detail, and also draws on evidence to explain how these benefits can be maximised to support young people on a journey of youth social action. The learning will be led by academics and experts, as well as young people themselves.

Skip to 0 minutes and 48 seconds Importantly, it will be the MOOC learners themselves contributing to the discussions and debates that will help further what we already know about this important topic.

Skip to 0 minutes and 59 seconds CHARLOTTE HILL: The #iwill campaign aims to make participation in social action the norm for all young people by 2020. We are delighted to collaborate on this MOOC. Because we believe that participating in social action has great potential to build character in young people, and that their social experiences can help them later down the line, when it comes to getting a job, applying to university, or into adulthood.

Skip to 1 minute and 23 seconds PAULINE MEYER: As young trustee and an #iwill ambassador, I’ll be speaking in this MOOC about the social action that I’ve done, from volunteering in my local cancer research charity shop to representing my peers at the highest decision of my university, mentoring and inspiring others to get involved in social action. I’ll be drawing on my own experiences, and what I’ve learned as a result of social action.

Skip to 1 minute and 45 seconds EMMA TAYLOR-COLLINS: In this MOOC, you’ll hear a range of perspectives, from young people talking about their experiences, to academics on the history of youth social action, the theoretical basis of character, and the evidence on youth social action, and why character and youth social action matter in education, employment, and the voluntary sector. Through a series of mini-lectures, thought-provoking questions, suggested reading material, and interactive forum discussions, we hope to provide a space where you can find out more about these important issues.

Skip to 2 minutes and 15 seconds TOM HARRISON: This MOOC is essential learning for anyone interested in character and youth social action. We really hope you join our community of learners. And we really look forward to meeting virtually on the discussion boards.

What topics will you cover?

Week 1: What is character? What is youth social action?

  • An introduction to youth social action
  • An introduction to character
  • Character and youth social action
  • Youth social action and social mobility
  • Reflection and review

Week 2: A young person’s social action journey

  • A school’s perspective
  • A young person’s perspective
  • A youth social action provider’s perspective
  • A college’s perspective
  • A university’s perspective
  • An employer’s perspective

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Learn what character and youth social action are and why they matter
  • Explore the link between character and youth social action through a range of disciplines
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how to implement key approaches to developing character in young people through youth social action
  • Identify how character virtues are built through youth social action and what the double benefit is
  • Reflect on what makes a quality youth social action experience

Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone with an interest in youth work and working with young people. But it might be particularly of interest to voluntary sector practitioners (including volunteer managers), youth workers, CSR managers, HR managers, adult volunteers, parents and teachers.

What software or tools do you need?


Who will you learn with?

Director of Education : Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues
Programme Director : MA Character Education

Who developed the course?

University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham is a public research university, consistently listed as a leading UK university and ranked among the top 100 in the world.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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