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About a year ago, as a team we started this blog in order to relate criminological ideas into everyday life. News, events and markers on our social calendar became sources of inspiration and inquiry. Within a year, we have managed somehow to reflect on the academic cycle, some pretty heavy social issues that evoked our passions and interests. Those of you who read our entries, thank you for taking the time, especially those who left comments with your own experiences and ideas.
For us as a contributing team, the opportunity to talk outside the usual spaces about things that we regard as interesting is a real pleasure. A colleague of mine, tends to say that criminology is a subject made for discussions. These discussions usually grow in classrooms but they are restricted of time. In some way, our blog is an extension of that environment but we are also cognisant that we want to talk beyond the parochial “ivory towers” of academia.
The first blog entry was about running a pilot then, for a new module delivered entirely in prison with students from the university and the prison. This week, we celebrated the first cohort who completed the module. I have been an observer of social conventions all my life and to see the way people in the celebration connected with each other was great. For all of us in the module, it makes perfect sense because we have done that journey together but for anyone coming for the first time in prison this must have been an astounding experience.
This is what we commemorate in a celebration. Not necessarily the end result whatever that is, but the journey. As people consumed with speed in a modern society, we very rarely take the time to look back and reflect. It can be argued that we can do so when we reach our ever expanding retiring age; reflect on our life’s work. Nonetheless, it is important now and then to look back and see how we get here. For example, I am proud that I serve a university that offers opportunities to students from the wider society without barriers or obstacles. Some of our students are first in their family to go to University. This is an amazing opportunity that leaves the doors of social mobility open. A number of our graduates are now my colleagues or work in the wider criminal justice system.
So what is a celebration? A moment in time to look back and say, “hey I have a journey ahead but look how far I have come”. This is why these little moments are so watershed to all; whether we celebrate a year in the blog, a year on a module or a year in a job, marriage etc. Some celebrations are small reminders of time, other of events and some other of accomplishments. In a world where the news should be accompanied with health warnings, as people feel insignificant as individuals to bring about change, a celebration is a mark that things can happen. A person who decides to be an agent of change, whether it is a message against racism (#blacklivesmatter) sexual abuse (#metoo), or gun violence (#enoughisenough), they can do so without realising that one day when they will look back things will be very different for all; a possible cause for another celebration then. It matters to look back when you want to change the future. Life is experiential journey and marking these experiences is our way of leaving a trace on a large social wall.
In a couple of months (May 14) we shall be celebrating 18 years of Criminology at the University of Northampton. Another moment in time to reflect of the impact and the effects this programme has had on the students and the community.