Sociology lecturer is on a ‘roll’ with new Master’s degree

News Page 18th June 2019

As applications for a new postgraduate degree open, a lecturer in a Faculty of Health and Society team has opened up about her role developing it…and her roller skating past.

Aura Lehtonen – originally from Finland but who has lived, studied and worked in the UK for more than a decade – is Lecturer in Sociology and joined the University in December 2018.

Prior to working in Northampton, she taught at the London School of Economics after completing her PhD there.

Her specialist areas are interdisciplinary social sciences, political sociology (political changes and how they are justified throughout society) and gender studies, the subject of her PhD.

At Northampton, her lecturing time will be spent leading two modules in the Sociology undergraduate degree (Sociological Imagination; Gender in Society) as well as delivering part of the new MSc in Public Sociology.

Recently validated and now open for applications for a September 2019 intake, it is University of Northampton’s first Master’s degree in Sociology. Public Sociology will cover areas such as how sociology can work with communities to create social change and how sociological knowledge can influence areas we don’t traditionally associate with the discipline (such as the environment).

Of her time at the University, Aura said: “Although it wasn’t called Active Blended Learning, I have some experience of the ABL teaching style, so it’s been relatively easy to ’switch’ to a new higher education environment.

“It can be difficult starting somewhere part of the way through the academic year, but the students here are excellent, welcoming and really engaged. We have been creating and learning together – it really suits me being here.

“One thing I am very excited about is our new Master’s degree, a big focus for me during the last six months. I have a background working with campaigners and organisations that support refugees and asylum seekers.”

Public Sociology focuses on how sociologists have relationships with very different communities and how they can use their knowledge and skills to have real, demonstrable impacts on those people. I’m really looking forward to developing this in our students.”

Outside of work, Aura has a whip-fast interest – she was a member of a roller derby group: “Their name is the London Rollergirls and I played for a number of years although now I’m more involved in the coaching.

“It’s a very exciting sport but what interested me the most about it is how different an activity it is, enjoyed by people who don’t necessarily have a sports background. What attracts them – and you see this so clearly at games – is that playing it is more than just about the sport and taking part, because the women involved build a community around their teams. The ethos was ‘by the skaters, for the skaters’.

“As a sociologist, I couldn’t help but be fascinated by this, but it’s still a very fast and thrilling sport to take part in and watch and I’d encourage anyone who is interested to have a go – whether you like the action or the sociology!”

Find out more about the MSc in Public Sociology.

Find out more about undergraduate Sociology (Ba hons) at the University.

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