• Class Number 5663
  • Term Code 3360
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Maria Hynes
    • Dr Maria Hynes
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 24/07/2023
  • Class End Date 27/10/2023
  • Census Date 31/08/2023
  • Last Date to Enrol 31/07/2023
SELT Survey Results

Sociological debates in recent decades have reinvigorated the question of the relevance of sociological knowledge. In debates around ‘Public Sociology’, for example, it has been suggested that sociology has surrendered its original mission of positively transforming society. In this course, we will critically engage with such debates, exploring the status of sociological knowledge with respect to the past, present, and future. We will explore the colonial assumptions underpinning the dominant model of sociology’s public (moral) mission. How might we think about progressive change when the very idea of progress is a product of histories of dominance and violence? How is sociology’s sense of itself as a scientific representation of the empirical present challenged by the production of so-called big data? How might we think about our future role in social transformation in view of the increasing popularity of new, transdisciplinary models of problem solving? What are the differences between social transformation and social innovation?


These more conceptual questions will be explored through a series of practical exercises, aimed at familiarising students with the complexities of forming and addressing problems. The course will encompass a range of activities that explore the concepts of ‘social transformation’, 'impact' ‘engagement’, 'empowerment' and ‘innovation.’ It will also equip students with the analytical and practical skills required for engaging meaningfully in the nature and representation of social events and issues.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Critically engage with debates on the relationship between sociological knowledge and social transformation.
  2. Develop a critical understanding of the complexities of 'sociological relevance' in view of histories of colonisation and racial capitalism
  3. Identify key modes of thinking, media, tools and opportunities that can be exploited to transform sociological knowledge into meaningful engagement with specific social issues
  4. Utilise diverse modes of communication for non-sociological audiences and co-producers of knowledge
  5. Understand the problem of social transformation through collaborative learning and peer engagement

Research-Led Teaching

Development of this unit is informed by my longstanding interest in critically analysing claims about the relevance of sociological knowledge (eg. the difference between representational and performative ways of producing knowledge; the difference between knowledge production and study in racial capitalism; the intersection between sociology and art). It incorporates material from my research into cross-disciplinary forms of problem solving (eg. ArtScience). The unit is also informed by my recent work on models of thinking in the innovation age (for example, the claims made in the name of Design Thinking).

Field Trips

We will make an excursion to Tributary Projects in the Gorman House precinct. No costs will be involved.

Additional Course Costs


Examination Material or equipment

None necessary

Required Resources

All resources will be available via Wattle

Whether you are on campus or studying online, there are a variety of online platforms you will use to participate in your study program. These could include videos for lectures and other instruction, two-way video conferencing for interactive learning, email and other messaging tools for communication, interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities, print and/or photo/scan for handwritten work and drawings, and home-based assessment.

ANU outlines recommended student system requirements to ensure you are able to participate fully in your learning. Other information is also available about the various Learning Platforms you may use.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). Feedback can also be provided to Course Conveners and teachers via the Student Experience of Learning & Teaching (SELT) feedback program. SELT surveys are confidential and also provide the Colleges and ANU Executive with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 'Transforming Society' Practical focus: Getting to Know Each Other
2 What is 'the Public'? Practical focus: Co-Producing Knowledge
3 Problematising and Problem Solving Practical focus: Impact and Engagement
4 Transdisciplinarity and Communicative Capitalism Practical focus: Working with the Media
5 Excursion to Tributary Projects Practical Focus: Art as Participatory Action
6 Identifying a Problem/ Developing a Response Practical focus: Collaborative Workshopping
7 Group Presentations Practical focus: Collaborative Problem Solving
8 Group Presentations Practical focus: Collaborative Problem Solving
9 Project Development Practical focus: Developing an Idea
10 Project Development Practical focus: Project Filming
11 Project Development Practical focus: Project Editing
12 Project presentations Practical focus: Co-operative Learning

Tutorial Registration

Unit will be taught as a workshop. Students will be required to attend a minimum of 80% of the workshops.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Learning Outcomes
Workshop Participation 10 % * 2,5
Group Presentation 25 % 22/08/2023 3,4,5
Group Video Production 40 % 28/10/2023 1-5
Reflective Exercise 25 % 05/11/2023 1-5

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines , which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Integrity Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Skills website. In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Workshop participation is an essential component of this unit. You will be required to attend a minimum of 80% of the workshops in order to pass the course.



Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 2,5

Workshop Participation

This part of the assessment relates to Learning Outcomes 2 & 5 and contributes to 10% of your overall grade. Transforming Society is organised as a workshop, and active participation is a crucial part of this course. This mark assesses your participation in the course (as opposed to mere attendance). Participation means that you can demonstrate that you have participated actively in a collective learning process, that you can understand and engage with ideas and materials on your own terms and in light of class discussion, and that you contribute actively to class discussion and learning. The point of contributing to discussion is not to be right, but to learn with interest and generosity amongst your peers. You will be expected to come to a minimum of 80% of the classes or to provide documentation to support extraordinary circumstances.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 22/08/2023
Learning Outcomes: 3,4,5

Group Presentation

This is a group presentation of a total of 20 minutes duration, with 10 minutes for the presentation and 10 minutes for class discussion. The aim of the presentation is to present to other students an outline of the issue that your group is exploring and to receive feedback from the other students that will inform your development of the project from here on. The presentation should be undertaken as a group, with a clear distribution of tasks. It should include a discussion of the literature and research findings that inform your chosen problem; a discussion of how you believe, as sociologists, you can contribute to addressing this problem; a discussion of the relationship between the issue and the strategies that, as engaged sociologists, you will pursue to intervene in it; a critical evaluation of the benefits and risks of any kind of sociological intervention into the issue; a discussion of how you are approaching the task as a group, which includes detail into the equitable distribution of group tasks. With an eye to the equitable division of labour, students will fill out a contract as a group at the beginning of their work together as a group (template provided in class). You should include a discussion of the contract in the presentation. We will discuss the elements of the presentation and the presentation as a whole in class in the early weeks of the semester.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 28/10/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1-5

Group Video Production

The aim of the group video production is to present - in a maximum of ten minutes - an outline of the group's processes in identifying an issue and selecting an appropriate sociological intervention in it. Where the earlier presentation focused on the early stages of the development of the group project, the video outlines and critically analyses the way that the project developed in the second half of the semester. While the presentation needs to be informative, you may also chose to make it entertaining. We will watch the videos together in the final workshop.

The group video task is a presentation in which all members of the group should be involved, with an eye to the equitable distribution of the diverse tasks, from scripting, to presenting, production, editing and so on. Group members will be asked to individually submit an evaluation of their group's processes, including an evaluation of their own contribution to the group. A form will be provided for this task. The form will not be graded but will be taken into consideration in the grading of the group project.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 05/11/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1-5

Reflective Exercise

You will be asked to write a reflection piece about your group project. While this paper is due at the end of semester, it is important that you work on it throughout the semester. In the paper, you will provide an extensive discussion of the research findings upon which your group is acting and will contextualise the findings in broader debates. You will draw on course material and discussion to provide a critical analysis of the problem your group chose to address and the risks and benefits of sociological efforts to intervene in that problem. You will need to provide a rationalisation of the approach that your group took to addressing the problem, which includes a discussion of the practical limitations of a sociological intervention at undergraduate level. This reflection paper will need to include relevant sociological literature (at least seven scholarly sources). We will discuss the task in class throughout the semester.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. The University’s students are an integral part of that community. The academic integrity principle commits all students to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support, academic integrity, and to uphold this commitment by behaving honestly, responsibly and ethically, and with respect and fairness, in scholarly practice.

The University expects all staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle, the Academic Integrity Rule 2021, the Policy: Student Academic Integrity and Procedure: Student Academic Integrity, and to uphold high standards of academic integrity to ensure the quality and value of our qualifications.

The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 is a legal document that the University uses to promote academic integrity, and manage breaches of the academic integrity principle. The Policy and Procedure support the Rule by outlining overarching principles, responsibilities and processes. The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 commences on 1 December 2021 and applies to courses commencing on or after that date, as well as to research conduct occurring on or after that date. Prior to this, the Academic Misconduct Rule 2015 applies.


The University commits to assisting all students to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. All coursework students must complete the online Academic Integrity Module (Epigeum), and Higher Degree Research (HDR) students are required to complete research integrity training. The Academic Integrity website provides information about services available to assist students with their assignments, examinations and other learning activities, as well as understanding and upholding academic integrity.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission not permitted. If submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date is not permitted, a mark of 0 will be awarded.
  • Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

The Academic Skills website has information to assist you with your writing and assessments. The website includes information about Academic Integrity including referencing requirements for different disciplines. There is also information on Plagiarism and different ways to use source material.

Returning Assignments

Assignments will be graded as per the date on wattle.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Dr Maria Hynes

Research Interests

Art and Social Life; Transdisciplinarity & Art-Science; Models of Thought in the Innovation Age; Affect Theory; Biopower; Social Theory; Social Transformation;

Dr Maria Hynes

By Appointment
By Appointment
Dr Maria Hynes

Research Interests

Dr Maria Hynes

By Appointment
By Appointment

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