Students discuss outdoors, photo by Juliana Wiklund, SSE

Financial Literacy highlighted during the CIVICA European Week


SSE faculty Thomas Lavelle talks about the theme and approach to learning of the CIVICA European Week 2021.

Dr. Thomas Lavelle is a member of the faculty at SSE and teaches courses in management and academic communication, academic and creative writing and pedagogy. Given his pedagogical interest and his interest in the interface between language and learning, he has been involved in different types of international programs and projects previously. He is attracted to both aspects of the CIVICA alliance—educational cooperation across borders and locally grounded social engagement. He is now a part of the team organising the first CIVICA European Week in June.

“SSE’s President, Lars Strannegård, encourages us to think about ourselves as a school for society, not just a school for the business community. That way of thinking aligns well with the theme of the European Week, ‘Financial Literacy’. Given the CIVICA focus on social engagement, I thought it was important that students can work with a range of organisations - not just from the financial industry, but also from the community, from civil society”, says Thomas Lavelle.

During four days in June, about 40 bachelor students from SSE, LSE, Bocconi and Sciences Po will work in virtual groups with organizations to better understand how financial literacy, i.e. basic knowledge about interest, savings and investment, is distributed across groups in society.

“The starting point for the theme is that certain kinds of knowledge are a public good, like fresh air or fresh water, like the ability to read and write. Everyone should have equal access to such things. But research tells us that this isn’t the case with financial literacy. There isn’t equal access to knowledge about making investments, about savings, about preparing for your pension, about how you finance your housing needs or your children’s higher education if it’s not government funded. This is an opportunity for students to ask: Why is this the case? Where are the clusters, where are the gaps? And most importantly, what’s being done to correct this imbalance?” says Thomas.

During the European Week, the participants will engage in action-based learning and hear very few lectures and read very few books. Instead, students will be learning by talking to stakeholders, either within their host organisations or the clients those organisations serve.

“I think this type of live learning is very important. As part of the CIVICA mission, we believe that students should learn about European communities that are not part of their regular contact network, and the students will be given that chance here”, says Thomas.

The students will benefit from working in multi-cultural, multi-lingual groups and, even though it will be mostly virtual, they can pick up on the important professional skill of working in distributed multi-cultural teams. It gives them an opportunity to learn about communicating across linguistic, cultural, and disciplinary boundaries. Digital mingles will keep the social sides of things alive and the students can develop a network for later in life. The European Week is one way to fulfil the requirements to earn the CIVICA Engage Certificate as part of a BSc degree.

“We believe that when the students graduate having completed the CIVICA Engage Track, they can show potential employers and other people in their futures that they are not only academically successful, but also have a high level of social sensitivity, social awareness and a willingness to work for social change”, says Thomas.

Written by Astrid Lindholm (SSE)

Header photo: Juliana Wiklund (SSE)