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SOCS100 Introduction to Sociology OR SOCS108 Contemporary Society and Change

Unit rationale, description and aim

Sociology and/or youth worker professionals require intercultural awareness, sensitivity, and communication competence to understand and respond to youth issues in Australia and our neighbouring Pacific region. This competence is best developed through experiential learning afforded in this unit by cultural study immersion in Fijian society and communities.

In this unit, students travel to Fiji on a Short-Term International Study Experience to learn of and immerse in the social and cultural underpinnings of Fijian youth culture. Through a combination of field trips, seminars and lectures, visits to organisations and agencies, a Fijian community village experience students will observe, research, and appraise the dominant and evolving key issues impacting the life of young people in Fiji. This unit addresses critical contemporary issues for young people in the Pacific region with a particular emphasis on Fiji. Students will undertake a structured global learning experience that will allow them to engage in an ethical and creative experience that facilitates intercultural connection through meetings with community development and youth agencies.

The aim of this unit is to enable students to accrue cultural competence and to foster global citizenship through developing a global mindset and engaging in rigorous critical reflection on the learning abroad experience.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Apply sociological theories and concepts to explain the dominant and evolving key issues impacting the life of young people in Fiji (GA1, GA4, GA5)

LO2 - Analyse and evaluate the influence of culture, ethnicity, social class, poverty, education, and other mediating factors on life outcomes for young people in Fiji (GA1, GA3, GA5, GA8)

LO3 - Critically reflect on learning abroad and identify how the experience has generated new insights into your discipline practice and fostered respect for values associated with human rights (GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5)

LO4 - Create an original, investigative report on the social, cultural, global, and institutional practices contributing to specific youth issues in contemporary Fiji (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA6, GA8, GA9).

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Students will be exposed during the overseas experience to Fiji to a diversity of social and cultural topics from both a local and global perspective influencing the lives of Fijian youth. These may include, but are not limited to:

  • Youth specific issues
  • Youth participation and empowerment
  • Global health and wellbeing for youth
  • Global citizenship
  • Cultural diversity and ethnicity
  • Intersectionality
  • Intercultural communication
  • History of Fijian society and culture
  • Contemporary society issues for youth
  • Cultural and social interaction

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Duration: This unit is a Short-Term International Study Experience to Fiji offered in either winter term (June/July) or summer term (December) of an academic cycle. The short-term intensive international experience includes due diligence requirements plus one week of preparatory online classes prior to commencing overseas experience, two weeks of immersion in Fiji, followed by post-experience session/s online.

Experiential learning strategy: The learning strategy is based on David Kolb’s experiential learning cycle in which new experiences from overseas cultural immersion study facilitate the development of new concepts for the learner. The short-term international experience represents a concrete new experience for the student and, in assessment, the student learns via critically reflective observation of the new cultural experience. Guided by Kolb’s learning cycle, abstract conceptualisation results from the reflective observation, giving rise to new ideas or the modifying of existing values and assumptions, and the learner applies these new ideas in professional and personal contexts. [Ref: Kolb's Learning Styles and Experiential Learning Cycle | Simply Psychology]

The teaching model comprises compulsory information-based pre-departure sessions, supervision of the overseas experience and post-travel debrief session/s. Students will be supervised while overseas by the lecturers-in charge of the unit along with a representative of the mobility partner organisation. The teaching model embraces Kolb’s experiential learning cycle, with compulsory post-travel debrief sessions designed to inspire critical reflection and transformative learning.

Mode/Attendance Pattern:

  • Pre-departure sessions enable students to emotionally and mentally prepare for their immersion experience in a particular developing country (to navigate the intensity of culture shock on arrival). Pre-departure preparation forms part of the risk management component of the program and is therefore mandatory. Online classes will be scheduled in the week before the overseas experience and will have a mandatory attendance requirement. The classes are designed to orient students to the overseas experience in Fiji and to cover interdisciplinary perspectives on Fijian society and culture.
  • A mandatory overseas experience of two weeks that includes interaction with youth organisations, university seminars, and lectures, officers of government departments, local communities, and NGOs working in community development, immersion in a Fijian community, and interaction with young people under the mentorship of the mobility partner organisation.
  • Compulsory online post-travel session/s are important to ensure that students can readjust to their home country satisfactorily upon their return, a process that forms part of the risk management. The online sessions will also be used to guide work on assessment and to activate students' reflective learning

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessments will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements.

Assessment Task 1 is an analytical task that requires students to draw from an evidence base of primary and secondary sources to compile a demographic profile of Fijian society and culture from interdisciplinary perspectives including sociology, cultural studies, history, politics, health, economy, and geography. The purpose of the assignment is to provide a foundation for students to understand the various factors underpinning the complex web of social and cultural relations impacting the lived experiences of Fijian youth which forms part of Assessment Task 2.

Assessment Task 1 scaffolds knowledge of the influence of various social and cultural factors on the life of young people in Fiji to an independent investigation in Assessment Task 2 of the dominant and evolving key social issues impacting the lives of young people in Fiji, with the specific investigation of how socio-cultural, global and institutional practices and processes are contributing to a specific youth issue in Fiji. The investigation will be based on empirical observations in Fiji along with secondary evidence from sociology, youth work, and cognate disciplines. Students are encouraged to incorporate a human rights perspective into the investigation of a specific youth issue.

For Assessment Task 3 students will write a critically reflective journal. The journal is a progressive piece of work that reflects the student’s developing knowledge and represents a focussed reflection based on personal observations of the global, social and cultural contexts and practices for youth development in Fiji, to appraise these in terms of sociological theory and practice. The journal will incorporate both personal and professional reflection, allowing the student to identify the questioning of deeply held cultural assumptions. As a result of reflecting on these experiences, the assignment will assist students to understand more clearly their own culture. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1: Analytical task

The assessment requires students to produce an evidence-based profile of Fijian society and culture from interdisciplinary perspectives. 



GA1, GA3, GA5, GA8

Assessment Task 2: Investigative Report

This summative task will enable students to undertake a substantial investigation of the dominant and evolving key social issues impacting the lives of young people in Fiji with a specific focus on a Fijian youth issue, to document the empirical and literature research on this issue and link with sociological theories and concepts that frame an understanding of this issue from a local and global perspective. The report is equivalent to 2,000 words with students encouraged to embed images and multimedia from the overseas experience into reporting.


LO1, LO2, LO4

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9

Assessment Task 3: Critical Reflection Task

This task requires students to critically reflect on the overseas experience and document these reflections, and present the journal entries in written or multimedia format. 


LO1, LO3

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5

Hurdle tasks

a) Vaccine immunisation certificate/s signed by qualified medical expert showing up-to-date immunisations relevant to destination country

b) current National Police Check and Working With Children Check

c) Registration of trip details with ACU- recommended emergency service (eg International SOS)

d) Additional risk management and due diligence requirements and submission of LAPIE form to Global and Education Pathways.


Representative texts and references

Cuervo,H. & Miranda, A. (Eds.) (2019). Youth, inequality and social change in the global south. Singapore: Springer.

Lee, H. (2019). Pacific Youth: Local and Global Futures, ANU Press: Canberra.

McKinnon, K; Carnegie, M; Gibson, K., & Rowland, C. (2016). Gender equality and economic empowerment in the Solomon Islands and Fiji: a place-based 

approach, Gender, Place & Culture, 23:10, 1376-1391.

Mitchell, E., & Rae Bennett, L. (2020). Young women’s perceptions and experiences of sexual risk in Suva, Fiji, Culture, Health & Sexuality, 22:5, 504-519.

Presterudstuen, G. (2019). Performing Masculinity : Body, Self and Identity in Modern Fiji, Bloomsbury Publishing.

Secretariat of the Pacific Community (2015). The Pacific Youth Development Framework 2014–2023: A coordinated approach to youth-centred development in the Pacific, Social Development Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community: Suva.

Vakaoti, P. (2019). Young people's constitutional submission in Fiji: opportunities and challenges. In H. Cuervo & A. Miranda (Eds.),Youth, inequality and social change in the global south. (pp. 239-254). Singapore: Springer

Vakaoti, P. (2018).Street-frequenting young people in Fiji: Theory and practice. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.

Vakaoti, P. (2017). Young people’s participation in Fiji: Understanding conceptualizations and experiences.Journal of Youth Studies,20(6), 697-712

Vakaoti, P. (2015). Working with groups: Group work with young Pacific Islands people. In K. van Heugten & A. Gibbs (Eds.), Social work for sociologists: Theory and practice. (pp. 85-102). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Volpe, C.R. (2021) ‘High tide by boat, low tide we walk’: the everyday digital lives of girls in remote villages of Vanua Levu, Fiji, Children's Geographies

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