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Ana-Maria, a second year student studying Social Policy, Crime and Criminal Justice, sat down with Dr Dan Horsfall, who is a senior lecturer in Comparative Social Policy, to chat about why he loves what he teaches.

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Could you share with us some information about yourself and your place of work?

I'm a Senior Lecturer in Comparative Social Policy. I am a graduate of the Department of Social Policy and Social Work, having come to the University in 2002. I am from Bradford, and still follow Bradford City Football Club. I have taught at York since 2012 and have loved my time here as both staff and student.

Why have you chosen to be a lecturer and to teach this particular subject?

I fell in love with the subject when studying as an undergraduate, which prompted a masters and in turn, PhD. This had never been my planned career. As the first in my family to attend university I didn’t really know what to expect, and had assumed I would either qualify as a teacher after my studies or perhaps join the police force. However, the subject fascinated me and I kept studying. A career as a lecturer has allowed me to continue this while also developing my passion for teaching.

As a student who already studies a course based on social policy, I know that it is an essential tool for understanding the world we live in. What do you think are the benefits of studying this subject?

Appreciating difference, the roles of individuals and structures, and the importance of history are all central to understanding the many challenges faced in societies.

Whether we are new students or established researchers, we will have different interests and be concerned with different social issues. But, taking an analytical approach, thinking critically and engaging with evidence are crucial steps for advancing solutions to the challenges we face.

A degree in Social Policy centres students within a range of disciplines such as sociology, economics, and politics, and endows students with the ability to pull across these in order to approach a range of critical issues with the right ‘tool-kit’.

What achievement are you most proud of and why?

Professionally I would say I am most proud of the nominations I have had for supervisor or teacher of the year awards, along with the student feedback that I receive. On a personal level, completing a marathon in under three hours!

Could you talk about a challenging time that you had to confront while conducting your research and how did you manage this situation?

On one project the subject matter was incredibly distressing and the people I was interviewing were really struggling. As a researcher you are limited in terms of being able to help directly and you have to hope that your research makes a difference. Here it is important to draw on others for support and keep in mind the big picture.

Creating a policy proposal is a complex process, influenced by multiple factors. In terms of education, how would you improve the educational system and do you think that students’ voices are actually taken into account?

Well, as a good researcher I probably shouldn’t answer that without drawing on evidence! I would say that from all the work I have done on other issues and the wider body of literature that exists, early intervention is crucial. Investment in high-quality pre-school education can make a huge difference in terms of life chances. Coproduction of services is also incredibly important and while this maybe difficult with the youngest children, as students progress through the education system there is substantial opportunity for this, perhaps beginning with student voice or student council-type mechanisms.

Who is the person who inspires you the most and why?

My partner is a constant source of inspiration, demonstrating that you do not have to compromise beliefs, passion, empathy and compassion even when working in a tough profession. My partner is dedicated to the education of children and I believe that they improve the world every single day – having done a Social Policy degree (which is how we met!).

Lastly, would you like to share any final thoughts or guidance for both present and future students?

It really is good to talk. About anything and everything. Talk things through with course mates, housemates, old schoolmates, your supervisor, whomever.

Contact us

For any support or guidance on completing your journey to York, we're always close at hand.
+44 (0)1904 324000