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My life with Dyslexia

My life with Dyslexia

December 5, 2023 Sadie Gration
Image courtesy of Getty Images

Let me introduce myself, my name is Sheryl Shelbourne and I am an Occupational Health and Wellbeing adviser at Loughborough University, and I am dyslexic.

I didn’t find out that I was dyslexic until I was 50 years old and doing my degree in Occupational Health (OH) at the University of Derby, where it was standard practice for all students to complete an initial assessment. Thinking about it, I’d always known that there was something different with my written English as I struggled at school, but it was never picked up on, as unfortunately when I was at school dyslexia was not really known about or assessed, so went undetected.

This was the same when I did my nurse training back in 1989. It was always a mystery to me why most people didn’t struggle the way I did when writing things down; people would laugh at the way I spelt certain words, and I was often slower than my peers at reading things, but I just thought ‘that’s me’ and worked on my own ways of doing things to try to support me in my written work.

When I did find out I was dyslexic, things just seemed to fall into place. Getting support at the University for my degree was not straightforward, and I completed my degree without any additional help or support that should have been available. That being said, I passed with a 2:1 but did find it exceedingly difficult and spent many a long night going over my assignments. I would check them at least four times to ensure I had spelt things correctly and that the sentences made sense, which took a lot of extra time and energy. As a result, I always felt drained when doing written pieces due to the extra effort needed to do what most people found came more naturally.

How did I feel about being dyslexic? Well to be honest, for many years I just thought I was not as academic as my peers, but I knew that I could come up with really good ideas, or I would know what I wanted to say but my brain just didn’t seem to be able to get it down on paper before I had forgotten it.

Like I said previously, being told I was dyslexic answered a lot of questions and made me realise that I wasn’t necessarily less academic, but that my brain worked differently, so I looked into dyslexia in more detail and finally understood what this actually meant and it was a relief.

When I started at Loughborough University, I was able to have a discussion with my manager regarding my dyslexia and my manager encouraged me to approach Access To Work to see if they could offer any guidance to help me with writing reports, alongside time management, memory and organisational skills which are also common issues for someone who is dyslexic.

I completed the online application and was advised the response would be between four to six weeks, but in fact, it took 10 weeks for me to be contacted and the process to be set in motion, which included the initial gathering of information; the assessment; and a follow-up report including recommendations of equipment, suitable software and coaching support for the technical aspects and the practical ways to approach tasks such as organisation, time management and memory.

Most importantly, these sessions helped me understand my dyslexia and my strengths and weaknesses so that I could work on them more effectively. The coaching was face-to-face which I enjoyed. The coach was very open and understanding and didn’t at any point make me feel inadequate. The technical coaching has allowed me to ask questions at my speed and has given me the confidence to explore different software and equipment that normally I would avoid as I don’t always find this easy to master. I have learned different techniques to help manage my time and memory which were also very interesting, and even now 12 months down the line I still find them helpful.

Now my best friend is called Dragon (as in Dragon software!). This package allows me to dictate my report without having to work as hard, meaning I can focus primarily on what I want to say without my brain having to work on keyboard skills, spelling individual words and worrying about whether I’m actually making sense.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have to read through my work, but not four times like before and the number of errors is greatly reduced, not to mention the time that is saved by doing it this way.

I personally would recommend anybody with a neurodiverse condition or disability to contact Access To Work and go through the process of getting help and support with their work if they’re struggling.

It does take time, which can be frustrating, but here at Occupational Health we may be able to help and support you through that time with hints and tips that we have picked up or researched along the way, which may have a positive impact on your working day as it has on mine.

This Week at Loughborough | 4 December

This Week at Loughborough | 4 December

December 1, 2023 Orla Price

University Carol Service

4 December 2023, 3pm-4pm, Martin Hall Theatre

Join the University Chaplaincy for the annual Carol Service, bringing in the advent season together. The University Choir will lead us in singing festive carols, with reflections and bible readings shared throughout. The service will be followed by festive refreshments including mulled wine and mince pies.

Find out more

Student Live Lounge

4 December 2023, 7.30pm-10.30pm, The Lounge, LSU

If you enjoy live music and discovering new artists then join this event for a special, laid back evening as we present the best talent from Loughborough University. Come along and support our students and experience something special.

Anyone is welcome to attend (18+) but performances are limited to Loughborough University students. If you’re a student and you would like to perform at this event then you need to register your interest in advance as there are limited slots available.

Find out more

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science – Research Funding Programmes

5 December 2023, 1pm-2pm, Online

This session will provide information about the variety of current funding opportunities the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) has for researchers at all stages (from doctoral-level students to academic staff) and in all fields to collaborate with researchers in Japan.

Find out more

Loughborough Craft Fair Showcase

5 December 2023, 5pm-8pm, Edward Herbert Building

Indulge in a festive celebration of creativity from colleagues from across the University who will be showcasing and selling their handmade products, making it a great opportunity to purchase those last-minute gifts for your loved ones. The event will be raising money for Samaritans, a charity dedicated to supporting those in need.

Find out more

Seminar: Machining manufacturing research and moving towards current trends in the field

6 December 2023, 12pm-1pm, International House/Online

IAS Residential Fellow Dr Junior Nomani will deliver a seminar on their research. This workshop seminar details three different levels of machining research extending to processes such as turning and drilling operations. From developing machining observational studies at the surface level, to exploring chip formation and developing finite element cutting models based on material phases.

Find out more

Voices of Diversity with artist Kedisha Coakley

6 December 2023, 1pm-2pm, EHB 104/Online

As part of the University’s Voices of Diversity series, Kedisha Coakley will be visiting campus for a talk about her arts practice. Kedisha Coakley is an artist whose work interrogates the power of objects and cultural symbols; and challenges curatorial conventions as they relate to race, history and culture.

Find out more

Create & Connect: Arts workshop/celebration

6 December 2023, 2.30pm-4.30pm, Collaboration Station, LSU

Are you an international student looking to make new friends, adapt to life in Loughborough, and explore your creative side? Look no further! We are excited to present Create & Connect an 8-week programme designed to connect international students, help them adapt to life in Loughborough, and engage in creative activities. 

Find out more

Loughborough University Choir: A Crafted Christmas Concert

6 December 2023, 7.30pm-9.30pm, Cope Auditorium

Join for a festive evening of music from our University Choir plus musicians from LSU Classical. The concert will feature Handel’s ‘Messiah (Part One)’, Britten’s ‘A Ceremony of Carols’ and Elgar’s ‘The Snow’. Open to family, friends and the local community.

Find out more

Breakfast Study Cafe

7 December 2023, 8am-11am, WAV041

As we approach exam season, setting aside time to study, completing your coursework and attending all your lectures can be difficult. To help manage this, the Academic Success Team are hosting Breakfast Study Cafes to help you increase your productivity whilst on campus.

Drop in for one or all the sessions starting at 8:00 am, 9:00 am, and 10:00 am on Thursday, December 7th and study with structure.

Find out more

Loughborough’s Annual Research Conference

7 December 2023, 9.30am-4.30pm, Sir Denis Rooke Building (Holywell Park)/Online

Aligned to the University’s bold and ambitious 2030 strategy, the theme of this year’s conference is ‘Transforming our tomorrow. Together’. This theme aims to emphasise how high-quality research and innovation, conducted in partnership, can deliver meaningful impact to enhance our futures.

Find out more

White Ribbon Day Stall – Closing Event

8 December 2023, 11am-3pm, LSU, The Lounge

At this event, students will have the chance to win prizes such as anti-spiking scrunchies and personal alarm keyrings to raise awareness for White Ribbon Day.

Find out more

Disability History Month – Creating a Community in Para Sport

8 December 2023, 6pm-8pm, Holywell Stadium Function Room

The Para Sport Exec is hosting this social evening to recognise Disability History Month and this year’s theme of Disability, Children and Youth.

This event is an opportunity to reflect on Para Sport through the years, the opportunities available to students on campus, and the support available for disabled students and athletes here at Loughborough.  

Find out more

LSU Classical’s Christmas Concert

9 December 2023, 6.30pm, Martin Hall

LSU Classical will hold our wonderful Christmas concert on the 9th of December, joint with singers from LSU Sing. In this concert, we will enchant you with a delightful selection of music featuring heart-warming Christmas themes, The entire event promises to be a magical experience.

In addition to the mesmerizing music, we will also sell delicious refreshments and soft drinks and you will also have the chance to win our fantastic raffle prizes.

Find out more

Exhibition: Between Light and Shadow

20 November-15 December 2023, 12pm-2pm, Martin Hall Exhibition Space

An immersive and interactive experience of sculptural works challenging perceptions of reality. This exhibition by Yeshan Yang (School of Design and Creative Arts) provides an immersive and interactive experience of sculptures, such as cage-like structures that challenge viewers’ perceptions and the boundaries of reality.

Find out more

From the Vice-Chancellor - November 2023

From the Vice-Chancellor - November 2023

December 1, 2023 Nick Jennings
Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Jennings in front of stained glass windows in Hazlerigg Building.

In my November newsletter: the Research and Innovation core plan, Safer Partnerships and Trusted Research, ONCAMPUS Loughborough, visit to China and Hong Kong, and the emerging Sustainability Strategy.

Research and Innovation core plan approved

Loughborough has always undertaken pioneering research and innovation that makes a real difference to the world; our researchers shape public policy, improve lives and enable business and industry to compete more successfully. We should not be complacent, however, and must continue to enhance what we do if we are to achieve our strategic aim of becoming more research intensive and more innovation driven, and expanding the global impact our work has.

The Research and Innovation core plan, which has now been approved by Senate and Council, outlines the steps we will take over the coming years to achieve those strategic aims. The plan has three overarching, and interlinked, objectives:

  • to improve the focus of our activity, aligned to our research and innovation strengths
  • to facilitate a culture that encourages imagination, creativity and openness and
  • to have a positive influence on the world around us.

Each objective is underpinned by a number of key actions and a series of Key Performance Indicators that will enable us to measure our success. It’s an ambitious plan but we must set ourselves demanding targets if we are to continue to succeed and develop further in a highly competitive global market.

The development of the plan has been led by Professor Dan Parsons (Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation), following extensive consultation with groups and individuals across the University. Thank you to all those who contributed to this important piece of work.

Outline of two hands holding in front of a globe.

Ensuring our partnerships are trusted and safe 

The University strategy sets out a bold ambition to grow the global influence and impact of our research, innovation, education and sporting activity. One of the ways we can do this is through the development of substantive partnerships with universities and institutions around the world. 

Working in partnership can be hugely beneficial, enabling us to work with the some of the best global organisations to enhance our networks and build our reputation. But we need to be confident about those we collaborate with and their motivations for working with us. 

At Loughborough we pride ourselves on being authentic – honest, trustworthy and open – and being responsible – accountable for our actions, caring for ourselves and others. But we must be aware that not everyone shares our values. Some organisations and institutions that we want to work with operate in nations whose democratic and ethical values are different from our own. 

We therefore need to be mindful of the national and economic security risks that could ensue from whatever we’re doing. We all have a duty to take a responsible approach to our interactions with external organisations, both at home and abroad, and we should expect this of our partners too. 

To support you with this, we have developed some guidance on Safer Partnerships and Trusted Research. The website explains why it’s important to be careful about who we work with and the issues we should consider when entering into partnerships or working in collaboration with others. There is also a Due Diligence tool to guide you through the questions we should ask before every new engagement with a potential partner – whether for research, innovation, education, sport or commercial activity. 

None of us wants to believe that another organisation might use their partnership with us for anything other than positive purposes. But we cannot afford to ignore it. So please do take the time to look through the Safer Partnerships and Trusted Research guide and think carefully about the partnerships you have or are entering into. Knowing our partners and managing the risks of our activities proportionately will help to maintain the quality, integrity and reputation of our activity, the University and the UK higher education sector – and ensure the University can work safely towards its strategic aims. 

Five people standing in front of banners for the launch of 'ONCAMPUS Loughborough', Professor Nick Jennings is cutting a purple ribbon.

ONCAMPUS Loughborough opens to international students

At the start of the month I was delighted to join colleagues to mark the start of our partnership with Cambridge Education Group, which delivers academic programmes that prepare international students for progression onto leading universities. 

Cambridge Education Group now has a dedicated Centre in the Herbert Manzoni building on our East Midlands campus. ONCAMPUS Loughborough supports students with development of the academic skills they need to progress on to an undergraduate or Master’s degree at Loughborough.  

Since opening its doors this autumn, the Centre has welcomed more than 180 students and there are plans to enrol more students in the new year. 

The partnership with Cambridge Education Group is enabling us to welcome more international students to our campus, and from a greater range of countries. And by making our community more internationally diverse we can offer a more culturally enriching experience for everyone –in line with the objectives of the International Engagement and Impact core plan

A group of people standing in front of a Loughborough University London banner, the Loughborough University logo is in the bottom right corner.

Reinforcing our networks in China and Hong Kong 

Advancing our international reputation and profile is a key aim of our University strategy. One of the ways in which we can progress this is through the reinforcement and further development of international partnerships and networks during overseas visits. 

At the end of October, I led a delegation of senior staff to mainland China and Hong Kong for a packed programme of activity. This was my first trip to the region as Vice-Chancellor and the first senior delegation to return to China and Hong Kong since the pandemic. 

In order to maximise our time during the week-long trip, the delegation was divided into two groups, with one focused on research and innovation and the second centred on education and student recruitment. 

Advancing our international reputation and profile is a key aim of our University strategy. One of the ways in which we can progress this is through the reinforcement and further development of international partnerships and networks during overseas visits. 

At the end of October, I led a delegation of senior staff to mainland China and Hong Kong for a packed programme of activity. This was my first trip to the region as Vice-Chancellor and the first senior delegation to return to China and Hong Kong since the pandemic. 

In order to maximise our time during the week-long trip, the delegation was divided into two groups, with one focused on research and innovation and the second centred on education and student recruitment. 

I led the research and innovation track, with visits to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Nanjing and Beijing. At Hong Kong Polytechnic University we explored potential research collaborations in design and engineering; at Tongji University in Shanghai we discussed how our two institutions could work together on topics such as smart matter, AI and cognitive technologies; and at Tsinghua University in Beijing we looked at collaborative research in design and disaster planning. 

While in Beijing we held roundtable discussions with industry leaders, to explore how Loughborough could work with local partners on research, innovation and education projects, particularly around our Climate Change and Net Zero strategic theme. 

We were able to learn more about one of our recent research partnerships on a visit to the Palace Museum in Beijing. Our academics from the School of Design and Creative Arts have been working with the Palace Museum, the Summer Palace Museum and the Garden Museum on how to combine modern technologies, such as 3D printing, with more traditional restoration techniques. This important work is helping to improve the preservation and curation of historical artefacts.  

During the trip I also hosted receptions attended by more than 200 alumni in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing, where I was able to update them on some of recent achievements and developments and tell them more about our ambitions for the next decade, as outlined in our strategy. 

The second track of the trip, focusing on education and student recruitment, was led by Professor Rachel Thomson, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Student Experience. The group visited Shanghai University and Beijing University of Chemical Engineering to further the collaborative agreements we already have in place with them. 

They also visited the Clover Autistic Children Rehabilitation Centre in Shanghai, meeting staff and children to learn more about the vital work the Centre undertakes. With the support of our alumni, partner organisations and the educational supply shop HOPE Education, the University was able to donate sports equipment, teaching facilities and toys to the Centre. 

Overseas trips such as these are hugely important: they allow us to consolidate existing partnerships and explore new ones (in line with the Safer Partnerships and Trusted Research protocols outlined above); they enable us to strengthen connections with our international alumni; and crucially position Loughborough as a university of choice for future students. Thank you to the staff who were part of the delegation and to all those involved in helping to organise it. 

Sustainability Strategy takes shape

The climate emergency is one of the most pressing issues facing us today, threatening food sources, livelihoods, economies and people’s lives worldwide.  

We all have a responsibility to act, and to act now. Our Climate Change and Net Zero strategic theme outlines how the University will work to address the climate emergency, to support the local, national and global response and to achieve our own University target of net zero from our operations by 2035. 

To guide the delivery of the objectives within our theme, we are developing a Sustainability Strategy, with the work being led by the Associate Pro Vice-Chancellors (APVCs) for Climate Change and Net Zero, Dr Kathryn North and Professor John Downey. The APVCs for the three strategic themes are responsible for championing and driving forward interdisciplinary activity across the Schools and Professional Services.   The Sustainability Strategy will cover all facets of University life – our research and innovation, teaching and student experience, our partnerships and international engagement, as well as our everyday working practices and the way we develop and manage our facilities and estates. 

The Strategy is being developed through a process of iterative consultation. Last month 50 colleagues from across the University took part in a workshop to share their expert insight into the actions that should be prioritised as part of the Strategy. Based on their feedback, further colleagues from across Schools, Professional Services and Loughborough Students’ Union were then consulted on the Strategy’s development. Thank you to those who contributed.  The proposed Strategy is now being shared with senior leaders, with the intention for the document, and details of how its delivery will be governed, to be launched in the spring of 2024. 

#ChangeTheStory: The importance of male allyship in ending violence against women

November 29, 2023 Guest Author

Topic warning: This article is about male violence against women.

Societal attitudes, culture and behaviours can be a root cause of violence against women by men. Societies like White Ribbon, work to prevent violence by addressing ‘harmful and dominant masculine norms’. One of the ways we can challenge this is through male allyship. At Loughborough, the Maia Network has a number of male allies who speak with the group to stop the violence and make the changes needed. What follows in this blog post is the supportive voice of one of Maia’s male allies:

I’ve come up with a short, personal and practical list of things that all men could do:

Do the reading – Learning about privilege, equity and how harmful norms are created is a good start.  Educating yourself to be able to informatively lead discussions and not just talk about violence but the behaviours and attitudes is even better. 

Listen – Violence against women often goes unreported. It is estimated that 1 in 4 women in the UK experienced domestic violence in the last year. These rates rise considerably when we consider women of colour and vulnerable groups such as asylum seekers. These women could be your colleagues, your friends, your neighbours. Just being ready to listen, believe and support can make a huge difference.

Talk – We men could just talk more.  I have a great group of friends, a great family, and brilliant colleagues who share stuff and are always up for a chat. Talking about anything is good but, in this instance, talking to men about how we end violence against women and girls is hugely important. Unlocking and sharing your feelings, thoughts and hopes is a great way to start making the world just that little bit better – for you and everyone around you.

Show up – Just being present, being a good role model within your community, family and at work helps hugely. The lack of good male role models isn’t just about fathers showing up, it is about all of us. Every day as a colleague, being present, being open and ready to do better is hugely important.

Call it out – You know that mate of yours who tells those inappropriate jokes or wolf whistles at women on a night out?  Have you ever just asked him to stop? It can be daunting to start a conversation like this but challenging, educating, and removing toxic behaviours can only make the world a better place. It is not easy but what is the worst that could happen? Maybe you’ll lose a ‘friend’ – but is somebody acting like this really a great loss to you? Calling out harmful attitudes, systems and behaviours around masculinity whether in person or online is so important to bringing about change.  And you can do it. We all can.

…and there is plenty more we can do: ie donate or raise money to women’s organisations, showing support through wearing the White Ribbon and signing the White Ribbon pledge.  If you do just one step of the above list, it’s a start. Starting is important. 

Further support and how to report an incident 

If you have witnessed or experienced any harmful behaviours and would like support and/or to report this, please contact the Duty, Assessment & Inclusivity Team (DAI) at or complete the Incident Reporting Tool.

Alternatively, you can seek support and/or report to Campus Security, who are available 24/7 on campus and off campus. 

If you are ever in danger or need immediate support, please call 999 in an emergency. 

Turning Black Friday into Green Friday

November 24, 2023 Lottie Ambridge

Black Friday 2023 is taking place this Friday, the 24th of November. It is a highly anticipated shopping event, where many consumers can chase the best possible deals, on products ranging from technology to designer clothes. For many, it is the day Christmas shopping begins; for others, it is the perfect excuse to treat themselves.

The event, termed ‘Black Friday’ began as an American tradition. The name was originally used in Philadelphia, to describe the disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic caused when people rushed to the high streets to begin their Christmas shopping, the day after Thanksgiving. Large crowds would fill the streets and cars would cause major traffic jams.

Nowadays, the event is commonly thought of as a shopping holiday, where large discounts are often applied, sometimes for a longer period than just the Friday. Many consumers now also get involved in Cyber Monday, which is a day for online retailers to drop their prices down.

Although both Black Friday and Cyber Monday might seem like perfect opportunities to bag yourselves some great deals, it can be easy to go overboard. These events are used by some of the world’s largest corporations to sell a large amount of products, thus making a hefty profit, often without considering the impact on workers and the environment.

The below video highlights some of the main problems associated with Black Friday and Cyber Monday as events which encourage consumerism and overconsumption:

Some of the issues raised include:

  • Packaging and transport: the increase in online orders means more vehicles on the roads, which contribute to carbon emissions.
  • Waste: this may increase due to cheaply made goods or unwanted presents.
  • Overconsumption: this is caused when people are encouraged to buy more than they really need.
  • Working conditions: some workers at large corporations are forced to work long hours of up to 12-16 hours a day, standing on their feet, to meet the demands of consumers.

Shockingly, in 2021, Black Friday deliveries released approximately 429,000 metric tonnes of greenhouse gases…for context, that’s like 435 return flights from London to New York (Source: AW, 2023).

BUT, there is hope! Here are some solutions for how to enjoy Black Friday sustainably:

  1. Plan what you need to buy (whether this be presents for friends & family, or something you need) and try to stick to this. Avoid buying what you do not NEED.
  2. Do you need to buy these products new? Could there be an opportunity to buy this second hand but still high quality? Consider: Depop & Vinted for clothing; Facebook Marketplace for household items, etc. Or could you search in charity shops?
  3. Invest in longer lasting products & consider the brands you buy from. It is worth researching the brands you’d like to buy from beforehand, to see if they are sustainable, ethical, and fair trade. The website ‘Good On You’ has created a brand directory, where you can search for brands to discover how sustainable they are. (Be aware of ‘greenwashing’, for example when a brand’s messaging claims that materials are ‘recycled’ or ‘ethically sourced’; they don’t always provide proof of this). Look out for companies that are B-Corp, 1% for the planet or carbon neutral accredited. You can also find brands that offer things such as tree planting or charitable donations.
  4. Repair and recycle. Instead of buying a new product, could you repair something you already own? A great opportunity to do this could be next week’s Repair Café, taking place in Martin Hall Café, on Wednesday 29th November, from 2 to 4:30pm. Email to find out more.

This Black Friday and Cyber Monday, remember to shop sustainably by considering the impact you are having!

If you would like to read more on the topic, please visit this link for a useful article:

This article is in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. To read more click here.  

This Week at Loughborough | 27 November

This Week at Loughborough | 27 November

November 24, 2023 Orla Price

Commercialisation and Knowledge Exchange Workshop: Sport, Health and Wellbeing

29 November 2023, 10am-3pm, D002 (James France)

During this workshop, esteemed academic colleagues will share their experiences and insights in three main sessions:

  • Commercialisation
  • Knowledge transfer partnership
  • Opportunities to work with companies within sport, health, and wellbeing

This workshop will be an opportunity for learning and also for networking and collaboration among PhD students. We encourage you to engage actively, ask questions, and share your own thoughts and ideas.

Find out more

Seminar: Using environmental stimuli to improve cardiometabolic health

29 November 2023, 12pm-1pm, International House/Online

IAS Visiting Fellow Dr Sven Hoekstra will deliver a seminar on their research. The hallmarks of spinal cord injury (SCI) are paralysis below the lesion level, muscle atrophy and autonomic dysfunction. Persons ageing with SCI are also at an increased risk for developing cardiometabolic disorders.

Find out more

Laughter Yoga Session (students)

29 November 2023, 2pm-3pm, EHB209 & 210 (Edward Herbert Building)

Join Chaplain Anthony Gimpel, a trained laughter yoga instructor, for this session of wellbeing laughter; combining playfulness, laughter and breathing for pleasure and health.

Find out more

Create and Connect: Paper Marbling Workshop

29 November 2023, 2.30pm-4.30pm, Collaboration Station, LSU

Create & Connect is an eight-week program designed to connect international students and help them adapt to life in Loughborough, whilst engaging in creative activities. Over the course of the program, international students can learn about life at university and British culture, as well as what opportunities are available to them in and around Loughborough.

This week, the session will focus on the process of paper marbling.

Find out more

Environmental Portraiture: 4 Week Photography Short Course (Editing/Processing Session)

29 November 2023, 2pm-4.30pm

In the final session you will edit and process your final selection of images using imaging software. Dean will help you consider the sequencing of images, the artist statement, your options for display and how this may influence the editing process.

Find out more

Laughter Yoga Session (staff)

30 November 2023, 12.30pm-1.30pm, EHB 209 & 210 (Edward Herbert Building)

Join Chaplain Anthony Gimpel, a trained laughter yoga instructor, for this session of wellbeing laughter; combining playfulness, laughter and breathing for pleasure and health.

Find out more

Disability History Month Film Screening: You Don’t Need Feet to Dance

30 November 2023, 5pm-7.30pm, Pilkington Library

Join the Library in celebrating Disability History Month with a screening of the documentary ‘You Don’t Need Feet to Dance’ (2013). The film tells the extraordinary story of Sidiki, who lost the use of his legs to polio at fourteen. He balances his career as a performing artist with the obstacles of day-to-day life in New York City.

The screening will be followed by a discussion of the film and the issues depicted in the text. Light refreshments will be provided.

Find out more

Maximus mental health support appointments

30 November 2023, Online

If you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, stressed, or experiencing a mental health problem that is making work difficult for you, you can access external support with Maximus.

Maximus have virtual, confidential one-to-one appointments available for Loughborough University staff on 30 November.

Find out more

Seminars on Contemporary Military Innovation: Views from the North and the South

1 December 2023, 1pm-5pm, Loughborough London Lecture Theatre, LDN 104/Online

This seminar, intended to be the first of a series, seeks to gather diverse perspectives on how military innovation occurs in different contexts and regions. It aims to shed light on the current challenges and potential lessons that can be learned from views from the North and the South to engage with a broader academic community on this theme by being held in a hybrid format across different institutions.

Find out more

Exhibition: Between Light and Shadow

20 November-15 December 2023, 12pm-2pm, Martin Hall Exhibition Space

An immersive and interactive experience of sculptural works challenging perceptions of reality. This exhibition by Yeshan Yang (School of Design and Creative Arts) provides an immersive and interactive experience of sculptures, such as cage-like structures that challenge viewers’ perceptions and the boundaries of reality.

Find out more

White Ribbon Day: Loughborough University makes pledge to #ChangeTheStory for women and girls 

November 24, 2023 Sadie Gration

For White Ribbon Day (25 November) this year, we are highlighting the University’s commitment to changing the story for women and girls.  

Here at Loughborough, our students, staff, support services and leadership are dedicated to making consistent choices and actions to #Changethestory for women and girls so that they may live their lives free from the fear of violence.  

Please take some time to read why White Ribbon Day is important to the University and how we are all working hard to #ChangeTheStory. 

Two colleagues from the Duty Assessment and Inclusion team stood together outside wearing white ribbons

Duty, Assessment & Inclusivity Team (DAI) 

The DAI team work closely with those affected by sexual violence. We see the harmful effects that it has on our Loughborough University students and community.  

White Ribbon day is important to our team as we want to end fear of violence towards women and girls.  

We want to #ChangeTheStory. We know there is a culture of misogynistic attitudes which are harmful and perpetuate inequality and violence so we want to make Loughborough University a safe space for all of our community. We wear our white ribbons to keep the conversation going so that everyone is involved in the commitment to changing this story.  

Charlie, Kate and Karen stood outside together smiling at the camera, wearing dark clothing and white ribbons

Charlie Wheeldon, Kate Wigham, and Karen Watts  

Acting Director of Student Services, Practice Lead – Mental Health Support Team, and Acting Head of Student Services 
As a service, we will not accept violence against women and girls and do our utmost to ensure that this is on the agenda. We will not excuse it, and we will not be silent about it.   

What can be viewed as harmless comments and attitudes can have an upsetting impact on individuals and lead to an acceptance of unacceptable behaviours. This is not okay. Having respect in all places, for all women is paramount. Anything that suggests a lack of respect should be called out. 

Trevor, Rachel and Atlas stood together inside the Students' Union building wearing white ribbons and looking at the camera

Trevor Page, Rachel Wan and Atlas Alberich 

CEO of Loughborough Students’ Union, Equity Diversity and Inclusion Executive Officer, and Consent and Chair of CASH  
Loughborough Students’ Union (LSU) is committed to providing a safe environment for all its staff and members. We operate a zero-tolerance policy for any form of sexual harassment or violence, treat all incidents seriously and promptly investigate all allegations of sexual harassment.  All complaints of violence will be taken seriously by us and treated with respect and in confidence.  

It is important for us to be active bystanders. It is a bystander’s duty to call out negative and unwanted behaviour to be part of the change. This includes being vocal about the importance of not blaming those who are subjected to such violence. We want to foster a supportive culture and encourage everyone to speak out about harmful attitudes and behaviour towards women and girls. 

Hayleigh and Ant stood together outside the Security Building

Ant Dales and Hayleigh Vasey 

Security Team

We want everyone at Loughborough to both be safe and feel safe. Whether they are a student or a member of staff, we want people to enjoy the time they spend here and have the confidence that should something happen that makes them feel otherwise, we are here 24/7 to deal with their concerns and provide support, reassurance and a resolution.    

We are working to ensure the campus Security team is as diverse as can be. If our own department is a healthy environment where attitudes can be challenged, then this sets the standard to which we also hold others accountable.   

We work hard to ensure that students and staff feel that they can report incidents, that they will be supported, taken seriously and that investigations are timely and effective.     

Veronica stood outside a building next to a pull up banner with information about the Equity Diversity and Inclusion Services team.

Veronica Moore  

Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Services 

I had a 20-year career in helping professions (social work and psychotherapy) as a practitioner working with families, couples and individuals and leading teams. I’ve listened to the traumatic stories of countless survivors of violence by men, the majority of whom have been female. 

Paradoxically, in my experience, it was rarely the perpetrators of violence against those women that came forward for help. You would think that the problem of male violence against women is for women to solve. 

White Ribbon Day is important to me because I know that many men in our University community care deeply about this issue too and welcome an opportunity to stand in solidarity and allyship against violence towards women and girls. 

EDI Services is developing policies, guidelines, and strategies to prevent and address harassment, coercion, bullying and violence in collaboration with other partners within the University and wider community.  

We are committed to helping raise awareness about harassment, coercion, bullying and violence, provide education and propose training and campaigns. We will also support the University’s activity in this area by monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of interventions to prevent violence and support survivors.  

Charlotte stood smiling in front of a lecture theatre

Professor Charlotte Croffie 

Pro Vice-Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion 

Violence against women and girls is never acceptable in any context. 

White Ribbon Day provides an opportunity to pause and reflect on what some girls and women all over the world may be experiencing, in particular the violence perpetrated by men and boys. 

It is important to acknowledge that not every girl or woman experiences violence and/or harassment, just like not every boy or man is a perpetrator of violence and/or harassment. However, by working together we can raise awareness to break the cycle where it does exist. 

As an advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion and an ally in the space, I’m happy to use my voice to support White Ribbon Day to raise awareness and be a champion for change. 

Being an active bystander or calling violence and harassment out can help us reframe the narrative and shift people away from seemingly harmless attitudes and behaviours that perpetuate violence for women and girls that lead to unintended consequences.    

A kind word, listening to someone or simply going for a coffee or a cup of tea may make a difference. Who knows which approach will have the most profound impact as Sally Koch says, “Great opportunities to help others seldom come but small ones surround us every day”. 

With this in mind, I encourage others to also consider getting involved so collectively we can work towards a time when White Ribbon Day is no longer necessary. 

Vice-Chancellor stood in front of stained glass windows inside the Hazlerigg Building

Professor Nick Jennings 

Vice-Chancellor and President of Loughborough University 

I want to be clear with all our male students – the responsibility for ending violence against women is ours as men. Too often we see the emphasis or blame passed onto women as if it were their responsibility to protect themselves and hide themselves away. It’s our responsibility to STOP this behaviour and step up to do our part in #ChangingTheStory. 

Further support and how to report an incident  

If you have witnessed or experienced any harmful behaviours and would like support and/or to report this, please contact the Duty, Assessment & Inclusivity Team (DAI) at or complete the Incident Reporting Tool

Alternatively, you can seek support and/or report to Campus Security, who are available 24/7 on campus and off campus.  

If you are ever in danger or need immediate support, please call 999 in an emergency.  

Design in Organisations Module to host an engaging guest speaker lineup.

November 23, 2023 Judith Fragachan

Design in Organisations module, run at the Institute for Design Innovation as part of MA/MSc Design Innovation and MSc Service Design Innovation programmes, is hosting an external guest speaker lineup as part of the module. It will feature industry experts in the area of design and innovation in organisations, providing students with a real world insight into the broader question that underpins this module: what are the  different ways in which design materialises and is applied in the organisations within a service economy?

For any queries, please contact the module leader and MA/MSc Design Innovation programme director, Dr. Ksenija Kuzmina on

Please see below the lineup for the upcoming guest speakers and dates:

Prof. Eenasul Fateh 28.11.2023

Lecture title: ‘High performance dynamics’ as a driver of advanced organisational leadership and management

Biography: Professor Eenasul Fateh is a strategy consultant, social scientist, psychologist and artist-researcher. At these  Autumn 2023 lecture-tutorials on ‘High Performance Dynamics’, Eenasul will be sharing his unique insights into the psycho-dynamics of “human performance” across different scenarios.

Professor Fateh is a senior associate and Board Member of the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations (originators of the concept of “high performing teams); a member of the Trauma Service of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust (pioneers of ‘trauma-informed’ therapeutic practice) and Board Member of its associated charity;  visiting academic at Loughborough University London, Copenhagen Business School, University of the Arts London, Royal College of Art, LSE, LBS, Cranfield, Manchester University etc. As a strategy consultant he has advised Citibank, LVMH, EDF, Schlumberger, Adidas DEFRA, Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the Mayor of London, regeneration projects in Fogo Island, Dale, Aarhus, Berlin, Deptford. As  interdisciplinary artist “aladin aladin” he has featured at the ICA, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Manifesta Biennial, MARKK/Hamburg etc. In 2002 Professor Fateh’s groundbreaking work with EDF Energy received the Financial Times/Arts+Business award for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) project of the year.

Talk synopsis:
Exploring the core psychosocial skills and strategies necessary for accelerated and sustained development of resilient and high performing organisational leadership and management.

Name: Carolina Escobar-Tello (PhD, FRSA) – 01.12.2023

Lecture title: Ideas into Action: Doughnut Economics in Organisations 

Keywords: Regenerative and Distributive Organisations; Doughnut Economies;Thriving societies; Deep Transformative Design

Biography:Carolina leads DEAL’s work on Schools & Education by co-creating with students, life-long learners, educators, curriculum designers and educational institutions an influential dynamic network of transformative educational practice that contributes to the global-wider movement of regenerative change.

Carolina is a curious transdisciplinary educator, researcher, facilitator and grass-roots designer with seasoned experience working across industrial, product, service and systems design including the global ‘North’ and ‘South’ hemispheres. Biocentric sustainability, design for happiness & wellbeing, social innovation, pluriverse and systemic thinking shape her mindset as a pro-active agent of change. She holds an MSc in Sustainable Design from Bournemouth University and PhD in Sustainable Design from Loughborough University (UK), has lectured extensively and her work has been published in journals and international peer reviewed conference proceedings. She is currently also an Academic Visiting Fellow at the School of Design and Creative Arts, Loughborough University, UK.

Talk synopsis:

Join us in learning, discussing, and putting into action new rationale and tools to transform the deep design of business, enterprises and organisations. The answer is a journey into their deep design – explored through the Purpose, Networks, Governance, Ownership, and Finance. Regenerative and distributive strategies, practices and ideas can be unlocked through such changes in their design, thereby helping to bring humanity into the Doughnut. 

Kavitha Ravikumar – 05.12.2023 

Lecture title: The Sustainability Narrative & Design in Organisations  

Biography: Kavitha is a doctoral researcher at Loughborough University London, who works in Sustainability studies through a multidisciplinary approach, with a specific interest in the spaces of collective imagination. She is affiliated with both the Institute for International Management and the Institute for Design Innovation. Kavitha

has first class degrees in Economics and Anthropology, and over 20 years of professional experience across corporates, consulting, start-ups, impact investment as well as project-based involvement in the third & creative sectors.

She has held global strategy and managerial positions and worked on key product innovation and corporate expansion projects. A deep interest in systemic connections have motivated her to take on several additional voluntary and mentorship commitments, including a term as Investee Mentor at The Social Investment Business.

Talk synopsis: The talk will introduce the narratives around sustainability and organisational responses to this narrative. It will encourage the students to think about sustainability as a strategic design principle. It will introduce specific organisational contexts that are aspirational in actively trying to design-in sustainability considerations from the onset.

Recognising the importance of tensions in sustainability as aligning with designer reflexivity and positionality as important considerations in designing for sustainability will be explored. 

Aleksandra Melnikova – 14.12.2023

Biography: Aleks is a co-founder of Cosmic Velocity, a product and service design agency that places inclusivity at the core of what they do. Aleks has led various design teams across top UX/product design agencies such as ORM, Foolproof, BIO, Radley Yeldar, Publicis Poke and Inviqa (ex-Webcredible), delivering successful products and services for many clients worldwide. She’s driven by passion for helping people and businesses create truly inclusive experiences.

Talk synopsis: The role of design in organisations has grown over the years, so much so we are talking about applying it to

the organisation itself: how many of organisations that exist today are intentional, and how many developed in a fairly unorganised manner? Businesses are difficult to change and challenge, often due to their systematic and interconnected nature – so where may we start, as designers?

In order for us designers to have “a seat at the table” we often help organisations re-design the table: looking at people, processes and the product itself, changing the business. In this talk, we will look at real-world examples of building design capabilities within organisations of various sizes, and will talk about the challenges and successes we had along the way in implementing design methodologies and thinking across multiple client groups.We will then try our hand at understanding the building blocks of an org design, and the potential for impact – in a game / workshop form

What’s it like to be an Executive Officer at Loughborough Students’ Union  

What’s it like to be an Executive Officer at Loughborough Students’ Union  

November 23, 2023 Guest blogger

If the Rachel four years ago could look ahead and see herself as the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Executive Officer, she would think you’re lying!  

Hi, I’m Rachel Wan, one of the elected Executive Officers over at Loughborough Students’ Union. My responsibilities include:  

  • Being the student representative in stakeholder groups including various working groups at the University 
  • Leading on all things equity, diversity, inclusion, welfare and mental wellbeing at LSU and Loughborough University
  • Empowering the Welfare & Diversity Committee at LSU  
  • Acting as a member on the Board of Trustees of LSU (as it is a charity!)  

I’m from Hong Kong and this is my sixth year in the UK. I graduated from Loughborough University with a degree in Retailing, Marketing and Management and did a marketing placement at StudentCrowd. But in my free time, I like café hopping with a good book and company.

Now, you might ask – how did I get into a high-level leadership role at the age of 22?  

As part of the democratic process of electing executive officers of a Student Union, I nominated myself during the Exec Election process that begins in March. I campaigned to my fellow students on why I felt I was the best candidate for the role and was voted in.  

Throughout my university years, I also dedicated a lot of my spare time to volunteering with LSU in the roles of Vice Chair of a society, Course Rep and International Officer within the Welfare & Diversity section.  

So what does a normal day look like for me? 

I’m going to be that annoying person and say no two days are the same. This role is very dynamic and it changes depending on the priorities, so you need to be adaptable. But a lot of my role includes:  

  • Voicing student interests in meetings with external stakeholders and Loughborough University  
  • Chairing Welfare & Diversity meetings  
  • Raising student concerns  
  • Strategising and implementing the EDI Enabling Strategy at LSU  
  • Working with students to make Loughborough a welcoming and vibrant community  

If this sounds exciting to you, this could be the role for you!

This job is great because you’re only in post for a year so you really get the motivation to just put your foot on the pedal. The most important aspect of this role is being empathetic, especially when dealing with sensitive issues that you might not have gone through before. Most of the time, the best you can do is provide a lending ear and it will mean the world to someone.

I also really enjoy the culture of working in LSU, the atmosphere is very fast-paced. It’s a great vibe in the office and we look out for each other!  

Freshers is always a hectic fortnight, but I really enjoyed welcoming students to campus as it was quite quiet when I started the role in the summer. My goal was to just be here, there and everywhere to make sure my face was out there so students know where to go when they need support. My favourite part of the role so far is the variety of tasks I get to take on, I tend to get bored fairly easily so various tasks keep me motivated.  

My best advice is to go for it! I remember doubting myself and not sure if this is what I want. But someone said to me: “You’ll regret not running. You’ll keep on thinking oh what if I did, and oh I could’ve.”And this is my same advice for you.  

If this is something you’re interested in, feel free to send me an email at if you want to learn more about the role or to shadow me for a day.     

Five minutes with: Katie Plumpton

November 23, 2023 Guest blogger

What’s your job title and how long have you been at Loughborough?

I’m a Student Records and Operations Administrator and I’ve been here just over a year.

Tell us what a typical day in your job looks like?

Every day is different in the Student Records and Operations Office, you never know what query will come your way from both students and the Schools alike.

From registration and immigration compliance to exams and graduation, we work with the students’ academic records to keep them up to date and accurate. There’s never a quiet moment but we all rally round as a team and jump in to help each other. It sounds cheesy but everyone’s fab, and there’s always a tea round going on.

What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on?

My favourite time of year is graduation. We prepare the records for the students graduating, get the certificates and transcripts printed, send out the invites and help in the ceremonies. I love putting on a cap and gown, especially when I only thought I’d get to wear one once in my life at my own graduation – any excuse to dress up! There’s a real buzz on campus and it’s so lovely seeing the amazing outfits and happy graduands with their families. One of the hardest parts is trying not to photobomb people’s pictures as we walk in and out of the office as they all pose around the Hazlerigg-Rutland fountain.

What is your proudest moment at Loughborough?

Probably helping students from the temporary exams offices. The exam period involves lots of on-the-go problem-solving – from issues with paperwork to worried students. It’s great to be able to reassure students – helping them with their questions before, during and after the exams, as well as offering support to them if they get distressed. We get help from the Schools too and it’s nice to put faces to names of people you’ve spent the year emailing.

Tell us something you do outside of work that we might not know about?

I have rather eclectic tastes and love being busy and socialising! In my spare time I co-host an Archers fan podcast called ‘All About The Archers’. I also go to independent wrestling shows around the country especially Resurgence in Leicester. I enjoy gigs, chilling with an embroidery in front of the TV, listening to many podcasts, and Ceroc dancing.

What is your favourite quote?

“Do more of what makes you happy”

If you would like to feature in ‘5 Minutes With’, or you work with someone who you think would be great to include, please email Soph Dinnie at

My experience of being an international student ambassador  

My experience of being an international student ambassador  

November 22, 2023 Guest Blogger
Safia smiling

Hi, I am Safia, a student from India who is undertaking a PhD in Civil Engineering at Loughborough, and I am here to share my experience of being an international student ambassador for Loughborough University.  

I will never forget my first day as an international student who had just arrived in the UK for their master’s. It was the perfect autumn day; the leaves were colour-coordinated, and rain had started the day off. I had packed my documents and layers of warmth, ready to take each one out as needed. The University website had prepared me for my arrival, but something that etched in my mind that day were the smiling faces and purple t-shirts that read ‘Team Loughborough’.  

A couple of years after that day, I arrived at Loughborough again for my PhD. I knew the student ambassador role was something I wanted to do during my time at Loughborough. I knew briefly about the paid role, but what attracted me to the role was the opportunity to express to the rest of the world what studying and living in Loughborough looked like. Loughborough offers you a range of activities to get involved in, be it volunteering, sports, cultural activities and much more. However, the role of student ambassador stands out for me as it helps me share all those experiences with others who are considering Loughborough as their home for the next year and beyond.  

Starting out as an international student helper, my initial work was focussed on interacting with potential students from all over the world. As part of this, I participated in telephone conversations, online webchats and webinars where prospective students had the opportunity to ask questions and find out about the University. While the University website is a good source of information for anyone who cannot visit the campus before applying, these virtual engagements provide a space for sharing authentic experiences at Loughborough as an international student. The personal satisfaction of seeing a student on campus next year who remembers you from these engagements is just something else! 

Safia at the Hazlerigg/Rutland Fountain
Photo: at one of the iconic stops of our campus tours 

The University also engages with prospective students in their home countries and, where possible, the team helps you participate in these events. In addition to that, as a student ambassador on campus, you also have the opportunity to represent the University at a range of events that happen across the year. From open days and campus tours to visiting schools and helping the University run graduation events and residential programmes, there are a lot of opportunities to get involved in through this role. I thoroughly enjoy speaking about my learning experience in higher education and Loughborough with young people and sometimes their parents. I especially enjoy answering their questions related to University subjects when they are confused between different disciplines.  

This role has brushed up and improved my communication skills as a result. Regardless of whether it was a one-on-one telephone conversation or a campus tour where you are guiding a large group of visitors, the role helps you to proactively contribute to a welcoming, friendly and inclusive atmosphere for others. I found this particularly rewarding as this was the atmosphere that welcomed me to Loughborough in the first place. It also prepares you with marketing and problem-solving skills. In many ways, this is a customer-facing role, just that you are speaking from your own experience and knowledge as a Loughborough student.  

This Week at Loughborough | 20 November

This Week at Loughborough | 20 November

November 17, 2023 Orla Price

Men’s mental health webinar

20 November 2023, 12pm, Online

Mental health signs, symptoms and coping behaviours can differ in men and women. For men, approaching and asking for help can sometimes be more difficult.

This short webinar will cover the stigma around men’s mental health; how to start a conversation about mental health with men; how the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service can help

Find out more

IAS Friends and Fellows Lunch

20 November 2023, 12pm, International House

The Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) will be hosting this lunch, where the group will be joined by Fellows Dr Isabela de Oliveira Dornelas, Professor Mary E. Fissell, Professor Hideyasu Shimadzu, Professor Holly Thorpe, and current IAS Residential Fellow Dr Junior Nomani, for a week of activity under the IAS Annual Theme ‘Gestation: Bodies, Technologies, Ecologies, Justice’. 

Find out more

Trans Day of Remembrance

20 November 2023, 1.15pm-1.45pm, University Chaplaincy (EHB)

Transgender Awareness Week (13-20 November) ends with a day of remembrance, first marked in 1999 to memorialise the murder of Rita Hester, a transgender woman in the USA.

Please join for a short service of reflection and poetry. All Loughborough staff and students, members of the LGBT+ community and allies are welcome, regardless of religion or belief.

Find out more

Transdisciplinary sport: The promise and politics of navigating research boundaries

20 November 2023, 3pm, National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (Room 1.39)

This talk will be delivered by Professor Holly Thorpe, an award-winning sociologist working in The Huataki Waiora School of Health at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. In this talk, Professor Thorpe discusses the potential, politics, and ethics of advancing transdisciplinary ways of knowing sporting bodies.

Find out more

Q&A with Joelle Taylor

20 November 2023, 6pm, Collaboration Station, LSU

Ahead of her headline performance at Speech Bubble later in the evening, we’re giving Loughborough University students the amazing opportunity to sit down with Joelle Taylor. Find out more about her career and hear her advice for budding poets.

Find out more

Speech Bubble

20 November 2023, 7.30pm, The Lounge, LSU

Join us for a relaxed and friendly evening of performance poetry showcasing the best spoken word talent on campus. As well as the open mic slots, Speech Bubble will feature professional poet Joelle Taylor.

Any Loughborough University student or staff member can perform at this event but please book a slot in advance as places are limited. We welcome performers from all backgrounds and you can expect a friendly and supportive audience on the night.

This event is open to everyone (18+) – students, staff and members of the public. 

Find out more

Exhibition: Between Light and Shadow

20 November – 15 December, 12pm-2pm, Martin Hall Exhibition Space

An immersive and interactive experience of sculptural works challenging perceptions of reality. This exhibition by Yeshan Yang (School of Design and Creative Arts) provides an immersive and interactive experience of sculptures, such as cage-like structures that challenge viewers’ perceptions and the boundaries of reality.

Find out more

Gestation: Bodies and Technologies

22 November 2023, 1pm-4.30pm, International House/Online

Gestation is an incontrovertibly universal yet deeply varied experience, with complex concerns arising recently through the rollback of women’s rights, gestational inequalities, neo-natal trajectories, imbrication in neo-fascist discourse and novel methods for reproduction, kinship and care. 

Find out more

Tamarin Norwood in conversation with Victoria Browne

23 November 2023, 12pm-1pm, International House

Victoria Browne and Tamarin Norwood discuss the possible roles of creativity and narrativity in making sense of miscarriage, baby loss, and all forms of pregnancy without birth.

Find out more

Creative Wellbeing Series – Mehndi Art with Vinny Kaur

23 November 2023, 2pm, Innerspace (EHB217)

Create affirmation greeting cards and learn about the well-being benefits of Mehndi art. During this workshop you will learn about the basic patterns used in Mehndi art and have an opportunity to practise your drawing skills through a variety of activities in your workbook. You will then put your learning together to create a final piece: affirmation greetings cards. 

Find out more

Film Screening: Katharine Fry’s ‘When I’m with you’, followed by Q&A with the artist

23 November 2023, 2.30pm-4pm, Stanley Evernden Studio, Martin Hall

As part of the Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) Annual Theme ‘Gestation: Bodies, Technologies, Ecologies, Justice’, join this film screening of Katharine Fry’s ‘When I’m with you’, followed by a Q&A with the artist, chaired by Dr Rachael Grew.

Find out more

Group Coaching Session: Procrastination

23 November 2023, 6pm-8pm, WAV.0.11 (Wavy Top)

In a small group you will work through the GROW model of coaching to help you set some actions around beating your procrastination beast. This session will be overseen by two coaches who will facilitate your group discussions.

Find out more

IAS Friends and Fellows Coffee Morning

24 November 2023, 10.30am-12pm, International House

The Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) will be hosting this coffee morning where the group will be joined by Fellows Dr Isabela de Oliveira Dornelas, Professor Mary E. Fissell, Professor Hideyasu Shimadzu and Professor Holly Thorpe. Join for an informal gathering with coffee and cakes to meet the Fellows.

Find out more

White Ribbon Day – Opening Event

24 November 2023, 11am-2pm, EHB Atrium

This year for White Ribbon Day and the 16 Days of Activism, the focus is on how ending violence against women and girls starts when we #ChangeTheStory. At this opening event, there will be information, support, a #ChangeTheStory wall and some treats. 

Find out more

DSN x LU Arts Open Mic Night

25 November 2023, 7pm-9pm, The Lounge, LSU

Join the Disability Support Network and LU Arts for a showcase of art, poetry and media submitted by students and staff in celebration of Disability History Month.

Find out more

An analogy to understanding mental health

An analogy to understanding mental health

November 14, 2023 Sadie Gration
Image courtesy of Getty Images

Dr Rebecca Higginson, a Reader based in the Department of Materials, is the Academic Co-Chair of the Staff Inclusivity Network. In this blog post, she explains an alternative approach to understanding our mental health and recognising the ups and downs we face throughout our lives. 

We all have mental health and as with all health, it changes, hour to hour, day to day, year to year, decade to decade.     

If our mental health is not “normal” (whatever that means) we try to hide it in fear of some detriment to our lives, careers, and relationships. 

I want to give you an analogy of a way to think about mental health. 

Your mental health consists of two parts: the first is a beautiful hollow glass ball. It has the smoothest surface and if you look into it, the contents shine with every colour and reflection of you. The second is a spherical terracotta vessel. It has a round bottom and bulbous sides so that you can wrap your hands around it. It comes up to a small opening at the top so that you can look down into the vessel.  The terracotta is glazed and shiny with a coloured strip around the rim top. 

Now if you put your glass ball in the vessel it will sit at the exact centre of the base. This would signify that your mental health would be perfect, 100%, top-notch, with not a care in the world. Now we all know that’s not possible, and the reason is your vessel is not perfect.  

Right at the very centre at the bottom is a little imperfection. It is a little cusp projecting from the bottom coming to a perfect point, and because of this, your glass ball cannot sit exactly in the middle. But it can be very near to it and roll and rotate about this point. 

As we walk through life, we hold the vessel and concentrate on rolling the ball around the centre of the bottom, but things happen in life that impair our ability to keep the ball here.  

Life can gently nudge our elbow; you lose your keys, your team loses a major match, you break your favourite toy, you sit on your glasses, you get a funny look from someone you meet, and so on.  These all cause a wobble in your vessel which means your ball is moved away from the centre and your mental health goes down a tiny amount.  But we can recover our balance and rotate around the centre point again. 

Other things can nudge our elbow more and sometimes these make it more difficult to control how our ball is moving.  Someone close to us dies, or someone close to us is injured or taken ill, there is an attack on us, and so on.   

Sometimes, our elbow is nudged only a bit, but over a long time, nudge after nudge can create a more significant impact.  And with these, it is not always evident that our ball might not be where we think it is.  We are so busy concentrating on the issues at hand that we forget to spin the ball around the centre. It may be sometime later that we notice that there is a problem and that our ball is away from the optimum position and has started to roll higher and higher up the wall of the vessel, nearer and nearer the coloured strip.  

You notice that to spin higher in the vessel the ball must move faster, your brain is moving faster, it is fixated on certain things, you cannot shut off, you cannot sleep.  Anyone who has had depression might recognise this; that feeling of spinning out of control, stuck in an everlasting spiral and as much as you want to get back to the bottom you feel unable to do so. The best you can do is to try and not spin any higher. It can be tough to get your ball back to the bottom without the right help. The danger always being that your ball spins to the top of the pot. 

There are ways to get your ball spinning where it should.  The trouble is no one else knows what is happening inside your pot unless you show or tell them. By doing so, help can come, and you can stop the ball from spinning so fast.  We may be afraid to let someone in, we may think that it will be detrimental to us but ignoring it will not stop the spinning.   

Remember, everyone’s ball is spinning around the optimum position which, in reality, is impossible to reach. How is your ball spinning today?

Any staff members who have or are affected by physical or invisible disabilities, including those who are carers, are welcome to join the Staff Inclusivity Group

For more information on the University support services available to you, please visit the Staff Wellbeing webpages.  


November 13, 2023 Deborah Harty

Phil Sawdon

Phil Sawdon, Shadow or Silhouette That Makes Itself, 2008, modified in 2022, pastel and watercolour on paper. Image courtesy of the artist.

Competent at drawing … I used to chalk similarities on the shop door. Needless to say, I endeavoured to speak very quietly to the door, meanwhile the donkey stopped short, and would not move. In my head I have developed a discernment for profiles … previously tottering around a travelling fair … we noticed one more donkey shivering … he had eaten the leaded pencil yet managed to stammer that a profile-cutter wanted an assistant … thought I should do it … I had to tout … periodically mount the likeness on card … 

‘Please step inside … have a likeness taken …’ 

Words, lines, and blots into a head, creatures … ‘à la [Etienne de] Silhouette’ … outline drawing … shadow portrait … drawn onto a substrate … silhouette … at a snail’s pace.

Phil Sawdon, Page 1, The Artificial Sketchbook, 2005, pen and ink on paper. Image courtesy of the artist.

Three blind stamps … ‘Museum’, ‘The Fictional Museum of Drawing’ and ‘Artificial Sketchbook’… a label, a legend to identify the silhouette that at one time was probably drawn in ‘The Fictional Museum of Drawing’ … the former with a bugle player with out-stretched arm, the latter with a dachshund. Sometimes the stamps can be trusted, sometimes they cannot. Am I without drawing or machine? A physiognotrace … physiognomy … pantograph … physionotraces … alliterative … a wooden framed tripod contraption … shadow of the sitter … a lit candle against a screen … Lavater (1741-1801) … ‘Essays on Physiognomy, for the Promotion of the Knowledge and the love of Mankind’ … 1772 … possibly a person’s true personality is exposed in the subtle physical characteristics of their appearance … the silhouette divulges those qualities … a multi-layered narrative?

Phil Sawdon, Page 2, The Artificial Sketchbook, 2005, pen and ink on paper. Image courtesy of the artist.

Customarily the Museum does not rely on labels and or stamps … perhaps the chance of a signature … perhaps a tell-tale sign that turns out to be intangible. There is a style …

A pen and a piece of discounted white paper inserted beneath. Long, thin, and at times dangling from a ‘commonplace book’ … momentarily a scrapbook of signatures, soon to be analysed.

The Museum Keeper archived a signature collar, both cut and then drawn. A small notch in the bust. 

Perhaps with the sitter … a defective contrivance …

Phil Sawdon, Triptych No. #2, 1993, watercolour on paper. Image courtesy of the artist.

… occasional brush strokes on display, a black colorant coating, thick, matte, opaque often water dry … bone black, sitting on a thin black surface, variation from silhouette to silhouette, pigment and binder, silica, wax and gum … watercolours?

Phil Sawdon, Contradictions, 1995, watercolour on paper. Image courtesy of the artist.

… India ink, pine soot, beer and tallow smoke … lamp black, dry watercolour, moist pan watercolour, carbon black, gall-nuts, white wine vinegar, iron filings, gum arabic … gouache for details ornamented with whites ‘bronzed’ or ‘touched’ … probably not …

Phil Sawdon, La Souris Est En Dessous De La Table, Page 20i, 2015, mixed media.
Image courtesy of the artist.

‘Did you ever practice with scissors on the cut-out of a deckchair?’

‘I cut all kinds of things including sealing a head in the box.’

Aside: ‘Only long straight shanks with short, sharp points, slack on the hinge … embroidery types are a partiality, they provide a flexible dexterity that transforms varied directions for an easy does it persuasion … ‘

In combination … a knife, a stiletto, a bradawl, a stylus and a needle spike … a side of the dry thin oiled paper the drawing is cut from, the edge is curled, trodden and tattered … In the background a simulated Albrecht Dürer’s head, engraving ‘Knight Death and the Devil’, 1513.

‘Scissor-types’ … ‘hollow cut’ with a painted body … cut from a light paper, the middle, the positive, the furthest place from fixed points of view … falls away …leaving the negative, the outside … backed by melancholic paper and desolate fabrics drawn into a space of theory and practice, in between the mind and the hand.

Shadows play … sunlight scraping on a photosensitive surface made to fool whilst tracing shadows.

A hand drawn shade … a paper-cut silhouette … querying … ‘What shall I draw?’

‘I don’t know how to draw!’

Phil Sawdon, What Shall I Draw?/Reflection, 2007, video stills. Image courtesy of the artist.

A humdrum shadow show(s) … a stylus tracing the silhouette … that of a younger self mostly devoid of interest … an apology of allegorical shades.

‘Use a cardboard box and a pencil.’

‘No doubt (a)A (s)Sure and (c)Convenient (m)Machine for (d)Drawing (d)Silhouettes’ …

Half veiled by a cardboard box, the right-handed draughter, engrossed, clutches the sharp blacklead pencil which holds the box firm to an unseen chair and a candle on an elaborate carved stand offers a trace of poise to the Museum … no head dress for sitting … decorated in whatever manner …

Phil Sawdon, Triptych No. #3, 1993, watercolour on paper. Image courtesy of the artist.

Meeting many people but not being touched by anyone …

Phil Sawdon, Triptych No. #1, 1993, watercolour on paper. Image courtesy of the artist.

The narrative takes place around and yet is distanced from the silhouetted foreground figure. A pull between a highly controlled visual response and an openness of interpretation invited by the absence of meaningful titles is perhaps pivotal to the dynamics of any narrative.

Twisted from the inside out … tones and contrasts determined in black and white. The silhouette emerges indifferent to the paper … perched, devoid of details … whilst on the others hand … ahead … an intimate atmosphere.

However, there are oversights …

A poverty of silhouette …

Spread goodwill on World Kindness Day

November 13, 2023 LU Comms
Illustration of a person holding an umbrella above another person underneath rain clouds.

Celebrated annually on 13 November, World Kindness Day aims to inspire people to make the world a better place through acts of kindness.

Kindness is deeply connected to our mental health, helping to make others and ourselves feel good. Research has found that kindness helps to create a sense of belonging, deepen friendships, and reduce feelings of loneliness.

You can show kindness through small acts like holding open a door, or bigger acts such as volunteering in your local community. Our blog ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing: Give’, explores how giving to others boosts our wellbeing.

Simple acts of kindness ideas you can do today:

  • Gift your favourite book to a colleague.
  • Offer to make someone a drink.
  • Praise a colleague for something they have done well.
  • Invite someone to lunch or for a coffee.
  • Introduce yourself to someone you’ve never spoken to before.
  • Send someone an e-card to say thank you.
  • Help someone complete a task.
  • Check in with someone you’ve not spoken to for a while.
  • Bring treats into the office to share with colleagues.
  • Start an office kindness board. This could be something as simple as colourful sticky notes, or a whiteboard with words of appreciation and encouragement. Invite your team to contribute their own messages to the board.

Read some more kindness ideas and stories from the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.

The Mental Health Foundation states that “Kindness to ourselves can prevent shame from corroding our sense of identity and help boost our self-esteem. Kindness can even improve feelings of confidence and optimism.”

Don’t forget to be kind to yourself:

  • Prioritise some time to relax, think about how you’re feeling and how your day or week has been so far.
  • Try and tune out social media for a day, or even a week.
  • Treat yourself to something, even if it’s something small.
  • Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can.

Author and cartoonist Dr Seuss wrote: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

This Week at Loughborough | 13 November

November 13, 2023 Orla Price


IAS Friends and Fellows Coffee Morning

14 November 2023, 3pm, International House

The Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) will be hosting this afternoon tea, where the group will be joined by Open Programme Fellows Professor Alessandro Rubino, Dr Godfrey Ndlovu and Professor Josef Fahlén. Join this event for an informal gathering with tea and cakes to meet IAS Fellows.

Find out more

Public Lecture: Technological Revolution in Diabetes

14 November 2023, 5.30pm, Online

This public lecture will be delivered by Professor Pratik Choudhary, Professor and Honorary consultant in Diabetes at the University of Leicester. In this talk, Professor Pratik Choudhary will take you on a journey through the technological revolution that diabetes management has undergone in the last 25 years.

Find out more

Seminar: Integration of newly arrived migrants through organised sport

15 November 2023, 12.30pm, International House/Online

IAS Visiting Fellow Professor Josef Fahlén will deliver a joint IAS / UNESCO seminar on their research. Please arrive from 12.15pm, for those joining in person, lunch will be served from 1.30pm.

Find out more

Seminar: The impact of financial inclusion and financial resilience on household poverty

16 November 2023, 12pm, International House/Online

The impact of financial inclusion and financial resilience on household poverty during periods of financial adversity: evidence from the COVID-19 crisis in South Africa. IAS Visiting Fellow Dr Godfrey Ndlovu will deliver a seminar on their research.

Find out more

National Theatre Live: Skylight

16 November 2023, 7pm, Cope Auditorium

Skylight, written by David Hare and directed by Stephen Daldry, captured live from Wyndham’s Theatre in London’s West End in 2014 and starring Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan. Seating is not reserved; tickets for NT Live screenings are non-refundable unless the screening is postponed or cancelled.

Find out more


Global Challenge Pitch Competition

13 November 2023, MS Teams (Online)

Pitch your innovative solutions aligning with Loughborough University’s strategic themes and the Sustainable Development Goals in a 3-min video pitch. Win recognition and a share of £1,000! Let’s make a difference together!

Find out more

Women in Enterprise Jewellery Making Session

13 November 2023, 6pm, Start-Up Lab (STEMLab)

Join us for an exciting and empowering jewellery-making session brought to you by the LEN Women in Enterprise Programme! This event is designed to provide women with a unique opportunity to network, connect, and unleash your creativity.

Find out more

Meet the team at JCB and receive a product walk around on one of their machines

14 November 2023, 10am, West Park Teaching Hub

JCB will be on campus to let you know everything about starting your journey with JCB. You can find out more about our year in industry schemes and graduate scheme. Will also have one of JCB machines on site along with current on scheme talent!

Find out more

Maximise your money: Budgeting

14 November 2023, 12pm, Brockington (U.0.05)

This session will help educate you on how to budget, provide you with top tips for maximising your money and highlight the key support services available to you at Loughborough University.  

Find out more

A Day in the Life of a JCB Engineer

14 November 2023, 1pm, West Park Teaching Hub (WPT.0.06)

The presentation will explore what an engineer does at JCB and explain the personal development element to the graduate scheme and the different placement rotations. The talk includes Loughborough Alumni engineers and information about the recruitment process.

Find out more

Personal Branding workshop

14 November 2023, 3pm, Start-Up Lab (STEMLab)

The LEN Women in Enterprise Programme invites you to our empowering Personal Branding Workshop. In today’s competitive world, personal branding is essential for success. This workshop is designed to help women professionals build their personal brands.

Find out more

Finalist Futures: Exploring Entrepreneurship

15 November 2023, 1pm, MS Teams (Online)

Join the Loughborough Enterprise Network for “Finalist Futures: Exploring Entrepreneurship.” Discover the boundless possibilities and support available through the Loughborough Enterprise Network, both during your final year and beyond graduation.

Find out more

LUinc Inspiring Entrepreneurs

15 November 2023, 1.30pm, MS Teams (Online)

This event, in partnership with Charnwood Borough Council and Loughborough University, will be an opportunity to learn, share and network with businesses, partner organisations (banks, investors, support agencies), startups and enterprising academics.

Find out more

Women in Enterprise: Personal Branding Workshop

15 November 2023, 3pm, Start-Up Lab (STEMLab)

The Loughborough Enterprise Network (LEN) Women in Enterprise Programme invites you to this empowering workshop. In today’s competitive world, personal branding is essential for success. This workshop is designed to help women entrepreneurs and professionals build and enhance their personal brands.

Find out more

Seven Qualities to Create an Entrepreneurial Mindset

15 November 2023, 6pm, Start-Up Lab (STEMLab)

Discover the essential attributes that foster entrepreneurial thinking, equipping you with the skills and perspective needed for success in the dynamic world of starting a business or skilling-up for graduate level employment.

Find out more

Mock Assessment Centre

15 November 2023, 6pm, MS Teams (Online)

Delivered by the Careers Network and staff from a range of top companies, you’ll hear first-hand what to expect and learn how to prepare effectively. Join in person and gain as much practice as you can before your first real assessment centre.

Find out more

Entrepreneurial Mindset Workshop, LEN SKILL-UP

15 November 2023, 6pm, Start-Up Lab (STEMLab)

Discover the essential attributes that foster entrepreneurial thinking, equipping you with the skills and perspective needed for success in the dynamic world of starting a business or skilling-up for graduate level employment.

Find out more

Masters Futures – Explore your postgraduate careers support

16 November 2023, 6pm, James France (CC013)

Find out how Careers Network can help you progress your career planning. Design your own event by selecting the fun, interactive, activities that will help you most. Learn where to find opportunities and improve your application and interview techniques.

Find out more

Network with Women Leaders

16 November 2023, 6.30pm, LSU Lounge

The LEN Women in Enterprise Programme proudly presents an evening of networking and inspiration, featuring a dynamic guest panel of accomplished women in leadership roles. Join us for an opportunity to connect, learn, and be inspired by their remarkable journeys.

Find out more

Year in Enterprise – Information Session

17 November 2023, 1pm, Richard Morris (BE0.53)

Are you thinking of setting up your own business? Our Year in Enterprise Programme is designed to give students the chance to set up their own business during their placement year.   We aim to help you to maximise your business success. 

Find out more

CRCC Member Awarded a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant for studying social care in the UK

CRCC Member Awarded a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant for studying social care in the UK

November 9, 2023 Iliana Depounti

Dr. Anthony Kevins, a CRCC member and Lecturer in Politics and International Studies at Loughborough University, has been awarded a prestigious British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant to study social care preferences in the UK. Dr. Naomi Lightman, Associate Professor of Sociology at Toronto Metropolitan University, is the co-investigator on the project. 

Ageing populations, limited infrastructure and staffing shortages, and reduced government funding have all contributed to the long-running crisis in social care in the UK. Further complicating matters, the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting fiscal challenges have increased public attention to social care while simultaneously decreasing government capacity to finance social programmes. As a result, existing trade-offs in long-term care policy are likely to become even more complex and contentious.

From December 2023, this two-year project (SRG23\231164) will investigate social care preferences under conditions of scarcity, looking at how citizens balance trade-offs across different policy dimensions (e.g., resource distribution, taxation, service provision). It will do so using original survey experiments that will be co-designed with third-sector organisations and local authority contacts in Britain.

The project thus tackles a question that has become central to UK public policy: how can governments manage the trade-off between the critical need for high-quality, equitable long-term social care provision and the high financial costs of these measures to citizens?

Anthony Kevins is a Lecturer in Politics and International Studies at Loughborough University’s School of Social Sciences and Humanities. His research centres on the linkages between public opinion, policy-making processes, and government legislation, and has been published in journals such as Political Behavior, Political Psychology, and Socio-Economic Review

Naomi Lightman is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Toronto Metropolitan University. Her research interests include care work, gender, immigration, social inequality, and research methodology. Her work has been published in journals including International Migration Review, International Labour Review, and the Journal of European Social Policy.

Five minutes with: Nick Slater

Five minutes with: Nick Slater

November 9, 2023 Guest blogger

What’s your job title and how long have you worked at Loughborough?

I’m Director of LU Arts and I’ve been here 16 years.

Tell us what a typical day in your job looks like?

It might include some of the following:

  • Taking an artist on a tour of campus
  • Being impressed with student activists and introducing them to artists they could work with
  • Working with Facilities Management and Health and Safety to instal public artwork/sculptures on campus
  • Ordering unusual items that go towards the production of artwork or workshops – I’m pleased to say I’ve never been queried by Finance

What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on?

This is a difficult one to answer but maybe when we commissioned Can Altay to build a pop up recording studio above a shop in town. It was a piece of social sculpture and invited musicians from across the campus and town to have free us of the studio and studio engineer. It was booked solid for the two weeks it was open and was followed up with an album and a performance at Picnic in the Park. It was a great project that brought together musicians from across campus and the local community, and linked to Allan Watson’s research into how towns and cities created identity through music. Read more about the project.

What is your proudest moment at Loughborough?

I’m not sure I have one proudest moment, but I have always said that I enjoy it most when you see one of the arts projects being engaged with by students. It is great to see what they get from the projects – confidence, wellbeing or discovering a new passion.

Tell us something you do outside work that we might not know about?

No unusual hobbies to report but I enjoy a bit of culture and a good hill!

What is your favourite quote?

I don’t really like quotes, especially inspirational ones! Is a Nick Cave and Bad Seeds song lyric acceptable?

If you would like to feature in ‘5 Minutes With’, or you work with someone who you think would be great to include, please email Soph Dinnie at

Team data is the next revolution for sports strategy

Team data is the next revolution for sports strategy

November 7, 2023 Nick Jennings
Image: Courtesy of Getty Images

By Nick Jennings, Vice-Chancellor and President of Loughborough University, and Ed Smith, Director of the Institute of Sports Humanities.

This article was first published in The Sunday Times.

It’s clear that data has already revolutionised some aspects of sports strategy, and that even people who regard themselves as intuitive and distrusting of data are operating on a continuum — and the whole continuum has shifted significantly towards data-informed decision-making.

As extreme examples, football clubs like Brighton & Hove Albion and Brentford – both owned by professional gamblers – have used data-rich models to value players differently (and better) than the consensus. They have been able to identify players who are under-valued (so they can buy cheap) as well as players who are over-valued (so they can avoid misallocating resources, or alternatively, sell on at a profit when the price is right). Both clubs have successfully punched far above their weight. This is the evolution of the original Moneyball playbook, in which the smarter ‘Davids’ find the (data) tools to fell the richer ‘Goliaths’.

The imprint of data is stamped on on-field tactics as well as off-field recruitment. Basketball’s Daryl Morey – first as general manager of the Houston Rockets then the Philadelphia 76ers – reshaped his sport by elevating the three-point shot. Previously, teams had been too risk-averse in taking three-pointers: though it seemed unlikely to many insiders, the reduced consistency of three-pointers was outweighed by their higher expected value overall. What once looked weird is now mainstream.

In the previous Cricket World Cup cycle, England’s white-ball teams made a similar calculation – first in the run-up to the 2019 ODI World Cup and then before the 2022 T20 World Cup (England won both). Previously, cricket teams had generally been failing to exploit their resources effectively by being too risk-averse about losing wickets, hence scoring too slowly and therefore “leaving runs out on the field”. The ultra-aggressive approach of England’s individual batsmen within those teams was actually highly rational: it was a daring form of common sense.

At the level just below England, better data is now providing improved evidence about which next-in-line players are better suited to the step up to international cricket. Hawk-Eye ball-tracking data is now available at every county game where previously it was just for televised matches. This information will show which county players excel when the level of the match goes up – such as batting against faster bowling or more extreme spin – and the experience more closely resembles international cricket.

So far, we’ve considered data that relates predominantly to individual actions and metrics. But the next chapter in the data and AI story is set to revolve around more dynamic and collective questions.

The theme, in fact, was our first prompt to collaborate, because although we are co-authors here we arrive at the question of data and AI in sport from opposite perspectives. One strand of Ed’s last book Making Decisions explored the enduring relevance of instincts and judgments, ie human rather than machine intelligence, especially how it can augment (and sometimes overrule) algorithms and mathematical models. Nick’s academic career as an AI researcher leads him to the same terrain from the rival direction: how can we build effective partnerships between intelligent computer systems and humans to make the best use of their differing strengths?

In football, tracking a player’s individual movements and actions is now relatively easy and cheap. But what about players’ ability to enhance the team’s collective movement and shape? It is, after all, the success of the team which matters most. In Johan Cruyff’s adage: “Choose the best player for every position and you’ll end up not with a strong XI, but with 11 strong ones.” Modern AI systems that have rich models of effective teamwork and optimise for the group, not the individual, could determine the relative value of the various positions and permutations of players on the pitch. They would focus on which players add the most to the collective intelligence of the team.

Such an approach would have consequences for the familiar critique of (legacy) data: that it can encourage players to become unhealthily self-absorbed with their individual stats. But by making metrics properly team-orientated, that situation can be reversed: instead of encouraging selfish play (as not-outs could be in cricket, or risk-averse but unproductive “completed passes” may be in football), data could reinforce actions and decision-making that serve the team. However, just as an individual should not be judged without considering their teammates, a team should not be judged without considering their opposition. As in so many areas of life, the answer to the question, “Who’s better?” demands an understanding of context. Where? Who is alongside them? And against whom are they playing?

This means the AI system also needs to embody this context. It needs to model both the cooperation between the players on the same team and the competition that happens between the teams. This analysis needs to go much deeper than individually measured “match-ups” and will require digital twins that allow many different scenarios to be explored in an extensive suite of game simulations.

It’s very early in the story, but it will be intriguing to see if Arsenal alternates between two goalkeepers, as Mikel Arteta has hinted they may, potentially on a horses-for-courses basis. If it goes wrong, of course, it will provoke pundits’ fury, as selection stability in the team’s spine is an entrenched convention. But if it works, it may point to a more flexible approach to selection across the whole pitch.

The interaction of conditions, colleagues and opponents has always been at the heart of all sports strategy. And it’s time for the next wave of collective data and team-based AI to catch up and support this.

DRN2024: Drawing Repetition Call for Presentations

November 6, 2023 Deborah Harty

Conveners: Drawing Research Group, Loughborough University

Nick Aikman, ‘Square Holes Round Pegs,(detail), 2023.

Deadline: 1st December 2023

This series of online events aims to explore the notion of repetition in drawing. By this we suggest that repetition is inherent to drawing in its potentiality. 

Where to begin? At the field of the surface yet to be marked by the trace of a gesture. At the first mark made ordinal and original by the seriality of the second, third, fourth. Each gesture tracing the dynamic arc of the previous. Repetition engendering difference, not only across the surface but in the choreography of the dance entrained to the rhythm of the mark. And where there is rhythm, there is again the structuring of repetition and difference. We return to the surface. Another oscillation. Casting away towards the horizon where intention meets accident, anticipating the yet to be otherwise. To return to the trace and its minimal repeatability.

So where to begin? Perhaps with that which gives rise to drawing; the event. But we have been here before, with Drawing Repetition. 

Each session of presented papers aims to provide a space for discussion, dissemination, and the exchange of knowledge. With the intention of promoting fertile interactions that explore this conceptually rich terrain, we suggest the following as starting points and as possible themes, prompts and provocations:

  • How can repetitive mark-making and/or repetitive action enable development? 
  • In what ways can a repeated image reinforce or transform meaning?
  • What can the complexity of rhythm do to drawing?  
  • How can boredom or ‘stuckness’ incite novelty in drawing?
  • In what ways can loops or circulatory processes or structures be investigated through drawing?
  • How can drawing explore habitual behaviour?

Each event will take the form of 2/3 presentations, which address the call’s theme, followed by a Q&A session. We would like to invite proposals for a 20-minute presentation which addresses the theme from practitioners, theorists, and practitioner-researchers. To apply please submit one word .docx document, labelled as follows: surname.forename.presentation and include the following:

· 250-word abstract detailing the research question and proposed presentation
· 50-word biography

Deadline: 1st December 2023

Submission link:

This Week at Loughborough | 6 November

November 3, 2023 Orla Price


Seminar: Smart polymer microgels and their hybrids for environmental and catalytic applications

7 November 2023, 12pm-1pm, International House/Zoom Webinar

IAS Visiting Fellow Dr Zahoor Hussain Farooqi will deliver a seminar on their research. Synthesis and characterisation of smart microgel particles have gained a lot of attention in the last few decades due to their potential applications in various fields including nanotechnology, catalysis and environmental science.

Please arrive from 11.45am, for those joining in-person, lunch will be served from 1pm.

Find out more

Royal Aeronautical Society – Silver City Airways, Innovators in Air Transport

7 November 2023, 7.30pm-9pm, Brockington (U020)

Stephen Hogarth, FRAeS, Loughborough Branch Treasurer will deliver this public lecture on ‘Silver City Airways, Innovators in Air Transport’. Within the space of 10 years, Silver City Airways rose from being a small private charter company to being a large scheduled airline, and its role in the development of British air transport has become almost legendary.

Find out more

Seminar: Public-private partnerships

8 November 2023, 12pm-1pm, International House/Zoom Webinar

Does countries’ governance quality affect the type of governance of Public-private partnerships? Empirical evidence using World Bank data on developing countries IAS Visiting Fellow, Professor Alessandro Rubino will deliver a seminar on their research.

Please arrive from 11.45am, for those joining in-person, lunch will be served from 1pm.

Find out more

Creative Wellbeing Series – Tactile Stitch with Gussi Phililipo

9 November 2023, 2pm, Innerspace (EHB217)

The workshop will begin with mark-making drawings which will then be translated directly into tactile stitch processes.  The purpose of the workshop is to explore the potential of engaging with materials and hand processes, and the benefits this has on well-being.  Some of the techniques explored in the session are being recognised as mindful activities.

Find out more

Remembrance Service

10 November 2023, 10.45am-11.30am, Garden of Remembrance

The University will come together to remember those who have died in conflict, and others from our community who are remembered in the Garden of Remembrance. Refreshments will be served afterwards at the University Chaplaincy, first floor of the Edward Herbert Building (EHB), a few minutes walk away for those wishing to join. If it is raining or the weather is otherwise adverse, the service will be held in the Chapel.

Find out more

Exhibition – Black Heritage: Narratives of Diaspora

16 October – 10 November 2023, 12pm-2pm, Martin Hall Gallery

LU Arts has worked with Dr Kerri Akiwowo, Senior Lecturer in Textiles (School of Design and Creative Arts), to develop a project that, through the presentation of objects and stories, celebrates and reflects the many diasporas of Black staff, postgraduates, Doctoral Researchers, and alumni.

Find out more


The University of Law Drop-in and Free Coffee Cart

6 November 2023, 11am-4pm, Outside Stewart Mason Building

Thinking about a career in law? Come speak to the University of Law team about their Postgraduate Law course and enjoy a free coffee on them when you sign up to their mailing list. Find out about law conversion courses and learn application tips.

Find out more

Leadership Mastery: Unlock Your Potential with G Team Academy

6 November 2023, 12pm-1pm, Brockington (U.0.05)

Get ready to take your leadership skills to the next level and join the ranks of the most successful student leaders. G Team Academy proudly presents a one-of-a-kind event designed to equip students with the tools and knowledge to become confident and effective leaders.

Find out more

Achieve the exceptional with Jaguar Land Rover – Navigating online testing

6 November 2023, 6pm-7pm, West Park Teaching HUb (WPT.0.05)

We know that online testing can be daunting and new so we want to empower you with the knowledge to navigate this section of the application process with ease. Find out the best hints and preparation advice to be fully prepared for your online tests.

Find out more

Early Careers at TikTok

7 November 2023, 12pm-2pm, James France (CC014)

Ever wondered what it would be like to work for TikTok, one of the most downloaded apps in the world? Come to TikTok’s presentation for top tips on how to be successful in their application process, so you can be prepared for your career journey.

Find out more

School Governor Information Session

7 November 2023, 12.30pm-1.30pm, Online

Inspiring Governance will be running this virtual introductory session for staff to find out more about becoming a school governor. Loughborough University recently launched a new School Governor Network to encourage and support University staff to become school governors.

Find out more

Kickstart Your Network

7 November 2023, 6pm-7pm, MS Teams (Online)

A beginner’s guide to start building your network of connections. Learn some top tips on using LinkedIn and find out more about how you can search for a range of opportunities, including those that aren’t advertised! There will be an optional Q&A after the session.

Find out more

Mock Assessment Centre

7 November 2023, 6pm-7.45pm, MS Teams (Online)

Delivered by the Careers Network and staff from a range of top companies, you’ll hear first-hand what to expect and learn how to prepare effectively. Join to gain as much practice as you can before your first real assessment centre.

Find out more

FTP – Prepare, Pursue, Progress

8 November 2023, 1pm-8pm, West Park Teaching Hub

Prepare yourself for applying for your internships and/or placement year. We will work with you to focus on your self, skills and experiences and how this can aid you in finding and securing the right opportunities!

Find out more

Find My Future in Mathematics – Online Careers Event

8 November 2023, 2pm-3pm, MS Teams (Online)

For all School of Science students. Mathematicians and statisticians are in demand across a wide range of sectors and roles. Come along to this event, run in collaboration with the Institute of Maths, and find out where your mathematical skills could take your future career.

Find out more

Kickstart Your Interview Skills

9 November 2023, 2pm-3pm, MS Teams (Online)

Are you apprehensive about the interview process? Join us for Kickstart your interview skills: an introductory session that will help you navigate the interview process and equip you with essential skills and knowledge to get started. There will be an optional Q&A after the session.

Find out more

FTP: Business and Engineering Employer Panel

9 November 2023, 5pm-8.30pm, Schofield Building (SCH.0.01)

Engineering and Business employers will offer you insight into their company with a panel of diverse employees of varying grades/roles. Panellists will talk about their career journeys, including tips and advice for the application process.

Find out more

Finalist Futures: Step Up to Final Year (Criticality & Careers Q&A)

9 November 2023, 6pm-8pm, James France (CC012)

Criticality is a key skill in academic writing, one you may be looking to enhance in your final year. You are likely also to be thinking about what to do after you finish studying. Experts from across Student Services are here on this evening to help you.

Find out more

LUinc (Loughborough University Business Incubator) Open House

10 November 2023, 10am-4pm, Holywell Building (1st floor, LUinc)

Join us for the grand reveal of the newly refurbished LUinc. – Loughborough University’s business incubator! Discover our refurbished facilities, vibrant coworking spaces, and cutting-edge resources at our Open House Event. Find out about their workshops by using the link.

Find out more

The beginning of the end

November 3, 2023 Gary Brewerton

So today we held the kickoff meeting to move from our in-house reading list system to its chosen successor Talis Aspire.

My role in the project is to provide the data from the old system in JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) format. Luckily we already wrote a nightly JSON export of all the current lists for integration with our Moodle VLE. So, current me is very grateful to past me and colleagues for developing this feature as it’ll greatly reduce current efforts.

The hope is to launch with the new system, including migrated data, for Easter 2024.

CRCC scholar publishes book “Communications in Turkey and the Ottoman Empire-A Critical History”

CRCC scholar publishes book “Communications in Turkey and the Ottoman Empire-A Critical History”

November 3, 2023 Iliana Depounti

While there is a wealth of studies that attempted to de-westernise and de-colonise media and communication studies, their impact on historical thinking and writing has been minimal. However, the core of West-centrism is historical; its normative assumptions rely on a history that is written with the Global South in absentia. To overcome the West-centric imperial logic in the discipline, we should take history seriously.

A new book, titled Communications in Turkey and the Ottoman Empire by Dr Burçe Çelik, a member of the CRCC and the Media, Memory and History group is available now by the University of Illinois Press. The book aspires to provide a critical and evidential longue durée history of communications from the nineteenth to twenty-first centuries. In doing so, it seeks to challenge the historical pillars of West-centric media and communications studies. It brings together political economic and social history research. It draws on resources collected through archival research, including the Ottoman/Turkish, British and US collections as well as oral history research with dozens of communicative agents in the country. Whilst the book largely focuses on telecommunication networks from electronic to digital communications, it does not adopt a medium-specific approach. In the book, the author considers communications holistically to include infrastructures, information media, corporations, state, and non-governmental institutions, meaning structures, the labour force, and service users. This holistic approach not only helps to avoid media-centric analysis (a common approach in media and communication studies) but also enables us to situate networks within the unity of life experience that is geopolitical and socially mediated. In contrast to the dominant internalist narrative in West-centric historical works, the book traces the changing role of communications in social relations and the geopolitics of communications relationally.

The history of communications in the Ottoman Empire and Turkey contradicts the belief that communications are a by-product of modern capitalism and other Western forces. This is a trajectory that begins with the rise of modern communications in the context of the non-capitalist modernity of the late Ottoman Empire and the early republican period and continues in parallel with the country’s transition from full-fledged capitalism in the early Cold War era to today. The book shows how this historical change brought about the commodification and militarization of communications in unprecedented ways and how this historical transformation has affected the production and practice of communications, especially for oppressed populations like women, the working class, and ethnic and religious minorities.

According to Burçe Çelik, the author of the book, it is the first book in English that provides a longue durée history of communications from the nineteenth to twenty-first centuries in the Middle East. Given that regions such as the Middle East and Africa do scarcely appear in historical research in media and communication studies, the book explores an almost uncharted territory. The book has been praised as a must-read by Cees Hamelink, University of Amsterdam: “Burçe Çelik’s book is a superbly documented contribution to the geopolitics of information. For all those interested in a non-Western perspective on global communication, it is an absolute must-read”.

The book is published by the University of Illinois Press, which is a highly prestigious publisher, particularly in the field of media and communication studies. It is part of the Geopolitics of Information book series edited by the leading scholars Dan Schiller, Yuezhi Zhao and Amanda Ciafone.

Bio: Dr Burçe Çelik is a Reader in Media and Creative Industries. She teaches modules on media industries and social identities and media.  Dr Çelik is the Programme Director for all taught programmes in the Institute for Media and Creative Industries at Loughborough University. She is also a member of CRCC in the Media, Memory and History group.

Echins Ekei the Natural Architecture

November 2, 2023 Deborah Harty

Edwin VanGorder

Whereas Ekei is the Greek word for Being and Echinus is the associated architectural motif linking the panoply of spiky forms in nature as growth process:
A logarithmic spiral by definition proportions unit fields and this proportion may be demonstrated within unity as square in the form of an oblong or ratio discrimination. A liner extension of the ration is its repetition which will divide its manifold evenly to oblong form as equilibrium ie a grid. Where the grid is square per increment the equilibrium expresses the idea of square and square root and there is only a field, no figure ground or remainder process showing as complementary form… with the idea of relative complementary however linked to Morgans valence system and the idea of Gamma or the recursive structure of ‘Beth Ansatz” internally rotating infinity towards a limit as opposed to the outward spiral extending space in factorial terms as extended to complex space is essentially a view of the Greek Gnomon or comparison of the complement area to the remainder area of the figure which is always minus one and the Stirling process for determining large scale factorials ( which shows common to art and physics the process of “visualizing” that which is not in fact in plain sight)) relates the familiar Pi r squared as the operational adjustment between scales which in fact has to do with Pi as embedded in the harmonic system of roots by a relation to midline as centering the perception of magnitudes thus the square root of two stands in relation to square root of five as centering and the square root of 2 divided 5 will give 1.1416 which in relation to 3.1416 pi we can essay an understanding from the stand point of realizing from outset we are dealing with two and three as the numbers of perception ie all relative symmetry basis. The root of .618 as .788 forms a twelve fold of .3168 which is the reciprocal of pi thus the even field status of .788 in which 6 pairs of ,3168 are in each pair half .888 bt proportion and in this .6336 form = unity plus the square root of three, the square root of three and of two work simultaneously in presenting square root of two in form 1.1416 which requires then its own square to advance 3.1416 or pi while Pi develops from the reciprocal of the square root of 5 as .4473 at three fold 1.3416 plus two and minus .2 = 3.1416 … the number of rotations one introduces into a cycle then becomes the logarithmic “Big O” notation of which the Gamma subtraction for all its apparent simplicity is in fact the process described…

Displacement Mirror System Rewrite Drawing

November 2, 2023 Deborah Harty

Edwin VanGorder

Mirror Rim Displacement Rewrite 1.
Art related to photography then again follows the patterns that generations of photo technology each time are influenced by art, from the albumin relation to Tempera, silver prints to silver point and the split screen experiment, dyes in photo processing and so on down the line one might consider then the generations of photography filters in the Webb Space Scope process as reflecting to origins which Smithson’s Mirror Displacements touch on but can be specifically related through the geological ambience to parameters formed in technological outreach in the Neolithic age (whose robust economy and standing monuments at worst may be all that remain for future aliens to discover about our history except the Webb Scope) and the human chains passing stones from river inland then to animal driven carts to locations increasingly mapped to the stellar sky for direction sets in motion what hopefully may be our continuing civilization…In the drawing I have used a kind of excavation process through photo modes in the context of the laser light or plasma which is the cyber drawing tool as well and to this degree the mathematics of orientation to square roots and factorials devolved to a complex plane and LaGrange horizons extrapolated to black hole and cosmic analysis the question of the plasma is for me that while universal contraction and then expansion (rather than explosion) explains the uniform fields there remains an original question as to the black body radiation of the Pre -cosmic dawn, which is in essence a kind of black hole… how this bleeds out into a re-ionization means for me that collective fields form in black body space in a mathematics of hyper dimensions. In the drawing I am interested in the recursive rewriting of dimensions built on slight differences in magnitudes of progression creating wave extrapolation upon the value of free permittivity of space as .112 upon its metric which as complement to the octonion field .888 generates at five fold the reciprocal of Pi and this as gamma of 1:2 brings a sense of genesis by which the progressions in the cultures of manifestation are themselves less bound to perception than they are to their continuing manifest in which the history is always in as sense very present and still happening thus the paradoxes of quantum thinking are an education towards that realization in process…

Drawing on the 7/8 Solution Art and Language Matheme

November 2, 2023 Deborah Harty

Edwin VanGorder

World Line String: 7/8 measure in music in relation to the mathematical octonion is something I notice in a phrase Paganini repeats which seems to follow the pattern of the sides of the violin raising and lowering pitch while counter transposing value in a pattern basically revising Bacharini who for his part played violin repertoire on the cello, in his way a Occupational Violinist as he was in this clause filling in for violinists who were ill on tour , his version of Duchamp’s “sick painting” as it were… In the drawing I am interested in the premise of Gamma in relation to the kind of complex space Paganini seems tracing on the violin quadrants in which simple dropping a note in the octonion 8 fold actually is relating a “square wave” ie the complementary areas structure their gaps as reflective wholes which the series then counts in the diminution by which the summation series forms multiplication as indeed in patterning multiples forming those as “reflections” become a modular harmonic and reciprocal form and fashion.

Drawing Posts in the Space of Time :Gamma of the Inverse Transfinite

November 2, 2023 Deborah Harty

Edwin VanGorder

Drawing In the Space of Time
Gamma of the Inverse Transfinite
If the diagonal of a rectangle is its root to extension (literally, as its square built upon that diagonal and this is termed “pressure” or K.. then that inflection of a circle inscribed the shape as oblong is the sign of the cross section, and this alteration of a masses cross section is the variability of particles in physics created in matter and anti matter terms where there is conversion to pure energy via the famous formula and because of this the circumstances of space time in variety altering their own pressure on the product are what is meant by the “unknowability”….. Mass as measure of equilibrium is to centers and for this reason Pi emerges as original operant over the numbers of perception two and three insofar as the ordinal numbers as a ring relate the E=MC squared in simple form to the more complex denomination of momentum and the immense energy required to move from that equilibrium of strata of which the square roots in their ring are at midline square root of five and pi respective ½ gamma relates to midline and factorials over complex space in that ½ gamma as square root of 5 is also .236 or fourth ring of spiral square of which three times its own unity and one half its double are a three fold plus then.1416 thus 3.1416 also Pi. The square root of Pi divided by 5 is .112 or vacuum permittivity E0…. The ordinal extension of the Octonion as “Big O) or the simplified root viewed from the ordinal reach of .888 as 1.234567 of which Pi squared as .101 relates to the denominations of the characteristic numerical suffixes which are the grading of “a” ie. .0073….0064, oo55. 0028 thus Pi beneath a square wave cycle generated as .126 in series squares to .0156 the matrix 64 reciprocal nominal and root of Plank via relation of square root of five as .56 also .236 or fourth turn of section squared and divided five vacuum permittivity… of which added .126 and .0156 as .1416 link the continuing wave cycle again to the embedded pi operator generating the radius from cos. The general idea which interests me then in my drawing is the combinatoric nature of term rewriting systems…

Field trip reflection: Imperial War Museum North.

Field trip reflection: Imperial War Museum North.

November 1, 2023 Peter Yeandle
Photograph of the IWMN
From the Vice-Chancellor - October 2023

From the Vice-Chancellor - October 2023

November 1, 2023 Nick Jennings
Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Jennings  in front of the stained glass windows in Hazlerigg Building.

In my October newsletter: the latest Knowledge Exchange Framework, marking Black History Month, the Party Conferences, flagship international event for the Universities Partnership, and reflecting on our academics’ contribution to the RAAC issue.

Student wearing a lab coat working with machinery inside a lab.

Loughborough excels in latest Knowledge Exchange Framework

At the end of last month we received the outcome of the third iteration of the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), which looks at a range of universities’ activities, such as their business partnerships and their impact on local growth and regeneration.

Institutions are grouped into ‘clusters’ of organisations that have similar characteristics, such as how much research they do and in what subject areas. Loughborough was in Cluster X, described as “large, high research intensive and broad-discipline universities undertaking a significant amount of excellent research”. 

In the assessment Loughborough was in the highest quintile – quintile five, classed as ‘very high engagement’ – in three areas: Working with Business; Working with Public and Third Sector; and Intellectual Property (IP) and Commercialisation.

The University’s partnership with adidas is a great example of our excellence in Working with Business. Project teams from across engineering, aerodynamics, ergonomics and sports science have been working with adidas since 2002 to make sport safer and more accessible, to allow people to perform at their best, and to develop the adidas talent pipeline. Earlier this month the partnership was announced as the winner of the prestigious 2023 Royal Academy of Engineering Bhattacharyya Award in recognition of their outstanding academia-industry collaboration.

Loughborough performed strongly in the Local Growth and Regeneration category of KEF, retaining its place in quintile four – ‘high engagement’. An example of our activity in this area is the Healthy and Innovative Loughborough initiative, funded through the Town Deal, that brings together projects to support infrastructure development, attract new businesses, support those wanting to start their own business, and enhance the health and wellbeing of the local community.

The University also improved its outcomes in this year’s KEF in the Public and Community Engagement category.

The KEF results demonstrate the extent, reach and significance of our knowledge exchange activity, and how our work impacts society in positive and sustainable ways, in line with the research and innovation aims of our strategic plan.

Two people sat on stage reading music from music stands. One person is playing a flute, the other is playing a Cajon.

‘Saluting our Sisters’ – marking Black History Month on campus

Throughout October we have been marking Black History Month through a series of events and workshops themed around ‘Saluting our Sisters’. One of the particular highlights of the month was the keynote event on 25 October, when the University’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) team hosted three prestigious speakers.

Through a combination of a talk, poetry and personal accounts, Carol Leeming MBE, the renowned poet and playwright, explored the history and legacies of slavery and the racism still entrenched in our society.

Tracey Fox, an expert in workplace race relations, spoke about the legacy of slavery and its impact on conflict in the workplace, specifically in higher education. She explored the way conflicts arise from stereotyping and assumptions, and the inequitable outcomes for staff and students of racialised minority backgrounds.

Actor, writer and educator Nicole Acquah then performed her play, ‘Sankofa’, which was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Playwriting. ‘Sankofa’ interweaves live music and African storytelling to explore second-generation Ghanaian experiences and what it means to belong to the African Diaspora. The play was followed by an experiential African art workshop led by the Loughborough EDI team.

The Black History Month events culminated with Professor Charlotte Croffie, our Pro Vice-Chancellor for EDI, chairing a panel of fellow Black female professors – Amanda Daley, Patricia Carillo and Sheryl Williams – as they reflected on their journeys to becoming professors and their experiences within the UK academy.

I hope you managed to see some of the wonderful events over the course of the month, and will take a look at the resources available on the dedicated website.

Two students are working together on machinery.

Party Conferences bring opportunities to engage influencers

Every autumn, the UK’s political parties hold their annual conferences – gatherings of politicians, party members and affiliated groups who discuss key issues and current and emerging political agendas.

This year, staff from the University’s Policy Unit attended the Conservative and Labour Party Conferences to connect with key attendees and gain further insight into the issues that Loughborough could influence through research, innovation, education and skills development.

The Policy Unit team engaged with representatives from both political parties and senior staff at influential organisations about the Centre for Research in Social Policy’s Minimum Income Standard, in the broader context of support for those on low incomes. They also had productive conversations about our strategic theme of sport, health and wellbeing, discussing potential future partnerships, visits to campus and how Loughborough can contribute to the ‘prevention’ agenda.

Net Zero was a key feature of both conferences, with fringe events, exhibitions and a Hydrogen Zone that brought together a number of large companies with interests in the issue. This is an area that Loughborough can certainly influence.

The Policy Unit team were able to share our emerging plans for The Hydrogen Works – a Midlands-wide suite of research, innovation, advanced manufacturing, training and conference facilities and capabilities. It’s an exciting concept. At its heart is a £40 million hydrogen advanced manufacturing and innovation facility, co-located with commercial partners on the University’s Science and Enterprise Park (LUSEP) and capable of supporting up to eight on-site innovative scale up activities at any one time. It will enable around 100 senior academics from across the region to work together and with industry to deliver leading-edge hydrogen research and innovation.

We would also look to develop future leaders for the sector through, for example, an innovative hydrogen skills exchange with the East Midlands Institute of Technology Future Energy Skills Hub, a £13 million initiative creating the advanced workforce in clean energy for industry’s future.

The Hydrogen Works is an active partnership with the East Midlands Freeport and East Midlands Hydrogen, which is seeking to attract inward investment and develop the hydrogen economy in the region. With existing partners, and others who may get involved, we would have the capability and ambition to make a significant contribution to realising the role that hydrogen will play in a sustainable future.

A group of people wearing lanyards, standing and crouching together on the Loughborough campus.

Universities Partnership hosts flagship international event

At the start of this month, the University joined forces with Leicester and De Montfort universities to host a week-long series of events to showcase the county as an attractive destination for international students, with a view to encouraging greater numbers to choose to study in the region. The initiative was believed to be the first of its kind in the country, with all universities from one region working collectively to welcome guests from around the world.

The event was a flagship project of the Universities Partnership – a civic agreement signed in 2022 by Loughborough, De Montfort and Leicester universities and the county’s local authorities. We have pledged to work together to drive economic growth and tackle social challenges across the region through projects in five areas: education; the economy; sport, health and wellbeing; environmental sustainability; and arts, culture and heritage.

Together, Leicestershire’s three universities have a big impact locally, contributing a total of £1 billion to the Leicester and Leicestershire economy, supporting nearly 17,000 jobs. The partnership enables us to combine our diverse expertise to tackle the challenges which face us all, and to provide an even greater positive impact on our region.

Loughborough research plays a central role in RAAC media coverage

As autumn approached, the media headlines for several weeks were dominated by the issue of RAAC (Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete), which was widely used in construction during the 1960s and 70s in buildings throughout the country. As I hope you noticed, Loughborough’s academic expertise was at the forefront of the coverage.

If you’re still unsure what RAAC is, and why people are concerned about it, Professor Chris Goodier from the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering explains in this short video. The Loughborough team – Professors Chris Goodier, Sergio Cavalero and Chris Gorse, and Drs Karen Blay and Ana Blanco – have been studying RAAC for several years, undertaking NHS-funded projects in hospitals and advising the Department for Education and other top-level Government bodies on the risks associated with the material and how best to manage them. Their work has been instrumental in identifying the main issues with RAAC, developing recommendations and defining a way forward.

Loughborough’s expertise appeared in more than 900 newspaper, radio and TV items, including BBC Breakfast, BBC Newsnight, The Independent, The Telegraph and The Guardian. The research was referenced in the media in 17 countries, including the US, India and Sweden.

This is a great example of our world-leading research being at the centre of significant societal discussions and how this positioning can raise the profile of the University’s national and global reputation, as outlined in our strategy. We were able to deliver such outstanding results because the team engaged with the media, and our PR team, and explained their research in an accessible way. When issues begin to gain media attention and Loughborough has relevant expertise, we must make sure we capitalise on and maximise these opportunities.

National Stress Awareness Day: Self-care tips

National Stress Awareness Day: Self-care tips

November 1, 2023 LU Comms
A wooden bridge leading towards a sunny forest of trees.

Today (1 November) is National Stress Awareness Day, an important reminder to think about your own wellbeing and whether you feel like you may need additional support or guidance on how to manage stress.

The Stress Management Society explained stress through a useful analogy of a bridge: “When a bridge is carrying too much weight, it will eventually collapse. However, before this happens it is possible to see the warning signs, such as bowing, buckling or creaking. The same principle can be applied to human beings. It is usually possible to spot early warning signs of excessive pressure that could lead to breakdown.”

Some early warning signs of stress to look out for include:

  • Being more accident prone
  • Forgetting things
  • A negative change in mood
  • Avoiding certain situations or people
  • Using more negative or cynical language
  • Becoming withdrawn
  • A loss of sense of humour
  • Becoming irritable or short-tempered
  • Suffering from headaches, nausea, aches and pains, tiredness, and poor sleeping patterns.

Sarah Van-Zoelen, Specialist Occupational Health and Wellbeing Nurse Manager at the University commented: “When we fall into a period of intense working, it can be easy to compromise by reducing the time we would spend on exercise, socialising and sleep, instead, spending this ‘extra’ time on completing our workload. This is okay for short defined periods but if this becomes a constant expectation – your health and wellbeing will quickly decline.

“Boundaries are important. One useful tip is to ask yourself daily – ‘what have I done to help boost my own wellbeing today?’ if the answer is ‘nothing’, try to carve out a short period of time for a walk, chat with a friend, cook something nice or prioritise sleeping. You simply cannot perform effectively when your reserves are empty.”

If your workload continues to be challenging, it may be worth looking at the discussions in the talking toolkit and thinking about your workload in terms of demands, control, support, relationships and change. Once you have highlighted areas of specific concerns – speak with your manager for support.

You are also able to self-refer to the Occupational Health and Wellbeing service for further support and guidance.

Below are some useful self-care tips which may help you to reduce your stress levels:

  • Exercise can help to clear your thoughts, allowing you to deal with problems more calmly.
  • A good support network can ease your worries and help you see things in a different way, talking through things with a friend may also help you to find solutions.
  • It’s important to take some time for yourself as well as for socialising and relaxation.
  • Prioritise your most important tasks and projects earlier in the day, accept that you may not have time for everything.
  • Changing a difficult situation isn’t always possible, try to concentrate on the things that you do have control over.
  • Try writing down three things that went well or for which you are grateful at the end of each day.

Here is a list of some of the services and resources we encourage staff to use if they need any wellbeing support:

  • Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) – a confidential, unlimited support service for any matter that might be of concern to you which is available to access 24/7 via web and telephone. Health Assured have widened their provision to include access to computerised CBT interventions, to access this please call Health Assured on 0800 028 0199.
  • Maximus – confidential external support through the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service.
  • My Healthy Advantage app – complementing the EAP, this app provides an enhanced set of wellbeing tools and engaging features to help the user’s mental and physical health. 
  • Togetherall – designed to help people get support to take control of their wellbeing and feel better. It provides 24/7 peer-to-peer and professional support (from experienced clinicians who are always online), plus a range of courses and tools to help people self-manage their wellbeing. 
  • The Yellow Book – an online resource with various tools and techniques to help combat stress in written and audio format. The e-book features poems, songs, readings and artwork to help with your mental wellbeing (please note that sign-in is required). 
  • The University Chaplaincy (Email:, Tel: 01509 223741) offers a space for quiet reflection. University Chaplains are here to listen, here to care and here to help all staff and students. No appointment is necessary.   
  • Mental Health First Aiders – these staff members are trained to listen, reassure and respond, even in a crisis – and can potentially avert a crisis from happening. They can do this by recognising warning signs, and they have the skills and confidence to approach and support someone experiencing poor mental health. 

You can also access a range of free resources from the Stress Management Society.

This Week at Loughborough | 30 October

This Week at Loughborough | 30 October

October 27, 2023 Orla Price


Maximus mental health support appointments

31 October 2023, Appointment times available upon request, Online

If you are experiencing a mental health problem that is making work difficult for you, you can access external support with Maximus. They are running virtual, confidential one-to-one appointments available for Loughborough University staff.

Find out more

Voices of Diversity with Artist Kedisha Coakley

31 October 2023, 12.30pm-1.30pm, EHB104 (Edward Herbert Building)/Online

Artist Kedisha Coakley has been invited by LU Arts to create a new artwork in response to the physical or historical context of the University. The work will then become part of the University’s art collection.  Join this event for a talk about her arts practice.

Find out more

Flute Meet-Up

1 November 2023, 1pm-3pm, Cope Auditorium

For flautists or would-be flautists, this is an informal session led by LU Arts’ new flute teacher Caroline Faulkner.

It will be a relaxed opportunity to meet other flautists, hear about our flute tuition, and try out some warm-ups and group work (though you’ll need to bring a flute to join in). There will be free refreshments and a welcoming atmosphere.

Find out more

General Assembly

1 November 2023, 2pm-3pm, EHB104 (Edward Herbert Building)

General Assembly is a forum open to all staff at the University, established under the Charter and Statutes. For the 23/24 academic year, a new approach to General Assembly has been established. All staff are encouraged to join this session and engage with the content, and will have the option to attend online or in person. 

Find out more

Inaugural Lecture Series: Professor Thomas Jun and Professor Crispin Coombs

1 November 2023, 5pm-6.45pm, EHB110B (Edward Herbert Building)

Professor Thomas Jun will deliver the lecture ‘Are Designers Masters of the Maze? Unpacking dilemmas in designing complex healthcare systems’ and Professor Crispin Coombs will deliver the lecture ‘AI in Business: Hype, Success, and the Future of Work?’.

The University extends the invitation to these lectures to all members of staff, students and their guests as well as our campus partners, based on Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park (LUSEP) and the local community.

Find out more

Energy Research Accelerator Roadshow

2 November 2023, 2.30pm-4.30pm, Dan Maskell Tennis Centre, Seminar Room 2

The Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) is a collaboration of eight world-class universities and the British Geological Survey. At this session you will have the chance to meet with ERA staff to find out about the work that is being done in energy research and innovation and how you can get involved in the future.

Find out more

Fireworks Extravaganza

4 November 2023, Various timings, Loughborough Students’ Union

Get ready for a dazzling night of fireworks, fun, and fundraising at the Loughborough Students’ Union Fireworks Event, powered by Rag. This annual event is one of the highlights of the Loughborough calendar, and this year, it promises to be even more special.

Gates open at 5.30pm. There will be a smaller family friendly firework display at 7pm and the main display at 8pm. In aid of: Sense, WWF, BACA and Love4Life (minimum of 50p from each ticket goes to the charity partners).

Find out more

Black History Month:

In Conversation with Loughborough’s Black Female Professors

30 October 2023, 11am-12pm, Rutland Training Room 1.01

Loughborough University is pleased to host a conversation with our Black female professors speaking on the Black History Month 2023 theme of ‘Saluting Our Sisters/Matriarchs of Movement’.

Professor Charlotte Croffie, Pro Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion will chair a panel with fellow Black female professors Amanda Daley, Patricia Carrillo, and Sheryl Williams, reflecting on their journeys to becoming a professor and experiences within the UK academy.

The discussion will also focus on aspirations for the academy and how we can and are making a difference. You are invited to the session to listen to their stories and for a Q&A afterward.

Find out more

Black History Month: Library display

19-31 October 2023, Pilkington Library

Visit the Library display to discover more about Black History Month via books, digital resources and archives. Come and let the Library team know what black history resources you would like added to the collection.

Find out more

Careers Fest:

Unilever Future Leaders pop-up stand

30 October 2023, 10am-4pm, James France

Gain the chance to win Unilever products through their interactive arcade game while learning about career opportunities available to students. Unilever’s representatives are from their graduate program, senior management, and careers team. They know top tips to get you hired!

Find out more

How do Actuaries use Excel? Interactive Skills Session with Aon

30 October 2023, 6pm-7pm, WAV.011 (Wavy Top Building)

Thinking about becoming an actuary? This interactive session will provide insight into the Excel formulas and features used by actuarial consultants in their roles, giving you a head start in your actuarial career. You will get the chance to test your own abilities with an exercise at the end.

Find out more

What do the Vehicle Certification Agency do? – Get a free hot drink

31 October 2023, 10am-4pm, Outside Careers Hub East

Become aware of the wide and varied areas that VCA get involved in and the exciting work that you could be part of shaping the future of vehicle design to deliver a safer and cleaner environment. Grab your free hot drink and drop on by.

Find out more

International Futures: UK Etiquette and Professional Behaviour

31 October 2023, 12pm-1pm, MS Teams (Online)

As an international Student understanding UK Etiquette and Professional behaviour, is essential to be successful in your Career Journey. This session will help you navigate and understand expectations about professional behaviour in the workplace.

Find out more

An Introduction to VCA and Application Process

31 October 2023, 6pm-8pm, SMB.0.02 (Stewart Mason Building)

Want to learn about application tips for the VCA and UK Civil Service jobs? This workshop will focus on introducing VCA to the audience and give guidance on how to apply for a job with us (and other civil service).

Find out more

Kickstart Your Future

31 October 2023, 6pm-7pm, MS Teams (Online)

Get ahead of the game with Kickstart Your Future: The ultimate guide to maximising your Loughborough journey. Find out how to make the most of your first year, how to build experience for your CV and learn about our exclusive work experience programmes.

Find out more

Finalist Futures: Impressing at Interview

1 November 2023, 12pm-2pm, James France

Reaching the interview (or assessment centre) stage of the recruitment process is great news! The employer already thinks you can do the job, they just need to learn some more about you. Included is interview information, online tool demonstrations and a chance for you to practice.

Find out more

Achieve Extraordinary things in STEM – Pop up with AWE (free food and drink available!)

2 November 2023, 12pm-4pm, West Park Teaching Hub (WPT.0.07)

Learn about the opportunities AWE (Atomic Weapons Establishment) provide and engage with their new technologies. Ask previous Loughborough graduates working in the Sunday Time’s ‘Best Big Company’ how to get careers in STEM.

Find out more

International Futures: How to create a UK-Style CV

2 November 2023, 12pm-1pm, MS Teams (Online)

This is open to All International Students! This workshop will help you learn how to write a UK-style CV, which will make you employable to employers. This session includes: What a UK CV should look like, tailoring your CV, and the importance of a CV.

Find out more

Kickstart Your CV

2 November 2023, 2pm-3pm, MS Teams (Online)

Get ahead of the game with Kickstart Your Future: The ultimate guide to maximising your Loughborough journey. Find out how to make the most of your first year, how to build experience for your CV and learn about our exclusive work experience programmes.

Find out more

Mock Assessment Centre

2 November 2023, 6pm-8.15pm, James France Exhibition Area

Delivered by the Careers Network and staff from a range of top companies, you’ll hear first-hand what to expect and learn how to prepare effectively. Join in person and gain as much practice as you can before your first real assessment centre.

Find out more

Social Sciences and Humanities Careers Insights

2 November 2023, 6pm-7.30pm, EHB.1.04 (Edward Herbert Building)

Are you an SSH student and unsure on what you want to do when you graduate? Or want some expert tips from professionals in your area of interest? Hear from a panel of alumni from SSH about the journeys into their chosen career areas. Refreshments provided!

Find out more

AI and copyright

October 27, 2023 Lara Skelly

Post by Cristina Rusu, Copyright manager, Loughborough University

A humanoid robot pondering mathematical calculations on a blackboard
By Mike MacKenzie, CC-BY, via Flickr

As AI develops, an increasing number of news items are released regarding court cases of copyright infringement by ChatGPT, Stability AI and many, many more. Why is it that there are such issues regarding AI and copyright?

Copyright is an Intellectual Property (IP) right which grants the creator of a work the right to allow or prevent copying of said work. Although works are protected regardless of their artistic merit, the work does need to be created by a “natural person”. For example, software code is protected by copyright; what the code does is not.

Generative AI works, ChatGPT for example, because these algorithms have been fed an extensive amount of data. The outputs these AIs create are a combination of that data and the user’s input.  

AI is not limited to just written outputs; some AIs have been trained in creating the following media:

  • Image
  • Speech
  • Video
  • Music
  • Code.

So, what is the problem? In the beginning, companies have been open about where the data came from, and now they have become more and more secretive about it. While scrapping the internet and text and data mining (TDM) can be done for research purposes, under copyright exceptions, the access needs to be legal and the use non-commercial. Generative AI software is now mainly behind paywalls. It is also telling that something is not rosy, considering the number of court cases happening in the UK, EU and US. You can read more about some of the lawsuits below:

Artists Are Suing Artificial Intelligence Companies and the Lawsuit Could Upend Legal Precedents Around Art by Shanti Escalante-De Mattei

3 Lawsuits in 10 Days: Who Is Suing OpenAI, and Why? By Allison Burt

AI learned from their work. Now they want compensation. By Gerrit De Vynch

Authors file a lawsuit against OpenAI for unlawfully ‘ingesting’ their books by Ella Creamer

Let’s consider that the inputs (the data that the Generative AIs have been fed) are under copyright, and the use has potentially been unlawful. It also means that the outputs are plagiarized at the least and copyright infringement at worst.

However, there are other issues to be considered when using Generative AI. According to UNESCO’s quick start guide on ChatGPT, has highlighted the following issues:

Academic integrityPlagiarism and cheating
Lack of regulationSecurity issues
Privacy concernsNo age-regulation
Cognitive biasBiased ideas and perpetuates bias
Gender and diversityStereotyping and discrimination
AccessibilityLack of access in certain countries
CommercializationExtracting data for commercial purposes
Table 1 Issues with using ChatGPT, UNESCO, 2023, p.11  

Alex Fenlon, Head of Copyright and Licensing in Library Services at the University of Birmingham, has also highlighted other risks associated with using Generative AIs.

Aleksandr Tiulkanov, AI and Data Policy Lawyer, created a useful flowchart to help assess when ChatGPT is safe. You could ask yourself: Does it matter if the outputs are true? Do you have the knowledge to verify the accuracy of the output? Are you willing and able to take full responsibility (legal, moral, etc.) for missed inaccuracies? If you answered yes to some or all of these questions, then you are free to use ChatGPT; if you answered no, you may want to re-think your use of the GenAI.

According to UNESCO’s ChatGPT quick guide, there are possible uses of ChatGPT in the research process:

It could be used in:

  1. Research Design: generate ideas for research questions or projects; suggest data sources.
  2. Data collection: search archives and datasets; translate sources into other languages.
  3. Data analysis: code data; suggest themes or topics for analysis.
  4. Writing up: improve writing quality; reformat citations and references; translate writing.

One point to make here is that everything that is inputted within these AIs will be used as training data. Make sure you own the data you input and are happy for it to be re-used to train the AIs. Always read the terms and conditions. If in doubt, get in touch with your copyright officer or library.

Disclaimer: The information presented here does not reflect the views of Loughborough University.

Further reading

Guadamuz, Andres, A Scanner Darkly: Copyright Liability and Exceptions in Artificial Intelligence Inputs and Outputs (February 26, 2023). Available at SSRN: or

Lee, Jyh-An, Computer-generated Works under the CDPA 1988 (November 5, 2021). Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property (Jyh-An Lee, Reto Hilty & Kung-Chung Liu eds, Oxford University Press, 2021) , The Chinese University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2021-65, Available at SSRN:

Guadamuz, Andres, Do Androids Dream of Electric Copyright? Comparative Analysis of Originality in Artificial Intelligence Generated Works (June 5, 2020). Intellectual Property Quarterly, 2017 (2), Available at SSRN:

Five minutes with: James Haley

Five minutes with: James Haley

October 26, 2023 Guest blogger

What’s your job title and how long have you been at Loughborough?

I’m a Doctoral Researcher in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences and I’m also the Sub-Warden for Royce Hall. I’ve been at Loughborough for four years.

Tell us what a typical day in your job looks like?

My days generally start with early mornings, filled with writing my thesis, meetings and events, and working through sub-warden-related emails in the library or a coffee shop. I tend to focus most of my day studying with friends through the online productivity app Focusmate. During these sessions, I analyse and interpret data, and write up new manuscripts I hope to publish throughout my PhD. In the evenings, I mainly support students as a voluntary sub-warden. I usually attend social events or undertake pastoral care, including lockouts and noise complaints. I thoroughly enjoy meeting new students and seeing them excited about Freshers Week.

What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on?

A project I was incredibly fortunate to work on was collecting data on physiotherapists and physical activity guidelines at a Sheffield Rehabilitation Spinal Unit. This was a fantastic opportunity to complete focus groups and hear the lived experiences of many passionate individuals. For me, it was not only engaging and enjoyable as it relates to my research interests, but also an incredibly fulfilling experience to be able to visit a rehabilitation centre and to offer this community an opportunity to discuss ways that we can improve their physical activity levels and reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases.

What is your proudest moment at Loughborough?

When I think of my proudest moment at Loughborough over these four years, two things spring to my mind.

First, is when I received the email that my first-ever publication had been accepted. I remember feeling overwhelmed and shocked but thankful that my work could now reach a wider audience and contribute to improving physical activity for people with disabilities. The peer review process can feel daunting and can take a long time, but if you’re patient and surround yourself with support, like I did with my brilliant supervisors, the experience is beyond rewarding.

The second is undertaking two research placements in Canada, where I met colleagues who are leading experts in my field. I was lucky enough to visit six universities across five cities. I learned so much and was fortunate enough to present my research to a wide-ranging audience at the SCAPPS 2022 and 2023 research conferences.

Tell us something you do outside of work that we might not know about?

Due to having Olympian blood in my family, I’m naturally inclined to use my free time to do some lost-distance running. I like to run several times a week around the campus but also Charnwood Water, Beacon Hill and Leicester.

Outside of Loughborough, I am an experienced care worker, having helped over 100 patients stretching over seven years. I started working as a carer in 2015 before my undergraduate degree to support and care for the most vulnerable individuals, improve their overall quality of life and make a difference in society. I firmly believe being a carer gave me the skills, life experience and dedication that no other career could provide, but also emphasised the importance of our health and the time we spend with family. I have heard many amazing stories from clients with different backgrounds which has encouraged my ambition to make a social change through academic research.

What is your favourite quote?

“However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”

Professer Stephen Hawkins

If you would like to feature in ‘5 Minutes With’, or you work with someone who you think would be great to include, please email Soph Dinnie at

An evening at the Embassy with Professor Helen Drake, Director of the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance

October 25, 2023 Loughborough University London

A surprise invitation to a ‘soirée Festival de rugby’ – an evening festival of rugby –saw me navigate the grandeur of the Parisian residence of the British Ambassador to France, Dame Menna Rawlings, on the evening of Thursday 5 October  2023. Uncertain of what to expect, I arrived on time and joined a small crowd waiting for the heavy doors to open to admit us from the prestigious rue du Faubourg St Honoré into the imposing, cobbled courtyard of the Residence. ‘Tenue de ville’ was the dress code and amongst the hundreds of individuals in attendance, I saw an array of kilts, military uniforms, high fashion, sober chic and only one pair of jeans. I admired the splendid chandeliers and artworks, appreciating how we were free to wander at ease through the sumptuous public rooms.

Taking place around the midway point of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, the primary purpose of the occasion was to celebrate in an informal and fun style, the best of Irish, Welsh, Scottish and English rugby. Parts of the extensive gardens were set up for pros and amateurs alike to practise their rugby passes, and an Instamatic photo booth meant we could all pose for the night as champions in the Stade de France. Beyond the rugby, the evening displayed some of the best British and Irish food and drink. Sumptuous spreads of cheese, meat, fish, and vegetarian canapés circulated all evening for us to sample and enjoy (sadly, I didn’t win the food hamper in the prize draw, nor the free tickets to the upcoming Ireland-Scotland rugby match). Noise levels amongst the hundreds in attendance barely dimmed for the speeches by the Ambassador and her guests, the latter representing the four home nations (Irish and northern Irish representatives taking to the stage jointly, reflecting the unity of the all-Irish rugby team itself). A live band also kept us entertained with traditional music.

So, what was really going on? In the absence of stuffy diplomatic protocol and etiquette, the evening fostered friendship and serendipity, providing for the creation and strengthening of the person-to-person bonds that France and the UK deem as ‘foundational’ to their friendship ahead of the 120th anniversary of their Entente cordiale in 2024. I had arrived knowing no-one yet left in the company of two wonderful women working in French higher education, both of whom were optimistic that there would be ways to rebuild the exchanges between young people on either side of the Channel following Brexit. The evening was also a textbook example of public diplomacy in action, as both the UK and France sought to project officially curated images of themselves. Coming on the heels of the royal visit by King Charles III to France the previous month, the UK could highlight more of the cultural assets that underpin its diplomatic GREAT campaign. For France, here was a golden opportunity to emphasise the place of sport in its ‘diplomacy of influence’: host this year to the Rugby World Cup and next year, home to the 2024 Paris Olympics.

As I left the Residence and strolled back on a warm Parisian night via the Village du Rugby, taking pride of place on the historic Place de la Concorde, my mind reeled with questions. What’s it like inviting a large rugby scrum into your (temporary) home? Who clears up? And, less prosaically, what is it all really for? How does diplomacy earn its keep in a world driven with conflict and war? Perhaps the answer lies in its ability to keep both minds and communication channels open, and to humanise relations between peoples. In those terms at least, the evening at the Embassy was a success and I thank the team for their hospitality.

Contact me on or on LinkedIn at

Connect with us in the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance on LinkedIn at

Written by Helen Drake.

Celebrating Loughborough’s Black Professors

Celebrating Loughborough’s Black Professors

October 25, 2023 Charlotte Croffie

In recognition of Black History Month, Loughborough is delighted to be celebrating five of our Black Professors:

Professor Charlotte Croffie   

Charlotte Croffie is Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) at Loughborough University and Professor of Entrepreneurship in the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Loughborough London Campus.

Charlotte has been a Fellow of the CIPD since 2007 and member of British Psychological Society since 2013.  Charlotte’s research area and thought leadership is in `Intersectionality, decision making and the impact on leadership’ which extends across multiple settings including business and entrepreneurship.

“On a personal note, my view is that Black History Month provides an opportunity to focus on the positive contributions of Black people; to raise awareness of, acknowledge and celebrate Black people’s contributions throughout history, and at this moment in time. This has the power to influence how these contributions are presented and projected in the future. This matters because the history and contributions of Black people are not always presented in an accurate light, as such Black History Month can be used as a vehicle to redress this.

On a related note, given race is a social construct this leads to a discussion about who fits into the category of being Black. I know a number of people who self identify as Black and others as Brown so the concept of BHM and intersection with colourisation and heritage is brought into the equation. Given this, I would be in favour of a conversation about broadening the remit of Black History Month to Black and Brown History Month.”

Professor Patricia Carrillo

Patricia Carrillo is a Construction professional and her research focuses on exploiting digital tools for construction. She grew up in Trinidad, West Indies and was the first person in her family to complete secondary school and go onto university to do Civil Engineering. 

She won a scholarship which brought her to the UK to complete a master’s degree where I moved from Civil Engineering into Construction Management, has moved up the ranks from Admissions Tutor to Associate Dean of the School.

“It is good to have an opportunity to showcase a diverse part of society. It also allows us to celebrate Black heritage from different continents with different cultures.”

Professor Amon Chizema

Amon Chizema was born in Zimbabwe and has lived in France, Botswana, and the UK.

In 2007 he completed his PhD at Loughborough University and was appointed to his first Chair in 2011. Currently, Amon is Professor of Corporate Governance and International Business and is member of Loughborough Business School Executive Board, responsible for Internationalisation.

He is also an Extraordinary Professor at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), University of Pretoria, South Africa.  

“Let us continue to demonstrate the change we need by word and deed and continue to be guided by two questions – if not us, then who, if not now then when?”

Professor Amanda Daly

Amanda is a Professor of Behavioural Medicine and an NIHR Research Professor in Public Health.  Amanda is also the Director of the Centre for Lifestyle Medicine and Behaviour (CLiMB) where the ambition is to help the public to live long, healthy and happy lives.  Her work is particularly focused on investigating the effects of lifestyle interventions on health outcomes and developing lifestyle interventions that can be delivered to patients within NHS consultations. In her spare time Amanda enjoys running, cricket (watching) and music. Most importantly of all, Amanda is mum to Bella her 13-year-old daughter. 

“Black History Month offers a time in the year for everybody to pause and reflect on the lives of Black and Brown people. It is an opportunity where we can not only celebrate the great work of those who came before us but also recognise what other Black and Brown people are achieving all around us, right here today. The focus this month on the astounding contribution that Black and Brown people have made to our world is needed and should happen much more. At the end of the day, we all belong to the same human family and that needs to be our focus all year round, not just in October.”

Professor Sheryl Williams

Sheryl Williams is an experienced Teaching Fellow and Education Technologist with the passion and ability to create and inspire change.

Her work harnesses technologies to enhance teaching and research across Wolfson School at Loughborough University.  Her personal teaching and research are focused within electrical engineering and her research within the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST) has developed remote laboratories enabling students at all levels of study to carry out photovoltaic experiments from wherever they are in the world.

“I am very pleased that in this Black History Month we are recognising and celebrating the valuable contributions of all our Black university staff and students. I hope this will set a precedent for recognising our contributions throughout the year.”

On the broader topics of the number of Black Professors in the UK, Professor Charlotte Croffie, Pro Vice Chancellor for EDI stated:

The HESA data for 2021/22 academic year, notes that 10% of academic staff (23,515) were employed with the contract level of ‘Professor’.  Among professors who declared their ethnicity, 165 were black. At under 1% of the total this proportion is the same as previous years. 88% of professors were White and 8% were Asian.  According to WHEN in October 2023, 61 of those are Black and female. 

Loughborough has four Black Professors which accounts for 6.55% of this number. 

This can be viewed as a good news story, however, there is still much work to be done by the sector as a whole to address the lack of Black and Brown Professors in the UK. 

For example, Black male Professors are also underrepresented in the Academy.

This inequality where some of the best talent is being overlooked must change and will involve the sector as a whole being brave enough to identify and address systemic structures that create these inequitable outcomes.  

This is one of Loughborough University’s strategic priorities as it pursues its journey towards being an anti-discriminatory organisation, where the aspiration is that the University is to be a place where all members of our vibrant and inclusive community feel they belong, can legitimately contribute to the EDI agenda and are able to thrive. 

In the meantime, I am pleased that we can we spotlight our Black Professors and their success which is so often overlooked. This will be followed up by a series of interviews made available over the year where you will be able to hear directly from them about their journeys and lived experiences, their disciplines, successes and aspirations for the future.

Halfway to 2030: presences, absences and spaces for hope

Halfway to 2030: presences, absences and spaces for hope

October 23, 2023 Loughborough University London
If on nothing else in the lead up to the SDG Summit last month, there was certainly consensus on the disappointing state of the SDGs as the global community passes the half-way to 2030 mark.
Black History Month: Music - Don't forget the roots

Black History Month: Music - Don't forget the roots

October 23, 2023 Guest Author

What does a Calvin Harris DJ set on a beach in Ibiza have to do with a 1940s gospel choir in Alabama? And what does a punk band at Glastonbury have to do with the image of a young man playing a guitar at midnight at a railway station in 1920s Mississippi?  

Well, the answer is ‘everything’ and one would not be possible without the other.  

As a musician with a particular interest in history, I noticed that over time all musical genres start to converge into one path the further you look back. These ‘branches’, no matter how far apart they seem to begin with start to look more like each other the more you follow them towards the trunk of the tree. 

I make Drum and Bass music. ‘DnB’ has a huge underground and mainstream presence worldwide, but particularly in the UK and Europe. Recently I witnessed my music ‘going off’ at an event, a couple of thousand people dancing to the DJ up front who dropped my track. The audience was largely white and so was the DJ – as am I. It crossed my mind that despite this demographic that I was witnessing, the history of the music was largely founded upon the Black experience, Black identity and Black resilience.  


DnB evolved from the Jungle scene of the mid-90s. Jungle was considered Black music and came about when DJs in London took early 90s rave music, sped up the tempo and added drum loops – often samples of Black funk drummers from the 1960s and 70s. They added huge sub basses under the beats which were, along with the MCs who worked the crowd, reminiscent of Jamaican ‘sound system’ culture. Although a long way from its raw Jungle roots, this distinctive style of breakbeats and huge basslines is still the foundation of the music today. DnB in essence is Black music – or a derivative thereof. 


If DnB came from Jungle music then it is only a short step back to the House Music that preceded this.  The familiar pounding 4/4 groove was created by DJs like Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy in the early 1980s in Black and gay nightclubs in Chicago and New York. It was the soundtrack to a community of people finding refuge and escape from discrimination by dancing all night to this new sound. Innovative DJs used Disco music, Philadelphia Soul and Euro Disco coupled with newly available drum machine technology to create a hard-edged, hypnotic dance groove.  

House’s roots in 1970s R&B music has its own seeds in 1960s Motown (groups like the Supremes and the Temptations), Soul (James Brown and Wilson Pickett) and Funk music (Sly and The Family Stone, Earth Wind and Fire). RnB has undergone many musical style transformations but has always remained at its core Black music – from Big Joe Turner in the 1940s to Destiney’s Child in the 00s.  Why did all these musical genres suddenly spout up in the first half of the last century? And why in America? 


Nothing exists in a vacuum, but there are some definite moments we can point to. In post-Civil-War New Orleans, a surplus of Army band instruments were left behind by soldiers which were picked up by newly freed slaves who tentatively began to add their own styles to the popular tunes of the day. Here, Jazz was born. Meanwhile throughout the south, but mainly in the 200 square mile area of Mississippi known as the Delta, men and women who worked the fields in the long hot days used songs to keep their spirits up and sometimes communicate covertly with one another. Post slavery, many found themselves still tied to the land via sharecropping and although technically ‘free’ their lives were anything but. They were targets for unlimited discrimination, exploitation, and violence. These struggles manifested themselves in the blues, producing the first star singers of the genre like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey in the 1920s and the first of the great Bluesmen like Charley Patton and Blind Lemon Jefferson. Following the First World War, Black migration to the northern cities produced a harder, electrified sound. These influences, together with the sounds of the gospel choirs and country music inspired a teenager called Elvis Presley to start performing a hybrid style which soon became known as rock and roll. From this we get every kind of rock music we recognise today – punk, metal, grunge etc. The seeds of all this great music were undoubtedly planted in the Black experience in the southern United States.  

And You Don’t Stop (Brand New Roots) 

In a small area of New York City, an economic downturn hit a vibrant working-class neighbourhood and transformed it into a ravaged ghetto with high crime rates, drug use and unemployment. The residents of the Bronx in the 1970s found themselves living amongst a mass of burnt-out buildings, neglected infrastructure and underfunded or non-existent public services. The teenagers of the day did not have the resources to go out and buy expensive musical instruments, but what they did have were turntables and records which under pioneers like DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash created a distinctly unique musical form and culture which came to be known globally as Hip Hop. What began as the expression of resistance for the Black community in crisis now exists as the most commercially viable music in the world. 

So, it’s worth remembering whether you are listening to rock music, hip hop, or dance music, where that music came from. If you follow the leaves back to the tree, you will find the genius of innovation and resistance pitched against discrimination and oppression.  

The great music we enjoy today is born of this. 

Ben has been an employee of the University for nearly 15 years. He creates music under the artist name Lateral. 

Ben’s Instagram. 

Listen to Ben on Spotify. 

This Week at Loughborough | 23 October

This Week at Loughborough | 23 October

October 20, 2023 Orla Price


Screening and Q&A: Game On: The Unstoppable Rise of Women’s Sport

23 October 2023, 6.30pm-8.30pm, EHB110 (Edward Herbert Building)

Join alumna and women’s sport activist, Sue Anstiss MBE for a special screening of her documentary, ‘Game On: The Unstoppable Rise of Women’s Sport’.

The documentary, produced by alumni duo Sue Anstiss and Jack Tompkins, celebrates progress and success, and a range of questions are discussed throughout the documentary.

Find out more

Seminar: Understanding Carbon Leakage from Climate Policy

25 October 2023, 12pm-1pm, International House/Online

Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) Residential Fellow Dr Daniel H. Karney will be delivering a seminar on their research.

An existing or potential climate policy to limit carbon emissions, such as a cap-and-trade scheme or carbon tax, is likely to cover emissions in only some regions, countries, and sectors. The concern about leakage – the increase in emissions elsewhere not covered by the policy – then arises since emission leakage reduces net carbon abatement.

Find out more

Policy Masterclass: The role of Think Tanks and learned societies in policymaking

25 October 2023, 12pm-1pm, Online

This session will introduce the role of Think Tanks and related organisations, providing political context to their role and influence, and will share information and insights on the importance of connecting with a wide range of policy bodies and networks.

Find out more

Seminar: Enacting Prefigurative Politics through Art

26 October 2023, 12pm-1pm, International House/Online

Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) Alumni Fellow Professor Anne Ring Petersen will be delivering a seminar on their research.

This presentation centres on documenta fifteen, a globally influential quinquennial exhibition curated by the Indonesian collective ruangrupa and held in 2022. 

Find out more

Black History Month:

The History and Legacy of Slavery with Carol Leeming MBE

25 October 2023, 1pm-2pm, Martin Hall Theatre

A combination of a talk, poetry, and personal accounts, this session with Carol Leeming MBE will explore the history and legacies of slavery and the racism still entrenched in our society.

Find out more

Tracey Fox: Legacies of Slavery in Higher Education

25 October 2023, 2.15pm-3.15pm, Martin Hall Theatre

This talk will focus on the legacy of slavery and its impact on conflict in the workplace, specifically in higher education. Tracey will explore the way conflicts arise in relation to racialised minority groups through stereotyping and assumptions.

The talk will also address the inequitable outcomes for staff and students of racialised minority backgrounds.

Find out more

Sankofa by Nicole Acquah: Live performance and arts workshop

25 October 2023, 3.30pm-5.30pm, Martin Hall Theatre

Nicole Acquah is performing her play, ‘Sankofa’, shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Playwriting. Presented by Acquah&co theatre company and written by Nicole Acquah, ‘Sankofa’ is an exciting theatre show interweaving live music and African storytelling, exploring second-generation Ghanaian experiences and what it means to belong to the African Diaspora.

Find out more

Black History Month Parade

26 October 2023, 12.30pm-1.30pm, Hazlerigg Fountain

The University EDI team will be rounding off Black History Month with a parade through campus. This is a chance to meet, talk and walk with your colleagues and reflect on our activities over the last month. Charlotte Croffie, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion will give an opening speech.

The parade will take a circular route starting at Hazlerigg fountain and passing the inclusivity mural on Sir David Davies building. It will be a gentle walk, feel free to join or leave at any point.

Find out more

Researching Black Diasporas in Europe and the Americas

27 October 2023, 12pm-1pm, WAV011 (Wavy Top Building)

This roundtable discussion by researchers in International Relations, Politics, and History forms part of the University’s Black History Month programme. It outlines current research at Loughborough on Black people and ‘race’ relations in Europe and the Americas and offers guidance on how anyone can get started on their own research project on diasporic topics, past and present.

Find out more

Researching African Politics, History and International Relations

27 October 2023, 1pm-2pm, WAV011 (Wavy Top Building)

A roundtable discussion by our International Relations, Politics and History faculty on how they research African politics, history and international relations and how anyone can get started on their own research project.

Find out more

Black History Month: Library Display

19-31 October 2023, Pilkington Library

Visit the Library display to discover more about Black History Month via books, digital resources and archives. Come and let the Library team know what black history resources you would like added to the collection and explore the theme of ‘Celebrating Our Sisters’ which focuses on the role that pioneering black women have made in shaping history, inspiring change and building communities.

Opening hours can be found on the library website.

Find out more

World Menopause Day

World Menopause Day

October 18, 2023 LU Comms
Person sitting with their eyes closed in an armchair, wearing pink headphones plugged into a mobile device.

World Menopause Day is observed every year on 18 October, with the goal of raising awareness about the challenges people face during this life transition.

As part of the University’s commitment to providing an inclusive and supportive working environment that enhances the wellbeing of all employees, the University has a policy to support those experiencing menopause.

The purpose of the University’s policy is to ensure all employees know how menopause impacts people and how we can have supportive conversations about it.

A study by Brewis and Davies (2019) showed that 45.8% of participants had disclosed their menopause status at work. Fewer than 20% were provided with information about menopause in their workplace but the majority would like such information to be available.

People who are experiencing menopausal symptoms at work are encouraged to discuss any support needs with their line manager. The University wishes to support those experiencing menopausal symptoms at work and will accommodate reasonable adjustments to the working environment and working patterns where it is possible to do so.

The University Occupational Health and Wellbeing Team has put together some key tips for managing menopause symptoms:

  • Eat protein with every meal – a key food group for stabilising blood sugar, supports insulin sensitivity and muscle mass, reduces cravings, and regulates appetite.
  • Choose slow-releasing carbohydrates – fibre-rich carbohydrates keep insulin under control, try to avoid refined white flour products.
  • Don’t forget good fats – sources include oily fish, flaxseed, walnuts, and chia seeds.
  • Ditch the trans fats – avoid vegetable, rapeseed, and sunflower oils, cooking sprays, margarine, processed foods, long-life baked goods, and deep-fried foods.
  • Eat the rainbow – plant fibre encourages the growth of friendly bacteria and contains an array of antioxidants with protective effects on cells such as fighting inflammation.
  • Build muscle – improves insulin sensitivity, protects the brain, strengthens bones, improves metabolism, and reduces osteoporosis risk. Visit one of the world-class gyms on campus.
  • Prioritise self-care – get outside in nature, spend time on hobbies, express creativity, and prioritise sleep. Incorporate relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation, to reduce stress and anxiety. Focus on deep breathing, take Epsom salt baths, embrace lazy time and surround yourself with positive people.

These are some recommended vitamins you could try and incorporate into your diet too:

  • Magnesium – soothes the nervous system, supports mood, sleep and stress, and supports healthy bones.
  • Zinc – found to improve mood, reduce brain inflammation, and improve new brain cell production.
  • Vitamin E research found that vitamin E (400 IU daily for four weeks) significantly reduced the severity and frequency of hot flushes.
  • Vitamin B – often nicknamed ‘anti-stress nutrients’ for their powerful ability to balance mood and calm the nervous system.
  • Vitamin B12 – a critical nutrient for the brain, energy, metabolism, nerve function, and detox.
  • Vitamins D3 and K2 – vitamin D3 promotes healthy absorption of calcium into bone, best when combined with vitamin K2, shown to be a powerful combination for reduced fracture risk.

Everyone experiences menopause differently, if you have any concerns about your personal symptoms then please contact your GP or the Occupational Health Team on campus for further information.

Loughborough research and useful resources

Find out about the effect menopause can have on the brain in this article co-authored by Professor Eef Hogervorst, Dr Emma O’Donnell and Professor Rebecca Hardy.

On the University Health and Wellbeing blog, you can also find a British Sign Language (BSL) video, audio clip, and written blog from Helen Shaw about her experience of menopause.

Academics in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences are investigating whether there is evidence to support claims that the long-term use of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) can significantly reduce the likelihood of post-menopausal people developing dementia and heart disease. Read more about the ongoing research on menopause and related health issues taking place at the University.

You can find more resources and advice on the Women’s Health Concern Menopause Wellness Hub and top tips for managing menopause in the workplace from the Government Equality Hub.

Celebrating our students in Black History Month: Stories from the Archive

Celebrating our students in Black History Month: Stories from the Archive

October 16, 2023 Guest Author

Camille Moret, the University Archivist, and Kerry O’Brien, Senior Library Assistant (Monographs and Textbooks) take us through the Archive.

When we are celebrating Black History Month, we turn to history sometimes with a critical eye, looking at moments when we as an institution or community might not have been as tolerant and welcoming as we might hope or expect. But, sometimes, individual stories reach us to remind us of times when we have come together as a community, embracing Black students for who they were and what they stood for.

Such is the journey of the Martin Brothers, who came to Loughborough College (as Loughborough University was called at that point) to study in the early 1930s. Yusef and Benyam Workinah Martin – known then as Joseph and Benjamin – were born in Ethiopia, sons of Hakim Workinah Eshete, the first Ethiopian to qualify as a medical doctor, and later Ethiopian Ambassador to London. Yusef studied Commerce and Mechanical Engineering, and Ben, Civil Engineering. The Martin brothers boarded in the newly opened Rutland Hall and were keen sportsmen: they both played cricket (Joe was captain in 1935), and Joe also played hockey and Ben rugby. 

After graduating, they went back to Ethiopia and joined the country’s fight against the invading Italian army, acting as interpreters for the British Ambulance Service, as they were both bilingual in English and Amharic. They also helped with transporting supplies like gas masks, and did technical work munitions, before eventually joining the fighting on order from Emperor Haile Selassie. Ben, who was asked to take photos and write articles, implied in a letter to his father that he was the leader of the resistance group the ‘Black Lions’. Tragically, after surrender to Italy in May 1936, both brothers were put to work in Italy’s central workshop in Addis Ababa, and after the attempted assassination of the Italian Viceroy, Marshal Graziani, in February 1937, they were arrested at night and summarily shot, in what is known as “The Addis Ababa massacre”. 

The news of their deaths reached England several months later and was extensively reported in the College Magazine The Limit, which shows how keenly felt their loss was by the community of students and staff. Yusef and Benyam’s story has been retold time and again over the years, their heroism and the mark they left on Loughborough College celebrated through talks and even a poem. The example of their journey (and their father’s), from promising graduates to war heroes, has been used in works questioning the dominion of colonising countries, such as Britain and Italy, over African ones like Ethiopia. The Martin family reminds us that Black heroes are very much present in history, if only we are willing to seek them out and recognise them.

Recognition is part of any celebration, not just in the past but also in what was the present just a moment ago. So, we also celebrate a more recent (relatively speaking, this is from the Archive after all!) Black alumnus, Paul Theophilus Lawrence. Originally enrolled in Biology with our predecessor, Loughborough Training College – a photograph shows him in the Science Laboratory in 1961; he obtained his Diploma in Handicraft in 1963. As a migrant from Nevis – an island nation state in the Caribbean – he was deeply involved in the social and political life of the Caribbean communities in Leicester. Thus, he helped found – and sometimes chaired – the Nevis Development Association and was an affiliate of LUCA, the Leicester United Caribbean Association, in the early 1970s. These associations are a testimony of the various experiences and complex relationships of each Caribbean Island with the United Kingdom. Paul saw that and all his life, fought for the needs specific to his island and community to be recognised.

Upon his return home to Nevis, in 1982, he fought for independence from British colonisation, leading independence proponents and activist campaigns; this was attained on 19 September 1983. But this achievement did not stop him, and he remained first and foremost a teacher, founding the first independent school on the Island, the Lynne Jeffers School Nevis, in the mid-1990s. He had gone back to Loughborough University in 1975-1976 and obtained a Bachelor of Education Studies in Design and Technology. There is no doubt everything he learnt he strove to pass down further, which is greatly inspiring. Paul also kept advocating for what he believed was right for his community and his island, occasionally writing in the St Kitts & Nevis Observer, almost up until his death last year.

We celebrate Paul, Yusef and Benyam, their achievements and their desires to always be the best version of themselves. We are proud to have shared their journeys as Black men from their countries to Leicestershire and back.

We would love for anyone inspired by these stories to share theirs or let us have their reflections on the stories we have just told. Please do so in the comments below or by emailing


  • scan of the Limit obit (1937) with images of the Martin brothers.
    • © Loughborough College, courtesy of Loughborough University Archive
  • FG9.4.15_PaulLawrence_ScienceLab_Aug1961_R
    • © Crown Copyright, courtesy of Loughborough University Archive

This Week at Loughborough | 16 October

October 13, 2023 Orla Price


Autumn Careers Fair

16 October 2023, 11am-4pm, Sir David Wallace Sports Hall

17 October 2023, 2-7pm, Sir David Wallace Sports Hall

Over 150 employers will be attending the Autumn Careers Fair and will be promoting their graduate, internship and placement roles; as well as vacation and volunteering opportunities.

Find out more

Winter Wellness Webinar

18 October 2023, 1-2pm, Online

Winter can be a challenging time for our health. Don’t miss this session, packed with insights and practical tips to help you navigate the pitfalls and thrive over coming months.

Find out more

Professional Services Townhall

18 October 2023, 2-3pm, EHB110 (Edward Herbert Building)

Colleagues are invited to attend a Professional Services Town Hall led by Chief Operating Officer Richard Taylor. The session will outline the progress of the University Strategy, outcome of the Staff Experience Survey and priorities for the coming academic year.

Find out more

Deep in The Eye and The Belly: Screening and Discussion

18 October 2023, 6-8pm, Stanley Evernden Studio (Martin Hall)

Join Radar for a screening of Sam Williams’ ‘Deep in The Eye and The Belly’ (Chapter One). This will be followed by a panel discussion with the artist alongside Dr Pandora Syperek and Richard Sabin.

Find out more

Deep in The Eye and The Belly: Drop-in screening

18-19 October 2023, 10am-5pm, Stanley Evernden Studio (Martin Hall)

Across two days, Radar is hosting a looped screening of Sam Williams’ ‘Deep in The Eye and The Belly’ (Chapters One to Five). You can drop-in any time between 10am and 5pm on either day to watch the film for as little or as long as you like.

Find out more

Arts Scholarship Drop-in

19 October 2023, 1-2pm, Online

This is a chance to ask any questions you might have about the 2023/24 Music or Arts Scholarships and the application process. Deadline for applications is Monday 23 October 2023.

Find out more

Kick Off Your Business

19 October 2023, 2.30-7pm, Careers and Enterprise Hub, Loughborough Town

Hosted by the Careers and Enterprise Hub in partnership with Loughborough University, Loughborough College and Charnwood Borough Council, this event aims to help those wanting to or in the process of starting up a business.

The Careers and Enterprise Hub, 14 Market Place, Loughborough, LE11 3EA

Find out more

Black History Month:

Black History Month Showcase

18 October 2023, 12-2pm, Pilkington Library

This visual showcase will feature displays of work from Loughborough staff, students, and the local community.

Food will be served from 1.30pm.

If you are involved in work that features people from the African diaspora and would like to be a part of the University’s Black History Month showcase, contact to find out more. 

Find out more

Rafiki: Film screening and discussion

19 October 2023, 5-8pm, Pilkington Library

Join this event for a screening of ‘Rafiki’, followed by a discussion of the film and its themes.

‘Rafiki’ – which means friend in Kiswahili – is a 2018 film from Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu. Rafiki is a teen lesbian romance, which follows the relationship between Kena and Ziki, two young women from rival political families.

Find out more

Black History Month: Library display

19-31 October 2023, Pilkington Library

Visit the Library display to discover more about Black History Month via books, digital resources and archives.

Opening hours are on the library website.

Find out more

My Experience of Living in Loughborough and Budgeting as an International Student 

October 12, 2023 Guest Blogger

Hi! My name is Jen, and I’m from Nigeria. I am a postgraduate student studying Biotechnology within the Chemical Engineering department at Loughborough University. In this blog, I aim to provide advice and insights to international students at Loughborough University based on my own experiences.  

Jennifer smiling on campus, in a purple Team Loughborough t-shirt

Join me on this exhilarating journey as I take you through my experience as an international student living in Loughborough and offer tips on managing your finances and budgeting as a student. 

The main reason I chose Loughborough was because I had done my research on the course and found that the modules offered best aligned with my interests and strengths compared to other UK universities. Loughborough town also has beautiful greenery that makes for scenic walks. 

Loughborough canal with canal boats on it

Being an international student in a new environment is both exciting and stressful. However, I was able to manage the stress of this transition by utilising the resources provided by the University. 

Loughborough University offers a range of resources that have been invaluable to me as an international student. One of the most useful resources provided by Loughborough University is the Student Accommodation Centre. It equips students with the information needed to choose where to live, whether on or off campus, during their stay in Loughborough. 

Additionally, the University minimises costs for students by providing free access to Microsoft 365 software and offering free academic sessions on Learn, LinkedIn Learning, and Mendeley. These resources have been really helpful in furthering my career path and honing my research and study skills at no extra cost. The University’s Careers Network is also available to address any questions or concerns regarding your career path. 

I highly recommend Loughborough University because it provides international students with a platform to form communities that encourage personal growth. This is of the utmost importance when relocating, as it eases the adjustment period and process. 

Money management has been a significant part of my life, and as a student, I advise using budgeting apps to effectively manage your finances as they simplify the process. 

On average, I spend around £30 per week, including transportation, while at Loughborough. The easiest way to manage money is to cook your own meals at home. I cannot stress enough how much money you can save through home cooking, especially when you do a bulk food shop at the beginning of each month. 

For me, a monthly food shop is ideal because I am able to freeze certain products and maintain their freshness. Making a great meal at home gives me a sense of fulfilment, and I encourage students to aim to develop an interest in cooking while at university. 

Another tip that has helped me with money management is using food sharing apps such as Olio and Too Good To Go. With Olio, I was able to get farm-fresh produce and food stuff for free from kind neighbours in Loughborough. 

Both the Students’ Union shop and The Purple Onion shop in Loughborough University partner with the Too Good To Go app, and I encourage students to try it out. Not only will you get tasty meals at a discounted price, but you will also contribute to reducing food waste and promoting sustainable practices. 

Thanks to these tips and the availability of charity shops in Loughborough, living expenses fit well within my budget. 

The University also provides a wide range of events that cater to various interests, allowing students to enjoy leisure time right on campus. Events like the Fruit Routes harvest festival are available for students interested in sustainable food-making, while those with an interest in the arts and film can book a place at live performances on campus

Jennifer shopping in Loughborough

When I’m not thrifting in the town centre, I enjoy walking along the Fruit Routes and picking up fruit, as students are encouraged to do so. This allows me to incorporate sustainability into my everyday life. There are often workshops for students interested in the arts, and I have attended a few on scrapbooking and painting, which were both enjoyable experiences for me. 

In conclusion, Loughborough University not only provides a quality education but also offers resources, support, and a vibrant community for international students. By effectively managing your finances and taking advantage of the available resources, you can have a fulfilling and successful experience at Loughborough. Remember to check your email and the student noticeboard on the University website for exciting activities lined up for you! 

I hope you have a wonderful academic year and the best of luck with your future endeavours! 

All the best, 


Five minutes with: Cat Gayler

Five minutes with: Cat Gayler

October 12, 2023 Guest blogger

What is your job title?

I am the Police Dedicated Neighbourhood Officer for Loughborough University and I’ve been in this role seven months. Before that, I was the Neighbourhood Officer for Shepshed and a Response Officer at Loughborough.

What does a typical day on the job look like for you?

I wouldn’t say that I ever have a typical day. I start from Loughborough Police Station, where I will attend a briefing with other neighbourhood officers and PCSOs. I check emails and review the incidents and crime reports from the previous 24 hours to see if there is anything I need to be aware of or any extra visits I need to plan into my day. I will then make my way to campus and check in at the security building, where I have an office. If I have any crime enquiries, I’ll make arrangements to visit any victims or suspects. I’ll then conduct some foot or bike patrols, based on where the hot spots of activity are on and off campus. I attend events on campus to talk to students about personal safety or bike registration and meet with our partners, Charnwood Borough Council, to discuss any addresses relating to anti-social behaviour and parties. In addition, I can also be assigned jobs by the police control room to attend or go to emergencies. Finally, I’ll return to Loughborough Police Station to cease duty.

What is your favourite memory of your job so far?

Since working on the University campus, my favourite memory is attending the graduation ball in full police uniform at Loughborough Students’ Union.

What are you most looking forward to about working on campus this year?

This will be my first Freshers and I’m looking forward to having the campus busy with students again and attending events.

What else should the students know about you?

I am also a mum to three children who are 17, 9 and 6 years old. I’m an outside person and love being active (but I’m not so keen on the rain). I love animals and have 3 cats but also enjoy dealing with or meeting animals while at work. For example, during the heat wave in the summer, I met someone in the park exercising their lizard!

Get in touch

You can report to Cat if:

  • You need advice about staying safe or crime prevention
  • You think you have been the victim of a crime and have a query
  • If you think someone else might be involved in a crime and would like advice

Please note that asking Cat for advice is not the same as reporting a crime officially.

If there is a crime in progress please call 999.

You can also report a crime after it has happened online.

You can get in touch with Cat in the following ways:

  • Call 101 and extension 3301188 for general queries/concerns
  • Leave a message at the security office
  • Student Services at the University can make contact on the student’s behalf

Returning Students, Navratri and Me 

October 11, 2023 Sadie Gration

From 15–23 October 2023, Hindus from around the world will be celebrating the festival of Navratri. Navratri, which translates to ‘nine nights’, is a celebration of the feminine divine in all her glorious forms. Hinduism is comprised of many different schools of spiritual philosophy, each of which has its own unique relationship to the feminine divine but commonly, religious practises during Navratri involve worship of the mother goddess, Durga.  

Navratri celebrations originating from India differ by state. In the state that my ancestors are from, Gujarat, we celebrate Navratri with traditional communal folk dancing called garba. It is a semi-structured, often fast-paced dance which involves clapping, turning and jumping (if you are athletic enough) in a circular motion around the goddess’s alter. With Gujarati communities having emigrated to numerous countries, there are garba events all around the world where for nine nights, devotees will dance for hours on end in honour and celebration of the feminine divine.   

Hindu religious dates do not fall on the same day every year as we operate on a lunar-solar calendar, but Navratri usually falls towards the end of September or October. For those of us who work in higher education, that means one thing – the start of Semester 1!

For the past six years, I have worked in student-facing roles, mainly as a Placements Officer, which has meant that my ability to take annual leave for Navratri has been limited. Wanting to support my students through what is an important and often challenging time for them, as well as immerse myself in my spiritual practices, I would try to make it work.

I would attend Navratri celebrations each evening from around 8pm-midnight. I’d get to bed around 2am and take a half-day of annual leave so that I could sleep until around 9am. Then I’d pray, cook (some fast during Navratri; I do not) and get my clothes ready for the evening, starting work at 1pm. I’d work through to 5.30pm supporting students with their placement applications, go home, eat, get ready and do it all over again! Full disclaimer – there were some days when I did not take any time off and turned up to work with sore feet and even sorer eyes! 

I am now a member of the EDI Services team, where although I work to serve our whole University community, I do not work directly with students in the same way I did before. This will be the first year where I am taking a full two weeks of annual leave to celebrate Navratri. I recognise that I am in a privileged position to do this as a Grade 6-9 member of staff, as I have enough annual leave allowance to be able to do this without sacrificing other personal priorities.  

As ever, Navratri for me has involved significant preparation. At work, I am trying to tie up a few projects and get others to a place where colleagues will be able to continue them without me. I also have a remote volunteering role (seva) with my temple in Vrindavan, India where I am doing much the same.

Away from the laptop, I have been running to and from the Golden Mile (Belgrave Road) in Leicester to organise a traditional Gujarati outfit called a chaniya choli for myself. I have spent the last two weekends with friends practising garba dance, so that we can participate fully during Navratri. I am immunocompromised and have a long-term health condition, so I have arranged to have my flu jab (shout out to the Occupational Health team for providing this on campus!) and Covid booster before Navratri as I’ll be in close proximity to hundreds of people whilst dancing. Actually, last year I caught Covid from garba so I want to avoid that this time!

Some of you might better understand how I’m feeling by imagining that Week 1 of Semester 1 coincided with the Christmas and Gregorian new year period – it takes stamina and careful organisation! 

So, as I sit at my desk listening to garba music in my headphones, I wish everyone a blessed and joyous Navratri and extend an invitation to the whole Loughborough community to XXXXX 

Rakhee Patel, EDI Officer – Gender and LGBT+ 

Deputy Director of HR Alex Stacey-Midgley adds: “The University has a number of closure days in addition to the UK bank holidays which are published annually. The HR team are currently undergoing a project which is reviewing annual leave, and this recognises that whilst most closure days fall on statutory bank holidays, from a cultural and religious viewpoint there are some closure days that tend to be based around Christian events.

“The project will be using the Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) tool to help the consideration of the diverse multicultural demographic of the UK and the impact of closure days being connected to the public holidays.”

EDI Manager Denise Coles shares her reflections below:

“As the University works towards becoming a truly inclusive organisation, where people of all ethnicities, nationalities, and religions truly feel like they belong, we must hear and reflect on the lived experiences of people from a wide range of religious and cultural backgrounds, such as Rakhee. 

“Whilst Rakhee’s story outlines eloquently the balance required to be a dedicated professional and honour one’s faith and commitment to one’s family and friends, it has struck me that the level of juggling tasks and responsibilities from a faith context is a lived experience seldom heard. Why is that?  

“From my perspective, as a woman from a Christian background, I have never had to consider taking time off to prepare for Christmas or Easter or to attend church; it was just so. I always had two weeks of statutory holiday.  

“Therefore, in our role as EDI professionals, we must remain aware of the fact that people of different faiths have different experiences during religious occasions, as illustrated in this blog. It feels like it can be a complex and tiring journey to actively engage in one’s faith and community at certain times of the year. Therefore, I am supportive of and welcome the review being conducted by HR which demonstrates the need to look at our policies and practices to ensure they are truly inclusive.”

5 Ways to Wellbeing: Be active

5 Ways to Wellbeing: Be active

October 10, 2023 LU Comms
Illustration of a person running outdoors past a row of trees.

Image: Courtesy of Getty Images

One of the best things we can do for our mental health and wellbeing is to be active – it’s a natural mood booster.

This could be by attending a gym or a fitness class however the areas in the world with the highest longevity, ‘Blue Zones’, don’t use gyms but instead incorporate movement into the everyday.

Walking more is very beneficial and the target of 10,000 steps is arbitrary but it sets us in the direction of becoming more active. You could start with something simple such as parking further away from your office to increase your daily steps. 

Being more active has been shown to reduce health risks such as Alzheimer’s, cancer and diabetes as well as improve our mental wellbeing. When we’re active, our bodies release endorphins which are feel-good hormones that can reduce anxiety and stress and can help us sleep better. Discover how weightlifting helped Syuhaidah Ahman, a Loughborough graduate.

There are lots of affordable and free ways to get moving for all ages and levels of physical ability, such as the NHS Couch to 5K and Active 10 apps, so we can all benefit.

We also need to remember to look after our muscles. Once we pass the age of 30, we begin to naturally lose muscle mass, but strength training helps to reduce this risk. Cormac Ryan, Head of Performance Services/Senior Strength and Conditioning Coach (Commercial) at Loughborough said: “Engaging in regular strength training, such as weightlifting or bodyweight exercises, helps to counteract these effects by building muscle, enhancing bone health, and improving overall functional fitness.

“Also, strength training contributes to a better metabolism, joint stability, and balance, fostering independence and a higher quality of life in later years. By maintaining strength and mobility through consistent strength training, individuals can enjoy increased vitality and maintain their autonomy for longer, ultimately promoting healthy and active ageing.”

Physical activity can also be a great way to build relationships and connect with others. Joining a sports team, taking a group fitness class, or going for a walk with a friend can all be excellent opportunities to socialise and improve our mental health. University staff have access to the MyLifestyle programme, a free and inclusive recreational sport and physical activity offer, open to everybody of any ability. Sports and activities take place during a weekly timetable, these include football, wheelchair basketball, yoga and much more.

Alexander Themis, Recreational Sport and Physical Activity Coordinator said: “The Recreational Sport programme prides itself on offering all sports and physical activities entirely free of charge. What’s more, the friendly and welcoming nature of the volunteer workforce ensures everyone feels right at home. We understand the importance of wellbeing, and that’s why we emphasise a non-pressured, non-competitive environment where users can enjoy sports and physical activities without the fear of judgement.

“Participants often describe the programme as fun, social, and friendly. Besides the physical benefits, the programme is an avenue to forge lasting friendships and connections that extend far beyond your time at the University. It’s not just about playing sports; it’s about finding a sense of belonging and becoming a part of our close-knit community.”

The best way to stay active is to do things that you enjoy. If the gym is not your thing, the outdoors can be your playground. If you are self-conscious about exercise, many online options are available too.

Read about how Ali Freer, Head of Brand, Creative and Print Services, found joy through open water swimming.

Tips to help you boost your activity levels

When discussing wellbeing, the Mental Health Foundation states that “we need to change how we view physical activity in the UK to not see it as something we ‘have to do’, ‘should do’ or ‘ought to do’ for our health. But as something that we do because we value its positive benefits to our wellbeing.”

Five minutes with: Dan Parsons

Five minutes with: Dan Parsons

October 9, 2023 Guest blogger

What’s your job title and how long have you worked at Loughborough?

I’m a Professor in Geosciences and Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, and I’ve been here just over 12 months.

Tell us what a typical day in your job looks like?

Since arriving a year ago, no two days have been the same. This has varied from undertaking my own personal research programme and meeting with my PhD students and Doctoral Researchers, through to having meetings with the Vice-Chancellor and Senior Executive team. My role also involves visiting external partners such as Rolls Royce and Toyota and travelling to represent Loughborough University and the United Kingdom overseas. I have also met with members of local community groups from around Loughborough exploring the way in which we deliver our civic commitments and have hosted international delegates from universities around the world.

What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on?

In terms of my personal research, it has to be working on research ships investigating deep sea avalanches of sand and mud that pose a risk to subsea infrastructure such as the fibre optic data cables that transport 99% of the internet around the world.

One of the projects I’m currently working on is based on work within the Congo Canyon – one of the biggest submarines canyons in the world offshore of West Africa – where a major underwater avalanche of sand and mud broke three of the four fibre optic internet cables that connect Europe with Africa. The work we are doing is revising the routes of the cables and better quantifying the risks of future cable breaks.

Another of my projects is exploring how flood hazard and risk is evolving due to rivers changing their size and shape over time and how we account for that in our flood hazard mapping at a global scale.

In terms of my PVC role, the project I’m proudest of thus far was bringing together teams from across Loughborough University to submit large funding bids for Centres in Doctoral Training in Systems Engineering, Gree Hydrogen, Green Chemistry and Disaster Risk Reduction. The way in which we were all able to come together and submit such high-quality flagship proposals was incredibly rewarding and I am very hopeful the teams will receive positive outcomes in due course.

What is your proudest moment at Loughborough?

I’m an Everton fan and am very used to the team I support getting beaten. With that in mind, I was so proud of the Men’s Rugby team’s performance in the BUCS Super Rugby Final against Exeter. Despite being beaten in extra time, it was perhaps the best game of rugby I have ever seen!

Tell us something you do outside of work that we might not know about?

On moving to the area last year, my thirteen-year-old daughter started a paper round and I somehow ended up on a bike at 5.30am delivering newspapers to the neighbourhood come all weathers! By late December I was doing it on my own!

What is your favourite quote?

Wayne Gretzky, Former Canadian Professional Ice Hockey Player and Former Head Coach said: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” I think this is great motivation for taking the plunge and being less risk-averse in approaching tasks at hand. Its also important to remember to follow up for the rebound when the keeper saves the first shot!

Where do you start with EDI?

Where do you start with EDI?

October 9, 2023 Guest Author

The Library EDI Group began its activities in February 2022 and the question of where we should focus our activities was the most challenging. Equity, diversity and inclusivity cover such important areas with each one meaning different things to each individual. The group was determined that any activity should not be tokenistic. We were aware that a lot was already taking place to improve EDI across the HE Library sector and, to be honest, we felt that we were a few steps behind. We knew we had to act, but where do you start?  Here’s what we have learned:

Learn from others

We were keen that any activities we undertook should make a positive impact and they needed to be sustainable to make meaningful change. We particularly wanted to discover what we could learn from others in the sector who were already active in this area. We were also keen to learn from Library colleagues, as well as colleagues in marginalised groups, so we could ensure that the workstreams that took place would be meaningful for our context. Sector-wide webinars and conferences were helpful for learning about good practice, as were honest one-to-one conversations with colleagues in other institutions, who had more experience in this field.  Through this we started to learn what worked and, more importantly, what didn’t!

Identify priorities

Early on we undertook a Library staff survey to hear more from our colleagues directly. We asked them about their current understanding of EDI and how they felt we were performing as a service in this regard. We thought that the survey would also act as a benchmark to help measure the success of our activities. The results provided a helpful focus for a group away afternoon where we reflected on these and noted all of the ideas we had gathered from our research activities. Activities were prioritised and gathered under three workstreams centred around our users, staff and collections. Gradually we found some shape to the EDI work and we have just repeated both the survey process and the planning approach for our second year of activities.


EDI is very personal and so learning about other people’s lived experience, if they are willing to share it, is key. After consulting with Library staff, our next step was to contact staff networks to find out more about their Library experiences. We were concerned about adding extra burden to marginalised groups and so found it helpful to engage when there was a specific activity in mind, eg LGBT+ History Month, so we could work together to amplify messages. Going forward we want to make more contact with student groups to ensure that we have a better understanding of their experiences too.

Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate

Working with colleagues across teams and across the organisation has been key. We have ensured that all of the Library teams are involved in our activities so the responsibility of improving EDI is embedded across the service rather than being seen as only the EDI Group’s job. Working with colleagues in the LGBT+ Staff Network on LGBT+ History Month and with SWAI colleagues for Neurodiversity Celebration week has been a pleasure and it has been great to make the most of our Library spaces and resources.  Celebrations are perfect opportunities for bringing people across campus together to work towards a common goal, and so we have really appreciated working with the EDI Service to find out what is happening across the campuses and have their help co-ordinating activities to help join us all together to give all our work more impact.

Be prepared to feel uncomfortable

Whilst we have delivered activities to support learning about EDI, like reading lists, subject guides and repository collections, and we have introduced changes to some of our processes in relation to recruitment, there is so much more to do. New colleagues within the Library and the University are teaching us more about decolonisation and radical empathy, helping us to understand the systemic nature of EDI challenges. At a very basic level, the ethnic diversity of our staff community is not what we would like it to be and whilst it is a sector issue, we are aware that other local university libraries have a wider ethnic mix that better reflects their area and so we need to consider very carefully how to improve. We are clearly not getting everything right.

Seize opportunities

Some of our most impactful work has come from creative ‘What if?’ moments that colleagues have had or from seizing opportunities when they arose. For example, we had planned out which celebration weeks and months we would support in early 2023 to allow plenty of time for planning each one, but then an opportunity arose to work with SWAI on the Neurodiversity Celebration Week and our planning had to speed up rapidly. Thankfully we had templates and processes in place for both physical and digital displays so we could slot resources for new topics into place quickly, but colleagues still had to be willing to pivot quickly.

Keep going

The key thing to remember is that EDI is a long-term project. Activities have to be sustained and make a meaningful difference to people. We were delighted to win the Vice-Chancellor’s award for EDI enhancement but the work continues. This year’s plans include working with colleagues from Enhanced Academic Practice on decolonisation activities, continuing to develop and encourage greater diversification within our content and collections, as well as supporting staff to deepen their confidence in this area.  We will continue to seek opportunities to work with colleagues across the University to improve the staff and student experience. We recognise that we are only at the very beginning of our journey, but we are pleased to have started.

If you would like to find out more about the EDI Group, contact us or view our EDI reading lists, subject guides and repository collections, please visit our Library webpage.

International Workshop on Refugees’ Employment and Integration

October 9, 2023 Loughborough University London

The report titled “Challenges and opportunities for the employment of refugees in late industrialising countries“ is now available (please find below). This report is based on the discussions held at “International Workshop on Refugees’ Employment and Integration“ held on 16 June at Loughborough University London. The workshop aimed to address the challenges and opportunities related to the employment of refugees, particularly in late industrialising countries (LICs). The workshop was convened by Dr Merve Sancak, Dr Nicola Chelotti and Massimo D’Angelo, and brought together a diverse group of stakeholders, including NGOs, business representatives, refugee representatives, policy institutions, think-tanks, and academics from different countries.

The report summarises the main discussions addressed during the workshop and provides recommendations for improving refugees’ access to better jobs. In the first part, the report discusses the factors that push refugees to precarious employment. These involve business demand and businesses’ employment practices, the legal and institutional environment in host countries, and obstacles stemming from refugees’ vulnerabilities, such as their focus on survival after escaping wars, disasters, or dire economic situations.

The report goes on to explaining the current initiatives aiming to increase refugees’ access to better jobs and increasing their employment conditions. These include (a) projects and programmes developed by governments and national and international organisations, (b) refugee entrepreneurship, (c) corporate social responsibility and auditing conducted by multinational corporations, and (d) social enterprises. Despite their goodwill and the substantial financial investments, the initiatives aiming to increase refugees’ access to better jobs have not been able to achieve this aim due to several problems such as not addressing the root causes of refugees’ precarious employment, focusing on short term solutions, and remaining separate initiatives by a variety of competing actors without sufficient collaboration amongst each other.

The last section of the report provides some recommendations for enabling access to better jobs for refugees based on the discussions held during the workshop. Some of these comprise focusing on long-term solutions instead of temporary ones, removing legal barriers to refugees’ employment, changing businesses’ practices, and reinforcing collaboration and knowledge-sharing among different stakeholders working to improve refugees’ employment conditions. The details of the full workshop programme and speakers can be found here. This workshop was organised in scope of the British Academy-funded research project led by Merve Sancak, and was financed by Joint Fund at Loughborough University London.

This Week at Loughborough | 9 October

October 9, 2023 Orla Price


CSSP & Chaplaincy Charity Coffee Morning

11 October 2023, 11am, Brockington U2.22

Dr Matt Long, CSSP and the University Chaplaincy invite staff and students to this year’s coffee morning, raising money for Serve to Lead DR charity. This is a drop-in coffee morning, so please come for as long as you’re able.

Find out more

Public Lecture: Good to Grow?

11 October 2023, 5.30pm, Online

This public lecture will be delivered by Dr Oliver Hooper (SSEHS) and Dr Rachel Sandford, Senior Lecturer in Young People and Sport. They will examine the notions around the ‘Power of Sport.’

Find out more

Fruit Routes Harvest Jarvest

13 October 2023, 3pm, Loughborough Campus

14 October 2023, 11am, Loughborough Campus

Join Fruit Routes for a two-day harvest festival themed around using jars to store food and more. Students, staff and the local community are all welcome to come and enjoy the edible campus and celebrate the harvest season.

Find out more

Black History Month:

Mixed Messages: Dual-heritage lives in 20th-century Britain

11 October 2023, 1pm, E-Building, E001

As part of Black History Month, ‘Mixed Messages’ explores the experiences of people in dual-heritage relationships and their children and how the changed the face of modern Britain.

Find out more

The Black Beauty Workshop

11 October 2023, 3pm, LSU Ground Floor

Attendees will have the chance to view live demonstrations performed by nine beauticians, all Loughborough University students.

Find out more

World Mental Health Day:

Cookie Cafe: Wellbeing Drop-in session

10 October 2023, 9am, Bridgeman Building Reception

To mark World Mental Health Day, the Wellbeing team are holding a wellbeing drop-in session. Come along for a chat, hot drink and a cookie.

Find out more

Dealing with Loneliness

10 October 2023, 11am, Online

Do you feel lonely at university? This session will explore the topic of loneliness and how it affects you and your behaviour as a student. The session will offer ways of dealing with loneliness; from connecting with others, to learning who you are and finding your balance.

Find out more

Wellbeing Stands

10 October 2023, 10am-2.30pm, The Atrium (EHB)

A group of stands will be held to mark World Mental Health Day 2023. The theme for this year, set by the World Foundation of Mental Health, is ‘Mental health is a universal human right’. World Mental Health Day is about raising awareness of mental health and driving positive change.

Find out more

Mindfulness Session

12 October 2023, 12pm, Bridgeman Building (BRI 2.12)

Paying more attention to the present moment, to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you can improve your mental wellbeing. Hayley Whelport, Cognitive Behavioural Therapist is providing a mindfulness session to mark World Mental Health Day (10 October 2023).

Find out more

Careers Fest:

‘What skills are employers looking for?’ with PwC

9 October 2023, 3.30-4.30pm, James France (CC029A)

PwC are one of ‘The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers’ and they have various opportunities available throughout the year for all degree disciplines. Gain insight into PwC’s model they use to recruit students. Upskill your confidence and self-awareness with their interactive section by thinking about what employers look for.

PwC will uncover their five core attributes they look for when recruiting, as well as their ‘PwC Professional’ model they use to explore those five areas – this will be invaluable in learning how employers think and how they select graduates.

Find out more

Student Success Academy Launch

12 October 2023, 11am-3pm, West Park Teaching Hub (Exhibition Space)

The Student Success Academy are delighted to invite all new and returning students to the official launch of the various programmes the academy offers, as well as a chance to hear from services across the University to support you at every stage of your journey.

Find out more

Future Talent Programme Launch

12 October 2023, 6-9.30pm, West Park Teaching Hub 002 & Exhibition Space

The 2023-2034 Future Talent Programme is an exclusive two year personal and professional programme, tailored to Part A and B students of Black and South Asian heritage.

The Future Talent Programmes are designed to supercharge Black and Asian students’ career prospects and confidence through access to meaningful work experience (placements and internships) and employers with a genuine interest in recruiting diverse talent into their workforce.

Find out more

The Big Enterprise Challenge

14 October 2023, 9.45am-4.30pm, West Park Teaching Hub

The Loughborough Enterprise Network Team is hosting a hackathon event where you will work in groups to come up with an innovative solution to a task presented to you. Experts will guide you through the topic and mentors will be on hand to help you develop your ideas and problem-solving skills.

Please note this event is open to first-year undergraduate students only.

Find out more


October 6, 2023 Guest Blogger

We hope you enjoy this blog post the HeadsUp team has put together to celebrate World Mental Health Day. Remember that we all have mental health and it is as important to look after it as it is to look after our physical health. We all have a bodyso we are all susceptible to physical conditions and illnesses. The same applies to our brain and the possibility of developing mental health conditions or struggling with mental health.

What is HeadsUp?

Headsup is a student-run welfare association that focuses on promoting positive well-being and mental health across the university. We aim to provide support and raise awareness around mental health through our social media platforms, campaigns and events. 

How can we help you?

We are always here for a chat. We will answer any questions you may have to the best of our availability. We can actively listen to your concerns and support you. We can also signpost you if it’s something you would like. However, we are not professionals, so we are not able to give you advice.

If you want to submit an anonymous question, the link is on our LinkTree which is in our Instagram bio (@lboroheadsup). 

The Mental Health Ambassador (MHA) Scheme

The Mental Health Ambassador Scheme is designed to broaden students’ understanding of mental health, enabling them to offer support to peers by being active listeners and signposting when necessary (which they will be trained to do).

Ambassadors will have an opportunity to run their own campaigns and events if they wish to. They will also be able to help at HeadsUp events and MHA scheme events.Applications are open and the link to signup can be found on our linktree on our Instagram bio.

Committee Wisdom

Tips for Freshers

  • “Try as many taster sessions and activities as you can.” (Will, Collaborations and Outreach Officer)
  • “As scary as it may seem, challenge yourself by stepping out of your comfort zone. Remember that everyone is in the same boat as you, so explore new things and put yourself out there. Most importantly, take good care of yourself, both mentally and physically.” (Aisosa, Mental Health AmbassadorsCoordinator)
  • “Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone is on their own journey, and it’s okay to have your own pace and path.  During my first year, I unknowingly compared myself to coursemates and university friends a lot, butunderstanding that personal growth is a unique and ongoing process is super important!” (Nikky, Graphics and Digital Media Officer)

What has your experience with mental health taught you?

  • “Mental health is never a straight road, and the more you experience, the more you learn about your mental health and what makes you feel better or worse. Never compare your road with mental health with someone else’s, everyone is different.”(Alketa, Education Officer)
  • “I’ve always thought of mental health as a mountain. Some days you can climb half way to the top and others you slip back down. Your support network (whether that’s friends, family, counsellors, coping strategies, medication etc.) are the ropes that pull you up. It’s ok to have days where you don’t even try to climb, just like it’s ok to fall back down. The important bit is to keep looking up because one day you will reach the summit and look down on how far you’ve come. That’s not to say that once you’re at the top you’ll never slip back down but at least you remember what it feels like to be up there and can begin the climb up again. No one’s mountains are the same but by supporting each other, we will climb to the top.” (Grace, Body Positivity Officer)
  • “No one is immune to struggling with their mental health.  If you feel invincible, and feel like it could never be you, remember that a big enough obstacle can shake even the most resilient person. When you feel mentally healthy, reflect on your lifestyle and what things and activities you automatically incorporate in your day-to-day that might contribute to your wellbeing. Identifying those turns them into tools you can use when a tough time comes around.” (Raquel, Chair)

What is the best advice you have ever received?

  • “Be gentle with yourself. Ask yourself how you’d talk to a friend and consider how you would comfort them if they were struggling. Try to offer yourself a similar understanding and self-compassion, becoming your own best friend. Being aware of your inner critic can help you to understand and access the support you truly need. “(Jess, Self Care Officer)
  • “Always remember that you are the first priority, everyone and everything comes second. “ (Tanishka, Internal Vice Chair)
  • “You have to go through something to get through it instead of avoiding and ignoring it. Every situation in life is temporary – when life is good, make sure you enjoy and receive it fully, and when life is not so good, remember that it won’t last forever.” (Risha, External Vice chair)

What songs boosts your mood?

  • “Taylor Swift – “the 1.” It’s a song I associate happy memories with from an experience that left me feeling very negative. You can’t go wrong with a bit of Taylor Swift.” (Mertan, Male Mental Health Officer)
  • “’Peach’ by Oscar Scheller. Just a great vibes feel good song, mentioning positive affirmation throughout” (Jack, Male Mental Health Officer)
Progress on our International Engagement and Impact Core Plan

Progress on our International Engagement and Impact Core Plan

October 5, 2023 Sadie Gration

In delivering the University Strategy, Creating Better Futures. Together, the six core plans provide the guiding framework for our actions.

This year the International Engagement and Impact Core Plan has been particularly prominent. We have appointed International Special Envoys for six key regions around the world, refocused the International Office into a Global Engagement team with Lily Rumsey as its new Director, and signed a partnership with the Cambridge Education Group to provide a foundation year for international students, which started in September. These are all important steps in our aim to be a more global university.

As part of the plan, I led delegations to three very different parts of the world. Covid had stopped much of our international travel, and whilst I am mindful of our sustainability agenda, such visits are vital to rekindle existing partnerships and form new relationships. Each visit had a particular focus and so here I wanted to give my reflections on how they inter-relate and how they support the core plan.


Our existing partnerships in India are strong. In the current academic year, we had nearly 700 new enrolments from India split across undergraduate and postgraduate study; giving us nearly 900 students in total.

This is our second-largest international grouping and the largest for postgraduate-taught students. We have well-established links with several of the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology, such as Bombay, Dehli, Roorkee and Madras (going back over 40 years in some cases) and emerging links with institutions such as Anna University, Chennai and Symbiosis International University.

We have important industrial links with Bajaj Autos and with the Elms Sport Foundation and the Sports Authority of India, which build on the country’s excitement, pride and future through the vehicle of sport. Early successes include hosting a two-month winter training camp for Neeraj Chopra, the reigning Men’s Javelin Olympic and World Champion, along with the upskilling of Indian citizens working in sport through our online sports leadership and coaching education programmes.

India is a rapidly expanding country that values research and education. It was, therefore, exciting to see the esteem in which Loughborough University was held and to discuss future opportunities. Some exciting areas for development include: contributing towards the design of a high-performance sport centre in Ahmedabad and the enrolment of 18 PhD students onto our first overseas split-site PhD programme on the built environment, hosted in partnership with NICMAR. But there is still plenty more to come, and I expect to see significant growth in our engagement with this region.


This visit was a whistle-stop tour of the East and West coast.

We spent an amazing couple of days with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – building on the success of our joint “Sport in the Metaverse” event. Their ambition and impact are truly impressive. However, I was particularly taken with their offering around staff and student entrepreneurship. This is something we can learn from and is an important part of our research and innovation core plan. At the University of Oregon, we discussed our joint plans for the Global Sporting University Network that we have just launched. Their sporting set-up felt similar to our own (although we currently lack a 54,000-seater stadium), but the museum celebrating their sporting heritage is something we should learn from.

We also hosted fantastic alumni events in New York and San Francisco – bringing together a broad range of our graduates, at many different stages in their careers and life journeys. It was great to hear about their experiences at Loughborough and their thoughts on how to best engage alumni in the current work of the university. We will be doing more in this space to ensure we tap into the strong institutional affinity that so many of our graduates feel.

Middle East

My third trip was to the Middle East. UAE and Qatar were really exciting. The legacy of the Football World Cup was still very visible in terms of physical infrastructure and national pride. I really wasn’t expecting almost every conversation to cover the British Football Premiership! Luckily, as a supporter of European Champions West Ham, I was on firm ground. It is clear that sport is increasingly important in the region and the opportunities for us, while still in their infancy, are clearly significant.

But it was Saudi Arabia that really surprised me. We spent a day at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). Their investment in staff and facilities in pursuit of their ambitious research and education agendas was astounding and it was amazing to see what they have achieved in the decade since they were founded. I counted 14 different nationalities in the leadership teams we met.

We also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Princess Norah University. Their inspirational President – Her Excellency Dr Einas Al-Eissa – leads a dedicated team of academics who are educating 30,000 female students. “Empowering women” was a phrase that permeated the whole campus and every discussion.

It is clear there are challenges to partnering in this region, including issues around human rights, gender equality, gay rights and oil money. In such cases, I believe an important way to effect change is to engage, partner and challenge. Unilateral disengagement does not lead to change. I was amazed to observe the major changes in the region since my last visit seven years ago, particularly around the role of women in society. In many of the meetings we had, the person leading the government department or university was female. All meetings were also well-balanced in terms of gender representation.

But rather than giving my (male) perspective, I asked a female member of our team for her reflections:

In the weeks leading up to the visit, I was nervous. What you hear and read about what life is like for women living in the Kingdom was certainly nerve-wracking. Different clothes and a selection of headscarves were all packed and I was certainly anxious as we got onto the plane into the unknown.

When it comes to women, it is clear Saudi has moved on from what is commonly reported – of course, we were in senior meetings and were well looked after, but in the public parts of the city I didn’t wear my headscarf once and I felt incredibly comfortable in not doing so. I felt safe and respected. My hand was asked to be shaken and my opinion was proactively sought.

And the impressive women in senior leadership roles in organisations in the Kingdom blew me away. They wanted to talk to me and compare notes – proud of their positions and finding immediate bonding in that oh-so-familiar language of trying to be a successful woman in a man’s world.

I felt wanted for being a woman in a senior meeting. The Saudi men and women I met were excited a Western female had come to their country. They were proud of the journey they are on – accepting they still have further to go on many issues – but I felt they wanted to celebrate what they have done in a very short space of time – and use it to catapult them further. There was a joyous youthful excitement that reminded me of what I see in my children; so proud of their achievements, yet impatient to rush to grow up to reach their adult potential.

They clearly have a lot more challenges to overcome but my main reflection was – unsurprisingly – don’t believe everything you read about the Kingdom!”

So, I believe there are significant opportunities for us in the region. Sport, health and wellbeing are central to the national strategies of all the countries we visited. They partner with the best in the world and have huge ambitions on a global stage. Our pre-eminence as an academic institution was widely recognised and so I look forward to exploring exciting opportunities.

From the Vice-Chancellor - September 2023

From the Vice-Chancellor - September 2023

October 2, 2023 Nick Jennings

I hope you all managed to get a break over the summer. 

In my first newsletter of the new academic year: the Teaching Excellence Framework, coverage for research into Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC), green light for the National Rehabilitation Centre, Vice-Chancellor’s Awards, World Athletics Championships, Times Higher Education Awards shortlist, and Professor Chris Linton.

Teaching Excellent Framework announced

I’m delighted to announce today that Loughborough has been awarded triple gold – the highest accolade possible – in the latest Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). We are the only higher education provider in the East Midlands to achieve this, and just 15% of the 175 HE institutions whose results have been released today have earned the triple gold distinction.

The TEF is run by the Office for Students to encourage higher education providers to deliver excellence in teaching, learning and study-related outcomes for their students. Universities receive an overall rating as well as two underpinning ones – for student experience and for student outcomes.

Loughborough has been awarded gold in its overall rating, as well as in the student experience and student outcomes categories. This confirms the breadth and quality of the teaching and learning we offer our students, as well as the opportunities and support we provide as they take their first steps into their career.

I would like to thank all those involved in the preparation for the TEF, particularly Professor Rachel Thomson, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Student Experience, who led the delivery of our submission, and Alice Robinson (2022/23 Academic Experience Executive Officer) and Nicky Conway (Director of Student Influence) from Loughborough Students’ Union, who both made significant contributions to the submission.

National Rehabilitation Centre announced 

This month the Government approved plans for the development of the National Rehabilitation Centre (NRC), which will combine patient care, delivered by the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, with research, innovation and training led by Loughborough and Nottingham universities. The NRC will transform the lives of those who have experienced life-changing events including injury, trauma or illness.

I am delighted to see this important facility get the go ahead. Our partnership with the NRC underlines our mission to use our world-leading expertise in sport and exercise to drive innovation that impacts both national and global health and wellbeing.

The £105 million 70-bed specialist NHS facility will be built on the Stanford Hall Rehabilitation Estate – located close to the Loughborough campus. The Estate is already home to the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre; the co-location of the defence and the NHS facilities will enable expertise to be shared in ways that have never been possible before.

The NRC aims to be open to patients by the end of 2024.

Vice-Chancellor’s Awards

I was delighted to host the second annual Vice-Chancellor’s Awards ceremony earlier this month, to celebrate the contributions of some exceptional people across our organisation, who have demonstrated their commitment to the University’s aims and values.  

This year more than 200 nominations were submitted for the 17 awards, which span six categories: research and innovation; education and student experience; equity, diversity and inclusion; international engagement and impact; sporting excellence and opportunity; and living our strategic values. The breadth and quality of the nominations shows the incredible talent, passion and commitment that staff right across the University have.  

A full list of the winners and those shortlisted is available on the Vice Chancellor’s Awards website. My congratulations to all those who won or were shortlisted. I’d also like to say thank you to Pauline Matturi, our magnificent compere for the event, and the student jazz band Tuxedo Swing, who provided an incredible compilation of live music including the West Ham anthem, I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.

This year’s event was centred around our Climate Change and Net Zero strategic theme. We have committed to planting a tree each year to commemorate the awards, which over the years will create a new wooded area on campus, leaving a lasting legacy of the award winners. 

The winners’ trophies also had sustainability at their heart; our FM Joinery team cut the wood used for the trophies and the design and print elements were led by Creative and Print Services (see the video about this on the Vice Chancellor’s Awards website). 

World Athletics Championships

Loughborough athletes produced some extraordinary performances at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest at the start of this month, bringing home a medal haul of three golds, one silver and two bronze after nine days of competition in Hungary. 

Recent Business Analytics graduate Ben Pattison won a shock 800m bronze on his World Championships debut, just three years after being diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening heart condition. Great Britain’s men’s 4x400m relay team, which featured three Loughborough athletes – alumni pair Rio Mitcham and Charlie Dobson and current PhD student Alex Haydock-Wilson – also picked up bronze, adding to Rio Mitcham’s personal medal tally, after he helped Great Britain to a dramatic mixed 4x400m relay silver on the opening day.

In the heptathlon, University-based Katarina Johnson-Thompson won her second world title, while Chase Ealey, who’s based at Loughborough, won gold for the USA in the shot-put and Neeraj Chopra – who used the University as his winter training base – made history by winning India’s first-ever gold medal at a World Championships in the javelin.

Loughborough’s medal contribution ensured that Great Britain finished seventh in the overall table with ten medals – equalling their best-ever record at the Worlds from 1993.

The University’s long-standing success in athletics was celebrated at the Championships at an event held in partnership with the sport’s governing body, World Athletics, and the University Chancellor and World Athletics’ President, Lord Sebastian Coe. Among those attending were our sports partners, Loughborough alumni, coaches, and current and former athletes.

Times Higher Education Awards shortlist

I was really pleased to learn that Loughborough has been shortlisted for three Times Higher Education Awards – for Outstanding Contribution to Environmental Leadership; Outstanding Estates Team; and Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year. The awards are known as the ‘Oscars of higher education’, and our nominations recognise work across all three of our strategic themes and several of our aims.

The nomination in the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Environmental Leadership’ category recognises the work of sports ecologist Dr Madeleine Orr from Loughborough University London, who was lead researcher on the acclaimed report titled ‘Slippery Slopes: How climate change is threatening the 2022 Winter Olympics’ and the driving force behind the ‘Sports for Nature’ report, delivered in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme.

The ‘Outstanding Estates Team’ nomination marks the development of Pavilion 4 of the SportPark building on Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park – the first Passivhaus accredited development on the campus.

The ‘Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year’ category recognises the Black in Sport Summit, an initiative launched in 2022 by four Loughborough students – with support from Loughborough University, Loughborough Sport and commercial sponsors – to change the narrative about Black people in sport.

Many congratulations to all those nominated and those who have contributed to the shortlisted initiatives. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on 7 December 2023. I’m sure we’ll all have our fingers crossed.

Professor Chris Linton

This month we announced that Professor Chris Linton will be stepping down as Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the end of the academic year. After this, Chris will use the University Fellowship he has been awarded to work on a number of projects, some in support of the University strategy and others in mathematics.

By the end of his tenure as Provost, Chris will have been in post for 13 years and completed three successful terms for three Vice-Chancellors. He has been at the heart of many significant achievements and developments at the University over that period, including the establishment of the London campus, and the significant expansion of our academic, student and professional services facilities on campus.

This Week at Loughborough | 2 October

This Week at Loughborough | 2 October

October 2, 2023 Orla Price

Book Club – Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Pérez

3 October 2023, 12.30pm, Online

Join the LU Arts Book Club in an online discussion of British feminist author Caroline Criado Perez’s 2019 book which looks at gender bias in data collection.

Find out more

IAS Friends and Fellows Coffee Morning

4 October 2023, 10.30am, International House

The Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) are hosting a Friends and Fellows Coffee Morning, where they will be joined by the first IAS Residential Fellow for 2023-24, Dr Daniel H. Karney

Find out more

Campus Green Spaces Tour

4 October 2023, 1.30pm, Meet at entrance to Edward Herbert Building

The Campus Green Spaces Tour will start at the Edward Herbert Building and will show you the best gardens, orchards, woods, and recreational spaces to find some peace and quiet on campus.

Find out more

Big Match 2023

4 October 2023, 3.30pm, Hockey Pitch & 1st XV Rubber Crumb

Big Match 2023 is expanding to a whole afternoon of sports entertainment. Both men’s and women’s hockey games are included as a showcase event before the men’s rugby game against Bath University.

Find out more

Tableau Vivant

5 October 2023, 10am, Loughborough Campus

Put on a VR headset and be transported through a sequence of unusual spaces, collaged together into a surreal melancholic journey.

Find out more

Researching Protest and Wildfires on Digital Media in California

September 27, 2023 Loughborough University London

The Fulbright Programme was established by Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946. Its purpose is to facilitate cultural diplomacy and intercultural learning. It is a means for US citizens (students, academics, artists, and professionals) to travel to different parts of the world acting as knowledge and cultural ambassadors and in return for citizens of other countries to visit the USA in the spirit of reciprocal exchange. Since it began, 62 Fulbright alumni have won Nobel prizes and 88 have won Pulitzer Prizes. The US-UK Fulbright Commission was established in 1948.

I was a recipient of the 2022-23 Fulbright Scholar ‘All Disciplines’ Award from the US-UK Fulbright Commission which took me to the USA to conduct research whilst based at a US university. I spent six months at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles at the renowned Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism. Whilst there, I conducted research on environmental activism and how images are used on social media to raise awareness and visibility of climate change in the case of the recent Californian wildfires

The Fulbright Commission emphasises the importance of dialogue and exchange. To this end, I gave a talk at USC Annenberg based on my research and taught undergraduate students a class on citizen diplomacy and environmentalism at the Centre for Public Diplomacy. I was even invited to give a talk to students at UCLA on my experience of growing up in Northern Ireland during ‘The Troubles’ and discuss the role of the USA in supporting the peace process and the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

I really enjoyed listening to the Monday lunchtime talks at USC Annenberg by faculty such as Prof. Manuel Castells discussing AI as well as regular visitors presenting their research. I was lucky to meet some wonderful colleagues at USC with whom I enjoyed stimulating conversations and discussed potential collaborations. It was a great pleasure to attend a research showcase by USC PhD students and learn about their fascinating projects including the use of drones in mapping technologies and the fighting of misinformation on social media.

But it wasn’t all work! The Fulbright Commission strongly encourages ‘Fulbrighters’ to immerse themselves in local culture and experience life in their host country.

I travelled extensively whilst in the USA including Hawaii, Las Vegas, and the Grand Canyon and was lucky enough to see many parts of California including Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, Berkeley, Russian River, Lake Tahoe, wine country, Yosemite national park, and drove along the legendary Pacific Coast Highway. When travelling around California I was able to see first-hand the devastation wrought by the wildfires as formerly lush-forested landscapes are now bare or marked by charred tree stumps stretching for miles

I also managed to experience as much of LA as possible travelling to lesser-known neighbourhoods such as Watts, Hermosa Beach and Highland Park. But it is important to do the clichéd touristy activities too. I climbed the Hollywood sign, hiked to Griffith Park Observatory, mooched along Rodeo Drive, roller skated at Venice beach, went to West

Hollywood gay pride, attended open mic at the famed Comedy Club, and spent a fun 16 hour day at Disneyland doing 21 rides! My partner spent his time making pilgrimage to various filming locations of his beloved ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ TV show from the 1990s.

I ate some incredible food including an Ube (purple yam, popular in Philippines) cheesecake at a downtown market and an incredible seafood platter at Paradise Cove in Malibu while my feet were in the white sands. When my sisters visited, we managed to blag our way into the notoriously exclusive Chateau Marmont for afternoon cocktails and celebrity spotting (the trick is to strut in like you own the place). LA has some excellent cultural experiences including the fantastic Korean spas which do the best kimchi noodles as well as the fashion district in downtown LA which has excellent budget shopping and even has a piñata district where I bought a huge Wednesday Addams for a friend’s birthday. I probably ate tacos twice a week whilst in LA trying out the excellent food trucks dotted across the city. One of my favourite experiences was going to a ‘luche libre’ Mexican wrestling event in the beautiful Mayan theatre in downtown LA where masked wrestlers melded theatrical entertainment and athleticism with brilliant and hilarious results. It is kind of like pantomime in the UK but with more spandex and chairs being hit on people’s heads.

LA does have its issues though. My experience was informed by the fact that I didn’t have a car (except when I hired one for trips outside the city). My ‘Angelo’ friends were surprised, and a little horrified, by my commitment to public transport and walking; this is a city where even banks and pharmacies have drive-throughs. The metro in LA is not for the faint-hearted and runs infrequently (often 20 mins between trains!) to select parts of the city. The metro is seen as such a problem, as it brings unhoused populations across the city, that some especially affluent areas like Beverly Hills actively, and successfully, lobby to not have a metro station on their doorstep. This is the opposite of cities like London where tube travel is fundamental to the vitality of the city. But there is some hope here. LA has won the bid to host the 2028 Olympic Games on a campaign which focused on improving transport infrastructure rather than building new stadia so there is an opportunity to change the culture around public transport especially for a city and state which likes to herald its green credentials. I look forward to returning to LA for the Olympics in 2028 to catch up with friends and see how the city has changed. Who knows, maybe Mexican wrestling will be an Olympic sport by then!

Aidan McGarry

Professor of International Politics

Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance

Loughborough University, London

Finger counting – cultural similarities and differences

Finger counting – cultural similarities and differences

September 25, 2023 Beth Woollacott

Written by Dr Krzysztof Cipora, Lecturer in Mathematical Cognition at the Centre for Mathematicl Cognition, Loughborough University. Krzysztof is interested in Spatial Numerical Associations, mathematics anxiety, and embodied numerical cognition. For more information about Krzysztof and his work, there is a link at the end of this blogpost. Edited by Dr Bethany Woollacott.

This blogpost is based on Krzysztof’s recent publication with Venera Gashaj, Annabel S. Gridley, Mojtaba Soltanlou and, Hans-Christoph Nuerk. Their research investigated finger counting with a remote community in Bolivia, the Tsimane’, and compared their strategies to those used in Germany and Britain. This paper is open access and linked at the end of the blogpost.

Educated adults still count on their fingers (sometimes)

Most of us will use finger counting in our daily lives, e.g., counting how many days are left until our holidays start, or counting syllables in a phrase. We might also use finger montring which describes when we communicate numbers to others with fingers, e.g., using three fingers in a noisy venue to gesture to a bartender that you would like three drinks1.

Does the way we count with our fingers matter?

Researchers in numerical cognition have been investigating whether the way we count with our fingers matters. Among the most investigated features is whether we start with our left or right hand. Some studies have shown that the hand you start with is linked to your reading/writing direction. In right-to-left reading cultures the proportion of “right-starters” (starting with the right hand) is larger than in left-to-right reading cultures. This has been interpreted as evidence that the two are connected. However, other studies have shown that in several European left-to-right reading cultures there are often many “right-starters”, sometimes a majority. So, reading direction cannot be the only factor at play.

Beyond industrialised cultures

Most studies in this field have been conducted in industrialised cultures in Europe, North America, and Asia; evidence from indigenous communities remains scarce. This limited evidence indicates that there are some cultures using whole body counting systems, in which numbers (up to about 40) are associated with specific body parts. However, there are several indigenous communities which do not have such elaborate systems but still count with their fingers; can we learn something from studying their finger counting and montring routines?

Most studies in this field have been conducted in industrialised cultures in Europe, North America, and Asia; evidence from indigenous communities remains scarce.

The Tsimane’ people and our study aims

One such indigenous community is the Tsimane’ people, comprising 6000 individuals living in the Bolivian rainforest. They have limited access to education and limited contact with mainstream Bolivian culture. They live in small villages and engage with hunting and subsistence farming. Therefore, we decided to investigate whether Tsimane’ use their fingers to deal with numbers, and how they might do this. Our main questions were:

  1. Do they use finger counting and montring?
  2. How do their habits differ from those in Western cultures?
  3. Do their finger counting routines differ depending on how much education or contact they have with mainstream Bolivian culture?

We tested individuals (aged 15-85 years old) from three cultures: 121 Tsimane’ as well as 60 Germans and 61 Britons, so that we could make comparisons. All participants were asked to count with their fingers up to ten and to show numbers 1, 3, 4, 6, 8 and 9 with their fingers. We also measured whether they were predominantly right or left-handed. For the Tsimane’ participants, we also recorded how many years of schooling they had and how often they visited a nearby town to measure their education and contact with mainstream Bolivian culture.

What did we find?

Tsimane’ commonly used fingers for dealing with numbers; they all understood the task well and attempted it although they occasionally made some errors. However, we observed quite remarkable cultural differences in how specific finger arrangements have been used for finger counting and montring. Notably, these differences were not only present between Tsimane’ and Western participants but also between German and British participants.

One of the most substantial differences was how participants montred number 3

One of the most substantial differences was how participants montred number 3: typically, British participants used their index, middle and ring finger; German participants had their thumb, index and middle finger open; whilst the Tsimane’ participants had their pinkie, ring and middle fingers open (see the diagram).

There was also a notable difference in which finger was used to start counting: all but one German participant started with their thumb and 80% of British participants started with their thumb (with others starting with their pinkie or index finger). In comparison, about 90% of Tsimane’ started with their pinkie.

When we looked at the Tsimane’ group in more detail, we saw that there was a larger proportion of left-starters among those who had more years of schooling (and thus potentially had higher literacy/numeracy skills and more exposure to left-to-right reading/writing direction).

There is no simple answer – reading direction is not everything

            Based on this study as well as previous research, we can say that finger counting is very popular across cultures and the exact way we count on fingers varies substantially both within and between cultures. We speculated which factors contribute to finger counting routines and while there are 3,628,800 (i.e., 10!) ways to count with our fingers, this is hugely reduced when applying some basic constraints. For instance, consider the following three constraints:

  1. Starting from “outer” fingers, i.e., thumb, pinkie, or index (outer among the four fingers),
  2. Using consecutive fingers within the same hand (sometimes thumb at the end as the exception),
  3. Starting with the other hand only when fingers on the starting hand have “run out”.

If we apply these three constraints, then the number of ways to count with fingers reduces to 18 ways: 3 (starting finger: thumb vs. index vs. pinkie) × 3 (continuing finger: thumb vs. index vs. pinkie) × 2 (starting hand: left vs. right). We further propose that there are various factors which influence which of these 18 ways might be used, including:

  • Finger dexterity, e.g., some people might find opening a pinkie more difficult than others;
  • Hand dominance, i.e., some right handers are left-starters whereas few left-handers are right-starters;
  • Enculturation and observational learning, e.g., we might adopt the way that we observe others using when finger counting (especially when we are a child);
  • Reading and writing direction, i.e., the direction in which we read influences the hand which we start counting with (right-to-left readers use their right hand to start counting);
  • Presence of Spatial-Numerical Associations, i.e., some people might associate numbers with space and this might influence how they count with their fingers;
  • Situated influences, e.g., unlike writing, finger counting can easily be done with the non-preferred hand if necessary.


Finger counting is widespread across cultures and associating specific fingers to specific numbers varies considerably within and between cultures. It remains an open question whether such specific mappings play a functional role in numerical cognition.


  1. Hohol M, Wołoszyn K, Nuerk H, Cipora K. 2018. A large-scale survey on finger counting routines, their temporal stability and flexibility in educated adults. PeerJ 6:e5878

Five minutes with: Xiaolan Liu

September 21, 2023 Guest blogger

What’s your job title and how long have you worked at Loughborough?

I’m a Lecturer in Machine Learning Engineering at Loughborough London and I’ve been here two years.

Tell us what a typical day looks like for you?

If I am in the teaching block, I will deliver a two-hour lecture in the morning, and then after a one-hour lunch break for myself and my students, we will have a workshop for an hour and a half. In the weeks before the teaching block, I usually start the day with a simple breakfast, then check my emails and have meetings. I prepare teaching materials and design the assessment questions, and mark the coursework and reports in the weeks after teaching. During other weeks, I usually check the recent papers and peer-review papers for the journals in the morning. Then, have meetings with my PhD students and collaborators, write and revise research papers, and do simulation experiments. I am also preparing to write some empirical projects and develop a few new collaborations.

What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on?

The Collaborative Project with IBM company, which allows Enterprise, academic staff, and students to develop a project together. It gave me a lot of practical experience in supervision, collaboration and communication.

What is your proudest moment at Loughborough?

During my first two years here, I received a lot of help from my colleagues, line managers and all the other staff, which made me feel so happy and included. I also volunteered for the face painting on University Mental Health Day.

Tell us something you do outside of work that we might not know about?

I travel to different countries in both UK and European countries and I love exploring places that are so different to where I am from. I also enjoy going to museums, art exhibitions and concerts regularly as I want to get the most out of life in London.

What is your favourite quote?

Actually, I don’t have any favourite quotes, but I always remember one Chinese phrase when I am tough situation: “否极泰来” which means “out of the depth of misfortune comes bliss.”

If you would like to feature in ‘5 Minutes With’, or you work with someone who you think would be great to include, please email Soph Dinnie at

Redesigning our Relations through the Commons

September 20, 2023 Loughborough University London

The ongoing breakdown of our ecological lifeworlds is propelled by outmoded social systems that must be redesigned to ensure the safe and viable futures of all species on earth. How then can we design new forms of social infrastructures and organisations? Commoning is one response. It is a practice of collaborative community governance for democratic decision-making and the shared use of resources. It reclaims and sustains ownership and agency for communities in ways that support their social and ecological continuity, in unison.

What does it look like to create an educational resource on commoning knowledge and democratic organising? So far, it looks a bit like Deleuze and Guattari’s rhizome (a mass of roots), non-binary, non-hierarchical, and allowing for a multitude of entry and exit points in an ever-expanding network of trial and error. We are by no means the first to try tackling this challenge. Yet, the prevalence of under used digital resources and downloadable toolkits, that proliferated in response to the pandemic and ongoing socio-ecological crises that we explored, made it clear that whatever physical output we provide has to be one piece of a much bigger puzzle. This is in-keeping with the reciprocity and openness needed in any commons project seeking to build alternative futures by a community of stakeholders. It must work in tandem with ongoing concerns based on talking directly to grassroots communities about their needs, getting input from experts in innovative organisations for social good, and establishing long-term relationships.  

Identifying the problem was, therefore, the first step in our ongoing Un:Edge project. We’ve had a clear picture of this from previous research, including the Counter-Framing Design project, where we found that organisations and communities who wanted to do things differently— against hierarchies, capitalism as the default, and uneven power relations within existing institutions— often ran into the same practical and ideological problems that hindered their democratic aims day-to-day. We’ve distilled these observations into four interdependent areas of concern that all pivot around our need to redesign our relations, namely 1) relational power, 2) sustainable economies, 3) evaluation criteria and 4) daily practices. For instance, many organisations want to support themselves without vying for grants in competition with potential allies, or without having to perform their disenfranchisement.  Others are concerned that the power dynamics in the room are still heavily unbalanced, despite the benefits of democratic decision-making practices.

Our goal here isn’t just to set out the problems but to start building a set of frameworks and resources that give us options to support existing commons, and tools and practices to and trial new ones. We also want to challenge the role of design in creating change, by moving away from solutionism and towards systems approaches that foster responsiveness, flexibility, and generation. This may tangibly result in online videos, downloadable resources, in person workshops, speaking at events, and more, but whatever we create will only be nodes in a broader, ongoing network that grows alongside organisations’ growing needs.  Co-learning in situ is foundational to the practice of commoning. Building and sharing stores of this knowledge is essential in supporting the continued strengthening of these new distributed social systems.   

Written by: Dr Sharon Prendeville.

Design Ecologies for Times of Crisis

Design Ecologies for Times of Crisis

September 19, 2023 Judith Fragachan
Peatland Ecologies. In Ireland peat sustained rural communities for Centuries. As a carbon sink and non-renewable resource within human lifetimes, these communities need to be supported through a just transition to alternative energy sources.

We are living in times of immense ecological upheaval and the relationship between humans and our changing environments is now the most pressing question of our time. How we redesign this relationship will determine our wellbeing, our livelihoods, and ultimately our collective futures. This year has seen wildfires and extreme flooding that has devastated communities in Hawaii, Libya, Greece and Canada, biodiversity loss intensifying, and the continued increase in costs of living through energy and food price hikes. The need for redesigning our relations with the world has never been greater. Some experts have referred to the times we are living in as a polycrisis.

This is why at the Institute for Design Innovation we are launching a new module titled Design Ecologies that will focus on how design can tackle this question head on. Design Ecologies is about the interdependent relationships between all living and non-living entities, understood within their social, cultural, political, and economic contexts.

Our goal is to equip you with the latest knowledge to foster interdisciplinary systems design responses to ecological challenges. Your tutors will include experts in design research, but also complex systems, anthropology, and more. We will come together—students and teachers—as a collective to co-learn and co-develop bold responses to these urgent questions. These responses must take account of business, government and community roles in tandem.

Tapping into the very latest thinking in design, we will explore new systems design concepts and practices including planetary design, regenerative design, design for commons, transition design, pluriversal design, and more.

  • What might it mean to design for planet?
  • How can design be a regenerative practice that supports repairing our multispecies environments?
  • What does design for just transitions require?
  • How might I design for a multispecies democracy?

You will be tasked with exploring systems design in a situated hyper-local context. You will learn from a wide portfolio of IDI’s past and current research projects, including Oceans, Un:Edge [insert link to Un:Edge blog here], Counter-Framing Design, Weaving Ecologies Sustainable Commons Governance, and more. By developing these local, systems-based, creative outcomes informed by critical thinking, our intention is to formulate eco-social design responses to some of today’s most urgent challenges, to collectively envision and build resilient commons futures. 

For queries contact the course leader, Dr Sharon Prendeville.

Designing Dreams: A Journey Through My MSc in Design

September 19, 2023 Judith Fragachan

Today as I sit here to reflect back on my experience as Masters student in Loughborough University, London it fills me with immense joy & nostalgia for the past journey of about an year. I started my journey in London by leaving the vibrant chaos of my hometown Kolkata, seeking new horizons. From the iconic Howrah Bridge to the bustling streets of Piccadilly Circus, the transition was surreal. I embraced diverse cultures, savoured on the cuisines, and marvelled at Big Ben’s majestic chimes. Kolkata’s charm intertwined with London’s allure, forever shaping my adventurous spirit throughout this journey. I embarked upon this journey after successfully completing my under-graduation in Accessory Design. After learning & working in creatives realms of the design industry I decided to learn more about the other realms of the industry. When it comes to design, the interaction of a particular design with humans has always piqued my attention. I’ve always considered design to be something that can address an issue with an existing design rather than something that is only for aesthetic reasons. My motivation for enrolling to studyDesign Innovation was to understand more about how innovations may be implemented into products, services, and systems.

I was intrigued with the content of my modules & as the modules passed by it shaped me to become more confident in knowing about the use of design in a much larger social phenomenon. I interacted regularly with my academic mentors & my fellow peers to learn more about the world of design innovation. Throughout my pursuit of a master’s degree, I faced both triumphs and tribulations. The endless nights of studying, the overwhelming deadlines, and the occasional self-doubt tested my resilience. However, I refused to let setbacks define me. Collaborating with diverse nationals in team projects enriched this experience, broadening my cultural perspectives and enhancing problem-solving skills with a global mindset for future developments. One of the most exciting modules, Collaborative Project which gave me the opportunity of working on a collaborative team project with the B-corp. William Joseph. It was an invaluable experience that significantly contributed to my personal and professional growth. Through our joint efforts, we achieved remarkable results, sharpened our communication and problem-solving skills, and built a lasting partnership based on trust and shared success. Engaging in a group project fostered the development of professional skills while also nurturing personal skills like adaptability, problem-solving, and conflict resolution. It provided me a platform to learn from diverse perspectives, cultivate time management abilities, and build lasting connections that extended beyond the project itself. I applied to become a student representative of the EDI Committee of the University on the first month of my studies. As a PGT representative I assisted the university with various EDI initiatives & events arranged by the Committee along with a few student experience activities. As a BAME student being part of the EDI Committee also helped me shape my dissertation topic further ahead.

I also received the opportunity to be a part of the Flux Design Research Symposium arranged by the University. It was an incredible experience to collaborate with some of the brightest minds in the field and explore the frontiers of design research. The symposium provided a platform to exchange ideas, gain new perspectives, and broaden my knowledge in areas that are shaping the future of design. Furthermore, I went through several additional experiences throughout this journey that helped me become a better person and learn about my options going forward. I had the chance to research my alternatives for my next step in my professional life on a round table discussion with PhD students. Along with these academic courses, I also made sure to socialise with my classmates to enjoy holidays.

5 Ways to Wellbeing: Give

5 Ways to Wellbeing: Give

September 13, 2023 LU Comms
Illustration of five hands reaching up and holding pink and red love hearts.
Image: Courtesy of Getty Images

Giving in all its forms not only benefits those you help but also benefits your wellbeing.

Studies have shown that giving helps to combat stress, depression and anxiety and keeps you mentally stimulated.

Acts of giving and kindness can improve your wellbeing by:

  • Boosting your self-confidence
  • Giving you a feeling of purpose and self-worth
  • Creating feelings of happiness and a sense of reward
  • Helping you to connect with other people.

These acts could be small acts of kindness like holding open a door, or bigger acts such as volunteering in your local community.

In July, the University provided funds to 22 organisations as part of the Community Donations Fund to support projects that benefit the Charnwood community. Ben Cole, Head of Future Space and Strategic Projects, was one of the recipients of the Inside Out Fund which supports organisations staff members are involved in.

A group of people standing together in front of Hazlerigg building on campus.

Discussing his experience volunteering for Emmanuel Football Club U15s, Ben said: “They say a change is as good as a rest and volunteering with my son’s football team Emmanuel FC is certainly a change from the day job.

“For me, volunteering has been hugely valuable for my wellbeing. Being the parent of teenagers, it can be challenging to stay involved in the stuff that’s important to them. Having the team, the training and the matches has been a brilliant regular check-in and shared experience that’s kept us communicating. I know it is the same for other parents who also value the community around the club. It is just such a warm and inclusive atmosphere.”

Natalie Savage, Partnership Development Associate at Loughborough, was also one of the recipients of the Inside Out Fund. Natalie said: “It was a joyous moment to hear that Act One’s application for the fund was successful. This helps us provide another opportunity for young people to perform.

“Volunteering enables me to use my skills, qualifications, and experience to advance the work of the charity, and collectively make a difference to the lives of young people, supporting them to feel they belong and to develop self-worth, independence, and social and transferrable skills.

“But volunteering benefits me so much too. I have a sense of focus and purpose; I’ve made new friends and am part of a community that works hard but has fun. Seeing the members develop and grow into confident young adults makes me happy, and it is incredibly exciting and rewarding to keep up to date with the progress of our alumni. I feel immense pride for them all.”

Matt Youngs, Graduate Management Trainee at the University was also a recipient of the Inside Out Fund. He shared his experience volunteering as a Community First Responder (CFR) for the East Midlands Ambulance Service in a blog post last year. Matt said: “One of the joys of volunteering is that you can give back as little or as much as you like.”

The University offers staff one day of paid absence per year to undertake approved volunteer work, details of the Supported Volunteering Policy are available to view online. If you’re looking for a volunteering opportunity, the Sustainability Team are currently looking for volunteers to help with the management of the bees.

Three people wearing beekeeping suits, one is holding the bee hive frame with lots of bees on.

Oliver Preedy, Senior Beekeeper said:”I have really enjoyed being part of the beekeeping team at Loughborough, seeing the bees go from strength to strength and being part of such an inclusive group.”

If you would like to learn more about volunteering at the University Apiary, please email

Act of giving ideas:

  • Spend time with someone who needs company or support.
  • Say thank you to someone for something they have done to help you.
  • Volunteer in your local community, you can explore volunteering opportunities at Active Together.
  • Offer to help a friend, relative, or colleague with a work or DIY project.
  • Ask others how they are and listen to them.
  • Consider becoming a coach or mentor at Loughborough.

Bernard Meltzer, United States Radio Host said: “There is no better exercise for your heart than reaching down and helping to lift someone up.”

Five minutes with: Phil Wilson

September 7, 2023 Guest blogger

What’s your job title and how long have you worked at Loughborough?

I’m the University Photographer and I’ve been here since 1994 – before digital photography was a thing!

Tell us what a typical day in your job looks like?

A typical day is difficult to describe! My day is split between taking photos, which can be anywhere on or off campus with lots of lights and kit or just me and a camera, and sat at the computer sorting and archiving images. I enjoy meeting people and the social aspect of my job is as important as the actual photography. Luckily the University is full of interesting people. My job is to illustrate University life, either to encourage new students to apply or to provide a record of the vibrant campus. I love the fact that there is always something happening. I think a key part of my job as a photographer is being adaptable, getting on with people and being prepared to wait…sometimes a very long time!

What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on?

There have been many projects over the years which have been enjoyable – from the 2012 Olympic kitting out on campus to royal visits. I think my favourite jobs are when there’s a team working together, like the Swimming Pool banners which involved working closely with art directors and project managers to produce three metre high portraits of some of our great swimmers, including Adam Peaty. These banners are up inside the pool, hopefully inspiring all the swimmers!

What is your proudest moment at Loughborough?

I am proud to be part of a University that stands up for itself. The response to the Covid Pandemic was a fantastic example of team work, culminating in two weeks of graduation ceremonies which was really special.

Tell us something you do outside of work that we might not know about?

I play guitar and banjo and take part in online open mic events with friends in the United States.

What is your favourite quote?

I am not a big quote fan but Albert Einstein’s “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving” seems like quite a good life motto.

If you would like to feature in ‘5 Minutes With’, or you work with someone who you think would be great to include, please email Soph Dinnie at

The Best Places on Campus!

The Best Places on Campus!

September 5, 2023 Guest blogger

I’m Beth, a Sociology student taking a year out between my second and final year. If you are curious about the best places on campus, you’re in the right place! 

I have somehow managed to narrow down a few of my favourites from the Loughborough campus and it has been wholesome to reflect on the many areas of beauty on campus.

1.   Study Spaces

My favourite study spaces flicker between the StemLabs on the West side of campus, Wavy Top and Brockington, in the centre of campus. Pilkington Library is considered a go-to for many other students – personally, I find better focus in other buildings. It can get hectic during exam season too. Nevertheless, the library is celebrated, it has your course textbooks and the staff are there to help with your needs and requirements. 

Even though I am not a part of STEM, the StemLabs has been a recent finding favourite. The woods are in sight when you need a walking break between studying, as well as cafes and hangout spots all around the West side of campus.

Wavy Top is also a fantastic option for a study space because it’s in the centre of campus, next to the James France building and Edward Herbert. I like this building as there are designated “study space” rooms, great for team-supported work. 

View from the StemLabs room –

2.   Outdoor, Green Spaces 

The West side of campus has many beautiful picturesque areas such as pleasant hills and greenery, where you can watch the football (highly recommend on a warm summer’s day, or at sunset).  

Just beyond the Pilkington library is Holywell Park. There is a captivating lake and fountain with ducks! I love going there to journal, listen to music and meditate.

View of Holywell Park –

In the centre of campus, I like going to the rugby pitch as my lectures are right there. They sometimes have the sprinklers on, which is really fun on a hot day. A vast plain of lush grass with a slight slope to sit on with your friends, have a picnic and vibe (plus you can watch rugby if you like watching sport!)

Being outside in nature is so important as a student. I admit, it can get quite overwhelming to juggle your studies, friendships, relationships, health and to remain sane! I recommend wherever you live on campus to explore all around the campus. There are flowers, trees and beauty all around Loughborough.

3.   Eating & Hangouts 

The students’ union has to be my number one for eating and chilling with friends. It has some great places to eat, and if you need something quick there is a Spar shop. There are also very welcoming picnic benches. The union has a study space upstairs and also contains different society departments, such as Media and Action

There is an area called The Lounge, which is personally a really lovely area to study and relax or meet with a group. They hold events there which can be seen on the SU app.

Just outside the Student’s Union –

These favourites of mine illuminate the time here, offering some solace for focused study, a breath of fresh air amidst nature’s beauty and spirited hubs for socialising. I advise you to be open and explore all of the campus when you arrive, as there is so much to see and you will not likely have a lot of time when your lectures start. 

Why do you make it such a big deal? 

Why do you make it such a big deal? 

August 31, 2023 Sadie Gration
Image credit: Photo by Mercedes Mehling on Unsplash

I recently saw a conversation on YouTube between Russell Brand and Jordan Peterson, two very famous, wealthy, straight, white cis-gender (ie not transgender) men who were talking about “identity culture”.  They discussed whether it’s helpful or not for people to so strongly identify themselves as things like gay, bi, trans, black or disabled, concluding of course that it is not. They focussed particularly on the triviality of “who you might want to have sex with in a given moment” and the absurdity of making that the defining feature of one’s self. Ahead of Leicester Pride this coming weekend, let’s consider this question. 

In a perfect world, I agree. I am many things. An IT nerd, a singer, a musician, a passionate vegan cook, a runner, a wild swimmer, a dancer, a voracious podcast listener as well as being bisexual, non-binary and transgender. Theoretically, none of those things should define me more than any others. But whereas at school my love of cookery and music were enthusiastically supported, and my abilities in IT, running and swimming were part of the curriculum, my sexuality and my gender identity could not be named or discussed. Margaret Thatcher’s Section 28 forbade discussion of such things in schools until 2003, so I was left feeling confused and alone. Conversely, Romeo and Juliet, the story of a grown man having a fling with a young teenage girl was, and is, studied by most schoolchildren in the UK. Straight sexuality is plastered storeys high across billboards and adverts, TV and film.  But even with the progress we have seen, other forms of sexuality remain risqué and something to keep away from the innocent eyes and ears of children. 

If today I travelled to Uganda, it would not be my love of podcasts that could see me beaten, arrested, jailed, legally executed or simply thrown from a building, but my love of anyone who happened to have the same genitalia as me. Try telling the authorities there that my sexuality doesn’t define me (it is crucial to remember that many of the countries that currently have the worst LGBT rights are former colonies of Western European nations that exported their homophobia and associated laws when they stole those lands). 

Even in the UK where LGBT rights and freedoms are relatively good, with an emphasis on the “relatively”, I am less physically safe because of my sexuality and my gender identity and presentation than I should be. I am still playing with my safety to show affection to certain people, and I invite aggression, derision, and comments from people because of the way I look. In other European nations such as Poland and Hungary, populist governments are more actively demonising those who are LGBT+ because marginalised minorities have always proved useful scapegoats for the problems people are facing. Many areas of Poland have been declared “LGBT-free zones” – sending a threatening message to their queer citizens that they are unwelcome because of their sexuality and gender identity. 

Queer people are still routinely closeted at work, especially in careers working with children or vulnerable adults, because of a legacy of being regarded as sexual deviants and perverts. They are even still hounded out of such jobs if their identities become known. Something that doesn’t tend to happen because of an interest in crochet or tennis, or because of the colour of someone’s hair. Tell those whose careers and lives have been ruined that their sexuality shouldn’t define them, despite what it has cost them. 

So no, we should not have to identify so strongly with our sexuality, gender identity, or gender presentation. Just as people should not have to identify so strongly with their race, another category invented to put people into hierarchies of power, or as disabled, or chronically ill. We don’t choose to foreground these identities, but they are the aspects of us used to marginalise, exclude and denigrate our humanity, and while that remains true, those identities dominate our lives and therefore who we are. And it is those elements of who we are, that we are constantly forced to defend. 

I would love for my gender identity to be about as central to my identity as my blood type (I have a blood type, but I have no idea what it is, and may well die without having given it much thought). I would love for my choice of sexual partners to be of as much interest to the rest of the world as my choice of toothpaste, but it is not. And the moral panic around the topic in both traditional and new media shows no signs of dying down. Not while “won’t somebody think of the children and stop the drag queens” makes such an excellent distraction from the things actually threatening future generations, such as climate change, job insecurity, unaffordable housing and the worsening health outcomes that are likely to produce the first generation ever to die earlier than their parents. 

David Wilson
Application Support Manager (IT Services)

Five minutes with: Debbie Price

August 23, 2023 Guest blogger

What’s your job title and how long have you worked at Loughborough?

I’m Food and Beverage Operations and Special Events Manager and I’ve worked here 30 years.

Tell us what a typical day in your job looks like?

It is not very often I have a typical day, most days are different due to the nature of my job.
I contact the Duty Managers to check in with them, to see if they require any assistance, attend meetings, plan my working day, and prioritise one-off tasks that have a deadline.

What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on?

Freshers events, Graduation and Open days all are very special.

What is your proudest moment at Loughborough?

Receiving the University Medal during Graduation 2018.

Tell us something you do outside of work that we might not know about?

I spend my time meeting up with friends and walking my dog. I also enjoy taking part in fitness boot-camp sessions.

What is your favourite quote?

Every day is a school day.

If you would like to feature in ‘5 Minutes With’, or you work with someone who you think would be great to include, please email Soph Dinnie at

FIFA Women's World Cup 2023

August 22, 2023 Charlotte Croffie
Pro Vice-Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Professor Charlotte Croffie, reflects on the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023.

DRN2023 Drawing in Relation: The order of drawing online exhibition

August 21, 2023 Deborah Harty

Giulia Ricci, Parallel / Bend (Folding), 2019, permanent marker on wall (with protective varnish) hand drawn cut vinyl on glass, approx. 200x2000cms. © Giulia Ricci

The order of drawing is an online exhibition of international contemporary drawing, selected by guest curator Arno Kramer (Netherlands). The exhibition accompanies the Drawing Research Network‘s 2023 Drawing in Relation series of research presentations organised by the Drawing Research Group (DRG) at Loughborough University.  Submissions were invited to the call for drawings in response to the theme of ‘drawing in relation’ suggesting that drawing can be considered relational; it is a means by which relations and the conditions through which they are created, maintained, and broken can be investigated.  Submissions were invited from anyone practicing drawing in a traditional or expanded way and we received over 300 drawings from artists across the globe in response. From the submissions, Arno selected 30 drawings that represented diverse approaches and responses to the theme. 

Exhibition accessible here:

5 Ways to Wellbeing: Take notice

5 Ways to Wellbeing: Take notice

August 17, 2023 Martha Causier
Image: Courtesy of Getty Images

Improving your mental health whilst at work can feel challenging, but the Five Ways to Wellbeing offer some simple steps you can try every day. 

‘Take notice’ is about focusing on what is happening around you and how you are feeling in the here and now. Viewing time as vertical rather than horizontal helps us to see our life in the moment rather than fear or worry about the future.

It can be difficult to understand how taking notice can improve our overall health and mood, but taking time to focus on the present moment within our busy world can help us to:

  • Appreciate life and everything we have
  • Understand ourselves more
  • Feel calmer
  • Consider how we can approach challenges.

Take notice of your Senses

A great way to start is to focus on the five senses: touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste.

Sit down somewhere you feel comfortable and spend a few moments noticing:

  • Five things you can touch
  • Four things you can see
  • Three things you can hear
  • Two things you can smell
  • One thing you can taste.

This is a great way to relax your mind if you are feeling overwhelmed.

Read Rich-Fenn Griffin’s blog about how to get the best from spending time in nature and how you can use your senses outdoors.

Take notice of how Music makes you feel

There is often music playing in the background, such as the radio or a playlist, but we are not paying attention to it. Try and spend some time listening to music that makes you feel happy without doing any other activity; notice how you feel as you listen, did it feel different to focus on the music, did any memories emerge?

Take a brain break

Sometimes an overload of information or lots of things happening at once can make us feel stressed. If checking the news or social media makes you feel anxious or overwhelmed, switch off your phone for a while. Have a go at doing something relaxing or creative instead – draw, cook, read a book, stretch – whatever it is that will give your brain a rest.

Focus on the positives

It’s okay to feel upset or anxious, however when we worry a lot about the past or the future, we can easily forget all the good things that we have in the present moment.

Spend a few minutes thinking about what made you G.L.A.D. today:

G: Something you were Grateful for

L: Something you Learned

A: One small Accomplishment you did

D: Something that brought you Delight

Take a moment to think about how this exercise made you feel.

Tips to help you to take notice

  • Download the Health Assured app for playlists, breathing techniques, podcasts, and more.
  • Have a read of The Yellow Book (hard copies can be obtained on request from the Occupational Health and Wellbeing department).
  • Attend a positive thinking and meditation session led by the University Chaplaincy
  • Take a walk at lunchtime and explore the Fruit Routes or Sculpture Trail.
  • Reclaim the dinner table and try to eat one meal per day without looking at electronic devices such as mobile phones.
  • Pick up the LU Arts journal and have a go at writing down your thoughts (copies can be obtained on request from LU Arts).

John Burroughs, American naturalist and nature essayist said: “I go to nature to be soothed, healed and have my senses put in order.”

Erm…sorry, what was I saying?

August 15, 2023 Martha Causier

My name is Helen Shaw and I work in Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity (SWAI) at the University. I started being affected by early menopause when I was ‘just’ 43.  I think if I was in my 50s, I’d have been more alert to the symptoms rather than it totally blindsiding me, so I’m hoping by sharing my story with you it helps to increase awareness and support for other women.

Early, in the context of menopause, is under the age of 45. Looking back now, it couldn’t have been more obvious what was happening to me, but hindsight is a wonderful thing and instead, I explained my symptoms away.

The aches and pains in my limbs and joints, particularly my arms, legs and hips, I put down to having caught viruses and ‘just’ feeling run-down.

The waking in the night drenched in sweat I put down to ‘just’ having nightmares (even though I could never remember them).

The bouts of extreme fatigue I put down to ‘just’ having a lot to deal with in my life (my father was sadly living with terminal cancer).

My very low mood, short temper and not feeling like myself, I put down to ‘just’ being a typical reaction to the situation with my dad.

The frequent and overwhelming periods of brain fog and forgetfulness I put down to ‘just’ being sleep deprived.

The weight gain and change of body shape I put down to ‘just’ eating more comfort food.

My dry, gritty and itchy eyes I put down to ‘just’ being a side effect of some recent eye treatment.

My dull, itchy and blotchy skin I put down to ‘just’ a poor diet and being indoors with the air-conditioning or heating on.

The rapid deterioration of my eyesight and intense headaches I put down to ‘just’ having too much screen time.

My hair falling out I put down to ‘just’ being a symptom of stress.

My periods stopping, I put down to, well, not being a huge surprise with my body dealing with all of the above!

I only started to piece the jigsaw together when I happened to catch one of Davina McCall’s TV shows highlighting the myriad of women’s experiences alongside the science of menopause. I remember watching it, frowning, thinking that sounds very familiar, maybe I should see a GP?

So, I did and had a blood test which confirmed my low oestrogen levels. I knew I wanted hormone replacement therapy (HRT), but I was surprised by some people’s reactions to my decision, commenting that menopause was a natural female experience and to ‘just push through’. But I’d done my research, I knew the long-term risks for me of living with low oestrogen levels having started so young.

My view was if I was deficient in Vitamin C, I’d take a supplement. If I was deficient in Iron, I’d take a supplement. I am deficient in oestrogen, and therefore I need a supplement.

Now, I could write a separate article about my HRT experience (I had no idea it came in so many different formats, dosages, applications etc), but in a nutshell, blood tests are showing my body is not absorbing any of it. Not an ounce. Or a gram. Or whatever it comes in. I didn’t even know that was possible! Despite living with no change of symptoms for 9 months of being on HRT, I still explained them all away, as ‘just’ something else. Not only had I done it once, but I’d also done it again and so now I’m on a waiting list to see a specialist.

In the meantime, back to those symptoms…

Professionally, it is the brain fog that impacts me the most frequently and causes me the greatest embarrassment: getting long standing colleagues’ names mixed up; losing control of my words mid-sentence and having them come out in random order; forgetting what I was talking about mid-sentence so having to say ‘sorry, what was I saying?’; and losing focus during conversations. It feels like suddenly my head is struck with a large, flat spade before being sliced open and stuffed with cotton wool mixed with porridge. I know right, quite an image! If this happens, please bear with me, and be assured I really can do my job and I am not tipsy at midday, it’s a brain fog moment and I need your support to work through it.   

If this resonates with you, I can recommend Davina McCall’s two Channel 4 shows: ‘Sex, Myths and the Menopause’ and ‘Sex, Mind and the Menopause’. Davina McCall’s and Dr Naomi Potter’s book ‘Menopausing: The Positive Roadmap to Your Second Spring’ is also a great resource for an accessible, relatable and informative collection of stories and articles.

Finally, you can find the University’s menopause policy for staff on the HR webpage.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story, and for your support.

All images are courtesy of Getty Images.

Empowering Minds: My Journey as a #Me Facilitator in Nurturing Mental Well-Being

August 14, 2023 Loughborough University London

Finding a Safe Space
Imagine a place where you can openly discuss your emotions with peers who truly understand, without judgment or bias. That’s what #Me Meetings offer. When I began my master’s journey abroad, I knew I was stepping into an exciting yet daunting new world. It was like being reborn in a foreign land, ready to learn and adapt. But I soon realized that many of my friends were struggling with unexpected challenges, from housing issues to financial burdens and academic pressures, and I could try and help them overcome these challenges with a positive mindset.

A Sanctuary for Emotional Exploration: #Me Meetings

Me is a lifeline for students seeking to improve their mental health. It’s a community where like-minded individuals come together to share, learn, and grow. Through a 12-week course,participants engage in weekly meetings, guided by trained student facilitators. They explore emotions, identify triggers, and learn coping strategies to foster a positive mindset and healthy habits. It can be visualized as a middle path between chatting with your close friends who may not relate to you and professional help, which can be daunting and inaccessible sometimes.

Abhinav, who is the brand ambassador of #Me for my group, is in the center of the picture, and Stuti, my co-facilitator, is on the left side.

My Role as a Facilitator
It’s natural to feel overwhelmed at times, and that’s perfectly okay. What’s important is finding the support and tools to navigate these complex emotions. This realization led me to volunteer for #Me, driven by a desire to enhance mental well-being and empower others to face life’s ups and downs with resilience and grace. I intend to enable the participants to effectively tackle the challenges in their lives independently. As a facilitator, I became a catalyst for change, encouraging open dialogue, building trust, and reassuring everyone that negative emotions are a normal part of the human experience. My goal is to diminish the stigma around mental health and create lasting positive impacts.

The Meeting Structure
Each meeting was a unique blend of fun icebreakers, for instance: we all wrote a few peculiar pieces of information about ourselves on an anonymous sheet of paper, and then we all took turns matching the pieces of information to the person in the group who could have written it. This was an exciting way to understand everyone in the group. Post the icebreaking tasks, thoughtful discussions, and reflective exercises follow. Whether exploring emotions or practicing breathing exercises, every session was designed to enhance self-awareness and promote well-being.
The picture below is when we engaged in a simple colouring task, a soothing exercise that brought us a moment of peace and tranquillity.

FINDING #ME: An empowering journey of self-discovery and emotional growth

My seven weeks out of the twelve weeks adventure as a facilitator for #Me Meetings was both exhilarating and humbling. From the nervous anticipation of the first session to the eager excitement of each subsequent meeting, I found myself not only guiding others but also learning and growing alongside them.

The Power of Listening: There’s a profound wisdom in simply listening to others. Witnessing the transformation within the group, from hesitant voices to confident expressions, was a source of inspiration. The shared experiences, laughter, breakthroughs, and even the challenges became cherished moments in my week. Facilitating these sessions was more than a responsibility; it was a mirror reflecting my growth and a reminder to nurture my well-being.

The Enigma of Faith: I realized that hope is a powerful force, mysterious yet foolproof. Many people face challenges, and some have beautifully turned those challenges into personal growth. As someone who values a balanced mindset, I want to help others find calm and strength. Over time, I learned the power of listening, and this experience has honed my ability to truly hear others.

Lessons in Sleep and Calm: One session focused on proper sleeping habits, a universal struggle for many of us. We explored techniques like visualizing happy memories or future dreams to induce calm. I applied this method, and it worked wonders. These sessions have shaped me into a more composed person, and the feedback from the group affirmed a positive shift in everyone’s personality.

The Safe Space of #Me: The power of having a safe space to talk about feelings cannot be overstated. It’s a place where gentle guidance allows exploration and discovery of personal solutions. This is the essence of #Me Meetings.

Empathy, Compassion, and Self-Discovery: Facilitating #Me Meetings was a lesson in empathy, compassion, and self-awareness. We delved into understanding anxiety, focusing on what we can control versus what we can’t. This simple exercise helped alleviate anxiety for many of us, channelling our energy in the right direction. The mantra “Do your best and then leave the rest” became a guiding principle.

The Reward of Empowerment: There is no greater joy than being a catalyst for someone’s happiness, peace, and empowerment. Helping others become self-sufficient, resilient, and mentally strong has been an incredibly fulfilling experience.

Lasting Friendships and Impact: The friendships forged, and the joy of seeing my fellow group members thrive will stay with me long after the course has ended. The #Me Meetings were more than a series of sessions; they were a transformative journey that celebrated human connection and personal growth.

You Are Capable of Anything: The Power of #Me
Embarking on the 12-week journey with #Me is like setting sail on a voyage of self-discovery. It equips participants to navigate life’s turbulent seas with confidence and wisdom. Just as a ship only sinks when it lets water in, our thoughts and attitudes shape our reactions and resilience. The power to “fix” our lives, to mend what’s broken, lies within us, waiting to be unleashed.
Consider a scene from the movie “Ironman,” where the ultra-confident protagonist faces an unexpected anxiety attack. A child reminds him that as a mechanic, he has the tools to fix anything, even his own fears. Instead of succumbing to panic, he finds peace in action, a powerful metaphor for our own ability to overcome challenges.
Initiatives like #Me serve as a compass, guiding us to recognize our inner strength and potential. They teach us that no matter how daunting a situation may seem, we are capable of fixing it. All we need to do is believe in ourselves and take purposeful action. Through #Me, we learn to harness our inner “mechanic,” turning obstacles into opportunities and transforming our lives in the process.

A Fulfilling Experience
My journey with #Me can be encapsulated in two powerful words: “fulfilling” and “empowering.” It’s fulfilling because I’ve had the privilege of untangling the knots of tension in people’s lives, guiding them towards clarity and peace. It’s empowering because, in helping others find their strength, I’ve discovered new depths of resilience within myself.
In the end, #Me is more than a program; it’s a testament to the human spirit’s ability to heal, grow, and thrive. It’s a reminder that we are all capable of extraordinary things, and sometimes, all we need is a safe space and a guiding hand to unlock our potential.

Five minutes with: Farhaan Malik

August 10, 2023 Guest blogger

What is your job title and how long have you worked at Loughborough?

I’m a Placements Intern in the Loughborough Business School and I’ve worked here since November 2022. I’ll finish my internship in September and will return to finish my BSc in Management.

Tell us what a typical day in your job at Loughborough looks like?

A typical day involves me carrying out tasks including advising students on their placement applications, checking CVs and Cover Letters, updating our portal resources, and creating marketing content for our students.

I always like to split my day into tasks to help me stay organised and let’s not forget the coffee breaks – they are essential to keep me going.

Other aspects of my role include helping out at visit and open days, planning and attending events, and speaking to company representatives. I am also part of the BAME Staff Network and have an integral role in contributing to the marketing and communications of the network.

What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on?

Creating a set of informative videos for our students to educate them on health and safety and prepare them for their placement. This involved a lot of acting and video edits which I enjoyed quite a lot as I got to involve my team and other colleagues. It allowed me to showcase my creativity and talent.

What is your proudest moment at Loughborough?

Winning the Social Responsibility Champion award and being part of the Team of the Year 2023 award at the Loughborough Business School Staff Celebration Day.

Tell us something you do outside of work that we might not know about?

Outside of work, I teach Arabic at a local mosque in Leicester, as I have studied the language for six years. The class ranges from 5-year-olds to 13-year-olds, and this can be fun and challenging at the same time. Overall it is a very rewarding experience.

I have a passion for planning events and I have my own business which involves party planning for birthdays, baby showers and more.

I also carry out a lot of charity and community work. I try to help people wherever I can, whether that be preparing food parcels for households, delivering hot food to those in need, speaking at community events, or advising individuals in need of support.

What is your favourite quote?

“The true measure of your courage is not whether you reach your goal – it’s whether you decide to get back on your feet no matter how many times you’ve failed!” – Oprah Winfrey.

If you would like to feature in ‘5 Minutes With’, or you work with someone who you think would be great to include, please email Soph Dinnie at

Sporting imagery in World War One recruitment posters

Sporting imagery in World War One recruitment posters

August 8, 2023 Peter Yeandle

By Medina Macpherson

Image permissions kindly granted by Iain McMullen, ‘Football and the First World War’ project.

Upon taking the module ‘Empire, War and Popular Culture in Britain’ in my final year at Loughborough University, I became interested in the idea of conducting a research project using methods drawn from a ‘history from below’ approach. This historical approach shifts the focus of historical analysis from traditional narratives centered on powerful individuals, elites, and major institutions to the perspectives and experiences of ordinary people. This was a key concept in this module as we paid significant attention to the Porter Vs Mackenzie debate regarding popular imperialism – in particular, thinking about how ‘big’ ideologies (like imperialism) might affect ordinary people in their everyday activities. Whilst Porter argued that British imperialism did not have a huge effect on ordinary civilians in the United Kingdom, MacKenzie argued that Empire mattered to British metropolitan life. By adopting a history from below approach, MacKenzie demonstrated examples of how jingoism was able to become embedded in various different sites of popular culture.


This debate was a key element in my coursework task which sought to explore the effect that the British Empire had on Victorian and Edwardian popular culture. I decided to use the history from below approach in order to evaluate how and why the general public were inspired through popular culture to support World War One. Using World War One recruitment posters as my main source base, I analysed how sporting imagery was used to encourage enlistment. This tied in with the overall theme of empire and popular imperialism as I argued that sporting imagery was key to promoting Britain as a morally fit nation – a concept that coincided with imperial ideology – and could draw from sport as an everyday experience that people would have been engaged in.

I decided to focus on sporting imagery in recruitment posters for numerous reasons. Firstly, it is a commonplace factor in time of war that governments and societies turned to art and propaganda to rally support, spread messages, and encourage unity among their citizens. This was especially the case at the outbreak of World War One, which makes it a plausible case study for evaluating the effect of Victorian and Edwardian popular culture. Because sporting imagery was central to an imperialised popular culture prior to the outbreak of war, I thought more could be said regarding sporting imagery in recruitment posters because a lot of the research I read had focused on imagery of family, workplace, or the enemy. Imperialism had held up an image of ‘fitness’ to children before 1914 in education, child health, and the Scouts, as well as sport. Some of those children would have been old enough to sign up in 1914: so how were ideologies learnt through physical exercise also present in WW1 recruitment posters?

Sports such as rugby and cricket became defining factors of British teamwork, stoicism and might after being introduced into public schools in the late nineteenth century. In addition, imperialist sentiments were bolstered by the idea of “muscular Christianity” and the belief that sports, particularly team sports, helped build character, discipline, and camaraderie. Sports were thus intended to be representative of national pride and prowess, creating a sense of unity among the British population. Lastly, the timing of World War One and the emergence of sporting imagery is of importance. At the start of the twentieth century, Britain’s international power was challenged by newly industrialising nations with growing militaries such as Germany. My research into the sports-oriented recruitment posters certainly showed how sporting imagery helped to build upon ideologies of fitness and camaraderie, highlighting how fit men equated to a fit nation. Indeed the language of sport and war often became synonymous. As Robert Macdonald (1994) states: ‘the metaphor of war as sport – and its corollary, sport as war – was a commonplace in late nineteenth-century upper middle-class British culture’ (p. 20).

Throughout my essay, I looked at how different recruitment posters made links between the war and different sports, reaching the conclusion that sporting imagery had the ability to appeal to men which resulted in increasing the likelihood of their enlistment. This was due to the previous implementation of sporting rhetoric in daily life prior to the war. When the outbreak of war occurred, war was viewed by some as a game rather than a daunting experience, encouraging those that were already familiar with sports to enlist. Ideas of teamwork, fitness, graft, and working collectively for a cause were central messages communicated by the posters. Ultimately, through posters, the appeal of sports helped to blur many anxieties about war by depicting the war effort as a ‘greater game’.

I used recruitment posters from both the websites: Imperial War Museum and Football and the First World War as my primary source base. Terms like ‘play the game’, ‘join the football battalion’ and ‘fit man’ were commonplace in posters. This not only underlines the link between sports and war, but it also reveals turn-of-the-century ideals about imperial patriotism. Alongside this, I used secondary sources that focused on the languages of the empire, muscular Christianity, and the link between sports and the military to explain how sporting imagery linked directly to imperial sentiments by revealing that it was a common motif used in popular culture before the war. 

Overall, my essay aimed to explore the effect that the British Empire had on Victorian and Edwardian popular culture by evaluating the link between sporting and World War One recruitment posters. As a result, I could make links between sport and empire, answering the wider question of how popular culture was used to promote imperialism and a pro-empire rhetoric.

About me:

I have just graduated from Loughborough University, completing my undergraduate degree in BA History (2020-3). My love for history was developed further during my undergraduate degree, especially as I broadened my historical knowledge through the varied and unique modules that the department had to offer. I have particularly enjoyed learning about modern history, especially American and Russian history. This led me to focus my dissertation on Stalin’s infamous cult of personality, which combined elements of Cold War history, Media history and Russian history together.

These are the websites I used for posters:

These are some of the secondary sources I found useful:

  • Beaven, Brad. Visions of empire: patriotism, popular culture and the city, 1870–1939. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2012. 
  • Donaldson, Peter. Sport, war and the British: 1850 to the present. Oxford: Routledge, 2020.
  • Macdonald, Robert H. The language of empire: Myths and Metaphors of Popular Imperialism, 1880–1918. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1994.
  • Riedi, Eliza and Mason, Tony. Sport and the Military: The British Armed Forces 1880-1960. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
  • Veitch, Colin. “Play up! Play up! and Win the War!’ Football, the Nation and the First World War 1914-15″. Journal of Contemporary History Vol. 20, No. 3 (July 1985): 363-78. Accessed December 12, 2022.
  • Watson, Nick J. “Muscular Christianity in the modern age ‘Winning for Christ’ or ‘playing for glory’?”, in Sport and Spirituality, edited by Jim Parry, Mark Nesti, Nick Watson, and Simon J. Robinson, 80-94. Oxford: Taylor & Francis, 2007.

From the Vice-Chancellor – July 2023

August 3, 2023 Nick Jennings

In my last newsletter of this academic year: CRSP celebrates its 40th anniversary, three new senior staff are appointed, summer degree congregations, research on show at two prestigious science festivals, a summer of sporting success and reflections on the past year. Have a good summer – I hope you’re able to have a break. 

40th anniversary of the Centre for Research in Social Policy

This month, the University’s renowned Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP) celebrated its 40th anniversary with an event at RSA (Royal Society of Arts) House in London, attended by funders, research partners and policy makers, as well as University staff and students. 

Since its establishment in 1983 by Professor Sir Adrian Webb, CRSP has improved people’s lives through social policy change. Its work covers a range of areas, from the cost of raising a child through to poverty at the end of life, and includes the Minimum Income Standard (MIS) – perhaps its flagship research initiative. 

CRSP researchers published the first MIS report in 2008, setting out a basket of goods and services – agreed by members of the public – that people should be able afford in order to live in dignity in the UK.  

MIS is now used to calculate the Living Wage, which is paid by more than 13,000 UK employers, including Loughborough University. Its application to life in rural Scotland has a direct impact on how the Scottish government monitors fuel poverty and MIS has also been adopted by countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia and other parts of Europe. 

In September, the team at CRSP will be one of seven organisations worldwide that will work together to establish a living wage number for every country. The initiative will be launched at the UN General Assembly in New York. 

All CRSP’s research, and especially the MIS project, is built on long-term collaboration with partner organisations and demonstrates how our cutting-edge research can have a direct impact on the quality of people’s lives. It’s a great example of the interconnections between a number of the University’s strategic aims and values and the Vibrant and Inclusive Communities theme. 

Staff appointments 

Three new senior members of staff will join us at the University this September. 

Jo Mayer has been appointed as the University’s first Pro Vice-Chancellor for Sport. A University alumna, and currently Principal and CEO of Loughborough College, Jo is a member of the FA Council and its National Game Board, Chair of the English Colleges Football Association and has more than ten years’ experience as a sports psychologist. In her role at the College, Jo has built on its sporting success supporting 15 national sports governing body partnerships with over 2,000 elite athletes per year.  
Alongside her role as Pro Vice-Chancellor for Sport, Jo will take up the post of Professor of Practice in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences.  

Jennifer Johnson will join us as Director of Research and Innovation. Jennifer, who is currently Director of Research and Innovation at Northumbria University, has worked in higher education for over two decades. She is Chair of the Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA UK), and prior to her role at Northumbria she held a number of positions at the University of Leeds, including Head of Performance, Governance and Operations and Head of Research Operations and Reporting.  

Dr Sally Wilson has been appointed as Commercial Director, with responsibility for the continued development of the University’s commercial strategy and our key partnerships that are strategically aligned with our values, business goals and culture. Currently Commercial Advisor at Harper Adams University, Sally began her career as a Marie Curie Post Doctoral Researcher in the Michael Smurfitt Business School, University College Dublin, before moving to deliver business and commercial leadership in the private sector. She then went on to lead and deliver transformation and growth at Surrey University, University College London (UCL) and Surrey Police.   

I look forward to welcoming Jo, Jennifer and Sally in the autumn. 

Summer degree ceremonies

More than 2,000 Loughborough graduands, their families and friends gathered at the University this month for the summer degree congregations. It’s always a delight to see everyone enjoying such a special occasion that marks the culmination of several years’ hard work. 

Throughout the week we also marked the work and contributions of several notable people by presenting them with Honorary Degrees and University Medals. 

Honorary Degrees were awarded to Ebony-Jewel Rainford-Brent MBE, the former England International Cricketer and 2009 Cricket World Cup Winner; Deborah Cadman OBE, the Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council; Warren East CBE, the former Chief Operating Officer of Rolls Royce Ltd; and Professor Bob Allison CBE DL, the University’s former Vice-Chancellor and President. 

University Medals, which recognise services to the University, were presented to three members of staff – Professor Neil Budworth, the Director of Health, Safety and Wellbeing; Julie Turner, the Strategic Scientific Technical Lead; and Professor Donald Hirsch, former Director of the Centre for Research in Social Policy. 

We also presented University Medals to four Loughborough students – Ladi Ogunmekan, Samuel Ola, Faith Oluwaremi and Emmanuel Shittu – who established the Black in Sport Summit. By providing a forum to share positive stories, celebrate achievements and 

raise awareness of the issues and challenges faced by those in the industry the students are really helping to change the narrative around Black people in sport.  My congratulations go to all those who were presented with degrees, honorary degrees and University medals. Thank you too to the many staff who worked so hard to make our degree ceremonies such wonderful occasions for all those who attend. 

Science exhibitions

For the second successive year, Loughborough was selected to display its research at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in London, which took place earlier this month 

The Revolutionising Rehabilitation exhibit, one of just nine displays, showcased the work of scientists and clinicians from Loughborough University, the University of Nottingham and the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, who are working together at the National Rehabilitation Centre (NRC), a major new NHS rehabilitation facility being built on the Stanford Hall Rehabilitation Estate near Loughborough. 

The exhibit featured the science that underpins the NRC’s vision for personalised rehabilitation, including how muscle can be bioengineered in the lab to rebuild damaged tissue and the way prostheses and implants can tailored to individuals. 

Last month, our researchers also took part in the Cheltenham Science Festival. Dr Roger Newport from the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences revealed how the mind’s perceptions of our bodies can feel very different to how they appear on the outside, and Loughborough’s SlowCat team – led by Professor Sandie Dann from Chemistry and involving academics and Doctoral Researchers from Chemistry, Automotive Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Materials – showed visitors how they are transforming biomass into fuel and many everyday items with the help of special new catalysts.  

Dr Newport also joined a panel of fellow scientists to host ‘Pain: All in the Brain’, which explored what happens to the brain and body when we experience pain, and Professor Andrew Chadwick from the School of Social Sciences and Humanities was part of a panel of experts exploring AI-generated videos of fake events, otherwise known as deepfakes. 

Through events such as these we are able to showcase our research and innovation to a broad audience of thousands, as part of our public engagement commitment in the University strategy.  

Sporting achievements 

The summer has seen some amazing sports achievements for Loughborough, with victories in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Championship, at Wimbledon and at the UK Athletics championships. 

Earlier this month, six Loughborough students won 11 medals at the UK Athletics Championships in Manchester – six gold, one silver and four bronze. Almost 60 current Loughborough students and 90 alumni or Loughborough-based athletes competed at the event. 

On 13th July, Loughborough was presented with the BUCS Championship title for the 42nd consecutive year, with a final total of 9,311.5 points – a sector-leading score that eclipses last year’s result of 7999.1 points, another record held by the University.  

Then, on the closing day of Wimbledon, Henry Searle, who is part of the Loughborough University National Tennis Academy, produced a stunning performance to end Britain’s 61-year wait for a boys singles champion. Henry, who didn’t drop a set during the whole tournament, is the first British boy to win the trophy since Stanley Matthews – son and namesake of the former England football great – in 1962. 

Although we are accustomed to Loughborough’s sporting success, to continue to perform at such a high level, year-on-year, is exceptional. My congratulations go to all those involved – the coaches, all the support staff and, of course, the athletes themselves, who are the living embodiment embody our strategic aim of Sporting Excellence and Opportunity

Summary of the year 

For some at the University, the summer is an opportunity to take a moment to reflect on everything we have achieved over the past 12 months, before we turn our focus in earnest to the new academic year. 

At the annual Senate and Council dinner this month, I shared with the guests my reflections on 2022-23. It’s certainly been a busy year and we have achieved so much.  

From a personal perspective, it had many highlights, not least my first overseas trips as Vice-Chancellor of the University to India, the US and latterly the Middle East. That visit enabled my colleagues and I to explore opportunities around sport in Saudi Arabia and Qatar and potential links with Princess Nourah University, the largest women’s university in the world. It is several years since I last visited these countries, and it was interesting to see the positive changes that are occurring there and to meet some of the people who are proactively driving forward better opportunities for those within their country.  The preparations for the next academic year are already well underway and I’m looking forward to seeing what 2023-24 brings. However, in the meantime, I hope you all have a lovely summer. 

Playing along the line: evaluating a novel number board game

Playing along the line: evaluating a novel number board game

July 28, 2023 Beth Woollacott

Written by Dr Francesco Sella and edited by Dr Ella James-Brabham and Professor Tim Jay. Francesco is a senior lecturer at Loughborough University; for more information about Francesco and his work, there is a link at the end of this blogpost. Typeset by Dr Bethany Woollacott.

Early numeracy and the number line – the background

Early numeracy skills are fundamental for children to build a strong foundation for more advanced mathematical concepts1. These skills have been associated with multiple life outcomes, such as health, income, and quality of life2,3. Therefore, it is crucial to design effective interventions to support the development of early numerical skills.

The number line is an effective tool to represent numerical information visually, and its use has been widely implemented in educational settings to introduce arithmetic and other numerical concepts4. Several researchers have implemented number line interventions to improve mathematical skills, and linear board games are particularly effective in improving numerical skills5. In a number line intervention, children usually move the counters forward (from left to right) across the board6. However, recent research suggests that children may benefit from forward and backwards7,8

The game – our approach

Together with expert early years practitioners, we created a game called ‘Feed the Monster’ where the aim of the game was for children to place cards in ascending and descending order to build a number line (Figure 1). Children were given a game-playing mat in the design of a tablecloth and a set of number cards with different images on each side. One side showed a closed cloche (i.e., a domed metal plate cover) with a number on the top and the other side showed an open cloche with a number and a plate of either “monster food” or a “monster drink.”  Children placed the number cards along the game-playing mat in ascending or descending order towards a monster placed at one end of the mat. Once the order was correct, children could flip the cards to feed the monster by revealing the monster’s food or drink. The game targeted counting, number recognition and reading, symbolic number ordering, and spatial disposition of numbers on the number line while encouraging social interaction.

The game targeted counting, number recognition and reading, symbolic number ordering, and spatial disposition of numbers on the number line while encouraging social interaction.

The picture below shows examples of the game for both conditions: forward and bidirectional.

The blue arrows in the diagram demonstrate how children in the Forward condition placed cards in ascending order from left to right twice. The orange arrows demonstrate how children in the Bidirectional condition (shown in orange) placed cards in ascending order from left to right and, then, in descending order from right to left. In both conditions, after being ordered, the cards were flipped to reveal the food and drinks that the monster got.

The intervention study – how we tested the game

A final sample of 249 children from primary schools in Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire (UK) participated in the study. We randomly assigned children to play either the number game in the forward or bidirectional condition, or an alphabet game (i.e., Alphabet Lotto – Orchard Toys). Children completed two game sessions twice per week for four weeks with a one-week break in the middle. Children played their allocated game in two sets of pairs in a quiet corner of the classroom for approximately ten minutes each session.

Children in the number game forward condition played two games with the number 1 (sessions 1-3) or 6 (sessions 4-8) placed on the left-hand side of their tablecloth and the monster card at the end of the right-hand side. Children in the number game bidirectional condition played one game as in the forward condition, whereas, in the second game, the number 10 (sessions 1-4) or 15 (sessions 4-8) was placed on the far right-hand side of the tablecloth and the monster was placed at the far left-hand side of the tablecloth.

Children were instructed to place the number cards in order starting from the number card already on the tablecloth (i.e., 1, 6, 10, or 15) to get the food and drinks for the monster. Throughout the game, the experimenter encouraged children to look for the number to be placed by saying, “What number comes after n?” or “What number comes before n?”. Once the numbers had been placed, the experimenter checked that the number cards were in the correct order.

Results – our findings

Attendance was high, and dropout was low, with children showing high engagement and enjoyment irrespective of the played game. Children significantly improved their numerical and letter-sound knowledge skills between the week before they started the intervention (pre-test) and the week after the intervention (post-test). Although, the study did not find any added benefits of playing the number or alphabet games beyond the learning already happening in the classroom.

Despite the lack of statistically significant results, we did observe that the number game improved ad-hoc numerical tasks and that the alphabet game enhanced letter-sound knowledge, in line with our expectations. It is possible that the intervention was not intensive enough to lead to significant improvements in children’s number skills, even though previous successful studies have implemented a similar level of intensity. Future studies could increase the length of the intervention, the frequency of the game sessions, and the sample size. Additionally, it may be worthwhile to explore using number cards as concrete teaching manipulatives during school hours.

Children enjoyed playing the game – our conclusions

Although the newly designed number game did not produce the desired intervention effect, it was highly engaging and playable in a classroom setting, even when played in small groups with minimal supervision. Children enjoyed the game, and attendance remained high throughout the game sessions. The game’s mechanics, narrative, and graphics were successful and could be used as a starting point to improve the game’s effectiveness in the future. We look forward to exploring how teachers use the game to support classroom teaching.

Children enjoyed the game, and attendance remained high throughout the game sessions.

We want to thank the schools, teachers, and children for participating in this research. We are grateful to the educational practitioners with whom we co-designed the game, and those who helped with the piloting phase. We thank the Nuffield Foundation for funding this project (FR-000022615) but the views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Foundation. We also thank the Centre for Mathematical Cognition for their support.


  1.  Watts, T. W., Duncan, G. J., Siegler, R. S., & Davis-Kean, P. E. (2014). What’s past is prologue: Relations between early mathematics knowledge and high school achievement. Educational Researcher, 43(7), 352-360.
  2.  National Numeracy. (2015). Numeracy for Health.
  3. Ritchie, S. J., & Bates, T. C. (2013). Enduring links from childhood mathematics and reading achievement to adult socioeconomic status. Psychological science, 24(7), 1301-1308.
  4. Sella, F., Berteletti, I., Lucangeli, D., & Zorzi, M. (2017). Preschool children use space, rather than counting, to infer the numerical magnitude of digits: Evidence for a spatial mapping principle. Cognition, 158, 56–67.
  5. Lunardon, M., Lucangeli, D., Zorzi, M., & Sella, F. (2023). Math computerized games in the classroom: a Number Line Training in Primary School Children. Progress in Brain Research.
  6. Ramani, G. B., Siegler, R. S., & Hitti, A. (2012). Taking It to the Classroom: Number Board Games as a Small Group Learning Activity. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104.
  7. Sella, F., Lucangeli, D., Cohen Kadosh, R., & Zorzi, M. (2019). Making sense of number words and Arabic digits: Does order count more? Child Development, 91, 1456–1470.
  8. Sella, F., & Lucangeli, D. (2020). The knowledge of the preceding number reveals a mature understanding of the number sequence. Cognition, 194.  

TOWARDS A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK OF DRAWING - Review of Seymour Simmons III, The Value of Drawing Instruction in the Visual Arts and Across Curricula – Historical and Philosophical Arguments for Drawing in the Digital Age, New York, NY: Routledge, 2021

July 28, 2023 Deborah Harty

Raquel Pelayo

I wish I had written this book! I wish I had had the time and patience to gather so much relevant data to propose and substantiate essential arguments for teaching Drawing as a fundamental subject at any age and in any area of education, because it serves the full development of the human mind! Seymour Simmons III, Professor of Fine Arts Emeritus at Winthrop University (US), based this long and exhaustive work on a panoramic understanding of Drawing, gradually built up over his career as an artist, art educator, and a researcher on arts education, specializing in Drawing.
I met Simmons a decade ago, in 2012, at the Wimbledon College of Art, University of London, on the occasion of the Thinking Through Drawing 2 – Drawing in STEAM conference. It was a happy and memorable meeting due to our shared view of the breadth of Drawing and the fact that, along with our backgrounds in Visual Arts, we both have graduate degrees in Education: Philosophy of Education for Simmons, and Education Sciences for me. These perspectives allowed us to ask different kinds of questions about teaching Drawing, so this new book urged me to write a few words about it.
Another thing that brought us closer together was my professional experience in teaching and research. Although a painter by training, I have always taught Drawing, and, for the last 20 years, I have taught the fundamentals of observational drawing to future architects at the School of Architecture of the University of Porto. While its counterparts around the world dispensed with drawing as a foundational skill long ago, our School requires two years of drawing taught by Fine Arts graduates. The first year course, Desenho 1 (Drawing 1) involves two, four-hour classes per week of freehand observational drawing using traditional media and subject matter, including the figure. The second year, Desenho 2 (Drawing 2) applies freehand drawing to architectural practices with less than half the class time of Drawing 1. There is no use of digital technology those first two years, but even after students begin designing in digital media, hand-drawing is required in architecture classes through to graduation. In these ways, our program maintains high standards in drawing and that expertise has been recognized in our graduates and alumni – including Pritzker Prize winning architects Siza Vieira and Souto de Moura. Also, the centrality of observational drawing in the curriculum helps explain why this public Architecture program is placed among the top 100 world-wide and the 50 best in Europe, however peripheric our country may be.
Simmons also emphasizes the importance of hand-drawing in fields like Architecture today, but my first objective in discussing his book is to highlight its visionary character, that is, the importance that I foresee for future generations when narrow views of Drawing are broadened and misunderstandings about it are overcome. The most pernicious of those prejudices, as Simmons points out in the opening text, is to conceive Drawing as a talent that only a few are born with. An idea whose stubborn longevity only can be explained by its connection to the popular concept of artistic genius, that dates back to the Renaissance and insists on populating the imagination even today. Instead, the thesis of Simmons’ book is that Visual Thinking (considering the senses as a whole) is a structuring function of every human mind, and that Drawing, as a central visual thinking tool regardless of the type of knowledge or intelligence, is applicable across all curricula.
This view is supported by recent data from Cognitive Science research, pointing to the important role of mental imagery in human thought, defying the common idea that we think mostly in words (Kosslyn, Thompson & Ganis, 2009).
Despite such research, most present-day curricula are grounded on the assumption that Visual Art is a peripheral area of knowledge and that Drawing occupies an even smaller space within it. The result is that, apart from artists and designers, drawing skills are not cultivated by other areas, although they use them and, for lack of training in this area, students cannot reach their full potential. This vision of Drawing, as a specialization domain and, what is worse, the exclusion or reduction of Drawing from the curricula in common and compulsory core pre-university education – recently extended to Brazil and England – represents a great loss to what educational systems should ensure: that new generations, regardless of the area they work in, become fully qualified to face any challenge, however difficult they may be, to future societies and humanity in general.
Fortunately, in my institution, the University of Porto, we witness the opposite. This year, two drawing majors were created across departments for students enrolled in any of the fifteen faculties. They aim to encourage students to “think outside the box.” Also, an inquiry is going on to find out how drawing is used inside the university in all its schools and in all areas of knowledge from law to medicine, engineering to humanities, to name only a few. DRAWinU, as this research project is called, is housed at the Fine Arts Faculty research unit (i2ADS), where I am affiliated. Simmons’ book is going to be a resource for that initiative, where it also reminds us of how Drawing was understood in the past.
Drawing education has historically lost the momentum it once had, for example, during the age of industrialization not so long ago. Simmons recalls that Drawing was a critical educational foundation then, as it was in antiquity, but this has faded as postmodernity and the digital age emerged, bringing with them remarkable new pictorial technologies, although their advantages can be misleading. The intellectual skills provided by learning how to draw to the human mind begin and evolve with the direct use of the brain-body, grabbing the most basic scratching utensil. Such skills are not replaceable by mechanically mediated pre-programmed computing, and the focus only on the production of quick and largely “virtual” results leaves the culture of consistent human competencies in the lurch. This lack of vision will ultimately cost future societies dearly.
Many reasons have been advanced for what happened, including the immediatist logic of political neoliberalism (Akaui, 2022), but whatever the cause, Drawing has been impacted, sometimes in paradoxical ways. For example, as never before has Drawing become ubiquitous, and, also, as never before has the significance of Drawing in education blurred. In Taylor’s (2008) words, “the constitutive problem [is] that if Drawing is everything, then it is also nothing – or at least nothing special.”
At the same time, Drawing is emerging as an autonomous domain of research and teaching, but many of the same difficulties are involved in such an endeavor. In this regard, Garner (2008) pointed out that “Drawing today is characterized by diversity,” that its research and practice have become symbiotic, that its boundaries have eroded, and that its corpus of knowledge needs documenting to establish itself. Meanwhile, Taylor (2008) points to the “informality” and “pluralities of Drawing” disciplinary research as barriers to be overcome.
This is the heterogeneous and problematic context of Simmons’ admirable work. Facing such intricate issues, the book is structured to join together three different interwoven fields: History, Philosophy, and Psychology. A comprehensive History of Drawing works as a backdrop and is always present throughout the chapters. It maintains a permanent reference to Drawing’s legacy, from earliest memory to the present. In its turn, Philosophy’s use is to inform and reorganize Drawing’s legacy in ways that make sense today, while ensuring that the relationship of Drawing to the wider history of knowledge is intelligible for all. That is crucial if the discourses of a Drawing Theory are to be shared with other areas of inquiry. This approach results in an unprecedented contribution both to Educational Sciences and to Drawing Theory, and may be one of the most robust contributions in recent times to the establishment of Drawing Instruction as a theoretical field in its own right. This is, therefore, a mandatory book for educators, artists, and researchers alike.
In assembling arguments, including examples, evidence, and explanations, in support of learning to draw in the digital age, Simmons methodically creates a rigorous taxonomy of five paradigms of Drawing Instruction, – as design, as seeing, as experiencing, as expression, and as visual language. Simmons uses the Theory of Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardner (1983), with whom he worked directly in his Harvard days, as the psychological framework for the difficult task. He also takes up his earlier ideas (Simmons, 1994) identifying philosophical principles underlying the various modes of graphic representation as well as the ways different eras viewed, used, and taught Drawing. The five instructional paradigms are addressed in the middle chapters of the book where they gather – according to these philosophical and psychological bases – the various preexisting concepts of Drawing, which have remained scattered, disjointed, some nebulous, others mixed, and still others at odds with each other. Here, too, the privileged relationships that each paradigm establishes with certain areas of knowledge outside Visual Art are also indicated.
In “Drawing as Design” Drawing is a mental tool for understanding, or creating, something based on logical thinking as defined by Rationalism (Platonic, Neoplatonic, Aristotelian, or Cartesian), where reason is considered the foundation of certainty in knowledge. Deductive reasoning is most often used in this model of Drawing, which requires and/or develops Logical-Mathematical Intelligence. Its use can be found in different areas of knowledge: in Art, Design, and Architecture, but also in Mathematics, Science, Technology, and Engineering.
“Drawing as Seeing” is when Drawing as visual thinking is a means to apprehend the appearance of things. Here, Drawing is the very tool of Empiricism since this philosophical stance is founded on the belief that knowledge is revealed from direct perception. Used in this way, Drawing requires and/or develops Spatial Intelligence and deals primarily with inductive reasoning. Examples can easily be found in Art and Medicine, as well as in Natural Sciences, where knowledge about the natural world is based on observation.
Simmons uses the title “Drawing as Experience and Experiment” when Drawing is means of reflective thinking, a way to facilitate imagination, inspiration, and creativity. Philosophically, he associates this paradigm with Pragmatism in which knowledge is based on doing something and undergoing the consequences, an action-oriented approach that brings together intellect and body. The intelligence at work here is Gardner’s Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence, as it seeks a mind-body connection. Abductive reasoning is the main form of logical inference with examples from Art as well as Experimental Science, including even Theoretical Physics.
For “Drawing as Expression,” Simmons refers to Drawing as means of emotional cognition, meaning capturing the emotions expressed by someone or something. The philosophical focus switches from Epistemology to Ethics, and the paradigm that frames this modality is Existentialism, which takes human beings not as a collective essence, but as unique individuals. Gardner’s Intelligences at work here are Intrapersonal and Interpersonal, which correspond to knowledge of oneself and others. With examples from Art, Art Therapy, and Psychology, this area is the most unexplored in contemporary educational systems.
Finally, “Drawing as visual language” is when Drawing is a means of encoding thought by creating symbolic systems of meaning. Here, Semiotics, the study of signs, symbols, and signification, is pointed to as the conceptual paradigm for the ever-open modalities of using Drawing. Gardner’s Intelligences at work here are Linguistic and Musical, with Drawing as the origin of written language and musical notation.
Simmons substantiates and characterizes each of these approaches to Drawing Instruction with relevant theoretical references as well as examples of drawings by children, adolescents, and adults. In the process, one can sense the vastness of the landscape as pedagogical experiences are explored; as the larger place that Drawing could, or should, have in education is proposed; as international data and arguments are provided for serious and informed reflection by educational decision-makers; as several ways are pointed out to meet the challenges of the digital age, while taking advantage of its predominantly visual potential to facilitate the teaching of Drawing.
This is one important achievement of Simmons’ book: that it gathers, organizes, clarifies, and makes sense of the varied legacy of knowledge about Drawing Instruction available today. Another is taking the reader on a historical journey through how the mental power of Drawing has been explored within different philosophical conceptions of knowledge and how Drawing Instruction addressed the social, political, economic, and cultural challenges in each era, while expanding functions and roles in the practice and teaching of Drawing itself.
By exploring in these ways the ideas and concepts underlying different approaches to the teaching of Drawing, this book contributes to overcoming the aforementioned difficulties that we face today. By crossing boundaries and finding bridges, the author helps to mitigate what Petherbridge (2008) called the “slippery and irresolute [nature of Drawing] in its fluid state”. He also combats another problem pointed out by Garner (2008) – the “tendency towards isolation, introspection and repetition” in current Drawing research that also results from the lack of a comprehensive work like this one. Simmons’ challenging but stimulating discourse makes clear and apprehensible what is complex or ambiguous, a virtue of only a few.
At the same time, Simmons generously makes available a collection of references to authors from the Renaissance, like Leon Battista Alberti (1450/2013) – or that great figure, still so little known, Francisco de Holanda (1548/1984) – to the contemporary Deanna Petherbridge (2010), passing through remarkable authors of drawing manuals, even forgotten ones like Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran (1848/1911). As a result, future research becomes easier to conduct once one can rapidly identify any author’s main line of thought.
Simmons has not written a book of opinion or a critical review, but what could be called a contemporary treatise on Drawing Instruction. For me, it brought to mind Le Corbusier (Tzonis, 2001) who repeatedly used the expression “Les yeux qui ne voyent pas” (the eyes that do not see) because, for him, seeing is more a cognitive than retinal phenomenon. This herald of modern architecture defined Drawing as means to “observe, discover… invent and create”. Likewise, I thought of Michelangelo, who observed that “che bisognava avere le seste negli occhio e non in mani perché le mani operano, e l’occhio giudica” (it is necessary to have the compass in the eyes, not in the hand because the hands do but it is the eye that judges) (Pelayo, 2019, p.12). These views on Drawing, shared by great architects, are part of the culture I live in daily at the University of Porto School of Architecture. They also allow me to understand in-depth the pertinence and scope of what Simmons proposes, in opposition to recent trends in drawing instruction in Art and Architecture.
I believe the triumphant and rapid dissemination of modern methods of teaching Drawing in the fifties soon fell into the temptation of uncritical facilitation that derived from its iconoclastic point of view. But this teaching became dangerously disposable as it devalued the primordial function of representation lying at the very core of Drawing to focus instead on experimenting with the properties of materials. Later, by the end of the second half of the twentieth century, the ill-considered decision to abandon the fundamentals of Drawing by some Schools of Art, under the direct influence of a conceptual euphoria, opened the door, once again, to the idea that Drawing is a disposable subject. For these reasons, we should not be surprised by the recent cuts in common core subjects in university art education in some countries. It seems to me that there is no point in pointing fingers at certain policies. Simmons does not fall into this narrow perspective. Instead, he looks at the bigger picture.
If Drawing Instruction is to acquire robustness in education it is vital to strengthen the theory behind it. That’s what Simmons does when he considers the ultimate consequences of viewing Drawing as something prior to and independent of Art. This implies recognizing that, throughout Western History, Art uses the mental skills or visual intelligence of Drawing as any other area of knowledge does. It is with this objective, trans-historical, and multidisciplinary perspective that Drawing is redefined as something that results from a universal human impulse to represent. This argument, in turn, allows us to understand the ability to draw as a central pillar that sustains human intelligence in all its forms, something that education systems cannot be indifferent to or underestimate.
This book is addressed to anyone who wants to look the future in the eye. It is a roadmap for navigating the main lines of a Theory of Drawing Instruction now possible in all its authority, complexity, and multiplicity, whose foundations Simmons indicates. In it also lie the foundations of an educational theory for the digital age. And, if this era is characterized by immediacy, let us remember that Drawing is the most immediate process for harmonizing knowledge and action.

Aberti, L. (2013). On Painting: A New Translation and Critical Edition. UK: Cambridge University Press. (Original work published 1450).
Akaui, Ana. (2022). ‘A Formação do Professor de Artes Visuais e as “Competências” Legais (The Training of the Visual Arts Teacher and the Legal “Skills”)´. In Charlot, V. and Charlot, B. (eds).Revista Internacional Educon (Vol 3, n.1, jan./abr. 2022. pp. 1-12).
Boisbaudran, H. (1911). The Training of the Memory in Art and the Education of the Artist. London: Macmillan and Co. (Original work published 1848).
De Holanda, F. (1984). Da Pintura Antiga. Porto: Imprensa Nacional-Casa da Moeda. (Original work published 1548).
Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind: the theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.
Garner, S. (2008). ‘Towards a Critical Discourse in Drawing Research’. In Garner, S. (ed). Writing on Drawing: Essays on Drawing Practice and Research (pp. 12-26). Intellect Books.
Kosslyn, S; Thompson,W.; Ganis, G. (2009). The Case for Mental Imagery. New York: Oxford University Press.
Pelayo, R; Lopes, N. (2013). ´Architecting through freehand drawing’. In Proceedings of the Drawing Research Network 2013 Conference / Thinking Through Drawing Seminar. ( pp. 147-149). Teachers College, Columbia University.
Pelayo, R. (2019). Ensino do Desenho: Pedagogias, Conflitos e Desafios. (Drawing Instruction: Pedagogies, Conflicts and Challenges). Porto Alegre: Editora Armazém Digital – Homo Plasticus.
Petherbridge, D. (2010). The Primacy of Drawing: Histories and Theories of Practice. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
Petherbridge, D. (2008). ‘Nailing the liminal: the difficulties of defining drawing’. In Garner, S. (ed). Writing on Drawing: Essays on Drawing Practice and Research (pp. 27-41). Intellect Books.
Simmons, S. (1992).’Philosophical Dimensions of Drawing Instruction’. In Thistlewood, D. (ed). Drawing Research and Development (pp. 110-120). Longman Group.
Taylor, A. (2008). ‘Re:positioning Drawing’. In Garner, S. (ed). Writing on Drawing: Essays on Drawing Practice and Research (pp.9-11). Intellect Books.
Tzonis, A. (2001). Le Corbusier. The Poetics of Machine and Metaphor. New York: Universe Publishing.

Annual Senate and Council dinner 2023

July 27, 2023 Nick Jennings

As the academic year draws to a close, I want to look back over the last 12 months; to celebrate some of our achievements and those who helped to make them happen. 

Working in partnership is one of the core strands of our University strategy, Creating Better Futures. Together. We take our local and regional responsibilities seriously and are proud of our work on the Civic University Partnership this year. We have jointly invested in the Social Value Portal, which enables all partners to build social value and sustainability measures into procurement contracts. Then, in the autumn, the county’s universities will co-host a week-long event for overseas recruitment agents to show what great locations Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are for international students.  

The ongoing support of our local partners is key to such engagements. For example, the grant we received through the Loughborough Town Deal supported the development of a fourth pavilion for the SportPark building, allowing us to attract even more sports organisations to Loughborough.  

The SportPark extension achieved Passivhaus Accreditation, which is widely regarded as the most challenging energy efficiency and comfort standard in the world. It’s the first Passivhaus development on the University campus and a step towards our goal to decarbonise the University estate to meet our zero-carbon target by 2035. 

The Town Deal grant is also helping us to get even more new businesses off the ground through our Business Startup Accelerator Programme. This provides entrepreneurs and early-stage companies in Charnwood with access to training and all-important business connections that will be the springboard for their future development. 

We have a good track record in supporting new business ideas. We claimed more than half the awards, including the Innovator of the Year title, at the 2023 Leicestershire Live Innovation Awards, and we currently have a pipeline of six new spin out companies, in areas such as cyber security, sustainable biodiesel production and tissue engineering. 

And we’re continuing to think big. Our involvement in Midlands Mindforge Limited – a new investment company established this year by the Midlands Innovation universities – is an exciting development. It aims to raise £250m to accelerate the commercialisation of university spinouts and early-stage businesses and will provide companies with early access to patient capital and create new jobs for the wider Midlands region. 

I believe one of our key strengths as a University is to provide our staff and students with a vibrant and inclusive environment in which they can flourish.   

The Black in Sport Summit is a great example of this. The Summit was established by four of our students, who wanted to change the narrative around black people in sport. The annual event celebrates the achievements of those working in the industry, showcases career path opportunities for university and school students, and is a platform for important conversations on racial inequality and under representation within sport. 

In just two years, the Summit has become a transformative platform for a more inclusive and representative sports landscape. With Sky as its key commercial partner, the 2023 event drew an impressive line-up of speakers – Sir Lewis Hamilton, Team GB swimmer Alice Dearing and Tony Burnett, the CEO of Kick it Out, to name just a few.  

Through the Summit, held at the home of European champions West Ham, our students are driving real change within the sports community. I was delighted that those four amazing students were awarded a University Medal at this summer’s degree ceremonies, in recognition of their services to the University and the broader sporting community.  

The development of deep partnerships is a key aim of the University Strategy. By working together with others in the region, throughout the UK and around the globe, we achieve more. We make a real difference to people’s lives and we positively impact the world around us. 

That’s an ethos also echoed by the UK Young Academy – a collaboration launched this year by some of the country’s most prestigious national organisations, including the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society.  

Four of our academics were among the Academy’s founding members – no other university has more. The Academy members all share a passion to improve our world. Together they will inform the policy discussions that will shape local, national and global developments. 

Our academics have long been influencing national and international policy. Our Centre for Research in Social Policy – which celebrated its 40th anniversary in July – has built a national and international reputation for high quality applied policy research. The Minimum Income Standard, based on research by the Centre, is widely used in UK policy and practice – to calculate the Living Wage, the Scottish Government’s fuel poverty measure, and cost of raising a child.  

Our new Policy Unit, launched in the House of Commons this year, will help us expand this engagement with those who develop legislation to ensure we’re influencing regional, national and global agendas. 

In this vein, our academics from the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology and our Centre for Sustainable Transitions: Energy, Environment and Resilience spoke at the World Bank’s global energy conference that was held here on campus recently. It was fantastic for us to host such an influential international event and testament to the standing of our energy-related research and innovation. 

I firmly believe universities can be significant contributors to the global sustainability agenda and can be real drivers of positive change.  

We are one of the founding members of the new Nature Positive Universities Alliance – a worldwide coalition working together to promote nature on our campuses, in our supply chains and within our cities and communities. Loughborough will also soon be home to a new multi-million-pound national facility to further our understanding of solar cells and other electronic devices that interact with light. 

This cutting-edge sustainability research and the way we manage our campus environments were key factors in our recent fantastic result in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings. We were the top-ranked university in the UK (and 15th in the world) for the UN Sustainable Development Goal 7 – advancing affordable and clean energy. We were also in the top ten of UK universities for Sustainable Development Goal 8, decent work and economic growth.  

Supporting global development and enhancing our international engagement are cornerstones of our strategy.  

This year, in response to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, we signed an agreement with the Ukrainian Global University to help students and researchers continue their studies and be ready to support Ukraine’s post-war recovery. 

And our partnerships are already starting to make a tangible difference.  

We have welcomed our first Ukraine Academic Fellow to the School of Social Sciences and Humanities. Three Doctoral Researchers began PhDs with us in October, having received one of our Ukraine scholarships. And staff and students from the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering worked with Ukrainian students and school-leavers on a project to develop the students’ skills and knowledge that will be needed for the post-war reconstruction of their cities. 

The delivery of academic programmes that are the stepping stones to students’ future success is also at the heart of our new collaboration with Cambridge Education Group. In the autumn we will welcome our initial cohort of around 300 international students to the campus as part of this new partnership. It’s an exciting development that will make our community more internationally diverse and allow us to offer a more culturally enriching experience for everyone here. 

This year I also embarked on my first overseas trips as Vice-Chancellor. 

In India we reinforced our long-standing links with the Indian Institutes of Technology and laid the foundations for exciting new research, innovation and education links.  

For instance, we’re now exploring the development of a Loughborough-led Indo-UK Centre for Doctoral Training. This would be the first of its kind and a blueprint for future collaborative endeavours between institutions in the UK and India. 

Our visit to the Middle East enabled us to explore opportunities around sport in Saudi Arabia and Qatar and potential links with Princess Nourah University, the largest women’s university in the world.  

In the US I met colleagues at MIT to expand the collaboration between our institutions, building on the event we co-hosted with the MIT Sloan School of Management to explore the emergence and potential applications of the metaverse. At the University of Oregon, we discussed research initiatives that would harness sport as a vehicle for positive change. 

I was also able to meet the team from the NFL. Just last month Emmanuel Okoye graduated from the Loughborough-based NFL Academy to play top-flight college football with the University of Tennessee. I hope we and Loughborough College, our partner in this venture, will see many more of our NFL Academy students carve out a future in American football. 

Closer to home, Loughborough teams have enjoyed another outstanding year.  

Last month, for example, Loughborough sealed the BUCS Super Rugby league title for the first time in our history, with an unbeaten home record, which helped to ensure we retained the BUCS Championship title for the 42nd successive year.  

Loughborough Lightning also won their second Netball Super League title at the Copper Box Arena in London. 

These are only a few of the achievements, successes and developments from the last 12 months. But I hope it’s made you feel proud of our university.  

We have begun to make real progress against our Strategy. We have made a number of key senior appointments, including six Associate Pro Vice-Chancellors to focus on our strategic themes, twelve Special Envoys to lead on work in our six main international regions, and a Pro Vice-Chancellor for Sport – the first post of its kind in the UK. Our emerging core plan will also give us the clear direction of how we will deliver the strategic vision.  

I’m very much looking forward to what the next year will bring.   

Five minutes with: Lara Skelly

July 27, 2023 Guest blogger

What’s your job title and how long have you worked at Loughborough?

I’m the Open Research Manager for Data and Methods and have been here a year.

Tell us what a typical day looks like for you?

My working day starts with checking what has come in overnight. I am responsible for supporting research in sharing non-traditional research outputs – data, methods, software. Usually, these are submitted directly to the Research Repository, where I find and curate them. Sometimes it’s an easy task; others are more complex, requiring a conversation with the researcher. I also support the creation of data management plans, a part of most funding proposals.

Once I’ve checked in with the new tasks, I turn my attention to one of several projects I’m working on to better the service of the Library’s Open Research Development and Discovery Team. Currently, I’m reviewing the policies relating to my area of work, exploring accessibility solutions and developing a training programme for doctoral students.

I end my day by checking in on my communication channels, as part of my role entails advocating for Open Research practices. I maintain a Twitter account, a blog and a monthly newsletter.

What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on?

I’m currently curating a project – the National Covid-19 Memorial Archive – a collection of photographs collected by Rob Tovey during and after the pandemic. Seeing all the ways that we connected with each other, and remembering loved ones has helped me heal from what I experienced during that time.

What is your proudest moment at Loughborough?

A leading researcher in my field recently asked me to guest lecture for his master’s students, which was a highlight of my career.

Tell us something you do outside of work?

I crochet obsessively.

What is your favourite quote?

“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived” – Joseph Campbell

Beating hearts of the community? Pubs and the politics of nostalgia.

Beating hearts of the community? Pubs and the politics of nostalgia.

July 19, 2023 Peter Yeandle

by Lewis Alderton

I completed my bachelor’s degree in history and politics in June 2023, finishing with a 2:1 overall. Having thoroughly enjoyed my time in Loughborough, I decided to complete my MA here as well, and so will be returning in October as a part of the MA International Security course. Throughout my undergraduate studies, I took the opportunity to continue my career in hospitality, moving into management roles.

Whilst undertaking Dr Matthew McCullock’s part C module, Remembering Postwar Britain, I was tasked with producing an essay which considered the implications of nostalgia in relation to a topic of my choosing. Having worked in the hospitality sector for the better part of a decade, nostalgic remarks such as ‘the pub isn’t what it used to be’, ‘I remember when a pint was x, y, or z amount’, and various other reminiscences of the great ‘back then’, have become all too familiar to me.

For a long time, I considered such comments to be the alcohol-induced ramblings of those unwilling to accept change. Pubs had, after all, become more accessible – with a wider range of available drinks and easier means of placing orders. This was the case, at least, until I began to consider nostalgia not as a throwaway sentiment, but as a reflection of broader social discontent within the present regarding the perceived safety of one’s own identity, a notion proposed within Fred Davis’ theory of nostalgia – and one which I built upon when assessing political applications of Svetlana Boym’s theory of restorative nostalgia within my dissertation. 

In accepting the scholarly position of nostalgia as a reaction to a perceived attack on an identity, I used my essay to explore the idea that nostalgia for the pub was a reaction to the decline of the British identity, particularly values of sociability and community which have become particularly damaged over the last decade. The Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns, Brexit before that, and an increase in high-profile social movements such as Black Lives Matter, meant that the British public perceived itself to be becoming ever more physically, politically, and socially divided.

In order to present this argument, I first had to establish the link between the institution of the pub and the traditional British values of community and socialisation. To do this, I first assessed the work of scholars at the forefront of the field, such as Thomas Thurnell-Reid, who argues the institutional importance of pubs as ‘a representation of the social heart of community life’. Following this, I studied primary evidence in the form of government statistics and contemporary articles regarding the closure of pubs, finding that between 2016 and 2017, following the Brexit referendum, pubs closed at a rate of nearly 40 per week – whilst nearly 10,000 licenced premises had been forced to close following the Covid-19 pandemic.

In accepting the pub to be reflective of British values of community and socialisation, this decline in the pub industry – particularly the loss of distinctive ‘locals’ to chains – must therefore indicate perceived damage to these values; leading to conceive of a perceived ‘attack’ on British social identity by the disaffected group and thus causing a nostalgic reaction for the traditional, more secure pub institution. This notion is reflected within contemporary reports of pub closure, which often choose to use emotive phrases such as ‘devastating blows to communities and ‘the loss of the beating heart of a community’ in order to describe pub closures. Clearly, values of community and sociability are of value to the British public, and the broader British Identity. I determined, therefore, that nostalgia for the pub is reflective of broader concerns regarding the British social identity, onset by the increasing decline of the pub industry, which is viewed by many as symbolic of these values.

Photo by Nikola Jovanovic on Unsplash

To find out more:

DRN2023 Drawing in Relation: Spaces of Care Recording

July 19, 2023 Deborah Harty

Thank you to Serena Smith for chairing the fourth in the series of Drawing in Relation events, to the presenters Penny Davis, Belinda Mitchell and Assunta Ruocco and to everyone who attended.

How to get the best from spending time in nature

How to get the best from spending time in nature

July 19, 2023 Martha Causier

The natural world is a fundamental pillar of my wellbeing. As Assistant Gardens Manager, I probably spend more time outside than the average person but often this is not quality time in nature. For this, I set aside regular times in the week to enjoy nature and appreciate how it enriches my life. 

Personally, forests and woods are my boltholes. I love to watch the changing of the seasons, hear the different birds, and see how the foliage changes over the year. Trees are brilliant for mental wellbeing, with evidence suggesting that chemicals they release into the air produce a calming effect on our brains – no wonder I love the woods! Below, I have put together some tips on how you might get the best from spending time in nature and how you can adapt this to your individual circumstances.

Make nature part of your routine

Ideally, you want to spend some time in a green space each day. I do Tai chi in the garden most days where I use the flowers, bumblebees, and even long grass as a focus for my mind. At least once a week, I walk through the nearby ancient woodland. I like to do this later in the evening when the wood is quiet of dog walkers and the oblique light passing through the canopy creates a sense of magic. Discover walking routes to explore on campus.

Meditate in nature

On one of my evening walks in the woods I have a favourite place to stop. Here I spend 10-15 minutes connecting with the world around me. I use my senses to direct my mind. Starting with sight, I observe the woodland around me. Each evening I seem to be able to spot something I’ve never seen before, but a lot of what I see is reassuringly familiar. This is a space I know well and feel safe in. I then move to smell. Sometimes the forest has distinct smells – particularly after rain. Other times it smells of not much. However, I always breathe it in through my nose trying to discern the faintest hues in the air. Next, I listen to the forest. I usually do this with my eyes closed to concentrate on the sound. The wood can be quite noisy first thing in the morning or last thing at night. However, even in quieter times, it’s quite a lively place. I do not worry if my ears focus on a distant dog and its owner – the important thing is to notice rather than to judge what you hear. Touch is last.  Again, I keep my eyes shut. I feel the wind on my face, perhaps the log I’m sitting on, the occasional insect walking on my leg. There’s a surprising amount to feel in one place.

Make notes on what you see

The benefit you get from nature will be deepened by learning about what you see. Personally, I love to name what I see. I take lots of photos and use identification guides to find out about what I see. However, you don’t need to know the name of every species that you see. You can equally benefit from writing notes about how the sights in the wood make you feel. You could paint or draw. Your creative energies can flow using nature as your inspiration. Focus on the beauty of nature and how it makes you feel. The art doesn’t need to be literal; it can be abstract and provocative. The interaction between your senses and emotions and the natural world can draw meaning and insight.

Care for nature

We are often bombarded by negative news stories about nature and it can sometimes feel like this is the ‘last opportunity to see’. Take control by doing positive things for nature. Volunteer once a month to help wildlife, such as through The Wildlife Trusts, RSPB or Woodland Trust. Plant flowers in your garden that attract bees and butterflies. Put up a bug hotel. Volunteer to monitor bumblebee or butterfly numbers on campus. Make a pond. Feed the birds. The possibilities are endless, and the feeling that you are making a positive difference in the world can be a great counter to all that negativity.

When it rains

You’ve probably realised that all these things sound amazing in great weather, but when it rains the last thing you’re going to want to do is go out. Also, winter can be quite cold and not all of us are equally mobile. For this, try a digital nature visit. When it rains, I play forest sounds in the house whilst doing Tai chi. I shut my eyes and imagine I’m in the heart of the wood – focusing on the birds and rustling of leaves. Alternatively, you can use positive self-guided imagery to recreate being in nature. For this, find a quiet spot at home and shut your eyes. Imagine the scene in nature. This could be sitting on a warm beach looking at the waves lapping, or a walk through a woodland clearing. Again, try to imagine how the scene engages your different senses. This virtual immersion in nature creates time out of your busy day and fills the gap till you can get out and about again.

I hope that you can incorporate some or all of these suggestions into your life. If you’re starting from none or very little interaction with nature, then start with something simple and embed that in your life. Feeding the birds and noticing which species visit your garden or your local park each day might be a good starting point. Equally, practicing a nature meditation in your garden or a nearby green space once a day (or even indoors next to a window in bad weather) will promote great wellbeing habits around nature.

People can also support the wellbeing you derive from nature. Sharing the experience of being in the natural world and appreciating it can be very positive. However, take care that the experience isn’t counterproductive. For example, spending a 20-minute lunchtime walk on campus with a colleague moaning about work is not going to have any benefits.

If you embed nature into your life and appreciate all it can offer, I am confident that you will see improvements in your mental and physical wellbeing. I look forward to meeting you one day on a forest walk and sharing our stories of natural beauty.

Rich Fenn-Griffin
Assistant Gardens Manager

Coming out…again!

Coming out…again!

July 14, 2023 Sadie Gration

Dr Chris McLeod reflects on how similar his experiences have been in ‘coming out’ as gay and coming out as having a lifelong invisible disability of agoraphobia. But which one has been a more difficult coming out experience?

“Oh my goodness, I would never have known!”

“Bless you, that must have been difficult to keep in.”

“Thanks so much for sharing, that’s really brave of you.”

I remember coming out as gay when I was 18 like it was yesterday. All the previous years of hiding my emotions, of trying to fit into social norms, of thinking I was ill or wrong, all building up to that one moment when I told people for the first time.

Now I seem to be going through the same thing all over again, with people saying really similar things – it’s just 16 years later, and it’s about having an invisible disability.

I have lived with agoraphobia since I was seven years old. Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder characterised by an intense fear and avoidance of situations where leaving or escaping might be difficult, or where help wouldn’t be available if things go wrong. Many people assume agoraphobia is a fear of open spaces, but it’s actually a more complex condition, affecting people in many different situations.

I live with this every day. At work, I can feel intense difficulty in such simple situations for many, such as being in an in-person meeting or bumping into someone in a corridor or outside. In my home life, I want the ground to swallow me up in queues at the bank, I have to sit near an exit in the cinema, and I find it difficult to go around the supermarket. I try to challenge myself when I feel I can – my partner kindly bought me a ‘medal’ (keyring…) for walking from the back to the front exit of St Peter’s Basilica, even if it did take me 45 minutes to move from the doorway and I did have tears streaming down my face. However, it’s always a hard balance to strike between challenging yourself and making adjustments so you don’t have to face your fear every day. Both sides of this coin have led to me not wanting to leave the house at times in my life when things have got really bad.

I’d encourage everyone to Google, ChatGPT, or YouTube ‘agoraphobia’ to find out more about this condition. But the point of my blog post is to share my surprising realisation (that I’m sure many have had before) about how similar the ‘coming out’ story is for both scenarios.

The thing is, having experienced both ‘comings out’, I truly believe that it’s been more difficult sharing my agoraphobia than being gay; hence why it’s taken me 27 years to talk publicly about the former. It is truly wonderful that in the majority, and in the law, being a gay man is much more accepted now than 30+ years ago. But while we’re starting to make some progress by the year 2023, I personally feel that invisible disabilities are much less accepted and willingly understood than being gay right now in the UK.

Whether people’s experiences are termed chronic pain and fatigue, an autoimmune disorder, an attention-deficit disorder, fibromyalgia, depression, a learning difference, a sensory processing disorder, or anything else, I still feel that the prevailing wind is that these invisible conditions are things that ‘you can just get over’ or that ‘we all have times of sadness/ pain/ tiredness/ fidgetiness/ fear etc.’

Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely thrilled that people better understand the experience of being gay nowadays; but accepting and accommodating invisible disabilities – or let’s just call it the great spectrum of human experience – is one of the next frontiers to overcome.

So, I hope in sharing this post that I have forged a couple of minutes out of your day to indeed bring to the front of your mind the variety of human experiences. To think about how very, very real people’s experiences are when they share that they find particular situations or activities difficult, even if it seems so removed from our own experiences and we can’t see any physical evidence for their feelings or needs.

For me, I’ve been reminded of the difficulty in coming out, in sharing whatever it is that isn’t visible or audible but that affects you deeply and frequently. And I hope that, in reflecting on myself from writing this piece, I try to be as understanding and empathetic in listening to others’ lived experiences as I would wish others might do for me.

Five minutes with: Rich Fenn-Griffin

July 13, 2023 Guest blogger

What is your job title and how long have you worked at Loughborough?

I’m Assistant Gardens Manager and I’ve worked here 16 months.

Tell us what a typical day looks like for you?

My days are very varied. It always starts with a meeting of the Gardens Team in the yard to discuss their work for the day. Then I can often be working on a number of different projects. I always bring a strong theme of enhancing biodiversity to these projects. I am currently re-writing our Green Flag Management Plan to incorporate more initiatives that create space for nature. I am very keen on connecting people with the outdoors and green spaces and have developed a number of activities that connect people with the campus space. Examples include The Bluebell Walk, Christmas in the Wood and the Dawn Chorus at Burleigh Woods.

I also want to involve people in the management of the campus, whether that is through surveying the wildlife (we have staff and students who survey butterflies and bumblebees) or practical volunteering (LSU Action does conservation work in the woods).

As part of my daily duties, I consult on tree-related issues. My general modus operandi is to defend the tree’s interests whilst balancing people’s health and safety. I am trying to change people’s views of trees to be more respectful of the room they need at the end of their lives. Hopefully, you will start to see more standing dead trees and less than picture-perfect specimens that are absolutely amazing for campus wildlife. My job does have a few more mundane functions, such as safety tours, checking fuel tanks, etc. Whilst these are less glamorous, they are critical to the safe operations of the Gardens Team.

I think I have joined at a very exciting time with the development of a new vision for the campus, one rich in wildlife and functioning ecosystems. I am proud to play my part in developing this goal.

What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on?

I’m spoilt for choice! However, I think the best project I led was Christmas in the Wood. This was born out of a desire to connect people with natural spaces to increase mental and physical wellbeing. I organised a poetry and music recital in Burleigh Wood with a festive theme and we enjoyed mince pies, mulled wine and gingerbread. One of the gardeners created willow sculptures of the nativity and other staff and students volunteered their talents to make the whole thing incredible. I also delivered a talk on the history of Christmas trees.

We had about 40 attendees and everyone commented on how good and different it was. I wanted to demonstrate that on virtually no budget, you could draw on the talents within the University to provide a low-impact celebration. The weather was extremely kind to us and left everyone with a fuss-free start to Christmas.

What is your proudest moment at Loughborough?

Being appointed Assistant Gardens Manager. I started at the University in January 2022 as the Arborist but 13 months later I was successful in stepping up to this new role. I am a fast learner and love to continually improve myself, and what I can offer Loughborough University.

I am excited by the opportunity to get involved in developing a newer campus vision. I believe I am uniquely placed to contribute to this vision, as I am able to draw on my previous work with the RSPB and National Trust.

One day, I want to see big herbivores wandering the campus instead of mowers – but I am aware that we have to take things one step at a time!

Tell us something you do outside of work?

I build model railways – something I caught off my father when I was a child. I am currently building an 80s layout set on the Highland Mainline. I am an active member of the Soar Valley Model Railway Club and steward the club’s largest layout. We have our annual show in August at the Grammar School – please say hello if you come along.

What is your favourite quote?

The Chinese Proverb: ‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now.’

If you would like to feature in ‘5 Minutes With’, or you work with someone who you think would be great to include, please email Soph Dinnie at

Diplomacy Talk and Social: Students of IDIG Meet British Diplomat 

July 10, 2023 Casey Nguyen

“Are diplomats still relevant?” “How has diplomacy changed?” “What are the preconditions for a successful diplomatic endeavour?” These are some of the perennial questions occupying students of diplomacy and have variously been tackled in theoretical and scholarly discussions at our programmes at The Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance (IDIG). However, they acquired a new significance when addressed to a practicing diplomat at a recent IDIG event: Master’s students were able to hear first-hand answers to these and other questions from British diplomat and civil servant Christopher Holtby OBE.  

During his extensive career, Chris has served in Brussels as UK liaison officer to Javier Solana, the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU, and policy adviser to Dr Solana on Asia/Pacific issues; as Deputy Head of Security Policy Department in the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, responsible for UK policy on NATO, European Security, military and civil-military operations and co-operation, as well as maritime security; and been in the role of the chairman of Working Group 1 of the international Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. Later, he has also served as Ambassador to the Republic of Estonia; Consul General in Melbourne; and Head of the UK Office for South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria. 

The discussions revolved around the questions raised above, in light of specific events and experiences drawn from Chris’s career, ranging from conflict resolution in Indonesia, to confronting international piracy, and multilateral maritime cooperation and coordination. Students learnt how the success of the latter required not only technical know-how and problem-solving skills, but also skilful negotiation and relationship-building.  

These discussions resonated with themes covered in our various modules, especially themes of change in diplomacy and transprofessionalisation covered in Diplomacy in the Digital Age; diplomatic negotiation covered in International Negotiation, respectively studied in all or most of our programmes;  themes of peace-building and international security covered in MSc Security, Peace-building and Diplomacy; and themes related to the development-security nexus covered in our module The Politics of Violence: Development, Security, Sustainability taken by students of IDIG as well as the cross-Institute interdisciplinary programmes contributing to Loughborough London initiative  Development and Social Change.  

Students had the opportunity to raise and discuss a variety of questions concerning them, from the current situation in Ukraine to China’s foreign policy. The discussion concluded with advice on pursuing career in diplomacy.  

The talk was followed by an informal supper and social event, where students were able to continue the conversation with Chris less formally. Students spoke of their appreciation for the insight and inspiration they drew from the exchange, as well as the opportunity to engage with a diplomacy practitioner more generally – something which IDIG strives to provide throughout the year.  

Yes, you can open commercially funded research (but probably not all of it)

July 7, 2023 Lara Skelly
Image description: Two LEGO figures, in white shirts and blue trousers, discussing a model of a LEGO shark. Image created with Bing’s AI Image Creator:

“Mommy, how much do you think the Jaws LEGO set will cost?” asked my seven-year-old the other night as I was putting him to bed. His dad had told him earlier that day that the LEGO Review Board had officially announced that a build design, submitted by a LEGO fan, based on the 1974 novel by Peter Benchley, which was the source of the 1975 Steven Spielberg movie, was going to be in production. As my son is an ardent enthusiast of all things with big teeth, a LEGO Jaws set was the best news since he discovered that he could build a mosasaurus.

When companies like LEGO, IKEA, Unilever and NASA crowdsource design, innovations and problem-solving, it is termed open innovation. It is one example where a commercial venture works in synergy with open research practices. At Loughborough University, our researchers have worked with companies like Rolls Royce, Jaguar, Airbus, and Adidas. While some of the research outputs are embargoed due to commercial restrictions, there are parts of the research that can and is made openly available.

Negotiations of what can be made openly available should take place before the contract is signed. If you are a researcher who is working with commercial funding, be sure to check if your methods, data collection tools, and data (perhaps in an aggregated format) can be shared and under what conditions. In the discussions I’ve had, I have found commercial funders willing to work with researchers in opening as much of the research as is sensibly possible.

And thank goodness they are because, without open innovation, I wouldn’t be in the running for the best Christmas present award from my seven-year-old.

Using Element Interactivity to Measure the Complexity of Learning Tasks

Using Element Interactivity to Measure the Complexity of Learning Tasks

July 5, 2023 Centre for Mathematical Cognition

Written by Dr Ouhao Chen, Lecturer in Educational Psychology and Mathematical Cognition at the Department of Mathematics Education, Loughborough University. The article is edited by Bethany Woollacott.

This post is based on Ouhao’s recent publication with Fred Paas and John Sweller. The paper is open access and linked at the end of this blogpost.


Measuring the complexity of a task is an on-going topic. Researchers from different domains have proposed various approaches to measure the complexity of tasks; however, all approaches are outside of the domain of education and do not consider the role of learners’ expertise in a specific domain. Cognitive Load Theory (CLT) suggests using the concept of element interactivity to measure the complexity of tasks in education.

What is ‘element interactivity’?

Element interactivity within CLT shows the degree of interconnectedness of elements within a learning task. An element could be a concept, a fact, or a procedure. The more elements in a learning task that are strongly interconnected, the higher the level of element interactivity of that task.

For example, memorising numbers 1, 2, 3 may have a low level of element interactivity because when you memorise 1, you can memorise it without referring to the other two numbers, therefore, the numbers can be memorised individually and separately. Comparatively, solving the equation 5x + 6 = 9 has a higher level of element interactivity because you must understand the equation in order to solve it, so you must process all the elements (5, x, +, 6, =, 9) simultaneously rather than individually.

Element Interactivity means difficulty?

It is important to clarify that a learning task could be very difficult but low in element interactivity. For example, memorising numbers could be a difficult task (if there are an unlimited amount of numbers), but is always low in element interactivity (as you could memorise the numbers individually and separately). However, once the elements of a learning task are interconnected, although the task might have only 2 or 3 elements, it could be very difficult. For example, solving the equation x + 3 = 6 has high element interactivity (5 elements interconnected for learning). Therefore, element interactivity and difficulty are associated but very different concepts.

Element interactivity is decided by learners’ expertise

When calculating the element interactivity to measure the complexity of a learning task, learners’ expertise plays an important role. This is because a learning task for novices may be high in element interactivity but low in element interactivity for experts, due to experts having more schema (chunks of individual elements). For example, solving the equation x + 3 = 6 has five interconnected elements for learning when the learners are respective novices; however, for relative experts, there would only be one element because they can retrieve the schema (i.e., chunks of knowledge) as an entity to be processed in working memory. Therefore, the level of learners’ expertise decides the level of element interactivity in a task, namely, the more knowledgeable you are, the lower the level of element interactivity in a task.

The more knowledgeable you are, the lower the level of element interactivity in a task.


The key difference between using the element interactivity approach to measure task complexity rather than traditional approaches is that the element interactivity approach considers the knowledge levels of learners. Therefore, the element interactivity approach has some important practical implications for education. In particular, when teaching relative novices, if the level of element interactivity is very high then this consumes lots of working memory resources (high intrinsic load); therefore, teachers should design their instructions to reduce extraneous load and make sure the learning does not overload working memory capacity. Comparatively, when teaching relative experts, the level of element interactivity of the same task would be lower so the instructional design might not be so important. For example, you could ask relative experts to solve the equation of 5x + 6 = 9 without any instructions, because they could solve this equation by retrieving schema (processing one element, imposing very low intrinsic cognitive load). As such, engaging in problem solving without any instructions would still be manageable for relative experts. Comparatively, asking novices to solve this problem without any instructions could impose heavy extraneous cognitive load (so worked examples could be designed for their learning).

From the Vice-Chancellor – June 2023

June 30, 2023 Nick Jennings

In my June newsletter: international Special Envoy appointments, the THE Impact and QS World University rankings, Policy Unit event, Design and Creative Arts degree shows and the Netball Super League.

International Special Envoys

Last autumn we announced the appointment of our first Special Envoys for India, Dr Kirti Ruikar and Professor Bala Vaidhyanathan. Subsequently, they have both played an important role in delivering the International Engagement and Impact Core Plan that underpins our Strategy.

Following this success, I am pleased to announce that we have now appointed a further nine Special Envoys who will be responsible for leading the University’s regional strategy for other key countries and will work closely with me in those areas to develop relationships with partners. They are:

  • Dr Sola Afolabi (Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering) and Dr Hibbah Osei-Kwasi (Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences) – Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Ally McDonald Alonso (Professional Services) and Professor Kurt Barth (Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering) – North America
  • Dr Mey Goh (Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering) and Professor Eef Hogervorst (Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences) – South-East Asia
  • Professor Ksenia Chmutina (Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering) and Professor Wen-Feng Lin (Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering) – East Asia
  • Dr Ali Bilgic (Social Sciences and Humanities) – Middle East and North Africa

One further appointment is still to be made, which we hope to announce soon.
Congratulations to all the new Envoys on their appointment. I look forward to working with them as we drive forward our global ambitions in those regions.

THE impact rankings

As one of our three strategic themes, Climate Change and Net Zero is at the heart of the new University strategy. I was pleased, therefore, to see our work recognised in the 2024 Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings, published this month. Loughborough was the top-rated UK university and ranked 15th globally for advancing Affordable and Clean Energy – the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7. We were also in the top ten of UK universities for SDG 8, focused on decent work and economic growth.

The THE Impact Rankings are an international assessment of universities’ performance in moving forward the United Nations’ (UN) 17 SDGs. These were adopted by the UN in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure shared peace and prosperity for all people by 2030.

The Affordable and Clean Energy measure takes into consideration our research and innovation, as well as the way we manage our campus, buildings and operations, and our results in the rankings is testament to the progress we’re making.

For example, our Centre for Sustainable Transitions: Energy, Environment and Resilience (STEER) is working with partners across the world, from decision-makers to energy poor communities, to make SDG 7 a reality. We have recently hosted a hugely influential conference on campus on behalf of the World Bank, one of STEER’s key partners, at which academics from STEER and CREST (the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology) were key speakers.

Academics are also working on the design and development of a four-wheeled electric vehicle for research, teaching and outreach in India. It’s hoped the collaborative international project will help the country increase clean vehicle uptake, improve urban air quality and meet carbon emission targets.

In terms of our campus development and management, we will shortly open the National Facility for High Resolution Cathodoluminescence (CL) Analysis at the University, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), to increase our understanding of the workings of solar cells and other electronic devices that interact with light. The facility will be the first of its kind globally and open to researchers from around the world.

The recently completed Pavilion 4 of the SportPark on the Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park building has achieved Passivhaus Accreditation, widely regarded as the most challenging energy efficiency and comfort standard in the world. The project is the first Passivhaus development on the University campus and a step towards our goal to decarbonise the University estate to meet our zero-carbon target by 2035.

Loughborough was also one of the founding members of the new Nature Positive Universities Alliance of universities around the world that have pledged to work together to promote nature on our campuses, in our supply chains and within our cities and communities. 

These are all excellent initiatives, but we must maintain the momentum to play our part in addressing the climate emergency.

Policy Unit event at House of Lords

Last month, senior colleagues and I met with a select group of MPs and Peers at the House of Lords to mark the establishment of the University Policy Unit. The Policy Unit – which is led by Professor Graham Hitchen and is based at the London campus – has been set up to help us augment, better coordinate and amplify our engagement with those involved in policy and legislation development.

During the evening we were able to update the invitees on the extent and impact of our research and innovation strengths, centred around our three pan-institutional themes. We also explained the role the Policy Unit will take in helping us to engage with policy makers and shared some of our proposed activities for the coming months. Some of the MPs and Peers who attended knew the University well and have had involvement in our work over the years; others we hope will be willing to work with us in some way in the future. It was a great opportunity to meet them all, share our work, and learn more about forthcoming opportunities for Loughborough to contribute to policy discussions.

QS World University Rankings

The QS World University Rankings 2024 were published a few days ago and I was delighted to see that Loughborough has risen to 212th – our highest ever position. The league table is a ranking of more than 2,960 institutions around the world.

Breaking into the top 200 of this table is one of the performance indicators linked to our Strategy, so it is pleasing that we have made progress. This year we improved our position in two key measures. We have risen in the ‘International Faculty’ category, which assesses the proportion of international academic staff we have, and is a measure of how attractive the University is to academics from around the world. We have also improved in the ‘Academic Reputation’ category; this is derived from the QS Academic Reputation Survey undertaken each year to determine which universities are demonstrating academic excellence, according to academics at other institutions worldwide.

Design and Creative Arts Degree Shows

A couple of weeks ago I attended the annual Design and Creative Arts Degree Show, our students’ annual showcase of their final year projects. We really do have some incredibly talented students.

The show provides the students with the chance to share their work with the public and also, crucially, with those who work in the design and creative industries. It’s a great way for the students to show potential employers the breadth of their talents and what they could contribute to their company. Many of the students’ projects have also been developed in liaison with national and international companies.

Four of the students who are exhibiting their work were commissioned by LU Arts to put together short videos charting their progress as they installed their collection for the 2023 exhibition. The videos give a fascinating insight into the processes involved and the range of skills and techniques the students have used to complete their collections. The students’ work really does embody so many of our strategic values: it’s adventurous, creative and collaborative. I very much hope you were able to go along to see our students’ outstanding work.

Second Netball Super League title

Loughborough Lightning rounded off a superb season earlier this month when they won their second Netball Super League (NSL) title in three years. The NSL is the UK’s top-level, elite netball competition featuring ten teams from England, Wales and Scotland.

I was delighted to attend the Grand Final which took place at the Copper Box Arena, just a few minutes’ walk from our London campus on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The game was played in front of a sell-out crowd that included Loughborough staff who’d won tickets in our Grades 1 to 5 draw. I hope you all enjoyed watching Loughborough come from behind to beat London Pulse 57-48. A very deserved victory.

Five minutes with: Abbie Coburn

June 30, 2023 Guest blogger

What’s your job title and how long have you worked at the University?

I’m a Graduate Management Trainee and I’ve been here 1.5 years.

Tell us what a typical day in your job at Loughborough looks like?

Working as a Graduate Management Trainee means every day is different! I currently split my time between the University’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Team and the Technician Commitment Team. A typical day could begin with an EDI team meeting where we share work updates as well as discuss successes and challenges between us. This would then be followed by various meetings with colleagues about the projects I am working or leading on. For example, the new EDI website we’ve created, Strategy Engagement Planning, and a new Research Technicians project I am leading on. A typical day will also normally include some Maia-related work like planning events and initiatives, as well as responding to various requests, before finishing up the day by replying to emails and writing up my actions from my meetings in the day.

What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on?

The creation of a brand-new University Technical Apprenticeship.

What is your proudest moment at Loughborough?

Being elected as Co-Chair of the Maia Network – I still can’t believe this happened!

Tell us something you do outside of work that we might not know about?

This is a pretty boring one but I love going to the gym and recently, I have been trying to go in the mornings at 6.30am before work (I know that isn’t early for some people but it definitely is for me!)…let’s see how long I can keep it up.

What is your favourite quote?

Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that is the one that is going to help you grow.

My experience at Loughborough University: Belonging, diversity, and thriving 

June 23, 2023 Guest Blogger

Step into my extraordinary world at Loughborough University, where aspirations come true and a profound sense of belonging flourishes on a diverse and inclusive campus. Join me as I reveal the unforgettable experience of pursuing an MSc in International Business at Loughborough University as an international student from the diverse lands of India. 

A dream come true 

Since the age of fifteen, studying abroad has been my lifelong dream. Despite facing societal constraints and the opinions of those around me, I never lost sight of my aspiration. The moment finally arrived when I decided it was “now or never” and began researching the top universities in the UK.  

Although Loughborough University is an underrated and hidden gem of a university, I had never heard the name before as it is quite a sports-centric university and I was never into sports that much anyway. However, my education counsellor and alumni from various UK universities urged me to consider Loughborough. Intrigued, I delved deeper, watching YouTube videos and conducting thorough research. I was immediately captivated by the campus’s beauty, and when I discovered Loughborough University consistently ranked in the top 10 across various subjects, I knew I had found my academic home. Attending a webinar hosted by the Business School solidified my decision. The warm reception and sense of belonging I felt from the dean and current students made me choose Loughborough University wholeheartedly. 

The enchanting campus 

Loughborough University’s sprawling 523-acre campus is a haven of world-class sports facilities and breathtaking green spaces. From the moment I set foot on the campus, I was enchanted by its charm. The extensive green areas that span the entire campus provide the perfect backdrop for my morning jogs, invigorating runs, or serene evening walks.  

I have the privilege of residing in the John Phillips Hall of Residency, which is on campus, and I am surrounded by incredible flatmates from diverse countries. Living in such a vibrant and culturally rich environment has been a dream come true. Our communal kitchen has become our gathering place, where we bond over discussions about our days, immerse ourselves in each other’s cultures, and delight in trying out each other’s dishes. Embracing diversity on such a profound level has been a life-changing experience, teaching us the value of acceptance and adaptability.  

Loughborough, a small student-centric town, is nestled amidst larger cities like Leicester, Nottingham, and Derby. I love the weekly markets held in the town centre, offering fresh produce, fruits, and flowers at reasonable prices. The close-knit community and welcoming nature of the residents make Loughborough feel like a second home, ensuring a safe and supportive environment for students. I love how everything I want is in the vicinity of the town and accumulated in a place so perfectly. 

Effortless integration and a sense of community 

Settling into university life at Loughborough was a breeze, thanks to the accommodating and warm staff, professors, flatmates, and peers. The strong sense of community within the University played a significant role in my smooth transition. Hall parties, social events, and University-wide gatherings helped break the ice, forge friendships, and foster a deep sense of integration.  

Engaging in various societies and extracurricular activities proved instrumental in acclimatising to my new surroundings. Joining the enterprise society provided me with firsthand experience in entrepreneurship and invaluable lessons from fellow students on starting and managing a business.  

Being involved in the International Friends Society felt like being part of a second family. The society brought together international and local students, allowing us to engage in lively discussions, cultural nights, and memorable trips to picturesque locations across the UK.  

Also, Loughborough University deserves to be called the ‘World’s Best Sports University’. Even if you don’t play sports professionally, you might change your mind about sports if you go to world-class gyms and use free sports services like the MyLifestyle app. I play badminton sometimes, and I love it. Going to the gym and taking classes like Yoga, Zumba, and Body Balance has been an experience I’ll never forget.  

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of immersing oneself in societies and extracurricular activities. They not only foster a profound sense of belonging but also provide ample opportunities for skill enhancement, networking, and making the most of the study abroad experience. 

Being a Loughborough University Student Ambassador 

In my journey at Loughborough University, a significant part of my time has been dedicated to working as a Student Ambassador. This role has been nothing short of extraordinary, enabling me to enhance my resume and develop invaluable interpersonal skills. Engaging with prospective students and their parents during various open days, experience days, campus tours, and telephone campaigns has allowed me to refine my communication and presentation abilities.  

Representing Loughborough University at the international student roundtable event at the PIE Live Europe Conference in London was an unforgettable experience. I had the privilege of networking with accomplished individuals from esteemed universities across the UK and educational experts. The opportunity to exchange ideas and discuss our challenges and potential solutions with these brilliant minds was truly inspiring.  

I also took up the responsibility of becoming the course representative and a mental health group facilitator, which helped me inculcate the skills of listening to my peers, problem-solving, and becoming empathetic towards their issues. It changed how I look and handle relationships with my friends, colleagues, and family for good.  

Being a part of these extracurricular activities has shaped my university experience, allowing me to grow academically, professionally, and personally. 

An experience that will stay with me for a lifetime 

Loughborough University has provided me with a safety net to explore, experience, and learn new aspects of myself and life. It’s offered a multitude of opportunities to push beyond my comfort zone, challenge mental barriers, develop my mindset, and showcase my talents. The key to making the most of this extraordinary journey is to seize the initiative, embrace the abundant opportunities, and give it your all from the start.  

Engaging with societies, extracurricular activities, and sports facilities will undoubtedly enrich your experience and create unforgettable memories. Trust me when I say that Loughborough University is the best place to be. I invite you to embark on your own remarkable adventure, knowing that everything you need is at your disposal. Embrace the opportunities, and you will be rewarded with a truly transformative experience that will stay with you for a lifetime. 

New knowledge gained through drawing about Art–Science Interplay

June 22, 2023 Deborah Harty

Joanne Berry-Frith

I have been working as an artist for over thirty years. I am fascinated by light, colour, lasers, technology and science. As a result, since 2010, a central part of my practice has involved contributing to scientific research projects as one of the research team. I identified a gap in knowledge while working with scientists in labs. There was a lack of understanding between the two disciplines of approaches to imaging and its potential. I wanted to discover if and how an artist-researcher can contribute to new methods of interdisciplinary approaches in advanced imaging and microscopy through collaborative practice. Over the last ten years I have collaborated with Advanced imaging and Microscopy specialists, working with a network of internationally renowned core imaging laboratories in the field of Life Science. My aim is to dismantle silo mentalities so that artist-researchers can collaborate with scientists to create new representations, insights and behavioural change. I implemented a four-stage framework and protocol underpinned by the inclusion of play. Each element helped me negotiate and interpret art and science collaboration in new ways by extending art and scientific methods of visualisation. This led to non-standard representations, technological advancements, and better intellectual and visualisation skills, hence enhancing practice-based research through collaboration. Each element helped me negotiate and interpret art and science collaboration in new ways by extending art and scientific methods of visualisation. I advanced three methods of production: an introspective, digital drawing method using limited tools; data montages where data and documentary footage are explored; and experimental moving image work, integrating documentary film footage and sound. The three recent collaborations are:
• COMPARE, The Cell Signalling and Pharmacology Group and a minor study at the Molecular and the Cellular Biology Group, School of Life Sciences, Queens Medical School, University of Nottingham.
• Core Research Laboratories Imaging and Analysis Centre, Natural History Museum (NHM), London,
• The Centre for Cellular Imaging (CCI) Sahlgrenska Academy Gothenburg University, Chalmers University and the Biofilms, Research Centre for Bio-interfaces, Malmo University.

How the European Political Community can help bring peace to Europe

June 19, 2023 Loughborough University London

The European Political Community (EPC) was established in 2022 as a forum for cooperation between European countries. Ahead of the next EPC summit in Moldova today, Sarah Wolff, Pierre Haroche, Helen Drake, Jorein HendriksenBasak Sendogan and Gesine Weber argue the organisation could have a key role to play in the future of European security.

Today, the European Political Community will hold its latest summit in Moldova. The EPC, which first met in Prague in October 2022, brings together both EU and non-EU states. This new format for cooperation offers members an opportunity to discuss the key geopolitical and security interests affecting Europe.

While nobody should expect the EPC to achieve major political or military agreements – goals that belong to the EU and NATO – it provides a forum where these issues can be discussed regularly, in a spirit of openness. The hope is that it will help build coalitions and provide a diplomatic hub for discussing the future of European security.

A geostrategic forum

One frequent criticism of the EPC is that there are already too many continental organisations, such as the OSCE and NATO, which fulfil a similar function. However, the strength of the EPC lies in its lack of institutionalisation. The absence of joint statements, a secretariat and a permanent headquarters works to its advantage because this means it can act as a flexible forum for countries to discuss the future of peace and security in Europe in a way that goes beyond the work of the EU and NATO.

The EPC provides a unique opportunity for non-EU member states in particular to speak equally with EU leaders about foreign policy and security and to share their perspectives on the future of the European continent. At a time when western democracies are facing contestation, this is a unique advantage, notably for those countries in the Western Balkans affected by EU enlargement fatigue and attracted by Chinese and Russian investments and influence. The EPC can ultimately help foster ownership and socialisation around collective goals concerning the future of Europe’s security architecture.

Examples of the topics where the EPC could make an impact include setting peace plans for Ukraine, potentially building on the ten-point peace plan put forward by Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky. They might also include foreign interference in Moldova, which is particularly important given the location of the 1 June summit. The EPC could also help to solve some of the bilateral disputes that have derailed the EU’s enlargement process, such as the conflict between Kosovo and Serbia.

But there is scope for the EPC to go further than this and solve bilateral disputes that directly threaten peace in Europe. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan are members of the EPC and the leaders of the two countries – Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev – met with President of the European Council Charles Michel and French President Emmanuel Macron at the end of the first EPC summit in Prague. The outcome of this meeting was an agreement to facilitate a civilian EU mission alongside Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan. This gives some indication of the potential for the EPC to effect real change.

The EPC and the Franco-British relationship

Alongside the EPC’s informality, there is a commitment to treat all members as equals. This inclusive approach allows countries like Turkey, who may no longer aspire to join the EU, as well as the United Kingdom, with its shared historical ties as a former EU member state, to actively pursue cooperation and deliberations with both EU and non-EU countries.

This flexibility extends to membership of the EPC. Members have the freedom to join and withdraw from the organisation at their discretion, which prevents complications and reduces the scope for conflict. While there is some risk this could lead to the rapid dissolution of the forum in future, it effectively mitigates much of the potential drama associated with membership.

The EPC’s flexible format has particular advantages for relations between France and the UK. It has received a positive reception in both countries and could prove to be a valuable communication channel for the two states to discuss European matters outside of the framework of the EU. Although the EPC was not initially established for this purpose, it may ultimately offer a new framework for developing Franco-British collaboration.

In 2024, the UK is set to host the fourth EPC summit. The British government will have responsibility for setting the meeting’s agenda and structuring the event. There is an opportunity for France and the UK to collaborate on the definition of themes and thereby strengthen their relationship. In this sense, the EPC could eventually develop into an informal and flexible vehicle for helping the Franco-British relationship to grow.

The issues in this article were discussed at a meeting of the Bayeux network, a diverse group of academics, think tankers and policymakers who have come together with a shared vision of promoting scientific excellence, fostering cooperation and enhancing diplomatic understanding. The network also aims to serve as a laboratory of ideas on Franco-British relations and to deepen our understanding of the UK’s interactions with the European Union and regional organisations, as well as multilateral and global challenges.

This Week at Loughborough | 19 June

June 19, 2023 Gemma Shrimpton


Public Lecture: Editing Aphra Behn’s Fiction

20 June 2023, 11am-3pm, International House

Learn about the first professional female English writer, Aphra Behn, in a series of short talks.

Find out more on the events page

Talk: Volunteering, Displacement and Livelihoods, Photographs by Young Refugees in Uganda

20 June 2023, 5pm-7pm, MHL0.07 Martinb Hall 

Join Professor Sarah Mills of Loughborough University’s School of Social Sciences and Humanities for a talk to accompany the Volunteering, Displacement and Livelihoods exhibition. 

Find out more on the events page

Public lecture: Creating a Sense of Togetherness

21 June 2023, 5:30pm-6:30pm, Online 

In this talk, Dr Jamie Barker and Dr Craig White will discuss their work within the fields of the military and sport using interventions to enhance leadership, resilience, and performance. 

Find out more on the events page

Public Lecture: The Community Response to VAWG

21 June 2023, 6:30pm-8:30pm, Edward Herbert Building 1.10B

This event aims to promote awareness of VAWG and the role that everyone can play in creating safe and supportive environments.

Find out more on the events page

National Theatre Live: Fleabag

22 June 2023, 7pm-8:30pm, Cope Auditorium  

Get ready for a night of glamour and celebration at the upcoming Rag Awards where we will be celebrating the amazing work of our Rag team over the last year. 

Find out more on the events page

African/Caribbean Celebratory Event

23 June 2023, 3pm-9pm, Village Bar

Loughborough University’s BAME Staff Network warmly invites staff, students, family and friends, and the wider community to celebrate the first African/Caribbean event to be held on campus.

Find out more on the events page

Five minutes with: Michael Bukur-li

June 15, 2023 Guest blogger

What is your job title and how long have you worked at Loughborough?

I’m a Doctoral Researcher in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences and I’ve been here a year and a half.

Tell us what a typical day looks like for you?

A typical day at Loughborough can be quite dynamic. The first half of my PhD has focused heavily on training and development, relationship building, and data collection. What that means is every day can be quite different. Prior to the start of my PhD, I had studied Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU and Cultural and Critical Studies at the University of Westminster. Coming to Loughborough has meant a transition in terms of academic discipline and field in addition to quite a large personal transition from major metropoles to a more rural setting.

My days are generally spent with early mornings in our shared PhD office on campus, an afternoon full of meetings and events, and lots of outreach and emails to organisational and community partners to push forward the final stages of data collection and start to plan for a public action event this summer at Mile End Park Run down in East London. Between meetings and emails, I am always trying to play catch up with transcription from a summer and fall full of qualitative interviews and I’m also starting to shape and write the early parts of my thesis. Loughborough may not be New York, but it sure can feel for me like the town that never sleeps sometimes!

What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on?

A project which was incredibly close to my heart was the East Midlands Film Festival earlier this year. The theme for LGBT+ History Month was ‘Behind the Lens’. Due to my position as Collaborations Lead and my prior work experience in film, I figured that it would be brilliant to bring some form of queer cinema to Loughborough. With a preliminary idea, having never hosted a film festival before, and a small team of just me and two other people, we were able to source over 1000 submissions from across the world and even award funded prizes for best feature and best short thanks to the support of LU Arts. For me, it was not only a beautiful event filled with great films but an incredibly fulfilling experience to be able to bring together the Loughborough community through queer art and give filmmakers from across the world the opportunity to have their films shown to audiences far from home. Hopefully, this can be an annual event which continues for years to come with the support for the LGBT+ Staff Network, LU Arts, and the University itself.

What is your proudest moment at Loughborough?

My proudest moment at Loughborough was in the context of teaching on the undergraduate module Sport and the Social Sciences. I remember the topic was about socio-critical perspectives on gender and pedagogy. Normally, teaching on social and critical theory can be a bit difficult in the context of the School of Sport because oftentimes students are less interested in the topic or struggle to see its relevance to their desired career paths. However, this day I had delved deeply into intersectional theory and encouraged the students to explore how identity is relational and inextricably embedded in systems of power and place. Students were fairly engaged throughout; however, my proudest moment came when one of the students was leaving and she turned to me and said how sincerely grateful she was for how I covered the content that day in seminar. For me, it is moments like that which make teaching, and especially teaching the social sciences, such a fulfilling experience because you can see first hand how it provides students with ideas and a way of thinking that can help them understand themselves and the people and world around them.

Tell us something you do outside of work that we might not know about?

Outside of work, I am an English teacher to non-native speakers. I started teaching English when I was living in Madrid back in 2020/2021 as a language assistant at a secondary school. When I left Madrid to come to Loughborough to start my PhD, I continued teaching online. Teaching English has given me the opportunity to not only hone my teaching skills but also connect with and learn about people and places across the world.

What is your favourite quote?

“Being queer saved my life. Often we see queerness as deprivation. But when I look at my life, I saw that queerness demanded an alternative innovation from me. I had to make alternative routes; it made me curious; it made me ask, ‘Is this enough for me?’” – Ocean Vuong

Teaching mathematical problem solving in the school curriculum

Teaching mathematical problem solving in the school curriculum

June 13, 2023 Centre for Mathematical Cognition

Written by Dr Colin Foster. Colin is a Reader in Mathematics Education and is interested in the teaching of problem solving in mathematics. He is the Director of the Loughborough University Mathematics Education Network (LUMEN), and the current focus of LUMEN is the design of a complete set of classroom resources for teaching mathematics to ages 11-14. There is a link to LUMEN at the end of this blogpost. The article is edited by Bethany Woollacott.


People often say that the school mathematics curriculum should no longer be training children to be efficient calculators, doing fluent arithmetic and algebraic manipulation, because we now have computers that can do all of that kind of thing extremely quickly and accurately. Instead, the school mathematics curriculum should focus on teaching students to be confident problem solvers, ready to tackle unfamiliar (i.e. unseen) problems with creativity and ingenuity. Whether you agree with that or not, mathematics curricula across the world give ‘problem solving’ a high profile.

Instead, the school mathematics curriculum should focus on teaching students to be confident problem solvers, ready to tackle unfamiliar problems with creativity and ingenuity.

The phrase ‘problem solving’ is sometimes used just to mean answering familiar, routine exercises, which students have been trained to do, and where they merely copy the method that their teacher has shown them. But, in the mathematics education literature, ‘problem solving’ is rarely used in this way. Instead, it normally refers to “a task for which the solution method is not known in advance” (NCTM, 2000, p. 52). So, with problem solving, students have to scratch their heads and come up with an approach to something that they haven’t been shown exactly how to do.

Can problem solving be taught?

It isn’t obvious what it means to try to teach problem solving. If you teach someone a method for solving a particular kind of problem, then that class of problem is no longer ‘a problem’, because the student has a ready-made method for it. They can just turn the handle and get the answer. This is the normal way in which mathematics develops through history: someone clever comes up with a method for something for which there is a need, and then everyone else from then on can use that method and not have to reinvent the wheel. But amassing a larger and larger toolbox of methods isn’t the same as learning to be able to solve novel problems for yourself.

So, teachers are often exhorted to avoid this trap when focusing on problem solving, and instead let students struggle with problems without providing them with a solution method. However, this is often criticised as an inefficient teaching approach, and it could be demotivating for students to struggle for a long time without success. Can we really expect every student to reinvent methods that might have taken mathematicians hundreds of years to develop? But if the teacher helps by offering hints and suggestions then isn’t this taking away from the problem solving aspect?

Generic strategies

The most common approach that I see in schools is for teachers to focus on teaching generic problem-solving strategies, often with reference to George Pólya and his remarkable book ‘How to solve it’ (1957). Pólya’s book provides a long list of heuristics (i.e., general strategies) for solving problems, and many other people have also made lists of these kinds of things, which include strategies like ‘Draw a diagram’.

It is hard to argue with the value of these strategies, but, as Alan Schoenfeld discovered in his ground-breaking programme of research on problem solving, Polya’s strategies “were broad and descriptive, rather than prescriptive, [and] novice problem solvers could hardly use them as guides to productive problem solving behavior” (Schoenfeld, 1987, p. 31). The strategies were true in the sense that that’s certainly what expert problem solvers actually did. But they were hard to apply in practice. A stuck student being advised ‘Draw a diagram’ is likely to respond, ‘What diagram?’. For this and other reasons, teaching generic strategies does not seem to improve students’ ability to solve mathematical problems.

A stuck student being advised ‘Draw a diagram’ is likely to respond, ‘What diagram?’

Specific tactics

In a recent article (Foster, 2023), I explored the literature on the teaching of problem solving in mathematics, looking for a better approach than teaching generic strategies. Those arguing against the teaching of generic strategies tend to be in favour of focusing solely on ‘content knowledge’. From a cognitive load theory perspective, the more relevant domain-specific knowledge you have in long-term memory, the more space that frees up in working memory to ‘problem solve’. However, in the article I consider examples of ‘easy but difficult problems’, that require very little in terms of what we normally think of as content knowledge, but which most people find very hard. A classic example is “Langley’s adventitious angles” shown in the diagram below: can you find x? (From Langley, 1922)

Hardly anyone who sees this problem for the first time can solve it. But, in terms of content knowledge of angles, it only requires very basic facts, such as that the angle sum of a triangle is 180°. The reason people can’t solve this isn’t that they don’t know enough advanced geometrical facts. More complicated mathematics, such as trigonometry, isn’t necessary and doesn’t help. The challenge of this problem is to make use of what you know – and generic strategies such as ‘Be systematic’ or ‘Make a plan’ don’t help either.

In my article, I argue that the missing ingredient that students are generally not explicitly taught, at least in the UK, is domain-specific problem-solving tactics. These are quite fine-grained (much smaller than ‘Draw a diagram’) and much narrower in scope. In this case – spoiler alert! – the relevant domain-specific tactic is ‘Draw in an auxiliary line’. This means a line which is not in the original figure, but which you add in yourself, and which creates new angles. Doing this, it may look as though you’ve made the problem more complicated, but in fact when you angle chase around your new line you find a solution relatively quickly (the article is linked at the bottom of this blogpost if you are interested). This tactic unlocks the problem quite dramatically, and it is not a one-off ‘trick’. ‘Draw in an auxiliary line’ is a tactic that will work across a range of geometry problems, including much simpler ones than this difficult problem.

In our current work at Loughborough on the design of the LUMEN Curriculum, we are thinking about how to prioritise a carefully-chosen list of high-leverage domain-specific tactics, and then how to teach these systematically and explicitly, through the use of a range of different problems. We want students to see which kinds of problems a particular tactic will unlock and which it won’t, and why. We hope that this will be a more equitable and reliable way to teach problem solving than leaving most students to struggle while a lucky few have a flash of inspiration.

We hope that this will be a more equitable and reliable way to teach problem solving than leaving most students to struggle while a lucky few have a flash of inspiration.


Foster, C. (2023). Problem solving in the mathematics curriculum: From domain-general strategies to domain-specific tactics. The Curriculum Journal. Advance online publication.

Langley, E. M. (1922). Problem 644. The Mathematical Gazette, 11(160), 173.

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) (2000). Principles and standards for school mathematics. NCTM.

Polya, G. (1957). How to solve it: A new aspect of mathematical method (2nd ed). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Schoenfeld, A. H. (1987). Confessions of an accidental theorist. For the Learning of Mathematics, 7(1), 30-38.

Lines of Empathy - exhibition at Close Ltd - Somerset

June 8, 2023 Deborah Harty

Giulia Ricci

Lines of Empathy is a group show bringing together hand-drawn work on paper by 17 mid-career and established artists working in Britain today. The artworks in the exhibition are the subject of a new artist’s book, bearing the same title of the show, produced by the Italian, London-based, artist Giulia Ricci between 2020 and 2022.

Curated by Giulia Ricci. Exhibiting artists:
Fay Ballard, Duncan Bullen, Lucinda Burgess, Helen Cass, Rachel Duckhouse, Mary Griffiths, Simon Hitchens, Louise Hopkins, Carali McCall, Onya McCausland, Anna Mossman, David Murphy, Peter Peri, Kathy Prendergast, Wendy Smith, Giulia Ricci and Kate Terry.

The show travels from Patrick Heide Contemporary Art, London, where it was shown in February 2023. The exhibition at Close Ltd, Somerset, will be open until July the 22nd 2023.

From the Vice-Chancellor - May 2023

From the Vice-Chancellor - May 2023

June 7, 2023 Nick Jennings

In my May newsletter: the Education and Student Experience core plan, our facilities on campus, a first-of-its kind digital decarbonisation tool, the strategic theme Associate Pro Vice-Chancellors, and a staff survey update.

Associate Pro Vice-Chancellors appointed

Earlier this year we announced our intention to recruit two Associate Pro Vice-Chancellors (APVCs) for each of the three institutional themes in our Strategic Plan – Sport, Health and Wellbeing; Climate Change and Net Zero; and Vibrant and Inclusive Communities.

I am delighted that we have now appointed to each of these positions. Professor David Fletcher (School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences) and Dr Diwei Zhou (School of Science) will be APVCs for the Sport, Health and Wellbeing theme; Dr Kathryn North (School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering) and Professor John Downey (School of Social Sciences and Humanities) have been appointed to the roles for Climate Change and Net Zero; and Professor Rebecca Cain (School of Design and Creative Arts) and Professor Emily Keightley (School of Social Sciences and Humanities) will be the APVCs for Vibrant and Inclusive Communities.

The three themes encapsulate our significant strengths and over the coming years will influence our curricula, research and strategic partnerships, and drive our international reputation. The Associate Pro Vice-Chancellors will coordinate, champion and drive forward the interdisciplinary activity taking place across the Schools and Professional Services. Congratulations to our new APVCs on their appointment and I look forward to working with you to maximise and further enhance our strengths in each of the three theme areas.

Education and Student Experience core plan

Loughborough has long been renowned for the quality of its education and student experience, but we must continue to innovate and enhance our provision if we are to remain at the forefront in an increasingly competitive marketplace. An innovative academic experience will inspire, empower and enrich the lives of our students and enable us to create a culturally vibrant and diverse community – an ambition that aligns closely with our aims for both international engagement and equity, diversity and inclusion.

The provision of a sector-leading education and student experience is one of the six aims of our University Strategy. The Education and Student Experience Core Plan, which will underpin the development and delivery of our activity in this area, has now been approved by Senate and Council. 

The core plan has four key objectives:

  • To create a sector-leading and innovative academic experience 
  • To create an equitable, inclusive student experience which ensures all students (from all backgrounds, at all levels) feel they belong
  • To create a future-fit learning and living environment which enhances the student experience
  • To deliver a life-long learning offer which aligns with Loughborough’s strengths and engages students/ learners beyond our usual reach

The plan’s development has been led by Professor Rachel Thomson (Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Student Experience) and Dr Manuel Alonso (Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Director of Student Services), following extensive consultation with groups and individuals across the University, alumni and Loughborough Students’ Union. Thank you to all those who have helped to shape this important work.

Our facilities on campus

The Whatuni Student Choice Awards (WUSCAs) are one of the highlights in the higher education calendar, as they are based on the views of students across the UK and give us crucial feedback on the areas where our students think we’re doing well. The students’ reviews also give prospective students genuine insight when they’re making decisions about what and where they would like to study.

I was delighted, therefore, that Loughborough was named the Best University in the UK for Facilities at the 2023 WUSCAs event, held late last month. This is the third time Loughborough has taken the top spot in this category. The University also received silver in the Halls and Student Accommodation category. Congratulations to all those who are involved in the development and maintenance of our outstanding campuses.

It is clear that our buildings, facilities and outdoor spaces, and increasingly the sustainable way in which we develop and manage them, are important to both our current and future students, as well as to our staff. This month we achieved another sustainable development milestone when Pavilion 4 of the SportPark building achieved Passivhaus Accreditation, widely regarded as the most challenging energy efficiency and comfort standard in the world.

The building will utilise state-of-the-art heating and cooling mechanisms to enable the building’s carbon footprint to be minimised. The project is the first Passivhaus development on the University campus and a step towards our goal to decarbonise the University estate to meet our zero carbon target by 2035. SportPark Pavilion 4 will also be a unique living lab that will enable our researchers, as part of our Climate Change and Net Zero theme, to take detailed measurements of the building’s performance and its energy efficiency to inform the design of the next generation of zero carbon buildings at the University.

World-first for Loughborough in digital decarbonisation

While our move to a more digital way of life, both at work and at home, can help to reduce our environmental impact, the resulting increase in the use of electronic devices, and importantly the generation and storage of data, are all contributing to a significant digital carbon footprint.

Each day, for example, the average person creates ten DVDs-worth of data via their phones, fitness trackers and emails. All these bytes are collected by companies and stored at various data centres around the globe. By 2025, there will be an estimated 180 zettabytes of stored data – one zettabyte equals one trillion bytes.

Identifying and capturing data CO2 footprints is essential to organisations’ future decarbonisation strategies. With this in mind, Professor Ian Hodgkinson and Professor Tom Jackson from Loughborough Business School have created a new carbon calculator tool that allows businesses to measure the CO2 emissions of all their stored digital data. The data carbon ladder calculates the CO2 output based on a number of factors, such as the kind of data being analysed, how and where it is stored, and how often it is accessed.

This is the first-ever publicly available tool that enables organisations to assess the environmental impact of their data projects and, crucially, make informed decisions about operational changes they could make to minimise their environmental impact while still achieving their business objectives. In their research paper published last year in the Journal of Business Strategy, Professor Hodgkinson and Professor Jackson highlighted that Government policy and technological innovations to date had focused on tackling traditional carbon emission, without addressing digital decarbonisation. This new tool, therefore – which aligns with both the Research and Innovation aim and the Climate Change and Net Zero theme of our University strategy – has the potential to be a game changer, and should be part of our own planning.

Staff Survey update

Towards the end of last year we ran our most comprehensive Staff Survey since 2016 to gain a better understanding of your experience at Loughborough. The survey had a positive response rate of 66% and showed where you think we’re performing well, compared to the sector benchmark, and where further work is needed. A set of actions – both at University and at School and Service levels – is now underway to address the issues you raised with us in the survey.

One such area was support for your wellbeing. At a University level several strands of activity are underway as a result. For example, staff in Occupational Health are working with one of our academic Schools to pilot a stress and wellbeing diagnostic tool to identify and support the delivery of targeted support for specific issues, and they are liaising with Organisational Development to explore how wellbeing can be integrated into the leadership training we provide.

Within the Schools and Professional Services, Deans and Directors have been working with their senior management teams to develop a set of actions to address the issues their staff raised. Loughborough Business School, for instance, held an away day for all its staff to consider and prioritise the actions they should take in response to the survey. In Marketing and Advancement, a conference focusing on development for all staff with line-management responsibilities will take place next month to help colleagues to develop consistent leadership behaviours within the department. I look forward to hearing how the actions are developing. We plan to run a survey every November so we can ensure we’re receiving feedback from staff on a regular basis on their experience of working here. We are also identifying ways in which we can obtain feedback from people who work for the University on a more casual basis and more information on this will be shared in due course.

DRN2023 Drawing in Relation: Sound & Motion Recording

June 7, 2023 Deborah Harty

Thank you to James Bowen for chairing the third in the series of Drawing in Relation events, to the presenters Lisa Munnelly & Simon Eastwood, Kirsty Gordon and Oona Wagstaff and to everyone who attended.

How Loughborough research is helping to protect the planet

How Loughborough research is helping to protect the planet

June 1, 2023 Charlotte Lingham

World Environment Day (5 June) is the United Nations’ Day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment. This year, the focus is on finding solutions to the growing problem of plastic pollution.

A staggering 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced every year – half of which is designed to be used only once. Worryingly, less than 10 percent of all plastic is recycled, with an estimated 19-23 million tonnes ending up in our lakes, rivers and seas each year. 

To mark World Environment Day, we take a look at some of the ground-breaking research from across Loughborough University that’s playing a vital role addressing this global issue. 

Transforming single-use food packaging

Dr Garrath Wilson and his team from the School of Design and Creative Arts are at the forefront of research that could fundamentally change how we package and recycle items for the benefit of the environment. 

The Perpetual Plastic for Food-to-Go project aims to address the problem of single-use disposable packaging commonly used for grab-and-go foods such as sandwiches and salads. 

Working with experts in sustainable design, manufacturing, and chemistry, along with industry partners involved in every step of the takeaway food supply chain, the team hope to create a new system where food packaging is used more efficiently and can be reused multiple times. 

Closing the loop on plastics

Over a decade of chemistry research underpins the innovative process used by Plastic Energy to convert plastic food wrappers into a feedstock to produce new plastics.

A global leader in chemical recycling technology, Plastic Energy is transforming the global landscape of plastic waste by converting previously unrecyclable plastic into a recycled oil (called TACOIL™) that replaces fossil oils in the production of new plastics.

The company has partnered with academics including Professor Steve Christie to accelerate the innovative process to help prevent plastic waste and transform it into a valuable resource. 

Protecting our oceans

School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering researcher Melissa Schiele is heading a partnership looking at using drones to better understand the levels and rates of plastic pollution in the Maldives.

Melissa, whose research is focused on developing drone technology to protect and monitor marine life, is helping to train local teams to operate new long-endurance, water-landing fixed-wing drones provided by the non-profit organisation Oceans Unmanned.

This data will be used to build a picture of plastic pollution in the Maldives, which is home to the world’s seventh-largest coral reef system and more than 1,100 species of fish and 180 species of coral.  

Exposing the problem of plastic pollution 

A recent study led by School of Social Sciences and Humanities researcher Dr Tom Stanton has uncovered the types of litter found in hedgerows and waterways across the UK. 

The research, conducted in collaboration with the environmental non-profit organization Planet Patrol, revealed that plastic makes up most of the litter in the UK, with drinks packaging being the most commonly discarded items.

Tom hopes the study will raise awareness of “the extent and diversity of litter across the UK, and in particular the profile of litter that is often marketed as a greener alternative to plastic but is still a problem in the environment.”

More information

Explore more of Loughborough’s pioneering research and discover how our work is addressing major global challenges

This World Environment Day, 5th June, staff and students can get involved in a litter pick around campus. The session starts at 12pm outside the Edward Hebert Building. Please email if you would like to volunteer to help at the session.

A Sustainability Learning and Development Display will be in both Pilkington Library and Loughborough London Library from 9am-5pm on the 5th June. There will be books, fact sheets, and resources available, making it the perfect way to spend a productive revision break.

The Loughborough Sustainability team will be hosting a competition on their Instagram account on the 5th June. All you have to do to enter is submit an ‘Ecofession’ in the question box on their story. You’ll then be entered into a prize draw to win either a Sustainability Hamper, a tree planted in your name by the National Forest, or a £20 Public and Plant voucher.

The aim of submitting an ‘Ecofession’ (a sustainability slip up) is to get you to think about those things you could improve on, as well as creating an accepting culture, where we acknowledge that it’s okay to not be perfect.

Our crucial next steps for change- what did the IPCC report say?

Our crucial next steps for change- what did the IPCC report say?

May 31, 2023 Rhiannon Brown


On March 20th 2023, the last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report was published. I waited a while to publish this blog so I could gather my thoughts and listen to the public response before sharing. The IPCC are a United Nations (UN) body that pull together all the latest climate science into a condensed format for governments, primarily, the media and others to make sense of. They use a multi-year assessment cycle of around 8-10 years, with 4 reports published during each cycle. The order of the reports are: Climate science, impacts and how we adapt, mitigation and how to avoid the worst impacts, and finally the one we are discussing today: a summary report.

This IPCC report is one of the most important indicators for informing world leaders at COPs. You can find out what happened at the last COP (27) from our blog last year.

It’s so important to state here that this report will more than likely be the last IPCC report to come out prior to the end of this decade, highlighting how crucial it is that action is taken from the report. It does seem that this really is our last chance before it’s too late to avoid the worst impacts.

So, what does the report actually say?

To begin, the summary report for policy makers discusses the current scientific state, in terms of observed changes and its causes and impacts.

This image (below) highlights how we know that climate change has already caused widespread impacts, and associated losses and damages. These observed impacts are the result of human activities and the emissions of greenhouse gases, with the global surface temperature recorded in 2011-2020 at 1.1°C above the temperature during 1850-1900.

The listed contributors to greenhouse gas emissions are “unsustainable energy use, land use and land-use change, lifestyles and patterns of consumption and production across regions, between and within countries, and among individuals.”

The resultant impacts of these greenhouse gas emissions are already underway, and affecting weather and climate extremes all over the world.

Losses and Damages

This refers to the losses and damages that we are experiencing right now, along with all those that will be faced in the future. Every 0.5°C of global temperature rise will clearly increase the frequency of extreme weather events, such as heavy rainfall events, droughts, and heat extremes. Rising temperatures also increases the likelihood of us reaching dangerous tipping points in the climate system. These can trigger events such as thawing permafrost (permanently frozen ground that releases previously stored carbon dioxide and methane when thawed) which further increases warming. Another example of this is forest fires.

Overshooting the 1.5°C target, even temporarily, will result in much more severe and irreversible impacts, such as local species extinctions and extensive human life loss. See below an infographic from the IPCC’s working group II report looking at risks compared to temperature rise:

It is essential to remember when discussing this that the most vulnerable people and ecosystems are affected the most.

“Almost half of the world’s population lives in regions that are highly vulnerable to climate change. In the last decade, deaths from floods, droughts and storms were 15 times higher in  highly vulnerable regions.“

Aditi Mukherji, one of the 98 authors of the Synthesis Report to close the IPCC’s sixth assessment.

Climate justice is a term you have more than likely heard by now, and for good reason. So what do we mean by this?

  • A human rights base approach needs to be taken with climate action.
  • Take a people-centred approach to climate action.
  • The understanding that not everyone has contributed to climate change in the same way.
  • To combat social, gender, economic, intergenerational, and environmental injustices, and acknowledge the intersectionality of these challenges.
  • Take a systems based transformation to address the root of the problem- climate crisis is the result of a system which focuses on profit instead of sustainability.

This is crucial, as those who have contributed the least to climate change are being the most heavily and disproportionately affected.

You can read more about climate justice in our blog from 2020.

What action should come out of this?

On a basic level, we need action, and a lot of it, to adapt to climate change whilst mitigating by reducing our emissions by almost half by 2030 if warming is to be limited to 1.5°C.

We’ve broken down some key actions to help reduce emissions:


  • Every country needs to have a much more ambitious Climate Action Plan to eliminate emissions and take carbon out of the atmosphere. Crucially, everyone needs to also follow through on their plans. I’d also like to point out that this is especially necessary for wealthy countries who contribute the most to global emissions.
  • A lot more funding needs to be put into all aspects of climate change. Investing more money into nature is needed, and governments must accept this.
  • Here’s an interesting read on Canada’s new Climate Action Plan, and their proposal to work with nature to reduce emissions.

Fossil Fuels:

  • Coal use must be phased out fully and fossil fuel use must be reduced. This is our primary focus and has to be addressed if we have a chance at limiting warming to 1.5°C.

Carbon Capture:

  • Technology such as “carbon capture and storage (liquifying the carbon from power plants and storing it underground) and direct air capture (removing carbon from the atmosphere by chemical means) will likely be needed in order to ensure that any rise above 1.5C is only temporary.” (UNFCCC)

Of course, I have only touched on the topic here, so you can read the full summary report here.

A few points to note

It’s worth mentioning that every government in the world has agreed to the content of this report, which demonstrates that there is no doubt about its contents. The only thing we have to be aware of is what may not be in the reports due to political alterations during the approval stage.

What do I mean by this? Well, the summary report was produced for policy makers and is a lot, lot shorter than the full scientific report. This makes it more accessible and easier to digest of course, but it also means that not everything can be included. We may also see alterations in the language used in the summary report compared to the full scientific report. As mentioned, all governments had to agree to the contents of the summary report, which can result in some changes from the original due to political pressure and decisions.

We saw this happen within the 3rd IPCC report, where the draft summary for policy makers referred to the need to “actively phase out fossil fuels”. After the political interference, the wording in the summary became “transition away from fossil fuels to lower carbon energy sources, such as renewables and fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage”. This is a huge alteration from what the scientists recommended in the draft, and I wanted to point this out for consideration when reading the updated summary report.

But, what have policies already achieved?

This whole blog has quite possibly been pretty overwhelming, so I want to reassure you that climate policy is already working. It’s easy to think that all these years of negotiations and deals have achieved nothing due to the emergency that we currently face. However, the latest report states that several billion tonnes of CO2 emissions per year have been avoided due to previous mitigation policies for energy efficiency, reducing deforestation, and technology deployment. This is a positive sign that we are beginning to shift towards decarbonisation! I’m not saying that we have made enough progress, as we haven’t by any stretch of the term, but it’s important to remember that we have made a start. Every action counts.

This article is in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action. To read more click here.

What is mathematics? How should we make sense of mathematical cognition research

What is mathematics? How should we make sense of mathematical cognition research

May 31, 2023 Beth Woollacott

Written by Camilla Gilmore who is a Professor of Mathematical Cognition and co-director of the CMC. Edited by Bethany Woollacott.

This post summarises Camilla’s EPS Prize paper that was recently published by the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. The paper is open access and linked at the end of this blogpost.

Finding the bigger picture in mathematical cognition research

As academics we typically look forward, focusing on the new studies we want to run, the datasets we are analysing or the papers we need to write. We rarely spend time looking backwards and thinking about the bigger picture that guides the work that we and others do. However, last year I had the opportunity to write a review paper and spent some time reflecting on the huge growth in mathematical cognition research over the past two decades and the progress that has been made.

In doing so, one of the things that struck me is that we do not have a shared viewpoint on what mathematics is. As a result, it is difficult to bring together findings from different studies and we don’t know how a set of varied skills, processes and knowledge combine to allow individuals to be mathematical.

We do not have a shared viewpoint on what mathematics is

I felt that a framework that does this might be helpful so we can:

  • understand how different research findings fit together;
  • identify outstanding questions for future research;
  • inform the choice of mathematical measures;
  • and provide a shared language to discuss these issues.

I hope that the resulting multi-level framework for mathematical cognition provide impetus for researchers in the field to have these bigger picture discussions.

Mathematics as a multi-componential domain

What is mathematics? It’s well-established that mathematics is not a single construct. It encompasses a wide range of domains (e.g., arithmetic, geometry, algebra) and involves a combination of skills, knowledge and processes.

This creates two challenges for researchers:

  1. How do we identify and understand the mechanisms underlying mathematics learning?
  2. How do we decide what to measure when studying mathematical cognition?

Does it matter if one group of researchers studying, for example, the relationship between inhibitory control and mathematics choose to use a comprehensive mathematical achievement measure and another group of researchers interested in the same topic choose a timed measure of arithmetic fluency?

Levels of mathematics

I propose that it might be helpful to think about mathematical cognition as involving three (or more) levels, depicted in the diagram here. 

At the highest level we have overall mathematical achievement. This is typically measured by broad curriculum measures or composite standardised measures that incorporate a variety of mathematical domains and may include reasoning and problem solving. Measures of mathematics achievement typically require individuals to identify the mathematics required in contextually based problems in order to select appropriate strategies and to combine different skills and knowledge to answer a given question. 

Overall mathematics achievement emerges from proficiency with specific components of mathematics. This level of the framework captures an individual’s performance in coherent sub-components of mathematics for which it may be anticipated that they will use a more-or-less consistent set of mathematical knowledge and skills. For example, specific components of mathematics may include number fact retrieval, algebraic reasoning, understanding of arithmetical relationships, and adaptive strategy selection.

These specific components of mathematics in turn recruit basic mathematical processes. These are lower-level processes that underpin the specific components described above. Here, it is helpful to consider the lowest levels of mathematical processes that cannot be easily subdivided and measured in a meaningful (mathematical) fashion. This might include, for example, magnitude comparison, order processing, spatial-numerical associations, intuitive geometrical knowledge, and place-value understanding.

The nature and content of the specific components of mathematics and basic mathematical processes are likely to change over development and learning.

The framework and existing evidence

We can think of mathematical cognition as comprising these three levels of increasingly specific processes and the links between them. However, these mathematics-specific elements of the framework do not operate in isolation. General cognitive skills may be independently related to each of these levels. Informal and formal learning experiences may influence the development of each level, as well as the links between them.

If we examine the existing, and rapidly-growing, mathematical cognition literature, we see there is some evidence for each of the links a-e, in the framework (see the paper for examples and references). Much of this evidence is currently correlational, for example showing associations between specific mathematical (or cognitive) processes and proficiency with specific components of mathematics or overall mathematics achievement.

What do we need to know?

The framework draws attention to several outstanding questions that need answering for us to have a comprehensive understanding of mathematical cognition.

  1. What are the most important basic mathematical processes and specific components of mathematics that are necessary to understand the mechanisms of mathematical cognition?
    A helpful task for the field is to investigate which basic mathematical processes are essential for higher-level mathematics performance and which specific components of mathematics form coherent elements of knowledge, skills, and understanding.

  2. How specifically mathematical are the basic mathematical processes and how general are the general cognitive skills?
    It may be that the basic cognitive processes involved in mathematics are better conceived of as a continuum between more general and more specific, rather than a dichotomy between domain-general and domain-specific.

  3. What is the role of affective factors (anxiety, motivation, enjoyment etc.)?
    We know that these factors are associated with overall mathematics achievement but it is less clear how they relate to basic mathematical processes, the involvement of general cognitive skills in different components of mathematics or the way that individuals interact with different learning experiences.

The links in the model represent crucial mechanisms that we need to understand. Paying more attention to the mechanisms between different elements of mathematics, rather than just correlational evidence of associations, would help us to further develop theory.

Concluding comments

The framework is not intended to be a model of mathematical processing or to capture everything that is involved in learning mathematics. I hope instead that it will trigger conversations amongst researchers, provide a structure to think about the commonalities and differences between studies and help researchers to think more precisely about the measures of mathematics that they use in their studies. Different measures of mathematics are not inter-changeable and should be selected carefully in light of the specific research questions of interest. What should not drive decisions about the use of measures is the simple ease of the measure involved.

What should not drive decisions about the use of measures is the simple ease of the measure involved

Thinking of mathematics in terms of this framework may also contribute to debates about pedagogical decisions by identifying the range of processes, skills and understanding that children’s learning experience should seek to target.

The EU needs to foster tech — not just regulate it

May 30, 2023 Lilia Boukikova

Negotiations over the European Union Artificial Intelligence Act entered their end game this week after a vote in the European Parliament paved the way for a final round of negotiations with member state governments.

Some commentators have questioned whether the new law, which could be on the books by the end of this year, will keep up with ChatGPT and other rapidly-developing general purpose AI systems.

And yet, the European Union’s ambition to be a digital superpower stands in stark contrast to US policy-makers reticence about reining in tech companies. The bigger problem facing the European Union is that it remains far better at regulation than innovation despite decades of hand-wringing over Europe’s technology gap.

In February 2022, European commissioner Thierry Breton tweeted a clip from Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and declared the European Union the “new sheriff…in town” which would ‘put some order in the digital “Wild West”‘.

It was not only a clever piece of political communication but a popular one. In a Eurobarometer poll published two years earlier, 83 percent of EU citizens agreed that fake news was a threat to democracy, with more than one-third coming across disinformation weekly. A survey conducted by Harris Interactive around the same time found that 64 percent of Europeans wanted the EU to do more to regulate the power of US tech giants.

The European Union has earned its golden sheriff’s star with two new laws that entered into force in November 2022.

The Digital Markets Act prohibits digital gatekeepers — online platforms with at least 45 million monthly active users or 10,000 annual business users — from engaging in unfair business practices, such as limiting access to third-party apps, app stores and payment systems.

The Digital Services Act threatens search engines and social media platforms which fail to report hate speech, terrorist content and images of child abuse with swingeing fines. The A.I. Act will add to this digital rule book with a risk-based approach to A.I. systems. Social scoring and dark pattern techniques will be banned. High-risk A.I. applications, such as those used to screen job applicants or determine eligibility for public services, must demonstrate due regard for transparency, security and human control and other essential requirements before they reach the market.

Warranted though such regulations are, the fact that most fall on non-European businesses should give policy-makers pause for thought.

Not household names

Among the top thirty tech firms by market capitalisation, only two are from Europe. ASML leads the world in chip production, but this Dutch firm is worth only a fraction of Alphabet, Apple, Amazon, Meta and Microsoft, and far less visible than the big five in most people’s daily lives.

The same is true of German giant, SAP, which is little known beyond the world of business software.

The EU’s technology gap has been blamed on a lack of creativity. But the success of European unicorns (start-ups that achieve a valuation of $1bn [€0.93bn]), including Estonia’s Bolt, Sweden’s Klarna and France’s ContentSquare, challenges this view.

A more serious impediment to European tech entrepreneurship is access to venture capital, especially late-stage capital, which makes it difficult for start-ups to scale up. Twenty years after its leaders promised to raise spending on research and development to three percent of Gross Domestic Product, the EU remains well below this target, unlike Japan and the United States.

The European single market, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, has fostered competitiveness in industries ranging from fashion to finance. This effect has been much less pronounced for European digital technologies, where significant barriers to cross-border trade remain.

This can be seen, for example, in telecoms, where the segmentation of markets along national lines has stunted investment. In 2022, 73 percent of people had access to 5G (the fifth-generation mobile phone network) in the European Union compared to 96 percent in the United States.

The EU has also struggled to create a genuine single market for e-commerce. While the 2018 Geo-Blocking Regulation makes it easier for European shoppers to access websites in other member states, delivery restrictions remain a major obstacle to cross-border trade.

The regulation also excludes audio-visual services and so leaves Europeans unable to watch the same films and football matches.

There are signs of fresh thinking from Brussels about the future of European digital technology. The Recovery and Resilience Facility, the European Union’s €800bn pandemic recovery fund, is providing grants and loans for digital transformation projects, ranging from the construction of 2,600km of 5G corridors in Italy to the creation of an A.I. strategy in Spain.

A new European Tech Champions Initiative will also channel €3.75bn to venture capital funds in support of European tech start-ups. However, without further financing and a redoubling of efforts to build the digital single market, the EU is destined to regulate American and Asian tech giants rather than fostering homegrown firms which are closer to European values.

Five minutes with: Angela Martinez Dy

May 26, 2023 Guest blogger

What’s your job title and how long have you worked at Loughborough?

I’m a Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and I’ve worked here seven and a half years.

Tell us what a typical day looks like for you?

At Loughborough London we deliver modules in blocks so a typical day varies quite a lot depending on whether I’m teaching or not. When teaching, I deliver lectures for two hours in the morning, give myself and the students an hour for lunch, and come back for a 90 minute seminar in the afternoon. When not teaching or marking, I start the day with correspondence and scholarship and then take meetings in the afternoon. I find it easier to be creative before the noise of the day gets too loud. Currently, I am simultaneously in the writing-up stages of some empirical projects and at the beginning of a few new collaborations, so my scholarly hours (when I’m not reviewing for academic journals!) might be spent fine-tuning a manuscript, on a call with or writing to a co-author, or – my ideal day – reading, thinking, outlining and free-writing. I also meet regularly with other leads in the BAME Staff Network and hold office hours twice a week, when I make myself available for consultation by students or colleagues, many of whom are involved in advancing the equity, diversity, and inclusion agenda at the University.

What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on?

Being a part of the London start-up and tech scene when working as a project evaluator for the the OneTech project – I gained invaluable insight into the world that I study and theorise.

What is your proudest moment at Loughborough?

Designing and collaboratively delivering the Race Equity Town Hall (2021) to begin a culture of transparency and accountability around challenging institutional racism at the University and in the sector.

Tell us something you do outside of work that we might not know about?

I am a poet and a hip hop emcee, and spent many years organising open mics and writing circles in my hometown of Seattle, WA.

What is your favourite quote?

“The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.” – Charles DuBos

If you would like to feature in ‘5 Minutes With’, or you work with someone who you think would be great to include, please email Soph Dinnie at

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