Skip to content Skip to navigation

Loughborough University Blogs Blog

Other Blogs


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

Biodiversity: Is Not Mowing Worth it? 

Biodiversity: Is Not Mowing Worth it? 

May 25, 2023 Rhiannon Brown

Guest blog by Rich-Fenn-Griffin, Loughborough University’s Assistant Gardens Manager.

I expect many of you were probably worried that the gardeners had gone on strike when the grass started to grow long on campus in April.  In fact, we had some comments along the line of ‘did the gardeners only get halfway through the job and give up?’  Our intentions were always purposeful, and I hope you can appreciate that the plan is now delivering a more beautiful and interesting green spaces. 

So what are the benefits of having longer grass?   

A grassy field with trees in the background

Description automatically generated with medium confidenceA picture containing outdoor, sky, field, tree

Description automatically generated

Let’s look at some photos to appreciate the differences between mowing and managed mowing (the areas with long grass).  In the photo (below left) you can see an area completely cut.  The greenness of the grass is lost under the brown of the recently cut grass drying on top.  This cut grass will eventually rot down but in the process creates a layer that suffocates any wildflowers growing in the lawn.  This makes the lawn more grassy and less florally rich in the long run.  It also means the grass sequesters less carbon dioxide and so doesn’t help tackle global warming like longer grass.  If you contrast this with the photo on the right (below), you can see long grass has more structure and niche habitats.  The grass and flowers don’t all grow at the same rate and this creates opportunities for different insects to feed and live in the area.  For instance, spiders will set up webs between the longer grasses catching flying insects.  Other insects will forage nectar from the flowers.  These can be prey for spiders and birds.  In time, it’s possible that we may start to get small mammals such as voles feeding in the longer grass.  These will in turn provide food for kestrels and owls. 

The managed mown areas are richer in wildflowers than the mown grass areas.  Below are some photos of the flowers I saw on a quick visit to the area near Water-Based Hockey, but probably many more exist.

Please get out and explore our grassy areas and appreciate the diversity of nature.  I hope you will support us in our vision for a wilder campus that is more diverse in wildlife.  If you have any questions, then please do not hesitate to get in touch at 

This article is in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on Land. To read more click here

WARPit: A Platform for Reusing on Campus

WARPit: A Platform for Reusing on Campus

May 24, 2023 Rhiannon Brown

My name is Zoe, and I am a passionate environmentalist, masters student and part time sustainability team member at Loughborough University responsible for leading the relaunch of WARPit. Ideally at the end of this blog you will be a furniture reuse expert and have a good understanding of the WARPit story.

WARPit is a waste action reuse portal which facilitates the redistribution of used furniture and equipment for large organisations. Their mission is “to provide a network where organisations keep their equipment, assets and “stuff” circulating to reduce spend, waste and supply chain environmental impacts”, while also helping public sector and charity organisations. WARPit was designed by founder and CEO Daniel O’Connor who saw serious excess waste issues while working in the waste management sector at universities. He also acknowledged that busy staff had no time to find a new home for surplus items. He set forth to solve this. WARPit started as a freecycle email ring, which was good on a small scale but posed some major challenges. As a result, a reuse platform was created which saved time on sending emails and created an accessible and easy space for organisations to come together to reuse equipment and furniture.

It is all well and good saying how great WARPit is but implementing it is a whole other matter. Let me enlighten you on a few particularly memorable moments for me. Imagine this, I am on the way to my first external meeting. I leave on foot nice and ‘early’ because I don’t want to be late. Naively I assume Sport Park = Powerbase. Sadly not. After checking the map, I realise I am meant to be at a meeting in Westpark in two minutes, at this point I am at least a five-minute cycle away. Safe to say I have never cycled so fast through campus. The cherry on the top was the SNOW. I certainly wasn’t early to my first meeting, but after this I made sure to know the exact location of my meeting at least an hour before.

A month or two passed, I had multiple (timely and successful) meetings and the number of coordinators began to rise. I now needed to start on a training guide, this is a more minor issue but just goes to show karma has a funny way of working out.  I joke with my boss about it being easy to upload and photo and that you have to be silly if you can’t put an image on WARPit. For context, you just have to press upload, select your file and then press enter, how hard can it be. Two hours later and I can’t for the life of me work out why my images aren’t uploading, turned out they needed to be in JPEG form.  This is now a very clear step in the training guide.

An important moment for me was the first major challenge I received from academic schools; I won’t share who. I was grateful for this as it played a crucial role in shaping the way I thought about the whole project and led to the development of some crucial procurement resources. Despite a few memorable hiccups, relaunching the platform has been really enjoyable, there is plenty of appetite across the university to make the procurement process more sustainable, and many people want to do their bit to help the planet.

Benefits of reusing furniture and equipment include:

  • Reduce your carbon emissions
  • Reduce your financial expenditure on new resources
  • Limit the cost of storing excess furniture
  • Reduce waste
  • Opportunity to reimagine stuff that other people no longer have a need for
  • Minimise your impact on the natural environment and resources

You may be wondering how as a reader you can get involved. If you are staff at Loughborough university, you can contact about being a coordinator for your department or school. If you are a student lobby your school to make sure that they are reusing and repurposing at every point. If you are just passionate about minimising your impact, why not next time you want new furniture go to a charity shop instead and repurpose an item. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

This article is in support of UN Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. To find out more click here.

Using RT to manage partners and visitors

May 22, 2023 Jon Knight

At the University we often have visitors come to our departments. These might be visiting students, visiting academics, contractors visiting to work for the University and all manner of other types of non-member visitor to our campus.

We also have partner organisations that are based on the campus, including sports governing bodies and commercial tenants. The commercial tenants rent space on site for their company and many are spin outs from academic departments or new start ups being run by students or recent graduates.

All of these individuals may need to be issued with identity cards and/or IT access in various forms. A few years ago we were tasked with replacing an existing commercial system to manage them as part of a larger identity management project. The basic requirements were to allow new visitor or tenant users to be requested, have a workflow for checking the requests, managing the ID numbers they are allocated and then tracking the subsequent life cycle of the individual and the organisation of which they are a part. Visitor users and tenant users are slightly different – visitors are requested by a member of University staff who acts as their “guarantor” and they can be either “staff-like” or “student-like”. Visitor accounts can be requested for up to a year, with yearly renewals after that. Tenants on the other hand are requested by the organisation they are a part of and can be valid for as long as the organisation they are part of is a valid tenant on the campus.

Now our team looks after the Request Tracker (RT) system for the University, and we had the bright idea that maybe RT could manage these identities? After all, RT tracks the workflow of a work ticket from creation, through various states until it is rejected or resolved. What we were looking at with visitors and tenants was a workflow, so maybe an RT ticket could represent each individual in the system? These individuals would each be in a single organisation, so in RT terms this is like having a ticket in a queue. So the RT queues could represent the different organisational units of the University and partner/tenant organisations. But would this work?

The answer is (possibly unsurprisingly) yes. We call the resulting system “ALMS”: the Account Lifecycle Management System. ALMS uses RT as a base with lots of custom code, workflows and interactions with other systems. It is highly tied to the way we work at Loughborough University, but the general idea might be applicable elsewhere, hence this posting.

We start with custom RT lifecycles for each of Visitors and Tenants. As normal these detail the various states that a ticket (in our case an individual) can be in as their pass through our visitor/tenant identity management process.

Queues were set up for both University schools/departments/sections and partner organisations, with custom fields attached to each queue to give us some “metadata” about the organisation. For example the dates when the organisation is valid from and to, whether it is part of the University or a tenant organisation on campus, contact details for tenant organisation management, etc.

Within these queues we could create tickets, one per individual visitor or tenant person. These tickets also have a range of custom fields attached to them that allow us to capture things like their given name, last name, contact email/phone details, whether they need a building access ID card issuing, what sort of IT access (if any) they require, when they should be valid from and to, etc. One custom field holds a University ID number that is issued to them as they run through the workflow and is used later by ID card systems and/or for the creation of Active Directory accounts.

We also implemented an approvals process, not using RT’s built in approvals but by using ticket statuses and a set of custom user interfaces written in the Mason framework that underpins RT. We felt that gave us greater flexibility, was more transparent and easier for the users to understand. Ticket status changes are constrained by both the lifecycle transitions defined in the RT site config files, and which groups in RT can access these user interfaces. We have groups for our campus card desk, the IT service desk, University departmental management approvers and various administrative groups.

For visitors, there is an ALMS self service form that any member of University staff can use to start a request. We ask them for the visitors basic details such as given and last names, what department they are visiting, why they are visiting (from a selected list of potential reasons), whether an ID card and/or IT access is required, how long (up to a year) the visitor will be required for, etc. Once all the required information is captured and submitted, a new RT tickets is created in the correct department’s queue.

Screen shot of the visitor request self service form in ALMS
An example of the ALMS self service custom visitor request form for use by University staff.

The first port of call is then the department’s management approver(s). These are usually senior managers or administrative staff in the department who can vet the suitability of the request for this visitor. Assuming they approve it, the IT service desk and campus card desk groups are then asked for their approval. Which of them are involved depends on the requirements for ID cards and IT access obviously – no point involving the card desk in an approval for a visitor that does not require an ID card for example. If IT access is requested, custom code picks the required details from the RT ticket once IT service desk approval is given and “mints” a username and/or email address using another system we have on site.

Assuming these groups also approve the visitor, the ticket enters a “Pending” status. It is waiting for its “valid from” custom field date to be reached, at which point the status will be changed to “Active”. This change is done by a regularly run rt-crontool job. Another rt-crontool job does a similar job but looks for when the “valid to” date is approaching and sets the status to “Expiring”. This is a cue for scrips to send out reminders messages to the visitor and their requesting University guarantor that their record will soon expire and will need renewal if they are to maintain the access they have. The guarantor staff member can use another self server custom user interface to submit this renewal request. If the visitor is not renewed by their valid to date, the ticket status is changed by yet another cron job to be “Disabled”.

Tickets in “Active”, “Expiring” and “Disabled” statuses are regularly picked up by our main identity management system using the RT REST2 API. This system is designed to be more generic than just handling visitors and tenants, and gathers user information from not only ALMS but also other identity source systems such as our main student and HR management systems. It is this system that actually does the dirty work of creating and updating records in the Active Directory and passing information required by the building access system for ID card manufacture.

A similar process exists for the tenant users, but in this case there is no self-service request aspect as the tenant organisations request new individuals directly to the campus card desk. When a tenant staff member leaves the organisation it is up to that organisation’s management to tell the University so that we can update the valid to date in the user ticket (which will then start the expiry/disabled status process, but without any emails to guarantors for renewal as there is with visitors).

ALMS also provides some reporting information to IT, campus card desk and our commercial partner management groups. It is easy to use RT’s reporting system to provide er organisation lists of users, with break downs by Pending, Active, Expiring or Disabled status for example.

Whilst this has taken some local development work the result seems to be working OK. It has been in service for nearly a year now, and is managing several thousand visitors and tenants. The great thing about using open source software such as RT as the basis of this system is that it has not only cut down our development time considerably but it is far easier for us to customise than some of the commercial systems targeted directly at this market. That makes it cost effective, even factoring our local development and maintenance effort.

DRN2023 Drawing in Relation: Spaces of Care

May 21, 2023 Deborah Harty

7th June 2023 11.00-13.00 (BST)

The fourth and final event in the series exploring Drawing in Relation.

Assunta Ruocco, ‘Index of Love and Care – Studio Documentation with Louise – 23 May 2020’

Tickets are available here:

This panel brings together researchers investigating different aspects of care through contemporary drawing practice. 

As primary carers for young families, Penny Davis and Assunta Ruocco reflect on the entwinement of their roles as both artists and mothers. When kindergartens closed during the Covid pandemic, Ruocco’s studio became a space for both art and care. Unable to work independently, the artist consequently initiated a collaborative project with her daughter Louise. With the aid of a scanner and digital printer, their drawings were subsequently produced through a series of interventions and exchanges that led to an ongoing mode of dialogic practice.  In the light of this particular experience, and of the work of Gilbert Simondon, Ruocco will consider the studio as a milieu where relationships between drawing, technology and childcare can be explored.

Through what she terms a matricentric approach, Penny Davis’ drawing practice develops in relation to her children, through observing, recording and visualising the silenced and invisible work that she does as a mother. Through a braided practice of drawing and autoethnography, her presentation will consider drawing as flesh work – this labour being defined as the repetitive actions of a body suspended in the continuous loop of care. Whilst Davis’ drawing practice is evidence of this reproductive work of domestic, cognitive and emotional labour, flesh work still remains invisible in academic study. 

Acts of cleaning are similarly of concern for Belinda Mitchell who will speak about the domestic work undertaken by the small group of volunteers and trustees who take care of the sixteenth-century house Wymering Manor. Working to remake the house for the future, the community are currently exercising what Mitchell refers to as a patience-of-placethrough the continual rearrangement of the house and its artefacts. Exploring alternative modes of knowing through caring, connecting and drawing, Mitchell asks what forms of actions and tools can be used to create vocabularies of care with which to construct the built environment? And how do language and materials perform to create everyday sites of affect – spaces of care? 


Assunta Ruocco is an artist and researcher based in Nottingham, UK and a lecturer in Fine Art at University of Lincoln. She works with painting, installation, drawing, printmaking, photography, digital technologies, and the relationships between these media. Her practice-based PhD at Loughborough University School of the Arts explored how the things with which artists work can be seen as co-workers. 

Belinda Mitchell is a Senior Lecturer in Interior Architecture at the University of Portsmouth. Recent works include Drawing IN: Bodies in Motion (2022) Remote Practices, Architecture at a DistanceLund Humphries; Osmosis (2021), Espacio Gallery, London; Ecologies of Drawing: IN Situ (2022) at Loughborough University.

Penny Davis is an artist, solo mother of three children and PhD candidate at Loughborough University. As a political maternal activist, her practice works to highlight inequities for single mothers. Recent presentations include the ‘Let’s Get Dirty’ symposium at Loughborough University (2020), ‘The Missing Mother Conference’ at Bolton University (2021), and in the Domestic Academics project with Vanessa Marr (2021). 

The panel will be chaired by doctoral research candidate Serena Smith.

This Week at Loughborough | 22 May

May 19, 2023 Jemima Biodun-Bello


Pint of Science

22-24 May 2023, Across Town

Quench your thirst for knowledge and come along to a series of local science talks led by Doctoral Researchers and academics from across the University bringing their research out of the lab and into pubs, cafes, and community halls.

Find out more on the events page

Sir David Wallace Lecture 2023

23 May 2023, 5:15pm, Brockington Building 

This year the annual Sir David Wallace lecture will be given by Professor James Maynard, titled The Magic of Prime Numbers.

Find out more on the events page


Nightline 8th Birthday – Puppy Petting

22 May 2023, 10:30am, The Treehouse 

Join us to celebrate Nightline’s 8th Birthday! Our cuddly K9’s are coming to celebrate with us, and we would love for you to join us. 

Find out more on the events page

Rag Presentation Evening

24 May 2023, 6pm, The Basement  

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

LSU Classical’s Music Fest

27 May 2023, 4:30pm, Cope Auditorium

LSU Classical are hosting a Music Fest for an afternoon filled with a wide range of music, from Baroque to rock, from solo to orchestra at the Cope Auditorium!

Find out more on the events page

World Bee Day: Protecting our Pollinators

May 17, 2023 Rhiannon Brown

Why are we talking about bees?

Honeybees are responsible for pollinating between 5-15% of the UK’s insect-pollinated crops. They, along with other pollinators such as bats and butterflies, are under threat as a result of human activity and the climate emergency.

What is pollination?

This is a fundamental process for our ecosystems and their survival. In simple terms, it’s how flowering plants reproduce. When producing offspring, a plant must be fertilised with pollen to develop seeds that grow into new plants. Pollen is a powdery substance with a usually yellow colour. Flowers produce a sugary substance called nectar to attract pollinators due to its high energy content. Whilst the pollinators feed on the nectar, pollen attaches to their body and is transported with them to other flowers.

Why is pollination so important?

Nearly 90% of the world’s wild flowering plant species rely on animal pollination, not to mention that more than 75% of the world’s food crops and 35% of global agricultural land also depend upon pollination by animals. These figures demonstrate how crucial pollinators are for biodiversity and our worldwide food supply.

How are pollinators under threat?

There isn’t one answer for this. A few of the researched areas are:


The expansion of pesticide use has posed a serious threat to pollinators by exposing them to harmful chemicals and reducing their access to food and habitats. Pesticides are very commonly used within agriculture to keep pests and diseases at bay, but many harm pollinators and other insects.

Climate Change

Changing weather patterns is affecting the regions that are suitable for many species, and along with habitat loss certain species are in decline.

Bees at Loughborough University:

Bees are a welcome inhabitant of the University campus helping to pollinate the fruit, nut trees and edible plants along the foot and cycle paths belonging to our campus Fruit Routes installation.

The University Apiary is currently home to 12 colonies of honeybees. The project is funded by the University Estates and Facilities Management Service, in line with the Biodiversity Action Plan. Our Biodiversity Action Plan, and associated work we do supports the University’s Strategic Theme of Climate Change and Net Zero.

Maintaining the University Apiary helps with the survival of the campus green spaces, by pollinating perennials, trees, bulbs and keeping wider species and habitats healthy. In return, the campus offers year-round forage for the bees.

If enough honey is produced each year, then a harvest is undertaken by the volunteers and a sale of the honey is held through the Creative and Print Online Shop.

In addition to the University Apiary, biodiversity work by the Gardens Team on campus includes planting wildflowers to support all pollinators, including bees, bats, moths, ants, and butterflies, and our development of no-mow areas so that they become wildflower rich in the future.

The primary aim of the apiary is to support the declining bee populations and ensure the health and wellbeing of the bees in our care. The recent European Red List for Bees reports that almost one in ten species of wild bee face extinction.

Oliver Preedy, our Senior Beekeeper, has shared his experience with us:

This is my 7th year of beekeeping. I was fortunate to be able to volunteer at the University apiary and complete a beekeeping course with the Leicestershire and Rutland beekeepers association.

It really is surprising how quickly you zone out the sound of buzzing, which at first can be a bit disconcerting.

I very quickly caught the beekeeping bug and working with a several excellent beekeepers really helped gain practical knowledge. The first time performing an artificial swarm with beekeeping equipment and frames of bees everywhere certainly sticks in my memory, as well as my first honey extraction and seeing the Loughborough gold.

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.

When I started volunteering there were four colonies of bees, these have steadily increased much to the dismay of Jo Shields (who established the apiary) and currently we have 12 colonies all doing well.

Bees are fascinating and I am constantly learning and surprised which I really enjoy. Although it is referred to as beekeeping, really the bees are in charge, we just do our best to support them.

Tips for making your garden pollinator friendly:

Use the below bee identification sheet to see which you can spot!

You can learn more about pollinators from the Wildlife Trust and claim your ‘Wild Bee Action Pack’ to get your garden buzzing.

Here are 5 simple actions you can do:

Getting involved at Loughborough University:

The Sustainability Team are currently looking for volunteers to help with the management of the bees.

Apiary Supervisors

This role is open to volunteers who have completed one year of volunteering and have undergone formal training. Supervisors will initially support the Apiary Manager, but once they have demonstrated the practical application of the training, they may be required to lead inspections in the absence of the Apiary Manager.

The University will pay for the formal training and annual bee registration will also be funded if the volunteer only works with the campus bees. Apiary Supervisors are expected to support a minimum of two inspections per month during the peak season, from May to October.

Apiary Volunteers

This role is open to anyone who would like to support the trained supervisors and managers. Ideally, volunteers will attend two inspections per month during the peak season which take roughly two hours, but this is voluntary.

All volunteers will have access to University PPE free of charge. Volunteers are rewarded with honey from that extracted at the end of the season proportionate to the support contributed and the volume of honey harvested.

If you would like to learn more about volunteering at the University Apiary, please email

This article is in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on Land. To read more click here.

This Week at Loughborough | 15 May

May 15, 2023 Jemima Biodun-Bello


Fruit Routes Spring Walk 

16 May 2023, 1:30pm, Barefoot Orchard 

All are welcome for a seasonal sensory wander around Fruit Routes and learn more about the orchards and share different perspectives on this cultural resource.

Find out more on the events page

Splash! by University Choir

17 May 2023, 7:30pm, Cope Auditorium

A programme of music on a watery theme by the University Choir.

Find out more on the events page

Arts Scholars’ Showcase

18 May 2023, 5:30pm, Martin Hall Theatre

Join us for this year’s Arts Scholars’ Showcase, which features the nine scholarship winners for 2022/23.

Find out more on the events page

National Theatre Live: Best of Enemies

18 May 2023, 7pm, Cope Auditorium

Jeremy Herrin (All My Sons) directs this blistering political thriller, filmed live in London’s West End. Inspired by the documentary by Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon.

Find out more on the events page

Dawn Chorus in Burleigh Wood

19 May 2023, 6:30am, Burleigh Wood

The walk will begin at the gates to Burleigh Wood, with a gentle stroll around the wood, stopping to listen to the dawn chorus and identify the birds.

Find out more on the events page

Loughborough International Athletics

21 May 2023, 10am, Paula Radcliffe Stadium

Loughborough University is proud to be hosting the 65th anniversary of the Loughborough International Athletics (LIA) competition.

Find out more on the events page

LSU Events

Choosedays: Pole Fitness Showcase

16 May 2023, 7pm, The Lounge

Pole Fitness Society is hosting a fantastical showcase this ChooseDays – come along and see the art of Pole as their members take to the stage!

Find out more on the events page

Stage Society – ‘High School Musical’

20-21 May 2023, 4pm, Cope Auditorium

A jock and a brainiac, the sportiest and the smartest, audition for a school musical- and set the Status Quo spinning completely out of control.

Find out more on the events page

CRCC supports research to improve evidence-gathering when reporting domestic and sexual violence to the police

CRCC supports research to improve evidence-gathering when reporting domestic and sexual violence to the police

May 12, 2023 Iliana Depounti

In our latest post, Dr Emma Richardson discusses how research using conversation analysis (CA) helps us understand ‘evidential difficulties’ in crime reporting of gender-based violence.

According to official data, the impact of violence against women and girls in the UK and beyond is pervasive. For example, in the year ending March 2020, 78% of investigations of domestic abuse-related offences were closed as a result of “evidential difficulties”, while a similar trend was documented in the year ending June 2021, with 60% of police-recorded rapes also closed with the same outcome. Evidential difficulties cover a range of ‘outcomes’, and is the term given to cases where the police were unable to build a strong enough case for the offence to continue in the criminal justice system.

Given the high prevalence and low reporting of gender-based violence, it is essential to better understand if evidential difficulties can be identified in the evidence-gathering activities. These are essentially a series of interactions, or conversations, between lay (the public) and professional (the police) parties. Evidence-gathering activities include the initial telephone calls where people are reporting violence, the investigative interview, and the production of records (transcripts of the interviews) which may later be used in court. Linguistic research can assist the police to improve their evidence-gathering activities, by examining them as they occur in real-time and using real examples to feed back into training for those who conduct these activities. In doing so, potential barriers to ‘evidential difficulties’ can be designed out.  

My research focuses on applying conversation analysis (CA) to various stages in the collection, or creation, of ‘evidence’. Conversation analysis is a qualitative research method used to show how conversation is systematic (not “messy”), and that there is ‘order at all points’ in our everyday interactions. Therefore, CA can be used to investigate the organisational structure of evidence-gathering activities (e.g. between the opening, free narrative and probing of the investigative interview) and design of social actions (such as different ways of asking questions to elicit information in the emergency calls). CA is useful in this context as it allows us to understand what is happening in real time for the parties who are reporting and gathering evidence. CA uses ‘naturally occurring’ data, meaning the data is captured at the time of the interaction taking place. For the projects I describe below, this means the police collected this data anyway as part of their evidence-gathering processes.

Through the conversation analytic research into the production of evidence I conducted with a team of colleagues, I have identified three stages in the evidence-gathering process where interactional practices could be contributing to evidential difficulties. These are 1) the initial reporting of violence to the police via emergency and non-emergency calls; 2) the investigative interview process, and 3) the transcription of the interview.  

The initial reporting of violence to the police

The first stage in seeking justice is to report the offence to the police. There are many barriers to contacting the police in relation to sexual offences which are also equally applicable to incidents of domestic violence abuse: for example, the fear of retribution by the offender or others connected to the offender. Those who do overcome such barriers and make a formal disclosure to the police often describe negative experiences, including feeling disbelieved or blamed, feelings of shame, and embarrassment. These barriers and negative experiences ultimately result in a lack of confidence or trust in justice organisations.

To better understand the problem, alongside colleagues, I collected and analysed a corpus of emergency (999) and non-emergency (101) calls where the callers were reporting domestic violence abuse (DVA). We explored how callers ask for help when they might be in close proximity to, and therefore potentially overheard by, the perpetrator of the violence they are reporting. We found excellent call-taker practices, with call-takers and callers playing on conversation ‘norms’ (such as opening calls with, “hiya, you all right?” rather than, “I need the police please”) and used other available resources (such as breaths) to communicate they needed help.

Additionally, we found that when victims request help to be sent, call-takers ask a series of ‘routine’ questions in advance of dispatch. These include if anyone at the location has any injuries, if there are any children at the property and if anyone has any weapons. This information is vital for the police to understand if any additional services are required (such as an ambulance) and to inform agents arriving on the scene what to expect. However, included in this list was a question about the victims’ or their partners’ alcohol consumption. Given the stereotypical attitudes (e.g., victim-blaming, rape myths) women experience at each stage of the criminal justice system from institutional parties, including the police, judges, and magistrates, it is not surprising to see women pre-empt and account for their drug and alcohol consumption when reporting gender-based crimes to the police.

Our analysis revealed that, if questions about alcohol consumption come before a confirmation that help will be sent (e.g. “We’re getting help out to you straight away”), and probe the caller’s own drinking (but not the perpetrators’), callers respond to these requests as if they were meant to hold them morally accountable. This finding can be used to mitigate women’s negative experiences when reporting violence, simply by ensuring it is asked after a confirmation that help will be sent. We are working with our police partners to present examples of how the different positions in which this question is asked impacts how callers respond to the questions. This means our findings can feed back into call-taker training.

The investigative interview

After the initial reporting of the crime, complications in the interview stage may lead to evidential difficulties. Research suggests that vulnerable individuals, including witnesses of crimes and particularly those with intellectual impairment or disability, are more likely to be sexually assaulted and less likely to report an assault. In this context, the police employ a guidance document, titled Achieving Best Evidence (ABE), for interviewing vulnerable and intimidated witnesses of crimes, including sexual offences based on a victim-centred and trauma-informed approach. Alongside collaborators, we conducted a study that examined a corpus of ABE interviews to understand how ABE guidance was used in practice in police interviews in England and Wales.

We discovered a series of issues that affect both interviewers and interviewees and ultimately may lead to evidential difficulties in a case. For example, we observed that asking interviewees to demonstrate their intellectual competence by stating the difference between a ‘truth’ and a ‘lie’ may have unintended consequences on the credibility of the interviewee. We also considered how interviewers probe inconsistencies in interviewees’ accounts of what happened and how they question the behaviours of vulnerable child and adult complainants of sexual violence; how they in turn resist any implications of fault, (e.g., “How come if he was doing x, you did y?”) and how interviewers deal with complainants becoming distressed during interviews.

Transcription of the investigative interview to produce written records

Another issue that may result in evidential difficulties is linked to the ways evidential records are produced for investigative and trial use. Alongside collaborators at Loughborough University and Aston University, we recently compared audio-visual investigative interview records to scrutinize the current practices of capturing spoken interaction in legal contexts in England and Wales. We found that police transcribers alter the social actions being performed by speakers when they produce written records of the interviews. For example, the interview transcripts contain omissions in comparison to the audio data and inconsistent use of ‘…’ to represent various audible features such as pauses or overlaps in speech; moreover, sections of audio speech are heavily summarised. Thus, the findings of our study challenge the adequacy of these records for use in our legal system. Notably, if a case goes to trial, the written record of an interview is presented in court instead of the audio. Because we found that this practice distorts interview data, we delved deeper into the matter by conducting additional experimental work. Our study showed that when presented with a written transcript of a police interview, members of the public (and therefore jurors) are more likely to make judgements about the credibility of the suspect and their account than if listening to the original audio. Our findings provide a strong motivation for further research into how we capture spoken interaction in legal contexts, and they highlight the need for reform of how police interviews are transcribed in the UK.

Applying conversation analysis to real data at various points in the evidence-gathering process enables training to be developed based on practices that are happening every day across the judicial system. This work is invaluable to understanding how policy and guidance are enacted in practice in these settings and is key to furthering our understanding of how the interactions may be contributing to ‘evidential difficulties’.

Five minutes with: Tasha Kitcher

May 11, 2023 Guest blogger

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

I’m a Doctoral Researcher in the Communication and Media Department. My PhD is focused on uncovering the history of the ‘Electrophone’ which was a Victorian telephone device that allowed you to stream theatre, church services, and more into the home from 1893 up until 1938. It’s always really interested me as an early version of National Theatre Live, and I think it became especially relevant during lockdown when so many of us turned to online streaming to survive being trapped at home. I’ve been here since October 2019, so just a few months left for me now before I submit my thesis!

Tell us what a typical day looks like for you?

I’m in write-up mode right now, so most of my days are rather repetitive. I can hardly function before my first cup of tea, and then I usually spend the first hour of the day working through any little admin jobs that need doing. Quite often these days, I will spend some time at the start of the day sorting out bits for the upcoming Pint of Science festival in Loughborough which I am co-coordinating alongside some fellow Doctoral Researchers.

I then try and get a bit of writing done and always ensure I get out of the office for some air at lunch time. After that, it’s back to writing my thesis. I’m currently working on my final ‘findings’ chapter, which seems totally surreal to me, as I’m sure I only moved to Loughborough and started this research project just five minutes ago!

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

In October 2022 I was invited to get involved in the Science Museum Group’s Broadcast 100 project which was really exciting to me. It was a series of exhibitions, events, and online content produced by the museum all focused on the 100th anniversary of the BBC. I was involved with the curation of the project, so I got to try my hand at translating archival research into lots of different formats including a major exhibition. I was able to stay on with the project up until the final exhibition opened at the National Media Museum last Summer. It was so lovely to see families engaging with the history we had been working on, playing with interactives the team had dreamed up, and talking about ‘fun facts’ I’d been geeking out over myself just months before.

What is your proudest moment at Loughborough?

I was really flattered to receive the PhD Award for Contribution to Knowledge at the 2021 PhD Awards, and even more so to be nominated for the 2022 DR President’s Award, but actually my proudest moment was probably working with the PhD Social and Support Network for three years. In 2021 we won the PhD Award for Best Team, and last year when I was Chair we organised some really fun events – including a massive PhD BBQ where over fifty people came to socialise and eat in the sun. I think the society always has done, and still does, a lot for the PhD community here at Loughborough, and I was really proud to be a part of that for so much of my time here.

Tell us something you do outside of work?

I’m currently training for Trek26 – a 26 mile walk around London this coming June for Alzheimer’s Society. So, a lot of my free time is spent walking, which at the weekend in a place like Loughborough is not a bad thing at all.

What is your favourite quote?

I’m actually obsessed with quotes, so this is quite a dangerous question. I think my favourite would probably have to be a quote by Albert Camus: “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” I think it says a lot about human nature… and certainly a lot about myself and any of my colleagues crazy enough to take on a PhD!

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

National Day for Staff Networks 

National Day for Staff Networks 

May 10, 2023 Sadie Gration

Today marks the National Day for Staff Networks – a day dedicated to recognising, celebrating and thanking our Staff Networks for the part they play in building an equitable, diverse and inclusive institution. 

As an EDI Coordinator, I have had the opportunity to meet with representatives from most of Loughborough’s Staff Networks over the last few months. I have also joined in a number of events – from academic lectures to film festivals to pub quizzes! lt is clear that the staff leading these groups are passionate about the work they’re doing – they want to make Loughborough a more diverse, more inclusive and more enjoyable place to work. Plus, they are doing amazing work towards making sure all our staff feel a sense of safety and belonging at Loughborough.  

The University currently has 10 active staff networks. Some relate to personal characteristics (eg the MAIA Women’s Network and the BAME Staff Network) and some to job characteristics (eg Part-time staff group, Staff 2000 Network). All of them add incredible value to the Loughborough community. Networks are safe, supportive spaces, where staff at all levels of the University work together to transform our institution. Being part of a Staff Network gives members a sense of belonging and a chance to build friendships and professional relationships. They drive change, providing insight into the lived experiences of under-represented colleagues, and influencing and shaping the University’s practices. 

We reached out to various staff members to ask them about their experiences of being involved with staff networks at Loughborough: 

The Committee for the Working Parents and Carers Staff Network was only formed last year. When we first took over as network leads, there were less than 20 staff members on the Network. We are so proud to have expanded this to well over 100 members. In particular, we’re pleased to see more dads becoming involved and benefiting from sharing their views and experiences of being parents. The Network is definitely more visible and many of our newer members have told us how much they have valued the support network and friendships they have made as a result. As well as providing a supportive community, the Network is engaging in conversations about training for managers on issues impacting parents and carers, such as parental leave and supporting staff through personal difficulties such as miscarriage. We’re so proud to be involved in initiatives that will have a wide-reaching impact on the University’s staff and their wellbeing.” – Abbie Loney, Co-Chair, Working Parents Group 

“I am an executive sponsor for the Inclusivity Network. Being a member of this network has given me more understanding of the different visible and invisible health issues that many of our colleagues are struggling with. It is wonderful to see that in the network there is a sincere willingness to listen to each other and to provide practical and emotional support.” – Professor Cees de Bont, Executive Sponsor, Staff Inclusivity Network 

“There are so many things I value about the Maia Network. Attending events is always a highlight because it’s lovely to meet new colleagues and spend time with those from completely different parts of the University. The Maia community is amazing, and everyone is so kind and friendly – it’s a great space for colleagues who are new to the University or looking to meet people outside of their immediate department. I also value the opportunities the network offers to develop and grow in skills. For example, we launched the new Micro-Shadowing Scheme this year which saw many colleagues getting to shadow fellow Maia members in particular skills and tasks that they wanted to develop. It was a great example of how committed and generous our lovely members are to give up their time to support others in the Maia community. I feel very lucky to be co-leading such a wonderful committee and network and I would encourage anyone not yet involved in a Staff Network, to get involved!” Abbie Coburn, Co-Chair, Maia Network 

I personally would encourage staff to get involved with a network. Before coming to Loughborough, I was Chair of the LGBT+ Staff Network at York St John University. That role gave me many opportunities to meet people from different areas of the organisation, to work with the local community, to influence senior leadership, and to develop both personally and professionally. I gained a better understanding of the institution, and of higher education overall, and the skills I developed undoubtedly contributed to my decision to make the move from Student Services into EDI – and to me getting the role of EDI Coordinator here at Loughborough! 

As a University, we are committed to facilitating networks to be able to make effective change. We need to recognise that Staff Networks do face real challenges, not least due to demands on their time and resources, balancing this alongside their usual workload. This is why the EDI team is working with Staff Network leads to improve communications and the support we offer. We are also determined to do a better job of celebrating our Staff Networks and what they do for the institution.  

We are so grateful for our Staff Networks and want to take today to celebrate them and say thank you – to those on the committees, those who support, and those who get involved.  

Find a full list of staff networks on the EDI website. 

Emily Segaran, EDI Coordinator  
Abbie Coburn, MAIA Co-Chair 

This Week at Loughborough | 9 May

May 9, 2023 Jemima Biodun-Bello


Poetry Workshop

10 May 2023, 2pm, Brockington 

Join this workshop with Jay Hulme to develop your poetry, suitable for beginners as well as those with more experience.

Find out more on the events page

Voices of Diversity: Babak Erfani MBE, LGBT+ Beyond Loughborough

11 May 2023, 5:30pm, Stewart Mason

In his talk the alumnus will share his experience of relaunching and chairing the LGBT network at Loughborough Students’ Union and his subsequent role as founder and Chairperson of Archway.

Find out more on the events page

Creative Wellbeing Series: Bare Bones Journaling

11 May 2023, 2pm, Bridgeman Building

This workshop will focus on sustainable journaling practice. The workshop will introduce you to journaling as a technique for recording and reflecting.

Find out more on the events page


Sleep Out

9 May 2023, 6pm, Union Lawn 

We are excited to announce our partnership with the Falcon Centre in Loughborough for a sleep-out event on the Union Lawn to raise awareness for homelessness. 

Find out more on the events page

LSU Leadership Conference 2023

13 May 2023, 9:45am, West Park Teaching Hub  

You can attend workshops, talks and network with External Trainers, Businesses, Alumni, and experts in their field.  With sessions on all aspects of leadership.

Find out more on the events page

LSU Action Community Fun Day

13 May 2023, 12pm, Students Union   

On Sunday 14th May, LSU Action will be hosting their annual Community Fun Day. With free admission and lots of activities being free, it is guaranteed to be a fun day out for everyone.

Find out more on the events page

DRN2023 Drawing in Relation Online Exhibition Call for Drawings

May 5, 2023 Deborah Harty
Arno Kramer, In Time, 2020, charcoal and pencil, 152 x 280 cm

Continuing the annual Drawing Research Network events, the Drawing Research Group at Loughborough University are pleased to invite submissions for an online exhibition of drawing curated by artist and curator Arno Kramer,  which aims to explore the notion of ‘Drawing in Relation’. We invite responses to the theme from anyone practicing drawing in a traditional or expanded way. 

Images selected for exhibition will explore Drawing in Relation. With this title we suggest 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. Connections are made between divisible surfaces, relations are engendered. Rather than being isolated, these surfaces exist in relation to their milieus. In this way relations propagate and disseminate outwards. Simultaneously relations are brought inwards, what is exterior and separable to the drawing act is interiorised; the milieu makes its way onto the page—drawing in relation. To draw is to make contact, to touch and be touched, and yet there is discontinuity, contact is severed, and surfaces break away.  

Please submit up to 3 drawings or a single audio/video file here

Full information and details including acceptable file types are clearly shown on the submission form. Deadline for submission: Friday 30th June 2023

Guest Curator:

Arno Kramer works as a visual artist in the Netherlands and in Ireland. He has compiled various exhibitions, particularly exhibitions of drawings. In 2005 he curated Into Drawing Contemporary Dutch Drawing. This show did travel to 5 European countries. In 2009 his first curated exhibition in Ireland Into Irish Drawing was presented in the Limerick City Gallery of Art and did travel also to different countries in Europe. He curated 5 shows as guest curator in Ballina Arts Centre. Did Masterclasses for Ballinglen Arts Foundation and VAI. He is the founder of Drawing Centre Diepenheim in The Netherlands. In 2011 he curated together with Diana Wind All About Drawing 100 Dutch Artist was presented in Stedelijk Museum Schiedam. He was for 20 years a teacher at the AKI Akademie voor Beeldende Kunst en Vormgeving (Academy of the Visual Arts and Design) in Enschede, the Netherlands, and has been a guest teacher at art colleges in Ireland, England, Scotland, and the USA as well. He publishes on the visual arts and also writes poetry. In 2017 Salmon Poetry published Morningrustle

His own work has been displayed in the Netherlands, Ireland, England, the USA, Sweden, and Germany and is in private and public collections in these countries. As the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum Twenthe Enschede, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Museum De Fundatie Heino, CODA Museum Apeldoorn, Fries Museum Leeuwarden, Stedelijk Museum Schiedam and in Ireland in the Limerick City Gallery of Art Limerick and the Model in Sligo. In 2022 the Arts Council Ireland purchased one of his huge drawings. Arno Kramer has been awarded for the Cultural Prize of the city Deventer and was appointed Officer in the Order of Orange Nasau for his work in the domain of contemporary drawing.

In May 2022 his solo exhibition In Time opened in the Limerick City Gallery of Art.

The validity of comparative judgement: A comment on Kelly, Richardson and Isaacs

The validity of comparative judgement: A comment on Kelly, Richardson and Isaacs

May 5, 2023 Centre for Mathematical Cognition

Written by Dr Ian Jones and Prof Matthew Inglis. Ian is a Reader in Educational Assessment, and has led a programme of research into comparative judgement over the past decade. This blog post is a summary of the validity and reliability findings from that research. Matthew is a Professor of Mathematical Cognition and the co-director of the CMC. Edited by Bethany Woollacott.

We submitted this short note to Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice in response to a recent article they had published. Unfortunately the journal informed us that they have a policy against publishing responses to articles appearing in their journal, so we are instead posting it here.


Kelly et al. (2022) critiqued what they called the “intrinsic validity” argument for using comparative judgement (CJ) methods in educational assessment. Specifically, they suggested that some researchers believe CJ is “intrinsically” valid because it relies upon the collective view of relevant domain experts. Kelly et al. dispute this view on three grounds:

  1. They point out that what counts as an expert in a relevant domain is vague, and how it is operationalised varies between studies.
  2. They worry that non-experts, such as school students, sometimes produce CJ outcomes that correlate with those derived from experts (Jones & Wheadon, 2015).
  3. They suggest that relying upon holistic expert judgement is in tension with the common practice of removing ‘misfitting’ judges (judges who may have a different conception of the construct being assessed from the other judges involved).

We largely agree with Kelly et al. (2022) when they argue that “intrinsic validity” would be a weak basis upon which to enact significant educational reforms: the validity of any novel measurement method needs to be empirically assessed.

However, we were surprised to be cited as examples of researchers who believe that CJ is intrinsically valid. For instance, Kelly et al. cited one of our studies (Bisson, Gilmore, Inglis & Jones, 2020) as having endorsed the intrinsic validity of CJ, whereas in fact this study was precisely designed to empirically examine whether CJ was valid. We ran a randomised controlled trial using two outcome measures – one based on a CJ process, one based on a traditional standardised test – and compared the results.

Similarly, in another of our papers (Jones & Inglis, 2015), again cited by Kelly et al. as endorsing the “intrinsic validity” of CJ, we aimed to empirically investigate CJ’s validity, by comparing scores obtained from a CJ process with those obtained from a more traditional marking process. It is unclear why we would have conducted these, and other, validation studies if we felt that CJ was “intrinsically” valid.

It is unclear why we would have conducted these, and other, validation studies if we felt that CJ was “intrinsically” valid.

In our view, there is now growing empirical evidence that suggests that CJ assessments often produce valid outcomes. We review some of this work from our research group here. We consider convergent validity, divergent validity, and content validity in turn.

Convergent Validity

A common technique for investigating the validity of a measure is to compare it with another measure of the same construct.

We have compared CJ scores with the outcomes of validated instruments for the case of understanding of concepts in calculus (Bisson et al., 2016; Bisson et al., 2019), algebra (Bisson et al., 2016; Jones et al. 2019), statistics (Bisson et al., 2016) and proof comprehension (Davies et al. 2020). These studies reported generally modest correlations between CJ and instrument scores, although a common theme was the poor psychometric performance of the traditional instruments compared with the high reliability of the CJ outcomes.

Elsewhere we have assessed student work using both CJ and specially-designed scoring rubrics in mathematics (Jones & Inglis, 2015) and science (McMahon & Jones, 2014), or generated CJ scores for previously graded exam scripts (Jones et al., 2014; Jones et al., 2016), and in all cases found positive and often high correlations.

In addition, we have also used a proxy as a measure of the construct of interest, such as Grade Point Averages (Marshall et al., 2020), teacher estimates of achievement (Jones et al., 2013; Jones & Wheadon, 2015), previous exam grades (Jones & Karadeniz, 2016; Jones & Sirl, 2017) or predicted exam grades (Jones & Wheadon, 2015), again finding the kind of relationships one would expect if CJ scores were valid.

Divergent validity

Another technique for investigating validity is to compare the measure of interest with a measure of a different construct, with the expectation that the two measures will not be strongly correlated.

For example, we have administered open-ended mathematics tasks that require students to draw on their written communication skills and then evaluated the extent to which CJ scores reflected mathematical understanding over and above communication skills. We have found that secondary students’ numeracy test scores predicted CJ scores, but not their written communication scores (Bisson et al., 2019; Jones & Karadeniz, 2016). For primary school students, we found that both numeracy and written communication predicted CJ scores, suggesting that in some contexts care must be taken to partial out the variance in CJ scores explained by written communication skills (Jones et al., 2019).

One strand of research has explored the potential of CJ methods to measure conceptual understanding (related to underlying concepts and how they connect together) rather than procedural knowledge (related to computation and factual recall) in mathematics. In one case, we found that overall mathematics achievement, which acted as a proxy measure for conceptual understanding, predicted CJ scores, but a measure of procedural mathematical knowledge did not (Jones et al., 2013).

As noted by Kelly et al. (2022), we have also explored divergent validity by sampling groups of judges from different populations, and comparing the resultant CJ scores. For example, some of our studies (Davies et al., 2021; Jones & Alcock, 2014) compared CJ scores estimated from the judgements of experts (research mathematicians) with non-experts (postgraduate students who had not studied mathematics since age 16), and found non-experts’ judgements were unreliable and their scores only modestly correlated with experts’ scores.

Similarly, our research into peer assessment, in which students comparatively judge one another’s work, has shown that peer judges’ CJ scores tend to be more reliable than those of non-experts but less reliable than those of experts, and peers’ scores are also correlated more highly with experts’ scores than are non-experts’ scores (Jones & Alcock, 2014; Jones & Wheadon, 2015; McMahon & Jones, 2015; Sirl & Jones, 2019). These findings suggest that Kelly et al.’s (2022) concern about non-experts’ CJ outcomes may be overstated.

These findings suggest that Kelly et al.’s (2022) concern about non-experts’ CJ outcomes may be overstated.

Content Validity

To explore content validity we have drawn on expert review of test materials and of student responses.

For example, in one study (Jones & Inglis, 2015) we investigated the content validity of a mathematics exam that was designed to be assessed with CJ using expert review. The exam was reviewed online by 94 mathematics teachers who then completed a survey comprising Likert-style and open-text items. In other studies, we have evaluated content validity in terms of students’ responses and CJ scores. Our approach has involved qualitatively coding students’ responses using existing frameworks (Jones & Karadeniz, 2016) or grounded approaches (Davies et al., 2020; Davies et al., 2021), and then regressing the codes onto CJ scores to identify the features of high-scoring responses. We found that mathematician judges favoured definitions of mathematical proof that were consistent with characterisations offered by philosophers of mathematics (Davies et al., 2020).

We have further investigated content validity by studying the grounds on which judges made their judgements. This has included post-judging interviews with mathematicians (Davies & Jones, 2021), primary teachers (Hunter & Jones, 2018) and mathematics undergraduates (Jones & Alcock, 2014), as well as administering post-judging surveys across a range of studies (Jones et al., 2014; Jones & Alcock, 2014; Jones & Inglis, 2015; Jones & Sirl, 2017; Marshall et al., 2020). In one case we found that, after judging secondary student responses to a specially-designed summative exam, expert judges rated ‘originality and flair’ and use of ‘formal notation’ as positively influencing their decisions, and ‘errors’ and ‘untidy presentation’ as negatively influencing their decisions (Jones & Inglis, 2015).


In sum, we agree with Kelly et al. (2022) that relying upon “intrinsic validity” would be a poor basis upon which to incorporate CJ into educational assessment, a step that would constitute a significant reform. This is why we have conducted a programme of research to empirically examine the validity of CJ scores in a variety of contexts, using a variety of methods. We believe that the results are promising.


Bisson, M.-J., Gilmore, C., Inglis, M., & Jones, I. (2016). Measuring conceptual understanding using comparative judgement. International Journal of Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education, 2(2), 141–164.

Bisson, M.-J., Gilmore, C., Inglis, M., & Jones, I. (2019). Teaching using contextualised and decontextualised representations: Examining the case of differential calculus through a comparative judgement technique. Research in Mathematics Education, 22(3), 284–303.

Davies, B., Alcock, L., & Jones, I. (2020). Comparative judgement, proof summaries and proof comprehension. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 105(2), 181–197.

Davies, B., Alcock, L., & Jones, I. (2021). What do mathematicians mean by proof? A comparative-judgement study of students’ and mathematicians’ views. The Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 61, 100824.

Davies, B., & Jones, I. (2022). Assessing proof reading comprehension using summaries. International Journal of Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education.

Hunter, J., & Jones, I. (2018). Free-response tasks in primary mathematics: A window on students’ thinking. Proceedings of the 41st Annual Conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, 41, 400–407.

Jones, I., & Alcock, L. (2014). Peer assessment without assessment criteria. Studies in Higher Education, 39(10), 1774–1787.

Jones, I., Bisson, M., Gilmore, C., & Inglis, M. (2019). Measuring conceptual understanding in randomised controlled trials: Can comparative judgement help? British Educational Research Journal, 45(3), 662–680.

Jones, I., & Inglis, M. (2015). The problem of assessing problem solving: Can comparative judgement help? Educational Studies in Mathematics, 89(3), 337–355.  

Jones, I., Inglis, M., Gilmore, C., & Hodgen, J. (2013). Measuring conceptual understanding: The case of fractions. In A. M. Lindmeier & A. Heinze (Eds.), Proceedings of the 37th Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education. (Vol. 3, pp. 113-120). Kiel, Germany.

Jones, I., & Karadeniz, I. (2016). An alternative approach to assessing achievement. In C. Csikos, A. Rausch, & J. Szitanyi (Eds.), The 40th Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (Vol. 3, pp. 51–58). IGPME.

Jones, I., & Sirl, D. (2017). Peer assessment of mathematical understanding using comparative judgement. Nordic Studies in Mathematics Education, 22(4), 147–164.

Jones, I., & Wheadon, C. (2015). Peer assessment using comparative and absolute judgement. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 47, 93–101.

Kelly, K. T., Richardson, M., & Isaacs, T. (2022). Critiquing the rationales for using comparative judgement: a call for clarity. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 1-15.

Marshall, N., Shaw, K., Hunter, J., & Jones, I. (2020). Assessment by comparative judgement: An application to secondary statistics and English in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies, 55(1), 49–71.

Tensions of Open Research in Creative Arts and Design fields

May 4, 2023 Lara Skelly

By Dr. Tincuta Heinzel, Senior Lecturer in Textiles and Open Research Lead, School of Design and Creative Arts

Mashup of vials and a blue swirly pattern
Image credit: Lara Skelly, CC-BY

Starting with the 1st of April 2022, all submitted for publication research that a public body has funded must comply with the Open Access policy. This rule applies to all UKRI research councils, Research England, and Innovate UK-funded projects. Open Research and Open Data compliance means that the researchers must make their research publications Open Access, make their research data as open as possible, follow good research data management practices, and acknowledge their funder in any outputs. (for more details, please check here). Still, many particulars are to be addressed regarding Open Science and research, like, for example, the right to privacy when it comes to Open Data or the way each discipline will implement this policy.

Given the previous research publication models, this new policy implies a paradigmatic change that aims to facilitate everyone’s access to the research results and enable them to re-use and build upon them. The Open Access Policy builds on ideas popularised by movements such as Free Software (Free Software Foundation) launched in 1983 or Open Source Software Initiative, both aiming to offer alternatives to commercial computer operating systems to facilitate experimentation and innovation in the digital arena. Both movements adhere to philosophies that place free access to the source code and collaboration at their core. As their manifestos state (here and here), it is about the freedom to use, study, distribute, create, and modify any operating system, with the difference that the free software focuses on the users’ freedom, while Open-Source software is focusing on collaboration and transparency of the source code to provide improvements to the operating systems; which translates in the fact that not all Open-Source software is free software, for example. The same principles also apply to free hardware, which refers to the freedom to build, modify, and distribute hardware designs. Arduino and Raspberry Pi boards are good examples in this sense. The educative role of most of these projects is at the core of all these cases.

The application of the Open Research and Open Science policy in creative arts and design has nothing of the obvious. At the crossroad between science and technologies, between humanities and natural sciences, the place of research in creative arts and design is a minefield. Concepts such as “tacit knowledge” (Polanyi, 1958) often address the complexity of research in creative arts and design, expressing the limits of translating certain aspects of the practice into generally accepted forms of research. The nature of the outputs makes things even less straightforward. An exhibition is already an open, public presentation of an artist’s work, but does it count as research? What exactly is research in creative arts and design? What is the role of design theory and design practice in design research? How to find harmony between “research for”, “research into”, and “research through” design (Savic et al., 2014; Zimmerman et al., 2010), for example, with Open Science and Open Data policy?

Moreover, not all artistic and design research results in texts; in many cases, it is about products, objects, swatch books, processes, and methodologies. In some cases, it is about industrious initiatives and not merely educational purposes. The research in creative arts and design might reflect and use different media, such as images, sound compositions, video recordings and films, codes, or, as in the case of interactive arts and design, it might be about all of them.

Let’s take a closer look at the case of textiles and textiles patterns. In general, when it comes to textile designs and patterns, these are defined as designs (see the difference between artistic copyright, designs, and trademarks). As an e-textiles designer, I came across situations where the status of Open Publication and Open Research has been challenged.

The Open Software movement inspired designers such as Hannah Perner-Wilson (aka to develop a series of textiles-based sensors and to release them into the public domain. Her “tilt sensor” developed during her master studies at MIT (Perner-Wilson, 2011) has been appropriated by a group of scientists (Hyung Sun Lee, Daejeon (KR); Hyung Cheol Shin, Daejeon (KR); Thad E. Starner, Atlanta, GA (US); Scott M. Gilliland, Atlanta, GA (US) and Clint Zeagler, Atlanta, GA (US)) from the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute, Daejeon, Korea and, respectively Georgia Tech Research Corporation, Atlanta, USA, and patented based on the argument that her work would be an artistic product and not scientific research. Still, it is to question how legitim such a patent is when it doesn’t recognise the scientific merit of an author and boycotts the designer’s ideological choices (Heinzel, 2018).

The same ambiguity can be seen when it comes to the cultural appropriation of traditional textiles’ patterns. Plenty of cases show the appropriation of the work of “collective authors” has been used for the financial gain of some brands. It is the case of the legal action of the Indigenous Mexican Community against Isabel Marant, who used their patterns for her collection, or the Maasai Association for Preserving and Celebrating Maasai Cultural Heritage legal action against companies like Louis Vuitton, Calvin Klein, or Jaguar Land Rover, who were using the image of Maasai warriors to sell their products (Pilling, 2018). In the same category could be included the media campaign “Bihor, not Dior” (Davies, 2018). Still, when it comes to woven structures, for example, we can easily argue that we deal with a certain form of ethnomathematics (logical structures that await to be discovered) and not really designs.

In some cases, the designs are about the notations of the steps to produce the pattern and not about the patterns themselves. This logic of notation approach brings us closer to the aspects related to programming and digital rights. We can notice a series of ambiguities when defining and applying a pattern’s legal status and a series of breaches into the legal system(s) (Heinzel, 2018).

Suppose there is justified to request that the public-funded research be publicly released. In that case, aspects still need to be pondered as they interfere with the existing legal, economic, or ethical orders. Moreover, as the cases of cultural appropriation are proving, there is also an aspect of legitimacy that should be considered. Certainly, there is still work to be done to address these issues.

Below are a series of useful links related to Open Research compliance guidance and links for information related to designs, patents, or trademarks.

Useful links:

Works cited:

Davies, K. M. (2018). Bihor, not Dior: check out the new campaign reclaiming Romanian folk style, The Calvert Journal, URL: (Retrieved on line on 29th of April 2023)

Heinzel, T. (2018). Patented Patterns: On the art and science of patterns. A critical inquiry, Proceedings of the Politics of the Machines – Art and After (EVA Copenhagen) Conference, May 2018, DOI: 10.14236/ewic/EVAC18.8.   

The Open Source Definition (2007), URL: (Retrieved 1st of May 2023.)

Pilling, D. (2018). Warrior tribe enlists lawyers in battle for Maasai “brand”, in The Financial Times, URL:

Perner-Wilson, H. (2011). Handcrafting Textile Interfaces from A Kit-of-No-Parts, TEI’11 Conference Proceedings, Funchal, Portugal, p. 61-68, DOI: 10.1145/1935701.1935715. . (Retrieved the 15th of June 2018).

Polanyi, M. (1958). Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-67288-3.

Savic, S., Huang, J. (2014). Research Through Design: What Does it Mean for a Design Artifact to be Developed in the Scientific Context?, Proceedings of the 5th STS Italia Conference : A Matter of Design. Making Society through Science and Technology, Milan, Italy, DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.4306.6729.

US Patent 9316481 (2016). Sensor for measuring tilt angle based on electronic textile and method thereof. URL:  (Retrieved the 15th of June 2018).

Zimmerman, J.; Stolterman, E.; Forlizzi, J. (2010). An Analysis and Critique of Research through Design: Towards a Formalisation of a Research Approach; ACM: New York, NY, USA, 2010; pp. 310–319.

What is Free Software? (2001), URL: (Retrieved 1st of May 2023.)

From the Vice-Chancellor – April 2023

From the Vice-Chancellor – April 2023

May 2, 2023 Nick Jennings

In my April newsletter: the launch of Midlands Mindforge Limited, partnership agreements with Symbiosis International University and Loughborough College, our first Theme Ambassadors, and recognition for our care of our campus wildlife.

Launch of Midlands Mindforge

At the end of March, eight research intensive Midlands universities, including Loughborough, announced the establishment of a new investment company, Midlands Mindforge Limited, that will accelerate the commercialisation of university spinouts and early-stage Intellectual Property (IP) rich businesses in the region. The company plans to raise up to £250 million from strategic corporate partners, institutional investors and qualifying individuals to transform ground-breaking science and technology into successful businesses with real-world impact.

This is an exciting development for the region and underlines the power of partnership working, one of the six aims of our University strategy. Midlands Mindforge Limited has been co-founded by Aston, Birmingham, Cranfield, Keele, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick, which collectively form Midlands Innovation – a partnership that aims to drive cutting-edge research, innovation and skills development to grow the high-tech, high-skilled economy of the Midlands and the UK.

Although the Midlands region has long been associated with exceptional invention and creativity, it has experienced significant underinvestment in early-stage technology businesses; Midlands Mindforge Limited will help to address that by laying the foundations of a more vibrant ecosystem for emerging science-backed companies in areas such as Clean Technology, AI and Computational Science, Life Sciences and Health Tech.

By cultivating an environment where staff, researchers and postgraduate students with commercial ideas can benefit from early access to investment, we can create opportunities for our people, place and partnerships to flourish, and support levelling up within the Midlands, all fully aligned with our ambitions to drive a significant expansion of entrepreneurship and innovation across the University and accelerate impact from our world-leading research.

Partnership with Symbiosis International University

During our trip to India last November, colleagues and I had initial discussions with Dr S.B. Mujumdar, the Founder, President and Chancellor of Symbiosis International University (SIU), one of India’s leading private universities, about the potential to expand our research links and to forge new collaborative teaching partnerships.

Those discussions progressed further this month when we welcomed to campus Dr Ketan Kotecha, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and Dean for the Faculty of Engineering at SIU, to finalise the agreement between our two institutions. Our growing relationship with SIU has been made possible thanks to staff from both our academic Schools and the Professional Services, particularly Dr Kirti Ruikar from the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering, who is one of the Vice-Chancellor’s Special Envoys for India.

We already have established research links in engineering with SIU and there is a real synergy between their areas of academic strengths and Loughborough’s, as well as with their values and ethos. Their motto ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, which means ‘the whole world is one family’, aligns well with our International Engagement and Impact core plan and our intention to build deep, multifaceted strategic partnerships.

Our wildlife-friendly campus

I was delighted to see Loughborough named as one of the UK’s leading universities for its care of wildlife on campus and in the wider community, in a new study led by wildlife care experts Ark Wildlife, with the University meeting all the criteria in the top ‘platinum tier’.

Our campus in Loughborough has an array of wildlife, with numerous badger setts on site, hedgehogs, kestrels and muntjac deer, and a University apiary that is home to between six and 10 colonies of honey bees. In their monitoring activities over the past year, our student and staff volunteers and the Gardens Team recorded seven species of bumblebee, 17 species of butterfly, 23 species of birds in Holywell Wood and 50 species of plants in both Holywell and Burleigh woods.

Our Biodiversity Action Plan and the Woodland Management Plan both support our care of the campus’s wildlife and we are part of the Hedgehog Friendly Campus initiative, a nationwide project set up by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society to help bring hedgehogs back from the brink of extinction. Last year we earned the Bronze Award and we are currently aiming for Silver accreditation.

These are all important issues and activities that contribute towards the delivery of our Climate Change and Net Zero strategic theme. If we are to achieve our ambitions, we must consider every aspect of what we do, from our pioneering research and innovation to the way we manage and look after our campuses.

First Theme Ambassadors

This month we announced the appointment of our first Strategic Theme Ambassadors for Vibrant and Inclusive Communities – twin brothers Ghanim and Ahmad Muhammad Al-Muftah, who are both studying Politics.

Our plan is to have ambassadors for each of the University’s three strategic themes, who will work closely with the Theme Associate Pro Vice-Chancellors, to act as advocates for the University’s activities and achievements at events and through their networks to enhance the Loughborough’s reputation and profile.

I am delighted that Ghanim and Ahmad have agreed to be our ambassadors for Vibrant and Inclusive Communities. They are already wonderful advocates for Loughborough and will do an outstanding job in helping to champion equity, diversity and inclusion and in showcasing our progress under the Vibrant and Inclusivity Communities theme.

I look forward to working with them and the other Theme Ambassadors when they are appointed.

University and College partnership

The history and development of both the University and Loughborough College have been intertwined for decades and we have worked together for many years on a range of issues, including, most recently, the creation of an East Midlands Institute of Technology, community engagement through the Careers and Enterprise Hub, and the broadening of a partnership around sport through the NFL Academy

Now the two organisations’ shared goals to help lead, support and shape the educational and skills ecosystem within Loughborough and the wider region have been formally recognised through a Memorandum of University (MOU). The signing this month underlines a collective ambition for Loughborough to be a national exemplar of what can be achieved when higher and further education institutions work closely together. 

The MOU, which heralds a new chapter in the University and College’s long-standing partnership, underlines our joint commitment to creating an education provision that will deliver exceptional outcomes to those in our communities, helping to build a culture of aspiration and success for young people across the region.

An inFLUX of emerging design practices: Reflection on Flux Symposium 2022

May 2, 2023 Georgia Haines

In examining the interrelationship of design theory and practice lies an opportunity to “challenge, shake us up, provoke, shift our paradigms, change the way we think and turn us around,” noted Professor Ramia Maze, as she critically reflected on the role of design in today’s world and the future. This comment resonates quite perfectly with the principle, ethos and spirit of the Flux Symposium. Held on the 29th and 30th of September, 2022, the two-day design panel and symposium at Loughborough University, London brought together design students, researchers, academics, practitioners and thinkers. I write this blog as I reflect on my experience of participating in the symposium as a doctoral candidate at Loughborough University’s Institute for Design Innovation (IDI). The common thread that tied together the symposium was the notion of flux- exploring how the world is constantly in a state of temporality, subject to change, uncertainty, ambiguity and complexity. Through the themes of dialogue, displacement and difference; the essence of the panel was to examine the emerging practices of design to combat a world in crisis and flux.

The first day of the symposium was an incredible day to bring guests Professor Ezio Manzini and Professor Jilly Traganou to critically engage with the PhD students at the university through an interactive session of poster presentations, followed by vibrant discussions and feedback. Speaking true to the creativity fostered at IDI, research students presented their work through visual materials such as posters, models, and artefacts and also expressive forms such as performances and narratives. These dialogues created a spirited environment for sharing views, providing insights and debating with individual understandings of design. Additionally, it was rewarding to converse with and gain feedback from academic researchers whose work informs and influences our research argument. Following this, the momentum was kept high with a tour of Hackney by Simon Cole. The tour was an engaging and appropriate activity to fit in the theme of FLUX, as it provided exposure to the gentrification, wicked social problems and consequently, the creative innovation that is thriving in the area around Loughborough University London. Having studied in the vicinity for almost a year, it still succeeded to give me a diverse perspective of the area as well as the legacy, challenges and opportunities it provides for design and social innovation. After, the day was concluded with a keynote by Ezio Manzini, critically reflecting on the notion of care and community building in liveable proximity. It was an interesting perspective on how to work towards a sustainable future through an emphasis on connecting, local interaction, innovation, collaboration and surely, care.

On the second day, the panel consisted of talks by Professors Ramia Maze, Lesley-Ann Noel, Erling Björgvinsson, Noortje Marres and Jilly Traganou as they responded to the theme of FLUX with respect to their own work. The first speaker of the day, Professor Ramia Maze explored the notion of flux by examining the contribution of design to respond to framing global challenges. It was a refreshing perspective on future studies in design theory, commenting on how prototypes and visuals of the future may help probe into the decisions, actions and differences that should be implemented in the present. Evidence from her paper exploring Cape Town as a World Design Capital demanded introspection of the implications of designing urban development, governance and architecture while being aware of the ontological understanding of design in the Global South. Next, Erling Björgvinsson presented a thought-provoking talk on the aspect of participation, which has become an integral part of modern design practices. The talk was particularly pertinent for me and my research since I investigate citizen participation in the emerging field of design activism. The framing of design participation as patronage, instead of being an activity that is inherently collaborative and codeveloped was extraordinary. It challenged the modernist view of design and questioned whether design was perpetuating power imbalances, hegemony and a sense of saviour complex. I will have to admit, the talk resonated with me quite strongly as I engaged in conversation with Profession Björgvinsson and have been actively applying this framework to investigate participation in resistance with more critical eyes. A workshop facilitated by Lesley-Ann Noel was an energising activity that brought out all the design materials and made the hands-on designer in everyone quite content. The workshop divided the participants into groups to investigate the Critical Alphabet, a deck of cards that shines a line on the ABCs of critical design theory by provoking designers to think about their work more deeply. The groups were given themes like oppression, liberation, justice, and equity to create a manifesto statement for how that word is important to their design practice and vision. It was an engaging activity that helped everyone in the room to think collaboratively and also engage with important aspects of design. It encouraged dialogue and the discussion of difference, as diverse perspectives and opinions came to light through the manifesto statements. The next talk by Noortje Marres focussed on the interdisciplinary capability of design and AI. By presenting the ongoing project Shaping AI, the emphasis lay on how creativity can help in enacting agency through visual representations of concerns and controversy. The project is an amalgamation of activism, technology and design to radically problematise the growth and evolution of AI in the current world. It highlighted the role of design in communicating differences and enabling a dialogue through challenging and organising controversy. In the final presentation for the day, Jilly Traganou examined a topic that lived in close proximity to the campus of Loughborough University London- which refers to the gentrification of Stratford (specifically Here East, where the university is situated) and the Olympic legacy. Since the presentation involved performative expressions of different voices, I participated to give voice to local residents in the form of a poetic exclamation depicting the contrast between the modern, luxurious new developments in the area and the affected locals of Newham. This spoke to the theme of displacement in such a poignant manner, with a more ominous and critical impact due to the geographical location of the university. 

With plenty of food for thought and reflection, the symposium concluded with a lovely opportunity to interact with one another and continue the conversations and debates. To sum up, the symposium served as a wonderful opportunity for me to think and rethink what design is truly capable of achieving in the face of flux.

This Week at Loughborough | 2 May

May 2, 2023 Jemima Biodun-Bello

Exhibition: A perfect swim

2 May 2023, 12pm, Martin Hall Exhibition  

An exhibition by three of this year’s graduate artists, exploring the stifling nature of queer identity and disability within society.

Find out more on the events page

Postgraduate pop-up event

3 May 2023, 10am, EHB 

This drop-in event is for anyone looking to explore their next steps in a master’s degree or PHD.

Find out more on the events page

Self-Defence Class

3 May 2023, 12:30pm, Martin Hall

LSU Training Academy will be running a one-hour self-defence class in partnership with AU Karate.

Find out more on the events page

Fluid Marks workshop

4 May 2023, 2pm, Bridgeman Building

As part of our Creative Wellbeing Series with the Student Wellbeing team, join our artist-led workshop turning mark-making and drawings into pieces of stitching.

Find out more on the events page

CRCC to host “Bridging Divides with Communication Research” international symposium on 14 June

May 2, 2023 Iliana Depounti

On the 14th of June 2023, the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture at Loughborough University will host an international symposium on “Bridging divides with communication research”. The event will be held from 2pm to 6pm at the Hazlerigg Council Chamber and will be open to all members of staff and students at Loughborough University. It will also be live-streamed for attendees who register via this link.

The symposium will bring together world-leading scholars and CRCC members in forward-looking, agenda-setting roundtables to discuss how research in the three key CRCC Research Themes – Language and Social Interaction, Media, Memory and History, and Political Communication – can tackle the most pressing challenges of our times.

The event’s focus on bridging divides aims to stimulate wide-ranging conversations on how communication research can help support vibrant and inclusive communities, facilitate reciprocal understanding among different groups, and produce knowledge that is both sensitive to local contexts and cultures and capable to explain key issues and address crucial challenges at a global scale.

Participants will include Dan Hallin (University of California San Diego), Spencer Hazel (Newcastle University), Elliott Hoey (Free University of Amsterdam), Edda Humprecht (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), Emily Keightley (Loughborough University), Jamie Medhurst (Aberystwyth University), Maria Rikitianskaia (Regent’s University London), Jessica Robles (Loughborough University), and James Stanyer (Loughborough University).

More information on the speakers, the Centre, and the University below.

Daniel C. Hallin is Distinguished Professor of Communication at the University of California, San Diego. His research covers media and politics, media and war, media and public health, the history of journalistic professionalism, and comparative media systems, particularly in Europe and Latin America. Among his many books, Comparing Media Systems:  Three Models of Media and Politics has received numerous awards and been translated into 10 languages. Prof. Hallin is a Fellow of the International Communication Association; other awards include the Murray Edelman Distinguished Career Award of the Political Communication Division of the American Political Science Association, the C. Edwin Baker Award for the Advancement of Scholarship on Media, Markets and Democracy and fellowships at the Freedom Forum Media Studies Center at Columbia University and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford.

Spencer Hazel is Reader in Applied Linguistics & Communication at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University. His research deals first and foremost with co-present interaction as situated and embodied practice, seeking to describe the multifarious resources social actors draw on in their interactions. His research focuses mainly on linguistically dynamic settings such as international workplaces, language classrooms, and interactions involving people living with dementia. He also does research in the creative arts, with a particular interest in theatre production, and more recently in conversational AI. He works from an interaction analytic approach, which draws on Ethnomethodological Conversation Analysis.

Elliott M. Hoey is an assistant professor of Language and Communication at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Relying primarily on methods of conversation analysis, his research has tackled some underexamined corners of social interaction, including long silences in conversation and behaviors like sniffing, sighing, and drinking. More recently he has focused on the coordination of construction site activities, the organization of palliative care consultations, and the recording of public activities like police work and disputes between strangers.

Edda Humprecht is an Associate Professor of Media Sociology at NTNU in Trondheim, Norway and an incoming Professor of Communication Research at the University of Jena in Germany. With strong expertise in comparative research, Humprecht’s research examines the complex interactions between digital media and society, with a particular focus on the opportunity structures of different countries for the formation of resilient publics. Humprecht’s research has been recognized with several awards and published in leading academic journals. She is a frequent speaker at public events and is often sought after as an expert for media coverage.

Emily Keightley is Professor of Media and Memory Studies and CRCC Theme Lead for Media, Memory and History at Loughborough University. Emily’s main research interest is memory, time and their mediation in everyday life. She is particularly concerned with the role of media in the relationship between individual, social and cultural memory. Emily’s previous research explores the roles of photography and phonography in the articulation of everyday memory and the gendered nature of mnemonic experience. In her recent work, she has focuses on the relationship between migration, identity and memory. Emily’s research also involves the exploration of the temporal structures of modernity, and she has interests in cultural transmission and mobility.  In 2017, Emily was awarded £1m Research Leadership Award by The Leverhulme Trust (2017-2022). Emily is an editor of the international journal Media, Culture & Society and is a founding member of the Global Media Studies Network.

Jamie Medhurst is Professor of Media and Communication at Aberystwyth University. He is author of A History of Independent Television in Wales (2010), and The Early Years of Television and the BBC (2022) and co-editor of Broadcasting in the UK and US in the 1950s: historical perspectives (2016). He is currently writing a book on broadcasting and society in Wales in the 1970s and in the early stages of a project on ‘Audiences, National Identities and the BBC in Wales, 1923-2023’. He has published a number of articles and book chapters on broadcasting history and was curator of the ‘Entertaining the UK’ section of the ‘100 Voices of the BBC’ research project. He is editor-in-chief of the journal Media History.

Maria Rikitianskaia is a Lecturer in Media and Communications at Regent’s University London and the Byrne-Bussey Marconi Fellow in the History of Science and Communication 2022-23 at Bodleian Libraries, Oxford. She worked at London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK, at USI Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland, and at the National Research University – Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia. She received a PhD degree in Communication Sciences (summa cum laude) in 2018 from USI Lugano and BA and MA degrees in Cultural Studies (with the highest distinction) from Higher School of Economics, Moscow. Her research focuses on the global history of wireless communication, from wireless telegraphy during World War I to the wireless and mobile networks of the present day.

Jessica S. Robles (PhD, University of Colorado at Boulder) is CRCC Theme Lead for Language and Social Interaction. A senior lecturer in the School of Social Sciences and Humanities and a member of the Discourse and Rhetoric Group (DARG) at Loughborough University, Jessica uses discourse and conversation analysis to examine the social organization of difference and its relevance to how people interactionally manage ordinary moral troubles in their everyday lives. This research has covered, for example, political disagreements, gift-exchange dilemmas, responses to racist talk, and complaints about social media and technology in face-to-face and mediated contexts.

James Stanyer is Professor of Communication and Media Analysis and CRCC Theme Lead for Political Communication at Loughborough University. His research and teaching interests lie primarily in the areas of national and transnational political communication. His work is focused on documenting and explaining the changing nature of mediated political communication across advanced industrial democracies. James has been both principal investigator and co-investigator on projects funded by the ESRC, the BBC Trust, the UK government and third sector organizations. He has authored 3 books, 40 journal articles and book chapters and co-edited two collections, one of which has become a widely-adopted student text.

The Centre for Research in Communication and Culture

Since its establishment in 1991, the CRCC has developed into the largest research center of its kind in the UK. We are an interdisciplinary community interested in how communication and culture shape the key challenges of our times. Our members conduct interdisciplinary research in three main areas: Language and Social Interaction, Media Memory and History, and Political Communication. The 2021 Research Excellence Framework ranked us 5th in the UK and the 2022 QS World University Ranking placed us in the top 100 for communications and media research.

Loughborough University

Based on a 440-acre, single-site campus at the heart of the UK, Loughborough University is ranked top 10 in every British university league table. Voted University of the Year (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019) and awarded Gold in the National Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), Loughborough provides a unique student experience. Loughborough University has excellent transport links to the rest of the UK. It is a short distance away from Loughborough Train station, a 15-minute drive from East Midlands Airport (near Nottingham), an hour drive from Birmingham Airport, and an hour and 15 minutes from London via train.

The Suffragette Movement - A divided cause?

The Suffragette Movement - A divided cause?

April 27, 2023 Peter Yeandle

by Gwyn Wallis

From a young age, I have always been drawn to the Victorians, with memories of being taken to museums by my parents being entrenched in my mind. This fascination was cemented after taking Pete Yeandle’s module ‘Victorian Values Reconsidered’, which I found truly thought provoking. Given that women’s rights issues have remained front and centre of political discourse since the nineteenth century, I decided to focus on the Suffragette movement for my dissertation. I was intrigued by the similarities between responses to their protests to some of the backwards reactions we are seeing today. As I am writing this piece, articles are being published comparing suffragette militancy to the actions of Extinction Rebellion, bringing a contemporary element to my completed project.

Alternative histories of significant female protests, including women’s suffrage, campaigning should not be ignored. Protests for women’s rights are likely to continually occur, especially as we see a continued dominance of male politicians and global leaders. Past protests are a crucial part of our history so it no surprise they continue to be deeply and rigorously researched. It was in this context that the idea for my dissertation developed: I wanted to research distinctions in women’s suffrage campaigns in their own chronological context, but also to apply this learning to thinking about current debates about rights-based protesting.

My dissertation aimed to explore the relationships between violent and non-violent suffragette groups, questioning the extent to which the movement was openly divided and exploring the view that, although tactics of different women activists may have varied, they shared similar overall objectives. For instance, it is possible to identify clear and irreconcilable divisions between female suffrage campaigners in the relation to the use of violent tactics – violence, here, is defined to include violence against property as well as violence against self through such campaign methods as hunger strikes and risk of physical harm. The concept of militancy was particularly significant in my research, as the term is being used more regularly in media reporting of environmental protests of today. Studies of suffragette militancy overwhelmingly focus on the distinctions between violent characteristics of some women activists compared to those who deployed constitutional methods, mainly considering the positives and negatives of militancy as an overall strategy. My research was focused on two main questions – about what united and what divided the varying groups of women that constituted the suffrage movement.  

Women’s activist groups included the militant Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), the non-violent, militant Women’s Freedom League (WFL) and the non-militant, constitutional National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS). To gauge the objectives of the various women’s campaign groups, and to explore themes of consensus versus divergence of objective, my research studied each of these groups in turn. The idea behind the project was really to consider each group’s discourse through a close reading of each group’s own publications. These included bespoke newspapers, pamphlets, and other campaign literature. This enabled access to women’s voices from the period. This approach also allowed me to consider if, and how, the language of suffrage campaigning changed over time. Exploring the narratives of each of these three groups and examining how the national press responded to the different groups, provided substantial evidence that distinctions with the suffrage movement were not only known to the women activists but also to the general public. For instance, while some women favoured implementing increasingly ‘militant’ tactics, not all women agreed with the protests, which means historians need to recognise the diversity within the movement. It can’t be assumed that suffrage was a fully united cause. The extent to which these divisions hindered the realisation of the objectives of the women’s suffrage movement is therefore a topic for further exploration.

Completing my dissertation in my final year of my studies was the most rewarding and gratifying piece of work in my university experience. I am extremely proud of the work I produced with the help of my advisors, especially since my research might help others to think differently about the topic.

Photo by LSE Library on Unsplash


I completed my bachelor’s degree in History in July 2022, which included an Industrial Placement year. The wide range of modules allowed me to push my boundaries and explore research I had not considered before. I was also fortunate enough to take a trip to Berlin in my first year, which was one of my highlights. After thoroughly enjoying my Loughborough University experience, I decided to continue my studies at Loughborough and I am now completing a MA in International Security, allowing me to bring my knowledge and analytical skills from undergraduate level into a fast-changing environment of the security sector.

Some recommended readings

  • Adams, Jad. Women and The Vote: A World History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.
  • Bearman, C. J. “An Examination of Suffragette Violence.” The English Historical Review 120, no. 486 (April 2005): 365- 397.
  • Green, Barbara. “The Feel of the Feminist Network: Votes for Women after the Suffragette Women.” A Cultural Review 27, no. 4 (2016): 359- 377.
  • Harrison, Brian. “The Act of Militancy: Violence and the Suffragettes, 1904-1914”, in Peaceable Kingdom: Stability and Change in Modern Britain edited by Brian Harrison, 24-81. Oxford: Claredon Press, 1982.
  • Kingsley Kent, Susan. Sex & Suffrage in Britain 1860-1914. London: Routledge. 1990.

Five minutes with: Matt Cunningham

April 27, 2023 Guest blogger

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

I’m User Services Manager at the University Library and I’ve worked here 18 years.

Tell us what a typical day in your job at Loughborough looks likes?

Every day starts with a meeting updating my team with what they might need to know for the day. From there, no two days are alike – it depends on the time of year. There’s usually lots of meetings, planning and user experience work. Currently, I’m working on updating the Library’s website. I try and make sure I spend at least part of every day around the help desk so that I’m still aware of what users need and how we can help.

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

I love interacting with our users – my favourite times of the year are when I get to help them face-to-face eg induction weeks and open days. The pastoral side of our role shouldn’t be underestimated and having a friendly, helpful person to ask questions of is where we thrive. My favourite question was when a student asked on their first day what time their tea was in halls. The fact that they thought of the Library as a place that helps people find information puts a smile on my face.

What is your proudest moment at Loughborough?

Having worked here so long, there are so many highlights. When I think of the building I walked into on my first day here, there is no resemblance to what we have now. The same is true of the services we offer. When I started we closed at 10pm and students could only borrow 12 books. Now we are open until 2am and 24/7 during exams, and students can borrow 50 books which are automatically renewed to avoid having to pay fines. However, the thing I’m probably proudest of as a team is our response to Covid and the way we supported users. We were nominated for a Vice-Chancellor’s Award for our efforts, which was a lovely recognition.

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

I don’t drink but I used to manage wine shops so I run wine tasting events as I have higher wine qualifications. Oh, and I have a not too secret addiction to Lego!

What is your favourite quote?

Those who have visited the Library may have seen our Confucius quote but when we had a refurbishment in 2013 I joked that we should use the Terry Pratchett quote: “Students, love ’em or hate ’em, you can’t hit them on the head with a shovel!”. It didn’t make the cut.

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

DRN2023 Drawing in Relation: Affect & Agency Recording

April 27, 2023 Deborah Harty

Thank you to Penny Davis for chairing the second in the series of DRN2023 Drawing in Relation events, to the presenters Joanna Leah, Kiera O’Toole and Camille Courier & Laura Winn, for their interesting presentations in response to the theme, and to everyone who attended.

Feeling helpless? Let's start by talking about the SDGs.

Feeling helpless? Let's start by talking about the SDGs.

April 24, 2023 Rhiannon Brown

In support of the Student Green League, Gavin Bath (Campus and Sustainability Rep for Royce Hall) has written a guest blog for us…

Why do we need to take positive action? Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for years, you will have heard and seen about our changing climate, and hopefully this should be enough for you to want to take action. To further this, check out this great interactive web page which demonstrates how the world’s most populous regions have been affected by extreme heat since 2013. Carbon Brief explains how “Extreme heat events can have serious health impacts – Europe’s 2003 summer heatwave, for example, caused more than 70,000 deaths. Extreme heat can also worsen air quality problems and ground-level ozone, exacerbate drought and wildfire risk, reduce labour productivity, damage infrastructure and reduce crop yields.”

So, do you want to make a meaningful positive change to your local community? Do you want to learn and grow by joining the environmental movement that is sweeping our Earth? Do you want to take action towards making the Earth greener instead of waiting around for other people to get started?  

Well then, let’s be the change that we want to see and learn more about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs for short!). SDG’s were made by the United Nations as a blueprint of goals and targets for countries to aim for in order to make the world a more peaceful and prosperous place.  There are 17 goals in place.

They range from social targets, such as reducing gender inequality and poverty levels, to more environmentally focused targets such as being able to access clean renewable energy and creating sustainable cities and communities.  

You don’t need to be a United Nations Ambassador in order to make a meaningful difference (although if you are one you certainly can make a difference)! We can all take small scale action in order to help meet the SDG’s, for example if you’re interested in improving access to education you can sign up as a mentor and help your fellow students, or join one of the many social mobility charities such as Zero Gravity which work towards improving access to opportunities for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Whilst it may pose a bit of a challenge to make a completely functioning sustainable city by yourself, you can go a step smaller and ensure that your lifestyle at university is sustainable. By recycling, turning off the lights when you’re not using them, using your food waste bin correctly, and learning more about sustainability and what you can do to make a meaningful positive impact about the environment, you are making a HUGE difference! Check the links above for relevant information from our Loughborough University Sustainability website for specific how-to’s.

It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of adversity, however by each of us taking meaningful positive action towards taking care of mother nature, day by day and step by step we are working together towards achieving a more green, a more peaceful, and a brighter future!  

If SDG’s are a topic that you are interested in, feel free to explore more at the United Nations dedicated website.  

This article is in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action. To read more click here.

If you’d like to write a blog for us to support the Student Green League, email with your topic suggestion.

DRN2023 Drawing in Relation: Sound & Motion

April 23, 2023 Deborah Harty

17th May 2023 11.00-13.00 (BST)

This is the third in a series of events organised by the Drawing Research Group at Loughborough University, exploring the theme drawing in relation.

Tickets are available here:

This panel brings together researchers investigating different aspects of motion and sound through contemporary drawing practice. Reflecting on their recent collaboration, artist Lisa Munnelly and musician Simon Eastwood will explore the positionality of drawing in relation to music. They will discuss their work ReSurfacing (2019); an interdisciplinary improvisation between drawing and an original composition on the double bass. In approaching this work, both artists were interested in the inherent material conditions of drawing and music– how mark-making might speak to the ephemerality of music; could drawing be freed from duration? Sound somehow sustained as a surface? Kristy Gordon’s research explores the intersection of slowness and velocity through the creation of digital drawings and dimensional objects formed with hand-held power tools. A paradox between fast tools and slow affect is introduced and then deconstructed through material and processual exploration of four identified agents of slowness: time, space, experience of nature, and tools of velocity. Gordon identifies the dialogic relationship between maker and materials of velocity as a resonant exchange between artist and artefact that reveals how velocity asserts and enacts new meaning on slowness in the contemporary context. Oona Wagstaff’s research explores the potential of drawing to make sounding experience visible. Focusing on the drawn point, as opposed to the line, Wagstaff brings drawing and sounding into dialogue to examine the points’ potential as a communicative, visually sounding structure in oscillation between two and three-dimensions and between aural and visual-sounding interpretations. Here Wagstaff conceptualizes the ‘sounding-point’ as a resonant state of becoming both sound and image.


Lisa Munnelly is an artist and senior lecturer within the College of Creative Arts at Massey University NZ. Munnelly looks to extend her drawing practice via multimedia collaborations with other artists. A signature of her work is process-orientated drawings that emerge and unfold over time.

Simon Eastwood is a New Zealand based composer and bass player and has a diverse practice, including orchestral and chamber works, electronic pieces, and improvisation. His current work revolves around exploring interdisciplinary collaboration through personal interpretation.

Kristy Gordon is a doctoral researcher at Sydney’s UNSW Art, Design and Architecture. Her topic is ‘Slow Marks and Drift: Repetition, Flow and Resonance in Slow Art Practice’.

Oona Wagstaff is a doctoral researcher at Loughborough University and has gained a first-class BA (Hons) in Painting, Drawing and Printmaking and an MA in drawing with distinction at Plymouth Arts University in Devon.

The panel will be chaired by James Bowen who recently completed his doctoral research in ‘Voice as a Tool for Drawing’ at Loughborough University.

Other events in the series:

‘Dialogic Exchange’ 15th March 2023 ‘Affect and Agency’ 19th April 2023
‘Spaces of Care’ 7th June 2023

Advice from The Interns: Marketing and Advancement Internships

April 20, 2023 Jemima Biodun-Bello

We’re looking for motivated and talented Loughborough University graduates, final-year students or placement students to join our award-winning Marketing and Advancement team at a top 10 UK university.

Does this sound like you? Well, before submitting your application, we asked our current interns to give you their top tips for applying for a role, a brief overview of their current internship, and what they’ll take away from this incredible experience.

Wiktoria Betlejewska

BA Politics and Internal Relations

Alumni Engagement

Wiktoria Betlejewska, current Alumni Engagement Intern holding a gecko

What’s your role like?

My role as the Alumni Engagement Intern has taught me a range of different skills and provided me with exciting opportunities and a dynamic work environment. My daily tasks include but are not limited to; working on a database, assisting with administrative tasks and daily queries from alumni, writing news stories about our alumni and their achievements for our social media channels and assisting in the delivery of communications and social media content. This internship gave me the chance to learn an array of new skills in an energetic environment. 

Top tips for applying

One of my top tips for applying for this internship would be to show your enthusiasm both about the role and Loughborough itself. Another tip which I think is extremely important is to cater your CV and Cover Letter for the role that you are applying for, this also extends to any other applications as it shows your commitment to the position and displays tailored skills to where you are applying. I would advise against not putting skills that may seem obvious into your application. Although it is important to keep your application concise, it should also be a good reflection of your overall skill set. 

A lesson you will take away from this year

One key lesson that I will take away from my placement year is to take on different opportunities and experiences. As the year goes on, you will have the chance to help attend various events and assist with different things happening around the University. Taking part is super important as it takes you out of your comfort zone from your everyday job and provides you with additional skills outside of your usual role. Opportunities like this were a massive help to my character growth as they built up my confidence and made me a more proactive and involved individual. In addition to this, they are a chance to try out different tasks and get a grasp of your likes and interests within the professional world. 

Most memorable moment

Some of my most memorable moments from this placement include the opportunities I have had to interact with our alumni. Throughout this placement, I have had a chance to meet with a variety of Loughborough alumni in many different settings including Rahul Mandal when he visited the university for a book signing and at other events. These moments were particularly special as they allowed me to speak to a variety of people who have graduated from Loughborough about the different career and life paths they have experienced after university as well as having the opportunity to hear alumni share their interesting stories. 

Thomas Harris

BSc Business Psychology

School Marketing Intern

Thomas Harris, Business School Marketing Intern, crossing arms and smiling

A lesson you will take away from this year

Don’t be afraid to get involved with more than just what’s on your job description! Take every opportunity available to work with other teams and gain as much experience as you can. Being open to new opportunities will help you practice adapting to different work processes and colleagues’ methods, something that will prove valuable in future jobs. 

Most memorable moment

My most memorable moment is being part of the Business School rebrand. Working on such an important project that will change the Schools future is a really special feeling, and something I’m proud to be involved in. Despite only having an entry-level role, I was still given responsibility for large parts of the project. Not only has this drastically improved my knowledge of marketing and branding, but it has also given me an invaluable experience early in my career – it was certainly one of the many highlights of my internship! 

What have you gained from your internship? 

After working on a wide variety of tasks throughout the internship, I’ve been introduced to many different concepts and processes that have all added to my knowledge and experience. Most tasks/projects have led to improvements in particular areas of my knowledge relating to branding and marketing approaches to different audiences, but I’ve also been introduced to graphic design, user experience (UX), and content creation. My internship featured both traditional and digital marketing methods which provided an opportunity to put my degree into practice, as well as drastically improving my knowledge of marketing due to the variety of experience. 

How will your internship benefit you in the future? 

The internship will certainly benefit me in the future as it has provided a wide variety of valuable experience. I’ve been able to put my university learning into practice while simultaneously gaining a deeper understanding of marketing. The internship has demonstrated that certain things cannot be taught, and instead only learnt through experience, such as having an appreciation for the graphic design perspective in collaboration, or the importance of effective teamwork and meeting the demands of your colleagues. Not only has the internship provided a brilliant experience, but it has also highlighted the importance of seizing opportunities and ‘making things happen’. 

Mae Ursache

BA Media and Communications

PR and Internal Communications Intern

PR and Internal Communications Intern, Mae Ursache, smiling into camera, holding an open day guide

Top tips for applying

Applying for a placement can be scary – especially if it’s the first time you start applying for jobs! Don’t let rejections or anxiety discourage you. If you learn from your experiences and the feedback you receive, you’ll soon improve your skills as you persevere, getting better with each interview. My top tips would be to remain confident, promoting your skills by highlighting experiences that either helped you develop within your field, or show how passionate you are about the role.

Most memorable moment

Publishing “Proud”, my first feature for our Volume online magazine, highlighting the Loughborough community’s most notable achievements of this year. The writing and design process was lengthy and required a lot of research and edits based on my line manager’s feedback, but it was all worth it to see my name on such a wholesome, positive article about what makes us proud to be part of Loughborough.

What have you gained from your internship?

So much! I’ve learned to organize and prioritize tasks and gained many useful skills like: editing podcast videos and audio content, writing news stories and press releases that stick to the team’s format and guidelines, gaining valuable experience with Adobe software, and much more! There’s always something new to learn, and your team is always there to support you in the process.

How will your internship benefit you in the future?

Marketing and Communications have always been the two fields I’ve wanted to work within, so this role was the perfect fit for me! I’ve gained valuable skills, as well as adapted to my first ever experience in a workplace environment. I’ve finally had the chance to put what I’ve learned from my degree (so far) into practice, and this experience will definitely prove useful in my final year of studies, as well as in my career journey after graduating.

If you would like more information about the Internships within Marketing and Advancement, click here.

The application deadline is the 23rd April.

AI-Powered Universities

April 13, 2023 Sadie Gration

This is an extended version of a blog which was originally published on the Times Higher Education website on 11 April 2023.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will soon power our universities, transforming the way we undertake research, educate students, and run our institutions. Early glimpses of this are evident today, but we have only just started to scratch the surface of what AI can do for the sector.  

I have spent my professional life researching AI – and now I’m a Vice-Chancellor, I’m frequently asked about AI’s impact on universities. While I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers, I have a few thoughts from my perspective of leading Loughborough University.

AI is transforming society: we already see significant impacts on the way we live, work and play. This will become ever more pronounced as the technology improves and we think of more creative ways to deploy it. When I give talks on AI I often enliven proceedings by asking the audience to shout out an area or topic, and then I go on to describe a related application of AI. I have yet to be stumped, despite some fairly wild suggestions! However, I don’t believe that AI systems will come to dominate the world, nor take over all our jobs. AI systems will be most effective when they work in partnership with humans, making the most of the complementarity between the tasks that smart machines are good at and those at which humans excel[1].

With this perspective in mind, let me turn to universities in particular.

In terms of research, there is exciting activity in all areas of academic endeavour. Be that exploring the rights of sentient machines or using novel computational techniques to discover new drugs and materials. These are, respectively, profound new research questions and fundamentally new approaches to solving complex problems. It is important to emphasise that such activities are absolutely not confined to STEM subjects, nor to those with a STEM background. All research disciplines are already, or will shortly be, influenced by AI. Many will be powered by it. There are examples of Loughborough research already embracing AI technologies and approaches.

In terms of education, there has long been the tantalising promise that AI will personalize the learning experience for each and every student. AI-powered systems could follow an individual’s progress and present content and assignments tailored to their particular learning style and ability. This truly bespoke offering would operate at a scale far beyond that available at any university today and would help with the inclusion of the increasingly diverse needs of today’s student cohorts. Now, we are beginning to see elements of this vision become a reality.  But we still have a long way to go to get anywhere near this degree of sophistication. Moreover, I also believe (and fervently hope!) there will always be a need for human educators to support and curate this content and to provide the inspiring and insightful connection that lies at the heart of a high-quality Loughborough education.

Much of the very recent explosion of interest in AI has been driven by the development of powerful chatbots such as ChatGPT. In this context, there is much debate about their role in completing assessments. Such bots can produce highly credible essays, answers to assignments, computer programs and blogs… although not this one, obviously. We cannot, and we should not, simply ban such systems. This is both unworkable and undesirable. Rather, we must think carefully about how these powerful tools can enhance our work. We have a duty as educators to prepare our students for a global workforce in which they will have to routinely use AI tools in a responsible manner (see the development of DIGILabs as a great local example).

Chatbots can usefully facilitate idea generation, summarise significant bodies of work and critique initial drafts. However, we need to ensure that assignments, and their chosen method of assessment, require critical thinking, independent research and understanding that cannot be outsourced to a chatbot alone. This requires a shift to authentic assessments in which students are expected to deploy knowledge for an in-depth analysis or to synthesise data from specific situations. After all, if a chatbot can get good marks for a question, it probably isn’t a very good question in the first place!

From the educator’s perspective, partnership with AI systems offers an ability to aggregate, at the course-level, feedback and analysis in real-time. We will have a reliable and objective way to identify the topics and concepts that the students find most challenging, without having to wait until after exams or being overly influenced by those who are most vocal. Locally, we are currently piloting the use of AI chatbots within specific modules and early student feedback is positive.

Possibly the least developed area is how AI can improve the way that universities operate. There are many ways in which universities are just like many other large institutions. So, AI advances in areas like HR, finance, and marketing should naturally flow into universities via standard products and services. We have already used ChatGPT to generate content for recruitment exercises and critique documents prior to publication. Going further, imagine if Loughborough was a university in which data is only input once. Data is not lost. Data is joined up to provide useful, valuable services. AI could make Loughborough, and all universities, the modern, digitally-powered institutions they should be.

What’s even more interesting, however, is where AI will have an impact on the things that are particularly prominent or distinctive to being a university. Turning first to students. I see significant opportunities for AI assistants to support their journey in a joined-up manner. Such assistants could amplify (human) personal tutors by identifying relevant course options based on the millions of data points generated by their individualised learning journey, highlighting and scheduling interesting extra-curricular activities and opportunities, and keeping an eye on mental health and well-being.

For staff, AI systems could automate the routine administrative tasks that we all spend too much time on (think meeting scheduling, expense claims, and form filling), summarise free-form feedback from surveys and questionnaires, and identify new connections with relevant researchers who are working in adjacent or complementary fields.

While it is clear there are many opportunities for AI-powered universities, significant challenges need to be overcome. Most AI systems need data. Lots of it. This brings in issues of privacy and ethics, data ownership, copyright, GDPR and bias. These are all genuine showstoppers if handled incorrectly. On top of this, there are issues with the way AI systems make decisions. Most of them cannot readily explain why they made a particular decision – so while the computer might say no, it cannot explain why.  AI systems, and chatbots in particular, are also prone to hallucination. That means giving convincing, but entirely fictitious, answers. Finally, AI systems are poor at social interactions. They just don’t know how to be effective collaborators, good team players or robust challengers of human decisions. The human still has to adapt to accommodate the foibles of the machine and this is not a great basis for an effective partnership.

I firmly believe AI will revolutionise all aspects of university life and that we should be in the vanguard of this in Loughborough. ChatGPT and I agree that “if used wisely it will make universities more effective, rewarding and inclusive for everybody.” There are challenging issues to be resolved, both with the technology and its application, but by embracing the opportunities and working in partnership, AI will help staff and students, research and education to flourish.

[1] S. D. Ramchurn, S. Stein and N. R. Jennings (2021)“Trustworthy human-AI partnerships”iScience 24 (8) 102891

Five minutes with: Jemima Biodun-Bello

April 13, 2023 Soph Dinnie

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

I am the Web and Digital Intern and I’ve worked here five months.

Tell us what a typical day looks like for you?

I start my day like most, with a coffee (an Americano with oat milk and three sugars if you’re wondering). I then like to do all my admin in the morning – emails, updating excel documents and planning the different projects I want to tackle that day. I then might be off to create some social media content, film a podcast episode or go on a shoot. Lunch is usually with the other interns. It’s always fun to see the different things everyone gets up to and catch up when we can. The end of the day is always a bit quieter and when I get to churn out some tasks on the back end of the University’s website, deal with digital signage requests and complete some edits.

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

It’s really hard to pick a favourite. I enjoy anything I work on which is down to the amazing teams I work with and the knowledge that gets passed down to me. I think my favourite project has to be the Loughborough Swimmers Headshots, just as I was able to see them through to the end, from the shoot into post production. The social media content I get to help out with is super fun too! It’s always slightly chaotic and thinking with fast feet which I love.

What is your proudest moment at Loughborough?

I think seeing my work around campus or on social media. It’s the satisfying feeling of knowing that was me and being able to see the positive impact of what I do.

Tell us something you do outside of work?

I’m a Youth Leader at my church and a kids camp manager which is very funny to think as I would still like to class myself as a child but I love developing and helping the next generation grow… and having fun!

What is your favourite quote?

“I have a lot of fear but I’m going to love things anyway. It’d be a waste of a heart if I didn’t” – @bekindbella on Instagram.

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

<strong>What I Told You was True, from a Certain Point of View: EDI, <em>Star Wars </em>and the dominant voice</strong>

What I Told You was True, from a Certain Point of View: EDI, Star Wars and the dominant voice

April 12, 2023 Guest Author

Unlike most other films, Star Wars has connected with its audience in a way that allows them to feel part of the story. George Lucas’ original story, focusing on the adventures of Luke Skywalker, was written in a way to allow fans to engage with and become part of the Star Wars universe. As the story develops, it has become a rich story of war, love, politics, and redemption. Coupled with the fact that it was the first franchise to develop an extensive toy line to allow youngsters to continue to engage with and develop the story, this places Star Wars in a unique position.

The depth and range of story allows for a rich corpus for use in the classroom. From my own teaching we approach Star Wars as Historians and Political Scientists covering issues such as how history and story-telling influenced George Lucas to issues on representation of power and populism in the films.

So, how does this link to Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity? The answer is Star Wars is a story. It has a dominant narrative through which we get to know about the characters and their backgrounds. The simplistic way in which the first six films are told causes us to become invested in the films. Just as Star Wars is a story told through a dominant voice, so too is history. History is not the past, but a story we tell ourselves about the past.

Therefore, as history is a story, it is somebody’s story. By extension, history is also not somebody’s story. With the rise of social history in the 1960s, historians have discussed the ‘whose voice’ question: Whose history do we tell? What happens if our history excludes groups? How do we add additional voices to the story? Should these additional voices supplement or change our history?

In Week 2, we watched A New Hope in class. Prior to the film screening, students were asked to read a piece by Will Brooker (‘Using the Force. Creativity, Community and Star Wars Fans’) who observed a group of Star Wars fans watching The Empire Strikes Back. Using a mixture of sociology and anthropology, Brooker wrote up his observations about the dynamics within the group, how they communicated, and how they assigned worth to individual members. One point he raised was all members (apart from one female) were members of the “dominant group”.

As my students watched A New Hope, and based on the Brooker reading,they were given three questions to ponder. Their answers formed the basis of the seminar discussion:

  1. How would you characterise yourself? By gender, ethnicity, age, etc?
  2. To what extent did characterisation shape your “interpretation” (Ibid) of the film and how?
  3. On what aspects of the film did you focus and why? What does this focus say about who you are?

The interesting point about the first question was the group that struggled most to answer it (and this included me) was white male students. As they are part of a dominant group, they saw their story on the screen, so felt the question did not apply to them. The non-white, male students were more likely to identify themselves according to their race, ethnicity or gender: that is in opposition to the “dominant” voice. The lesson that most white male students learnt was this is how institutional discrimination can occur. Often this discrimination is not intentional, but it still exists. It may be a standard and accepted practice or language to you, but it is only standard as it reflects the dominant group. Imagine you are not in the dominant group? How would you respond? As members of a dominant group, we may not understand the issues that other groups have, therefore, do not see the relevance of EDI. However, this view does not remove the need for EDI initiatives nor, more importantly, does it make white men part of the problem.

Too often, at best EDI is seen as something that applies only to non-white men. At worst, it can be seen as something in opposition to white men. So, why should white men become part of the discussion? They are part of the problem, so other groups need to act in a way to change the system. What our discussion on how we view films showed, was twofold: firstly, it showed white, male students how stories become dominant and, by virtue of their dominance, can exclude other groups. Secondly, it suggested that all groups need to be shown the problem and, in a non-judgemental way, all groups need to be involved if any meaningful solutions are to be found. White men should not be made to feel guilt by association.

Having attended a recent Town Hall meeting with the Pro-Vice Chancellor for EDI, Professor Charlotte Croffie, one point that resonated was the idea that we learn to disagree well. We will not always agree, but we need to make EDI a space for discussion. It is about learning about others, what makes them who they are and how we can strive towards a society in which we can be what we want to be, free from barriers that may hold us back. We will make mistakes along the way, but we will learn from these mistakes. Some groups have less barriers to remove than others, but this should not mean these groups cannot be part of the discussion.

One of the many challenges is to show that EDI is for all groups. If you are fortunate enough to be part of the dominant voice, it is too easy to feel that you do not belong in the EDI space. However, if EDI is to prove successful and bring about meaningful changes in institutions and behaviours, all groups need to be involved. A big challenge here is to make all groups aware of how they fit into EDI. In our Star Wars discussions, members of the dominant group were shown to be part of the dominant group. For some, including me, this was quite a moment of self-realisation about who I was, but also about how others may see me. What we saw on the screen reflected who we were. Therefore, we had no need to define ourselves due to a particular characteristic.

What was powerful was just that: How as white men we do experience privilege. However, this privilege is often not consciously understood until it is shown. We did not create the systems, norms or values in place, but we benefit from them. While the benefits are there, we do not see them. We are taught in a particular way that benefits us. To make EDI inclusive maybe, to quote Yoda, we “must unlearn what you have learned.” As my Star Wars module shows, George Lucas’ story is a valuable corpus in which to learn about ourselves, our stories, and the people we want to be.

Life as a Student Recruitment Intern

April 6, 2023 Jemima Biodun-Bello

Hello, my name is Harry, I’m a Chemical Engineering student and I’m currently working as a Student Recruitment Intern in the Schools and Colleges Liaison team. Compared to my degree, this is a very different job, but it provides me the unique opportunity to develop and refine my communications skills in a different way.

Harry, student recruitment on a rugby pitch smiling with hand on his hip
Harry – Student Recruitment Intern

Describe your typical workday:

For me, one of the best things about this role is the boredom-defying, day-to-day variation in my calendar. One of the main responsibilities of my role is to visit schools and events centres across the country; hosting stands at careers fairs and giving advice and guidance talks to young people, all in the hope that I provide most of the information (and a little of the inspiration) that they need to consider going on to higher education, particularly here at Loughborough.

When I am not at events, I am often organising and managing nights-away and transport for before and after them, working on projects such as campus visit and experience days, creating social media content, or using my STEM skillset to digitally-mentor school pupils in the local area in Maths and Science – a really rewarding experience. the latter is one of the many things which the flexibility of this role allows for; when I’m not away eventing, I have some choice to pick and choose what I get involved which is helpful for my personal development and general interest.

What achievement are you proudest of in your role?

I was recently given the opportunity to help with the organisation and delivery of Inspiring Minds STEM, one of our university taster days. I presented in front of 150 people at the start of the day and led a Q&A session with an alumni panel; something which has truly consolidated my public speaking confidence.

What have you learnt while being an Intern?

As I am developing and settling into my role, I have been able to further enhance my project and time-management skills too, something which will be useful to me in my widely different career as an engineer in the future. I have also become aware of so much more about the university, especially the hard work going on to widen participation in university study amongst young people ensuring that everyone regardless has equality of opportunity in Higher Education.

What is your favourite part of the role?

For me, the best part about the role has been interacting with young people, and in many cases, giving them that hope and advice they need to be pushed that little bit further towards applying to university. I was very much in their position 6 years ago, and I like to think I can pass on some of the advice which I wish someone had given me at their age. 

What advice would you give for anyone going for an Intern position?

When going into your internship position I would advise you to go in with an open and keen mind; try and get involved in things which interest you and that will develop the skills you want to improve upon, as there is scope for personal and professional development. 

I can honestly say that I look forward to work each day. The team are the friendliest people I have ever worked with but also very organised and conscientious professionals, who want the best for the university and the young people. 

If you would like more information about the Internships within Marketing and Advancement, click here.

The application deadline is the 23rd April.

From the Vice-Chancellor – March 2023

April 3, 2023 Nick Jennings

In my newsletter this month: Ranked best in the world for sports-related subjects, the Black in Sport Summit, the inaugural Sustainability Week, recognition for our Covid-related research, International Women’s Day, and the renamed Loughborough Business School.

QS World University Rankings by Subject

Sports-related research is a key part of one of our three strategic themes, with the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Sports Technology Institute and the Institute of Sport Business all renowned for the fundamental and applied research they undertake in this area. I was delighted, therefore, that Loughborough has again, for the seventh consecutive year, been ranked best in the world for sports-related subjects in the QS World University Rankings by Subject.

Loughborough was also ranked in the QS global top 100 in five other subject areas. We are 21st for Library and Information Management, reflecting the work of the School of Social Sciences and Humanities and the School of Business and Economics; 32nd in the Art and Design category for the research, innovation and teaching undertaken in the School of Design and Creative Arts; and 62nd for Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering, which covers the Schools of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering and Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering. Architecture and the Built Environment and Communication and Media Studies, reflecting the work of the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering and the School of Social Sciences and Humanities respectively, are both ranked in the 51-100 category.

Enhancing our global reputation in line with our institutional strategic themes and research strengths is a key objective throughout our strategy, one of the objectives of the core plan for international engagement and impact, and a significant element within Project Reputation – one of the enabling projects that is addressing the organisational changes we need make to progress our strategic aims.

To have consolidated our international standing in all of these areas is an important step forward in our reputational ambitions.

Black in Sport Summit

On 25 March we hosted the second Black in Sport Summit (BISS), held at the London Stadium in Stratford – home of the amazing West Ham United Football Club and the host venue for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. This year’s event was sponsored by Sky, as part of a wider partnership between the University and the broadcaster and Sky’s £30 million commitment towards tackling systemic racism.

BISS was co-founded by three of our students – Ladi Ogunmekan, Samuel Ola, and Emmanuel Shittu – and is run in partnership with the University and Loughborough Sport. It was established to celebrate the achievements of Black people across the sports industry and to tackle discrimination and underrepresentation of Black people in the sector.

This year’s event was hosted by Sky Sports News presenter Mike Wedderburn, who is a Loughborough alumnus and member of the University’s Council, and freelance sports presenter Anita Abayomi. The speaker line-up was truly impressive, covering a range of roles within the industry. There were sportsmen and women from a number of sports, including the seven-time Formula One title winner, Sir Lewis Hamilton, who gave an exclusive video interview with Mike Wedderburn; former footballer Anton Ferdinand; Alice Dearing, the first Black female swimmer to represent Team GB at the Olympics; and Team GB Taekwondo athlete Lutalo Muhammad.

From the wider sports industry there was Tony Burnett, the CEO of Kick it Out, which aims to end all forms of discrimination within sport, and Carina White, the broadcaster and cultural commentator.

As well as panel discussions and talks on issues facing Black people in sport,

Sky Sports offered work placement opportunities to those participating in the BISS ‘Employer Challenge’ initiative.

BISS is a fantastic concept that aligns with our aim and theme of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. By bringing together people from all areas of the sports industry, with diverse backgrounds and experiences, BISS can help us to gain a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding discrimination and underrepresentation in sport and pave the way for a more inclusive and equitable future for everyone in the industry.

Sustainability Week

This month we hosted our first-ever Sustainability Week, with a packed programme of events and activities for staff and students. The week aimed to demonstrate the behavioural changes we can all make in our day-to-day lives that can help to tackle the ongoing threats to the environment.  

In this short video, Professor Dan Parsons, our Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, explains that Loughborough has an integral part to play in the work to address the climate emergency. The Climate Change and Net Zero theme of our strategy outlines how we intend to do this through our research and innovation, our teaching and student experience, through sport, our partnerships and international engagement.

Alongside this we must make changes on our own campuses – to our everyday working practices and the way we develop and manage our estate – if we are to achieve net zero emissions from our operations. The new Carbon Action Planner is one of the tools we have recently launched to support this. It will enable each Academic School and Professional Services section to create plans that are tailored and relevant for the spaces they occupy and the activities they do. I look forward to hearing more about everyone’s progress with this important initiative.

Award for Covid-related research

The Covid-19 pandemic was one of the most challenging periods of recent times for everyone. At Loughborough our community pulled together to tackle the unprecedented issues that faced us all, from the day-to-day challenges around social distancing and testing to ground-breaking research initiatives with the potential to positively impact lives around the globe.

One of these projects was the Loughborough-led AIRBODS (Airborne Infection Reduction through Building Operation and Design for SARS-CoV-2) initiative – a Government-funded research project that helped to get large-scale events back up and running following the lockdown.

The AIRBODS team, led by Professor Malcolm Cook, the Dean of the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering, worked on indoor air quality and helped create guidance on how to design and operate non-domestic buildings to minimise the spread of airborne viruses.

This research was truly pioneering and I was delighted to see it acknowledged at the recent Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) Building Performance Awards, where it won the Learning and Development category. The CIBSE awards recognise the people, products and projects that demonstrate engineering excellence in the built environment.

The AIRBODS project – which was delivered in collaboration with University College London, the University of Cambridge, the University of Nottingham, the University of Sheffield, London South Bank University and Wirth Research – is a great example of our strategic aim of partnership working to deliver real-world impact through our research and innovation and effect meaningful change to people’s lives.

International Women’s Day

On 8 March, organisations all around the world hosted events and activities to mark International Women’s Day (IWD). Here at Loughborough, our women’s staff and student networks were instrumental in the organisation of some fantastic events, and in curating stories to showcase the accomplishments of some of the women who work and study here. 

To mark the event, Professor Charlotte Croffie, our Pro Vice-Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), wrote two blogs: one considering how we can embrace equity and the other reflecting on the negativity that often accompanies social media posts about events such as International Women’s Day. Please do read them if you haven’t already.

I know that awareness events, which aim to shine a spotlight on achievements, progress and issues that still exist for groups within our society, are sometimes subject to accusations of tokenism. However, I agree with Professor Croffie’s sentiment in her blog: we should use these events to celebrate progress and people’s achievements, but also use them as opportunities to reflect on what we still have to do to address discrimination that continues both within our own organisation and within wider society.

A new era for the business school

From 2 May the School of Business and Economics will formally become Loughborough Business School (LB), representing the first step in our ambitious long-term strategy to have a business school that is globally recognised and featured in the QS100 rankings. The name change was approved by Senate in November last year.

The vision is for Loughborough Business School to become the first choice for purpose-led people and organisations, fusing theory and practice in the student learning experience, initiating world-leading research and forging partnerships with other organisations. Through this new culture, encapsulated by its overarching philosophy of ‘Progress with Purpose’, the School will increase its postgraduate recruitment numbers and commercial partnerships and challenge policy, practice and performance. 

I look forward to seeing Loughborough Business School’s progress.

Why carrying out race equity work uniquely appeals to marathon runners 

Why carrying out race equity work uniquely appeals to marathon runners 

April 3, 2023 Sadie Gration
Image: Courtesy of Getty

Recently I attended a BAME Network Leads Away Day. During our introductions, I mentioned I am a marathon runner. Immediately a very perceptive colleague pointed out that the qualities I possess from marathon running make sense for why I want to work as a Race Equity Officer.  

At first, I couldn’t see the connection but after a brief reflection, it was all so clear. Below are my reflections and I hope they either make you want to give marathon running a go, find out how you could work in an anti-racist way, or even better – both. 

To complete a marathon, you must be a strategic planner, where you have a vision of what you want to achieve. Then you will almost always have a goal which will usually centre around a marathon time. Mine is to run my next marathon in under four hours and the training, the food I eat, and the way I take breaks will help me achieve this goal. Similarly, race equity has a vision, and that vision will be to move the organisation in an anti-racist direction to help everyone understand what anti-racism looks and feels like. 

Easy right? Well, neither is easy; pursuing marathon training or carrying out race equity work is likely to face challenges and barriers along the way. There will be naysayers telling you this isn’t for you. I have been told, “Black women shouldn’t run.” People will tell you running is bad for your health, and it is true running can cause wear and tear on the body which can be exacerbated by overtraining or inappropriate footway.  

However, the physical benefits such as improved mood, bone strength, and muscle tone outweigh those health drawbacks, which in most cases can be easily managed. In terms of race equity, there will be negative resistance. For example, colleagues being defensive, in denial about the impact of racism, and like marathon running, it hurts, and when it happens, you’ll need time to heal and repair if you are going to be effective in achieving your vision and goals. 

So, if you are going to take on the mammoth task of preparing your body to run 26.2 miles or take on the task of working to eliminate systemic barriers that create inequitable racial outcomes, then you will need to be aware of the challenges. You’ll also need to know change is going to happen and if you stay committed to both, you are going to get stronger, and you are going to persuade a colleague to go to that anti-racist training. You are going to be able to run for longer, you will start to make progressive changes to policy, or you’ll see you have elevated status amongst family and friends, who will tell you there is no way they could do what you are doing. You’ll see how colleagues who were once disinterested in race equity work become allies and hence role models for other colleagues.  

The thing is, this takes time and marathon runners have a built-in sense of patience because the change we seek is often imperceptible, and gradual, requiring systematic planning and thinking with a Queen Nanny (c. 1685-c. 1750) spirit for staying in the fight. 

If you do stay committed, develop patience, and see the course through you’ll finish the marathon and feel amazingly accomplished. Nothing could have prepared me for the overwhelming sense of joy and achievement I felt when I completed my first marathon.  However, just like race equity after you have hit a major milestone you will realise you need to stay 100% committed to your cause just to maintain your good gains. In the case of Loughborough University gaining the Race Equality Charter there is so much work to maintain our standing and ensure we progress.  This for me means working collaboratively with colleagues to ensure they are acting on the work they committed to advance race equity across the organisation. So, what is required to achieve optimum levels of performance whether it be marathon running or race equity work?  Know that both are hard, but the reciprocal return to be gained is supreme health and wellbeing, and more importantly, having a stake in improving the outcomes for racialised minority staff and students.  

In short, I love running but I love race equity work more. Both are tiring, challenging and fraught with barriers but when you immerse yourself in them, you’ll find yourself in a community of people that love both as passionately as you and are willing to pour in the same level of energy as you so you can pursue the vision and goals that are important to you.  

If you want to know more about how you can play your part in achieving race equity here at Loughborough University, or how to run a marathon or maybe even both (and believe me, you’ll love doing both!) you are more than welcome to contact me. I’d love to hear from you if you want to take the challenge on. 

Denise Coles 
Race Equity Officer 

DRN2023 Drawing in Relation: Dialogic Exchange Recording

April 1, 2023 Deborah Harty

Thank you to Rachel Gadsden-Hayton for chairing the first in the series of DRN2023 Drawing in Relation events, to the presenters Marili de Weerdt, Carole Lévesque & Thomas-Bernard Kenniff, and Susan Turcot for their insightful presentations in response to the these, and to everyone who attended.

DRN2023 Drawing in Relation: Affect & Agency

March 31, 2023 Deborah Harty

19th April 2023 11.00-13.00 (BST)

This is the first in a series of events organised by the Drawing Research Group at Loughborough University, exploring the theme drawing in relation.

Tickets are available here:

The second event in this year’s DRN series of Drawing in Relation events at Loughborough University is concerned with entanglements of agency and affect. The artists present work that is informed by art theoretical narratives of embodiment and new materialist conceptions of post human and more than human intra-actions. They are interested in the way that phenomenologies of space, atmosphere and site affect the form and structure of expanded practices of drawing, how a new materialist lens creates opportunities for thinking about who or what draws in arts practice research as they trouble the nature of and agency and subjectivity through drawing intra-actions within a specific place.

Kiera O’Toole’s drawings are created in-situ, often in response to a particular environment such as a beach or a cave. O’Toole refers to her drawings as ‘felt maps’ to describe the recording of the phenomenological emotional experience of a site’s atmosphere through a gestural and embodied approach. O’Toole states that ‘The drawings attempt to record something that is neither a thing nor a quasi-thing but something more felt than thought.’

Joanna Leah describes her drawing practice as kinetic relations informed by an artistic concept from Rosalind Krauss’s Essay ‘Horizontality’ of 1997 as it allows her to think about the dynamic relationships between body, vision, space and ground. Leahs bodily movement through drawing questions the agency of a drawing surface, and the artists states that “between choreography and drawing, action and space, there is a kinetic relational import of body, as ‘bodily disturbance’ (Bois & Krauss, 1997: 27), in relation to the horizontal plane as place that can provoke new kinetic phenomena.”

A collaboration between Camille Courier and Laura Winn explores the notion of symbiosis through Barad’s concept of intra-action (Barad, 2007). Their examination of geological drawings by Marie Tharp aims to bring to light an example of a rare symbiotic relationship connecting drawing, the ocean floor and maps made through sonars and photographs. Their hybrid methodology blends practice in art-based research and organizational change processes, deeply linked to political issues. Courier and Winn describe how Tharp intra-acted among and with many materialities to invent an invisible undersea topography despite sexism and technological challenges.

The session will be chaired by Penny Davis

Dr. Joanna Leah

As an artist and senior lecturer at Leeds School of Arts at Leeds Beckett University research explores choreographic and embodied practices producing drawings, writing, installation and performance. Central to her thinking is line-making; lines mediated by the body in a choreographic system of correspondence.

Kiera O’Toole

Kiera O’Toole, a practice-led PhD student at Loughborough University. Her research examines drawing’s capacity to record and materialise a site’s atmospheric emotional tone. O’Toole publishes including contributing book chapters; 2021; ‘Project Anywhere Biennial IV’, published by University of Melbourne and Parsons, School of Art, NY; 2020: ’Drawing from the Non-Place’ published by Cambridge Scholars

Camille Courier de Mèré (co-author)

Studying drawing (MFA: 2014; PhD: 2022), she developed a practice of large-format installations, often created in situ. She focused on connections between drawing gestures’s agency, micropolitics and visibility. Since 2015, she is involved in a university research-creation, and initiated digital drawing projects with non-optical motion capture. She studied certain low-tech, eco-responsible processes to perform drawing gestures and exhibit them as moving dot clouds.

Laura Winn (co-author)

After a BA at Oxford University and a Masters (La Sorbonne), she contributed to the emergence of an ecosystem of actors around social innovation social and solidarity economy. She then trained more extensively in futures and systemic approaches to our current challenges joining Forum for the Future in 2016 to launch the School of System Change.

Penny Davis (chair and arts practice-based PhD student at Loughborough University)

Born in Portsmouth, UK, Penny Davis is an artist, solo mother of three children and PhD candidate currently working in drawing and autoethnography to explore maternal embodiment. Graduating in sculpture from Chelsea College of Art (UAL) in 1999, and the Slade School of Art (UCL) in 2001, Davis was also a resident at Skowhegan (USA) in 2004 and The Edward Albee Foundation (USA) in 2005. She has exhibited both nationally and internationally and her work is held in public and private collections. Recent conference presentations include ‘The Missing Mother Conference’ at Bolton University (2021) and ‘Learning from the Pandemic: Possibilities for Mothers and Families’ (2022) in Canada and has a forthcoming article to be published in the summer 2023 edition of the Journal of Motherhood Initiative.Davis is an active member of the Drawing Research Network, regularly presenting and chairing the annual conference of drawing events.

Forthcoming events in the series include:

‘Sound and Motion’ 17th May 2023

‘Spaces of Care’ 7th June 2023

Stronger together: the power to attract overseas investment through partnership working

Stronger together: the power to attract overseas investment through partnership working

March 31, 2023 Nick Jennings

Midlands Innovation is a strategic research partnership of eight research intensive universities. Universities in the Midlands and the pan-regional growth body, the Midlands Engine, are piloting how universities can work together to attract foreign direct investment into regional research and development.

Professor Nick Jennings, writes on the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) blog as part of a series from Midlands Innovation on the key considerations for policy makers and the Higher Education sector on increasing investment into regional R&D through universities.

Quote from Nick Jennings: "Universities are undoubtedly stronger in the hunt for FDI. Our research and innovation is amongst the best in the world - let us doe everything we can to make sure investors know it.

Staying healthy during Ramadan

March 30, 2023 Sadie Gration
Image: Courtesy of Getty Images

This blog post has been reshared from the Centre for Lifestyle Medicine and Behaviour news page 

The concept of fasting is not new. It is a well-known practice associated with many religious and spiritual traditions. For example, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and Hindus traditionally fast on designated days or periods, whilst Muslims fast every year during the month of Ramadan for 29-30 days. The holy month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and this changes each year because the Islamic calendar is based on the cycles of the moon.  

How do Muslims fast?  

While the average fast period during Ramadan is 12 hours, the duration of the fasting hours varies (10-22 hours) depending on which part of the world people are located in. As a practice, Muslims who fast have one meal just before dawn and another one after sunset.  

In between these periods, they do not eat or drink. Muslims believe fasting allows devotion to their faith, teaches self-discipline and serves as a reminder of the suffering of the poor. While fasting is an obligation for healthy Muslims, children, older adults, pregnant women and people who are ill or travelling are exempted. Healthy adults travelling are expected to make up for the fast later.  

How does fasting affect the body?  

Fasting is known to have benefits including lowering body mass, insulin insensitivity, blood cholesterol and triglycerides (fat in the blood), however, the evidence regarding the health benefits of fasting during Ramadan is mixed. 

Studies have shown increased intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and the tendency to overindulge during the short eating window during Ramadan, to make up for the long period of not eating and drinking, which may lead to weight gain.  

Other factors at play include the differences in the duration of fasting and cultural habits. Energy intake during Ramadan has been reported to increase in Saudi Muslims and decrease in Indian Muslims; these differences may be due to the cultural differences in food choices between different populations. The disruption of eating and drinking schedules may affect sleep patterns, as most people delay bedtime and sleep less during Ramadan. 

How do you have a healthy Ramadan? 

There are two feeding opportunities: suhoor (pre-dawn meal) and iftar (after sunset). Plan healthy meals in advance as this sets the tone for your day. Healthy meals are important to keep you energised. Don’t skip suhoor, choose whole meals to prevent cravings during the day. 

Eating high-protein foods (such as eggs, meat, fish, lentils, cheese, yoghurt and peanut butter) and high-fibre foods (including fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and seeds) keep you feeling fuller for longer. Whole grain varieties such as porridge or overnight oats, brown rice, brown pasta and wholegrain bread and chapattis will help prevent constipation. Other starchy carbohydrates for people of African and Caribbean origin such as plantain, cassava or maize staples can also be consumed as part of a healthy diet.  

Any wholesome meal cooked in a healthy way works; choose grilling, baking or boiling over deep frying. 

Healthy meals will differ depending on culture and preferences, but the key principle is to endeavour to consume foods from all the food groups as stated in the Eatwell guide. Aim to have high-fibre foods at both meal opportunities and healthy proteins each suhoor. This will make the fast easier as fibre and proteins can help prolong satiety because they take longer to digest.  

Breaking the fast 

Three principles to remember are rehydration, healthy meals, and portion control. 

  1. Rehydration 

It is important to drink plenty of fluids or eat fluid-rich foods after breaking the fast to help you stay hydrated for the day ahead and help fibre pass through the bowels to prevent constipation.  

Some people who fast during Ramadan experience mild dehydration, which may cause headaches, tiredness and difficulty concentrating. Therefore, it is crucial that enough fluids are consumed to replace those lost during the day. Start with some fluids like water, milk, or unsweetened fruit juices. Sugar-sweetened beverages should be avoided as they provide excess sugars and calories. 

  1. Healthy meals 

There is the temptation to have a treat after having fasted for several hours, but we need to be conscious of deep-fried, high fat and sugary foods as these can lead to weight gain. It is important to start with something light. Dates are consumed by most Muslims as this is seen as a sunnah (the practice of the prophet Muhammed). These have natural sugars for energy and minerals such as potassium and manganese. Dried fruits, frozen and fresh fruits, healthy soups, and salads are recommended, as these are all food sources of fibre, minerals, and vitamins.  

  1. Portion control 

To help with portion control, always remember to add in your vegetables.  Apart from the important nutrients they provide, they add bulk to your meal and help prevent overeating. 

Ramadan can be a good time to make healthy lifestyle modifications that can be sustained in the longer term. Don’t forget to do some light physical activity such as going for a walk. You might also want to get your family and friends involved and get active together.  

Ramadan Mubarak to all Muslims around the world! 

Dr Hibbah Osei-Kwasi 
Lecturer in Nutrition for the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences 


1. Trepanowski, J.F., Bloomer, R.J. The impact of religious fasting on human health. Nutr J9, 57 (2010). 

2. El Ati J, Beji C, Danguir J. Increased fat oxidation during Ramadan fasting in healthy women: an adaptative mechanism for body-weight maintenance. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995;62:302–307. 

CRCC scholars establish a novel approach to healthcare and end-of-life communication training

CRCC scholars establish a novel approach to healthcare and end-of-life communication training

March 27, 2023 Iliana Depounti

RealTalk, the groundbreaking educational tool for health care practitioners has been licensed to Treetops Hospice ensuring long-term high-quality communication care to patients and their families.

The CRCC is proud to spotlight impactful work conducted by our research community members here at Loughborough University and beyond. We are especially excited about recent developments in the work conducted by colleagues on the Language and Social Interaction research theme.

RealTalk, established in 2015, is a set of evidence-based training resources for health and social care practitioners, developed by Professor Ruth Parry, Dr Marco Pino, and the VERDIS team, to support difficult conversations with patients. Sensitive, open conversations about illness progression and end-of-life allow people and their loved ones to make decisions about their lives and future. Such conversations help reduce futile and unwanted care – and reduce the suffering of dying people’s loved ones both before and after bereavement.

For several years, RealTalk has been developed and managed at Loughborough University, thanks to funding from the Health Foundation, National Institute for Health and Care Research, and the Loughborough University Enterprise Projects Group. With funding coming to an end, Dr Pino, Professor Parry, project manager Becky Whittaker, and the team have worked to license RealTalk to Treetops Hospice. Project lead Dr Marco Pino says the licensing will “ensure RealTalk’s sustainability in the long term” and “ultimately, make a difference to the care of patients and their families”. The licensing deal reflects the impact of RealTalk on the important and challenging work of practitioners in palliative, end-of-life care and bereavement support.

RealTalk comprises a series of training modules that incorporate clips from video recordings of real-life consultations and evidence from cutting-edge observational communication science. A range of topics are covered including discussing prognosis in the context of palliative and end-of-life care and bereavement support. Traditional training approaches often rely heavily upon role play as a learning technique, and these scenarios can sometimes lack authenticity. RealTalk’s direct evidence base enhances the teaching of the complexities and skills entailed in healthcare practitioners’ real-life interactions with patients and their family members. More than 300 trainers have registered as RealTalk users, and feedback gathered by the research team over the years found the resources make a positive difference to healthcare workers’ ability and confidence in facilitating sensitive but important conversations.

The mission of RealTalk is to teach healthcare practitioners how to engage in end-of-life talk with patients and their companions as well as conversations around pain assessment and bereavement. The design of the resources was made possible by using the Conversation Analysis method, exemplifying once again CRCC’s and the University’s reputation for world-leading expertise in the cutting-edge communication science approach of Conversation Analysis.

We would like to highlight that the academic team has amassed a wealth of knowledge around the real-world applications of their research which is still ongoing and there are plans to expand the resources to include conversations recorded in other similar settings where end-of-life conversations happen. These are a crucial but highly sensitive part of health and social care, including hospital emergency departments, drop-in information sessions for newly diagnosed patients and recently bereaved people, as well as hospice-at-home visits. A new article published in Health Communication by Dr Marco Pino and Dr Laura Jenkins and now available through open access shows how the task of discussing disease progression and end-of-life entails sensitivity to each patient’s level of awareness and readiness to talk about such sensitive matters.

The authors used conversation analysis to investigate a common challenge in interactions between healthcare practitioners and patients with incurable, progressive illnesses: how to promote discussion about disease progression and end-of-life in circumstances where the patient might have limited awareness of their prognosis. Current national guidance recommends that healthcare practitioners proactively offer every patient opportunities for honest conversations about what lies ahead. Many healthcare practitioners nevertheless experience these conversations as difficult due to fear of causing distress and destroying hope. Based on real-life recordings of palliative care consultations Pino and Jenkins’ study identifies some ways in which experienced doctors navigate these dilemmas. The doctors in the study invited patients to share what other healthcare practitioners had previously told them about their condition. This enabled the doctors to explore what the patients already knew and understood about their prognosis and to use that as a starting point to promote further discussion about disease progression in a gradual way. These findings underpin some of the RealTalk training resources, which evidence how healthcare practitioners can initiate tender conversations about the patient’s future in proactive but at the same time sensitive ways.

Click here to access the latest article using conversational analysis on the study of end-of-life discussions in palliative care by Dr Pino and Dr Jenkins.

My experience with the Realising Opportunities Programme

My experience with the Realising Opportunities Programme

March 23, 2023 Guest Blogger

Hi! My name is Leah and I’m a second year Criminology student here at Loughborough University. This picture is of me!

In Year 12, I joined a programme through my college called the Realising Opportunities Programme (which is an Access to University programme) and this is how I gained my contextual offer. Before joining the programme, I didn’t really understand what a contextual offer was or what it would mean for me but being on the programme taught me a lot! At first, I just thought the contextual offer was an easier way of getting into university by receiving lower grade offers, and at first look, this is what it is. However, it isn’t just given to anyone. Contextual offers in general are when universities consider any barriers an individual may have faced and will either reduce their grade requirements or give your application extra consideration. These barriers could include where you live (if you are from a low-participation neighbourhood) what school you attended and even whether your parents went to university or not.

I always knew that university was something I wanted to do, but I had no idea where to start! I am the first person in my family to go to university, so I had nobody to rely on, speak to or get advice from. In the Summer before I started Year 13, I started researching – where would I study? What type of university suited me? What did each course offer? I always knew I wanted to study criminology but every course I looked at had different modules. As Year 13 began, I started making full use of the resources my college provided and had regular meetings with my tutor. My top tip would always be to take advantage of the resources you are offered and speak to people who have been in similar positions as it is likely they went through the same struggles you might be facing and could recommend options! 

As I was part of the Realising Opportunities programme, I had to complete a series of tasks to be eligible for a contextual offer from any of the partner universities included in the programme. This means I received contextual offers of up to 2 grades or lower from some universities and one of these was Loughborough! 

I think my contextual offer definitely influenced my personal journey to university. It impacted my choices and where I applied as I felt the contextual offer would better my chances of being accepted into universities, I probably wouldn’t have applied to without it. For example, I chose Loughborough as my firm choice on UCAS and chose the University of York as my insurance. Without the contextual offer, York was looking for higher grades than Loughborough, so I think this would’ve hindered my chances of getting in. But with the contextual offer, York actually offered me lower grades than Loughborough, so this is why I actually decided to choose it as my insurance. Looking back, 4 out of the 5 universities I applied to were all part of the RO programme and all these universities offered me lower grades. However, it wasn’t just the entry requirements that convinced me to firm Loughborough. I also considered things such as student life, facilities and location. Loughborough’s location and facilities immediately stood out to me as it wasn’t too far from home but also not too close and it was a campus university which was important for me. I wanted to have the convenience of being on or very close to campus and my lecture buildings and this is what Loughborough offers. I love the student life here as it is quite like my town back home, it almost feels like a home away from home! It has everything I need such as shops, pubs and restaurants without being too busy like a city would be. 

Having the contextual offer to fall back on felt like I was under less pressure, but this didn’t mean I worked any less hard! I still wanted to achieve the grades the universities would usually ask for and would urge any of you to do the same if you are given contextual offers. Luckily, I didn’t need the contextual offer as I achieved the grade requirements of a ‘standard’ offer. 

I was very nervous on how I would transition into university, but I think the help I received from the programme helped me a lot! For example, when I arrived at Loughborough, they had a dedicated team to support students who had joined from the RO programme, and we all met up to talk about how we had settled in and if there was anything we felt we needed support with. This is just one example of how the RO team have gone above and beyond for me with my time at Loughborough so far!

I hope this post has given you a better understanding of what a contextual offer is and best of luck with whatever you do next! These photos are a little bit of an insight into my uni life so far. 

<strong>Why being a Care Leaver at university makes us superheroes</strong>

Why being a Care Leaver at university makes us superheroes

March 23, 2023 Soph Dinnie

What do you think about when you hear the term ‘Care Leaver’?

We often get misunderstood as those with caring responsibilities, or young carers. Instead, we are those who have aged out of the state care system, such as foster or residential homes, which is quite different.

In this context many people might go on to think about the Jacqueline Wilson’s ‘Tracy Beaker’ books, about children abandoned in a ‘dumping ground’, with dreams of being saved by the perfect foster parent. Some may even think about the wizard who lived under the stairs under kinship care of his aunt and uncle, the famous Harry Potter, who was saved from his abusive kinship care experiences to enter a world of magic.

As a PhD researcher (Carrie) and a final year undergraduate (Elle) at Loughborough University who are both care experienced people, we want to set the record straight on the stereotypes about people who have experienced the care system. We also want to share some of the barriers to succeeding in life and provide ways in which Higher Education Institutions can make our and others’ experiences more equitable.

Firstly, both of our care experiences differ greatly, from our family set up, reasons for entering the care system, the way we entered the care system, and our pathways out of care and into adulthood and independence from the care system.

However, we were both expected to be ‘independent’ of support networks; financially, physically, and emotionally as soon as we reached 21 or 25 if we wished to continue in education and training.

What are some of the examples of significant barriers we face because of our experiences that are entwined with the care system?

One of the painful barriers is the forced separation of ‘family’ when we enter care.  Then after you reach 18, all requirements and restrictions are gone and your birth family members have full unrestricted access to you. This can potentially cause, chaos and explosions, as those originally deemed unable to parent you before you turn 18 are in some cases expected to house you, with fragmented and trauma-fuelled relationships grounding the whole experience.

As care experienced people we face potential significant gaps in education due to missing school. This can be for a multitude of reasons, including problems at ‘home’ and the relationships there, police interviews, court meetings and social worker visits, and meetings about your care that take you out of your classes – all of which are required by the system.

This disruption is exacerbated by a high chance of frequently moving ‘placements’ (this is the word the system uses to describe where we live). Often moved with no warning, you may also only be given bin bags to pack your things into. Add onto this constant changes in social workers and staff around you and you can easily understand the significant disruption and upset this may create.

All these barriers and experiences can lead to relationships being challenging and emotionally difficult, and often difficult to navigate. We are often left without examples of consistent, stable, and safe relationships so we become super independent. We don’t ask or seek support, because it’s ingrained in us that there is no one there to support us, and if there is we may struggle to even see the safety in that relationship because it is so alien to us.

A lack of mental health support that understands and deals with trauma means that we will often go into survival mode, pushing forwards with undiagnosed disabilities and conditions until we are at breaking point. We are then seen by support services as chaotic, as we finally get support when we are way beyond the usual point at which someone would ask for help.

So, we stumble, we pick ourselves up and continue to work through all these barriers, because there is no other choice. We internalise our experiences because no one took the time to tell us ‘it’s not your fault’. We live with an unfair shame attached to having a care experience (that isn’t ours to hold or have), and when we do ‘come out’ as having been in care we are often met with sad eyes and ‘I wouldn’t have thought you were in care with who you are and what you have achieved’. Then if we do struggle with any of it, we are branded as ‘bad kids’, disengaged with services and thus undeserving of support.

What does this mean for you and what can we do to support people with care experience in Higher Education?

First and foremost, check your family privilege. Family privilege is defined as the benefits, mostly invisible, that come from membership in a stable family.  Most peo­ple cannot even imagine what life might be like without Family Privilege. Only as we recognize the power of Fam­ily Privilege can we begin to grasp how its absence hinders development. By asking you to check your family privilege, we are not just talking about the consistent financial support provided to you over the years such as funding you to follow hobbies and have dreams, driving you to university when you start, making sure you have everything you need for those first weeks, going home during the holidays free of charge and fed, and being sent back to university with a care package. There may also be consistent love and support provided to you. To know that the adults around will be the same people when you go to bed and get up in the morning and will show you love in their own way. To know there is someone at the end of the phone when you need them, and that you can’t raise don’t need to make sure you don’t have any issues after 5pm or at the weekend, because the person at the end of the phone will be unavailable.

Secondly, when you think of inclusion, think about us. Because we are so few (under 20 undergraduate students at Loughborough University) we are very often forgotten about, unseen, unheard unless you have a superhero care leaver in your midst who shouts and bangs the drums at every opportunity.

Thirdly, when you think about who may need additional financial support, we should be at the top of the list, with only 9% of 18–21-year-old care leavers attending higher education (around 3000 students across all British universities) and of those who complete their undergraduate studies, only around 25% go onto post graduate study. We do not receive local authority support over the age of 25, or generally past undergraduate study. But our needs do not change once we hit 21 or 25, it’s just that the services that represent our ‘family support’ stop recognising our needs.

However, we are really excited that after bringing attention to the needs of all care experienced people who may be studying at Loughborough, the University has reviewed the support package available to us to include support for postgraduate taught courses (tuition fee waiver) alongside the existing supportive package for undergraduate students. This makes Loughborough the first university in England to have dedicated financial support for post graduate study for care experienced people, something which should be widely celebrated and shared.

We don’t expect all the work to come from Loughborough, so we want you to know what we (Carrie and Elle) are doing too.

We are both active advocates for change in the big wide world, standing proud and loud in our experiences, in the hope that others will see there can be a safe and open space for them.

Within the University we are in the process of setting up a Care Experienced Support Hub, open to all those with care experience. This includes all levels of study, and staff who may have been in care themselves or have a link to care; maybe their parents fostered, maybe they kinship cared for a family member or are a foster carer themselves. As well as the open space, this hub will also have dedicated sessions for each of the groups to share, support and see others with their own unique experiences. We hope that this group will also be able to contribute to the wider EDI work and research to ensure that care experience is recognised and grown across the university and beyond. 

If you are interested in finding out more or becoming a superhero member of our hub, please do contact us on until our dedicated email is set up.

With compassion and understanding,

Carrie and Elle

Five minutes with: Denise Coles

Five minutes with: Denise Coles

March 23, 2023 Soph Dinnie

This feature spotlights colleagues from across our campus, celebrating the contributions they make to the University.

What is your job title?

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer with race specialism.

How long have you worked at Loughborough?

7 months.

Tell us what a typical day looks like for you?

Before I start work, I usually do some type of meditation or exercise. This puts me into the mental space to approach the day with fresh eyes and the attitude that each day is a new start.

I review my to-do list which will already be prioritised according to what needs to be acted on first. Some days are meeting-heavy and these are usually with people or groups across the organisation with an EDI or race focus work interest. On days like this, it’s especially important to meditate at the start of the day as this helps to keep my energy and focus high throughout the day and usually guarantees positive outcomes from the meetings.

When I have fewer meetings this affords time to work on ongoing projects such as monitoring Race Equality Charter (REC) activity. If time permits, I’ll attend an EDI webinar; the last one I attended was about how to create an environment of inclusion and belonging, and I enjoy reading articles such as WonkHE. This type of CPD activity helps me to keep my EDI knowledge up to date and informs my working practices. This helps me to problem-solve with others within my team and across the organisation.

When the day is over and I’m walking or running home I’ll mentally go through the day and give thanks for whatever came up. Even if things have been challenging there is usually something positive that will come out of a given encounter; essentially, I look for the learning opportunities.

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

I enjoyed working on the REC/LURES budget. Monies have been granted for people to work on race-related projects which will help progress race equity here at Loughborough University. People all across the organisation were invited to bid on race equity projects. These were all an eclectic mix of proposed work to enhance the experiences of students from marginalised backgrounds at Loughborough University and the London campus and to create an environment and atmosphere where their needs, aspirations, and experiences matter.

What is your proudest moment at Loughborough?

Without a doubt, receiving an email from a senior manager asking me about her team’s REC actions because she needed them for their upcoming PDR. For me, this was a signal that the visibility of my post and actions have raised the awareness of race equity and how working towards race equity is not at the detrement to any other group, it benefits all in a variety of ways. If race equity and EDI are simply part of all our working practices and colleagues are recognised and rewarded for work that has this focus, then we are empowering the notions that race equity and inclusion is ‘everybody’s business and brings the strategy of Creating Better Futures. Together into sharp focus.

Tell us something you do outside of work?

I have been to Norway several times and love it there. I love swimming in lakes and walking in and picnicking in the lush Norwegian forests with my family. I am even planning to run the Oslo marathon in September.

What is your favourite quote?

Essayist and Black queer advocate, James Baldwin said: “I can’t believe what you say when I see what you do.” This is a lovely quote because it’s a reminder that your words won’t be taken seriously if they don’t match your actions and in the case of my working practice and role it is my standard and what I’m prepared to be judged by.

[Student Post] Simon Chadwick: A Geopolitical Economy of the FIFA World Cup

March 23, 2023 Duncan Depledge


“Politics and football don’t mix”, so said Ruud Gullit, the legendary Dutch footballer of the 1980/90s. As exquisite and versatile as Gullit’s football was, his political punditry was less astute. Football, perhaps more than any other sport, has long been attractive to many a dictator, plutocrat or president. In 1934, the far-right dictator, Benito Mussolini, used Italy’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup to overtly promote his fascist message. The Argentinian Junta, soon after coming to power secured the hosting rights to the 1978 FIFA World Cup, which it then used as a platform to help legitimise their rule. In 2018, President Putin used Russia’s hosting of the competition to re-brand Russia as a modern, diverse and rule-abiding nation following its annexation of Crimea four years earlier. Gullit may be correct in suggesting that football does not want to mix with politics, but the truth of the matter is that politics wants to mix with football and increasingly gets in the way of sporting entertainment.

So, we come to Professor Simon Chadwick and his exploration of the 2022 FIFA World Cup’s relationship with geopolitics. Chadwick, a Professor of Sport and Geopolitical Economy at Skema Business School, has over 25 years’ experience working in working in the global sports industry. According to Chadwick, the 2022 FIFA World Cup was under a stronger spotlight than any other before. Concerns from migrant worker safety to questions around whether a small, desert nation without a history or pedigree in football should be hosting FIFA’s showcase tournament dominated the build-up. However, Chadwick’s argument is that the (geo)politicisation of the FIFA World Cup has been decades in the making.

Football 1.0: Utilitarianism

Since 1904 when FIFA was founded, like other sporting bodies, the organisation existed almost exclusively for the purpose of codifying rules, providing oversight and awarding prizes. Indeed,  Since the earliest sport associations were established in the mid and late 19th century, there was a general understanding that they stayed away from profit. Being on the board of such an organisation was not a lucrative business opportunity but a service to the sport you loved. The aim of these organisations was to promote the sport for the good of the ‘grass-roots’.

Football 2.0: Neo-classical economics

As the early stages of the 20th century progressed, and war came and went, the picture started to change. A key driver was the shift towards a more American-style relationship with sport. During the inter- and post-war years, the US ‘soccer’ scene grew rapidly. There was even talk of moving FIFA HQ to New York. FIFA wanted to bring the US into the fold as this would open a new market for football and help bring new funding to the game. This, however, also brought with it a new set of challenges. The US market was different from the European and Latin American. It was informed not by utilitarian ideas of what sport could achieve but by neo-classical economics, and above all, profit. This heralded a new era for football.

Throughout the remainder of the 20th Century, US influence continued to change the way that football operated. While some European Football Associations (FAs) tried to resist, all eventually got on board. For instance, the English FA published The Future of English Football in 1990, in which it outlined how American practices could be followed to revitalise English football with an injection of money. The Premier League, supported by lucrative contracts for television rights, resulted.

Sport 3.0: Geopolitical economy

If the 1990s led to a revolution in the relationship between economics and football, the 2000s witnessed what Chadwick described as a series of ‘giga-changes’ in the relationship between politics and sport, led by the geopolitical ambitions of oil and gas rich states in the Middle East. An early example was the Emir of Qatar’s decision to fund the construction of the ‘Aspire Zone’ as part of its hosting of the 2006 Asian games. The Emir’s vision though was far more long-term. Indeed, the Aspire Zone was built to not just provide a stadium fit for hosting global sporting events, but also to provide an academy for the harvesting of global sporting talent, including the football stars of the future. By inviting young players from around the world to Qatar and giving them citizenship, they could then go on to represent Qatar on the global stage.

The construction of the Aspire Zone was only the start. As Chadwick explained, since then, there have been three ‘giga-changes’ that have dictated the prevailing winds of world sport, namely: globalisation, digitisation and climate concerns. Globalisation has allowed countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia to massively increase their investments in global sports, including football. Indeed, many of the UK and Europe’s top football clubs and assets are now owned or sponsored by Arab nations or companies. Digitisation has further enabled countries like Qatar to invest in specialist sports broadcasting business to influence the global discourse around sport (here Qatari owned BEin sports played an instrumental role in trying to disrupt Saudi Arabia’s attempt to buy Newcastle United). Regarding climate concerns, although Gulf nations anticipate that oil and gas consumption will continue increasing for some years, the unfolding global energy transition promises to create serious economic headwinds. Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia have turned to sport as one avenue towards economic diversification.

Domestic considerations

However, for Qatar, hosting the FIFA World Cup also addresses important domestic concerns. 90% of Qatar’s population are foreign migrants. This makes it incredibly hard to form a national identity. Sport is one way that Chadwick has identified that the government can get around this. Chadwick argued that loyalty to a sports team is stronger than loyalty to almost anything else. A fan’s team is about geography, identity, family and history. It is around this that the Qatari government has sought to create a national identity out of a hyper-diverse population. The FIFA World Cup is, of course, central to this plan.

The World Cup also has the potential to contribute to Qatar’s national security. Due to the tiny natural population of the Emirate, it is dependent on its soft power and its alliances for its security. Al-Jazeera is the cornerstone of the government’s soft power and an almost unmitigated success. However, Qatar still feels insecure. After the Saudi/UAE-led blockade of the Qatari peninsula of 2017/18 it brought home to the Qataris that they were a very small fish in a very big pond; they needed hard military support. It might not be obvious how a football tournament plays into this. However, due to the large number of Western fans that were due to come to Qatar during the tournament, NATO countries decided to work with the Qataris to supply on-the-ground military assistance. Chadwick suggested that the Qatari government hoped this would set a precedent for NATO supplying their Emirate with hard military support and lead to the forging of ties between its military and the military of NATO countries.

Final thoughts

Chadwick demonstrated his first-hand experience of what the Qataris are trying to achieve with their hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It seems that most of their objectives were met. Looking back at the tournament now, as someone who loves sports, I see it as a success. It brought one of the world’s greatest sporting events to a region that had never hosted such a tournament before. The security of the fans was maintained throughout. There was pressure from without to enact positive social change in Qatar. Perhaps most importantly, some excellent football was played; and Messi got to lift the one piece of silverware that had always eluded him: the World Cup! When people look back to the tournament now, many of the greatest worries and concerns that we had, seem unimportant. I worry that we have all put on rose-tinted glasses and forgotten about the issues (LGBT and migrant rights) that seemed so important in the run-up to the competition. It shocked me just how quickly, once the starting whistle had been blown, so many socially concerned football fans put down their digital placards, donned their nation’s football jersey and headed down to the pub to watch each game. So, the Qatari government will be seeing their $240B investment as money well spent. Perhaps we were all taken in by the ‘sports washing’, perhaps we didn’t care about those issues quite as much as we like to think we did, or perhaps Ruud Gullit was right after all, in the minds of fans “Politics and football don’t mix”.

George Myers is a International Security post-graduate student. His interests centre on human security and feminist studies; particularly on the role that female security personal can play in reducing gender based and sexual violence in conflict zones. He hopes to work in the field of humanitarian development after concluding his studies at Loughborough University

<strong><em>My experience of living in Loughborough and managing money as an international student</em></strong> 

My experience of living in Loughborough and managing money as an international student 

March 21, 2023 Guest Blogger

I am Viola, a PhD student from the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences. I came to England two years ago from Xi’an, China.  

When I was deciding which university to go to study for a master’s degree, I had a lot to consider. However, I finally chose to study at Loughborough University. It’s turned out to be one of the best choices I have made in my life! 

In this blog, I’m going to talk about my experience of living in Loughborough and share my thoughts on how to manage money as an international student. Keeping track of spending is important and so I hope that my tips and thoughts on living in Loughborough will help others with their own student journeys. 

My experience of studying at Loughborough 

The location 

I wanted to start by talking about the location. The location of Loughborough is awesome. The rent in Loughborough is cheaper than in other cities in the UK, which is very important to me as a student on a budget. Additionally, there are many things to do in Loughborough, such as playing sports, visiting nice cafes, going to interesting pubs and more. There are also many social activities organised by the Students’ Union, schools or University, so I never feel alone.  

The transport is so convenient here too. I visit other cities during my weekends. For example, Nottingham is around 20 minutes away and London is around one hour and 20 minutes from Loughborough by train. There is also a bus that can take me from the University directly to the train station. 

Being an international student at Loughborough 

In my view, Loughborough University is very multicultural and inclusive, and it was this that made me love the University and choose to come here.  

As an international student, I feel supported by the University all the time. When I first came to Loughborough, I was shy when speaking English, but everyone I met was so friendly and helpful. In my first year, I attended a few language courses to improve my English. The lecturers there helped me and were very patient. My English improved a lot and I felt more confident talking to people.  

Many people from different countries come to Loughborough and it has been so nice to have friends from different backgrounds. We try traditional food from each other’s countries, which is sometimes scary but always interesting! 

I would recommend Loughborough to other international students like me. It is a safe and quiet place to study for a degree. You can meet many young people with similar interests and have a great time. Also, the lecturers and staff at the University are very supportive. They always reply to my emails quickly and try their best to help me. I always feel that I have integrated into the Loughborough University family well. 

What does a typical week look like for me? 

I have my routine in Loughborough. Every morning, if I am late, I will go to the Daily Grind to grab a cup of coffee to start my day. After doing university work, I will go to Powerbase gym to do some exercise or join gym classes. I have to say that the gym classes at Loughborough University are the best! I made friends at the gym and we do classes together. In the evening, normally, I cook my dinner at home.

Sometimes, especially on the weekends, I will go to the town centre with my coursemates to have dinner at places like Peter Pizzeria, Sonny’s Street Food or a Chinese restaurant. In Loughborough, there are Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Italian, Indian, Turkish restaurants and more! As well as this, I go to other cities during the weekends, such as London, Manchester and Nottingham, which have different activities and interesting shops. 

Managing money as a student 

Discounts and other tricks 

I do food shopping once or twice a week and, in most cases, I go to Lidl, Tesco or Morrisons, where the food is cheaper than some other supermarkets. Eating at home saves lots of money compared to eating outside at restaurants. 

Many other stores, restaurants and salons in Loughborough have student discounts. For example, Boots offers a 10% discount for students, so I will always bring my student ID to get some money off. The same goes for online shopping, where signing up for UNiDAYS can get you discounts too. 

In terms of travel, I bought a 16-25 Railcard to save 1/3 on train tickets, which is great for people like me who often take trains. Also, I bought a pre-owned bike so I could get around Loughborough, which can be sold to others after I graduate. 

Saving money 

There are so many other ways to save money. From my personal experience, eating at home saves a lot. Instead of eating out, you could save money and have more fun if you make food and have parties at home with friends. Also, rent always takes up a lot of money, so I chose to live in a shared house to save.  

There are free and low-cost activities on campus too. For example, I jog with my friends around campus some mornings. There are always coursemates looking for people to do sport together. Also, I always keep an eye on the announcements posted by the Students’ Union to make sure I don’t miss anything. I went to a film night and a pub quiz recently. It was so much fun! 

More tips on cutting costs 

First, you can eat at home more or prepare your meal and bring it with you to the campus. Second, you can go to cheaper supermarkets, such as Lidl or Tesco, and compare the price of similar products. Third, you can buy a railcard if you travel to other places a lot by train. Fourth, you can buy more pre-owned clothes, such as on Vinted or through vintage shops and charity shops, or daily supplies, like hangers and shoe cabinets, through charity furniture shops. 

My final thoughts… 

I hope that my experience inspires you and my thoughts on managing money have helped you in some way. Although money management is important, I know I need to ensure I don’t compromise my health and I still have fun! Ultimately, living in Loughborough has given me so many interesting and exciting experiences and I’ve loved my time here so far. I can’t wait to see what the rest of my time will be like! 

This Week At Loughborough | 20 March

March 20, 2023 Jemima Biodun-Bello


IAS Friends and Fellows Coffee Morning

21 March 2023, 10:30am, International House 

Please feel free to come along and join us for an informal in-person gathering at International House with coffee and cakes to meet our Fellows.

Find out more on the events page

EDI Town Halls

23 March 2023, 2pm, Sir David Davies Building 

Professor Charlotte Croffie, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Loughborough, will be hosting a series of upcoming Town Hall sessions over the coming weeks. 

Find out more on the events page



21 March 2023, 6pm, The Lounge 

Welcome to ChooseDays, an event held on selected Tuesdays throughout the term for anyone to attend, allowing you the perfect opportunity to explore new activities and form new connections! Flix Cinema Society is hosting a Karaoke Night as part of our ChooseDays schedule this week! 

Find out more on the events page

Lego Serious Play Workshop

21 March 2023, 6pm, LSU Council Chamber

This interactive workshop will use Lego® bricks combined with the Lego® Serious Play ® Methodology to enable you to investigate your neurodiverse superpower. 

Find out more on the events page

Academic Summit 2023

22 March 2023, 3:30pm, The Treehouse 

The Academic Summit: The Future of Education and Student Experience‘ is your chance to share and be heard.  This fantastic opportunity will give you time and access to network with influential leaders who can have a real impact on the future of Education at Loughborough.

Find out more on the events page

Emergency First Aid At Work

23 March 2023, 12:30pm, Council Chamber 

As well as looking great on a CV, it will help you learn valuable lifesaving skills. The course covers primary care and the recovery position, resuscitation, defibrillation, bleeding control, shock and seizures as well as minor first aid protocol.

Find out more on the events page

Flix Film Screening – ‘The Fabelmans’

23 March 2023, 7pm, Cope Auditorium

Growing up in post-World War II era Arizona, young Sammy Fabelman aspires to become a filmmaker as he reaches adolescence, but soon discovers a shattering family secret and explores how the power of films can help him see the truth.

Find out more on the events page

Printing Green

Printing Green

March 17, 2023 Rhiannon Brown

Guest blog by Helen Clarke, on behalf of Loughborough University’s Print, Post and Logistic Services Team.

The print and paper industries have a major issue with misconceptions about their impact on the environment. Many large companies have been tackled for ‘green washing’, after encouraging their customers to switch to electronic bills and statements with the incentive to switch based on unfounded environmental claims, such as “Save the planet – go paperless”.

According to the Advertising Standards Authority, marketing must be clear, truthful, accurate and not misleading. Environmental claims made against print and paper go against that.

‘Paper is a uniquely renewable and sustainable product’ (Two Sides – Start telling the sustainable story of print, paper and paper packaging) and here in Print, Post and Logistic Services, we are seeking to ensure that that message gets through good and clear.

2022 saw us take a leap to support this, and the University’s Journey to Net Zero.

We manage the 200+ Campus Printers across campus for shared use by staff, students, and campus partners. Following the Covid-19 pandemic we have seen a dramatic drop in print output on these devices.

In 2022, considering that shift in activity, we upgraded the entire Campus Printing fleet. We’ve removed 50 low usage devices, and moved others to high footfall areas to ensure effective utilisation.

These new printers all power down when not in use, making them more energy efficient than the previous models and standalone printers.

The new fleet is fully supported by Ricoh who further support our ambitions through their ‘Zero Waste to Landfill’ methodology in accordance with WEEE regulation ‘free-of-charge’ consumable disposal service to the University for waste/used toner and their “Engineer-Parts-Return-System”. Some of the components are potentially in “as-new” condition and are reused. Parts that cannot be reused are segregated/ground down, ensuring that near-virgin grade of materials can be used again.

The toner used in our Campus Printers is made from plant-based renewable materials. To lessen the environmental impact of producing toner, Ricoh has been developing a biomass1 toner, for which they adopted a plant-based resin. This biomass toner requires less petroleum than conventional toner, and contributes to the prevention of petroleum depletion. Being carbon neutral, biomass toner works to reduce the net amount of CO2 emitted from the combustion of used toner.

As part of the MFD upgrade, we moved from Safecom to the PaperCut software package. Their portal increases our ability to monitor printing activity, paper usage and our environmental impact.

Did you know… Schools and professional services can monitor their own printing activity by completing this form to request automated reports each month.

Furthermore, the above standard paper for Campus Printers is Steinbeis No.1. 100 % recycled and processed without any environmental harmful bleaching agents (chlorine, chlorine-dioxide, or other halogenated bleaching agents), the paper is certified to Blue Angel and EU-Ecolabel standard. This paper can also be recycled after use. Whiter papers can be purchased via the Online Shop where needed.

Our next big project is to upgrade our in-house production equipment with the introduction of lower energy usage cut sheet devices, enhanced inline finishing, and Loughborough’s first flatbed print machine. This is a significant upgrade to our capability and will enable us to print onto a wide range of sustainable materials for internal and external use, as well as re-use materials we have already procured such as signage. Please follow us on Twitter (@LboroPrintPost) for updates on this project .

This article is in support of UN Sustainable Development Goal 12 ‘Responsible consumption and production’.  To find out more, click here.

Meet Andrea Geurin: Institute Director and Sport Marketing Expert

Meet Andrea Geurin: Institute Director and Sport Marketing Expert

March 16, 2023 Georgia Haines
Dr Andrea Geurin is Director of our Institute for Sports Business (ISB) and a key figure in the sport communication and marketing industry.

[Student Post] Jennifer Cole: "Critical Health Geopolitics"

March 13, 2023 Duncan Depledge


For the first Geopolitics and International Affairs (GIA) webinar of 2023, Loughborough University welcomed Dr Jennifer Cole from Royal Holloway, University of London to present her work on Critical Health Geopolitics. As a lecturer in Global and Planetary Health, Dr Cole’s recent work has focused mainly on infectious diseases in the context of health security and global health risk. Her experience in this field has already attracted interest from UNESCO. This has included collaboration on four case studies to observe how COVID-19 has weaponized to divide populations and widen inequalities.

Defining Critical Health Geopolitics

Dr Cole began her talk by explaining what she means by Critical Health Geopolitics. Firstly, the concept of Critical Health Geopolitics directs inquiry towards important questions about geographical spaces that pose health risks to global populations at various scales. Such questions were more important than ever to consider during the COVID-19 pandemic as national governments were forced to ask themselves how best to keep their population safe via lockdowns and border closures, all whilst ensuring that the economy was kept afloat so that the impact on communities from a reduction in essential services was limited. In reality, such drastic measures amplified the inequalities that were already rampant within regional, national and global scales. Dr Cole used the UK context as an example in which those with higher levels of disposable income were able to panic buy for their family whilst other children lost their free school meal provision as a result of school closures.

Dr Cole explained how disparities could also be noticed when considering the strategies implemented by national governments to ensure socio-spatial control. Messaging regarding the risk of COVID-19 had to be played out in a careful manner within political circles as high income, office-based workers were told to restrict themselves within the space of their household whilst often low-income, service sector workers were expected to continue their line of work and mix with the general public. Not only does this create disparity when looking at the number of deaths and cases of COVID-19 by occupation, but also by the way in which some lives within the community were valued and protected over others. Dr Cole used the very poignant example of food delivery drivers to explain the way in which the consumer, by purchasing the service of home delivery, has chosen to put someone else’s life at risk instead of their own, continuing the hierarchy of life value.

Health Diplomacy and Disparity

In using Critical Health Geopolitics, studies such as those conducted by Dr Cole and her colleagues can draw attention to the way in which these health inequalities and injustices can be noticed not only at the national and community level but also globally. One specific area that was touched upon in Dr Cole’s discussion, which I found particularly interesting, was the way in which health diplomacy plays a role in navigating geopolitical rivalries. During the pandemic, wealthy allies were seen to be giving valuable resources to each other or simply using these resources themselves. Meanwhile, low-income countries that did not enjoy the same political relationship with richer states were left feeling anxious about their lack of preparedness to face a virus whose dangers have been amplified by global news channels.

Dr Cole referenced the work of her colleague, Dr Maureen Ayikoru, to elaborate on this hypothesis. Dr Ayikoru uses the example of Uganda, a country that has already dealt with much deadlier pandemics, to explain how a country that has lived experience of disease burden and a governmental plan to address future challenges still faced anxiety when faced with COVID-19. The findings of this study suggested that 52% of healthcare workers in Uganda were more stressed about COVID-19 than they were about the Ebola and Marburg viruses, despite the lower risk of death. Dr Ayikoru found that this was due to concerns surrounding insufficient personal protective equipment, an increase in domestic and sexual violence towards women and the compromising of other services, impacting the treatment of chronic illness, for example. When a pathway to the end of disruption was in sight via the introduction of vaccinations, Uganda struggled to buy the number of vaccines they required to protect their population. Vaccine manufacturing was mainly occurring within Western states who adopted a policy of vaccinating not only those who are most vulnerable (adults over the age of 50) but also children as young as 5 who we know are at little to no risk of complications if they contract the virus. As a result of this mass vaccination strategy, countries outside of the manufacturing sphere were left with little to no protection.

Final reflections

Dr Cole’s webinar was an insightful reflection on a pandemic which shaped all of our lives in unprecedented ways. Within periods of crisis, it is easy to become insular, focusing on ourselves and our nearest relations when concerned with safety and health. Dr Cole invited us to widen our thinking into the realm of geopolitics to consider how the decisions that those within government make affect not just those within our vicinity, but also within a global context. Using the case studies of the UK, Armenia, Uganda and EU governments, Dr Cole highlighted the way in which a physical challenge posed to the global population can put a spotlight on the socio-political inequalities that are accentuated during times of immense societal disruption.

Emma Caves is studying International Relations in her final year at Loughborough University. Her main interests are in the anthropological side of political and geographical studies, and she hopes to continue this interest through a role in project management in local government in the future. 

This Week at Loughborough | 13 March

March 13, 2023 Jemima Biodun-Bello


Choosing between job offers: a look at Workplace Benefits

14 March 2023, 12pm, Online

This workshop will help you look at all the different things you may wish to consider when looking at different positions and potentially choosing between offers from different employers. 

Find out more on the events page

Celebrating the achievements of Women in Science and Engineering

14 March 2023, 10am, West Park Teaching Hub

We are celebrating achievements of Women in Science and Engineering across the world by organising exhibitions, presentation, and panel discussions from high achieving international women.

Find out more on the events page

Hack Network: A diversity focused networking event

15 March 2023, 1:30pm, Online

The Future Talent Programme, International Student Network and Ethnic Minorities Network present “Hack Network” a diversity focused networking event open to all Loughborough students.

Find out more on the events page


Sustainability Hackathon

12 March 2023, 10am, James France

We’re looking for individuals or teams of 5 to get involved in the Sustainability Hackathon. The task will be revealed to students on the day, so all you need to do is turn up with your laptop and an open mind ready to work with other students.

Find out more on the events page

Sustainability Conference

12 March 2023, 10am, LSU Council Chamber

Come and join us in LSU on sustainability day to hear from some of our amazing staff members, working and researching into sustainability.

Find out more on the events page

Bring your bikes – services and registration

13 March 2023, 11am, Outside LSU 

Bring your bike down to campus and stop by LSU for a one stop shop to repairing and registering it! 

Find out more on the events page

Sustainability Market

13 March 2023, 10am, The Basement

Join us in celebrating sustainable living and support LSU’s mission to tackle climate change! Our event is open to all students and staff and will feature a multitude of market stalls showcasing the best in sustainable products as well as pre-loved gems.

Find out more on the events page

Lunch and learn about the world beneath your feet

14 March 2023, 12pm, Stewart Mason

Come and bring along your lunch and sit with us while we learn about the ground beneath our feet.

Find out more on the events page

Walk around Burleigh Woods

14 March 2023, 2pm, Burleigh Woods

Meeting at the entrance to Burleigh Wood, you will be taken round by our arborist, Rich Fenn-Griffin, to learn more about our amazing woodland and the biodiversity it holds. 

Find out more on the events page

ReInvent: Sustainable Fashion Show

14 March 2023, 6:30pm, The Basement 

Join us in our ‘Reinvent’ Sustainable Fashion Show where you will get to marvel at the showstopping fashion coming to life on the catwalk – all designed by our uber talented students using recycled and sustainable materials.

Find out more on the events page

Make your own bug hotel

15 March 2023, 11am

In this short workshop you will learn the basic techniques for building your own bug hotel, making the most of our experienced carpenter’s experience. 

Find out more on the events page

Willow sculpture workshop

15 March 2023, 12:30pm

In this short workshop you will learn the basics of willow weaving, giving you the technique to create your own 3D sculpture.

Find out more on the events page

Lab sustainability: The technicians launch LEAF

15 March 2023, 2:30pm, The Lounge 

Join some of our technicians in the Lounge at LSU who will be implementing this framework and learn how we will become more sustainable in our habits. 

Find out more on the events page

Turning waste into art

16 March 2023, 11am, LSU Dance Studio 

This workshop aims to demonstrate the use of waste materials to create contemporary artworks. 

Find out more on the events page

Fruit routes walk and foraging workshop

17 March 2023, 10am, Bridgeman Building 

Take a guided tour of the campus fruit routes, an award winning project which provides food, shelter and habitats for people and creatures and enhances the campus biodiversity.

Find out more on the events page

Local food showcase

17 March 2023, 12pm, The Lounge 

Come and join us in the Lounge at LSU where local farmers will be coming in to discuss their work and products and find out how you can make a difference not only to food emissions, but to the local community as well. 

Find out more on the events page

Quorn on campus

17 March 2023, 12pm, Edward Herbert Building

 Join us in EHB on Friday 17th where Quorn will be on campus to showcase their products. A special quorn menu will also be on offer that day, so come down and try some of the amazing vegetarian options! 

Find out more on the events page

Information overload? Think and learn sustainability with these resources:

Information overload? Think and learn sustainability with these resources:

March 10, 2023 Rhiannon Brown

A selection of our top picks over the past few months:


  • Olio – allows you to share food with other users in your area for free.
  • Toogoodtogo– shops/restaurants post unsold food to buy at a reduced price. Magic bags= random items/lucky dip.
  • Karma– similar to Toogoodtogo but users can see exactly what food is on offer instead of lucky dip/magic bag idea.
  • Nosh– allows users to record what food they have in their house. They can view expiry and use-by dates on screen by scanning bar codes- with an emphasis (more than the similar ‘NoWaste app’) on how best before dates don’t mean you can’t eat the food.
  • Kitche– tons of recipes which are created from inputting the ingredients you have in the house (to use up your leftovers etc).
  • Good on You– they’ve compiled lots of information to provide you with ethical and sustainability brand ratings. Just search for your favourite brand to see how they score, and where their fall-downs are. Also, find ethical alternatives and read many articles that they’ve put together.


  • The Value of a Whale- On the illusions of Green Capitalism by Adrienne Buller. Giving a living creature a monetary value to reflect its utility to humans is intended as a conservation measure- do you agree with this?
  • How bad are bananas?: The carbon footprint of everything by Mike Berners-Lee. Find out about the carbon footprint of anything and everything that we do, from individual actions all the way to global.



  • The Yikes Podcast– a general discussion about climate change solutions and human rights.
  • Mothers of Invention– a focus on feminist climate change solutions with input from women from across the globe.
  • The Climate Conscious Podcast– communication on environmental sustainability in the context of the Caribbean and Small Island Developing States.
  • Sustainababble– a weekly podcast aiming to simplify topics around sustainability and inject an element of humour into the conversation.


  • Carbon Brief– a great UK-based website covering the latest developments in climate science, climate policy and energy policy. You can even sign up to their daily, weekly, or monthly ‘Carbon Brief’ via email to receive all the latest news.
  • Tree Hugger– Sustainability made simple, for everyone.
  • National Geographic– They have lots of information on their website, as well as videos to be explored on YouTube.

Online Learning

  • Sustainability Essentials– a 20 minute online training package exploring sustainability at LU, ways you can help to do your bit to help us achieve our Net Zero Goal.
  • OpenLearn– This free learning portal is brought to you by the Open University. There are 1000’s of free courses on here. Why not check out the Nature and Environment ones!
  • Carbon Literacy Training– Carbon Literacy is a 2 day accredited training scheme run by the Carbon Literacy Project (CLP) to embed sustainable behaviour changes within an organisation. The sustainability training improves staff awareness of the carbon costs and the impacts of their everyday activities. It also empowers individuals, communities, and organisations to be aware of how their actions can reduce emissions.
  • SDG Academy– The SDG academy curates free, open and educational resources from the world’s leading experts on sustainable development and the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Sustainable Development Goals– The library has purchased this resource which has chapters, articles and teaching and learning resources for each of the 17 interlinked global goals. Any student or staff member can gain access when connected to the University’s VPN.
  • Linkedin Learning– There are lots of Sustainability and related courses here to check out, and you get a certificate/badge on your Linkedin profile afterwards too.

Got a resource that you think belongs on this list? Drop us an email to and we will check it out to get it added! Equally, send us your thoughts!

This article is in support of UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 ‘Quality Education’.  To find out more, click here.

International Women’s Day: Embracing Equity

March 8, 2023 Guest Author

International Women’s Day (IWD) is about gender equality and 8 March 2023 is the 113th anniversary of the event, providing us an opportunity to celebrate women and their contributions.

I wanted to take the opportunity to use the day and this week to remember all those incredible women around the world who have had an influence on our lives, no matter how big or small.  Those who inspired others by challenging stereotypes in their own way and creating pathways that opened the doors for other women, who could see themselves in every walk of life, work, innovation, research, education, study and play.

As a young girl I was surrounded by ‘phenomenal women’ and as a woman, I continue to be surrounded by ‘phenomenal women and girls’ – each of whom make untold contributions that quietly yet determinedly impact the outcomes of others. The contributions of some women may be well known and celebrated globally, others have often been underplayed, sidelined, overshadowed or forgotten. Does this make them less powerful, I would argue not.  Lesser known perhaps, but equally powerful and in some ways more so because of the seemingly insurmountable barriers that they somehow overcame – ‘phenomenally’.

I invite you to think about the women you know who have influenced you in one way or another and take a moment to appreciate them.  After all, as a well known song goes, this world would be nothing without a woman or a girl.

Despite this, even after 113 years of IWD, discrimination, harassment, hate crimes and unequal treatment still exists. There are still barriers to entry to education and health care; some professions and career pathways remain restricted and pay differentials are still prevalent in many organisations including in Higher Education organisations like ours! These inequalities are often amplified by the impact of intersectionality. 

Intersectionality describes the ways in which systems of inequality based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, class, power and other forms of discrimination intersect to create unique dynamics and effects meaning that people are affected by multiple structures at once.  These often traditional systems, policies, procedures and societal norms can further compound the barriers faced or limit the availability of opportunities based on preconceptions. This means we might have privilege in some situations and yet be oppressed in others. Intersectionality recognises that no individual will experience inequality in exactly the same way as anyone else.

I think about my own mother who despite getting the top marks in her class and acing the tests set for her in the UK was denied the opportunity to train as a medical doctor, because she was a woman and because she was black.

This example and multiple others highlight why this year’s IWD theme of ‘embracing equity’ is so important not least because redressing these inequalities requires a systems approach. One where we proactively tackle these complex and often interrelated challenges in equitable ways. 

This may sound all well and good but what does equity actually mean?  From my perspective, equity means recognising that we are different, we have unequal beginnings which can result in unequal outcomes. Whilst we may some have similarities, our experiences may be different as such our needs and requirements may also be different as we do not all start from the same place.  The way this is translated into the day to day, how people are perceived, treated, and what they have access to often directly impacts on the fundamental principles of fairness, justice, dignity and respect.

Embracing equity acknowledges this tension and enables us to make adjustments to dismantle these barriers. This should be a common goal and not rest on the shoulders of those who face gender inequity. It should be something we all strive for because to quote Maya Angelou – ‘when you know better, you {should} do better’.

So let’s celebrate IWD for the progress that has been made.

Let’s recognise the pioneers and the women and girls who make a difference everyday by virtue of who they are and what they do.

Let’s acknowledge we have more to do.

Let’s work together to create a more inclusive environment and culture where ones gender is no longer a barrier (perceived or otherwise) but is equally respected and celebrated.

Happy International Women’s Day!

<strong>Making the most of life at Loughborough University as an international student</strong> 

Making the most of life at Loughborough University as an international student 

March 7, 2023 Guest Blogger

Hey there, my name is Yuki and I am a final year PhD student from China studying Materials Engineering at Loughborough University. I have had the most amazing experience studying here and want to share it with you! From my favourite things about the campus to the societies I have been a part of, here’s a snapshot of what my student life at Loughborough has looked like. 

Sunsets on campus to relaxing at the gym

Loughborough University has become my second home over the years. I love the campus so much, especially the beautiful sunset views. It’s always a breathtaking experience to watch the sunset on campus with friends. One thing I particularly love about Loughborough town is how quiet it is. It’s such a peaceful and serene environment to study and live in. My typical evening routine consists of going to the gym and hanging out with friends, which is the perfect way to relax after a long day of studying.  

Living in halls  

Hall life has been an integral part of my experience at Loughborough University. As an undergraduate student, I lived in Butler Court, and it was an amazing experience. Living in a hall was a great way to meet new people and make friends, especially during the first few weeks of university. The social events and activities organised by the hall were great opportunities to socialise and get to know other students. Butler Court had a strong community feel, and I always felt like I was part of a big family.  

Now, as a subwarden of Harry French Hall, I have had an even better experience. Being a subwarden has given me the opportunity to give back to the Loughborough community and help others settle into university life. I am responsible for organising events and activities for the students in my hall, which has been a great way to connect with them and help them feel welcome.  

Living in a hall has been a great way to make lifelong friends and create unforgettable memories. Hall life is not just about socialising and having fun; it’s also about learning to live independently and taking responsibility for your own space. Living in a hall teaches you how to balance your academic responsibilities with social activities and household duties. It’s a great way to develop essential life skills that will come in handy beyond university. 

Being a part of a society 

Loughborough University has a wide range of societies to cater to everyone’s interests. Being a part of societies is one of my favourite things about studying here.  

I joined the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) and was the president for 2020-2021. It was a great way to connect with other Chinese students and celebrate Chinese culture with a wider community. The society organised events such as the Mid-Autumn Festival, Chinese New Year, and cultural exchanges with other societies, which gave me the opportunity to learn more about other cultures as well.  

One of the biggest benefits of being part of the Chinese Society was the sense of community it provided. I made some amazing friends who I know I will cherish for life. The society provided a supportive environment where we could share our experiences as international students and help each other navigate university life.  

The Athletic Union (AU) Dance Society has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my time at Loughborough University. As a dancer, I was excited to join a society that catered to my passion and allowed me to pursue it in a supportive and creative environment. One of the greatest benefits of being a part of the AU Dance Society was the opportunity to learn new dance styles. The society offers classes in a range of dance styles, from contemporary to hip hop, and beyond. This allowed me to experiment with different dance genres and improve my skills in areas that I was less familiar with. The society’s instructors were incredibly talented and dedicated, and I learned so much from them.  

Another amazing aspect of being part of the dance society was the chance to perform at events and competitions. The society regularly performs at various events, such as the Winter Showcase, which provided a great opportunity to showcase our skills and creativity to a wider audience. We also participated in inter-university dance competitions, which was a great way to test our skills against other dance societies and make new friends from other universities.  

But beyond the technical aspects of dance, being part of the dance society allowed me to connect with a group of people who share my passion for dance. It was a great way to meet new people, make friends, and form meaningful connections with people who shared my interests. The society provided a supportive and inclusive environment where I felt free to express myself and explore my creativity. Being part of a society not only allowed me to explore my interests and hobbies, but also helped me to develop teamwork, communication and time management skills. 

My incredible journey continues…  

Studying at Loughborough University has been an incredible journey for me. From the amazing campus views to the quietness of the town, it’s an amazing place to study and live. Being a part of societies has allowed me to meet new people and explore new interests, which has been a great way to de-stress from my studies. If you are considering studying at Loughborough University, I would highly recommend taking part in societies and exploring the campus as much as possible. There is always something new to discover and explore, so make the most of your time here.  

Thanks for reading and I hope you have an amazing time at Loughborough University! 

This Week at Loughborough | 6 March

March 6, 2023 Jemima Biodun-Bello


Campus Sculpture Tour

8 March 2023, 12:35pm, Shirley Pearce Square

Join Loughborough University curator David Bell for a tour of some of our campus sculptures. 

Find out more on the events page

Personal Best: My Story featuring Aisha Adedeji

8 March 2023, 1pm, Stewart Mason

Aisha will discuss how she has navigated her career so far, with particular focus on the importance of her digital skills.

Find out more on the events page

Sustainability Hackathon

12 March 2023, 10am, James France

With no coding knowledge required, we’re looking for individuals or teams of 5 to get involved in the Sustainability Hackathon. All you need to do is turn up with your laptop and an open mind ready to work with other students. 

Find out more on the events page


Arty Activism – Banner and T-Shirt Making

7 March 2023, 7pm, The Treehouse

Join us in our banner and t-shirt making workshop for our International Women’s Day March on the 8th of March!

Find out more on the events page

International Women’s Day March

8 March 2023, 1:30pm, Union Lawn

Come along and join us at our 2023 International Women’s Day March. All are welcome. No tickets required. Banners and Signs encouraged.

Find out more on the events page

Aftersun Screening @ FLIX Cinema

9 March 2023, 7pm, Cope Auditorium 

Flix Cinema presents AFTERSUN. In collaboration with Loughborough Women’s Network for International Women’s Week, Flix are screening Aftersun (2022), featuring Oscar nominated Paul Mescal.

Find out more on the events page

Pole Fitness Classes

10 March 2023, 9:50am, The Treehouse 

Ever wanted to try out Pole Fitness? Now is the time to give it a go! With the help of a trained professional, you can learn the basics to pole fitness and learn just how flexible you really are.

Find out more on the events page


Gambling and Wellbeing Workshop

9 March 2023, 10am, Bridgeman Building

This session will cover the below: The definition of Gambling. Useful tools to help limit your gambling. Affected others and how they can access support too. Useful information on where to signpost if in need of support, and advice.

Find out more on the events page

Wellbeing Walk 

9 March 2023, 11:15am, EHB Atrium

Dress appropriately for the weather and note that the walk will go through the woodlands so wear comfortable shoes.

Find out more on the events page

LU Arts Journaling Workshop 

9 March 2023, 12:30pm, Bridgeman Building

This workshop offers a new take on journaling which caters to the busy student lifestyle, carving out pockets of mindfulness throughout the day so that journaling isn’t so daunting.

Find out more on the events page

Catch it, check it, change it

9 March 2023, 2pm, Bridgeman Building

The team from Vita Health, providers of the NHS Talking Therapies service, will be giving information about the support available and how to challenge unhelpful thoughts.

Find out more on the events page

Creative Wellbeing drop-in

9 March 2023, 3pm, Bridgeman Building

This session will be a chance to spend some time being creative with access to the LU Arts trolley materials. Members of the Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity will be present if you want to chat about anything wellbeing related.

Find out more on the events page

International Women's Day

March 6, 2023 Guest Author

This week organisations all around the world will be hosting events and activities to mark International Women’s Day. Here at Loughborough, our women’s staff and student networks have been instrumental in the organisation of some fantastic events, and in curating stories to showcase the accomplishments of some of the women who work and study here. 

International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women all over the globe, but also to raise awareness of the discrimination we still face every day and to focus attention on what needs to change if we’re going to achieve gender parity. 

I think it’s absolute right that we showcase the positives, not just on International Women’s Day but year round. But that doesn’t mean we’re shying away from the many hurdles we still need to overcome. Anyone looking at Twitter at the moment, for instance, will notice that the Gender Pay Gap bot is very active again, pointing out organisations’ median gender pay gap data in response to any posts about International Women’s Day activity.  

Each year, employers with 250-plus employees are required to publish their figures that show the difference between men and women’s average pay across the organisation – that’s their gender pay gap. As at 31st March 2021, women’s median hourly pay at Loughborough is 31.3% lower than men’s. The data has improved in 2022 and women’s median hourly pay is now 25.4% – the full data set for 2022 will be published shortly. Our data is influenced by several factors, details of which you can see on our website. But I’m not going to make excuses; we have a significant gender pay gap and we need to work hard to address it. 

And we are. For instance, our women’s network, Maia, and our TORCH Academy programme have been established to help support female progression and representation at the University, and they’re doing some terrific work. As well as focusing on supporting individual academics, the TORCH Academy is working to change structures, systems, processes and attitudes at the University that previously may have negatively impacted gender equity; and since its establishment in 2020, the Maia Women’s Network has become our fastest growing staff group, with almost 30% of staff now members, collectively championing equity for women. 

We know it will take time to get to where we really should be, and to address key issues like the gender pay gap, but we are taking steps forward. So, yes, we’ll be showcasing the many fabulous achievements of our staff and students this International Women’s Day, but it doesn’t mean we’re ignoring the challenges we know we still face. 

Professor Charlotte Croffie

Pro Vice-Chancellor for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

In search of missing princes: what drives repository views?

March 3, 2023 Lara Skelly

By Lara Skelly, Open Research Manager for Data and Methods, Loughborough University Library

Sleeping Beauty slumbers for decades in her tower until she is woken by a prince, whom she marries, and they live happily ever after. We all know the story, but what if the prince was gone when she awoke? Where would she find her happily ever after? 

The case of the missing prince is not a tale that everyone knows, but it might be familiar to those reporting on the impact of their research. Sleeping Beauties in research are articles1 that lie largely undiscovered for a period until they are cited, mentioned in the media or otherwise woken up [source]. If the prince did the proper thing and cited the article, then happily ever after could be a sure ending, but many princes do not conform to these standard practices and slip away before they are discovered. 

Take, for example, Karen Blay’s thesis on resilience in projects. First uploaded in 2017, it received a few hundred views each year, when suddenly, in July 2022, there were over 2000. Karen was on leave for much of the year and is at a loss as to what might have sparked this level of interest, particularly from Cardiff, London, Helsinki and Amsterdam which all reflected over 300 views that month. 

Korbinian Moeller is similarly unsure what caused the bump in the views of his paper, Potential and limits of game-based learning. Since its upload to Loughborough University’s Research Repository, it’s never had more than a hundred views in a month. Until, inexplicably, it was viewed almost 500 times in August 2022, most of them from Seychelles and Australia. Presumably, the prince resides out there. 

Princes are easier to track if you create your own. Lise Jaillant tweeted about her article, which had just been published in Open Access. The tweet was seen over 13 000 times, easily marking itself the prince that led to 600+ views in January 2023, whereas previous months never saw more than twenty-five views. 

Knowing your prince is a good first step in tracking impact. After all, views are necessary precursors to the change that any research project could make. But the happily-ever-after of impact takes more than just finding the prince. Anyone with a messy life knows that happily can happen in small moments just as easily as in the big moments; that happily can happen instantaneously or after years of a long slog. Happily is not quantifiable, even though one could count the happy moments. So too, with impact, which can happen on a large scale or small, immediately or delayed. As our Responsible use of research metrics policy puts out, quantitative measures do not tell the full story. 

Not all impact depends on a prince. Some research projects are not Sleeping Beauties at all. Ian Taylor, whose research was the focus of Experts in sports podcast, Episode 35, has seen steadily increasing interest in his work from some unusual places, including a book on feminist creativity.

So, in searching for the ever-elusive impact stories, keep a watchful eye out for princes or be your own prince. If the Sleeping Beauty analogy doesn’t work for you (or your research), drop it like a golden ball down a well. And if anyone has any information on the missing princes, please get in touch with  

The author is grateful for the assistance from David Campling in identifying stories with missing princes.

The views and opinions of this article are the author’s and do not reflect those of the University…although hopefully, they do reflect Loughborough University values. 


[1] I use the word articles because that has traditionally been the only item of interest, but with the rise of Open Research practices, Sleeping Beauties can be any file related to research that is somehow discoverable.

From the Vice-Chancellor – February 2023

March 1, 2023 Nick Jennings

In my February newsletter: Partnerships with US organisations and the Institute of Sports Humanities, the 2023 LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards, #BehindtheLens in LGBT+ History Month, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, and new Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor roles.

Partnerships in the US

At the end of last month, I undertook my first trip to the US in my capacity as Vice-Chancellor. The visit enabled me to meet with many individuals and organisations, both in terms of expanding our partnerships and establishing new ones. 

I spent the early part of the trip at MIT in Boston, meeting senior leaders and academics to expand the collaboration between our institutions, and I joined colleagues at the University of Oregon to discuss research initiatives that will enable us to harness the power of sport as a vehicle for positive change.

I met the brilliant team from NFL (the National Football League), whose UK-based Academy relocated to Loughborough College and the University for the start of this academic year. I toured their HQ and discussed exciting ideas and opportunities to continue to build our partnership with them. Then I met Emma Wade-Smith, His Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for North America and HM Consul General New York, about better promoting the University in the US.

During the trip I hosted two receptions for our alumni – one in New York and the other in San Francisco – which enabled me to get to know some of our US-based graduates much better. It was a real pleasure to hear the many lovely stories and memories our alumni have of the University. The affinity they have for Loughborough is truly heart-warming. 

Visits such as these are an important part of the international engagement and impact core plan, one of the key aims in our University Strategy. I will bring you further news of our partnership developments as they progress.

LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards

The 2023 LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards were held this month and I was delighted to see Loughborough research and innovation initiatives receive six awards in total: five of the 10 category awards, plus the overall Innovator of the Year honour.

The University has been well represented in the region’s flagship celebration of innovation since the awards’ launch in 2019. This year we had 12 nominations across eight categories, a record number, with the finalists representing research collaborations and academic spinouts and graduate start-ups launched from LUinc., the University’s incubator on Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park.

The Innovation in Logistics and Exports category and the prestigious Innovator of the Year award were presented to CarbonVue, an industry-first digital solution to help UK businesses rise to the net zero by 2050 challenge. CarbonVue’s development has been supported by Loughborough supply chain experts and trialled with Tata Steel UK and Moovero. By March this year the innovative platform will commercially be available for any customer to use. 

The Innovation in Food and Drink award went to high-tech food machinery manufacturers Millitec Food Systems, which partnered with a team of our computer scientists to create a unique sandwich-making robot featuring the latest embedded artificial intelligence technology.

Rewire Fitness, a US-based start-up co-founded by Sports Science alumnus Ed Gibbins, won the Innovation in Sport, Wellbeing and Accessibility category. Rewire Fitness is a mental fitness platform that helps athletes reach their full potential and avoid burnout through tools that improve mindset, readiness and resilience.

The University’s 20-year partnership with adidas, which has enabled the design, manufacture and analysis of global sports products and driven impacts in other sectors, was recognised with the Innovation in STEM industries award.

The Innovation in Sustainability award went to Plastic Energy, which is transforming the global landscape of plastic waste by converting previously difficult to recycle plastic into a recycled oil that replaces fossil oils in the production of new plastics. The company, whose R&D hub is based on LUSEP, has partnered with Loughborough’s Chemistry researchers for a decade to accelerate this recycling process.

Many congratulations to all our winners and finalists who have shown real ingenuity and determination in solving some of today’s most pressing problems.

LGBT+ History Month: #BehindTheLens

The theme for this year’s LGBT+ History Month, which ran throughout February, was #BehindTheLens, celebrating LGBT+ people’s contribution to cinema and film.

The University’s LGBT+ Staff Network curated an exciting programme of events under the theme, including one of the keynote talks of the month by Jake and Hannah Graf, described by The Guardian as “the UK’s most influential LGBT+ power couple”. Hannah and Jake discussed their recent TV documentary that followed their journey to becoming trans parents, and Jake also talked about his experience of working as an international multi-award-winning director, writer and actor.   

The Students’ LGBT+ Association offered a range of activities, including a chance for staff and students to join a training session with local football club Leicester Wildecats, and LU Arts also launched a project with LU Architecture and Adam Nathaniel Furman, the co-author of Queer Spaces, to develop a new ‘queer space’ for the campus.

Events such as LGBT+ History Month enable us to reflect on the progress we are making to improve the experience of LGBT+ people, both in society in general and on our own campuses, and to consider the steps we can all take to make Loughborough a more welcoming, inclusive community.

Association of Commonwealth Universities

This month the University became a member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) – a collaborative network of more than 500 institutions across 50 countries that use higher education as a cornerstone to build stronger societies and a better world.

Our membership of the ACU will enable us to collaborate with other member universities on initiatives that tackle today’s global challenges, such as climate resilience, and we will have the opportunity to contribute to high-level international policy agendas at Commonwealth ministerial meetings and the United Nations, for example. Our staff and students will also be able to access funding for grants, fellowships and scholarships, training and education events, and opportunities to share best practice. Details of the funding available this academic year are available on the ACU website.

The ACU’s three major themes – access and inclusion; international mobility; and higher education for sustainable development – align closely with the ethos, aims and themes of our own University strategy. Our membership of the ACU will open up exciting new opportunities for us to engage and partner with universities around the world and will enable us to explore international education and training opportunities that have the power to make a positive and lasting difference.

Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor roles

Our three institutional themes – Sport, Health and WellbeingClimate Change and Net Zero; and Vibrant and Inclusive Communities – are a central element of our Strategic Plan. They encapsulate our significant strengths and over the coming years will influence our curricula, research and strategic partnerships, and drive our international reputation.

The themes are inter-disciplinary, each cutting across multiple Academic Schools and Professional Service areas. To ensure we bring together and maximise our activity under the themes, we will be appointing two co-leads for each – Associate Pro Vice-Chancellors who will be responsible for coordinating, championing and driving forward the activity.

We have now begun recruitment to these new roles next month, with a view to having appointees in place for early summer. These will be internal appointments and are open to all staff. The establishment of these roles is an exciting step forward in the delivery of our Strategy, and I look forward to working closely with those we appoint to these positions.

Institute of Sport Humanities partnerships

We will soon announce a new partnership between the Institute of Sports Humanities (ISH) and Loughborough University London to offer a Master’s programme in Leadership in Sport.

ISH’s mission is to nurture and inspire sport’s current and future leaders around the world and the Institute has educated leaders from some of sport’s elite organisations, such as the Football Association, England Cricket and the Rugby Football League.

The MA Leadership in Sport will help those on the course to develop their impact and effectiveness in leading and managing individuals, teams and organisations, and will be ideally suited to executives working in the sports industry, professionals seeking a career in sport and athletes looking for specialised education to support their leadership development on and off the field. 

I look forward to welcoming our first cohort of students to our London campus later this year. This exciting new programme aligns closely with our strategic objective to engage in partnerships that amplify our impact on sport.

<strong>Mixed Heritage Britain – Mixed heritage experiences in UK higher education</strong>

Mixed Heritage Britain – Mixed heritage experiences in UK higher education

March 1, 2023 Sadie Gration
Image: Courtesy of Getty Images

My name is Rhianna, and I am a PhD researcher and race equity activist here at Loughborough. I am part of a doctoral training centre called ‘Unequal Academic Citizenship: Opportunities and Barriers to Participation and Inclusion of Cultural Diversity and Intersecting Identities in Higher Education’(CITHEI) where I and five other PhDs focus on tackling unequal academic citizenship in higher education.

My project investigates the underrepresentation of racialised minority staff in UK higher education, with a focus on the early stages of academic careers through PhDs and early career researchers. I have also been enacting student-led activism for the past few years at a number of institutions, both professionally and independently.

My colleague and friend Tré Ventour-Griffiths is a creative writer and public historian-sociologist whose work can be broadly contained within Black British histories, race/neurodivergence and intersectionality. An interdisciplinary thinker, he is also a PhD Student at Kingston University whose research interests look at Black Histories in provincial England. Meanwhile, his wider work in the arts, social sciences and humanities has also allowed him to work with others, including anti-racist and neurodiversity-affirming advocacy groups and organisations. 

Why is the topic important to me?

As a Chinese mixed-heritage woman in higher education, I have found it difficult to navigate these spaces. My first anti-racism project Active Together, which aimed to address racism in sports clubs and societies, was created due to my mixed identity being criticised, scrutinised, and denied. However, my leadership in activism gave me the skills, creativity, and confidence to pursue a PhD in an area I care deeply about and opened up a number of opportunities.

Not only does this project come from a personal place, but it is also in desperate need of more research. Out of over 22,000 professors in UK higher education, there are only 41 Black women in these positions. In a wider picture, the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) in 2017/2018 found that 85% of postgraduate researchers identified as white, 4% Black, 8% Asian, 3% mixed, and 2% other. Both research and statistics show that there are significant barriers facing racialised minority academics when entering and maintaining these career trajectories.

Experiences being mixed heritage in UK higher education

As a fast-growing population in both the UK and in higher education as a whole, there are limited discussions about mixed heritage experiences in these spaces and how they represent how race is understood as a social construction.

I like to tell stories about how my racial identity as a half-Chinese, half-white woman has been understood and changed depending on where I am. In one space, I can be heavily racialised, and in another space, my identity can be questioned.

Not Chinese enough

I used to play polo, and at a social event a woman told me I was ‘not really Chinese’, and this has been questioned by many people in many spaces due to my whiteness. My Chinese mother was also born in Indonesia, grew up in Nigeria, and spent the rest of her life in Nigeria, whilst the rest of my family now live in Singapore, and very few of us speak fluent Chinese because of this. This leads to a lot of people invalidating my identity.

Too ethnic

In other spaces, I am either too ethnic, or just ethnic enough. In that same polo club, I was used as a representation of the diversity of their club, showing I was “as ethnic as they were willing to go”, asked if I “eat bat soup”, or described as ‘exotic’.

To me, these present examples of how race is heavily misunderstood in higher education spaces and needs to be addressed at a deeper level of lived experience

Inclusion and belonging

Loughborough University’s Race Equality Charter states that it aims to increase a sense of inclusion and belonging to the higher education space, but we also need to question what system we are ‘belonging’ to or being ‘included’ within. If we are including everyone in a violent system, we are ignoring the fundamentally flawed system itself, which creates an environment that makes real justice difficult to flow within. Inclusion and belonging do not ensure long-term, sustainable justice, and do not always address mixed heritage experiences.

But there is also power in my mixed identity, and that is how I wish to see it. Just my existence in a space can create change, my identity and stories can amplify others like my own, it gives me community and a sense of belonging, and brings me closer to my vibrant heritage.

Find out more about mixed heritage experiences in Britain

The arrival of figures such as Meghan Markle has shown us all too well that the British establishment has a selective memory when it comes to the place of Mixed Heritage people in Britain. The place of Mixed Heritage people in today’s Britain is not new, but simply the latest chapter of a history that dates back to at least the days of the Tudors when Africans in Early Modern England lived, worked and had (intimate and domestic) relationships with white people.

Some examples of literature discussing these histories:

  • With Britain’s history of cultural and racial mixing, organisations like the Mixed Museum exist to document and disseminate it to the public. 
  • Recent published work of authors and academics – including Afua Hirsch, Remi Adekoya and Natalie Morris – is predated by books like Mixed-Race Britain in the Twentieth Century and Mixed Race Amnesia: Resisting the Romanticization of Multiraciality. 
  • The Black Georgians in the eighteenth century, the Black Victorians in the nineteenth century, and the Black Edwardians in the early years of the twentieth century – many of them married outside of their race. 
  • Many of the soldiers that came back from WWI also built families with white women. The same happened again when thousands of Black American GIs were stationed in Britain during the latter years of the Second World War, some left Mixed-Race children behind – a product of their relationships with white British women. 
  • Lucy Bland’s Britain’s Brown Babies discusses this further.

This is a small description that has focused on Mixed Black histories, but Mixed Heritage has plurality and needs to be better addressed and understood. 

To hear more on mixed heritage experiences in Britain, please attend Tre’s event entitled ‘Can You Poet: Mixed Heritage Britain’, a free online event where I will be further discussing my experiences, and you will also hear from a number of poets and storytellers.

My Gap Year Experience

February 27, 2023 Guest Blogger

Having a gap year can be the best but most nerve-wracking time of your life before coming to university. Or at least that’s how I found it. My name is Ryan. I am in my second year of Commercial Management and Quantity Surveying (BSc with a Placement) here at Loughborough, and I took a gap year between sixth form and university.

To set the scene I was studying Maths, Further Maths, Biology, and Chemistry at sixth form and had a conditional offer to start at Loughborough in September 2020. However, due to the breakout of Covid-19 in March, my road to university took a few unexpected turns. My sixth form experience ended on a random Friday instead of the usual end of year celebrations, parties, and goodbyes. One positive….no exams; some may say that was lucky but more to come on that later.

When I did open that brown envelope on results day, I immediately knew the CDD I had been given wasn’t enough to get me into my dream university. Fortunately, a few weeks later those results were overturned, and I met my offer to study at Loughborough, but by now a lot of things had changed and I made the decision to defer my studies.

During my gap year, as Covid carried on I couldn’t travel like a lot of people. Instead, I worked full time at a restaurant and started counting down the days until I was going to get back on the path I knew I wanted to take. Whilst I loved my time at work, and it enabled me to save some money before moving to university, I knew ultimately what I wanted to do.

Leading up to university….

Once I chose my accommodation in April (one perk of deferring- choosing accommodation earlier) moving to university started to feel much more real. After getting the room I wanted, I started to become very nervous about a number of things. Would I make friends? How would I adjust to having deadlines again? Would I still be able to sit exams after nearly three years? What would I need to bring with me?

As someone who has since done all the above let me tell you, there is nothing to worry about. 

And so, it was time for the all important Ikea haul (other shops are available)! There’s plenty of advice available online on what and what not to bring with you. This is the time where I think the lead up becomes really exciting and starts to set in.

Freshers’ week is the start of your university experience and a chance to make friends with people in your flat and in your hall. Whilst most associate it with drinking and nights out, there are several day events to help you become aware of all that goes on during your time at Loughborough. Make sure to go to the Sports and Societies bazaar to sign up to anything that intrigues you; whether you’ve played for years or fancy trying something out for the first time, there’s loads of clubs you can get involved in. During these early days you may make a lot of friends, some of them may turn out to be your best friends, but don’t worry if you feel like you’ve not met your people immediately, as time goes on you will meet people you get on with!

Another big concern of mine was taking exams and submitting coursework after a long period of time. Luckily my lecturers were very clear about all of the work they set, explaining any briefs, and reminding us of deadlines as they approached. Exams at university are slightly different than sixth form. They tend to fall in two blocks, winter exams are after the Christmas break in January, and the summer exams at the end of semester two, in June. The number of exams you have will vary depending on your course and some may be short window (two hours long) in the exam hall, or some can be online and up to 24 hours long. I found taking advantage of being able to walk round the exam hall useful to calm any nerves before my first exam in nearly three years. There are also so many people on hand to help you; from your personal academic tutors, the student support centre or welfare reps on various committees, someone will always be there.

The final question I get ask a lot is if it really matters about being older than most students starting their studies this year, and to be honest it doesn’t. I’ve personally found that age doesn’t really matter at university. The activities and opportunities available to you mean that you’ll often find you spend time with people not on your course or in your year group. You may play sport together, attend lectures or go out to the same events together. Everyone has a different path to university, some may have come straight from sixth form, some may have taken a gap year, and others may have done a foundation year, so if someone does ask, just explain you took a year out, no big deal – it is also a nice ice breaker to discuss what you did in your gap year when you meet someone new!  

What am I up to now?… 

I am now in my second year at Loughborough, having completed 12 weeks of work experience at Taylor Woodrow and I am due to return for my placement year. Whilst at university I have got involved in lots of activities in and around my studies. During first year, I joined AU Powerlifting which enabled me to take my hobby of going to the gym more seriously. This year, I am the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering Rep which has allowed me to get involved with the academic representation that happens at Loughborough University. I have also organised educational events with industry leaders, as well as social events for other students. 

I have enjoyed my Loughborough experience to the max and believe taking the gap year only made me more ready for what was coming.

Best wishes and I hope to see you on campus soon, 


Moving from London to Loughborough

February 27, 2023 Guest Blogger

Hi, I’m Sofia, a first-year student studying English Literature here at Loughborough. I’m from London, so one of the crucial decisions I had to make when choosing Loughborough as my firm university choice last year was whether I wanted to make the big jump and move over three hours away from London- the ‘big city’. It was a difficult decision, but I’m so glad I did, because I am really enjoying my time here at Loughborough so far!

Decisions, decisions, decisions…

Everyone has different priorities when choosing universities. My priorities were the location and a university that catered to my extra-curricular interests (tennis); for me, a healthy, happy mind = academic success! So, it was incredibly important that the university I chose met both these criteria. 

I always knew I wanted to go to university to study English Literature, but in terms of location, I was adamant on going to a city university, because I had grown up in the buzzing, bustling city of London, and loved this atmosphere too much to give up (so I thought). Although I still wanted a city environment, ironically, I wanted to move away from London. I needed change and I wanted to start this new chapter of my life fresh, which would mean moving away from London. Anyway, a campus university was off the cards from day one, in fact, Loughborough wasn’t even on the cards …

However, I decided to check out Loughborough because I knew how extensive and unique the tennis opportunities were. I came to the Open Day with a clear mind – I had no preconceptions about the campus itself, and to my surprise, I really fell in love with it – the beauty of the campus, the people, the facilities, and the tennis centre (obviously). So, I started to consider the possibility of coming here. The only thing holding me back were the assumptions I had about Loughborough as a town: ‘It’s not a city’, ‘It’s boring’, ‘it’s in the middle of nowhere!’, ‘there’s no Wagamama!’ racked through my mind. After lots of thought, and a reconsideration of my restaurant options, I decided to firm Loughborough, and I’m so glad I did- here’s why. 

My experience at Loughborough so far – challenging the assumptions.

Inevitably, I experienced a bit of a culture shock coming from London at first – Loughborough felt quiet and a little dull. Then once I started to enjoy an active social life (I went to one of the nightclubs in town called Echos) and that made me feel right at home! I’ve found that there are so many fun events happening on campus each week, from movie nights, firework nights, various sporting matches and nights out at our incredible Students Union that I never actually feel the need to go to town.

But there are also so many fun things to do in town with friends. If you’re in the mood for food, there are some amazing restaurants here with all types of cuisines. For example, there is Peter’s Pizzeria (a student favourite here), Tarboush, a Moroccan restaurant, Centro Lounge, which is my personal favourite, and lots of takeaways! In terms of activities, there is Laser Quest, a bunch of cinemas in the town centre and rock climbing too! One thing I would say Loughborough reigns supreme in is just how much green space there is, and not only on campus. Beacon Hill Park and Queen’s Park are both perfect places for a park run or just a casual walk with friends and are both only a 10-minute drive away. These are just a few of my favourite things that Loughborough offers. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the preconception I had that Loughborough is a boring town, I completely take back. To be honest, I really enjoy its hybridity as a town – there are so many things to do like in a big city, whilst also retaining the community, close-knit feeling as a town.

Still in the mood for a big city?

Another great thing about Loughborough is how easy it is to get to other cities, specifically back to London. Initially, I thought that getting home would be difficult, but in fact, it’s the opposite. From Loughborough Station (in which the sprint buses go directly from campus taking around 20 minutes) it only takes 1 hour and 15 minutes to get to London St Pancras. But if you are in the mood to go to a city just for a day trip, it only takes 9 minutes on the train to Leicester, and 20 minutes to Nottingham. So, ease of transport is by far one of the best things about Loughborough. 

Overall, I’ve been so impressed with my Loughborough experience so far. Any traces of pessimism which I once had about the town have completely disappeared. It has absolutely everything in a town you could want, but when added to the incredible university campus, Loughborough really does have the best of both worlds, and I could not see myself at any other university. 

<strong>Spring greens – resolutions for 2023 and beyond</strong>

Spring greens – resolutions for 2023 and beyond

February 27, 2023 Rhiannon Brown

Guest blog by Helen Taller, on behalf of Loughborough University’s Legal Service team.

A key theme of the University’s strategy, Creating Better Futures. Together, is ‘Climate change and net zero’.  As the University’s legal services team, we are already looking at how we can make changes to the work we do to align with this aspect of the strategy.  In fact, we wrote a blog on this very topic just last year.  We know that there is more we can do, however, to embody the core values not just in our work but in the way we live our lives more generally.

With this in mind, while we have been working with our colleagues in the University’s Planning Team and the Vice Chancellor’s Office on our collective Carbon Action Plan, we have all also used this WWF carbon footprint calculator to calculate our individual carbon footprints and made some individual green resolutions – our promises to the planet – for 2023 and beyond.  These are our commitments to help us reduce our negative impact on the world and reach the end of the year with a renewed sense of optimism that net zero is within our grasp.  

So, on to our pledges.  Why are we sharing these with you?  Well, we know that conversation often precedes action so our hope is that by talking about what we are doing and why we are doing it, we just might inspire those of you who are reading this to have a think about making a green pledge of your own.  

After all, “to do good, you have actually have to do something” (Yvon Chouinard, founder of the company Patagonia).  This blog and our commitments, are our “something”.

Our pledges:

  • Recycle soft plastics that are not collected at kerbside collection services, by keeping them out of the general waste and collecting at home to take to supermarkets with soft plastic recycling collection points.  According to the Big Plastic Count that was undertaken last year by Greenpeace, nearly 100 billion pieces of plastic packaging are thrown away by UK households every year.  
  • Increase biodiversity in the garden through wildflower planting.  This will keep the birds, bees and the butterflies happy – but as a bonus might boost your mood too!
  • Reduce meat consumption by incorporating regular meat free days into our weeks – According to the UN, global meat consumption must fall if we are to fight climate change.
  • Start buying household cleaning products from zero waste shops to reduce reliance on single use plastic packaging and support local businesses.
  • Buy no ‘new’ clothes / shoes in 2023 – second hand only.  According to a report by the charity wrap, £140 million worth of clothing is sent to landfill in Britain EACH YEAR.  The availability of second hand clothing / goods has never been greater – with Vinted, Depop, Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace and of course charity shops to name a few – there are plenty of options!
  • Buy fresh produce from local shops and businesses instead of supermarkets to reduce plastic packaging and food miles and increase the proportion of organic fruit and vegetables that we buy.
  • Reduce wasted water by saving the run off when waiting for water to get hot and using in other ways – for example to water plants, boil veg, etc.  This UNICEF article has some more ideas on ways to save water.
  • Start using a wonky veg box scheme to reduce wasted produce and unnecessary packaging.

We look forward to seeing these pledges become new habits during the course of 2023 and are feeling enthusiastic and hopeful about the positive impact they will make.  Have we inspired you to make a green pledge of your own?  We’d love to hear from you about what your ‘something’ is.

This article is in support of UN Sustainable Development Goal 12 ‘Responsible consumption and production’.  To find out more, click here.

This Week at Loughborough | 20 February

February 20, 2023 Jemima Biodun-Bello


Live Lounge

20 February 2023, 7:30pm, The Lounge 

If you enjoy live music and discovering new artists then join us for a special, laid back evening as we present the best talent from Loughborough University.

Find out more on the events page

National Theatre Live: Othello

23 February 2023, 7pm, Cope Auditorium 

Shakespeare’s enduring tragedy of love and prejudice: Othello, by William Shakespeare.

Find out more on the events page

Lightning Netball vs Saracens Mavericks

24 February 2023, 7:30pm, SDW 

Loughborough Lightning will welcome Saracens Mavericks onto campus as part of their 2023 Netball Super League campaign.

Find out more on the events page


LGBT+ Nostalgia Night

21 February 2023, 7pm, The Lounge

Join the LGBT+ Student Association for an evening of games, vintage vibes, and snacks through the ages.

Find out more on the events page

LGBT+ History Month Celebrity Talk: Jake & Hannah Graf

22 February 2023, 3pm, Stewart Mason  

In celebration of LGBT+ History month this February, we invite both students and staff to come along to this free keynote talk from ‘the UK’s most influential LGBT+ power couple’ (Guardian): Jake and Hannah Graf. 

Find out more on the events page

Queer East Midlands Film Festival

23 February 2023, 1pm, Martin Hall

The Queer East Midlands (QEM) Film Festival is a grassroots film festival that presents films centred around themes of queer experience and identity.

Find out more on the events page

Repair and Care Workshop

24 February 2023, 2pm, Students’ Union

Using textiles and clothes, we will reflect on the value of care in a special textiles workshop, which is part of LGBT+ History Month.

Find out more on the events page

Spring Careers Fest

Showcasing Creative Careers with Creative Access 

20 February 2023, 6pm, Online

A virtual high-visibility event with a panel of creative professionals and alumni from Creative Access to share their creative journeys.

Find out more on the events page

Spring Careers Fair

21 February 2023, 11am, SDW  

Come along to meet and speak to a huge range of fantastic organisations. These employers will be keen to talk with students who are seeking placements, graduate roles, internships and work experience opportunities.

Find out more on the events page

Early Careers at Microsoft

22 February 2023, 2pm, Online

Are you interested to work at Microsoft? Hear from experience professionals as well as Early in Career Employees talk about their career experiences!

Find out more on the events page

Mock Assessment Centre

23 February 2023, 6pm, Online

Join us online and gain as much practice as you can before your first real assessment centre.

Find out more on the events page

DRN2023 Drawing in Relation: Dialogic Exchange

February 17, 2023 Deborah Harty

15th March 2023 11-12.30(GMT)

From an open call for paper presentations, this is the first in a series of events organised by the Drawing Research Group at Loughborough University, exploring the theme drawing in relation.

"Autour du dessin | Drawing Conversations" exhibition at the Centre de design, UQAM, Montréal, 15 September to 6 November 2022, photo credit: Michel Brunelle
“Autour du dessin | Drawing Conversations” exhibition at the Centre de design, UQAM, Montréal, 15 September to 6 November 2022, photo credit Michel Brunelle

Tickets are available here:

This panel brings together researchers looking at aspects of dialogic exchange. Carole Lévesque and Thomas-Bernard Kenniff will reflect on the design and curatorial position developed for ‘Drawing Conversations,’ a recent exhibition presented at the Centre de design in Montréal, Canada, for which the two presenters were co-curators. They will consider the relational aspects of drawing practice and situate it within assemblages contingent on temporal, material, and investigative dimensions, or, in other words, as a situated process of making sense. Marili de Weerdt will discuss ‘The Art of Climbing a tree’ a body of collaborative artworks that investigate the ways in which the act of drawing can be seen as a form of communication and interaction between the human and non-human. de Weerdt will suggest that collaborative drawing offers new perspectives on the interconnectedness of things and suggest that the act of drawing can be a means of fostering a more respectful relationship with the non-human natural world. Susan Turcot will discuss a collaboration with forest researchers and participants in which a set of interactive drawn cards continues to evolve around climate (change) and its effect on the phenological cycle of trees. Turcot will share the relationships that have emerged through this drawing practice with birch and birch users as well as with scientists and members of the public in both urban and rural contexts.

The session will be chaired by Rachel Gadsden-Hayton.


Carole Lévesque is professor in environmental design and director of the École de design, UQAM, where she teaches the theory, critique and practice of design. Perception of derelict places and drawing are part of her research practice, as seen in her latest book Places of the Everyday. Finding Room in Beirut (Punctum Books, 2019) and exhibition La précision du vague (Centre de design, 2019). 

Thomas-Bernard Kenniff is professor in environmental design and director of graduate programs at the École de design, UQAM. His work has addressed uncertainty and dialogue as design paradigms, as well as the political implications of drawing. He cofounded the Bureau d’étude de pratiques indisciplinées with Carole Lévesque in 2016 and coedited Urban Inventories (BéPI, 2021). He holds a PhD from the Bartlett School of Architecture.

Marili de Weerdt was born and is currently situated in Pretoria, South Africa. As an artist-researcher they are interested in the intersection between the process of making, cultivation, indigenous botany and ecological being. de Weerdt values the explorative, tacit, and experimental actions of practice-led research and sharing the experience of collaborative making.

Susan Turcot is an artist and Professor of drawing at the University of Québec in Montreal presently researching collaborative and meaning-making processes with plants and their indicating messages.

Rachel Gadsden-Hayton is a British visual and performance artist, researcher and disability activist who exhibits and performs nationally and internationally. Expressionist in approach, she creates solo exhibitions, performances and collaborative social engagement art projects with disabled, vulnerable, and mainstream individuals and communities, through drawing painting, performance, digital film, with the object of developing cross-cultural dialogues considering universal notions of humanity. Rachel was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from London South Bank University, 2016, and in July 2021 she gained a studentship to undertake PhD doctorial research (by practice) at Loughborough

Other events in the series include:
‘Affect and Agency’ 19th April 2023
‘Sound and Motion’ 17th May 2023
‘Spaces of Care’ 7th June 2023

From the Vice-Chancellor - January 2023

February 16, 2023 Nick Jennings

In my first newsletter of 2023: Funding for our DIGILabs initiative, the outcomes of the Staff Survey, launch of the Policy Unit, the challenges still faced by LGBT+ people, the inaugural King’s New Year Honours, and the UK Young Academy.

DIGILabs funding award 

Just before Christmas, the Office for Students, the independent regulator of higher education in England, announced its allocation of a multi-million pound funding pot to support investment in new buildings, facilities and equipment. I was delighted that Loughborough is to receive £5.8m, the maximum amount possible through this process, for our DIGILabs bid. Thank you to Professor Rachel Thomson for leading the bid, and to all those involved in its preparation.

The new suite of DIGILabs will enable our students to develop the skills and knowledge to become future-fit for the world of work where digital skills, data analytics, virtual and augmented reality play a key part. The four labs – focused on extended reality learning; 3D data capture and visualisation; robotics; and simulation, modelling and artificial intelligence – will be based in refurbished existing spaces across the campus.

The development of the DIGILabs, which is part of our strategic aim and the emerging core plan for Education and Student Experience, will transform our teaching over the next few years, ensuring that our students and graduates are able to become familiar with the latest technologies and new ways of learning and working.

I look forward to watching the labs’ development and seeing how both our staff and students are able to utilise these new technologies to enhance their teaching and learning and develop new ideas.

Staff experience survey

Towards the end of last year we ran a staff survey to help us gain a better understanding of your experience at Loughborough. The survey covered a number of key areas, such as wellbeing, recognition, leadership, EDI (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) and overall job satisfaction. We had a response rate of 66%, which was really pleasing. Thank you to all those who took the time to complete the survey and give us your feedback.

We have now received the results from People Insight, the external consultancy that managed the survey on our behalf. As well as providing us with a picture of Loughborough, we’ve also been able to benchmark our results on some of the questions against 38 other UK universities, providing us with insight into how our experience compares to other institutions.   

The results are broadly encouraging, particularly when we compare our data with the other universities’ results in the benchmark group. The overall engagement score for Loughborough, which measures how engaged staff feel with the University, is 75%, which is slightly higher than the sector benchmark of 73%. This suggests that you feel trusted to get on with your job, that you are clear about how your work contributes to the University’s success, and that you care about the future of the University. Your feedback also shows, overwhelmingly, that you think your colleagues and the collaboration between teams and individuals are the best things about working here.

It is also clear that there are areas where further work is needed – these include reward and recognition, and support for your wellbeing.

The School Deans and Professional Services Directors will be sharing the results of the survey over the coming month and we’ll be developing a set of actions, both at University and at School and Service levels, to address the feedback you’ve shared. I will provide updates over the coming months.

On a final note, I’m delighted to confirm that 2,327 trees have been planted a result of this survey through a partnership with Eden Rainforest Projects. Thank you again for taking the time to complete the survey. Your feedback will help us continue to develop and improve our employee experience.

Policy unit launch

Universities are increasingly being asked to show the impact of their research; what might change as a result of the work and how it could benefit society. There are many types of impact, one of which being how research can influence and even bring about change in regional and national policy or legislation.

This month, the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) published a new report, for which I wrote the foreword, looking at the interaction between policymakers and researchers. Based on interviews with former Ministers, special advisers and officials, the report considers common errors and how researchers and policymakers can work together more effectively.

We have some excellent examples of how Loughborough’s research is influencing national policy. The work of our Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP) on the Minimum Income Standard, for example, has informed the Scottish Government’s spending to reduce fuel poverty; and research by academics in the School of Design and Creative Arts into the blind spots caused by vehicle design features has underpinned the five-star rating scheme adopted as part of Transport for London’s Vision Zero agenda to eradicate deaths and serious injuries from the capital’s streets.

To help us to augment, better coordinate and amplify our engagement with those involved in policy and legislation development we have established the University Policy Unit. The Unit will support our researchers and academics in engaging with key opinion formers, such as politicians and their advisors, think tanks, research institutes, advocacy groups and trade associations. As well as internal events and support activities, the Unit will be running round-tables and other briefing sessions with senior policy stakeholders, using Loughborough research to showcase the policy impact of our work and to influence political debate. This short video from Professor Dan Parsons, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, explains a little more.

I know some of you will be used to engaging with policymakers and influencers; for others this will be a new area to explore. The Unit’s website has a wealth of resources to guide you, please do take a look; and if you would like to discuss how your work might be able to influence policy and government thinking, don’t hesitate to contact the Policy Unit team –

Supporting the LGBT+ community

Just before the Christmas vacation I posted a blog on our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion site to reflect on the challenges still faced by the LGBT+ communities. I was prompted to write following this winter’s Fifa World Cup, with tournament host Qatar being widely criticised over its oppressive laws and treatment of LGBT+ people.

However, in my blog I also reflect on the hostility closer to home. The creation of a rainbow installation on our Loughborough campus, for instance, prompted a flurry of hurtful comments on social media, and we have had anti-LGBT+ vandalism on our campus, and incidents of anti-LGBT+ targeted bullying within our student community. 

As I said in my blog, this is completely unacceptable. Everyone is welcome here and everyone should be valued and accepted. Such inclusion and belonging are necessary to achieve our ambitions as an institution and to create a vibrant University community.

At the end of my blog I’ve provided links to some of the reading that has helped me as I try to better understand the challenges faced by LGBT+ people. I’d encourage you all to take a look through them. Learning makes us all better, and we must all continue to educate ourselves.

King’s New Year’s Honours

National and international honours and awards mark people’s outstanding achievements and the contributions they make to society or their field of work. In the first of the New Year Honours from King Charles III, I was delighted to see that alumni and others from the Loughborough community had been recognised.

Alumna Jade Clarke was awarded an MBE for services to netball. Jade has made 195 appearances for England, making her the most-capped netball player in the country’s history. She was part of the historic team to win Gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia which also secured the side a prestigious Team of the Year award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards.

Loughborough athlete Ellen White also received an MBE for services to association football. Ellen is England Women’s top goal scorer having scored 52 goals for her country and helped the Lionesses secure victory as European champions in July 2022.

Alumna Hilary Marshall, the former Treasurer of the Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians, was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to libraries.

Paul Taylor, FREng, and Professor David Price, who are both Lay Members of University Council, the senior governing body of the University, were named Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for public service and OBE for services to science and to research respectively. Until recently, Paul was a Science and Technology Adviser for the Ministry of Defence. David recently stepped down as Vice-Provost (Research, Innovation and Global Engagement) at University College London, having held the position for 15 years.

Dr Martin Read CBE, who received an honorary degree from Loughborough in 2000, was awarded a Knighthood for his services to industry and for public and voluntary service. Martin is the Chair of Wincanton plc and the UK Government’s Senior Salaries Review Body.

Not only do such awards bring honour to the recipients, they also bring reflected prestige to the University and help to raise our reputation. I am keen that we maximise opportunities to nominate Loughborough-linked people for key national and international awards. If you think someone would be deserving of such recognition, please email Alison Barlow or Ally McDonald Alonso

UK Young Academy

This month it was announced that four Loughborough academics were among the founding members of the new UK Young Academy – a network of early career researchers and professionals established to help tackle local and global issues and promote meaningful change.

Part of the global Young Academy movement, the UK Young Academy is a collaborative endeavour involving some of the country’s most prestigious national organisations including the Academy of Medical Sciences, the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society.

Dr Ana Blanco Alvarez (Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering), Dr Anthony Kevins (Social Sciences and Humanities), Dr Kinga Morsanyi (Science) and Dr Dominic Willmott (Social Sciences and Humanities) will have the opportunity to help shape the strategy and focus of this new organisation, based on areas that matter to them. They will be able to inform local and global policy discussions and find innovative solutions to the challenges facing societies now and in the future.

Membership of the UK Young Academy is a real honour, both for those directly involved and for the University. With four appointments, we can proudly say that Loughborough is now home to more UK Young Academy members than any other university.

The application process was extremely rigorous and I would like to thank all those involved in the delivery of the intensive mentoring and training programme for those who wished to make an application. It is wonderful to see the quality of our staff recognised in this way, and I am sure you will join me in congratulating them all on their selection to this notable new Academy.

Pride and Allyship: The Legacy of LGBT+ History on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

February 16, 2023 Stevie Ashurst

“I grew up in Northern Ireland. I know all about what happens when people don’t talk to each other. That’s what I’ve never understood: what’s the point of supporting gay rights but nobody’s else’s rights, you know? Or worker’s rights but not women’s rights? It’s… I don’t know, illogical”.

(Pride, 2014)

As I reflect on this year’s theme for LGBT+ history month ‘Behind the Lens’, it is these powerful words from the character Mark Ashton in the 2014 film Pride that come to mind. Pride is a film that gives a platform to a small but significant part of LGBT+ history, the impact of which we are still benefitting from today. Written by Stephen Beresford and directed by Matthew Warchus, Pride tells the true story of the group LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) and their fight to help Welsh miners during the industrial action of 1984-5. Co-founded by Ashton, LGSM recognised that— like the LGBT+ community— miners were also experiencing hostility, prejudice, and sometimes violence at the hands of the police, government, and media. Beresford shows the immense resilience and determination of this group who, despite being on the sharp end of homophobia from some of the mining community in this film, cling to the strands that connect the two communities together to raise thousands of pounds in support of those who are sacrificing their wages and standing proud on the picket line.

Watching this in 2023, I am reminded how film (or any art form for that matter) can bring into relief the pertinence of historical moments to the here and now, making us sit up and understand the present with greater clarity. For me, Pride not onlyharnesses the emotional power of storytelling to connect us to our past, but also to show the necessity of connecting with those who may seem entirely different from us. It serves to highlight how the LGBT+ movement is historically and ideologically grounded in the idea of allyship and solidarity. While the LGBT+ acronym can sometimes feel a bit of a tongue twister to say out loud, what that acronym highlights is the coming together of many different and diverse identity groups towards a common cause of inclusion, representation, and equity. If you are a member of the LGBT+ community, I imagine you may feel this as deeply as I do. Because what I have felt while helping to organise LGBT+ history month is that I am doing so from the position of an active ally as much as I am from the perspective of a gay woman. I am a person who has benefitted from the support and allyship of others throughout history. Those who have advocated to give me an equality that I am determined to pass on, particularly to my trans and non-binary friends who often experience the same prejudice and vitriol that the miners received in the 1980s.

Standing on UCU’s picket line outside the main gates of campus, I am struck by how deeply the film Pride resonates with my own experiences championing Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) at Loughborough University. The picket, for me, offers an opportunity to connect with others. Those who are like me. Those who are not like me. It is a place where I am determined to engage people, no matter what that engagement might look like. The supportive beep of a car horn. An apprehensive smile from a student, slightly unsure of how they should participate. The determination of some colleagues to look away no matter how friendly I am trying to be. Even the disgruntled cry ‘at least you have a job!’. I stand with colleagues who actively champion LGBT+ rights, women’s rights, and Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic rights in the workplace (for both students and staff). My team and I do this in my main role within the Student Success Academy. I work with colleagues to advocate for change and representation in my role as events lead in the LGBT+ staff network. And I stand with my fellow members of Loughborough UCU to achieve the same. Allyship underpins it all.

Yet here I stand during LGBT+ history month, missing the events I have spent months organising, watching colleagues awkwardly drive past me on the picket. I can’t help but feel a disquiet. A sense that despite efforts to avoid working in “illogical” silos, my various roles at Loughborough University are disconnected from one another. Beresford’s words echo through my mind:

“I know all about what happens when people don’t talk to each other. That’s what I’ve never understood: what’s the point of supporting gay rights but nobody’s else’s rights, you know? Or worker’s rights but not women’s rights? It’s… I don’t know, illogical.”

Pride offers a slightly more heroic version of what being on a picket line can feel like (it is mostly cold, chapped hands holding flyers and colleagues jumping from leg-to-leg trying to stay warm). But it captures a moment in history that is so crucial for the LGBT+ community. Because while the national union of miners ultimately lost their fight against Thatcher’s policies and Mark Ashton tragically lost his fight against HIV (dying at the age of just 26), the ending of this film reveals a massive victory for allyship in the EDI movement. The final moving scenes of Pride show how it was LGSM’s allyship of Welsh miners in the 1980s that lead to the inclusion of gay and lesbian rights on the labour party programme, due in part to a large vote from the nation union of miners.

So this history month, I am taking the opportunity of using TV and film as a way to remind me of how far we have come, how far we have to go, and how necessary it is to come together to defend that which was so hard fought for. And also to keep in mind the simple but warm words of the character Dai: “when you’re in a battle against an enemy so much bigger, so much stronger than you, well to find out you had a friend you never knew existed, well that’s the best feeling in the world”.


Pride. 2014. [Film]. Matthew Warchus. dir. United Kingdom: BBC films.

What actually happens to our waste after it leaves our University?

What actually happens to our waste after it leaves our University?

February 15, 2023 Rhiannon Brown

Did you know your sandwich packaging can be used to generate energy? 

Non-recyclable waste is processed by Enva and sold to other companies to generate heat and power in buildings. But how exactly does Enva do this? 

The first stage is to sort through the materials collected in the non-recyclable waste, separating cardboard, timber, and electrical waste. Enva can be even more efficient with their energy recovery for these products.  

This waste is then shredded. It is placed through a trommel, a machine designed to separate those materials by size whilst removing fines. Fines are waste that has been reduced to a very fine, soil or sand consistency. These are too small for any energy recovery.  

Once through the trommel, metals will be removed by an over-band magnet, these metals will be used for further and more sustainable resource recovery.  

With materials sorted and ready to go, bailing and wrapping commences and the finished bails of fuel are transported across to recovery facilities in the U.K and in Europe This fuel is then used to heat homes and small businesses. 

Have you ever wondered what happens to your recyclable waste? 

Enva, who have been working as a sustainable waste management provider in Nottingham for over a decade, have collaborated with us to explain to us exactly what happens.  

Our University teams take your waste to the closest outdoor bin compound. Enva then collects our recycling early in the morning and transports it to one of their local sites in Nottingham and Leicester. 

There your waste is placed through a “hopper” feed, this equipment is designed to aid the sorting of materials and feed them into the first manual segregation step, pickers.  

Enva’s manual pickers begin the segregation process by sorting recyclable materials and removing anything that would be dangerous to the facility such as batteries.  

Waste is placed through a “Ballistic separator” to separate 2D and 3D material, in theory separating metals and plastics from paper and card as well as removing glass from the process entirely. Further Manual Picking takes place on both 2D and 3D waste streams to ensure complete segregation. 

From there, the metals are removed with an over band and eddy current magnet, and all recyclable waste types are fed into an automatic bailer. This machine cubes the waste for transportation to a recycling materials facility such as a paper mill where they can treat the waste to be sent back out onto the market. 

Loughborough University Visit to Enva:

On 8th February 2023, I took a group of student Sustainability Ambassadors from Loughborough University to Enva on Colwick Industrial Estate in Nottingham for a site tour.

I asked the students to write a few sentences to reflect on their experience…

Gavin Bath: “I found the Enva site tour really eye-opening and informative, when we throw away waste it’s all too easy to think that it is transported to a different galaxy and that it just disappears! The trip to Enva really showed me the extent of waste that is produced by just one area and how effective recycling can be. We need to make sure that we keep on recycling in order to do our bit to make the world greener.”

Gayatri Achari: “I got the chance to see how the general waste from cities are managed at Enva. The segregation process for each type of waste and the effort needed was shown. I can’t emphasize enough on the size of the mountains of waste collected at this site. It was eye-opening to witness the energy and human effort required for this segregation and is time consuming. With this tour, I have realised we could start with segregating the type of waste we generate as bare minimum so that the energy and time for waste management can also be efficient.”

Derek Amoakwao: The visit to Enva was very insightful, in a sense that we got a clearer picture of where exactly our waste ended up and pretty much re emphasized the need to manage /waste properly. It is interesting to note that Refuse derived fuel (RDF) which is produced from the bio degradable materials such as plastics is used to produce energy for communal/ council heating systems, construction of kilns and at recovery facilities in production of energy.

Jamie Wilks: Visiting the Enva recycling centre was an interesting experience for the following reasons. Firstly, to see where all the University waste is transported to and to quantify how much waste the university produces. Also, learning that 97% of Loughborough University’s waste is recycled in some form. Additionally, the process of how the waste is separated between 2D and 3D waste by using magnets and an air gun. Finally, I found it interesting that large percentages of the waste is shipped to Sweden or France to be used as fuel. This is because the UK does not have the capacity to burn this form of waste for energy at this time.

So, what can you do?

Take a look at our A-Z recycling list to check how to correctly dispose of any item!

Make sure to familiarise yourself with where the British Heart Foundation banks are on campus. You can donate your items there for re-use, which comes above recycle within the waste hierarchy (as shown below).

As you can see on the waste hierarchy, prevention is the best and most preferable option! One easy way that you can prevent waste is to take part in our Ditch the Disposables campaign, and get yourself a reusable coffee cup to use on campus. The ‘Loughborough Cups’ are now back in stock with a new design throughout our campus retail stores, and they get you a 25p discount when you use them too!

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 | 13 February

February 13, 2023 Jemima Biodun-Bello


Healthy Eating on a Budget Webinar

15 February 2023, 1pm, Online  

This positive and interactive workshop leaves no stone unturned, inspiring attendees to try new approaches to meal planning, ingredient choices and food preparation

Find out more on the events page

Men’s Health Session

15 February 2023, 2pm, Stewart Mason

This event is provided by a Consultant Urologist who works across the Leicestershire Hospitals. Urologists diagnose and treat disorders of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, prostate and male reproductive organs.

Find out more on the events page

Ace your interviews

15 February 2023, 6:15pm, Brockington Building

Gain specialised information by the Black Talent Programme on everything related to interviews. Free pizza for all attendees!

Find out more on the events page


Queer Activism Workshop

13 February 2023, 6pm, LSU

Join the LGBT+ Student Association Committee for a workshop on the history of queer activism, and how to build effective strategies for activism. 

Find out more on the events page

Film Screening – ‘Bros’

16 February 2023, 7pm, Cope Auditorium

Two men with commitment problems attempt a relationship. (IMDB, 2022).

Find out more on the events page

LSU Events

Enterprise Reloaded 

15 February 2023, 6:15pm, The Lounge

A chance for networking, exclusive event information and a fun scavenger hunt with prizes to be won too.

Find out more on the events page

International Day

16 February 2023, 10am, Students’ Union

Come join us at our International Day event on Saturday, February 16th and explore the cultures of the world! This event will be a great way to learn and appreciate the diversity that our incredible university offers.

Find out more on the events page

Cervical awareness from a race equity perspective 

February 9, 2023 Sadie Gration
Image: Courtesy of Getty Images

My name is Denise Coles and I am an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Officer with race specialism. I have worked in and taught health and social care for over 20 years, and I am deeply interested in health disparities, wellbeing, and outcomes for groups from marginalised backgrounds. These groups are over-represented yet often do not receive interventions to meet their needs.  

In this blog, I will be sharing my opinions and research on cervical screening uptake amongst racialised minority groups and why this uptake is lower in comparison to white counterparts. 


All women and people with a cervix between the ages of 25-64 are recommended to go for regular cervical screening. Cervical screening (a smear test) checks the health of the cervix and is a test to prevent cancer.However, of all the people eligible for screening, approximately 1/5 of those have never been screened. Ethnicity is associated with lower attendance for cervical screening, and the research exploring reasons for this is minimal, though it does indicate a mistrust in the health system due to previous negative experiences. 

Barriers to screening  

To address these questions, it is important to focus attention on the lives and lived experiences of people of racialised minority groups and how these experiences are borne out in the health system. A system that frequently does not address the needs of these groups. For example the disproportionate Covid-19 deaths of health care staff from racialised minority groups, the fact that black women are five times more likely to die in childbirth, or the lack of mental health service provision for transgender and non-binary black and minority ethnic people. 

Below is an outline of some of the barriers that have been identified with lower uptake of screening amongst racialised minority groups: 

  • Communication is not tailored to audiences from different cultural backgrounds

 Health messaging about cervical screening needs to consider the cultural context and norms of the target audiences, and where they may prevent screening at certain times eg  awareness of Eid, Nine Nights and other cultural events can help with promoting and offering alternative testing times amongst culturally diverse groups. 

  • Fear 

This could be fear of the test result or fear of being labelled irresponsible for not attending previous screenings. 

  • Language barriers 

Information about testing has not been communicated in the service user’s language, or there is limited access to multilingual staff who can explain the procedure in the person’s first language.  

  • Embarrassment 

For some service users, the procedure is seen as embarrassing due to a variety of reasons including body shape, a stranger seeing private parts or the stigma that testing will be associated with loose sexual behaviours resulting in avoidance of testing. 

  • Lack of knowledge/awareness 

This can be related to key terms such as screening, smear, and HPV not being understood. 

  • Lack of Trust 

Negative experiences within healthcare settings can result in avoidance of interacting with healthcare professionals. 

When barriers are viewed in a culturally ethnic-specific context, it is possible to design culturally sensitive interventions to address lower uptake rates of cervical screening in racialised minority groups. Supportive, approachable care where information is clear and culturally relevant allows for ease of navigating the system. The above barriers transcend all racialised minority groups. However, lower uptake of testing is more pronounced in groups from lower socio-economic backgrounds and fewer years of formal schooling. So, this points to greater investment in training professionals on how to work positively with groups where attendance to screening appointments is lower and how to raise awareness and understanding of cervical screening and cervical cancer.  

Also, where possible I would advise people in the community to join the GP surgery advisory board where you can use knowledge and understanding of cervical screening and racialised minority groups to inform patient care. 

Further information 

If you would like to know more about race ethnicity and smear testing or race ethnicity and health outcomes, some online resources for further reading have been provided below.

This Week at Loughborough | 6 February

February 6, 2023 Jemima Biodun-Bello


Get an Alumni mentor of black heritage with the Black Talent Programme

8 February 2023, 1:30pm, Brockington Building  

This is an information session on our Alumni Mentoring Programme open to all first year students from Black African, Black Caribbean or Mixed African/ Caribbean students. 

Find out more on the events page

Psychology Dissertation Retreat

8 February 2023, 12pm, Burleigh Court

Want to get on top of your Psychology dissertation? Spend the afternoon focusing solely on the skills and techniques you need to make progress with your undergraduate research project.

Find out more on the events page

Grime Scene Investigation

9 February 2023, 12pm, EHB

A Grime Scene Investigation is run to figure out exactly how much of our waste is being correctly disposed of. The buildings whose waste we will be looking at this session will be Towers (Hall), James France (Teaching) and Sir David Wallace (Sport).

Find out more on the events page

Virtual Reality Project – Walk, Talk and Pizza!

10 February 2023, 12:30pm, Martin Hall

Find out how you can get involved in Loughborough University’s first virtual reality collaborative project. LU Arts is looking for students to get involved in a Virtual Reality (VR) project with leading dance and technology organisation Displace Studio.

Find out more on the events page


LGBT+ History Month Pub Quiz

7 February 2023, 5:30pm, JCs

Come along to Loughborough University’s LGBT+ history month pub quiz for a chance to put your knowledge of LGBT+ TV and film history to the test!

Find out more on the events page

LGBT+ History Month Talk: Marco Pino

8 February 2023, 12pm, Online

Join this talk to hear more about what LGBT+ research activity is happening here at Loughborough University and to reflect upon what it is like teaching and researching in this space as a Loughborough citizen.

Find out more on the events page

LGBT+ Student Association Re-Meet & Greet

8 February 2023, 6pm, The Treehouse

Meet the LSU LGBT+ Student Association Committee, find out what the Association has planned for the remainder of the academic year, and socialise with other attendees.

Find out more on the events page

LGBT+ Association and Leicester Wildecats Training Session

9 February 2023, 7:30pm, PEC Rubber Crumb

Join the LGBT+ Student Association for a free taster session with Leicester-based inclusive football club, Leicester Wildecats. Open to all skill levels and abilities.

Find out more on the events page

HIV Testing Day

10 February 2023, 10am, The Treehouse

Throughout the day, the LGBT+ Student Association will be running free, rapid HIV testing available to all students and staff. This is in collaboration with Trade Sexual Health, Leicestershire’s LGBT+ sexual health charity.

Find out more on the events page


11 February 2023, 10:30pm, The Treehouse

Calling all LGBT+ students and allies: are you coming OUT? Loughborough’s ultimate celebration of all things queer, right here at LSU!

Find out more on the events page

LSU Events

Student Volunteer Week 2023

6 – 12 February 2023 

Fancy trying something new during Semester 2? Why not get involved with LSU Action and see what volunteering is all about. 

Find out more on the events page

Give it a Go! Week

6 – 18 February 2023

Try out something new in Semester 2! Give different societies a go and maybe find a new community. 

Find out more on the events page

Switch on to Stand Out – Information Evening 

9 February 2023, 6pm, Student’s Union

Switch on stand out is our annual social media and consulting program were participants are trained in social media and business consulting by a professional consultant.

Find out more on the events page

Flix Film Screening – ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’ 

9 February 2023, 7pm, Cope Auditorium 

Blacksmith Will Turner teams up with eccentric pirate “Captain” Jack Sparrow to save his love, the governor’s daughter, from Jack’s former pirate allies, who are now undead. (IMDB, 2022)

Find out more on the events page

<strong>My journey as an Administrative Assistant on placement at Loughborough University</strong> 

My journey as an Administrative Assistant on placement at Loughborough University 

February 3, 2023 Guest Blogger

My name is Nicole. I’m an International Business student and I am currently on placement at Loughborough University as the Administrative Assistant for the Planning team within the Vice Chancellor’s Office. 

As an international student, I was dreading the thought of moving my personal belongings to a different city. Ideally, I wanted a placement in Loughborough to remain close to my friends and avoid the expensive relocation costs.  

I stumbled across the Administrative Assistant job advert on the University’s social media channels and was thrilled that I may have a chance to stay in Loughborough. I was excited by the prospect of learning more about governance and capital projects in higher education and gaining a different perspective on the University as a staff member rather than as a student.  

I customised my CV, wrote my cover letter and sent it in a couple days before the deadline. I heard back after a week; I had an interview! I was so excited; I messaged my parents and began to prepare. The recruitment process was quite straightforward: an application form, a task, and an interview. It was a breath of fresh air compared to the numerous interviews and assessment centres students do for other placements. 

The interview was based in Hazlerigg, one of the buildings next to the fountain on campus. As a student, I had passed it and always wondered what was inside. I never thought I might be working in it! After a very nerve racking two hours, I left the interview room feeling welcomed, pleased with myself, and excited – I had a good feeling about it as the interview felt like a natural conversation rather than a series of intimidating questions. Two days later, I was woken up by my phone, “Hi Nicole, I would like to congratulate you on your interview. We are offering you the role!” 

I was very nervous on the first day. I was introduced to the team, allocated a desk and a laptop, and talked through my everyday responsibilities. Starting my placement in August was very relaxing as I had time to settle into the job and integrate myself into the team while campus was fairly quiet.  

I am now halfway through my placement and the pace has picked up. I have my regular daily activities such as raising purchase orders, updating the holiday calendar, recording absences, inbox tracking, helping with the University HR process, and rescheduling meetings (some meetings are scheduled a year in advance!). However, I did not realise I would be fortunate enough to be involved in projects happening at the University. I have worked with Finance, Organisational Development, and the Human Resources team to name a few.  

In addition, the University offers an intern development programme with monthly meetings with the other interns working across the University to network and develop transferable skills. In doing so, I have met a diverse range of people from different Departments, Schools, Services, where I have had the chance to engage and discover more about what happens in the institution I study at.  

Reflecting on the past six months, I would not have done anything differently. This placement has taught me much about myself and the 9-5 life. It has taught me an Administrative Assistant is a unique job alternating with several responsibilities and opportunities. I was able to discover and explore various departments, and organise and facilitate events, liaise with senior members, and learn the importance and significance of governance in higher education. As a student at Loughborough University, I consider myself incredibly lucky to be learning all these transferable skills at a highly reputable and prestigious institution while being surrounded by a safe, encouraging, and positive environment.  

I have learned to trust my instincts and ask for help when I feel unsure about a task.  I have met people who have taught me the importance of collaborative work and relying on one another for help. I am sad to be leaving the team at the end of my placement, but I am excited for the next Administrative Assistant to have the opportunity of acquiring new abilities while being part of a wonderful team and institution.   

For more information on how to apply as an Administrative Assistant at Loughborough University, please visit Target Connect. For any questions, please contact me at The closing date is Tuesday 14th February 2023. 

Good luck!  

<strong>Nixon, JFK, and the American Century </strong>

Nixon, JFK, and the American Century 

February 3, 2023 Peter Yeandle

by Tomasz Cendrowski

American Presidential elections are a fascinating topic. Their scale, depth, intrigue and nuance can be overwhelming. I very much enjoyed Dr Matt Adams’ American Century module which I took during my second year at university. It is one of our department’s most popular modules, and rightly so. It teaches students about common themes in twentieth-century American history, but personally I found the 1960 Presidential Election to be particularly interesting.

Who were the candidates?

This significant election was fought between Richard Nixon and John F Kennedy. Nixon and Kennedy shaped political discourse even before either became president (Kennedy in 1960, Nixon in 1968). As far as politicians go, Nixon and Kennedy were both giants of the twentieth century. Nixon had gained national fame in Congress due to his successful persecution of a Soviet spy Alger Hiss and in 1952 was chosen by Eisenhower as his running mate. Kennedy, known for his charm and affluence, had a successful Senate career and was a Pulitzer Prize winning author (for Profiles in Courage, 1957).His bid to join the Democratic presidential ticket in 1956 was unsuccessful, however he further learnt how to best handle and exploit media coverage.

In fact, Nixon and JFK were remarkably similar. Nixon was only four years older than Kennedy; both were Second World War Pacific front veterans; and both were elected to the House of Representatives in 1946. They served on the same House Committee, became close friends, and when Nixon campaigned to become a Senator in 1950 Kennedy sent him a sizeable monetary donation. This was a friendship that overcame party politics and between 1952 and 1960 Nixon and Kennedy consistently brushed shoulders as their respective offices in the Capitol faced one another in the hallway. 

Yet this friendship was not to last. Nixon and Kennedy secured their respective party’s presidential nomination in 1960; this was much easier for Nixon than Kennedy, whose nomination story is fascinating on its own. Quickly, their relationship became cold and formal and much more akin to a rivalry. Understandably, when the man opposite your office is also trying to become the President of the United States, social interaction becomes awkward. 

Analysing the result

It was a very close race; Kennedy received a 0.17 percent higher popular vote nationwide and in key states the margin was in the thousands of votes. Upon initial research, I got the impression that it was an election Nixon should not have lost; the past two Presidential elections had been Republican landslides. This was a fair if a very simplistic observation; for instance, other landslide victories like 1928 or 1964 were followed by a reversal in fortune for the incumbent party. There were many factors but two stand out in their contribution to Nixon’s loss. 

The most famous factor is the first presidential debate. Nixon appeared to have lost the debate due to his poor appearance owing to a lack of make-up, bad perspiration, and discomfort from a painful knee infection. It is fascinating if somewhat discouraging that such small factors can shape a voter’s view of who deserves to be president. Yet this showed how well JFK had learnt to adapt to the new media-dominated environment. Whilst Kennedy’s rich father Joseph influenced news coverage of his son, Kennedy was more than willing to play to the journalist’s need for headlines. The Kennedy family was a favourite of tabloids; Kennedy was portrayed as a devoted husband and his infidelity concealed. Despite Nixon having some media loyalists, most journalists and editors in the country hoped for Nixon to lose and the Vice President was equally hostile in return.

Secondly, Kennedy turned his religion into an advantage. Kennedy overcame anti-Catholic prejudice by famously declaring that “I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for president who also happens to be a Catholic” which allowed him to reap large proportions of both Catholic and Protestant votes. 

The lasting significance and legacy of the 1960 election

Arguably, the real importance of the 1960 election lies in its consequences. It cemented the existence of the JFK and “Camelot” mythology; a youthful outsider politician winning against a myriad of party dignitaries to then take America into the exciting new decade with energetic leadership, only to be struck down tragically by an assassin’s bullets. Due to this, JFK has become a martyr for various causes in America, as did other figures assassinated in the 60s; Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, or Kennedy’s brother Robert. 

But for Nixon the loss of the election and the assassination of his one-time close friend were tragedies also; JFK consulted Nixon on foreign policy matters during his presidency and a semblance of a partnership was restored. Upon hearing of Kennedy’s assassination, Nixon was in disbelief and immediately comforted Jackie Kennedy. Nixon could not help think if he had won the 1960 election, then he would have been assassinated instead. Simultaneously, the loss of the election in 1960 in such a close manner can be interpreted as the start of Nixon’s turn towards becoming a much more cynical and Machiavellian politician, a path eventually leading to the drama of Watergate and the only resignation of a president in American history. 

Surely, each election could be argued to be very significant. However, what the American Century module communicated very effectively and what was confirmed by my research was the watershed nature of the 1960 election which preceded the fissure of American society during the 1960s. It was a very close race between two ambitious politicians, but was not moralised as a battle between good and evil. During my ongoing dissertation research on Nixon’s second term in office, I can’t help but return in my thoughts to this moment in American history as a truly underestimated watershed.  


I will graduate from Loughborough University in 2023 with a Politics and History degree. I’ve always had a passion for history, starting with military history and European history, but more recently I have become very interested in modern American political history. In 2022, I organised a local charity event for refugees from Ukraine. I was born in Poland but have lived in England since 2014.

Recommended Further Readings

  • Dallek, Robert, John F. Kennedy: An Unfinished Life 1917-1963. London: Penguin Books, 2013.
  • Farrell, John A. Richard Nixon: The Life. London: Scribe, 2018.
  • Gellman, Irwin F. Campaign of the Century: Kennedy, Nixon, and the Election of 1960. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press 2021.
  • Hellmann, John. The Kennedy Obsession. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.
  • Matthews, Christopher. Kennedy & Nixon. New York: Touchstone, 1996.
  • Nixon, Richard. RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon. New York: Touchstone, 1990.
  • Thomas, Evan. Being Nixon: A Man Divided. New York: Random House, 2015.

Photo by History in HD on Unsplash

This Week at Loughborough | 30 January

January 30, 2023 Jemima Biodun-Bello


Sustainability Coffee and Chat

1 February 2023, 11am, Bridgeman Building  

Join us for a coffee and a chat about any ideas, desires, and questions related to sustainability that you may have. Meet the sustainability team and get a coffee from us, make sure you bring a reusable coffee cup to help Ditch the Disposables.

Find out more on the events page

Meet Apprentice Finalist Bianca Miller-Cole

2 February 2023, 6:30pm, Online  

Bianca Miller is an award-winning Entrepreneur, Personal Brand Expert and Forbes 30 Under 30. Join her and hear her journey as a self-made businessperson, how she built and grew her personal brand through what she calls the entrepreneurial mindset. 

Find out more on the events page


LGBT+ History Month Launch Social

1 February 2023, 5pm, Public and Plants 

The LGBT + Staff Network at Loughborough University invite staff, students, alumni, and local community leaders to the launch of LGBT+ History Month, which will be running throughout February to celebrate this year’s theme: ‘Behind the Lens’. 

Find out more on the events page

LSU Events

Refreshers: Karaoke

1 February 2023, 6pm, The Lounge

Show off your singing skills (good or bad!) and have some fun as you belt out your favourite songs and cheesy hits. 

Find out more on the events page

Refreshers: Dance Workshop

2 February 2023, 11am, The Basement

Whether you’re a beginner, a pro, or just looking to have some fun during refreshers week, this workshop is ideal for you!  Come and join us for a great time and learn some new moves along the way! 

Find out more on the events page

Thinking of Running Sessions

2 February 2023, 6:30pm, Online

Are you interested in running for an executive position in our upcoming elections? Attend one of our ‘Thinking of Running’ sessions to find out exactly what the role of student executive entails and what it is like to work at Loughborough Students’ Union.  

Find out more on the events page

Refreshers: Vintage Sale

3 February 2023, 10am, The Basement

Bringing sustainable fashion to the forefront with their wide selection of pre-loved vintage clothing, we are so excited to see them back here at LSU! Whether you’re looking for something unique or something timeless, you’ll be sure to find a gem here! 

Find out more on the events page

Refreshers: Dance Workshop

3 February 2023, 11am, The Treehouse 

Whether you’re a beginner, a pro, or just looking to have some fun during refreshers week, this workshop is ideal for you!  Come and join us for a great time and learn some new moves along the way! 

Find out more on the events page

Thinking of Running Sessions

3 February 2023, 6:30pm, Council Chamber 

Are you interested in running for an executive position in our upcoming elections? Attend one of our ‘Thinking of Running’ sessions to find out exactly what the role of student executive entails and what it is like to work at Loughborough Students’ Union.  

Find out more on the events page

<strong>Don’t let your disability hold you back!</strong>

Don’t let your disability hold you back!

January 30, 2023 Guest Blogger

My name is Erin (she/her), and I am a second-year psychology student at Loughborough University. Sometimes I can’t even believe that I can say those words! 

From seeing all the amazing opportunities my sister had been given through studying at Loughborough, I knew that this was where I wanted to come to complete my degree in the subject that I love. However, after it was suggested that I stay at home for university because of my mental health conditions, everything I had been working towards was falling apart right in front of me. Why did people question my ability to do the one thing I knew I wanted to do? 

I didn’t want to let my mental health conditions win. I had worked so hard to get to where I was, and I wasn’t ready to give up that easily. 

Any doubts that I had in my mind about managing my mental health conditions, dyslexia and long covid at university were gone as soon as my place in Loughborough University was confirmed. The Student Wellbeing and Inclusion team (SWAI) have been with me every step of the way and I genuinely cannot thank them enough. That’s not to say that I haven’t faced any barriers whilst studying, because I definitely have! But I have been faced with nothing but support and encouragement from the university, just confirming to me that my decision to come to Loughborough was one of the best decisions I have ever made. 

Mental health support 

I’m sure for most people who have never moved away from home, moving away for university is daunting. A completely new environment, new friendships, new flatmates, new routines… It is a lot to deal with all at once. The doubts came back. What if they were right? What if I can’t manage at university? Did I underestimate how difficult it would be? With my anxiety disorder, change is always difficult, so it makes a lot of sense looking back that I began to feel overwhelmed. A couple of check ins from the Mental Health Support Team (MHST) later and I felt so understood and was helped to find that belief in myself again.

Don’t get me wrong, a mental illness won’t suddenly go away. I have still struggled a lot at university, and I probably will continue to struggle. But that won’t stop me. 

In my first year at university, I had only applied for Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) for dyslexia. I didn’t realise how much support you could get for mental health conditions as well. Despite this, I still got frequent check ins from the MHST, and they encouraged me to add my conditions onto my DSA. This was a lot easier to do than I was expecting, and I now have access to weekly appointments with a mental health advisor who can liaise with all of the different staff members about your condition and any concerns you have. My mental health advisor has been my biggest supporter and made me feel so much more confident in getting though university despite any setbacks I may face. I have heard so many positive experiences about the MHST and I am so grateful to the University for putting in so much effort and funding to ensure that these services meet the needs of the students because they are so important! 

Dyslexia support 

My dyslexia diagnosis also faced me with a lot of concerns about university life, as academic work can often take me a lot more time and effort than the ‘neurotypical’ individual. I was concerned that this would put me at a disadvantage, and I would struggle with the academic content. But the university have again made sure to make it accessible as possible for me. Through DSA, I was allocated weekly 1-hour appointments for study support from the university. Through this, my advisor can help with time-management, planning, exam-preparation, note-taking, revision techniques, grammar checks… anything you need supportwith, the university can help. 

LSU Welfare & Diversity 

Loughborough Students’ Union have also played such a big role in my mental health and disability support. Struggling with these mental health conditions myself, I have always felt passionate about mental health advocacy as well as equity, diversity, and inclusion. I therefore decided to run for the Welfare & Diversity representative for William Morris (one of the halls of residence here at Loughborough). I also became the Outreach and Collaborations officer for LSU Disability Support Network, a mental health ambassador, and helped to organise and run LSU’s first ever mental health conference. All these positions gave me a massive insight into the welfare & diversity family at the LSU, one that I will always be so grateful for. Being surrounded by so many inspiring and like-minded people made me find a place of comfort no matter all the setbacks I have faced. 

After having such an incredible experience in my first year, I decided to apply for the Disability Officer for LSU, and I am currently in this role today! You can see a photo of our Welfare and Diversity Team away day below! 

Through this I advocate for disabled students across Loughborough University chairing two committees on both the East Midlands and London campuses. Having the ability to use my experiences of my disabilities, allows me to ensure that anyone struggling with their mental health or disability can access all the incredible support systems that the University has to offer, alongside creating a safe social space for disabled students. 


If I could give you one piece of advice, it would be to not let your disability (whatever that may be) to hold you back from your dream of studying at Loughborough University. The university ensures that all of your needs are met, and you will have an incredible 3+ years at Loughborough University. 

And if anyone ever questions your ability, or you doubt yourself for one minute… You CAN do this, and you will be so proud of yourself when you have achieved so much!

Data management – from a section in the grant proposal to a day-to-day reference manual 

January 27, 2023 Lara Skelly

By Krzysztof Cipora, Lecturer in Mathematical Cognition, Open Research Lead of the School of Science, Centre for Mathematical Cognition, Loughborough University,, @krzysztofcipora

Most funding agencies require grant proposals to contain a data management plan. It may seem an extra burden to prepare yet another document, as all applicants have been handling research data and know how to do it, so why mandate such a technicality in the proposal? At the same time, many researchers have not been formally trained in data management. Open Research practices becoming more and more widely adopted (and more and more often mandated by funders) include Open Data, that is sharing research data, either in the public domain or granting access to other researchers. No matter whether shared publicly or with some restrictions, the data need to be understandable and usable. This requires the data to be thoroughly curated, documented, and at best to go along with the programming code used for its processing and analysis. Researchers also benefit from good data curation and documentation if they come back to their own data after a few months or years. Data management is even more critical in large-scale projects including many researchers, research assistants etc. However, the document typically supplied to the funder is relatively short (space restrictions!) and therefore quite generic, so it cannot fully satisfy the day-to-day data management needs. 

In June 2022 at Loughborough University, we launched £ 9 989 000 Centre for Early Mathematics Learning (CEML; funded within ESRC Research Centre scheme. Funding covers a period of five years and over twenty-five researchers from several institutions are involved within five CEML challenges. They are supported by several research assistants and PhD students. Various types of data are being gathered. One of the crucial issues at the CEML onset was to ensure we are on the same page with data management. It has been necessary for several reasons both within CEML and for future data sharing. The same variables should be named and coded consistently across studies to streamline the readability of the data, facilitate the re-use of analysis code, and collapse datasets if needed. In case a researcher is reallocated from one study to another, they can catch up easily. Keeping our data curated and consistent for ourselves also makes it more accessible to other researchers when we share it with the community. 

Together with other colleagues, I took on preparing a detailed Data Management Policy for the CEML. In the following, I briefly describe what we did and how this might be used as an example for other projects (including much smaller ones). 

We started from the Data Management Policy from the CEML proposal and elaborated on the details (see CEML Data Management Policy The document first outlines the responsibilities of Challenge Leads and Leads of specific studies being run (this is particularly important given the number of researchers involved in CEML). It specifies where the data are stored, who should have access to the data (working together with researchers from outside Loughborough University required some thinking of how to set this up efficiently), and when the data can be shared publicly. The document also specifies how to document the data entry process and how to document data analysis to ensure analytical reproducibility. We also specify the process of creating backups and data sharing. 

The Data Management Policy refers to Variable Dictionary (see CEML Variable Dictionary – a document providing detailed information on how to name and organise data files and how to name variables. We also provide a template for the meta-data file to be created for each study (see CEML Variable Dictionary Template  

To make these materials more accessible to CEML colleagues, we prepared a short video highlighting the most important aspects of the CEML data management and justifying why such detailed guidelines have been prepared (see CEML Data Management Training Video 

All these look quite elaborate and may not seem very useful for smaller projects. However, at least some of these points may be worth considering. It is worth remembering that “there will be at least two people working with your data, you and future you”. Thus, ensuring a consistent way of naming data files, their structure, variable names, the analysis code, and documenting the progress of data processing is a big favour to future you and, most likely, other researchers who may work with your data. Hopefully, the CEML documents linked may serve as a useful template on how to prepare a day-to-day data management reference for other projects.

The views and opinions of this article are the author’s and do not reflect those of the University…although hopefully they do reflect Loughborough University values.

This Week At Loughborough | 23 January

This Week At Loughborough | 23 January

January 23, 2023 Charlotte Lingham

Trans Abstraction – Art exhibition 

23-27 January 2023, 12pm-2pm, Martin Hall exhibition space 

An exhibition of abstract expressionist digital paintings; representations of the feelings, emotions and issues in coming to terms with being transgender as a 40-something in the early 2020s.  

Find out more on the events page 

Refreshers Big Match 

25 January 2023, 3:30pm, Sir David Wallace Arena 

It’s a Big Match triple-header! See 3 games with 1 ticket. Loughborough Men’s 2’s take on Birmingham City, Women’s 1’s face Northumbria and Men’s 1’s round off the evening against Northumbria.

Grab your ticket now and support Loughborough Students Basketball at SDW! 

Find out more on the events page  

National Theatre Live: The Crucible 

26 January 2023, 7pm, Cope Auditorium   

A witch hunt is beginning in Arthur Miller’s captivating parable of power with Erin Doherty (The Crown) and Brendan Cowell (Yerma). 
Raised to be seen but not heard, a group of young women in Salem suddenly find their words have an almighty power. As a climate of fear, vendetta and accusation spreads through the community, no one is safe from trial. 

Find out more on the events page  

Lightning Netball Pre-Season vs Strathclyde Siren 

29 January 2023, 11am, Sir David Wallace Arena 

Loughborough Lightning welcome Strathclyde Sirens to campus as part of their pre-season campaign. 

With unrivalled match day experience and fun for all the family, why not witness our new look team in action for the first time ahead of the Netball Super League season. 

Find out more on the events page 

Lightning Wheelchair Basketball vs Worcester Wolves 

29 January 2023, 5pm, University Netball Centre 

On Sunday 29th January, Loughborough Lightning kick start their 2023 home campaign in the British Wheelchair Basketball Women’s Premier League, welcoming Worcester Wolves onto campus. 
With unrivalled match day experience and fun for all the family, why not witness our new look team in action for the first time this season whilst watching some of the best international sporting talent. 

Find out more on the events page 

<strong>The boost you need to beat the January blues</strong>

The boost you need to beat the January blues

January 16, 2023 Soph Dinnie

In our last blog post we spoke about how to start the new year on a high note. However, we know that January can be a tricky month for many and so we’ve compiled a list of tv shows, podcasts and books from submissions by our staff that will help to make the longer nights a little easier.

If you’re looking for something to put a smile on your face we recommend:

The Off Menu podcast

Hosted by comedians James Acaster and Ed Gamble, the duo interview celebrities about what their ultimate meal would be.


Comedians compete against each other to complete ridiculous brain-teaser challenges.

The Office (US)

The famous mockumentary sitcom, adapted from the BBC series, starring Steve Carell.

Parks and Recreation

Another mockumentary style sitcom that provides a political satire on a mid-level town government department in America.

If you’re looking for something to motivate you with your new year’s goals, you could try:

Sports biographies

From footballers and rugby stars to Olympians and Paralympians, reading about the highs and lows of their journeys, the dedication needed and the mishaps along the way might be inspiring for you. Recent releases include top scorer Beth Mead’s ‘Lioness: My Journey to Glory’ and Poorna Bell’s ‘Stronger: Changing Everything I Knew About Women’s Strength’.

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day

This podcast centres around celebrities exploring what their failures have taught them. It is for reminding yourself that no one is perfect and that you can always learn something from your failures.

Diary of a CEO with Steven Bartlett

In this podcast, Steven sits down with celebrities, entrepreneurs and big business moguls to discuss how they became successful.

If you’re looking for escapism the following might be the perfect thing to get lost in (we will try not to be alarmed by the number of staff members who suggested true crime podcasts):

White Lotus

This dark comedy-drama TV show features a star-studded cast including Jennifer Coolidge, Aubrey Plaza and Theo James.

Casefile True Crime podcast

Each episode explores both cold and solved criminal cases in Australia, America and the UK.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

A Hollywood icon reveals the truth behind her glamourous life and infamous husbands.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

The book follows the stories of people who go to a café in Tokyo that allows its patrons to travel back in time, as long as they return before the coffee gets cold.

If you’re looking for something uplifting, you could try:

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Nora is given the chance to live out the many different versions of her life to try and find what is the most fulfilling path.

Ten Percent Happier podcast

Hosted by journalist Dan Harris who began to explore meditation after having a panic attack live on television. He interviews scientists, celebrities and meditation teachers to discover more about how to combat anxiety.  

If you would like to recommend any uplifting, inspiring or funny shows/books/podcasts for our University community, please leave a comment below.

Information on where to find wellbeing support at the University.

This Week At Loughborough | 16 January

January 16, 2023 Jemima Biodun-Bello

IAS Friends and Fellows Coffee Morning

17 January 2022, 10:30am, International House 

On Tuesday 17th October we will be hosting an IAS Friends and Fellows Coffee Morning, where we will be joined by our IAS Visiting Fellows Dr Alison Jane Martingano & Dr Benjamin David Goddard.

Find out more on the events page

Understanding Anxiety Webinar

18 January 2022, 1pm, Online 

This session explores what is happening in our brain and our body, from key neurotransmitters to expanding science around the microbiome. As well as explaining the stress-sugar-anxiety connection.

Find out more on the events page

Group business and enterprise coaching session

20 January 2022, 3:30pm, Start Up Lab 

Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey, but it doesn’t have to be. Start-up businesses can feel less alone if they talk about their experiences and share solutions and strategies that work for them. All businesses experience challenges and business owners can support each other through these.

Find out more on the events page

What was the UN's Biodiversity Conference (COP15), and what were its outcomes?

What was the UN's Biodiversity Conference (COP15), and what were its outcomes?

January 16, 2023 Rhiannon Brown

What was COP15? 

There are two COP events each year now. The first focuses on climate change and you can read our blog on this year’s COP27 here. The second is specifically on biodiversity (COP15), with this year’s being the 15th meeting of the United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity. This year’s two-week COP15 summit took place in Montreal, Canada from Wednesday 7th December to Monday 19th December 2022.

The conference brought together countries from across the world, with representatives from 196 governments, and delegates from a wide range of stakeholders such as Indigenous peoples, academics, scientists, local communities, youth representatives, and people from the business and finance community.

A brief background to the Biodiversity Crisis:

Addressing biodiversity loss is absolutely critical, especially at this stage. The largest loss of life since the dinosaurs, with one million species being threatened with extinction, is underway.

Check out the Living Planet Index, a great metric which was created by the WWF and the Zoological Society of London to measure life on earth. Wildlife figures have dropped by an average of 69% between 1970 and 2018 according to recent studies.

Here is an infographic which shows the five main threats to biodiversity:

Source: Living Planet Report, 2020, WWF

What were the main outcomes from this year’s COP15?

I know this is what you’ve all been waiting to know- did the conference actually achieve anything? Well, I’m happy to say that, yes, a landmark agreement was made to guide global action on combatting biodiversity loss. On the last day of negotiations, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) was adopted, which aims to address biodiversity loss, restore ecosystems and protect indigenous rights. The GBF replaces the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 and associated Aichi Targets agreed on by parties in 2010. Importantly, almost every nation in the world signed up to this framework!

There are 23 targets set to achieve by 2030 within the GBF, including some which I have split into the following categories:

Conservation, Restoration, and Management

  • Effective conservation and management of at least 30 per cent of the world’s land, coastal areas and oceans.
  • Restoration of 30 per cent of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Currently, 17 percent of land and *8 per cent of marine areas are under protection
  • Reduce to near zero the loss of areas of high biodiversity importance and high ecological integrity

At Loughborough University, we are lucky to have such an amazing gardens and grounds team who maintain the campus and its biodiversity. The University has an established Biodiversity Working Group who develop and steer delivery of the Biodiversity Action Plan for the whole University. There is also a Woodland Management Group which meets twice yearly and offers an opportunity for external stakeholders to comment on management of the woodlands and contribute their knowledge and advice.

Check out our ‘Support a species’ page for more information on some of the species living in our environment, key facts, some of their threats, and importantly how you can help them.

One key area which comes into this section, is deforestation. It was found by scientists, in 2021, that the Amazon rainforest is now emitting more C02 than it is absorbing. A large amount of these emissions is the result of forest fires, caused deliberately to clear land for beef and soy production. We can see how devastating this is, and the urgent need for change to happen.

As I mentioned in the COP27 blog, the new president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, won against the former far-right president Jair Bolsonaro and has since pledged to save the Amazon rainforest (much of this lying within Brazil) and to end deforestation there by committing his country to reaching net-zero deforestation by 2030. As Bolsonaro appeared largely pro-deforestation, the new president’s goals display a huge sign of hope and change for our world.

Food waste

  • Halving global food waste

To put this into perspective, in UK households we waste 6.5 million tonnes of food every year, 4.5 million of which is edible. This statistic has to change for us to meet the targets set within the GBF. If everyone in the UK stopped wasting food at home for just one day, it would have the same impact on greenhouse gasses as planting half a million trees.

Loughborough University segregates its food waste in the majority of retail and all catering operations, as well as providing the opportunity for students to do so in all our on-campus halls of residence. This food waste is then sent for anaerobic digestion instead of going to landfill, saving both money and the environment.

LU also supports the Love Food Hate Waste campaign, where you can find some great food saving tips! Check out the below video (and more here) for some insights and tips.


  • Mobilizing at least $200 billion per year from public and private sources for biodiversity-related funding
  • Raising international financial flows from developed to developing countries to at least US$30 billion per year
  • Phasing out or reforming subsidies that harm biodiversity by at least $500 billion per year, while scaling up positive incentives for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use
  • Requiring transnational companies and financial institutions to monitor, assess, and transparently disclose risks and impacts on biodiversity through their operations, portfolios, supply and value chains

Just an ‘agreement’?

So, as I mentioned in our COP27 blog post, the pledges and agreements made are not legally binding, and countries are not penalised if they don’t meet them. Despite the embarrassment that the countries may face if they don’t meet their pledges, this may not be enough to ensure that the proposed (and critical) action is taken.

This same issue can be seen with the Global Biodiversity Framework, with targets having been set to be met by 2030, but no binding contract for countries to meet them except a ‘pledge’. Concern has been demonstrated here, as nations had previously set Aichi targets at COP10 in 2010 to be met by 2020. Shockingly, the world failed to achieve even a single one of these targets by the 2020 goal, sparking a conversation about how well the COP15 GBF will do (already coming two years late due to COVID as it is). All we can do is have hope though, right?

Here’s a video that shares the thoughts of 10 people on what they believe needs to happen to make the GBF successful:

How has Loughborough University been involved with COP15?

Loughborough University is a proud founding member of the Nature Positive Universities Alliance that was launched on Thursday 8 December at the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15). This is a global network of universities that have made an official pledge to work towards a Nature Positive goal in order to halt, prevent and reverse nature loss through addressing their own impacts and restoring ecosystems harmed by their activities.

For more information on this, see the University’s article on it here.

A new report, SPORTS FOR NATURE, carried out the first-ever assessment of how sports that take place on landscapes ranging from water, turf, mountains, and cities can act to protect nature. The report was commissioned by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), led by researchers at Loughborough University. The study – which consulted more than 100 organisations representing 30 different sports across 48 countries – assessed what work is currently being done by sports on the global nature agenda and was supported by the International Olympic Committee.

This article is in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on Land. To read more click here.

This Week at Loughborough | 9 January

January 9, 2023 Jemima Biodun-Bello

Exam Success Toolkit

10 January 2022, 2pm, Online 

Feeling a bit rusty on how to prepare for in-person exams? This session is designed to equip you with tools and techniques for refining your memorisation strategies so that you can achieve exam success in your assessments this January

Find out more on the events page

Getting ‘Match Fit’ For your Exams

12 January 2022, 11am, Council Chamber 

Run by Loughborough University academic, Dr Chris McLeod, this workshop will explore practical changes you may want to make to your food and physical activity habits to put yourself in the best position for exam success.

Find out more on the events page

Group business and enterprise coaching session

13 January 2022, 3:30pm, Start Up Lab 

Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey, but it doesn’t have to be. Start-up businesses can feel less alone if they talk about their experiences and share solutions and strategies that work for them. All businesses experience challenges and business owners can support each other through these.

Find out more on the events page

Thinking of Running Sessions

13 January 2022, 6:30pm, Council Chamber 

Are you interested in running for an executive position in our upcoming elections? Attend one of our ‘Thinking of Running’ sessions to find out exactly what the role of student executive entails and what it is like to work at Loughborough Students’ Union.  

Find out more on the events page

How to prioritise your wellbeing in 2023

January 5, 2023 Sadie Gration
Image: Courtesy of Getty Images

Hopefully the Christmas period was an opportunity for many of you to wind down, spend time with family and friends, and embrace the festivities.

January can be a daunting month for some; the cold and dark weather continues, there’s the longer-than-usual stretch to pay day, and the return to work can cause feelings of anxiety and stress.

Whilst these feelings are only natural, it’s important to remember the start of a new year can also be a wonderful opportunity to embrace new things, set goals, and put your health and wellbeing first.

Follow these self-care tips to help you step into the New Year as a better version of yourself.

Look after your body

From staying hydrated and sleeping well to eating nourishing meals and regularly moving, remember your body is your home – and a healthy mind needs a healthy body to keep it functioning.

The NHS recommends drinking 6-8 glasses of water, tea and coffee, low-fat milk or low-sugar drinks each day. Keeping hydrated regulates your body temperature, helps organs to function, and prevents infections amongst a range of other benefits. In winter, due to the cold, our bodies trick us into thinking our fluid levels are okay, making us less inclined to drink when actually you could be dehydrated! Dehydration in winter is harder to spot, so make sure you regularly reach for a drink – even if you don’t feel thirsty.

Furthermore, adults are advised to aim for at least 7 hours of sleep every night. A variety of habits can help you to snooze easier if you struggle: maintaining a daily routine, staying away from screens before bedtime, keeping your bedroom dark and quiet, reducing caffeine later in the day, and incorporating exercise into your day.

Speaking of exercise, a mixture of strength-based and cardio exercises most days each week can reduce your risk of major illnesses and is described as the ‘miracle cure’ to a healthier and happier life. Exercise is also a fundamental contributor to boosting your mood and self-esteem. Find out more about exercise guidelines for adults aged 19-64.

Spend time with others

Sharing our time with family and friends can boost our mood and decrease feelings of loneliness. It also allows us to try new things, gain new perspectives, and receive support from others when we need it most.

Struggling to find time to meet in person? Why not suggest speaking over the phone or arranging a video call? Even just a text to check in with someone can have a positive impact on them as well as you.

But don’t forget, it’s not always a bad thing to say no to social plans. When we’re feeling burnt out, sometimes the thought of being sociable can be overwhelming for both our mind and body, so make sure you take the time to assess your mental health and what works for you in the moment.

Live in the moment: Disconnect from the digital noise

Today’s world means the news and the lives of others (whether we know them or not!) are at our fingertips if we choose to see it. Social media, the internet and various apps can play a big distraction in our everyday lives, and it’s not necessarily the healthiest of distractions.

Reflect on how accessing certain social media channels and/or content elsewhere in the digital sphere makes you feel. If for any reason it makes you feel anxious, inferior, or that your life is not as good as others, consider taking a break from it for a week – or even set yourself a daily limit – and assess your mental health to see if you notice a difference. Research suggests that time away from your phone and other digital devices can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression whilst boosting self-confidence and your sleeping pattern.  

Do what makes you happy

Some people struggle to put themselves first, and even if they want to find the time, they find reasons not to due to other events and scenarios that take place in their life, whether or not they directly or indirectly affect them.

Relaxation is a significant factor in improving wellbeing, and it can mean different things to different people. For some, it might be taking an indulgent bath or going on a dog walk, whilst for others, it could be watching a new film or reading a book. Whatever ‘relaxing’ means to you, make sure to implement something that’s just for you into your regular routine – even if it’s 15 minutes a day. And if you’re someone who struggles to sit still, look for an activity with a fun or creative outlet, one which has the ability to take your mind away from the daily stresses that life might bring.

Your mental health matters
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 has supported more than 12,000 people through the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service to improve their health, cope better with work, and feel happier.

If you would like to book an appointment, you can fill out an online form or call 0300 456 8114. They also have virtual, confidential one-to-one appointments available for Loughborough University staff on Tuesday 28 February. Please note Maximus will not inform the University of your query/appointment unless you want them to.

The delusion of racial tolerance in the UK

The delusion of racial tolerance in the UK

December 21, 2022 David Roberts

The greatest trick the devil ever played, was making us believe he doesn’t exist – The Usual Suspect

A Very British Notion

Britain has long prided itself on being a tolerant society. Far Right rags like The Spectator proudly trumpet Britain’s ‘tolerance’ in the face of a ‘few football racists’ that can be dismissed as rotten apples. Diversity UK pointed out that ‘seventy years ago in Britain, issues of race and identity were unfamiliar to most [if you were White]. However, since then the face of the nation has changed rapidly’. The education group ‘Total People’ claims tolerance is a primary value in the UK.

Britain’s reward for such tolerance is to be perceived as ‘morally praiseworthy’. But what is it being praised for? Polycarp Ikuenobe argues that this reward is in fact about restraint: it is about ‘refraining from mistreating others regarding their racial difference’. It shows that there is a power dynamic at work in the act of tolerating someone else. There is an implied right NOT to tolerate under certain conditions decided by those professing tolerance. Magali Bessone describes the act of tolerance as:

refraining from interfering with something deeply disapproved of in spite of having the power to interfere.

Here is the power we rarely consider: tolerance condones judgmental interference by the judging, dominant, and powerful. Power is present in both interference and in not interfering. It is masked by the concept’s rhetorical magnanimity. The relationship between those expressing tolerance, and those they are judging, is asymmetrical.

Image: The power dynamics of racial tolerance in the UK. Created by and copyright of author

Where occasional intolerance arises, like at those ‘few football matches’ The Spectator pointed at, they are reduced to individual acts, every time they happen, no matter how many times they happen. They are separated from cause and effect relationships, disconnected from any organized determinism that might intrude on the sanctity of the idea of ‘tolerance’. Where that fails, such acts’ connections to organisation are cloaked in misdirection, misrepresentation, lies and obfuscation, all to protect the myth that organised racism doesn’t exist.

But there’s no shortage of examples of majority behaviour being misrepresented as an unhinged, illegitimate minority when in fact, support for such racism is widespread. Think Brexit; racism remarketed as patriotism. Think Meghan; the idea of a woman of Colour ‘polluting’ a blue blood, White-skinned hereditary monarchy that is itself a hundred shades of European that Brexiteers ran from. Or the brutal, racist bile that poured into the Twittersphere and wider media from old, racist, white misogynist men openly using Far Right ‘news’ platforms to actively, publicly, unashamedly incite racial hatred, telling people to throw excrement at a woman of Colour who has ‘infected’ the imperial Royal Family in the UK. Think millions applauding an imperial monarch and her reign over the world, and the preservation of the last vestiges of formal empire in the shape of the Commonwealth. These are instead all unrelated acts, for the Right, who refuse to see cause and effect in anything they are responsible for.

Think of the dreadful racism directed at Marcus Rashford and two others after England lost at the EUFA Euro 2020; just the odd idiot on Twitter, or a residue of race hatred that, despite a self-proclaiming ‘tolerant’ society, is an immutable, violent, painful, oppressive constant?

The claim to tolerance masks and denies the notion, the intolerable, horrible idea, that all those individual acts might form part of a larger structure, a learned – and therefore taught – code of behaviour, a pan-national attitude of hostility or disdain or hatred or fear. The UK Court system is acknowledging institutional racism. The British healthcare system is now found to harbour institutional racism. UK mental healthcare is similarly afflicted. The police are also concerned about their own racist structures, and an independent review of the Fire Brigade found it to be institutionally racist and misogynist. Its author warned this would be a common theme across UK public services. The former Vice-Chancellor of Loughborough University openly recognised institutional racism at the institution, and another Vice-Chancellor declared it a problem across the whole sector. Britain’s national identity, pride and progress were made on Empire, as so many nationalists never tire of pointing out. It should be no surprise that imperial attitudes, of racial superiority, remain deeply embedded in all aspects of government, its institutions and their instructions to society.

Are we actually tolerant of intolerance?

So we are left in a quandary: if we are tolerant of race, why is there racism everywhere, everyday? Perhaps some answers lie in the idea of the term itself. What does it involve? How might you feel, if you were told that someone tolerated you? Where is power revealed to lie? With you or with them? I feel dominated and patronised when I think of that dynamic. I feel like a child whose existence is accepted on condition of not upsetting anyone – seen and not heard, permitted as long as I concord with certain conditions of my existence that have been set by someone else, by the society in which I am permitted to reside. Tolerance involves degrees of resistance: I accept you here but do not necessarily wish you here. Your presence is not at my request but I will accept it as long as it breaks no rules or challenges my right to determine how or to what extent I accept you. Tolerance is power.

Tolerance has been defined as ‘value orientation towards difference’. Value orientation encompasses the

ensemble of convictions, attitudes, behaviors that are in a hierarchical relationship and monitored by values in a social environment

Among other things, this means there is a sector of society whose values are considered legitimate and dominant, passing judgment on another group of people whose values may be different, or appear different, or intimidate because of that perceived difference. Tolerance in this form is a toxic structure and process because it masks the same power relationship that its use implies does not exist – the devil’s greatest trick.

Toxic waste pollutants, destroying the environment. Created by and copyright of author

British values about racial groups have historically been linked to its imperial history: that period of global dominance without which the UK would not have industrialised and evolved into a global superpower of the 20th century. The country’s economic descent and its collapse in comparative global prowess over recent decades does not detract from what placed it at its apogee until its place in the world was challenged by newer superpowers. Britain once controlled nearly one quarter of all people on the planet, through an empire over which the sun never set. This was then and, for almost half the population, still is, a source of great national pride in a halcyonic era that many continue to believe defines the best of Britain.

Since Empire is always based on superiority, whether Roman, Nazi or British, the dynamic of White and Black mirrors that eugenicist ideology. Empires stole countries and then tolerated the presence of their indigenous populations (Cesaire, 1972; Fanon, 1961; Mbembe, 2020). Those indigenes who served imperial occupation were tolerated as long as they did not contravene the interests of the colonizers. Permissions were granted for integration within the colonial institutions on condition of loyal subservience. Our presence in our own lands was tolerated as long as we didn’t get ‘uppity’. Those subjects of Empire who were admitted to the White Motherland required similar permissions and tolerances, and still require permission to stay, after decades of residence, in the face of ignorant, racist, State persecution. In the face of tolerance.

Tolerance involves the power to grant permissions to others with less power. In this case, it is White England granting terms of existence to those of Colour who are literal and figurative descendants of Windrush. White England is a concept. It is made up of government elites, Left and Right, who set the tone of race relations through the Executive and Legislature (the contemporary Right in the West is almost always far more racist than the Left). It is the courts that apply the laws of the land. It is the police who execute them. It is the media that reports according to its ideological and racist biases. It is the wider society that watches such procedure and takes its cue from those rulers and rules and permissions and exclusions and constraints and limits; and takes its cue from that tolerance of the Other as determined by imperial history and political identity. Power is present in both interference and in not interfering, but it is masked by the label’s rhetorical magnanimity. The greatest trick…

In the end…

Tolerance permits difference as long as the difference doesn’t get ‘uppity’. And as long as ‘tolerant racism’ is the mindset of a society and its institutions, that mindset will reinforce racism, and restrict change to the terms and conditions of White Fragility. This term refers to ‘a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves’ like denial, misdirection, misrepresentation, obfuscation, lies and so on. In Derrick Bell’s words, tolerance will be framed by interest divergence: People of Colour in the UK, under a regime of ‘tolerance’, can co-exist as long as what they do, does not clash with what White England wants to happen. Thereafter, ‘tolerance’ becomes ‘intolerance’; but tolerance is already intolerant. It comes from and perpetuates racial power, control and abuse, whilst presenting as doing the opposite. ‘Tolerance’ is the ‘credible’ institutional face of race relations in the UK; we pride ourselves on this Janus term. Making us believe…

Janus – icon of duality. Copyright of author

As long as we can claim to be tolerant, we have done nothing wrong and nothing needs to change. Yet for many People of Colour, tolerance is imperial continuity; the past in the present, as Mbembe said. Tolerance is a mindset rooted in relations of power that ceded and cede limited freedoms to a captured society. That mindset is masturbatory self-indulgence and denial that we still use to congratulate ourselves on our sterling contribution to race relations. We are not who we think we are, in the same way that America is not the land of the free or the home of the brave. Those who have exercised racial violence most, are those most active in denying it, and defending and disguising the ideology it rests on. As George Orwell wrote in The Road to Wigan Pier, people tend to think they can ‘abolish [societal] distinctions without making any uncomfortable change in their own habits and ideology’. They cannot. Until British people move away from a nationalist mindset that internalizes and sanctions permission granting by a dominant race over a subjugated Other as a way of being multicultural, we will remain in race purgatory, with the Devil looking on.


Cesaire, A. (1972) Discourse on Colonialism, New York: Monthly Review Press.

Fanon, F. (1961) The Wretched of the Earth, Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Mbembe, A. (2020) Necropolitics, Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

What to Consider Over Christmas

What to Consider Over Christmas

December 20, 2022 Rhiannon Brown

Guest blog by Louis Guest from Enva.

‘Tis the season for responsible waste management!

What to consider over Christmas?

Hello and welcome to the latest in a series of blogs on sustainable waste management. My name is Louis and I work for your university’s sustainable waste management provider, Enva. The article below is being written with the goal of proving information on what can and cannot be recycled over Christmas.  

It is always important to consider the waste hierarchy before making any purchases. Remember that even though recycling is a good option, ultimately it will always be more sustainable to not create waste in the first place.

Another important Christmas caveat is that as your Christmas period will likely not be spent on campus, you will be subject to the recycling rules of your local council. So, while this information should be accurate for the majority, you should can always check online here for your local recycling scheme.

Composites over Christmas:

We all have memories of loved ones running around on Christmas morning with a black bag, frantically stuffing away the shreds of what used to be perfectly wrapped presents. However, while you played with your remote-control car or brand-new Barbie fun house did you ever consider what bin that bag of paper should have ended up in?

Well, the truth is that if you can avoid the paper going into a bag, you should. This can be achieved by using string to hold together your wrapping, you can then use that paper year after year without throwing it away.

However, when wrapping for children we recognize that the careful act of unwrapping might lose out to the frantic excitement of Christmas morning. This is where the scrunch test comes into play. If you scrunch up wrapping paper and it stays scrunched, then the paper is only made of one material, paper. However, if the paper begins to unravel, then it is what’s known as a composite material. This means it is combined of two materials, usually paper and a metallic plastic film.  These materials cannot be separated and unfortunately that means this paper cannot be recycled. It is also worth noting that any paper with a glittery exterior also cannot be recycled.

Another item that unfortunately fits the composite category are plastic Christmas trees. These are again made from a variety of materials meaning they cannot be recycled.

However, most councils do offer recycling for real Christmas trees, these are shredded and turned into clippings and shavings for parks and woodland areas. 

So, if you’re in the market for a Christmas tree you might be wondering which route is more sustainable. Well, you should first consider the waste hierarchy. Do you really need one? If yes, could you offer a second life to one that has already been purchased? Potentially online or via a charity shop? If this isn’t an option, the facts are that it would take 10 years of use for an artificial tree to have a better carbon impact than having a real tree and disposing responsibly every year. Thankfully, the artificial trees are built to last, this example is still looking good after twenty years.  

Christmas Crackers

Christmas crackers are brilliant fun but did know that each year forty million Christmas crackers are thrown away. That’s a lot of bad jokes and party hats. Sadly, a lot of the waste that comes from Christmas crackers isn’t recyclable. It is important to first consider, do we really need crackers this year? If yes, it is likely that the outer cardboard exterior is recyclable if it isn’t covered in glitter or foil coated.  The same should be the case for the small paper jokes and that lovely paper crown someone forces onto your head every year. Unfortunately, the gift within that often comes in a small plastic bag is likely not recyclable. Nor is the bag it came in.

Did you know?

Batteries are one of the most frequently used products over the Christmas period. A study found that over Christmas Brits will use 189 million batteries. Batteries are treated as hazardous waste in the U.K so these should not be put in a general waste bin. If you’re experiencing a fast build up over the holidays, we advise putting them to one side and taking them to a local supermarkets collection point.

Every so often, somebody will miss the mark with an ambitious gift idea. we smile gratefully and exclaim that its just what we wanted. all the while knowing that you’ll never use or need the item you’re holding. As we so often say in December, it’s the thought that counts. That’s all well and good, but did you know that it is estimated £42 million worth of unwanted gifts get sent to landfill each year. In this situation we strongly suggest exploring alternative options, such as giving to charity or regifting to some who would have more use for the gift than you do.

Thankfully, Christmas cards are recyclable. This is greats news because over one billion Christmas cards are thrown away every year! It’s important to remember that these cards are only recyclable if they’re free from contamination. This not only means the glitter and glue that can so spoil a piece of recyclable card, but also what bin the cards go into. Please remember to keep food and liquids away from your recycling bin this Christmas. If you do receive any Christmas cards a helpful tip might be to cut out any suitable pictures and use them for gift tags next year.

It’s not all doom and gloom:

While it might seem from the beginning of this article that Christmas must be severely altered to be a sustainable practice that isn’t the case. There are many different products and alternatives that are fully recyclable.

As mentioned previously, many of the products entirely made from natural greenery such as “real” Christmas trees and authentic wreaths can be recycled. However, this is only the case if they’re not covered excessively in things like glitter. It would also be important to remove things like ribbons and baubles before adding these to your green waste.

Another scenario that everyone can relate to is trying to set up your Christmas fairy lights after their year in storage only to find that they no longer work. The good news is that these items are recyclable. Anything with a battery or a plug falls under the category of WEEE (Waste Electrical Equipment) waste.  These items can be recycled by local recycling centers. Some councils even provide local Wee waste collection points at supermarkets for convenient disposal.

One element of British culture that goes hand in hand with Christmas is drinking. Did you know that 13,350 tons of glass bottles are mistakenly placed in the general waste every year, please remember when throwing your Christmas party that both glass and aluminum cans are both recyclable.

Finally, most paper-based greetings cards can be recycled via household recycling collections. As mentioned with the wrapping paper these can be contaminated by glues and glitter and so when attempting to recycling these cards simply tear off and separate any contaminated sections. With any musical cards it is also important to remove the batteries and bulbs before disposal.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article, from all of us here at Enva we wish you a very merry and sustainable Christmas. 

Bravery and courage come in many colours (of the rainbow)

Bravery and courage come in many colours (of the rainbow)

December 19, 2022 Guest Author

It is just over 50 years since a group of people were forcibly detained by police offers one night at a bar in New York City for the crime of being themselves. The subsequent reaction from this group of people, who had quite simply had enough of being persecuted, would go down in history as the Stonewall Riots or the Stonewall Uprising. These events are now widely viewed as the start of the gay civil rights movement and, in the intervening years, significant progress has been made in the fight for equality and acceptance for LGBT+ people. However, such progress is not uniform across our society, nor in all places in the world (as has been highlighted by the current Men’s Football World Cup in Qatar).

Today, it is shameful that anti-LGBT+ sentiments persist in many places. Some are obvious. Some are not. But all will be particularly felt by those in the LGBT+ community and their allies.

When the Loughborough University LGBT+ Staff Network championed and worked to have the rainbow installation painted on our campus, I felt a strong sense of pride. How great it was that we were able to work together – our staff network, student representatives, facilities and maintenance staff, senior leadership, and the communications team – to install, celebrate and promote a wonderful piece of art, that not only looks good, but sends a powerful message of acceptance, love and pride.

However, I did not expect what came next. I did not expect the thousands of comments on Twitter, some personal and others more general. Toxic, hurtful, aggressive and threatening.

My surprise only serves to highlight my privilege. I am a heterosexual white man. I fit into many of society’s “norms”. I don’t get heckled in the street because of what I choose to wear (unless it’s a West Ham shirt). I am not routinely threatened with violence because of whose hand I am holding. My sexuality or gender has never formed an undertone in a job interview or a discussion about career progression. I have never been afraid to speak about who I love.

Watching the Twitter diatribe unfold, the hurtful comments came largely from people outside of the University. I was pleased to see our Loughborough community supporting the installation. But it turns out that this clear-cut characterisation isn’t the whole picture. While our staff and students don’t generally make anti-LGBT+ statements in a public forum, we have recently seen anti-LGBT+ vandalism on our campus. Incidents of anti-LGBT+ language and targeted bullying have also taken place within our student community. Where we have been able to identify the perpetrators, we have taken disciplinary action against them.

This means Loughborough University is not always the safe, positive and inclusive environment it should be. This is completely unacceptable. Everybody is welcome here. Everybody is entitled to be part of our community. Everybody should be valued and accepted. Such inclusion and belonging are necessary to achieve our ambitions as an institution and to create a vibrant University community.

Now, while these are important statements, they need to be accompanied by action. We have started on this journey. Our actions will benefit all our under-represented groups, as we review our policies and systems, to ensure they are as inclusive as possible.  Specific actions have already included making EDI central to our new Strategy, clarifying how we protect academic freedom but do not allow hate, and installing LGBT+ inspired artwork around campus. We are rolling out training and awareness, so all staff understand the challenges faced by those from our LGBT+ community and how they contribute to a welcoming culture.  And in the New Year we will implement changes to our student IT systems to extend the use of the ‘preferred names’ category, thereby reducing deadnaming. But this is just the start.

Stonewall published research that in the UK 35% of LGBT+ staff have hidden the fact they are LGBT+ at work out of fear of not being accepted. Over 40% of LGBT+ students have hidden their identity at university for fear of discrimination. I cannot imagine the challenges this must bring, and I am personally committed to doing all I can to make the University an environment where students and staff feel no need to hide their identity.

To help me better understand these challenges, for several years now I have engaged with a number of LGBT+ groups. I work hard to educate myself, to listen and learn from others’ experiences, so I can be a better ally and understand how I can best use my leadership position to help.

The LGBT+ Staff Network Chair and other members of the committee and community have been generous in giving me their time and allowing me to ask questions to improve my knowledge. I encourage you all to read the blogs published, look at the webpages – not just internally, but also outside of Loughborough (some reading I found useful is at the end of this post). Learning makes us all better, and we must all continue to educate ourselves.

I remember having a conversation with a colleague about the idea that once you have come out, many think that you have shed that weight and you can move on with your life. However, the reality is that you have to keep coming out over and over again as you meet new people, join a new club or society, or start a new job.

And while it might get a little easier each time, the reaction of the person you are telling is uncertain and can present a moment of immense vulnerability. It still takes bravery for a member of the LGBT+ community to tell someone for the first time. So, if nothing else, I hope everyone reading this blog remembers the courage involved next time you are on the receiving end of that conversation. Thank the person telling you for trusting you with their whole selves – it is a privilege to work with someone who is willing to do this.

And for the members of the LGBT+ community who have to have those conversations all the time – I am humbled by your strength and enthused by your determination. Let us all continue to work together to create better futures for everybody at the University.

Professor Nick Jennings CB FREng FRS


Further information, networks and further reading:

Bravery and courage come in many colours (of the rainbow)

December 19, 2022 Nick Jennings
Hazlerigg building illuminated by rainbow lights

It is just over 50 years since a group of people were forcibly detained by police offers one night at a bar in New York City for the crime of being themselves. The subsequent reaction from this group of people, who had quite simply had enough of being persecuted, would go down in history as the Stonewall Riots or the Stonewall Uprising. These events are now widely viewed as the start of the gay civil rights movement and, in the intervening years, significant progress has been made in the fight for equality and acceptance for LGBT+ people. However, such progress is not uniform across our society, nor in all places in the world (as has been highlighted by the current Men’s Football World Cup in Qatar).

Today, it is shameful that anti-LGBT+ sentiments persist in many places. Some are obvious. Some are not. But all will be particularly felt by those in the LGBT+ community and their allies.

When the Loughborough University LGBT+ Staff Network championed and worked to have the rainbow installation painted on our campus, I felt a strong sense of pride. How great it was that we were able to work together – our staff network, student representatives, facilities and maintenance staff, senior leadership, and the communications team – to install, celebrate and promote a wonderful piece of art, that not only looks good, but sends a powerful message of acceptance, love and pride.

However, I did not expect what came next. I did not expect the thousands of comments on Twitter, some personal and others more general. Toxic, hurtful, aggressive and threatening.

My surprise only serves to highlight my privilege. I am a heterosexual white man. I fit into many of society’s “norms”. I don’t get heckled in the street because of what I choose to wear (unless it’s a West Ham shirt). I am not routinely threatened with violence because of whose hand I am holding. My sexuality or gender has never formed an undertone in a job interview or a discussion about career progression. I have never been afraid to speak about who I love.

Watching the Twitter diatribe unfold, the hurtful comments came largely from people outside of the University. I was pleased to see our Loughborough community supporting the installation. But it turns out that this clear-cut characterisation isn’t the whole picture. While our staff and students don’t generally make anti-LGBT+ statements in a public forum, we have recently seen anti-LGBT+ vandalism on our campus. Incidents of anti-LGBT+ language and targeted bullying have also taken place within our student community. Where we have been able to identify the perpetrators, we have taken disciplinary action against them.

This means Loughborough University is not always the safe, positive and inclusive environment it should be. This is completely unacceptable. Everybody is welcome here. Everybody is entitled to be part of our community. Everybody should be valued and accepted. Such inclusion and belonging are necessary to achieve our ambitions as an institution and to create a vibrant University community.

Now, while these are important statements, they need to be accompanied by action. We have started on this journey. Our actions will benefit all our under-represented groups, as we review our policies and systems, to ensure they are as inclusive as possible. Specific actions have already included making EDI central to our new Strategy, clarifying how we protect academic freedom but do not allow hate, and installing LGBT+ inspired artwork around campus. We are rolling out training and awareness, so all staff understand the challenges faced by those from our LGBT+ community and how they contribute to a welcoming culture. And in the New Year we will implement changes to our student IT systems to extend the use of the ‘preferred names’ category, thereby reducing deadnaming. But this is just the start.

Stonewall published research that in the UK 35% of LGBT+ staff have hidden the fact they are LGBT+ at work out of fear of not being accepted. Over 40% of LGBT+ students have hidden their identity at university for fear of discrimination. I cannot imagine the challenges this must bring, and I am personally committed to doing all I can to make the University an environment where students and staff feel no need to hide their identity.

To help me better understand these challenges, for several years now I have engaged with a number of LGBT+ groups. I work hard to educate myself, to listen and learn from others’ experiences, so I can be a better ally and understand how I can best use my leadership position to help.

The LGBT+ Staff Network Chair and other members of the committee and community have been generous in giving me their time and allowing me to ask questions to improve my knowledge. I encourage you all to read the blogs published, look at the webpages – not just internally, but also outside of Loughborough (some reading I found useful is at the end of this post). Learning makes us all better, and we must all continue to educate ourselves.

I remember having a conversation with a colleague about the idea that once you have come out, many think that you have shed that weight and you can move on with your life. However, the reality is that you have to keep coming out over and over again as you meet new people, join a new club or society, or start a new job.

And while it might get a little easier each time, the reaction of the person you are telling is uncertain and can present a moment of immense vulnerability. It still takes bravery for a member of the LGBT+ community to tell someone for the first time. So, if nothing else, I hope everyone reading this blog remembers the courage involved next time you are on the receiving end of that conversation. Thank the person telling you for trusting you with their whole selves – it is a privilege to work with someone who is willing to do this.

And for the members of the LGBT+ community who have to have those conversations all the time – I am humbled by your strength and enthused by your determination. Let us all continue to work together to create better futures for everybody at the University.

Professor Nick Jennings CB FREng FRS

Further information, networks and further reading:

This post originally appeared on the University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion blog.

[Student Post] Clare Hutchinson: "Women, Peace and Security"

December 16, 2022 Duncan Depledge


In November, Loughborough University’s Geopolitics & International Affairs webinar series welcomed Clare Hutchinson to speak about her work on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS). Ms. Hutchinson is a deeply experienced practitioner having spent eighteen years working in UN peacekeeping, and three years (2018-2021) as the NATO Secretary General Special Representative for WPS. Her remarks were passionate and thought-provoking, and produced an enlightening conversation about the challenges and opportunities of applying the WPS agenda to emerging global risks and threats.    

Defining the role of gender in security    

Ms. Hutchinson opened her remarks by explaining the importance of defining ‘gender’ and especially the difference between gender ‘parity’ and gender ‘equality.’ In short, simply having an equal number of women and men in the room (gender parity) is not the same as having gender equality (which requires a combination of cultural, political, and economic shifts towards women’s rights and recognition). Ms. Hutchinson was also keen to emphasise that “gender is not exclusively a women’s issue”, but a complex discussion impacting all members of society.    

Gender and conflict    

Ms. Hutchinson next elaborated on several issues relating to gender and conflict, especially the historical tendency to focus on men as the key combatants. Such a perspective is tested, for instance, by the roles that women have played in terrorism. Ms. Hutchinson’s point was that because women have tended to be treated as victims (in part because Western societies have often been uncomfortable with the idea of women as ‘threats’), security analysts have tended to ignore the potential for women to be recruited into terrorist organisations and engage in violent activities. The prospect of women serving as security providers has also largely been dismissed, including until recently at the very highest level. Prior to 2000, there were no women serving on the UN Security Council. This too has contributed to the marginalisation of women in conflict, whether as combatants, security providers, victims, or peace-builders. Ms. Hutchinson began to make the case that women are in fact extremely politically significant, and that we should more readily acknowledge the realities of gender-based violence ever present in warfare, as well as the solutions that women can provide.    

Gendered violence    

Ms. Hutchinson then turned to the disproportionate levels of violence that women face in conflict zones. Here, Ms. Hutchinson predominantly focused on how women can be kept safe during unprecedented, unstable times. Addressing these challenges requires significantly more funding and far greater efforts to understand the experiences of women in conflict zones (with a particular need for more sex segregated data to support decision-making). This challenge is only likely to deepen as the gendered impacts of other global issues (such as climate change) on the security of women are recognised. Ms. Hutchinson further emphasised this point with the example of how women in emerging areas of drought are having to travel further from home to collect water, which is putting them at higher risk of attacks. A major cultural shift is still needed amongst security providers to understand this problem and address it appropriately, to ensure the specific challenges facing women in conflict zones are not marginalised.    

Questions and discussion     

Following Ms. Hutchinson’s talk, a variety of questions were presented by lecturers, PhD candidates and students. One point of discussion was the role of women as security providers and whether this is in fact putting more women at risk or ensuring that more women are being monitored by women in conflict areas. Ms. Hutchinson suggests that it should be a right for women to be included in peacekeeping and conflict management. However, this needs to be done with high levels of care as there is still a long way to go to ensure that women are not exposed to greater levels of risk than men.    

Ms. Hutchinson was then asked if, in her 25-year career, she had witnessed much positive global change, or whether the problems of the previous generation persisted. Ms. Hutchinson responded that some positive steps had been made in recent years, particularly to certain kinds of language used (such as the implementation of the ‘NATO Gender-Inclusive Language Manual.’) and approaches to getting women into decision making roles, although much work still needs to be done to recognise women in conflict.  

Ms. Hutchinson also argued that women are still seen as victims rather than agents with autonomy and influence in a community, and that this issue needs significantly more attention. The following question asked how one might realistically measure the success of WPS initiatives. Ms. Hutchinson responded that there are 27 indicators recognised by the UN, which include, for instance, committing to increase the number of women deployed in conflict resolution roles. However, Ms. Hutchinson’s main point here was that the criteria being measured are difficult to assess as change will only become visible over the long-term. A lack of funding also stymies progress. This is a generational challenge rather than an issue which can be addressed quickly and concisely.    

The discussion then turned to the question of whether gender-based policy is simply a Western imposition on differing cultures. However, Ms. Hutchinson felt that the WPS agenda is easily defensible; when human rights breaches are being made, including cases of sexual violence and gender discrimination, initiatives aiming to cooperate, mandate and defend vulnerable people are rightly encouraged. She used the example of female genital mutilation to demonstrate how cultural measures can be used to mask violence, with disproportionate impacts on the livelihoods of the women. Ms. Hutchinson recommends that these kinds of harmful cultural practices must be “cut at the grass-roots” by educating communities, increasing funding to do so, and conducting specific research into understanding how such issues affect not just women, but wider communities as well. 

Ms. Hutchinson concluded by suggesting that the “lack of coordination collaboration and control” remains the biggest challenge to tackling the security challenges that women face around the world, and detrimental to the cause of the WPS. The agenda must, in future, be taken with seriousness, appropriate funding and more training in gendered violence for peacekeepers.   

Final reflection

What did I takeaway from Ms. Hutchinson’s talk? Firstly, the significance of the work of the WPS, Ms. Hutchinson gave many detailed examples of gendered violence that demand the attention from the international security community. However, it was clear too that the WPS agenda continues to face many challenges, from securing greater recognition and funding, to measuring the impacts of changes that often take years to become observable. All this serves to underline the importance of continuing to advance the WPS agenda as conflicts continue around the world. 

Jesse Prevatt is studying Politics and International Relations in her second year at Loughborough University. She is passionate about the contemporary issues surrounding global security and gender disparity. Moving forward, she is aiming to specialise in these areas and gain more experience in journalism.

From the Vice-Chancellor - December 2022

December 16, 2022 Nick Jennings

In my last newsletter of 2022: the Nature Positive Universities Alliance, two new sports partnerships, the Social Mobility Pledge, sport and the metaverse, winter graduation, and a look back on 2022.

Nature Positive Universities Alliance

Through research, innovation and education, universities contribute so much to the global sustainability agenda and are real drivers of positive change. But we cannot be complacent. Everything we do – from the way we manage our buildings and open spaces to the goods and services we source – has an environmental impact and we must ensure that it’s positive.

This month, at the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Montreal, Canada, Loughborough became one of the founding members of a new network, the Nature Positive Universities Alliance, of more than a hundred 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. The network is part of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a movement to avert climate catastrophe and mass extinction.

As a member of the Alliance, we have pledged to assess the impact of our activities on biodiversity, to set ourselves and work towards measurable targets and to make transparent annual reports on our progress.

With Climate Change and Net Zero one of the themes of our strategy, I am incredibly proud that we have committed to this new and hugely important initiative. The East Midlands campus has extensive green spaces that include wildflower meadows and grasslands, fruit trees, ponds and woodlands, providing habitats for a range of wildlife; the London campus is based on one of the capital’s newest emerging parklands, which has been awarded Green Flag status for the last eight years. Our sustainability research and innovation are becoming more prominent, in areas such as clean energy and the circular economy.

We’re taking good steps forwards, but we need to maintain the momentum. Our membership of this new global Alliance underlines our commitment to advancing our positive impact on biodiversity and the wider environment.

New sports partnerships

West Ham United Women and Loughborough University logos / Official Higher Education Partner

This month we announced exciting new partnerships with two leading sports organisations – West Ham United Women and England Athletics.

The University is now the official higher education partner of West Ham United Women. The partnership, the first of its kind in the Barclays Women’s Super League, will bring multiple benefits for the Club, its players and our own staff and students.

The University and Club will work together on cutting-edge research projects, using performance analysis to shape and enhance the future of the women’s game. We’ll offer elite athlete education programmes and scholarships through our Loughborough University London campus to support the players’ post-football careers. Our sports performance experts will share their knowledge and experience with the West Ham coaches and support staff on supporting dual-career athletes. Our own students will be able to apply for internships in a range of sport support areas at the Club.

Lastly, but by no means least, West Ham Women will play a first-team fixture on our Loughborough campus at the University Stadium, giving staff, students and members of the community the opportunity to watch, in my opinion as a West Ham fan, the best team in the country!

Under our partnership with England Athletics, the University will become a national Talent Hub, providing coaching support, coach education, mentoring and a range of sports science and therapy services to athletes and coaches on the England Athletics Talent Pathway. As well as creating a training and educational environment for pathway athletes and their coaches, the Hub network aims to develop links with local clubs so they become an integrated part of the England Athletics structure.

These two partnerships align strongly with so many strands of our University strategy. We’re using our pre-eminence in sport to spearhead new opportunities and to develop new, exciting partnerships associated with our sport, health and wellbeing theme.

Social Mobility Pledge

Social mobility is a much talked about issue. Essentially it looks at where we start out in life and the opportunities afforded to us as we progress through the years. As major institutions within their communities, universities have a key role to play in enabling social mobility, in helping people to overcome the barriers they face and in driving equality of opportunity at key life stages.  

This month the University partnered with the Purpose Coalition and former Education Secretary Rt Hon Justine Greening to sign up to an innovative framework, the Social Mobility Pledge, that will measure Loughborough’s social impact. Our activities and social impact will be mapped against a series of 14 Purpose Goals. These cover a number of areas, such as education and training opportunities, career progression, and good health and wellbeing, and provide a universal benchmark against which organisations can measure their impact.

The Social Mobility Pledge demonstrates our clear commitment to ensuring that everyone has opportunities for development and progression throughout life, and chimes clearly with the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion aim of University strategy, as well as the Vibrant and Inclusive Communities theme.

The future of sport and the metaverse

On Monday Loughborough and the MIT Sloan School of Management will co-host an event on the future of sport and the metaverse. We’ll bring together academics, entrepreneurs, policymakers and business leaders to explore the emergence, and potential applications, of one of the most exciting technological innovations of recent years.

The event will aim to demystify the metaverse concept and define what it is and what it’s not. We’ll examine its early applications in sport as well as the emerging implications and issues around health and wellness, data privacy and security, and sustainability. We’ll be asking whether we can build a better version of the Internet, and whether sport can lead the way and show what is possible. It promises to be a really exciting day.

The metaverse will provide businesses and organisations with opportunities that we are only just beginning to understand, and it’s exciting that we’re at the forefront of discussions about how the metaverse could transform the world of sport, health and wellbeing.

Winter graduation

Two female students in graduation robes and hats posing for a photograph

Today we host the second of our two days of winter graduation ceremonies. Last week we welcomed students from our London campus to celebrate their academic achievements; today we share the day with our East Midlands graduands, their families and friends.

At one of today’s ceremonies, we will award an honorary degree to the rugby union player, alumna Sarah Hunter MBE. Sarah has represented her country since 2007 and is the most capped England player of all time. She is now captain of the England women’s team, currently ranked number one in the world, having led them to World Cup glory in 2014 and to the World Cup final in 2022.

At club level she has played for our own Loughborough Lightning team since its inception in 2017 and currently holds a player-coach role. Beyond the pitch, Sarah is passionate about the growth of women’s rugby and gender equality within the sport. Her success to date has been outstanding, and she has undoubtedly contributed significantly to the University’s sporting reputation.

We will also present Professor Steve Rothberg with a University Medal. Steve has played a key role in the success of engineering at Loughborough and more broadly in research and innovation across campus. In his 32 years at the University, he has held several senior positions, including Dean of Engineering, Pro Vice-Chancellor (PVC) for Enterprise and most recently PVC for Research.

As PVC for Research, Steve was a driving force behind Loughborough’s excellent performance in the Research Excellence Framework; in the last round more than 90% of our research was classed as world-leading or internationally excellent. His own research in noise and vibration contributed to our Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Optical Engineering and High-Value Manufacturing. Steve also led the University’s first ATHENA Swan award submission and is Panel Chair for ATHENA Swan nationally. I’m sure many of you will join me in congratulating Steve on his University Medal.

Our graduation ceremonies are always special occasions for everyone who attends. As always, thank you to everyone at the University who works so hard to ensure that all our graduates, their families and friends have a memorable day.

Reflections on 2022

As 2022 comes to a close, I want to thank you for everything that you have contributed to another successful year at Loughborough. We have achieved so much over the course of 12 months, a summary of which is captured in this video that we will release at the end of the year.

Whatever you are doing while the University is closed please enjoy the holiday, relax and take a break from work.

I wish you a very Happy Christmas and look forward to seeing you in the new year.

What was COP27 and how will it influence our future?

December 13, 2022 Rhiannon Brown


Firstly, I just want to make a point of saying why it is that we have waited over a month since the start of COP27 to publish this blog. Even as someone who is working in Sustainability, I have found it incredibly hard to digest all of the information that is out there on COP27 and its outcomes! With the sheer number of articles, papers, and statements that have been released since the start of the conference, I wanted to take some time to gather my thoughts coherently on the subject and ensure that the information I tell you is fact not fiction. So, here’s my take on this year’s COP…

What is COP27? 

Since its birth in 1994, countries from around the world have come together for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This is a global summit called COP- ‘Conference of the Parties’. Representatives from each country engage in two weeks of debate and negotiations to determine the future global policies on tackling climate change.  

COP27, this year’s 27th annual conference, was hosted in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from 6th November until Friday 18 November. The aims of COP27 were to: 

Mitigation- Limit global warming to well below 2 degrees and work hard to keep the 1.5-degree target alive. 

Adaptation– The Global Goal on Adaptation is a significant outcome of COP26. Urging all parties to demonstrate the necessary political will, and assess their progress towards enhancing resilience, COP27 aims to also assist the most vulnerable communities who are already experiencing the brunt of climate change. 

Finance- Finally, it is crucial that countries put forth a significant and meaningful budget to contribute efficiently to mitigation and adaptation. 

Collaboration- Governments, the private sector, and civil society need to work, in tandem, to transform the way in which we interact with our planet. We must introduce new solutions and innovations that help alleviate the adverse impacts of climate change. We also need to replicate and rapidly upscale all other climate-friendly solutions towards implementation in developing countries. 

Climate Justice- This concept refers to equitable sharing of the burden caused by our changing climate. It is essential as we progress with tackling climate change. 

So, what happened at the last COP? 

COP26 was held in Glasgow in 2021, and the key outcomes were:  

  • Lowered temperature limits: The main goal of the Paris agreement (COP21) was to keep global temperature rise ‘well below 2C’. In Glasgow, updated scientific evidence resulted in a change to keep warming below 1.5C. 
  • Deforestation: 100 countries promised to end deforestation by 2030. 
  • Coal use: Coal is a fuel source which is responsible for 40% of yearly CO2 emissions, and this was the first time any clear reduction plan has been agreed to.  
  • Emissions: It was agreed that countries would meet again in 2022 (for COP27) to discuss further cuts to CO2 emissions.  
  • Fossil fuels: Although no deadlines were set, an agreement between world leaders to phase out fossil fuels was made.  
  • Methane: 100 countries agreed to a 30% reduction in methane emissions by 2030. Despite this, China, India, and Russia declined to agree.  
  • Financial: Pledges were made to support developing countries through monetary help for reducing their footprints and coping with the threats of climate change. However, the 2009 pledge of donating $100 billion by 2020 was never met, resulting in much speculation. In addition, financial organisations have agreed to back ‘clean’ technologies thanks to an initiative that involved private companies in net zero targets. Until the large fossil fuel companies commit to the same, sadly the desired outcomes are unlikely to be achieved.  

Check out our COP26 blog from last year for more information. 

What were the main outcomes from this year’s COP27?

Loss and Damage

Firstly, let’s begin with one of the most significant moments of this year’s conference- the ‘Loss and Damage’ fund agreement. What does this mean? Well, an agreement was signed to create a fund for developing countries who have experienced loss and damage as a result of severe weather events caused by climate change. Worsening weather events such as floods, droughts, heatwaves, and forest fires are increasingly experienced by countries across the world, with this year alone seeing flooding in Pakistan through to drought in east Africa having devastating impacts. These events are primarily the result of major emitters in the global north, who are continuing to burn fossil fuels with the knowledge that they are destroying our planet, and not caused by those who are suffering the devastating consequences. Therefore, this is a huge global injustice that requires significant action.

This “Loss and Damage” fund agreement has been made by developed countries signing to help developing countries and those who are vulnerable to the effects, such as South-East Asia, African states, and small islands to mitigate and manage the effects of climate change (CEDREC). Developed countries, development banks, NGOs and businesses are all “urged” to support this fund.

The final agreement text includes two references which mention helping developing countries that are “particularly vulnerable” to climate change. It has since been suggested that this language choice may pose a risk in future for problems such as who qualifies for this fund. I would agree with this statement when considering how it has the potential to be underfunded like many other climate finance funds are. However, I have hope that, overall, this is a huge step forwards for climate justice.

Here is some more information on this “Loss and Damage” fund.

Biodiversity and Deforestation

Moving onto biodiversity, and specifically deforestation, 145 world leaders made a commitment to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030 in Glasgow. A year later, record levels of the practice are still being carried out.

On the other hand, the new president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, won against the former far-right president Jair Bolsonaro and has since pledged to save the Amazon rainforest (much of this lying within Brazil) and to end deforestation there. As Bolsonaro appeared largely pro-deforestation, the new president’s goals display a huge sign of hope and change for our world.

I hope that more positive decisions are made on the topic of biodiversity at the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) which began on 7th December and is estimated to end on 19th December. COP15 will bring countries from across the world together to discuss plans for tackling the biodiversity crisis. Keep an eye out for our blog on this!


At COP27, multi-country efforts to phase-out coal-fired power did not come in large numbers. As coal is the single largest driver of global temperature rise, this outcome is hugely disappointing. This is especially true when comparing to last year and how this was the first time any explicit reduction plan had been agreed to.


A fundamental issue with the outcome of this year’s COP is the failure to commit to net-zero. The Glasgow summit resulted in a huge increase in countries pledging to lower their emissions, yet 11% of global emissions are unaccounted for to this day. With no countries taking responsibility for these emissions, and slow implementation of real action on the move to net-zero, the fear that staying below the 1.5C is out of reach seems evermore real.  

Here is a website which includes more outcomes from this year’s COP27.

Is there too much emphasis on COPs?

This year has sparked a lot of conversation about COPs and whether they are really doing enough. One figure in particular who released her thoughts on them is Greta Thunberg, a well-known public climate activist. Her accusation of COP27 being “greenwashing” raised a lot of attention, sparking the argument that leaders at the event are taking advantage of the opportunity as a way of promoting themselves rather than advocating for its true purpose of saving our planet. Do you agree with this? In particular, one of COP27’s event sponsors was Coca-Cola, the largest plastic producer in the world. This faced heavy criticism from many (understandably!) and resulted in a petition which called for the sponsorship to be cancelled. However, this still went ahead as planned.

To follow on from my previous point, another area that has resulted in a lot of discussion is who the representatives were at COP27, and their ties to fossil fuels. Global Witness carried out some research and found that over 600 people at COP27 have ties to fossil fuels. This is a 25% increase compared to those present at COP26. Some may argue that having representation from these fossil fuel corporations at COP27 provides an opportunity for progression and change within. However, lots of people see this as a huge issue, demonstrating our destructive reliance on fossil fuels to this day. With Shell having made a profit of £8.1 million, and BP having made a profit of £7.1 million between July and September 2022 alone, the outrage comes with no surprise. This also signifies how, as dangerous as it is, the oil and gas industry is clearly still the main energy source of our world. How do you feel about fossil fuel companies being at COP? Do you think they should be involved in these conversations?

One example of how the fossil fuel industry wields such a huge power from being present at COPs is from this year. At Glasgow, the agreement to the “Phase down of coal” was made, with the hope that progress would be made this year to change this to the “Phase out of coal”, or even the “Phase down of all fossil fuels”, as was suggested by India this year. However, backlash came from many countries, particularly those that are largely oil producing such as Saudi Arabia, which resulted in the agreement remaining the same as last year (to the “Phase down of coal” only).

Despite the above and the potential issues surrounding this, in my opinion this is a conference which is absolutely necessary every year as a bare minimum. Countries can’t solve the climate crisis alone, and this provides a platform for coalitions and collaborations to aid progress. As I stated, this is the bare minimum, so without the emphasis on COPs we would be even worse off.  

In addition to the large-scale decisions and coalitions, these conferences also provide a great opportunity for countries to form smaller coalitions and discuss their progress and ideas with others. Civil services and countries are forced to consider their own individual climate action by bringing forward points. 

Of course, skepticism about the level of progress is justified. Particularly as every country must sign onto an action for it to pass. However, hope needs to be maintained for change to happen, and even raising awareness during these COPs is playing a role by educating people. 

No penalties for un-met pledges?

A significant issue with COPs is that the pledges and agreements made are not legally binding, and countries are not penalised if they don’t meet them. Of course, it can be argued that the embarrassment a country would face by not meeting their targets is a driver, but is this really enough?

On a positive note, in November 2008 the UK Climate Change Act became law, and is one of the earliest comprehensive framework laws on climate change globally. The Climate Change Act requires the UK Government to produce a UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) every five years. This assesses the risks to and opportunities for the UK from climate change, both currently and in the future. This follows up on the target to significantly reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and the path to get there. To read more on The Climate Change Act of 2008, I recommend starting here

Despite this, do you think that the UK Government are doing enough?

How has Loughborough University been involved with COP27?

Loughborough University-led Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS) programme led numerous sessions in the SDG 7 tent during COP27. The MECS session aimed to enhance global understanding of clean cooking, and position energy-efficient electric cooking devices as a game-changing critical climate and health solution. Expanding access to clean cooking improves health, empowers women and girls, protects the environment and bolsters livelihoods.

Finally, to bring things back to a local scale, Loughborough University’s physical geographer, Richard Hodgkins, has produced an infographic showing how negotiations made at the Conference of the Parties (COP) may impact weather and temperatures in the East Midlands:

This article is in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action. To read more click here.

<strong>Tackling stigmas and looking after your wellbeing: Life with a visual impairment</strong>

Tackling stigmas and looking after your wellbeing: Life with a visual impairment

December 12, 2022 Guest Author

There are many of us with disabilities, both hidden and visible, not just at Loughborough but in our local communities and beyond. What impacts us all is so often borne of a lack of understanding, of people not being able to walk a mile in our shoes.

I’d like to explain a little of my experience, both in a work setting and my personal life, so please grab a beverage of your choice and humour me whilst I describe my experiences in the hope that it interests, or at least enlightens you.

I have a visible disability, and I live with my partner and child, both of whom have hidden disabilities. That isn’t unusual in society, but often assumptions are made that a visibly disabled person either doesn’t or dare I say, ‘shouldn’t’ have this close family unit. Some are surprised when I say that I’m a parent and I work full-time. I’ve been asked when commuting to and from work whether I’ve had a nice day out shopping. My response has often been to offer a humorous response whilst pointing out that it would be lovely to have had time to shop during the day, but work commitments and parental duties have not allowed me to indulge in these activities, but I do enjoy meeting friends for coffee when the opportunity arises.

My job is very rewarding, and the biggest bonus for me is working with so many varied people, all of whom bring a new aspect of life to consider. Having a disability can be a lonely experience without having close family, friends, understanding colleagues and a good support network. I have been very fortunate to have great support from employers throughout my career, although there have of course been moments when things didn’t go smoothly.  Throughout these experiences I’ve tried to build my resilience and tried to help others who may also be facing difficulties.

The most exhausting part of my disability is my total reliance on my memory, and my many now well-developed coping mechanisms that allow me to function when confronted with new spaces, locations or situations. It’s mentally exhausting trying to function normally in these new situations for many, but especially difficult when you find it impossible to read the room without some assistance. I often find that at the end of a particularly long day, when my memory has reached capacity and I’m feeling totally drained, that I become very accident-prone and clumsy. However, I’ve come to accept my limitations and laugh at myself when these things happen.

When I’m feeling really stressed I immerse myself in music, both listening to and playing it. My moments of calm can also come when I’m out walking, enjoying the sounds of nature and feeling the sun on my face. One of the greatest pleasures used to be marvelling in the amazing colours of nature, which I miss since I’ve lost my sight completely, but I’m grateful to have a fantastic memory for colour tones and shades. I also love photography, and with the aid of assistive technology this pleasure is once again possible, as my camera even tells me when I need to adjust the lens to ensure it’s straight.

My greatest ally is my assistance dog, Pickle. She is extremely bright, willing, capable and fun. One of the real benefits is that she also brings an opportunity for others to de-stress when we’re in the office. She’s always happy to play, offering anyone who comes near the chance to participate and have some fuss and playtime.

Those who know me will recognise my mantra, that disability is always written with a capital A, as it’s our special abilities that make us who and what we are. We should be proud of what we achieve, and not be afraid to speak out when we recognise that there are things that need to change to make life better for everyone.

Loughborough University’s Disability History Month campaign is running until 16 December. The dedicated microsite has information about the campaign, what activities have been taking place and where to find support.

CRCC to co-host international workshop on pandemic communication and populism in June 2023

December 12, 2022 Iliana Depounti

The Centre for Research in Communication and Culture is pleased to co-host an international workshop on pandemic communication and populism, to be held at Loughborough University on 12-13 June 2023. You can submit your abstract until 15 January 2023.

As the COVID-19 pandemic disappears from the headlines and attention turns to new political crises, it is more important than ever for the scholarly community to continue asking difficult questions about the way the pandemic was handled, and about things that need to change to ensure individuals and communities are better prepared for any future public health crises. This symposium, linked to an ongoing transnational research project (PANCOPOP), is designed to bring together scholars interested in the dynamics of health crisis communication and pandemic politics, with a particular focus on the impact of populist leaders and attitudes on the nature, dynamics and effectiveness of public communication processes.

Media serve as important sources of information about health, and their role increases during public health crises. We know that the way media select and present information during a crisis can have a significant impact on public attitudes and behaviour; it can encourage social cohesion and compliance with public health measures, or alternatively saw division and distrust. However, less is known about how the presence of populist leaders, parties or attitudes changes this dynamic. It is feasible to argue that the presence of populist leaders can obstruct the ability of media organisations to engage in effective health crisis communication. It is also likely that the presence of populist politics, due to its reliance on anti-elite discourse and divisive rhetoric, may encourage polarized attitudes and distrust among citizens, making them more vulnerable to misinformation spreading through socio-digital networks. But does existing evidence support these arguments? How and why do experiences vary across different countries, and across different types of populist leaders? Given the growing appeal of populism globally, we urgently need a better understanding of how populism affects health crisis communication. Such knowledge is of vital importance if we want to make our societies more resilient in the face of future pandemics.

We invite proposals for papers that examine these issues from any vantage point, in relation to any health crisis and any country and using any methodological or theoretical approach. However, we are particularly interested in contributions that use original research to investigate topics and questions that are pursued by the PANCOPOP project team, in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. We also welcome papers that seek to build on existing knowledge to develop practical recommendations for media practitioners and policymakers, with the aim of building more resilient media organisations that are better equipped to withstand the challenges of future pandemics in divided societies. We are open to contributions from researchers at different career stages, including PhD students, and would particularly encourage submissions that examine pandemic communication and populism in countries beyond the West. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

Health crisis communication: How was government-led pandemic crisis communication organised in different countries, which actors were involved, what kinds of themes were dominant, and how was all this affected by populism? What was the relationship between political and scientific actors? Which actors and choices are pushed toward polarization and partisanship, or toward solidarity? What was the role of populist leaders in this context?

Media policy: How did media policies (e.g., freedom of expression and right to information, distribution of advertising) change during the pandemic, and what role did populist leaders play in these changes? What was the impact of these changes on democratic governance and pro-democratic news media functions?

Media coverage: What were the key traits of domestic media coverage of the pandemic, their implications for the quality of public deliberation, and their links with polarization? Which actors, and what kind of themes and frames were dominant in media coverage, and did they differ from actors and themes present in government-led crisis communication? How polarized was the media coverage of the pandemic? Did populism contribute to polarization?

Public attitudes and news consumption: What were the key patterns of public attitudes and information-seeking behaviour before, during and after the pandemic? Who did citizens trust when it came to health matters, where did they turn to for trustworthy information, and to what extent were they exposed to unreliable health information, including misinformation associated with COVID-19? What were citizens’ attitudes to the pandemic and key preventative measures (e.g., mask-wearing, social distancing, etc.) and how did they change over time?

Pandemic geopolitics: While populists at home have used the pandemic for advancing their agendas, on the international scene countries challenging the so-called liberal democratic order have also used the momentum to increase their influence. What was the role of China and Russia in this context, and how were their geopolitical efforts during the pandemic received by the media and public opinion in different countries? What is the relationship between media use, public attitudes to China and Russia (including vaccines), and attitudes to democracy and different policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Confirmed participants so far include:

Daniel C. Hallin, University of California San Diego, USA;

Beata Klimkiewicz, Jagiellonian University, Poland;

Marlene Laruelle, George Washington University, USA;

Sabina Mihelj, Loughborough University, UK;

Danilo Rothberg, Sao Paolo University, Brazil;

Václav Štětka, Loughborough University, UK;

The Everyday Misinformation Project – with Andrew Chadwick, Cristian Vaccari, Natalie-Anne Hall and Brendan Lawson, Loughborough University, UK.

Symposium fee: We hope to be able to cover all the costs of the event but may need to charge a small fee (up to £50) to contribute to the costs of food and refreshments. In the event of a fee, a waiver will be available to early career researchers and contributors with limited resources.

Format: The symposium will be held in person and streamed online. We expect the majority of presenters to join the event in person. However, exceptions may be made for presenters from beyond Europe and those who are less able to travel due to personal circumstances.   

SUBMISSION: Please submit an abstract (c. 300-500 words) and a short biographical note for each author (c. 100-150 words) by 15 January 2023 using the online form:

For any queries please contact Brigita Valantinaviciute, PANCOPOP Project Administrator (

About the PANCOPOP project:
The PANCOPOP project develops the first comprehensive, comparative study of health crisis communication in the context of populist politics, bringing significant advances in knowledge at the intersection of political communication and public health. The focus is on four countries that were led by populist leaders during the pandemic, and which capture different types of populist responses to the pandemic: Brazil, Poland, Serbia, and the USA. The project is led by Professor Sabina Mihelj, Loughborough University, and involves a team of five Principal Investigators, six researchers and a project administrator, working across three continents.
For further information please visit the project website and follow us on Twitter @pancopop.

This Week At Loughborough | 12 December

December 12, 2022 Jemima Biodun-Bello


Loughborough University Choir presents ‘A Christmas Carol’

14 December 2022, 7:30pm, Cope Auditorium

Take a journey back in time with the University Choir as we bring Dickens’ classic tale to life in a joyful musical setting.

Find out more on the events page

Drag Ball

15 December 2022, 7pm, The Basement

Drag Ball returns to the Union this December! Come along for a fab night of fun, drag acts and music. We are accepting sign-ups for performances! 

Find out more on the events page


Study Café

13 December 2022, 3pm, G Block 

Study cafés are a supportive and structured environment for self-study. Students will set self-learning goals and targets then work in companionable quiet on their chosen work.

Find out more on the events page

The Great Enterprise Elf Game

13 December 2022, 6:15pm, The Treehouse

Take your chances with the weather as you go into business as Santa Claus selling Christmas Trees.

You will have 12 elves working for you and your job is to send them out to get Christmas Trees for you to sell.

Find out more on the events page

Open Mic Night

13 December 2022, 7pm, The Lounge 

Open Mic makes a return with faces both fresh and familiar. Whether you’re a dab hand or first-timer, this stage is open to anyone who dares embrace the limelight – just turn up and play.  

Find out more on the events page

Flix Film Screening – ‘Die Hard’

15 December 2022, 7pm, Cope Auditorium 

An NYPD officer tries to save his wife and several others taken hostage by German terrorists during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.  (IMDB, 2022).

Find out more on the events page

Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE) launches an MSc Programme in Digital Entrepreneurship

December 8, 2022 Loughborough University London

By Gloria Manuel1

The MSc programme in Digital Entrepreneurship is one of the newest programmes in the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE), and for a taste of the discussions within this fast-growing field, a Panel on Digital Entrepreneurship was held in November with four distinguished guest speakers.

The event attendees were welcomed with an introduction from Professor Aaron Smith, the Director of the IIE Institute, and Dr Anna Grosman, the Program Director of MSc Digital Entrepreneurship. After the brief on the new MSc programme, Dr Grosman introduced the first panellist to the stage, Inbal Colley-Croitoru, co-founder and CEO at “Tuniverse“.

Inbal explained that Tuniverse is now working on a machine learning-powered app that enables novice and amateur musicians to start with just their voice or a vocal recording and compose an entire music production. Inbal highlighted an entrepreneurship checklist throughout her journey that does not only apply to her digital business but to any type of enterprise, namely: teaming up with people with the necessary skills, building your connections, brainstorming your idea until you reach a pain point, and back it up with data in efforts to create a product or service that brings value. Moreover, conducting an industry analysis is crucial to building short- and long-term business strategies that are market-focused. Lastly, Inbal states that “your enterprise must be your dream job”.

Followed by Inbal, Louise Patel, a freelancer Television Producer/Director and the founder of “Share My Telly Job”, was the second panellist presenting. Louise stated that the “The Time Project app” is an anonymous data collection tool to improve working patterns in the television industry. Additionally, Louise identifies fundamental aspects of building the app, firstly, acquiring funding or enough resources to set it up, engaging with developers, working on an MVP (Minimum Viable Product), working on a ‘sprint’ design and concept sessions, picking the most suitable platform that will sustain your app, learning more about user engagement and feedback, and lastly, testing and sorting legal matters. Louise ends by stating that working without passion becomes tedious and entrepreneurs need to be collaborative, learn quickly from mistakes and that ethical projects still need to be commercial.

Next presenting was Dr Jon Webster, Managing Partner, Financial Institutions and Technology Advantage practices at Boston Consulting Group. Dr Jon revealed six factors that companies need to get right to reach digital transformation success, 1- an integrated strategy with clear transformation goals, 2- leadership commitment from the CEO through middle management, 3- Deploying high-calibre talent, 4- An agile governance mindset that drives broader adoption, 5- Effective monitoring of progress towards defined outcomes, and lastly 6- Business-led modular technology & data platform.

Lastly, Professor Mathew Hughes, Professor and Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the School of Business and Economics at Loughborough University and author of “Digital Entrepreneurship” provided unique insights on research in Digital Entrepreneurship. Prof. Hughes outlines a dilemma in the literature “what makes entrepreneurship digital?” and “what makes digital entrepreneurial?”. He also highlighted some observations of his research, for instance, he found out that entrepreneurial passion plays a very strong part in taking technological innovation forward. Furthermore, the relationship between top management to lower-level employees is also very important to pass the vision down and develop its implementation. Prof. Mathew reveals the new idea called hierarchical erosion, where the further down the business you go, the less familiar people are with your strategy, so communication is therefore vital to pass the idea through.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Inbal Colley-Croitoro, Louise Patel, Dr Jon Webster, and Professor Mathew Hughes for visiting our London campus and for leading such stimulating discussions.

To apply for January 2023 or October 2023 start to the MSc Digital Entrepreneurship or further information about its modules, please visit our website.


  1. Gloria Manuel is a 2nd year PhD student in the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, at Loughborough University London, conducting research in Entrepreneurial Motivation and Resilience of SMEs. Gloria’s academic background includes BA in Management and Entrepreneurship from Lancaster University, and a Master’s degree in Human Resources Management and Organisations from London School of Economics.
Life as a Hedgehog Host

Life as a Hedgehog Host

December 7, 2022 Rhiannon Brown

In support of our Hedgehog Friendly Campus Campaign, LU’s Postgraduate Taught and Distance Learning Administrator, and keen hedgehog enthusiast, Natalie Sullivan, has written a guest blog for us…

The Hedgehog is such an iconic feature of the British garden and countryside, and yet many of us have never seen one. These wonderful little animals are officially recognised as vulnerable to extinction and appear on the Red List for British Mammals. With that in mind, when I discovered that we had a hedgehog nesting in our garden in July this year, I jumped at the chance to help her.

Judi Dench and Alberto

I was up early one morning and noticed a little hedgehog through the French doors who was gathering grass and entering a hole she’d made in the long grass – she was building her nest for the day. I named her Judi Dench and watched her intently for about half an hour. Before the day had even started, I’d ordered a Hedgehog House and Starter Pack online for her and got in touch with a local wildlife support group who are doing incredible work to support hedgehogs in the village that I live in.

Within a few days we discovered that we had lots of hedgehogs sleeping in our garden! We had Judi Dench, Eilish McColgan and a tiny hoglet we named Alberto. We have a number of visitors too, I had my eyes on 5 one night, with another 2 that I’d seen trundling away up the path to a neighbour’s garden. Summer 2022 was warm and dry, so these hedgehogs needed some support. I left water out for them in various places around the garden, we set up two feeding stations and we bought two hedgehog houses. I put out food for them every night and I keep a plant pot next to each of the hedgehog houses that I fill with bedding so they can maintain their nests. We have 5-7 hedgehogs visiting our garden at night, so I keep a close eye on who we have coming and going and making sure everyone is healthy. Now that it’s time for hibernation, their habits will change quite a lot. I’m really looking forward to when they all wake up in the Spring to start all over again!

Eilish McColgan

While I chose to spend money to support our hedgehogs, helping them can be completely free. Their needs are really quite simple. They need somewhere safe to sleep during the day, they need food, and they need access to a mate.

Sleeping Alberto

Here are some ideas of things you can do to help, many of which don’t cost a thing:

  • Their natural habitat is a hedgerow. Keeping healthy hedgerows is essential to looking after these animals.
  • Be really careful when cutting grass, hedges or using a strimmer – check the area for sleeping hedgehogs.
  • Don’t tidy away leaves in the Autumn. These serve as ideal bedding for nests, they sleep in leaf piles, and they hold insects for them to eat.
  • If you can afford to, you can buy a hedgehog house. You can also make one if you’re handy! Put it in a quiet spot with a bit of dried grass and/or leaves inside. Let the hogs do the rest.
  • A Hedgehog’s natural diet is insets and slugs. Leave some areas of your garden to grow a little – this will support bees and other pollinators too.
  • Consider creating a sunken wood pile. If you dig a wide and shallow hole with twigs and leave in it, this will quickly fill up with critters for them to feast on.
  • Never use slug pellets, they poison hedgehogs.
  • Leave water out in shallow, low sided dishes. This is particularly important when it’s hot in the summer. Hedgehogs do tend to stand in their food and water bowls, so try and leave them on stable ground.
  • If you wish to support them further, offer meaty dog or kitten food, or kitten biscuits.
  • Make sure there are ways for hedgehogs to get in and out of your garden safely. We have hedgehog holes cut into the gravel boards in our fence. A hole that is 5 inches wide and 5 inches tall is all they need. They can travel over a mile every night and will visit multiple gardens, so long as they have safe access. You can create steps with bricks for any height difference between the fence on each side.

There are so many issues facing our planet at the moment but helping the hedgehogs to recover isn’t difficult to achieve. You can find lots of information and ways to help through the British Hedgehog Preservation Society website. We’ll continue supporting hedgehogs in our local area. The more people who can support them, the healthier the hedgehog population will be.

To get involved with our Hedgehog Friendly Campus campaign, contact, and check our social media out for updates!

This article is in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on Land. To read more click here.

This Week At Loughborough | 5 December

December 5, 2022 Jemima Biodun-Bello


A Conversation with Author Rene Germain

5 December 2022, 3pm, SBE 

Rene is a writer, speaker and champion of the Black community. She has worked at leading investment banks, professional services firms, and media companies. She will be giving a presentation about her career and the writing of her book, followed by a Q&A.

Find out more on the events page

Annual Research Conference 2022

6 December 2022, 9:30am, Holywell Conference Park

Open for all for doctoral researchers and research staff to attend. Aligned to the University’s bold and ambitious strategy, the theme of this year’s conference is ‘Creating better research. Together’ to emphasise that we can achieve greater influence and impact when we work in partnership.

Find out more on the events page

Personal Best: My Story – Andy Hodge

7 December 2022, 12:30pm, James France

This Personal Best: My Story event will look at how Andy’s career developed and some of the challenges that were overcome, along with providing advice for current students today on how to make the most of opportunities available.

Find out more on the events page

University Carol Service

7 December 2022, 3pm, Martin Hall Theatre

The university community are invited to attend the annual Carol Service. It is an opportunity for us to come together with the university choir and alumni association to sing Carols and hear Christmas readings from the University and wider community.

Find out more on the events page

Remember Remember, Exam Prep in December

7 December 2022, 5pm, Start Up Lab (STEM)

Feeling a bit rusty on how to prepare for in-person exams? This session is designed to equip you with tools and techniques for refining your memorisation strategies so that you can achieve exam success in your assessments this January.

Find out more on the events page


Presentation, film showing and Q&A with award winning Richard Butchins

8 December 2022, 5pm, Stewart Mason

Richard uses his own experience as a disabled person to make work which addresses disability through mainstream television documentary in both arts and current affairs, and in his personal art practice

Find out more on the events page


Study Café

5 December 2022, 3pm, G Block 

Study cafés are a supportive and structured environment for self-study. Students will set self-learning goals and targets then work in companionable quiet on their chosen work.

Find out more on the events page

Empowerment Series Session 

5 December 2022, 6:30pm, Online

LSU Training Academy would like to invite you to an Empowerment Series. This is a five-part series which explores how to be the best version of yourself. 

Find out more on the events page

Speech Bubble

5 December 2022, 7:30pm, The Lounge 

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 a professional poet.

Find out more on the events page

Flix Film Screening – ‘Top Gun Maverick’

8 December 2022, 7pm, Cope Auditorium 

After thirty years, Maverick is still pushing the envelope as a top naval aviator, but must confront ghosts of his past when he leads TOP GUN’s elite graduates on a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those chosen to fly it (IMDB, 2022).

Find out more on the events page

National Tree Week, Chapter 3: What is Happening to the Hazel in Burleigh Wood? 

December 1, 2022 Rhiannon Brown

You might have noticed on your walks in the wood that some of the hazels are being cut right down to the ground.  This is nothing to worry about and is called coppicing (which is an ancient way of managing hazel).  Let me explain. 

Coppicing is a very old practice in Britain, dating back to Neolithic times.  It involves periodically harvesting wood from deciduous species like hazel resulting in a multi-stemmed tree.  Historically the wood would have been used for fuel (including charcoal making), building and fencing materials, and other purposes. Coppicing meant that areas of ancient woodland that might have been cleared, were in fact retained because they produced these useful products.

The word ‘coppice’ is derived from the French word ‘couper’ meaning ‘to cut’.  The woodland is divided into areas called ‘coupes’ each being cut rotationally every seven to ten years.  The coppice trees, like hazels, are termed the ‘underwood’.  Underwood species respond to cutting by producing multiple stems.  The base from which the stems arise is called the stool.  The periodic cutting of the underwood extends the life of these trees, so that many coppiced stools are in fact hundreds of years old.

The hazel is cut close to the ground. Next year, new stems will begin to grow.

Coppicing in woodlands like Burleigh has been practiced for hundreds if not thousands of years.  For this reason, many of the species in the woodland depend on coppicing activities for their survival.  Some insects feed on hazel at different stages whilst clearing a coupe favours the growth of light-loving plants for a short time on the woodland floor.

To ensure the long-term survival of these species at Burleigh and to continue to extend the life of the hazel stools, it is necessary to coppice.  You will notice the use of the coppiced material in the woodland.  Hazel poles will be used to create barriers to restrict access to the bluebell areas, whilst arisings (brash) will be used to create habitat piles that will benefit invertebrates, fungi, birds and small mammals.  We ask that you do not remove any wood from Burleigh as this provides important habitat to the species that have called this place home from many thousands of years.

The remaining hazel stump is called a ‘stool’. Some stools in Burleigh Wood may be hundreds of years old because they are coppiced.

Thank you for your understanding and if you have any questions regarding the management of this wood, please email Richard (   

This article is in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on Land. To read more click here.

From the Vice-Chancellor - November 2022

From the Vice-Chancellor - November 2022

November 30, 2022 Nick Jennings

In my November newsletter: THE Awards, COP27, Disability History Month, building partnerships in India, and the strategic ‘enabling’ projects.

THE Awards

In my September newsletter I let you know that we had been shortlisted for two Times Higher Education Awards, in recognition of the way we responded to the Covid pandemic, and successfully managed its impact on our communities, during the 2020-21 academic year.

The awards were presented earlier this month, and while we may not have won on the night, we should still be incredibly proud of the fact that we were shortlisted for such prestigious awards, and of the way in which we responded, as a whole community, during an unprecedented period in our lives.

During that academic year, amid widespread disruption across society, we were able to safely welcome back our staff and students to the University, having put in place robust health and safety measures and extensive testing facilities to screen everyone on our campus. More than 90% of our staff and students tested and recorded their results regularly and at the pandemic’s peak almost 20% of asymptomatic testing within the higher education sector was being done at Loughborough.

We were able to deliver two-thirds of our teaching in person. Students who were isolating received free food and laundry, and students’ library books, prescriptions and parcels were delivered to them. We were able to offer safe, Covid compliant student social activities and we were one of the only universities to be able to hold graduation in person in the summer of 2021.

Our response was remarkable and sector leading. The national guidelines issued to higher education institutions on managing students’ return to campus were based on our work. When the Government announced that all schools must conduct asymptomatic testing, we ran a series of national seminars and site visits to Loughborough for more than 300 schools to share best practice on the operation of a safe and effective testing facility.

Our response to Covid, and our success in managing its impact, was truly a University-wide effort. Everyone – our staff, students, their families and all those who visited our campus – pulled together to help us minimise the impact of Covid on our community.

Thank you again for everything you did.

COP27 and our climate research

Loughborough University at COP27

Some of the most powerful and influential people from around the globe gathered in Sharm El-Sheikh this month for COP27, to discuss the climate crisis and, importantly, the steps the world needs to take to address it.

Among those in Egypt were academics from the University’s Centre for Sustainable Transitions: Energy, Environment, Resilience (STEER), who chaired or spoke at several events at COP27 to showcase their sustainable energy research that has the potential to benefit millions worldwide.

Professor Ed Brown, the co-director of STEER and MECS’ Research Director, co-led a session in the Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) Pavilion, the main hub at COP focused on how to unite global efforts on energy, climate and development. The session brought together utility companies, high-level government representatives, development banks and philanthropic organisations to discuss the benefits of a pivot to cooking with electricity.

Alongside COP, the Climate Compatible Growth (CCG) programme, which is part of STEER, hosted a series of Side Events under the theme ‘Africa-Asia: A Just Transition to Low Carbon Development’, bringing together global experts and policy practitioners.

In the run up to COP27, we hosted the Sustainability in Sports Summit at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London, which was attended by world-leading academics, international sports brands, national sports bodies and top business leaders. At the event, sports ecologist Dr Maddy Orr, from Loughborough University London’s Institute of Sport Business, launched a report, commissioned by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and supported by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), into how sports can act to protect nature.

It is hoped the report will be a step towards an international action campaign to coordinate sports’ response to the triple planetary crisis (the three interlinked issues of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss) in the lead up to the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games and throughout the UN’s Decade On Ecosystem Restoration initiative.

In addition to the report launch, the Sustainability in Sports Summit included panel sessions with representatives from UNEP, the IOC, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, EY, Wimbledon and Chelsea Football Club. We were delighted to be able to bring such high-profile organisations together for this important discussion.

Through opportunities such as these, our research and innovation, and the partnerships we develop, which align with our strategic theme of Climate Change and Net Zero, we have a real opportunity to make a tangible, positive difference.

Disability History Month

Disability History Month

Each year Disability History Month, which runs from mid-November to mid-December, allows us to learn more about the different types of disability and to showcase the invaluable contributions made by people with visible and invisible disabilities. 

Throughout the month there are several events taking place on our campus. Full details are available on the dedicated Disability History Month website. You’ll also find links to news articles and some key resources, including the Staff Inclusivity Group.

I would, however, particularly like to draw your attention to the ‘Staff and Student Voices’section of the website. Members of staff from the University have shared their personal experiences of having a disability in a new video. Please do take a look. Hannah Lancaster, one of our Psychology students, reads a selection of poems she has written about the impact that concussion has had on her, and the students’ Disability Support Network has launched its #DontDisMyAbility campaign which aims to celebrate the experiences of students through videos and blog posts.

Engaging with Disability History Month enables us to play an active part in creating and sustaining an inclusive environment where we value and respect people for who they are, rather than be defined by the restrictions all too often placed on them.

Building partnership in India

A group of people posing in front of a screen with the words 'Vice-Chancellor's Alumni Reception, New Delhi'

Extending our international engagement and impact is one of the key aims in our University Strategy and at the start of this month I was delighted to embark on my first overseas trip since joining Loughborough, when colleagues and I, including our two recently appointed India Special Envoys, Dr Kirti Ruikar and Professor Bala Vaidhyanathan, travelled to India.

We visited The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi and IIT Bombay. Academics from Loughborough and IIT Delhi have been collaborating on research projects for more than 40 years and our visit allowed us to discuss how we might develop our strategic partnership further. Current and future research collaborations were also on the agenda at IIT Bombay.

We visited our partners Bajaj Auto, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of motorcycles and three-wheeled vehicles. Our partnership with them enables employees from the company to study for a master’s degree with us, and I was pleased to be able to present staff who had completed their studies with their certificates.

We met the Makers Lab team at Tech Mahindra, a multinational information technology services company that’s headquartered in Pune, to hear about their innovative R&D projects that are having a positive impact across different parts of Indian society.

I was also delighted to attend two receptions, in Delhi and Mumbai, where I met some Loughborough alumni, one of whom had graduated more than 60 years ago in 1958. The fondness and enthusiasm our alumni still have for Loughborough is truly wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing their many stories about their time here and learning about their lives since leaving Loughborough.

Visits such as these enable us to reinforce the partnerships we already have and forge new research, innovation and education links for the future.

Strategic ‘enabling’ projects

Our University strategy is an ambitious plan that will direct the activity of all the academic Schools and Professional Services sections over the next ten years. The Strategy’s six aims will be delivered through a series of integrated core plans, and the delivery of those plans will in turn be supported by six ‘enabling’ projects.

These interrelated projects will seek to develop our processes, our digital capabilities, our profile, our approach to compliance and our ways of working to ensure that the right foundations are in place for us to achieve our strategic aims.

Project Enable, which is exploring how we can create the capacity and thinking space staff need in order to work towards our strategic priorities, was the first to launch. It is now progressing several workstreams related to University processes – for example, updates to the assessment format and approach to placement progress meetings are estimated to result in savings of over 5,000 hours for staff; and enhancements to the ethics approvals and fieldwork risk assessment processes will remove thousands of additional checks from the processes, saving both time and resource.

Work is also underway on Project Compliance and Project Workplace. Project Compliance will ensure we can meet our regulatory requirements by making sure staff have the right skills and are empowered to take appropriate action at the right times. This will help to improve our efficiency and effectiveness and reduce bottlenecks that might hinder our progress in delivering the Strategy.

Project Workplace has begun to make changes to the way in which we use the spaces on our campuses. For example, office moves, with the introduction of some hot desking, for Marketing and Advancement and Organisational Development and Change are enabling these teams to work more collaboratively, in line with our Strategy’s core values.

Further information on all these Projects, including Expectations, Reputation and Digital, which are all in their early stages, can be found on the Organisational Development web pages and we’ll provide updates at key points as all the Projects progress.

National Tree Week: Campus Tree Necklaces

National Tree Week: Campus Tree Necklaces

November 30, 2022 Rhiannon Brown

In honour of National Tree Week 2022, Rich-Fenn-Griffin, Loughborough University’s arborist has written a second guest blog for us, this time on the tree necklaces that have been placed around campus…

Why were the tree necklaces produced?

The tree necklaces were introduced following a request from Jo Shields, the former Sustainability Manager.  She had seen a similar scheme (in Manchester, we believe) and loved how it promoted their trees and the role they play in delivering healthy ecosystems.  Consequently, she asked the Gardens Team if we could do the same for some of our ‘trees of interest.’

Why were these species picked?

The species were picked by Kaz Setchell (Gardens Manager), Rachel Senior (Assistant Gardens Manager), Mark Hillman (Senior Arborist) and Helen Exley (Arborist).  Species that were deemed of ‘interest’ were ones that had ‘stories’ to tell.  These might be historical, aesthetic, or regarding their value to biodiversity or ecosystem services.  Whilst all our tree species are special we’ve hopefully managed to pick out the ones with important messages about how we manage our world.

Where did the wood come from and who produced the necklaces?

The wood is from a campus oak.  It has been lost in the annals of time why the tree needed to be felled, although memories seem to recollect that storm damage might have been the culprit.  The necklaces were produced with no budget and all work was goodwill.  The University joiners sliced and planed the wood.  Rachel Senior (Assistant Gardens Manager) provided the words with the help of Mark Hillman (Senior Arborist).  Helen Exley (Arborist) wrote the words on the necklaces and varnished them.

What are your hopes in terms of public engagement, for having the necklaces made?

In terms of public engagement – it’s as simple as we wanted to inform people a little more about some of the trees as they walked across campus.  There are 15 trees dotted around all parts of the campus apart from Holywell Park.  There is no specific route to visit the trees – you just happen upon them. 

Will there be more tree necklaces to go up?

Possibly, although the Gardens team are considering lots of different ways of engaging campus users in the story of our trees.  We will keep everyone informed to as and when future developments take place.

Where are they?

Find the campus tree necklace map below to explore for yourselves!

This article is in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on Land. To read more click here.

Disability History Month: An interview with Loughborough Para Sport athletes Jabe and Yasmina

Disability History Month: An interview with Loughborough Para Sport athletes Jabe and Yasmina

November 30, 2022 Soph Dinnie

Jabe Peake and Yasmina Eissa discuss what it is like to be a Para Sport athlete at Loughborough, as well as what they do as part of the Para Sport Exec Committee.

What do you study at Loughborough and what year are you in?

Jabe: I am studying Maths and I’m in my fourth year of a part-time undergraduate master’s degree.

Yasmina: I study Politics, Philosophy and Economics and I’m in my second year.

What sport have you participated in and how has Loughborough helped you on this journey?

Jabe: I am a Boccia athlete and have competed for England. I have not competed so much during my Loughborough journey but it’s great to still be involved in Para Sport and give back to the community.

Yasmina: I play Para-badminton representing Egypt at an international level in the SH6 (short stature) category. There is nowhere else I’d rather be on this journey than here. Loughborough has been very supportive of my athletic career, providing me with the necessary training and support to help me in achieving my goals. My coaches and teammates have all been amazing and I’m thankful for their support.

What is your current role on the Para Sport committee?

Jabe: I am the Student Advisory Group Co-ordinator responsible for forming a panel to advise on all things accessible around campus.

Yasmina: I’m the Vice Chair on the Para Sport exec.

How important is it that this committee has been formed to help enhance the Para athletes that we have here at Loughborough?

Jabe: It is so important as it gives Para athletes a voice and allows us to form a strategy as to how we can improve Para Sport at Loughborough.

Yasmina: I think the role that this committee plays for Para athletes is essential. It helps bring attention to how the different AU sports can be more accessible to everyone. It also gives Para athletes a point of contact for anything sports related and using our connections we do our best to meet each person’s needs. The committee acts as a voice for Para athletes and we work to make Loughborough as accessible as possible for others.

What does Disability History Month mean to you?

Jabe: It’s great to have a dedicated month to raise awareness of disability and continue the momentum of the Paralympic movement.

Yasmina: While there has been more attention and inclusivity for people with disabilities there is still a large gap. Having this month allows disabled people to shed light on their achievements and highlight where improvements in accessibility are needed.

The theme of Disability History Month this year is Disability, Health and Wellbeing – what do you do to look after your wellbeing?

Jabe: I am dedicated to my wellbeing and development. I’ve invested my time and energy into setting myself up in a way that I can perform at my best. I have really enjoyed listening to motivational and personal development books and podcasts as I truly believe I am on a journey and I strive to be the best person I can be.

Yasmina: One of the most important things I do to look after my wellbeing is making sure I have time for myself to have fun and do things beyond academics, societies and sport. This can be going out with friends to eat, sitting at home and watching movies or simply taking a walk. It’s easy to get caught up with everything and sometimes I forget to just pause and do something that’s care-free and that’s why at times I have to actually put it in my agenda otherwise I won’t end up doing it. 

Does sport play a role in looking after your wellbeing?

Jabe: Getting physical exercise keeps my body in a good condition and it’s also good for my mental wellbeing.

Yasmina: For me playing sports allows me to forget about everything going on and just focus on what I’m doing. It’s like taking a break from all the stress and busyness of life. 

What would your piece of advice be for anyone who feels like they cannot get involved in sport because of a disability?

Jabe: I used to think I couldn’t get involved in sport; then I found Boccia and a 10-year career started. Look for the opportunities. They won’t always be obvious but trust me they are around.

Yasmina: I think the nature of sport has drastically changed over the past few years and there has been a lot of adaptability to allow people of different disabilities to participate. Of course, there is still so much room for improvement, but things are going in the right direction. Unfortunately, it’s not often advertised so sometimes people are not aware of the options available for them. I would recommend choosing a sport and then checking the different offers they have. At Loughborough, the Para Sport Exec is always more than happy to help guide students in finding a sport that they can get involved in.

You can keep up to date with the Para Sport Exec Committee by following them on social media:

More information on Disability History Month at Loughborough University.

Scroll to Top