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Non-binary 101

October 22, 2020 Stephen Ashurst

 GLAAD’s Accelerating Acceptance 2017 survey reveals a remarkable new era of understanding and acceptance among young people who increasingly reject traditional labels like “gay/straight” and “man/woman,” and instead talk about themselves in words that are beyond the binary – they are, in essence, igniting an identity revolution. 

GLAAD

 You’ve probably heard by now of people saying they’re non-binary or their gender is non-binary (sometimes shortened to “NB” or “enby”). Maybe you know someone who is non-binary. But what does it mean? Is it all just made up? This guide has been written to explain it clearly and simply. 

 What is a binary? 

Binary means something can have one of two values. For example in a computer everything is defined by a series of “bits” and every bit has the value 0 or 1. Binary gender means seeing gender as only having two possibilities. We call these “male” and “female”. In most countries in the world every baby born is assigned one of these two values based on their genitals. 

What is gender? 

To understand any category of gender we must understand what gender is. A person’s gender is a way of categorising them – normally using measures of masculinity and femininity. Everyone has their own balance of traits which we think of as masculine or feminine. Some people may be very masculine and not very feminine, or very feminine and not at all masculine. Most people are a mix of both. 

Someone’s gender identity is their own experience of their measures of the masculine and feminine. Their gender expression is how they display that outwardly through their behaviour and appearance. The two might be quite different, depending on how free a person feels to “be themselves”. 

 For more on this balance of masculinity and femininity, and the difference between identity and expression see The Gender Unicorn from http://www.transstudent.org

Many trans people experience gender dysphoria which is the feeling that their gender identity doesn’t match the body they have, or the way they’re expected to present and act based on their body. Its intensity can vary but it can have a serious impact on people’s ability to live their lives. 

What is a social construct?

You may have heard people say “Gender is a social construct.” This means it’s something that we create within our societies, a bit like laws, language or social norms like greetings and traditions. 

Social constructs vary by location 

Because they are made up, gender norms such as hair length and clothing styles vary in different societies and cultures, just like laws and traditions do. Think about how different traditional male presentation is in cultures such as native America, Scotland, Austria and Arab or Asian countries to give just a few examples. This is how we know it is something we’ve invented as opposed to being something fixed like the laws of physics which are the same everywhere and existed before humans. 

Social constructs also vary over time 

(Image courtesy The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, licensed under creative commons) 

Our image of gender has also changed hugely over time. Consider this image of Alexander The Great, painted circa 1494 to depict Alexander as the epitome of strength and power having conquered the entire known world. It is reasonable to assume that both Alexander and the artist, known as Master of the Griselda Legend, considered Alexander to be extremely masculine, an example of the ideal man for other men to aspire to. If we deconstruct his appearance as depicted and compare it to our 21st century Western norms however, things look quite different. 

His hair is long – something we associate with women and femininity. His one-piece garment, covering his torso and upper legs would be called a tunic then, but now we call them dresses and say they are only for women. His skin-tight leggings (feminine) are pink (feminine) and his gold ankle boots (feminine) would certainly attract comment on a man now. 

His body is slim, without the rippling muscles we see in modern examples of masculinity on magazine covers and action film posters. But perhaps most remarkable is his pose. The coquettish tilt of the head, and the flexed hand against his out-thrust hip. It would be hard to find a pose that more accurately depicts the camp femininity often associated, wrongly, with gay men. 

Why have we constructed gender the way we have? 

Social constructs often define power relationships. For example apartheid in South Africa empowered white people and disempowered black people. With gender the power has been controlled by a system known as patriarchy which empowers men and glorifies masculinity while disempowering women and demeaning femininity. Polarising gender into a binary maintains this. 

Gender and biological sex 

Typical example of how transphobic people use their ‘knowledge of science’.

We often confuse gender and sex because we use the same words, “male” and “female”, for each. We’ve described gender as your own experience of your combination of masculinity and femininity. Your sex is a description of your biology, i.e. your body. 

Even people who understand that gender can be broader than male or female, often see sex as more of a strict binary: “You’re either a boy or a girl when you’re born”. We all learn about reproduction and genetics at school so most people think they understand this science. But this view is incredibly simplified at the level to which most people study it. In reality it is more complicated. Sex is really a combination of 5 things: 

External genitalia (e.g. penis, vulva) Internal genitalia, or gonads (e.g. testicles, ovaries) Levels of various hormones (e.g. testosterone, oestrogen) Genetics (one of your pairs of chromosomes being XX, or XY) Secondary characteristics (amount of breast tissue, facial hair, Adam’s apple etc.) 

Some people’s genitals at birth are not clearly male or female. Medical professionals in most countries classify these people as intersex but with the parents will decide whether the child should be raised male or female (and may carry out surgery on the baby to make the genitals more “normal” for that sex). 

It is more common than most people realise to have different combinations of these five characteristics. For instance, some people raised as male are found to have ovaries when they have surgery or a scan. If they never had this the ovaries would never have been noticed. Most people never have their hormone levels tested, so can’t be sure whether the balance is what they would expect for their sex. Genetics is also more nuanced than most people realise, and many people cannot be clearly categorised as XX or XY. They are somewhere in between. 

When we meet people and guess their sex, we really only have secondary characteristics to go on – ignoring the fact we have no information at all for the other 4 primary aspects of their sex. 

Science now clearly backs up the view that sex is complicated, and not a clear binary. See the ‘Sex redefined‘ article in Nature journal.

If sex isn’t binary, and gender is a social construct based on sex, then gender can’t be binary. It would be a bit like a tree with more trunks that branches. 

Some trans people change aspects of their physical sex through surgery and/or taking hormones in order to better match their gender identity. The medical profession is now starting to get better at helping people do this for non-binary identities. 

Models of gender 

So gender norms vary by location and time (even within lifetimes), but for a given location at a given time people often have extremely rigid ideas of what makes for an acceptable male and an acceptable female. For instance we typically think a man should be tall and strong with short hair, and women should be small and dainty with long hair. Of course we all know people who don’t fit these expectations. 

Because people think there are only two options for gender society tries very hard to categorise everyone into one of the two. Then we criticise many people for not being a good enough fit. This is obviously terrible for the self-esteem of people who are deemed “not like they’re supposed to be”, especially if they themselves also believe there are only two genders. 

When these people learn the truth about gender the sense of freedom can be enormous. 

Some trans people who are raised as male realise they fit better in the category of female, or vice versa. Indeed this is really the only option a lot of people have been given when they say they don’t fit the gender they’re expected to. But not being an apple doesn’t necessarily make you an orange. 

Realising you can reject your assigned gender without having to try and fit the standards of another can be incredibly liberating, but sometimes scary too. 

Imagine everyone thought you were a duckling. But you didn’t look like ducklings are meant to look, so they said you were “ugly”.

…see where I’m going? You knew this all along! 

Gender and sexuality 

A lot of people think they can tell who is gay or lesbian by how they look or act. If they see someone they categorise as male but effeminate they often decide they’re gay. Or similarly if they decide they’re a masculine woman. People even predict a child will be gay based on the toys they like or clothes they dress up in. But attraction isn’t about who you are or what you’re like, it’s about who you are sexually and/or romantically drawn to. You can’t tell who someone is attracted to by looking at them (okay maybe if you watch them so much you see all of their sexual encounters, but that’s not okay!). What people are really observing is not the person’s sexuality but their gender expression. 

One of the reasons people get mixed up about gender and sexuality is the way we categorise sexuality. The labels depend on who you want to have sex with AND what your own gender is. If two people like pasta, we’re fine with that and it doesn’t matter what sex or gender they are. It doesn’t even matter if they’re Italian! But if two people are sexually attracted to women we categorise their sexuality based on whether they are also women. If they are women most people will say they’re “gay” or “lesbian”, if they’re men they’re “straight” or “heterosexual”. (Of course we know either of them could be bisexual!) 

We describe heterosexual as being attracted to the “opposite” sex. But that only works if sex is binary and we’ve already established it isn’t. 

“The opposite of a human man isn’t a human woman. It’s probably some sort of trans-dimensional octopoid slime beast.”
Andrew O’Neill Pharmacist Baffler 

If gender isn’t binary then the system for categorising sexuality starts to fail us. If gender is so complex that everyone’s gender is a unique combination of masculinity and femininity then concepts like “homosexual” (attracted to only the same gender) and “heterosexual” (attracted to only the opposite gender) become much less meaningful. 

It’s also not really clear whether by “same” and “opposite” we’re talking about gender or sex (you’ll notice this section has used a mixture of the two). Traditionally we tend to talk about “same sex” and “opposite sex”, but we’re clearly not attracted to people based on their genitals, gonads etc. so it probably has more to do with gender. But then we’re not attracted to everyone who shares the same gender identity (i.e. all men, or all women). It depends much more on hundreds of individual features and personality traits. So why do we pretend that sexuality is all based around one category at all? 

Gendered toilets, facilities and events 

Everyone knows you can only talk about trans issues for so long before you talk about toilets! A lot of toilets present a real problem for non-binary people because they are labelled using binary gender. If you’re neither male nor female, which should you pick? It’s like asking all people in the world to choose whether they’re “black or white”, “Muslim or Christian”, “tall or short”. Using either gendered toilet risks being accused of being in the wrong place and could lead to embarrassment or even violence. Even people who identify as male or female but don’t “fit the mould” face this problem. 

Why do we have gendered toilets? 

“We’ve all grown up with gendered toilets, so we understand that they’re necessary to keep people safe and decent. If you allowed men and women to use the same toilets they would have sex there, maybe without consent. In keeping men and women apart we ensure this doesn’t happen. It’s the same reason we have separate schools, women aren’t allowed into gentlemen’s clubs or golf courses and no woman must ever be in the same room as man she is not related to without a chaperone”. [/satire] 

Clearly these ideas only hold up if everyone is heterosexual (which they are not) and don’t have self-control (which they do). They come from an era of Victorian sex-negativity and shaming. We have shaken off these attitudes in many areas, but they seem to persist with toilets. Even single-user toilets are often gendered as if people of different genders can’t use the same facilities… 

…unless you’re disabled of course. Or at a festival, or on a plane, or a train, or a small café with one loo. You probably also have a gender-neutral toilet at home. 

Gendered toilets also create problems for architects and building users because someone has to guess how many men and women will be using the building. Look how often women have to queue for toilets in theatres etc. when men don’t. If there were just lots of toilets anyone could use it would be fair for everyone. 

It’s not just toilets 

Lots of other facilities are gendered. For instance changing rooms in gyms and swimming pools, or clothes shops. Anyone not matching the expected model of “male” or “female” can and do get turned away from both, whether they are non-binary, trans or cisgender (meaning their gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth). 

Then there are events – if the Race For Life is only for women, can non-binary people take part? Stag and hen nights are for groups of men and women – which should you go to if you’re non-binary? What about sports? Do you compete in the men’s tennis or the women’s? 

Thankfully more and more buildings are adopting gender-neutral toilets, and some sports are moving in the right direction. Roller Derby allows non-binary people to compete in either the men’s or women’s game and the 2020 Olympics will have some mixed gender events. But there is a long way to go

Pronouns 

Gender is hard-coded into most languages. We use gendered words called pronouns when we talk about people, e.g. “he, him, his” for men and “she, her, hers” for women. We normally guess which to use based on someone’s name and appearance. 

In English we also have a set of pronouns which don’t depend on gender. A lot of non-binary people prefer to be referred to using these pronouns. 

TheyThemTheirThey are nice
I like them
That is their house 

asked to use “they” for a non-binary person. But as it turns out they are wrong. They probably use “they” to talk about one person all the time. I’ve just done it, and you might not have even noticed. When we don’t know the gender of a person we’re talking about we use “they” naturally. For example imagine you’re in a meeting and somebody interrupts to tell you there is someone at reception who wants to speak to you. You might ask 

“Do you know who they are?” “Could you ask them if it’s urgent?” “Did they give you their name?” 

People have also created new pronouns which are not gendered which some non-binary people use, for example:

ZeZirZirsZe are nice
I like zir
That is zirs house 

It can be difficult to get used to non-gendered pronouns. Even non-binary people who use them sometimes make mistakes. It takes some effort to change your mental programming. But it is important to use the pronouns a person wants used when talking about them (there I go again). If you’re not sure what pronouns they use, just ask. If you make a mistake, it’s not a big deal. Just correct yourself and move on. 

Are non-binary people transgender? 

Transgender is normally defined as someone whose gender identity doesn’t match the sex they were assigned at birth. So, if you were assigned male or female at birth but your identity is non-binary then it is valid to say you’re transgender. Not all non-binary people use this label though, and it is up to individuals to decide if they want to. 

What about genderqueer, genderfluid, agender etc? 

Non-binary is often seen as an umbrella term for all of the more specific gender identities which fall outside “man or woman”, as well as being an identity in itself. 

That’s all folks!

Some people, whether they’re cis or trans, are very happy to identify as male or female, and that’s fine. But you don’t have to be one or the other! 

Now your head is full of thoughts of gender, why not fill in your own Gender Unicorn? Have you ever thought about where you lie along each of these lines?! 

Making the right choice for me - Apprenticeship Experience

Making the right choice for me - Apprenticeship Experience

October 21, 2020 Guest Blogger

When it was time to apply for university, I really didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do. I didn’t know where I wanted to live, what career I wanted, what I’d study, or even if I’d do well enough in my A-levels to go anywhere. Continue reading

A Londoner's guide: Getting to know Stratford

A Londoner's guide: Getting to know Stratford

October 20, 2020 Loughborough University London

This guide highlights the most popular activities/ attractions to help you get to know Stratford, East London.


If you were one of the millions of people who tuned in to watch the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, then you’ll have seen some of the landmark buildings that make up the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford. Stratford underwent a full regeneration ad was completely revamped for the 2012 Olympic Games, resulting in it becoming a buzzing shopping and leisure hub and one of the most desired places to reside in the city of London! Here is our guide to the top 10 popular attractions in Stratford.

1. ArcelorMittal Orbit

Call yourself a dare-devil? Then tick the world’s longest tunnel Slide off your bucket list! At 178m long, the 12 twists and turns wind through the UK’s tallest sculpture finishing with a devilish corkscrew section named the ‘bettfeder’ – after the German word for ‘bedspring’ .During the descent, you’ll catch glimpses of the Park and London’s skyline through the transparent sections before plunging into darkness – leaving your mind to guess which direction you’ll drop next!

2. Queen Elizabeth park boat tours

A boat tour is a great way to find out about the park and explore some of the waterways that run through it. Tours leave every hour from midday, seven days a week from Easter to mid-September and last 45 minutes. Look out for some of the 84 species of wildlife that occupy the 560 acres of the park.

3. Aquatics centre

In 2012, the spectacular London Aquatics Centre, designed by architect Zaha Hadid, provided the breath-taking backdrop to countless world records and Ellie Simmonds’ dramatic swim into the history books. Designed for swimmers of all abilities, from absolute beginners to Olympic and Paralympic champions. London Aquatics Centre offers a wide-ranging programme of activities; fun family sessions, lane swimming, diving, swimming and diving lessons, community swim sessions and other aquatic discipline.

4. Westfield Stratford City shopping centre

With 250 shops plus 70 places to dine, Westfield Stratford City is the largest shopping mall in Europe and the new lifestyle destination for East London. World-class leisure facilities include Vue Cinema, one of the largest, most innovative all-digital cinemas in Europe boasting 17 all digital screens; All Star Lanes, a luxury bowling experience; and finally, the new 65,000ft Aspers Casino with its two bars and 80 seat restaurant will set a benchmark in the UK, being the first to be granted a large casino license.

5. Canalside

Literally on the door step of Loughborough university london, This buzzing area home to all manner of companies and institutions. Located on the banks of the Lee Canal, Canalside offers a hub of independent cafés, bars and restaurants and is the perfect spot for a drink or a bite to eat. Just want drinks? Cocktails and retro arcade games from Four Quarter East and cold-pressed juices from Mother for unbeatable concoctions.

6. Theatre Royal

The Theatre Royal Stratford East is a 460-seater community theatre that produces new theatre shows and comedy. Since 1953, Theatre Royal Stratford East has been the home of the Theatre Workshop company and runs lots of performing activities for teen and a family-friendly annual panto.

7. Lee Valley VeloPark

Lee Valley VeloPark is a hub of cycling activity for beginners through to elite cyclists. Cycle on the track where Team GB won gold seven times during London 2012 in the Olympic velodrome, explore five miles of mountain bike trails, get pumped on the BMX track or speed your way around the one-mile road circuit; Lee Valley VeloPark caters for every type of cyclists in this iconic setting.

8. The Copperbox arena

The Copper Box was the first venue in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to reopen to the public. You can have a workout in the gym, take part in activities in the state-of-the-art sports hall, or just enjoy a coffee and a bite to eat in the cafe. The Copper Box hosted the Handball, Modern Pentathlon Fencing and Paralympic Goalball during the London 2012 Games. Now home to the London Lions basketball team, it is a major venue for everything from premiership basketball to pop concerts and private bookings.

9. Wire & Sky Abseil the UK’s tallest sculpture

Experience the most breath taking views London has to offer while soaring 80 metres above the ground. Abseiling the ArcelorMittal orbit will be an unforgettable experience – definitely one for the bucket list!

10. London Stadium

Built to host London 2012, the former Olympic Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is home to Premier League football club West Ham United and UK Athletics. With rock concerts through the intervening months, this versatile venue has also seen us host the Rugby World Cup, international and domestic Rugby Union, The Race of Champions, the RFL Four Nations and was home for the first Major League Baseball games to be played in Europe. You can see what performances are on offer or simply book a tour and take a journey through the players’ changing rooms, athletes’ warm up track and player’s tunnel before finishing pitch side at the famous venue.


To find out about, please visit Exploring London and our guide to travelling across London on our website.

Goodbye summer, hello autumn

Goodbye summer, hello autumn

October 20, 2020 Sadie Gration

With the transition of seasons from summer to autumn, we’re all beginning to notice the drop in temperature and the increasingly darker mornings and evenings each day.

In this article, the University’s Sustainability Manager Jo Shields explains how you can keep warm whilst looking after the environment by choosing sustainable fabrics that boast impressive properties.

As the days get shorter and the mercury begins to fall, I have finally given in and done my summer to winter clothes swap. The Birkenstocks have gone to the back of the shoe cupboard, and the boots back upfront.

If you want to be prepared for the cold season, you should consider which fabrics will keep you warm and cosy. Layers are also a great way to prepare for changes in temperature and deal with the great British weather.

Remember, there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes. For example, did you know that anywhere between 30%-50% of heat is lost through your head? So if you’re cold, a top tip of mine is to wear a hat!

Fabrics to keep you warm

Wool, cashmere, hemp, flannel, mohair and cotton are all great materials to look for in clothing as the weather turns cooler. These types of fabrics will generally have a tighter weave so will trap air rather than letting it pass through. The more air your clothing hangs onto, the warmer you will be as it naturally insulates your body.

There are other fabrics available as well, but they are not natural and tend to be derived from oil so they are not as sustainable, although still very effective as base layers and for warmth. In this blog, I am going to focus on warm, sustainable fabrics you can incorporate into your winter wardrobe.

Wool – If you’re after a natural option to keep you warm this winter, wool is your answer. Merino wool is a particular favourite of mine. It is more expensive, but if you look after it will last for years. Wool has the ability to trap air in little pockets, providing excellent insulation.

Hemp – It’s warm, soft and has a low impact on the environment.

Flannel – This is wool that has been brushed to lift the fibres so it can trap the heat better and feels very soft against the skin. 

Organic Cotton – Much better for farming and the land with crops produced toxin-free. It protects the eco-systems by using less water and the people working on farms are treated better too. It is also softer than normal cotton and hypoallergenic.

Bamboo – This is a personal favourite of mine and it is great for the environment as it is a fast-growing crop. Bamboo is antibacterial, meaning you’ll smell fresh all day too. It is also an extremely soft fabric and will keep you warm throughout the winter months by wicking sweat away from your body.

Linen – It is naturally insulating due to its hollow fibres and it dries faster than cotton. 

Soybeans – Soybean fibre is a material derived from food production waste, making it even better for the planet. It is occasionally called the vegetable cashmere and it’s certainly a lot cheaper than this expensive, animal-derived product. Better yet, any garments made from this material are soft and very easy to look after, so they should last you for many years.

rPET (Recycled Polyester) – One of my favourite dresses is made from this and bonus – you don’t need to iron it! Anyone interested in the environment knows the damage that plastic is causing to the entire planet. To combat this, manufacturers are using polyethylene terephthalate and recycling it to create a material called rPET. This material is essentially made from plastic bottles used by consumers.

Tencel – Made from wood, this material can be used to create everything from warm jumpers to lighter trousers. Better yet, it is made using a closed-loop technology. As a result, chemicals and water are reused, reducing the impact on the planet.

In summary, there are many fibres used in clothing that can help keep you warm and have a low impact on the environment.  It is always worth having a quick look at the labels to see what an item is made from. 

I would also strongly advocate buying second hand. I would say half of my wardrobe is made up of charity shop finds; my latest is a 100% cashmere jacket and last winter I managed to find a 100% wool coat for £4.50 with the original labels still on.

Stay warm, stay safe and check out your local charity shop…you might just surprise yourself with what you will find.

Find out more about the Sustainability team on their website, and check out their dedicated blog, Sustainably Speaking

Update and Partial Removal of Java Client from Windows 10 Staff Service

October 19, 2020 Mike Collett

Oracle Java has been part of the Windows Service for a very long time. It has been used with Internet Browsers via the Java Plugin. Many corporate services at Loughborough have been built using Oracle technology that requires Java.

However, over time, the use of Java has diminished in the wider world. All browsers, except Internet Explorer, have stopped supporting the Java Plugin. Many users want to use a modern browser such as Chrome or Edge, but some of Loughborough’s Corporate apps would only work with IE.

In addition, in January 2019 Oracle demanded that licenses must be purchased for using the Java client with non-Oracle systems. This has further reduced the popularity of Java amongst users.

The University’s Corporate Apps, especially LUSI, have now been modified to work with Oracle Forms Standalone Launcher and called the LUSI Menu System (LMS). A successful trial began early in 2020. However, full rollout was delayed due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. At the start of lockdown the trial was expanded, because the LUSI Menu System performed better over the VPN than the web based version. There are current around 260 installations of LMS on the Windows 10 Staff Service.

Starting next Monday (26th October) a series of changes will take place to complete the transition from running Java in Internet Explorer to Oracle Forms Standalone Launcher. On this date, the Java based forms will be removed from the web based corporate apps. Following on from this, the Java Client will be removed from all Windows Service staff client except those with the LUSI menu system installed. The version installed (11.0.8) will not include the Java plugs.

The Schedule for the update/removal of Java is as follows:-

28th October – IT Service and Careers
3rd November – Professional Services
4th November – Schools A-M
10th November – Schools N-Z

CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION AND HELP?
Please contact our Service Desk at it.services@lboro.ac.uk for more information

This Week at Loughborough | 19 October

October 19, 2020 Alex Stephens

Featured

Black History Month

White Lies? Examining how Academia Reproduces Racism

20 October, 3 – 4.30pm, Online

This event is organised by the Open Research Collective. They are part of an international network of ReproducibiliTea journal clubs and the local UK Reproducibility Network at Loughborough University.

Join a discussion on how academic systems such as funding, peer-review and publication reproduce and enable racial disparities.

Our goal is to have fruitful conversation, think outside the box of “but we have always done it like this” and to examine our own place in academia.

For more booking details visit the event page.

Early Graduate Stories

21 October, 6 – 7.15pm, Online

Join recent graduates for this online panel event as they discuss their experiences as Black students, family and culture, role models and support networks, and workplaces.

You will have the chance to hear from alumni working across several different sectors, including engineering and banking.

Our speakers are:

  • Aisha Adedeji, Business Relationship Manager at Barclays
  • Raphael Amajouyi, Energy and Sustainability Development Consultant at Hurley Palmer Flatt
  • Triston Andre, Change Manager at BT and Founder at Gentleman of Growth

Booking information for this event can be found on the event page.

UNISON Reading Challenge Launch

22 October, 12 – 1pm, Online

This year in the wake of the BLM protests around the world we have decided to run this year’s reading challenge with a focus on Black and minority writers and literature.

The event will have special guest, the Vice-Chancellor, who is a lifelong supporter of the challenge. The challenge itself will be introduced and there will be a discussion on Black history within literature.

The challenge invites participants to pick six reads and record and review them in a personal reading diary within a six month period.

To sign up for this challenge please contact c.angus@lboro.ac.uk or visit the event page to find out more information.

Feel of Africa: Textile Print Workshop

23 October, 2 – 5pm, TBC

Get creative and learn about the history of African textiles and the many symbols and meanings contained within the colourful designs.

Working with textile and fashion designer Jue Djaló you will then use a variety of printing techniques, from screen to lino printing to mark making, to create your own unique item. During the workshop you will be printing onto a canvas bag which you can then take away with you at the end of the workshop.

This workshop has been organised in collaboration between LU Arts and the Ethnic Minorities Network.

Find out how to book onto the workshop and more about Jue Djaló’s work on the event page.

Stories of Agency in Africa

23 October, 4 – 5.30pm, Online

Western stereotypes have long represented Africa as a passive continent, waiting to be “saved” by benevolent outsiders from poverty and conflict.

By showcasing research carried out by researchers in the Humanities, Politics and International Relations who have worked and lived in different countries (Kenya, South Africa, Ivory Coast, Senegal, etc), this online panel aims to give a different image of the African continent and refocus the attention on the agency of African countries and their people.

Our five short presentations will highlight the spirit of initiative, negotiations and creativity that Africans display even in difficult circumstances and question myths and realities around conflicts and ‘failed states’, as much as regulating normal life. 

More about the panel and booking information can be found on the event page.

Unite Webinar – Black employees personal experiences working in HE

23 October, 6.30 – 8pm, Online

General topic discussion about Black employees working in the HE sector in the East Midlands region with guest speaker Mr Lenford Vessell from Nottingham University.

Booking information for the event can be found on the event page.

Black Culture and Relationships discussion

24 October, 3 – 4.30pm, Online

An online discussion led by the Ethnic Minorities Network in collaboration with Consent and Sexual Health (CASH) discussing all things dating and relationship culture.

Register your place by emailing W&DEthnicMinoritiesOfficer@lsu.co.uk or find out more information from the event page.

Autumn Careers Fair

19 – 23 October, Online

We are really excited for you to be part of our first ever Online Careers Fair. This year’s Fair will last all week and will give you the chance to engage with a range of employers from a number of different sectors and industries.

There will be both ‘Live and Interactive’, in addition to ‘On-demand’ content available. The best thing about it? You can access all of this from the comfort of your own room.

Take a look at our dedicated website, and book your space at each event using Careers Online.

Happy Mondays: Portrait Illustration Workshop

19 October, 7 – 9pm, Cognito – LSU

Have a break from your computers and join Pickle Illustration for a creative and relaxing two hour workshop as we tackle the drawing of portraits. Using traditional pen and ink pots we will teach you how to create stylised characterful faces.

The workshop will include some fun warm-up exercises, drawing facial features and you’ll come away with some illustrations of friends and family, which can make wonderful presents. This is for all abilities, non drawers are encouraged.

More information and how to book can be found on the event page.

How to Reshape Your Bones

20 October, 6 – 7pm, Online

Online public lecture presented by Dr Katherine Brooke-Wavell discussing how bone shape, as well as density, can affect risk of osteoporotic fracture, how hone size and shape continue to change over the lifecycle and how exercise can affect bone shape. It will also cover how a few hops a day can change your bones.

Booking information and more public lecture events can be found on the event page.

Was Tolstoy a Populist?

21 October, 2 – 3pm, Online

Leo Tolstoy is sometimes mentioned in passing as self-evidently a Russian populist. But was he? What did he stand for? Can his ideas or his political engagements be characterised as ‘populist’? What was his opinion of contemporary populists? What did he understand as, and claim about, ‘the people’ and social division?

Hosted by the Populism Research Group, Alex Christoyannopoulos will outline some of the core tenets of Tolstoy’s political theory. After this tentative answers will be explored to try to determine the accuracy of descriptions of Tolstoy as ‘populist’ and to reflect upon possible implications.

Booking information is available on the event page.

Dollie Radford’s Lyrics of Modernity

21 October, 4 – 5pm, Online

Dr Sarah Parker, who co-convenes the Cultural Currents 1870-1930 research group. The title of Dr Parker’s talk is ‘Dollie Radford’s Lyrics of Modernity’. The English Research Seminar series runs bi-monthly in term times and showcases staff and postgraduate research across the subject area.

Visit the event page for booking information.

Business Model Canvas and Pitching Your Idea

22 October, Online

Time to get your idea into action. Run by LSU Enterprise this workshop will take you through the key building blocks that make up a business plan and how to pitch your ideas to investors.

Book your place and learn more on the event page.

The Clamour of Nationalism: Race, Nation and Leftist Complicities

23 October, 1 – 2pm, Online

A talk delivered by Professor Sivamohan Valluvan as part of the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture (CRCC) Seminar Series.

In line with the recent publication of Sivamohan Valluvan’s The Clamour of Nationalism, this talk will explore the contradictory ideological field across which today’s nationalism has been able to establish its validity and appeal.

The talk will draw extended attention to the complicities here of certain left factions and sensibilities. It will be contended that not only is this an abject betrayal of working class struggle as imagined along with anti-racist and cosmopolitan terms, but an opportunist left cannot even hope to gain on this terrain – as it is the political right that retains the more credible and well-trained authority to always triumph if offered these terms.

More information and how to book is available on the event page.

Self-Care Sundays: Relax n Bake with Cook n Bake Society

25 October, 4 – 5pm, Online

Join Ellie from Loughborough’s popular student society: Cook ‘n’ Bake, for Self-Care Sunday. This workshop will help you make two simple bakes, butter biscuits, which are deliciously easy, and some extra naughty chocolate muffins. These recipes are super easy so whether you’re experienced in the kitchen or a beginner these will make your Sunday tasty!

A list of ingredients you will need and how to join are available on the event page.


Got something for This Week at Loughborough? Email us at digital@lboro.ac.uk

Hello world!

October 15, 2020 Stephen Ashurst

Welcome to Loughborough University Blogs. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

A Londoner's guide: The Top 10 apps

A Londoner's guide: The Top 10 apps

October 15, 2020 Loughborough University London

The latest generation of smartphones comes with a panoply of apps to get you started, from email and photography to navigation. Listed below are the top 10 apps to aid your convenience and practicality in London.

1. City Mapper

Citymapper is a public transit app and mapping service which displays transport options, usually with live timing, between any two locations in a supported city. It integrates data for all urban modes of transport, including walking, cycling and driving, in addition to public transport. (Android / iOS – Free)

2. TFL Oyster and Contactless App

Allows you manage your contactless and Oyster cards on the go, view your journey history, get notifications before your Travelcards expires and manage multiple season tickets and cards on the go. (Android / iOS – Free)

3. UNiDAYS

UNiDAYS is a discount website that is available for free to students worldwide. Current students in higher education can sign up with UNiDAYS to get discounted deals on products and services. Save up to 20% on eating out and retail purchases simply by registering your student email account – why wouldn’t you?! (Android / iOS – Free)

4. WAZE (For Drivers)

Google Maps and Apple Maps both do a good job as GPS navigation apps, but if you’re after an alternative, Waze – also owned by Google – is well worth a look. It draws on 90 million drivers for live and concise traffic data, and has good features to plan your journeys, including leaving at the right time. (Android / iOS – Free)                                                                       

5. Uber/ Uber Eats

Uber has deployed its ride-hailing platform in 400 cities around the world since its launch in San Francisco on 31 May 2010. You may have already heard of / used an Uber before. It is without a doubt the most convenient form of taxi service in London.We are also fortunate enough to have uber eats now which enables you to order your favourite food/ drinks – at any time of the day. (Android / iOS- Free)

6. Santander Bike

A Tourism staple in London Commonly known as Boris Bikes for the former mayor (and current Prime Minister) who started the service, Santander Cycles are a convenient and environmentally-friendly way to get around London. (Android / iOS – Free)

7. HiddenLondon

Developed and compiled by a born-and-bred Londoner, the Hidden London app is focused on unknown, buried, or overlooked places. Among some of the most interesting include Roman thermal baths in central London, a crypt underneath Fleet Street, and the first English dictionary, housed in the home that saw it be born. (Android / iOS – Free)

8. MET OFFICE Weather 

Weather in London, much like the rest of the UK, can change in a matter of minutes and really affect your trip. Your phone probably already has a weather service, but Met Office is the top provider for the most accurate UK weather information. (Android / iOS – Free)         

9. Monzo

Monzo is an excellent choice if you live in the UK, a digital bank that could easily replace your old bank and its FSCS protected. The app allows you to efficiently save money and consistently track your outgoings. You can enable notifications and automated payments and have full control over your finances at the tap of a finger. Monzo has also recently introduces many new features and your able to use you Monzo as an oyster card if you don’t already have one. (Android / iOS – Free)

                                               
10. Microsoft Outlook

On the desktop, Microsoft’s Outlook email software is still used in lots of businesses, even if it isn’t always loved. But on mobile, the revamped Outlook app has been a critical hit: simply and stylishly blending email, calendar and file management, and working well with other services including Gmail and Yahoo Mail. (Android / iOS – Free)


To find out about, please visit Exploring London and our guide to travelling across London on our website.

Artist Hugo Vera uncovers his first encounter with graphic design, his move to the UK and the start of his growing freelance journey.

Artist Hugo Vera uncovers his first encounter with graphic design, his move to the UK and the start of his growing freelance journey.

October 14, 2020 LU Arts

By Laura Khamis

Born and raised in Venezuela, Hugo Vera is a graphic design student that moved to the UK to study Fine Arts at Loughborough University. Having discovered an innate love for art, his move to the UK defined the start of his journey towards something he truly enjoyed. His accidental discovery of graphic design whilst witnessing a graphic design student and friend at work inspired his decision to also become a graphic design student. Having lived in an environment that hindered his creative expression, his artwork explores the endless possibilities that come with graphic design.

With an Instagram page filled with striking art, we witness artwork and graphics with a variety of subjects, mainly in portrait format. However, his depiction of his chosen subjects differs from the use of subtle, sensual detailing to the formation of extravagant and vibrant characters. His work has led to a number of commissions in which he effortlessly adds a personal touch to each piece. For this very reason, Hugo has worked with some of the US’ biggest artists to date including DaBaby, Gucci Mane, Nicki Minaj and Megan Thee Stallion. His ever-growing style and confidence has continued to bring forth more outstanding opportunities. However, these projects only mark the beginning of his journey as a freelance artist as leads up to his final year at Loughborough University.

Hugo tells as more about the start of his art journey, some of his biggest opportunities to date and what he works to achieve after university.

Tell me a bit about yourself and your background.

I was born and raised in Venezuela. However, after years of corruption, my country became too dangerous to live in which left my family no choice but to emigrate to Spain in 2014. I’ve always been interested in art, but it wasn’t until I moved and started studying art in school that I realized that being an artist was actually a career path that was available for me, one that just wasn’t possible living in Venezuela. This new country seemed more open and advanced, though it still didn’t feel like the place that was going to open the doors that I wanted. That is why I chose to start applying to universities in the UK as it seemed like a place where the arts were more appreciated. I made my mind up and just left Spain without any idea of what was waiting for me in this entirely new environment.

When did you first discover your love for graphic design? What inspired you?

It was actually all thanks to Loughborough. I started my Foundation Course with the intention of following the Fine Art path. All I knew before England was that artists did Fine Art in school and that was the end of it, but I discovered that I am way more drawn to graphic design. I saw my friends doing character design and animation and I found myself being incredibly jealous of them while I was struggling with my Fine Art projects. After that, I decided to change courses and it has been the best decision I’ve ever made, after moving to the UK.

When did you then begin making the artwork that you now post regularly on your social media?

Although I love classical painting, I have been interested in digital art since the age of eleven. I remember borrowing my dad’s iPad 1 and drawing portraits with my finger. From this point on, I just kept going, I never stopped drawing on an iPad. My art kept getting better and better, and it became the art that you can find today on my social media. I now have an iPad Pro and I have mastered what I view as my art style and I couldn’t be happier with where I am at the moment.

How would you describe your style of art and graphic design?

I stopped caring about having a consistent art style a long time ago. I struggled so much with this, as I envied other successful artists with amazing and consistent art styles. Until I realized that having only one strict art style is, at least for me, incredibly boring! I now draw whatever I feel like drawing when I’m bored, and that has seemed to work for me these past few years. People seem to like what I do, and I am happy to share what I do. I would describe my art as changing and evolving constantly. I love to play with colour, shapes and textures. I never want to put myself inside a box because I would feel like I have nothing else to learn or no more growing to do, and I never want to feel that way.

What does your artwork allow you to personally express?

I honestly just draw for myself. I draw only what interests me and motivates me. That’s why you’ll mostly find fan art of my favourite singers or movies. I draw when I’m bored and only when I enjoy what I am doing. I think this mindset allows my art to be very honest and personal as I will not force anything to come out from my hands if I’m not proud of it. I want to entertain and inspire the people that follow me through my hobby. All my followers see is an honest representation of the person I am at that moment in time. 

You’ve worked with a number of iconic and big American artists, how did these collaborations come about and how was it like working with such big names?

Being on social media for such a long time and growing a following allows me to connect with people that can mean great opportunities for my personal growth as an artist. I met an art director called Flash, who suddenly appeared in my DMs offering me projects that involved big names like Cardi B and Kehlani. At first, I thought it was a scam, but I wouldn’t forgive myself for missing such big opportunities, so I said yes. Unfortunately, these projects weren’t successful for me. It wasn’t until Flash offered me the Megan Thee Stallion project that this whole thing actually took off. This project was a wild ride after I worked on it for a week. Then they added Nicki Minaj to the song, which turned it into two weeks. Everything felt like a dream, until the song was out, and my drawing was in Spotify, but even then, it still felt fake!

After that I have worked on projects like Fendi by Nicki Minaj and Richer Than Errybody by Gucci Mane, which is still insane. I feel incredibly blessed to be in this position, but I know it all comes from my great effort and years of practice, which I’m very proud of.

What has been your favourite collaboration or project and why?

I am currently doing a piece for Rose Mcgowan. She has been a hero of mine since forever, starring in some of my favourites like Jawbreaker and Planet Terror, and series like Charmed. I made a drawing of her a few days ago and she happened to see it and enjoy it. She messaged me and we’ve been chatting like were friends. This is such a mind-blowing experience for me, and the fact that through my art I can meet my heroes is unbelievable. I have many stories like this, but it never fails to blow my mind every time my drawing of someone turns into me meeting them, and I’m not planning on stopping anytime soon.

What are you working towards for the rest of 2020?

It’s honestly hard to know where any of us are going to be in the next few months thanks to the current state of the world. I lost my chance of going on placement and had to figure my life out quickly. My main focus are my studies, I want to finish my last year proudly and my work as a freelancer is on the side. I am doing work at the moment to save up for what’s coming, but I want my life to go back to being balanced. I want to educate myself and grow as an artist; the rest can wait. I feel blessed with the opportunities I have been handed, and I am planning to continue saying yes to most of them, but I am still figuring things out on my own and winging it most of the time. All these things came with blood, sweat and tears, but it doesn’t stop here as I want to continue making wise decisions and enjoying every step of the way. That is the only path that will take me to where I want to end up at.


Laura Khamis is a 20-year-old is a freelance writer and English Literature undergrad whose work predominantly highlights the success of young, creative individuals with social and political references from time to time. Through her work, she aims to proudly embrace everything about creative youth culture and its influence on music, fashion and more. You can check out Laura’s portfolio of work at www.laurakhamis.com.

Introducing your LSU Doctoral Researcher Co-Presidents (2020-21)

October 12, 2020 Dr Katryna Kalawsky

Written by Callie Merrick and Nathan Ritchie

Callie Merrick:

Hello! I am Callie Merrick and I am one half of the LSU Doctoral Researcher Presidents Team for the coming academic year. Myself and Nathan Ritchie will be leading and representing the doctoral community, with almost fifteen years of experience between us. We hope to be able to listen to your concerns, address issues and give guidance, hopefully while having a bit of fun too!

A photo in which I look worryingly like my mother.

A few things about me:

  • Here’s the classic university student introduction – I am currently in the final year of my PhD in the Environmental Ergonomics Research Centre. My research is looking at how humans integrate different senses to form an overall perception of wetness in the outside world.
  • I have always been proactive in the university community, whether this is being an academic representative, student ambassador or peer mentor.  I guess you could say I’m a bit of a people person?
  • When I’m not busy with university work, I’m often at the ice rink, tandem cycling or herding guinea pigs – probably a little less standard!
  • It sounds cliché, but I’m very motivated by happiness (and cake). I always want to make the best of things and ensure that everyone has good experiences.

What I hope to achieve in the role:

  • I hope to make a strong network between reps of all schools so that information flows easily between students and staff, which is really important to help academic journeys run smoothly. If you think this is something you would be good at, applications to become an academic representative open on the 5th October.
  • Act as communication point between doctoral researchers, LSU, the Doctoral College and the PhD SSN. It looks like we’re going to need a list of acronyms too!
  • Become an approachable voice within the community such that people can come to me for anything and everything, be it help, advice or even complaints. Whether an issue is large or small, everyone deserves to be heard. 
  • Create new initiatives for a range of Doctoral Researchers and celebrate their ongoing achievements.

So, that’s a short introduction from me. If you have any suggestions or queries for the coming year and would like to get in touch – our contact details are at the end of this blog.

Nathan Richie:

Hi! My name is Nathan Ritchie and I am your LSU Doctoral Researcher Co-President for the 2020/21 academic year. I am going to introduce myself in 500 words so you can get to know me a little better.


When you hate to smile.. go blue steel and monochrome

Along with your other Co-President, Callie Merrick, we will be the leading representative voice for our Doctoral Research community here at Loughborough. Not only representing views and concerns but also taking action for the betterment of both current and future Doctoral Researchers. We may all be junior in terms of researchers, but we are the most experienced group of students at the university. So, together we have a lot to offer!

Five things to know about me:

  • I am from Newport, Telford. A small town in Shropshire in the West Midlands. It is about a 2 hour journey by train from Loughborough. And yes, it is also a name of one the halls of residence.
  • I am in the final year of my PhD. I am in the School of Social Sciences and Humanities and my research interests centre on connections between history, politics, and media. My thesis looks at the Partition of British India and its representation in the UK press.
  • I have been a module/course/school representative throughout my time in Higher Education. That totals around 7 years of rep experience!  
  • When I am not representing or PhD..ing? I enjoy endurance sports, listening to radio and music and catching up with friends.  Pretty standard stuff.
  • I am guided by a clear set of values. I believe in fairness of opportunity for all and increased support for those facing additional challenges.

Anyway, that’s me summed up in five bullet points.  I am always available to chat if you ever want to catch up and get to know each other a bit more. I want to hear from as many Doctoral Researchers as possible this year.


It’s me under a double rainbow, under a waterfall.

Five primary Presidential Team duties:

  • Work together with the representatives from each school. Want to be a rep and join the team? You can apply here to be a Lead Representative or through your school administrators to be a representative.
  • Develop clear communication channels between Doctoral Researchers, LSU, and Doctoral College. Work closely with the Doctoral College throughout the year.
  • Be a leading voice in the community. Stand up for shared values and beliefs and promote equality and diversity. Celebrate achievements of PGRs and raise concerns on behalf of the community when necessary.
  • Formulate initiatives that will benefit the Doctoral Researcher community.
  • Signpost – making sure Doctoral Researchers are aware of both on-and off-campus services.

If you feel that we, your Presidential Team, are failing on any one of these key duties and/or you have any ideas to help us fulfil them, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at any point throughout the year (C.Merrick@lboro.ac.uk and N.Ritchie@lboro.ac.uk).

Please also follow us on Twitter: @DrPresTeamLboro @ckmerrick6 @NathanRitchie16

Recharge your batteries with LU Arts’ Self-Care Sundays

Recharge your batteries with LU Arts’ Self-Care Sundays

October 12, 2020 Loughborough University London

This term, LU Arts is launching Self-Care Sundays to help you take some time out for yourself and recharge your batteries ready for the start of a new week. The workshops combine creative skills and mindfulness techniques and practices.

Continue reading

My experience of being a Welsh student at an English University

October 12, 2020 Guest Blogger

Hello, I am Hannah, and I have just completed my degree in Sport Management at Loughborough. As you can probably guess from the title, I am from Wales. I did not really think about the differences of living in England compared to Wales before I started university. So, for those of you who are Welsh and making the move, I thought I would share my experiences of studying outside the land of song.  

Student Finance  

Firstly, I thought I would start with a very important aspect of being a student, finance. As a Welsh student you will need to go to Student Finance Wales to apply for funding, which is different to English students. The website gives you all the information you need regarding how and when to apply, and outlines what financial support is available to you. The website also gives the details regarding the Welsh Government Learning Grant, which helps with expenses while studying. I would definitely recommend reading through the website before you apply so you know what you are entitled to.  

Can you speak Welsh? 

Be prepared to be asked this question numerous times, and not just during freshers, but throughout your whole university experience. Having only studied GCSE short course, the best I could do were simple phrases such as “dw i’n hoffi coffi” which means I like coffee for those who do not speak Welsh. Nevertheless, these still seemed to go down well with those who asked. So, I would certainly recommend looking through those Welsh textbooks to remind yourself on how to say those simple phrases. For those of you who can speak Welsh well, knowing Europe’s longest place name Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch becomes a really good party trick! 

Welsh Rugby 

Rugby is a big part of the culture in Wales, as pretty much everyone I know owns a Welsh rugby top. However, being in England you will come across seas of white tops during the six nations. While as a Welsh rugby fan, beating the English is a top priority, I never anticipated the amusement of watching a Wales v England match with supporters of both sides. The English supporters are not as bad as you may think, and they actually can appreciate a decent kick. So definitely bring your Welsh shirt but be prepared, the England rugby fans are just as invested as us Welsh! 

How far is that away from Cardiff?  

Unless you are actually from Cardiff or Swansea, no one really knows exactly where you are from. If you are from South Wales, you will most likely say the proximity of your village or town to Swansea or Cardiff. If you are from North Wales, the proximity from Liverpool or Chester will usually help. 

Signs 

Something I did not really think about were signs. Growing up in Wales you do not really know any different when it comes to signs, road signs especially, being in Welsh and English. Until I moved to university, I did not even think about Welsh not being on almost every sign you read. I often found myself skipping lines expecting there to be the Welsh translation. What is even more confusing is adapting back to seeing Welsh on the signs when you go back to Wales. 

Driving Licence  

Another factor I did not even consider was my driving licence. I failed to properly notice that the words driving licence were even written in Welsh at the top. Take a look, it actually does. I have experienced the puzzled faces of security when they notice the “TRWYDDED YRRU”. But rest assured, they realise in the end, and you will be in the pub in no time. 

“Oww, what’s occurring?” 

Everyone loves Gavin and Stacey! And from my experience, English people seem to love it. The amount of times I have heard “Oww, what’s occurring?” in a Nessa voice is astonishing. However, some people’s attempt of the accent is definitely worth it. Do be prepared to rate their accent and hear them repeat it quite a few times while they try and get it spot on. I will warn you in advance, if you have got a strong Welsh accent, people will more than likely copy some of the way you say words, which provides a lot of entertainment for you. Why some English people have such a fascination with the Welsh accent is beyond me. 

Wales is quite big  

It takes roughly 4 hours to get from the North to the South coast of Wales. Yes, that is quite a long journey. You will be surprised that many of the people you meet at university do not realise how big Wales is. Yet, they think we might live in a field full of sheep. Disclaimer: people do live on farms where there are sheep. However, the majority of people, while they might see sheep from their houses, do not live with the sheep.  

Proud to be Welsh! 

Most importantly, be proud of being Welsh. Be proud to wear the dragon flag. Be proud of the fact you know what a Welsh cake is. And while being over a 3-hour drive from home, and having no Welsh on the signs, I have personally had an amazing experience studying at Loughborough. 

Introduction to Higher Education: What is University?

Introduction to Higher Education: What is University?

October 12, 2020 Guest Blogger

Hello, I’m Eleanor and I’m in my final year studying Sports Science with Management at Loughborough University. To many students, the prospect of Higher Education can seem very daunting, and there are many misconceptions about what University entails; for starters, the terminology used alone can be quite intimidating! Hopefully, this blog can clear a few things up! 

What is University?  

University is an education establishment in which students of any age can apply to and attend. It’s a further line of study from that of A-Levels, BTECS and other college qualifications. Essentially, students study a specific degree course so, unlike A-Levels, BTECs or GCSEs where students may have previously studied multiple subjects, at university you tend to narrow this down to just one or two subject areas, for example, Geography or Mathematics with Economics. 

So, what is a degree and how long does it take to complete? 

A degree is a qualification that students achieve from completing an academic course at University. The length of time it takes to complete a degree can differ between courses and Universities. Although typically a bachelor’s degree lasts for 3 years!  

 Are degrees needed for a career?  

Many organisations and businesses look for employees to have obtained a University degree. In most cases, the subject you study at university doesn’t necessarily connect or direct you to your future career. For example, I study Sport and Exercise Science and did my placement in Marketing!  

However, there are some future careers such as Veterinary Science, Medicine or Engineering that may require you to have an undergraduate degree in a specific degree subject, so if you have a future career in mind it is worth researching to see if a degree is necessary for that job. 

Benefits of HE?  

To me the benefits of studying a degree at University have been endless. From furthering my academic skills, to improving my career prospects, to undertaking a placement year, to the personal growth I have made whilst living away from home. These have all been invaluable! 

Career Prospects  

UK higher education qualifications are recognised and respected by employers and academics worldwide and having a degree makes you more attractive to employers, so you’ll have a greater choice of jobs and potentially earn more money.  

Independent living 

Before moving away from home to university, my parents would have described my ability to live independently as somewhat limited. Hence why moving to university has benefited me hugely in terms of learning lifelong skills such as budgeting and cooking – from personal experience, you can never go wrong with fajitas or a pasta bake! Although for students who don’t quite want to leave the comfort of having cooked food provided, there are Halls of residences on campus that do provide cater meals for students.  

At University, you will also be responsible for the cleaning and the upkeep of your room, bathroom, and any kitchen facilities you may share, as well as doing your own clothes washing. Whilst not the most exciting tasks, these are skills that essential for future independent living.  

Meeting new people 

One of the greatest things about university is that you get to meet new people from all over the world and students very quickly make new lifelong friends! My advice is to make sure you get involved from the start as some of the best ways to meet new people outside of your course or accommodation is to join clubs or societies! 

Trying new activities 

At university there are endless opportunities to join a sports club, society, or volunteer in projects such as dog walking or the homeless soup kitchens. It’s a great way of meeting new people with similar hobbies and interests. You can also join a new activity that you may have never done before, maybe something out of your usual comfort zone such as Lacrosse, Sky Diving or Mountaineering. During your first week at university there will usually be a fair in which you can sign up for taster sessions and get involved. 

Opportunities and support 

Students can also to undertake a Placement, this is where students go work for a business or company for a year gaining vital experience and skills. The Careers Network can assist students with CV’s, applications and mock interviews for jobs and placements, giving students the best chance possible at securing their dream job and preparing for life in the real world!  

Still unsure whether University is for you? 

Deciding whether to go to university is a big decision so, if you are unsure, it is worth doing plenty of research. The UCAS webpage has approximately 50,000 courses for you to browse so read up on the course and ask yourself ‘is it for me?’, what modules will I study, and how am I assessed? Also, it’s just as important to research the University, its location, and find out about the student experience and extra-curricular opportunities available.  You can also visit the University on open days, where you can ask questions to students or staff, take a campus tour and see the facilities.  

REMEMBER, your decisions don’t have to be final and you can take time to consider your options. University isn’t for everyone so don’t be disheartened if you feel it’s not the path you wish to take.  

If you’re still confused about that terminology, why not check out our Jargon Buster resource online!  

This Week at Loughborough | 12th October 2020

This Week at Loughborough | 12th October 2020

October 12, 2020 Alex Stephens

Featured

Decarbonising the Railway: Current and future research

train moving through a city with lots of red light lines around it
15 October, 1 – 2.30pm, Online

Transport is the largest contributor to the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions, meaning large strides must be made to meet the UK Government’s pledge for net zero by 2050. The best way to decarbonise the railway in the long term is through large-scale electrification, but what can be done in the near-term?

This webinar will discuss some of the latest research into decarbonisation being undertaken in industry and academia, with the chance to ask panellists questions about decarbonisation in the rail sector. The focus of the session will be a recent research project at Loughborough University that investigated methods to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of bi-mode trains.

For more information visit the event page

Scuderia AlphaTauri Online Presentation

15 October, 6pm, Online

This presentation will advertise the year-long undergraduate placement positions available for the academic year 2021/22. All taking place at their site in Bicester, UK, there are several exciting roles across multiple disciplines such as Aerodynamic Development, Mechanical Design, Software Engineering, and CFD Methodology.

By attending, you will find out more specifics about the type of work you’d be doing, and some application hints and tips.

To find out more information about this event including how to sign up visit the Careers Online website.

Self-Care Sundays: An Introduction to Self-Care and Meditation

18 Oct, 4 – 5pm, Online

Join LU Arts for their first Self-Care Sunday session and find out what Self-Care is all about.

Student Yasmin Nwofor will help you explore self-care through emotional, physical, social and spiritual practices. This workshop will enable you to create a self-care routine tailored to you and your needs, concluding with a guide on meditation.

This workshop is part of Self-Care Sundays – regular online events encouraging you to take some time out for yourself, relax and de-stress. The events combine creative workshops with mindfulness techniques and practices. 

Booking information is available on the event page.

Black History Month

Virtual Choir Coaching

12 – 16 October, 6pm, Online

Loughborough University will host Mrs Heavilyn Ohene-Akrasia (Choir Coordinator) for a sing-a-long choir event. Her Gospel choir experience has led to appearances on BBC 1’s choir show ‘Pitch Battle’, performances at University Gospel Choir national competitions and the 2018 commonwealth celebration in front of the Royal family.

These interactive sessions will be led via a Zoom webinar, with a link sent out to participants to join.

Once rehearsals are done, each choir member will be asked to record themselves singing the song sections practised in the zoom rehearsals. Once all videos are collated, they will be edited together to create an empowering video to share. Although we will be in separate homes the beauty of a virtual choir idea means we can still create a choir harmony all together.

See a video example of how a virtual choir works and visit the event page to book onto the event.

A discussion on Black Feminism with the Women’s Network and the Feminist Society

12 October, 7 – 8pm, Online

A discussion event hosted by LSU’s Ethnic Minorities Network in collaboration with LSU’s Women’s Network and the Feminist Society on the topic of Black Feminism. 

Find out more information on the event page, register your place by emailing: W&DEthnicMinoritiesOfficer@lsu.co.uk

Anti-racist Pedagogies across the Curriculum

14 October, 2 – 3.40pm, Online

As part of Loughborough’s celebrations of Black History Month, this innovative event will bring together colleagues from Science, Social Sciences and the Arts and Humanities to discuss how anti-racist approaches have affected the pedagogy within their disciplines.

Three experienced academics will share their own experiences in the classroom, have a roundtable discussion and an interactive Q&A session:

  • Angela Dy (Loughborough University London) – ‘Building the Anti-Racist Classroom.’
  • Iris Wigger (Sociology) – ‘Teaching ‘Race’ and Racism in Modern Society and Challenging White Normativity’
  • Ines Varela-Silva (SSEHS) – ‘Research on Racism, and Racism in Research and Academia – Resources to fight it’

The event is designed to allow the sharing of best practice across disciplinary boundaries. This event is open to all staff and students from any School and subject area across the University.

Booking information is available on the event page.

In conversation with…

14 October, 6 – 7pm, Online

Staff and alumni will form a panel to have an open and honest conversation about Black History Month, personal experiences, views, and looking to the future.

The panel:

  • Richard Taylor – Chief Operating Officer at Loughborough University (Chair)
  • Fejiro Amam – Mechanical Engineering 2020, Vice President at Loughborough Students’ Union
  • Dr James Esson – Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, Chair BAME Staff Network
  • Tara Nadi – Politics and International Relations 2020, Former Ethnic Minorities Network Chair, Graduate Management Trainee

Visit the event page for more details and booking information.

Hidden Colours documentary and discussion

15 October, 7pm, Online

The ‘Hidden Colours’ documentary will be streamed on Facebook via a watch-party, which will then be followed by an online discussion about the film and its message, led by LSU’s Ethnic Minorities Network

Find out more information about how to access stream from the event page.

LU London BAME coffee hour: Sharing cultural histories

16 October, 2 – 3pm, Online

How have our personal cultural histories shaped our outlooks, perceptions, and life journeys?

Join Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff and doctoral students from Loughborough University London online as they reflect on this question and the importance of their own cultural histories during the October BAME Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) coffee hour.

Find out more information from the event page.

Got something for This Week at Loughborough? Email us at digital@lboro.ac.uk

A Londoner's guide to your first few days in the City

A Londoner's guide to your first few days in the City

October 8, 2020 Loughborough University London

You’ve just arrived to one of the most popular cities on earth with a population of over 9 million residents, who collectively speak over 300 languages. London is one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the world. London’s food scene is as multicultural as its population, making it possible to whisk your taste buds off on a round-the-world trip without your feet leaving the city. The city boasts breath taking views, an unmatchable charm and endless opportunities. Although as a first timer in London there are things you should also be aware of. This guide provides top tips and information for first timers in London.

Register

One of the first few things on your to-do list when you arrive should be registering as a patient at your local GP (General practitioner). It’s usually only possible to register with a GP near where you live. You can do this by visiting the NHS website or calling primary care support England for further advice on 0333 014 2884. There is no need to register for a dentist in the same way as a GP as you are not bound to a catchment area, you can simply make an appointment by phoning a dental surgery of your choice.

As resident in the UK having your say on political parties is imperative. You can register to vote here.

Be safe

As one of the most densely populated cities in the world, homelessness is an issue in certain parts of London. Generally homeless Londoners set up camp on the main road asking for change or food. More often than not they are harmless and are unlikely to directly approach you.

Pick-pockets. If you are taking public transport around london the tubes and buses can get particularly overcrowded. Like you would in any crowded area, be aware of your surrounding and ensure your belongings are safe and secure.

Travel

Escalator etiquette – Stand on the right side on the escalators, the left side is for those who walk up/down.

Allow travellers to vacate trains/ buses before getting on and stick to the que if there is one.

Oyster cards are a must have for public transport. Find out how to set up and manage yours here.

Driving

Avoid driving between 2pm-6pm on Fridays! This is a peak time for traffic particularly as those who commute to london for work usually go back to their neighbouring cities/ towns for the weekend.

The congestion charge – The London congestion charge is a fee charged on most cars and motor vehicles being driven within the Congestion Charge Zone in Central London between 7:00 am to 10:00 pm seven days a week. Zones are clearly marked with a big red ‘C’ and double red lines alog the curb. The Congestion charge has temporarily increased and is now £15 daily charge if you drive within the Congestion Charge zone 07:00-22:00, every day, except Christmas Day (25 December).

The easiest way to pay is by setting up Auto Pay to avoid fines.

ULEZ charge – To help improve air quality, an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year, except Christmas Day, within the same area of central London as the Congestion Charge. Most vehicles, including cars and vans, need to meet the ULEZ emissions standards or their drivers must pay a daily charge to drive within the zone. Find out if your vehicle meets the current emissions standards required for the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and/or the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) or if you need to pay a daily charge here.

You can also visit this quick guide to parking rules and regulations in London.

Eating Out

Ensure you are eating at a safe and hygienic place by pre checking the official hygiene score here.

Tipping Etiquette:

Tipping culture isn’t big in the UK. It is customary to leave 10 to 15% of the bill when eating out. However, restaurants often add on a service charge (usually 12.5%), especially if you’re in a large group, so it’s worth checking your bill if you don’t want to tip twice or you can completely remove the service charge if you have had a bad service. It’s not customary to pay a tip for fast food, self-service or takeaway meals.

Top tip: Although restaurants (and other businesses) should make their policy clear, it’s worth checking with your waiter that they will personally receive your tip rather than the company – particularly if you’re paying by credit card.


Things to do in London

You can check out the following sites for inspiration on things to do in London:

Free things to do

Museums – As well as the 300 languages spoken in London, the amount of museums in the capital adds to the culture of this city. London boasts over 170 museums, from the massive British Museum, London’s most popular tourist attraction, to the tiny Fan Museum in Greenwich. Enjoy the best of London’s culture completely free; from the many world-class free exhibitions London has to offer, to stunning art galleries and historic houses.

Changing of the guards – The ceremony is free to watch and takes place at Buckingham palace at 10.45am on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. While in the local area you can visit regents park or holland park for a full free day out!

Instead of getting a tour bus you could Get and RV1 bus from Waterloo to Covent Garden. Walk from Covent Garden through Leicester square then jump on a 24 bus either direction and you see most of the sights in london for just £4.50!

Shopping

London Westfield (Stratford) *7 mins away from LUL* and west London Westfields (Shepard’s bush) are the most popular places in London for fashion shopping.        

However Bicester village is the most popular luxury goods and designer clothing outlet shopping centre. Situated on the outskirts of Bicester, a town in Oxfordshire, England approx. 48 mins from london. Recommended as a day trip.

Post-rona

Due to the coronavirus pandemic you now need to digitally book a table when and wherever you go out to eat/ drink. Some places will have a QR code setup to create your booking and some may provide you with a link, either way it is essential you are able to make online bookings with your smartphone.


To find out about, please visit Exploring London and our guide to travelling across London on our wesbite.

5 things I learnt 5 years ago

5 things I learnt 5 years ago

October 6, 2020 Guest Blogger

Hi, my name’s Rosie and this summer it was exactly 5 years since I graduated from Loughborough University. 

As I watched my graduation photos pop up on my Facebook memories, I was reminded of a day so full of happiness at all the amazing things I’d done and achieved, but also sadness that it was over (although I was lucky enough to be able to stick around for one more year as an exec member at LSU!). Leaving somewhere you’ve made your home is never easy, but I soon came to realise that my time at Loughborough had set me up for the big wide world, ready to take on anything. I am now working as the Student Engagement Manager at the University of Northampton Students’ Union, so it really is the work I did in Loughborough that started me down this path.  

So, I wanted to pull out my top five things five tips for new (and existing!) students to help you get the most out of your time at Loughborough. 

1. It’s not just about your degree 

You hear it time and time again but it’s true – University isn’t just about studying. Make time to get involved in the hundreds of opportunities available to you. Whether that is joining a society or sports team, doing a volunteering project or getting involved in your hall. It was all the extra-curricular things I did that got me to where I am now, and without them I would never have found my passion. University gives you the opportunity to try so many new things (and often at a reduced cost!) now is the time to give it a go!  

2. But it is also about your degree 

Now you’ve signed up for lots of fun extra activities, you might find yourself stretched for time and wondering why there aren’t more hours in the day. Deciding what was most important to me and how to effectively prioritise and schedule my time was one of my biggest lessons from University. Find something that works for you and makes you focus on the task at hand. Remember the other things will be there when your assignment is done. Missing one night out or one society session won’t be the end of the world. 

3. Seize every opportunity 

Sometimes things can present themselves to you and seemingly come out of nowhere. I was once told ‘Say yes and work out how later’ and taking that advice led me to be involved in so many amazing things. One particular opportunity was volunteering at the Action Soup Kitchen. I was invited along by one of our fresher helpers and initially the thought of giving up my Sunday seemed unappealing, and I was already wondering how I would fit another thing in. But after weeks of meeting the service users and getting involved I found I could work out a way to balance my time and applied to be a project leader (a role I continued through my time at University). It led to me being involved in countless other projects and roles in the section and eventually leading it myself as the Action Chair! I always wonder how different my University experience might have been if I hadn’t said yes to getting involved! 

4. You don’t have to do it alone 

There will be tough times and as well as the amazing people you will meet there are so many other ways to seek support. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with all the services in the University and Students’ Union before you need to seek support. That way you can save yourself a lot of worry and upset. Asking for help is always the first step and you’re already half way there if you know what, where and who you need to ask! 

Give something back 

The University and its community will give so much to you and there are countless ways to volunteer to support other students and give something back to them too. Become a course rep, hall committee member, a member of a society or sports committee, or undertake one of hundreds of other volunteer roles. Remember that paid opportunities to help exist too! Become a student ambassador, work in the union bar or café or find something else on campus. The possibilities really are endless. You can help make the student experience better for all of those around you get so much yourself from giving something back. 

It may be a long time since I was a fresher but now still working in the HE sector I get to support students going through the same incredible journey that I went on. Sometimes I think about my time at Loughborough and wonder what I would change and honestly… nothing. It gave me more opportunities than I could ever list and made me the person I am today.  

Make the most of it and all it can offer you and it really will set you up for the rest of you life!

 

This Week at Loughborough | 5th October 2020

This Week at Loughborough | 5th October 2020

October 5, 2020 Alex Stephens

Featured

Black History Month

Black History Month is an important event which takes place each year to recognise, celebrate, and honour the contributions and histories of Black people across the world and within our communities.

Loughborough University – alongside Loughborough Students’ Union – is delighted to be hosting a diverse event programme throughout the month of October which will feature discussion panels, presentations, research roundtables, creative arts opportunities and reading challenges.

The events are open to both staff and students, and the majority will take place online to comply with health and safety guidelines in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Demystifying Mental Health: How did Black History shape current mental health?

7 October, 7pm – 8pm, Microsoft Teams

Organised by LSU’s Ethnic Minorities Network, this engaging panel and discussion event aims to address and reflect on how history shaped current perspectives on mental health in the Black community. 

The panel includes:

  • Veronica Moore – Head of Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity 
  • Dr James Esson – Senior Lecturer in Human Geography
  • Tara Nadi – Graduate Management Trainee
  • Shreveda Tewari – Ethnic Minorities Officer
  • Dr Angela Dy (Moderator) – Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship

Register your place by emailing: W&DEthnicMinoritiesOfficer@lsu.co.uk

More details about all of the events throughout the month – including booking information, as well as further resources and initiatives – can be found on the dedicated Black History Month website.

Freshers 2020

The socially distance social club presents LSU Comedy Club

Monday 5 October, 6pm – 10pm, Shirley Pearce Square

Join us in The Socially Distanced Social Club for a night of comedy headlined by the hilarious Lou Sanders, with support from Annie McGrath, Ray Badran and Steve Bugeja. They say laughter is the best medicine, but please don’t come if you’re feeling unwell.

This event is available to Loughborough University students’ only. Find out more.

Petting Zoo

5 & 6 October 12pm – 4pm Union Lawn

Missing your pets while you’re at Uni? We’re bringing the animals to you! Hang out with all kinds of creatures you’d never usually get to see at Loughborough including meerkats, lizards, micro ferrets and more!

This is a free event with no prior booking required. This event is available to Loughborough University student’s only. Find out more.

Crazy Golf

6 October, 12pm – 4pm, Shirley Pearce Square

Identify your most competitive housemate, and don’t let them live it down when they lose. Anyone with a ball and a stick can play golf, but it takes focus, logic and windmills to play crazy golf.

Find out more information about this event.

The Socially Distanced Social Club presents Cabaret Night

6 October, 6pm – 10pm, Shirley Pearce Square

Expect an evening of glamour and decadence from our Cabaret Night. Our performers will keep you entertained with songs, dance and maybe a little drama. Does it really matter if you’re having fun? Expect an evening of glamour and decadence from our Cabaret Night. Our performers will keep you entertained with songs, dance and maybe a little drama. Does it really matter as long as you’re having fun? 

This event is available to Loughborough University students’ only. For booking information visit the event page.

My Lifestyle Presents Yoga

7 October, 11am – 12pm, Shirley Pearce Square

Ever fancied being one of those smug people who does yoga and feels good all the time? That could be you! Give it a go in a fun and relaxed environment delivered by Loughborough Sport’s My Lifestyle programme.

Find out more.

The Socially Distanced Social Club Presents The Indie Club

7 October, 6pm – 10pm, Shirley Pearce Square

Indie isn’t dead. For one night only, Loughborough’s biggest indie-rock night is taking over The Socially Distanced Social Club. We’ll be playing your favourite indie tracks all night and topping it off with a performance from some lovely special guests.

Located on Shirley Pearce Square this festival themed tent will host a diverse range of entertainment throughout Freshers, all in a COVID-secure and socially distanced environment.

This event is available to Loughborough University students’ only. For more information visit the event page.

My Lifestyle Presents Boccia

8 October, 12pm – 2pm, Shirley Pearce Square

University is all about trying new things! Whether that’s doing your own laundry or discovering new hobbies. Boccia is a Paralympic sport, we’d describe it as an inclusive love-child of bowls and pétanque. Give it a go in a fun and relaxed environment, delivered by Loughborough Sport’s My Lifestyle programme.

Find out more about this event.

LU Arts Present: Poster Workshop

8 October, 1pm-3pm, Shirley Pearce Square

LU Arts have organised a series of crafternoon workshops, to welcome you to campus and give you a taste of some of their regular creative events.

Join Rhian, Fine Art student at Loughborough, for a stenciling poster workshop. Rhian will show you this is a great technique for easily and quickly putting your own designs onto things like tops, pillows, bags, and posters. All you have to do is cut out a design of your choice onto a stencil, and then apply the ink, and you instantly have your design printed which you can make multiple copies of.

Using stencils is a technique made famous by the artists Banksy, but this style can also be seen in other artworks like the Obama ‘Hope’ poster. Find out more, from the workshop page.

The Socially Distanced Social Club

8 – 11 October, 6pm – 10pm, Shirley Pearce Square

Welcome to The Socially Distanced Social Club, Loughborough’s latest events space. Located on Shirley Pearce Square this festival themed tent will host a diverse range of entertainment throughout Freshers, all in a COVID-secure and socially distanced environment.

Book your bench for a chilled out evening, a great atmosphere and a few beers and 5 of your buddies! Visit the event page for booking information.

The Big Fresh Quiz (Virtual)

8 and 11 October, 8:30pm – 10pm, Online

Join Capital FM and JLS legend Marvin Humes for the Big Fresh Quiz from the comfort of your room. 2020 Love Island winner Finn Tapp will be getting quizzy with Marvin, and there’s a huge VK prize pack up for grabs too! Find out more.

LU Arts Presents: Macrame Workshop

9 October, 1pm – 3pm, Shirley Pearce Square

Learn the art of macrame and how to knot a macrame wall hanging in this workshop. Create an on-trend decoration for your room! Macrame is simple to learn, and you’ll leave this workshop with your own macrame masterpiece.  You’ll also learn all of the skills and basic knots to make more macrame on your own! This workshop is led by Megan, a Fine Art student at Loughborough.

 Find out more, from the workshop page.

Virtual Societies Bazaar

10 & 11 October, 10am – 4pm, Online

This year our Societies Bazaar is going virtual! Whatever your hobbies are, you’ll find people who share them at Loughborough! You’ll also be able to meet all of our other incredible Sections and find just how much LSU can do for you.

Find out more about the virtual societies bazaar.

LSU Funfair

10 & 11 October, 12pm, LSU Car Park

We’re transforming our car parks into Loughborough University’s very own funfair, featuring exhilarating rides such as The Miami. Find out more.

Learning at Work Week

Sleep, wellbeing and mental health

7 October, 1pm-2pm, Online

Kevin Morgan is Emeritus Professor of Psychology in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences and has maintained a career-long research interest in the origins and management of insomnia. 
This session will examine connections between sleep, wellbeing and mental health and address three questions:

  1. How does sleep work?
  2. Why can’t I get to sleep?
  3. If my sleep doesn’t work – how can I fix it?

Visit the event page to find out more and register.

How to improve the feedback you give and receive

8 October, 12:30pm – 1:30pm, Online

Every day, every conversation, every interaction includes feedback.

At Loughborough, as part of coursework assessments, performance and project reviews, we try our best to communicate with each other about what works and what doesn’t.

This interactive workshop offers a structured approach that will help you:

  • Give more effective and influential feedback
  • Gather and interpret feedback.

Come along with your thoughts and questions and if possible, a current situation where it’s important for you to give and/or receive meaningful and helpful feedback.

Facilitated by Amanda Harrington, Associate Lecturer in the School of Business and Economics.

Visit the event page to find out more and register.

Powerful goal setting for banishing stress

9 October, 12:30pm – 1:30pm, Online

Life – both inside and outside of study and work – can be a source of pressure and stress. Add into the mix the current Covid-19 pandemic, and our lives might seem more pressurising than ever. However, the good news is that we can better manage the stress that comes our way if we know how. 

This positive and constructive interactive workshop will share with you a highly proven and award-winning approach for setting successful goals – especially for managing stress.

Visit the event page for more information and to register.

Got something for This Week at Loughborough? Email us at digital@lboro.ac.uk

“Talking to black boys about colorism is like talking to a brick wall”; a tricky assumption.

“Talking to black boys about colorism is like talking to a brick wall”; a tricky assumption.

October 2, 2020 LU Arts

“Sometimes my experiences are dismissed. For example, they say things like it didn’t happen which is quite funny because it’s coming from a place of privilege on their part.”

By Aleida Hammond

Colorism. The hideously ugly little sister of racism. It causes discrimination among people of the same race. Hatred and divide. It is an issue that when spoken up about, the first reaction is annoyance. Which is why I wanted to talk about it with different perspectives. It affects a lot of people, and although it is such an explicit issue, whether in the media, in music videos or in dating, it is barely talked about. And I wanted to start to figure out why. It needs to be known and spoken about more all around the world, not just in the black community.

Generalization of our black brothers?

Colorism is a topic which annoys a lot of people. It is a sensitive topic and I wanted to break it down as well as I could. Subjects like these are topics that are important, but people seem to ignore because its uncomfortable. I first wanted to look at the definition of colorism.

The definition, which appeared in 1983, credited to Alice Walker, states that colorism is “the prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.” This explains it to a tee really. Colourism is a deep routed problem, and like it or not we can see this today in many ethnic minority groups.

One show that I really think explained colorism well is black-ish. Although it in an American television show, it explains the problem in a simple and yet effective way that people across the world can relate to.

It stated that “black people come in many shades, from Mariah Carey to Wesley Snipes. Because we look different, we get discriminated against differently. For example, in the case of OJ Simpson, they distorted the lighting in a magazine so that he looked darker to make him seem more guilty”.

“In Asian communities, some people use visors and umbrellas to avoid the sun. In Indian communities, some dark-skinned actors say that they struggle getting roles even in Bollywood movies. And in the Latin community, products that bleach your skin are becoming increasingly popular. Slave owners divided the black community in half, putting dark slaves on the fields, and fairer slaves in the house, which has created tension and divide up until this day.” I found this insight to be very interesting.

As a black woman in the UK, a dark-skinned black woman, this issue is very personal to me. I personally cannot recall any explicit moments where I have been affected by colorism, unless it was tied into racism, which is a whole other topic. Being the only black child in my primary school, and then jumping from that to a primarily black and Asian (but still very white area overall), it was very difficult for me to navigate who I was as a darker skinned woman.

I have created this article to explore the perspective of young people on colorism, as well as to address the stigma that black boys don’t really care about colorism. While I think there is evidence to back this truth, for example as soon as you say the word “colorism” to any black boy, they start shifting a bit sideways. However, I wanted to hear other people’s perspectives on this topic.

Many of my brothers and sisters, however, have experienced more explicit examples of colorism. And I first wanted to give a voice to the women, black women specifically. Because we have to address the fact that the black women are the most underappreciated of all, and that we have not been given enough of a voice.

A perspective from our queens.

It is not only my opinion that matters. As well as the fact that it would be biased and unreliable to voice my opinion and my opinion only. So, I went to look for other people’s opinions to develop a more grounded based foundation. My girl popped up to my question, and this is what she had to say on it.

She stated that “I get why some would say this, sometimes my experiences are dismissed, for example they say things like it didn’t happen which is quite funny because it’s coming from a place of privilege on their part”.

I understood this opinion loud and clear. As people of colour in general we are surrounded by our own issues and discriminations. However, we still face our own divides within our own community simply because we don’t address it enough. For example, fairer skinned women are considered to be more desirable in relationships, in the media. The list is endless. And the rise of love and appreciation of dark-skinned women in music videos, television and on social media is lovely. But that doesn’t mean all of our problems have gone away. In order to move forward, we need to address these issues and not just ignore then because they’re not as bad and because they’re not as explicit as they used to be.

While reading an article by the guardian, I stumbled upon an interesting opinion. A woman in the UK wrote that “many black girls I pursued told me that they were only attracted to light-skin black boys”, while another confessed that their mother was ashamed of their skin: “At school, in mosque and at family gatherings, I was demonised.”

A lot of black women feel betrayed by black men because of the suffering they have been through, and the fact that a lot of the time, they attack us the most, when they should be on our side.

Another friend of mine had something to say on this exact issue. She stated that “I think some people (boys) talk about it, but a lot don’t and they add to the problem. They don’t uplift women but instead manipulate and belittle us to make themselves feel bigger and more manly”.

I received an opinion from my closest friend about the statement in the title of this article.

The statement says that “I agree to an extent. But its white boys too. And most black boys actually go for dark skins. I feel like boys in general should be mentioned. Because black boys got their struggles too with white boys acting the same but having less struggles. I would say. Say how boys in general being stupid and racist. You can mention black boys going against the beauty in their own kind. But I’d say yeah all boys.”

Although I agree with certain elements of this view, to me it just seemed like it was dismissing the issue at hand. It portrays a view (most black boys actually go for dark skins) that just simply isn’t true, and has been proved by history. This view presents a dismissal of what dark skin women face, as well as generalizing the problem and not acting like there is light skinned privilege. While on the topic of generalization, my close friend said this.

“I think the statement is quite diverse and when it comes to topics within the black community, I think we should strive to promote unionship instead of division. I think the major problem that people find with it is that SOME of them didn’t defend black women as often when they face disadvantages.” She also stated that “But always say ‘some people’ to avoid generalizing them all”.

Overall, I think that out of all the statements that I received, this one summed up the issue with the most eloquence. It demonstrates an opinion which is not closed minded, but still firm and not weak.

So, what do the boys have to say about this?

Colorism in general is a sticky subject. I knew that it’s a subject that annoys people and makes people uncomfortable. This is precisely why I wanted to write an article about it. Like it or not, it is an issue that affects a lot of people. And it affects dark-skinned women the most. Features that are considered to be “dominating” and “sexy” on our male counterparts are considered to be “masculine” and “threatening” on us. The fact is that we are not only ridiculed for our features by other races, but by people in our own race.

While reading an article from The Guardian, I read a response that was surprising. A man stated thatAs a medium-tone black man living in the UK, I have experienced and perpetuated colourism several times. As a teenager, many black girls I pursued told me that they were only attracted to light-skin black boys. For many black men, an attractive golden complexioned woman is a sign of success and status, as is evident from the skin tone of highly successful black sportsmen and entertainers in the UK and US. Many won’t admit it publicly, but it’s an uncomfortable truth”. What made it surprising to me was how explicit and to the point it was.

 I asked some of my male friends and associates what they thought about the assumption I made, as well as the statement in general if it hadn’t of come from me.

One of my friends mentioned that the assumption was “true” and that, “we kinda just shrug it off and say it’s not that deep”.

What I found most interesting (but not shocking), was that most of the boys I asked disagreed with the comment.

One stated that “some boys get penalised for being a colourist when it’s just their main preference of girls. That’s why they get frustrated at the topic”.

Another stated that they “don’t agree. I’m open to have a discussion about that, without acting like a brick wall. People do it, it happens, people discriminate against people in their own race”

Preference in general has always been the ugly little cousin of colourism. It ties into favouritism, and can be highly deceptive. For me, you can have whatever preference (and I use that word very lightly) you want. That’s absolutely fine. But the issue arises when you state that you have your quote unquote preferences, and still go out of your way to bash dark-skinned women unprovoked.

The general consensus that I got was that it was a generalisation.

“I don’t think you can generalise black boys. Of course, there are some that don’t care but there are many that do. Amongst the people I know though, colourism has never been an issue, I just hear of things on social media more time”. This was also stated by a friend of mine.

Finally, one said that “Colourism is a problem within the black diaspora, but I feel like there has been a march of progress for the community, despite of the Twitter blasts and current examples of famous people sticking to a lighter shade. I also feel like black boys understand the issue but some for sone it’s not actual self-hatred just because it seems like black girls don’t get the same love. Plus, I feel like the pressure and blasting is what makes black boys turn into a brick wall as it seems too much and constant blasting towards them even though not all the facts are true”.

Conclusion, if there even is one yet

This array of perspectives to me honestly wasn’t surprising. It’s nice to hear a different perspective. Overall though, there has been a road blockage somewhere.

There is a gap. Black boys say they would want to talk about it, but black women feel as if black men have neglected this conversation. So, there is clearly something wrong here.

The fact that we can’t make a solid conclusion is something that can’t be ignored.

We cannot act like we stand together against the big sister called racism, when we continually ignore its little sister colorism.


Aleida Hammond is an artist, writer and a poet. Her hobbies include playing the guitar, writing short stories and poetry and art. Currently studying at Loughborough University, she has finished a foundation course and is going on to her first year of studying Fine Art. What got her into art and writing was the encouragement of her primary school teachers. They encouraged her to use channel her imagination and continue to be creative. Other hobbies that she has are exercise, basketball, reading and dance.

A Victorian Sensation: the Sudan Campaign

A Victorian Sensation: the Sudan Campaign

October 2, 2020 Catherine Armstrong

by Rebecca Higham

Clearly, as a history student, writing essays is a necessary and considerable part of my Uni life. Unfortunately, this familiarity provides no inoculation for the campus pandemic that is ‘blank page syndrome’.  Typing those first few words is always the most daunting of tasks, no matter how thoroughly you’ve researched your topic and planned your essay. Indeed, I recently had to write a piece of coursework exploring the effect the British Empire had on Victorian popular culture and even on something I found so interesting, getting started was still a struggle. 

For this particular essay I choose to focus on the Sudan campaign and why it caused, what can only be described as, a sensation in the late Victorian era.  This ‘sensation’ transcended both politics and class as well as being a turning point in the use of warfare photography and new military tactics.  I argued that the exploits of the British Empire had an enormous impact on the popular culture at home as the campaign appealed to the Victorian lust for adventure.  I was drawn to the Sudan campaign as I knew relatively little about this subject and yet it was fascinating to see the impact it had on popular culture.  It made me wonder how many of the ‘sensations’ of today will be remembered by history. 

I began the process of writing this essay by reading as much as I could on the topic.  Richard Fulton’s article “The Sudan Sensation of 1898”[1] was especially helpful and gave me a real sense of the spirit of the period and the depth of which the events in the Sudan flooded into everyday life.  Then I began looking into more contemporary material.  This stage of the research I always find exciting as you can end up finding the most interesting and surprising facts.  The Victorian era has so much to admire and from which to learn and these studies started to come to life in my mind.

This research, along with what we’d learnt from lectures and seminars, started to form a plan and outline of the essay.  The lecture content of this module gave me a wider understanding of the British Empire and British society in the late 19th century.  Furthermore, I was able to understand how Britain saw its place in the world and how international events shaped British society and foreign policy, by using knowledge I’d acquired from other modules. 

Like many things in life, essay writing isn’t always plain sailing.  However, discovering and exploring a topic that intrigues you, will certainly make this task easier and more enjoyable.  So, my tip to anyone struggling with putting those first words on the page is to just write something, you can always go back and change it later.


Bio Hi everyone! My name is Rebecca, I am a history student and I am just starting my second year at Loughborough University.  


Image by Erik Hathaway


[1] FULTON, RICHARD. “The Sudan Sensation of 1898.” Victorian Periodicals Review 42, no. 1 (2009): 37-63. Accessed July 26, 2020. www.jstor.org/stable/27760207.

Getting a head start with your career

Getting a head start with your career

September 25, 2020 Guest Blogger

Hi my name’s Elliot and I’m a 2020 Graduate in Mathematics with Economics, and I spent 4 years at Loughborough including a year long Industrial Placement at Tarmac where I am now starting on their Finance Graduate program this year. I chose my degree because it was a subject that I loved studying, but this left me struggling to know what the right career for me would be. In this blog, I will detail some of the things I used to help enhance my employability and how I  found the right career for me in my first year of university.  

Early beginnings – the possibilities are endless!

Upon arriving at University, I was struck by just how many different careers events were on offer, even in the first couple of weeks of Freshers! My course mates and I decided to attend some of the Employer Presentations with organisations ranging from: big accounting firms like PwC, to Teach First. This was a great opportunity to find out more about the many opportunities available and speak to current Graduates and employees to about what role could be right for me in future.  

Loughborough also hosts a two-day long Autumn careers fair in October which is worth going to in your first year. With over 200 employers exhibiting, it is currently the largest campus-based recruitment fair in the U.K and students flock to pick up freebies, sign up to mailing lists and engage with a huge variety of companies who may be promoting Insight Days/Weeks. These programmes allow you to go to organisation for a day to network and find out more about the role you may be considering, which will be great evidence to talk about on a placement or graduate job interview. The careers fair also host several workshops including networking events, panel Q&A’s and sponsored skills workshops. Even if this doesn’t tempt you, Domino’s Pizza have a stand at the Careers Fair and give out free pizza all day!  

Take advantage of what’s around you

I would also recommend you make the most of the University Careers Network. Every University should have this sort of support, but at Loughborough, the careers advisors are fantastic!  Informal sessions can be booked on the day and I was even able to meet with a specialist Careers Advisor who was specific for my department to go through a variety of ideas or different career paths that could work for me. I also attended a drop-in CV review session which taught me how to effectively advertise my achievements and opportunities on paper to enhance my CV.  

Another opportunity recommended to me was to become a Student Ambassador for the University. A common misconception about university is that part time jobs are discouraged – this is not the case as, in reality, they allow you to improve your interpersonal, communication and teamwork skills which future employers really value (in many cases more than your degree itself!). You can do this role alongside your degree, whilst also getting paid and getting to meet lots of new people! 

But if this is not for you, you can get skills in other ways too! The list of things to do at Loughborough is huge – fundraising, volunteering, sport, media or perhaps starting your own business! I got involved in the Rag section (Fundraising): where I fundraised £3000 for charity and climbed Kilimanjaro, as well as volunteering with Nightline: the universities non-advisory listening service to support anyone in need of help, and was on a committee for my Hall of Residence and a Society.  

Top Tips

My main recommendations are to: 

1. Make the most of the host of opportunities available,  

2. Start looking at what career would be of interest to you as early as possible.  

Before you get to university, you should ensure that the A-Levels you chose meet the requirements for the degree subject you want to study, but more importantly, make sure you do A-Level subjects you enjoy! You could start using online tools to start to gain an idea of areas of work you find interesting or what roles other students doing certain courses/subjects ended up. If you have an specific idea about the career you might want to go into, look at some company websites and see if they have opportunities that are right for the stage you are at. 

University is a huge opportunity to learn and develop, both in the classroom and outside of it. It isn’t just about the degree anymore; it is also about the skills that you learn from extra-curricular opportunities. There is no rush to know your ideal career – who knows where you might end up!  

Call for Papers – Special Issue: Sustainable Design Education and Implementation

Call for Papers – Special Issue: Sustainable Design Education and Implementation

September 25, 2020 Loughborough University London

Dr Ksenija Kuzmina, Lecturer within the Institute for Design Innovation and Dr Vicky Lofthouse, Lecturer in Industrial Design, will be a Guest Editors for a Special Themed Section in the Design Journal which will explore Sustainable Design Education and Implementation.

Sustainability invites submissions responding to the themes below for a Special Issue of the journal.


This Special Issue recognizes that there is an ongoing discourse regarding the need for changes in design education [1–3]. The need to explore and enact these changes is further amplified by the fact that the contexts in which designers are working, are becoming increasingly complex. This is reflected both in the roles that designers are moving into, which are more diverse, as well as the immense challenges that design aims to address (poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice) [4]. This Special Issue invites exploration of radical approaches to Sustainable Design Education and Implementation in Higher Education from multiple perspectives, focusing on what designers learn, how they learn and where they learn.

We invite contributions which provide commentary on novel, visionary and progressive sustainable design pedagogies, and the implications they have on formal education systems.

We recognise that education happens outside of formal setting, so are also interested in exploring learning which has occurred through Sustainable Design projects to understand the role of ‘education by sustainable design’. Studies that explore the impact of sustainable design projects beyond the ‘nudge’ towards sustainable behaviours and explore transformational change through learning in individuals and organisations are of most interest. 

We welcome contributions from all fields of design, including: industrial, service, product, graphic, communication, architecture, engineering design and others.


Journal

Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semi-monthly journal published by MDPI.

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. 

Deadline

The deadline for manuscript submissions is 30 July 2021.


References

  1. Chick, A. Preparing British design undergraduates for the challenge of sustainable development. Art. Des. Educ. 2000, 19, 161–169.
  2. Meyer, M. W.; Norman, D. Changing Design Education for the 21st Century. She Ji J. Des. Econ. Innov. 2020, 6, 13–49.
  3. Papanek, V. Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change, 2nd ed; Thames and Hudson: London, UK, 1985.
  4. Take Action for the Sustainable Development Goals, 2020. Available online: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/ (accessed on 17 September 2020)

Institute of Diplomacy and International Governance – Student Tricks and Tools Series

Institute of Diplomacy and International Governance – Student Tricks and Tools Series

September 25, 2020 Loughborough University London

In his second blog, MSc Diplomacy, Business and Trade student, Yasser, discusses the tricks and tools that students may find useful to maximise their year studying Diplomacy and International Governance at Loughborough University London.

Tools for IDIG Students

In this blog, I will be sharing some of the tools I found most useful when studying Diplomacy and International Governance. Not only will these tools expand your knowledge outside of the your lecture materials, but they give you a chance to gain a deeper understanding of the areas that really interest you.

1. Podcasts

As I mentioned in my last blog, listening to podcasts can be really advantageous when it comes to developing your understanding of the world of Diplomacy and International Governance. Not only are they convenient to listen to wherever you may be, but the list of relevant podcasts is endless, so you can choose a subject that really interests you. Here is a list of a few of my favourite podcasts that you might want to check out.

Daily News Briefing Podcasts:

  1. FT News Briefing by the Financial Times: Quick under 10-minute snapshot of daily news briefings.
  2. The Intelligence by the Economist: A 20-25-minute daily podcast on news stories and current affairs.
  3. Global News Podcast by BBC World Service: A 30-minute daily podcast on news headlines from around the world.
  4. Today explained by Vox: A 20-30-minute daily podcast on the most important news stories of the day.

Weekly Headlines:

  1. Wordly by Vox: A 30-45-minute podcast on the most important issues of the week.

British Politics:

  1. Payne’s Politics by The Financial Times: A 30-minute weekly podcast on news stories and British Affairs.

European Union:

  1. EU Confidential by Politico: A weekly podcast on anything and everything concerning the European Union.

2. Financial Times News

Another tool that I really appreciated and would definitely recommend all students use is the Financial Times. Did you know the University offer a completely free, year-long membership to both the website and the app? It is really easy to set up, simply create an account using your University email address and login in via learn. I would suggest getting this set up as soon as possible to make the most of your subscription!

3. Think Tanks

London is home to some of the most world-renowned think tanks. The Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance is an institutional member of the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House), which means you can apply for tickets to attend seminars and events with some of the world’s most important political, business and diplomatic figures. Individual membership is usually circa £300 per person, so it’s a great perk as a student – I cannot emphasise how amazing Chatham House is, from seeing seminars held by ambassadors and diplomats from around the world, to leaders and academics coming together to discuss world affairs. This is truly one of the great privileges I have had during my time in the Institute!

All of these think tanks also run events and publish reports on a wide range of topics. You should check out RUSI, IISS, Adam Smith Institute, Centre for European Reform, Institute for Government, Foreign Policy Centre, IPPR, and many more. There are also the many other universities in London (LSE, KCL, UCL, Imperial, QMUL, London Business School, SOAS… the list is a very long one) and they all run public events and talks that are fascinating and a great way to develop your understanding further!


This is the second blog of a two-part series. To view Yasser’s first blog, please click here.

If you would like to find out more about our Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance, please visit our website.

Loughborough University London would like to thank Yasser for this blog piece.

Finding Sobriety: My Story

Finding Sobriety: My Story

September 25, 2020 Sadie Gration

Each year in October, Macmillan Cancer Support has ran the campaign ‘Go Sober’ to not only raise vital funds for people living with cancer, but to highlight the healthy lifestyle changes that occur when you either reduce or stop consuming alcohol.

In this blog piece, staff member Sam Chambers shares his inspirational story of giving up alcohol for good:

I have worked at Loughborough University for just over a year and anyone that has met me since then will know me as a fit and healthy guy.

However, I have not always looked after myself in the manner that I do now. The biggest step I’ve taken towards keeping myself healthy – both physically and mentally – was the decision to stop drinking alcohol.

The last time I drank alcohol was 8 December 2019; I was on a night out with my cricket teammates in Nottingham and some of the details of the night remain sketchy, which wasn’t uncommon for me back then.

I’d been considering giving up alcohol for a number of months before that point. Last summer, I had managed to go two months without drinking and then from October-December I again managed to avoid consuming alcohol. However, my tactic of only drinking at big occasions was flawed because I still drank as much as I would when I was a much heavier drinker.

When I was aged 23-24, I was drinking a couple of pints on a Monday through to a Thursday and then on the weekends I was drinking considerably more. Every weekend for a number of years, I was part of a binge-drinking culture.

Monday’s at work were slow and I would roll in looking worse for wear and very hungover. I certainly can’t have been any fun to work with. I never went to a gym and the only exercise I would get was some recreational sport, which was always followed by a few beers.

I get asked by a lot of people ‘why did you stop?’ or, ‘If you’re not an alcoholic, why do you need to say you are not going to drink anymore?’

Well I guess put simply, I wanted to have control and to feel better about myself. I didn’t like how alcohol made me feel, particularly afterwards. In the moment drinking is great, I felt brilliant and everything was a great laugh, but then what follows is not fun.

In the last few years, I was only drinking now and then but I was still binge drinking and I was finding that my hangovers were horrendous. I would spend the following day in bed, eating unhealthy foods and wasting my time away. My sleep patterns for the next few days would be a mess too as I wasn’t using any energy up during the day so I couldn’t sleep at night. My moods would be generally very low too.

The difference I see now is remarkable. I get up every day with a much more positive mindset and so much more energy. I hardly ever have a poor night’s sleep and unless work or life gets in the way, I go to the gym three to five times a week. I also keep spend time keeping active by cycling, walking and taking part in other sports, as well as doing things I could never be bothered with before like music or reading.

It may be surprising to read that I actually found stopping relatively easy. There have been times where I have craved a beer (a hot day after cricket mostly!) but I just think to myself, remember how it ends up. It’s never just one, I have always lacked that self-control when drinking and it soon escalates into a binging session. So now I have that voice in my head that reminds me how I will feel tomorrow if I drink today.

I’ve been very good at telling people that I don’t drink. From the research I did before stopping, this was a key point others said you need to make people aware of. This should lead to your friends supporting you in your decision and not leading you astray, as well as keeping a check on you.

Making a note of why you are stopping is also a great way of giving yourself that reminder. Keep a list of the reasons: it may be that you want to get fitter, have more money or that you have a lot on at work and need to be more focussed. It’s almost like making a pledge to yourself.

For anyone who has thought about reducing their drinking or even giving up completely, I would say take some time to read other people’s experiences and think about how much a better version of you you could be.

Occupational Health Manager Sarah Van-Zoelen has seen a sharp rise in staff members drinking since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Sarah commented: “We’ve had a lot of new referrals from staff members who have highlighted an increased level of drinking since the national lockdown was in place, and also when restrictions were lifted and they went back to socialising with friends.”

There are a number of health benefits to reducing drinking or stopping entirely, including:

  • Improved mental health
  • Improved physical health and potential weight loss
  • Reduced risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease as well as other diseases
  • Increased energy levels and better sleep patterns

If you’d like support and advice on reducing your alcohol consumption or stopping completely, check out the online resources provided below:

Top tips for acing your A-level choices  (tried and tested by a current university student)

Top tips for acing your A-level choices (tried and tested by a current university student)

September 24, 2020 Guest Blogger

Hello, my name’s Becki. I’m from North Lincolnshire and I am just about to start my final year of my Sport and Exercise Psychology Degree at Loughborough. I understand that choosing what you want to study at A-level is a tricky thing to do. There are so many ‘what ifs’ and confusing thoughts about your future. With this in mind, I would like to give you a few tips that may make it that little bit less confusing. 

Know your skills and think about the subjects you are good at  

I knew that my brain wasn’t particularly mathematically orientated and that my skills were more suited to essay writing subjects. I took this into consideration when I chose my A-levels and decided on English language and Psychology. Looking back, I know that I would’ve struggled a lot more (and probably wouldn’t have got as good grades) if I hadn’t thought about this and dived into Physics, for example. Choosing the right A-levels that play to your strengths is a good first step to achieving the grades you want. If you aren’t sure what you are strong at, why not ask your teachers or support staff at school/college? 

Consider subjects you enjoy and have an interest in  

Trust me when I say, it is a lot easier to motivate yourself to work hard and revise for content that you enjoy. Sometimes the work can feel twice as heavy if you feel like you are having to force yourself to study. It’s also good to be aware that what you are good at may not necessarily be the same subjects that you enjoy. So, it is important to think about my first two tips together as one and try to find a balance of your skills and what you enjoy. Personally, my PE A-level was the perfect balance of these two things (and also a good example of my experience with tip number 4!). 

Focus on what’s best for YOU and not what your friends have chosen  

It may be tempting to try to get in the same classes as your friends, particularly if it is a new college or sixth form where you may not know many people. However, A-levels that may be suited to your friends, their skills and their futures, may not be suited to you. Besides, meeting new people at this stage is great practice for future workplaces and for university. I met some life-long friends from new college classes, so try pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

Think about your post A-level self 

If you already know that you want to go to university and have an idea of what you want to study, check out prospectuses to see what A-levels are required for the degree you have planned. Some universities have certain A-levels that they require for certain courses. For instance, Mechanical engineering at Loughborough requires maths and physics. Many prospectuses are available online so it may be worth giving them search. You wouldn’t want your choice at this stage to prevent you from taking the undergraduate course you really want later on. Having said this, not knowing exactly what you want to do after is also ok -you can still make decisions now to put you in the best position for when you do decide. At the point of choosing my A-levels, all I knew was that I wanted to work in sport. I was clueless about which area of sport, but with my choices, I set myself up to be able to figure out the specifics later.  

If you wish to take a look at the Loughborough University prospectus, you can click here

Be open minded about choosing subjects that you may not have studied before 

Many colleges and sixth forms can offer certain subjects at A-level that you may not have had chance to study at GCSE. For me, this was psychology. If I hadn’t taken the leap to study this at A-level, I may not have wanted to pursue psychology for a degree and a career. This doesn’t mean to say I wouldn’t have found another path to a different career, but I think it highlights the need to be open-minded with your A-level choices. You just never know what might catch your eye! 

So, my final thoughts… 

I hope this gave you some things to think about and I wish you the best of luck with whatever you decide. Just remember it is ok to not have things all figured just yet, just take your time and do what is best for you.  

The importance of Jean-Luc Mélenchon's populism in France

September 23, 2020 Catherine Armstrong

by Rayane Khaled

The French presidential election of 2017 was illustrated by the rise of populists according to the media. And this is a global phenomenon: the emergence of such political parties and actors has spared no continent since the 2010s. The political world seems to be in turmoil; in Europe social democratic parties are being swept away and citizens are increasingly turning to new parties that have never been in power.

  • How to be populist?

The aim of this essay for The Populist Challenge to Democracy module taught by Giorgios Katsambekis was to understand to what extent and how Jean Luc Mélenchon, the leader of ‘La France insoumise’ (Unbowed France) a man of the left, was implementing a ‘populist’ strategy. I also wanted to understand how his approach was eminently democratic, far from the received idea that describes populism as intrinsically anti-democratic. To do so, I decided to rely on the discursive approach of Ernesto Laclau, with whom Mélenchon was close during his lifetime. To give an accessible definition of populism, it is the creation of a frontier between ‘the People’ who share common demands and an elite supported by traditional parties. Like other approaches, populism is primarily a strategy for the conquest of power, and is not, in my view, a political platform.

  • Methodology

To answer this question, I relied on primary sources: the Unbowed France manifesto, Mélenchon’s books, and his YouTube channel program where his speeches and weekly review are available. In order to analyse this large amount of data, I used a method learned in class: thanks to a colour code I systematically underlined the characteristic elements of populism that I could find in the documents.

  • Populism, a winning cocktail to revitalize the left and its ideals!

Through my many readings it became clear that Mélenchon creates himself a populist moment by opposing head-on ‘the people’ and an oligarchy. That’s why a notorious element of Mélenchon’s populism is that he refuses the left label: the traditional left support the Oligarchy. Representing the Left is not representing the People; it excludes the ones who were disappointed by the Left and the abstentionists. In order to federate the people, and aggregate their demands, Mélenchon proposes a democratic renewal: the 6th Republic where the people would take power, through a Constituent Assembly that would guarantee the right to dismiss elected officials. This central element of the platform of Unbowed France makes it a unique left-wing populist party in Europe. Indeed, Mélenchon wants to experiment with the ‘democratic revolution’ like those seen in Latin America carried by the 3rd populist wave of the 2000s as in Venezuela or Ecuador. For Mélenchon the revolution to come won’t be the old socialist revolution. That’s why the populist strategy means to go beyond left and right and to create a new political field, and this strategy, although criticized, is efficient: 20% in the 2017 presidential election. Is this a strategy to reinstate for 2022 to finally reach power?


Biography:

I am currently preparing a master’s degree at Sciences Po Lyon, one of the 10 Institute of Political Studies in France. My research interest is in electoral phenomena and the political participation of citizens. During my 5-year mandate at the Youth municipal Council of Villeurbanne, I promoted youth participation through different projects. During the 2019/2020 academic year, I did my Erasmus+ exchange at Loughborough University where I had the chance to follow courses of exceptional quality and originality, especially the module The Populist Challenge to Democracy taught by Giorgios Katsambekis.


Image by Burak Aydin

How to survive the first year of uni: Routines

How to survive the first year of uni: Routines

September 22, 2020 Guest Blogger

Healthy Routine: Healthy Mind 

Surviving and thriving in university life wouldn’t be the same without a colour coordinated diary and a friend reminding you to take a breather now and again – listen to them! I’m flagging up the value of rest early on in this blog as whilst I’ll talk about the amazing things I’ve got involved with as an undergraduate student and how I balanced the many commitments I’ve done. On reflection I should have taken more moments to pause, enjoy and recharge rather than rush into the next opportunity.  

A person standing in front of a building

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I joined Loughborough in 2014 studying English and Sport Science. I was the first from my family to go to university and like most I didn’t really know what to expect. Nor, did I realise how much Loughborough University was going to change my life to today – especially as I am still here just finishing up my first year of my PhD.

In my first year, I joined the women’s football team and played throughout my undergraduate for the 2’s whilst finding my feet in university life. It was a huge jump living independently away from home for the first time and creating a routine that works for you is so important. I’d encourage getting involved with something beyond your course, whether that be a society, sports team or maybe getting involved with a charity challenge or action project. By having something beyond your course gives you something to look forward to as well as meeting some new friends.

A group of football players posing for a picture

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My top tips

I found printing off my timetable was really useful then colour coordinating modules, blocking out free time and writing my commitments for each day before (training 7am) or after the day’s lectures. This really helped me know what and where I needed to be! Getting organised early and planning your week ahead on a weekend can feel like a whole weight off your feet. It takes a matter of minutes too! Whether you like a to do list and tick the items off, or whether you like to play back a voice recording of your weekly tasks, having an outlet to get the things floating around your head out of there can really put your mind at ease. Plus, it helps to give you some achievable goals for the week which will feel super rewarding when you smash them!

But, remember your first year is all about finding what works for you. It’s a bit of trial and error. A normal week for me would be at tops five hours of lectures per day followed by training sessions three times a week and matches twice a week. Trying to balance the demands of your course, independent reading and tasks around being in a sports team meant maximising the time on the bus on away trips putting pen to paper making the most of the time you have not doing much. By having something to get involved with outside of my course also meant I was more encouraged to make the most of the time I had to do the work I needed to.

It can be so easy to work all day and work all weekends, but you need to add time to your schedule to switch off. Like I try to make sure I don’t work beyond 6pm on weekdays. I try to include going for coffee with friends or pub if preferred into my weekly schedule. Just doing something chilled and different to your everyday really will help your productivity when you return back to your work. The LSU website normally has a calendar of events from comedy nights to the JC’s Pub quiz as does the Loughborough Sport website if you want to explore what sporting events are on.

There’s so many amazing spots to enjoy around Loughborough, it’s easy to never leave the campus bubble but if you can find a friend with a car or chip in and get a taxi, Bradgate Park is a beautiful walk to clear the mind and have some fun away from campus. If you want to venture a little further why not check out Rutland Water! As well as trips to Nottingham, Leicester or Birmingham – especially at Christmas for the markets!

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Another tip is try and stick to similar bed times and wake ups! But definitely treat yourself to a lie in on a weekend where you can. A healthy sleep pattern will help you stick to your routine. I was way more productive on days where I got my 8 hours in. Likewise, planning your meals making more than you need and freezing them for ease for future meals can be so helpful as one less thing to think about whilst important to think about in your routine.

Learn to say no and prioritise. In my final year I tried to do something from every union section; Women’s Network, AU Exec, Label Sports Editor, Kids Olympics Project Leader, Volunteer Zambia, to name a few whilst still balancing the demands of football. I had the absolute best times and made some unbelievable memories, but without a healthy routine I would never have got through my madness of a year.

Image may contain: 19 people, including Oren Flynn, Nat Walker-Laver, Lauren Durkan, Toby Ogun, Katherine Laws, Hannah Thompson, Kath Swift, Rachel Bateman and James Greer, people smiling

And finally, live in the moment, be flexible with your routine, try and stick to it as best you can but make the most of your time at Loughborough. It really does go so quick. Enjoy it, make the memories that will last a lifetime and reflect on everything you’ve achieved this far.

IDIG Student Tricks and Tools Series

September 18, 2020 Loughborough University London

In this blog, MSc Diplomacy, Business and Trade student, Yasser, discusses the tricks and tools that students may find useful to maximise their year studying Diplomacy and International Governance at Loughborough University London. This is the first blog of a two-part series.

Blog 1: Tricks for IDIG Students

1. Know what it is that interests you the world of Diplomacy and International Governance.

Remember, you chose this subject area for a reason, therefore it is important to understand what it is that interested you. Your opinions, interests and expertise will shape your learning experience around you and may give you an upper hand in class discussions. Don’t be afraid to express or share ideas and what interests you.

2. Make sure you are still aware of a range of topics and subjects.

Most modules you study will be flexible enough in the way that assignments are arranged to have options of essay topics to suit the area you are most interested in. Topics that frequently come up include the likes of Brexit, environmentalism, theoretical concepts, and I am sure Covid19 will be a safe bet in due course!

3. Anticipate future news stories and trends.

This will help you stay up to date with the latest headlines and current world events. Here are some world events I would recommend you read about in your daily life, so you are prepared for student life as part of IDIG.

  1. Brexit: Yes, you may get bored from how much the lecturers might say it, but do you blame them? This is still – and for the foreseeable future will remain – one of the key issues in British politics and a great case study through which to study politics, diplomacy, business, globalisation, identity politics and lots more.
  1. Covid-19: I am sure you will be well aware of this topic by now, so I do not need to go on too much. Remember this is very much a political and economic crisis as well as a health crisis.
  1. The U.S. election: Will Trump ‘Make America Great Again’? This year’s election is set to be one of the truly great spectacles of the last few years.

4. Utilise a range of different resources to widen your understanding and learning experience.

There are a number of different ways that you can expand your knowledge and feed your interest outside of lectures and the additional reading materials. Have a listen to different podcasts in the fields you are most interested in or would like to find out more about. You could even listen to a podcast on your commute to campus to get yourself thinking before a lecture.

There are also a few newspaper memberships available through the University- did you know you can sign up to receive a free year-long subscription for the Financial Times?

If you would like to find out more about our Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance, please visit our website.

Loughborough University London would like to thank Yasser for this blog piece.

Removal of Java from Windows 7 Service

September 16, 2020 Mike Collett

As you may be aware there are a small number of Windows 7 machines on Extended Support with Microsoft which for various reasons cannot be upgraded to Windows 10.

The version of Oracle Java on these machines is old and contains vulnerabilities. Java cannot be updated without incurring licencing costs. The Windows 7 machines are only supposed to be running specialist equipment – not providing a general service. Therefore it seems sensible to remove Java from these computers. Machines that act as clients to the Building Management System are excluded from this change.

From 7am on 17th September a script will be deployed to remove Java from Windows 7 machines.

CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION AND HELP?
Please contact our Service Desk at it.services@lboro.ac.uk for more information

Call for papers - Special Issue: The Value of Design-driven Entrepreneurship

Call for papers - Special Issue: The Value of Design-driven Entrepreneurship

September 8, 2020 Loughborough University London

Dr Ida Telalbasic, Lecturer within the Institute for Design Innovation, will be a Guest Editor for a Special Themed Section in The Design Journal which will explore The Value of Design-driven Entrepreneurship.

Continue reading

Collection of poems by Chloe Morgan

September 4, 2020 LU Arts

This collection of poems was inspired by the current Coronavirus pandemic. These are just a few of the poems included in my final year portfolio for my creative writing module ‘Maps and Motors’. We had to write poetry, prose or a combination of both, linking them together in some way. Thus, I decided to use a consistent theme throughout my poetry and I chose the current pandemic since it was, and still is, extremely relevant. I thought it’d be interesting to write poems from a range of different perspectives, including an NHS worker, a university student and even the government. I have also used a number of forms of poetry; this selection includes free verse, prose and a Naani poem. Additionally, many of these poems include concrete poetry to convey meaning visually as well as verbally.

Please note: the content within this selection of poetry addresses sensitive issues, including but not limiting to references of: tragic current affairs, illness, death, assault, abandonment, hardship and poor mental health.

Attempting to (stay) alert

Guiding the lines that are given as guidelines.
Preparing to present to the public
the seriousness of the situation
without scaring them, but scaring them
into abiding by the rules because
the British public aren’t the best
at abiding by the rules.
They seem to presume that they
know best, but they don’t.
And unfortunately,
neither do we.

We have to be careful, however, with
what we say and
when we say it.
Whatever we say, we’re
scrutinised;
criticised;
vilified.
Whatever we say, no one’s happy because
who is happy in the middle of a pandemic?
But that’s what people don’t remember;
that’s what people seem to forget.
We’re in the middle of a pandemic.
And no one knows what to do in a pandemic.
Not even us.


For the NHS

Sunrise screams; I force on my clothes
piled
on
the
floor,
forlorn from last night’s late shift.

My
legs
stand
speedily –
there’s
no time
to kill when there’s a silent killer.

Toast between teeth as I
lives.                               d
save                                a
to                                     s
stairs                              h
the                                   o
up                                    u   
back and reality to back the door;


People preparing picnics like someone
said:                                                   toll.
“N                                                            
O                                                death     
P                                      the              
A                     goes           
N       up               
D    
E
M
I
C”.
Then


Insignificant struggling?

Broke and abandoned, but
we continue.
School students saved, but
we still suffer and struggle.


NoSomewhere

The world seems to have
stopped.

It started to s  l    o      w         d            o                 w                     n,
but now it’s speeding
up. It’s hard to tell, really.
Everyone’s losing it a little.
Trapped in the
      middle
of                   nowhere.

It was somewhere.
Somewhere important, in fact.
Somewhere
the hustle and bustle halted.
Somewhere
rush hour no longer rushed.
Somewhere
peaceful.
Straight into that chair and
f
a
l
l
i
n
g
asleep.

Dragging your body into bed and
sleeping deeply. Peacefully. Ready
for another busy day. Buzzing
for those evening meals, taking
to the table with many guests to forget
the day that had just happened, or 
the one ahead. Having fun; full
to the brim with food, flopping
onto the sofa to watch
Friends or the footy.

But now,
that somewhere
is not important.
That somewhere
has been overused.
That chair
has been oversat on.
That bed
has been overslept in.
That table
has been overeaten at.
That TV
has been overwatched,
waiting for an announcement
…that isn’t coming?


Remember, it is not over yet

Flicking through old photographs, trying to remember  
when life was normal. But it is 
strange because for some, it is normal now. It 
is them meeting their families; going over  
to each other’s houses; gatherings in gardens; not 
acknowledging the danger they’re bringing to others. Yet 

we watch our families in the photographs and wait till it is 
time to see them. The long wait will be worth it.
Longing to hug grandma and grandad, but not 
now because if we followed the others; if we went over  
now we could kill them. And that’s enough to stop us, yet
not others – they do as they wish without a worry in the world, remember!

Every Thursday, we all clap for the carers to remember
all those risking their lives to saves ours. Yet,
the hypocrisy of those making their lives harder; not
only not following the rules, but knowingly so. It
is like the law doesn’t apply to them. Is
it that difficult to follow? When this is over

lock them up because a fine for manslaughter is not  
enough for the diabolical damage they’ve done. It   
is like the lady who was spat on and died. Belly Mujinga. Is 
a fine sufficient for her murder? Lock them up and remember 
what they’ve done because it is a matter of life and death. Yet,
their ignorance is bliss as long as they can go over 

to hug their grandma and grandad, while mine no longer remember
my name. My grandad’s dementia makes not seeing him harder, yet
his vulnerability makes it a necessity to stay away. It
is important we are grateful for technology because talking over
the phone is bearable – imagine not at all! It is
important that we appreciate what we have got rather than not.

Now, stop for a moment and make sure you remember
that we can’t continue as normal. No, it’s not
“business as usual”, Boris. It’s actually abnormal. It is
a bloody pandemic and please remember that it 
is not over yet. It is not over. 
Remember, it is not over yet.


Six feet under

Babies born with umbilical cords – s  t  r  e  t  c  h  e  d – and stiff – acting as a barrier from the beast that lurks about – but not cut off as a kid – because it ensures they keep their distance. Adults ignore the rules – umbilical cords enforce them. Babies born with thin skin covering their mouths and noses – tied behind their ears – loose enough to breathe – but born with breathing problems.

Midwives in hazmat suits – jump back once the baby has been born – picked up by prosthetic arms – equal length to the umbilical cord. Prosthetic hands hold the baby away from the mother – she must wear a hazmat suit to hold her own baby – but she can’t – the pain has paralysed her.

Toddlers told to stay away from each other at nursery – like telling flies to stay away from the food on the table. Toddlers kept at home, so do not know how to talk – Teachers tell them off for being behind. Umbilical cords get in the way of their learning – standing six feet out of their stomachs – six feet away from succeeding. Fed through their umbilical cords from foetus to fatality – when the beast finally gets them – because it’s inevitable it will.

Children without a childhood – Adults without an adulthood – Life without a life – Then death. Six feet apart – six feet away – six feet always.

Six

         feet

under.


“There’s undoubtedly some differences, but a lot remains pretty much the same” – My experience returning to the Loughborough campus

“There’s undoubtedly some differences, but a lot remains pretty much the same” – My experience returning to the Loughborough campus

September 4, 2020 Sadie Gration

Following the launch of the University’s Back to Campus campaign, the Health and Wellbeing blog is continuing to share the experiences of staff members at the University who have already returned to work on campus.

Here Professor Lorraine Cale, Associate Dean (Teaching) in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences writes about her time spent on campus over the last few months and the different health and safety measures put in place.

Since activity has slowly resumed on the Loughborough campus, I’ve typically been coming into work on average two days a week. Initially, it did feel odd and eerily quiet, but at the same time very organised and safe from the start. 

In my current role, I’ve been involved in just some of the numerous University-wide and School COVID-19 planning and contingency meetings over recent months, which have given me an insight into the huge amount of work and care that has gone into managing and responding to the pandemic, including the health and safety measures put in place to ensure the safest possible working environment for everyone.  

Despite this, it was still very useful and reassuring to see the health and safety measures actually in operation on my return – this includes the one-way systems, floor markings, signage, anti-bacterial wipes, hand sanitiser dispensers and restricted access areas. The attention to detail was obvious and I soon adjusted to the changes and new practices and routines. That said, whilst there are undoubtedly some differences and this will likely be the case for some time, a lot remains pretty much the same. 

Over the past few weeks, there has certainly been more staff and students on campus and my time in the office has started to feel almost ‘business as usual’ again.  On being asked to write this blog, I reflected on what I’d missed while working remotely – overall, it was the simple things such as catching up informally with colleagues, impromptu interactions with staff and students, walking to meetings or sessions, and the general buzz from the various sports and other activities on the East Park. It’s been nice to be able to enjoy many of these again.  

In addition, I’d missed some of the events which traditionally mark the end of an academic year, such as the summer graduation, the Loughborough Academic Awards and the School end-of-year social barbecue. I look forward to these and similar events taking place in the near future as and when circumstances allow.

Whilst being back on campus, I’ve spent a lot of time in meetings (as per usual), many of which have still been via Teams and others which have been in person and socially distanced. In dividing my time between the office and home, I’ve managed to establish a new and productive pattern of blended working; I find some aspects of my work can be done just as easily at home, whereas others are more easily done at the office where I have more resources and support to hand. Plus, as I came to realise very early on into lockdown, a more reliable internet connection! I therefore plan my week and tasks accordingly now and am enjoying the variety and flexibility this approach affords. 

What I feel our response to the pandemic in the last five months has shown is just how adaptable and resourceful Loughborough University staff and students can be. There’s no doubt it’s been a challenging time, particularly for some, and each one of us has been impacted differently.

Regardless of our differing roles or circumstances, we’ve been required to review and modify all aspects of our day-to-day work and practices. For example, from mid-March academic staff had to quickly shift to online delivery of teaching, preparing remote assessments and exams, and undertaking all marking online, as well as adapting and continuing to deliver their research and enterprise activities and plans. Similarly, Professional Services staff had many new – albeit different – challenges and changes to contend with.  

I’ve been so impressed and heartened by the ‘can do’ attitude and understanding shown by colleagues and how everyone across job families has pulled together to deliver in all areas. From my own experience, this has led to a number of new and at times equally – if not more effective and efficient – ways of working, many of which will have longevity beyond COVID-19 I’m sure. 

I think it’s fair to say we’ve all learned and achieved a lot and I’m confident we’ll continue to do so over the next few months. Whilst further challenges lie ahead as we prepare for and will soon start the new academic year, it’s reassuring that we have many measures, processes, systems and support in place to enable us to work safely and effectively on (and off) campus, which will allow us to respond swiftly and appropriately according to how the situation and government guidance evolves. For the time being though, I’m really looking forward to seeing and working with many more staff and students ‘in person’ again very soon.

Three Types of Inequality, Eight Solutions

September 1, 2020 Catherine Armstrong

by Jemimah Watkins

Loughborough University’s Politics and International Relations course enabled me to pursue my interest and concerns around gender inequality (as well as other societal inequalities), by providing me with theoretical knowledge and research opportunities. Consequently, when offered the opportunity to do a placement year, I sought to centre it around the practical implementation of ethics, diversity and sustainability. I was offered the role of HR intern with a construction company based in the South East, with specific focus around implementing mechanisms in the company which would increase equality. This provided me with the opportunity to carry out primary research (through semi-structured interviews) about gender inequality in the construction sector. I was particularly interested in investigating the discussion surrounding increased equality and ‘positive discrimination’ (which is argued to cause promotions and hires that are not merit based). Also, it was extremely important to me to not homogenise groups (women), as gender is not the sole cause of discrimination: race, ability and sexual orientation each play important roles as well. However, generalising from a set of experiences was necessary to complete this research, as it was not possible to deal with every person as if they were unique. Also, I felt that it was important to lay out the business incentives and practical solutions when writing up the research, as this would make it implementable for the company I had based my research on.  

For this research, I found it useful to examine the construction sector, and determine causes, consequences and solutions of discrimination, using Marshall’s three types of equality:

  • ‘Equality of opportunity’: which means that there are no formal rules that prohibit entry. This is the most commonly referenced form of equality. However, ‘equality of opportunity’ alone does not engender total equality.
  • ‘Equality of condition’: which requires not only access, but also circumstances of life for different social groups. In other words, this equality seeks to even the starting points of the competitors.
  • ‘Equality of result or outcome’: which entails the application of different policies or processes to social groups in order to transform ‘inequalities of condition’ at the beginning into equalities at the end. Specifically, it describes the ‘final destination’ of equality, rather than the starting point. It seeks to break the self-perpetuating cycle of deeply entrenched inequalities. This is the type of equality that I sought to gain when proposing solutions.

Applying these types of equality to the construction sector highlighted the ways in which the industry still fails to provide for women. Despite legislation such as the Equal Pay Act 1970 and the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the deeper structures of discrimination in the construction industry have proved resistant to change. The industry is plagued with gender discrimination, including individual and institutional discrimination (both direct and indirect) and overt and covert sexism. To eradicate these, businesses must enable women to attain ‘equality of result or outcome’ by providing politics and processes that put them on a level playing field to their male counterparts. Importantly, this does not negate merit-based decisions, simply, it accounts for the lack of ‘equality of condition’, thus lack of ‘equality of opportunity’.

Each type of discrimination was analysed during this research, and solutions were proposed:

  • Problem:  individual and institutional discrimination (e.g. in recruiting)
    • Solution: businesses should provide training, mentoring and shadowing opportunities at all stages of women’s careers to create a competent pool of recruits, because an often-used justification for the low levels of female recruitment is the lack of training and experience they have.
    • Solution: a dedicated budget should be set aside for training opportunities
    • Solution: policies and processes need to be put in place to account for the ‘inequalities of condition’
  • Problem: overt and covert sexism (e.g. in the form of harassment)
    • Solution: increased education (to shift mind-sets)
    • Solution: specific policies and procedures to prohibit sexism
  • Problem: indirect discrimination (e.g. inflexible working structures and family-unfriendly environments, a lack of women in senior roles)
    • Solution: making construction sites ‘women-friendly’, by using technical advancements making sites less physically dependent and furnishing female toilets and equipment that fit women properly
    • Solution: implementation of networks and mentoring schemes
    • Solution: implementation of training opportunities and flexible working practices

Finally, research showed that collective support is essential. Support should come from senior management (top-down approach), who should be held accountable for the success of policies and processes, as well as from governmental policies. Working together, these factors will help to create change towards the eradication of gender discrimination in the construction industry. Applying each of these solutions would, my research suggests, go a long way in closing the gender gap in the construction sector.


Bio:

Jemimah Watkins studied Politics and International Relations at Loughborough University from 2016 until 2020. During her third year, she completed a placement with a construction company, where she was able to undertake research regarding gender equality in the sector. After finishing her degree, she is looking for work to expand her knowledge in the field of ethics and equality, with a particular interest in artificial intelligence.


Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels

A Londoners guide to: Travel

A Londoners guide to: Travel

August 28, 2020 Loughborough University London

In this series of blogs, get a Londoner’s guide to every element of the London experience. Each week, our lovely team in London give their advice on a different topic – this week we’re focusing on: travel!

The Here East shuttle bus

Did you know: a free shuttle bus service connects Here East (where our campus is situated) to all major transport stations in Stratford, London!

The service is available to anyone travelling to and from Here East, and runs every 5 minutes from 7am until 11pm, Monday to Friday, and every 15 minutes from 9am until 6pm on Saturdays. The bus operates from Stratford International bus stop E and Stratford City bus stop X, and will take approximately 5 minutes to reach Here East (Bus stop in The Yard). The buses are clearly marked ‘Here East’. Once you arrive at the bus stop in the Yard, head to entrance A to find Loughborough University London.

The underground/Tube

All full-time postgraduate students aged 18 and over may be eligible for a Student Oyster photocard, giving a 30% travel discount on most Transport for London services. For help and information regarding the Student Oyster photocard, you can speak to the Student Support team. For more information about the Oyster card set up and management services, check out the Visit London website.

Walking can be a quick and easy way to get around, particularly when travelling during the busiest times on the Tube (which are 05:45-08:15 and 16:00-17:30 Monday to Friday). That’s why the TFL have developed the walking tube map to show how much time it takes to walk between stations on the same line.

Take a look at the complete walking tube map.

Travel etiquette in London

As you may already know, London commuters have a bit of a reputation for going everywhere in a hurry! Make sure to stand on the right-hand side on the escalators, so that the left-hand side can be used by those who are in a rush. Also ensure you allow travellers to vacate trains/ buses before you begin to board.

Citymapper

The citymapper app is a must have for life in London!

Citymapper is a transport app that gets you where you need to go providing you with all the transport options in real time. It integrates data for all urban modes of transport, including walking, cycling and driving, in addition to public transport. Visit the Citymapper website to download the citymapper app either on Iphone or android.

Driving

London has a well-developed public transport system, which often offers the quickest and cheapest way to get around.

However, if you really want to drive – avoid driving between 2pm-6pm on Fridays! This is a peak time for traffic particularly as those who commute to London for work who are travelling back to their neighbouring cities/ towns for the weekend.

The congestion charge – The London congestion charge is a fee charged on most cars and motor vehicles being driven within the Congestion Charge Zone in Central London between 7:00am-10:00pm seven days a week. Zones are clearly marked with a big red ‘C’ and double red lines along the curb. There’s also the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) charge to be aware of. To help improve air quality, an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year, except on Christmas Day, within the same area of central London as the Congestion Charge. Most vehicles, including cars and vans, need to meet the ULEZ emissions standards or their drivers must pay a daily charge to drive within the zone. Find out if your vehicle meets the current emissions standards required for the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and/or the Low Emission Zone (LEZ).

Also be mindful of where you can park your car – few acccommodation options provide car parking facilities.


For more information on how to find us or travelling across London and beyond, please visit our website.

10 Things I wish I knew before coming to uni:

10 Things I wish I knew before coming to uni:

August 26, 2020 Guest Blogger

1. Look after yourself  

Moving away from the comforts and safety of your home can be very exciting at first particularly when it means eating what you want, socialising for hours and staying awake until late! But, it’s important that as you settle into your new environment, you take extra care to ensure that you are looking after yourself – keeping hydrated, getting enough sleep and eating healthily. Whilst this might sound ridiculous, its true – because once you begin your course and heading to lectures, you will need the energy to concentrate and those consecutive nights out along with late night takeaways can very quickly drain a student! If you do need extra help, we have a fantastic medical centre and pharmacy on site as well as the brilliant student services team who can support those who may be struggling. 

2. Get to your first lecture early

Without doubt you will get lost on campus – I still get lost even after 3 years! The walk of shame takes a whole new meaning when you’ve turned up late in front of hundreds of students, the lecturer stops mid-sentence and in dead silence you awkwardly search the crowd for an empty seat – I really wouldn’t recommend it… Download myLboro app which has a map on it will all the information you’ll need to find your way! 

3. Shared toilets aren’t bad at all

The halls of residence facilities are fantastic, they are very frequently cleaned and provided with all amenities. If you are in halls with shared toilets, you’ll find out yourself how little difference it makes not having an en-suite. However, I would highly recommend flip flops!  

4. Take whatever your parents/carers/guardians have to offer

Packing for uni might seem to take an eternity, stay patient and don’t rush. Even when your parents may seem overbearing and offer you the most useless things to take to uni. In most cases they’re actually right and you’ll end up wishing that you did take that casserole dish or blender that they offered.  

5. Say yes to all experiences 

The range of societies and activities that are available is amazing. From learning a new skill to volunteering in a remote part of the world, you’ll have the opportunity to do so much – don’t let the chance pass you by! At the start of the time, there are huge events called Bazaars where you can see all the societies and sports on offer! There will also be opportunities to find out more about the Fundraising and Voluntary activities.

6. Be thrifty

Here are a couple of tips on how to save money: Instead of shopping on campus, an online groceries shop with your flat mates will save you so much in the future.  Charity shops are a godsend, there are loads of them in Loughborough town centre. They’re perfect for picking up fancy dress or any kitchen utensils for a fraction of the online price – plus you’ll be supporting a good cause. 

7. You don’t have to have alcohol to have fun

Some of your best memories will be sat with your friends chatting for hours or messing around in halls. It’s a great idea to bring board games to uni as they’re perfect for a Sunday night after a big weekend. Loughborough Students Union also puts on a whole range of events such as quizzes, the Colour Dash or any of the Action Projects (volunteering to support the community).

8. Don’t be afraid to venture out of campus

Loughborough has some amazing sites: Beacon Hill, Charnwood Water, Bradgate Park just to mention a few. Mobile maps will provide you with all the information on how to get there. 

9. You do you

Don’t be afraid to disagree and share your own opinions just because it will be easier not to in a social environment. Building that confidence to share your own thoughts will serve you well in the long run.  

10. Meet people outside of your block 

Not literally outside but don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and meet new people. Your flat mates may be incredible but meeting people through sports, societies or your course is an excellent way to find like-minded people. 


All in all, we all make mistakes at uni but that’s how you learn, hopefully this has given you a bit of guidance to a smoother start at uni.  

7 Steps to becoming a Sustainable Student

7 Steps to becoming a Sustainable Student

August 25, 2020 Elliott Brown

The University is committed to acting in a socially responsible way that maximises its positive impact and minimises its negative impact on society and the communities in which it is based.

Whether you are a fresher starting a new chapter or a student coming back to Loughborough, deciding how you live your life is crucial. It is not yet clear what our sustainable future will look like but with emerging technologies and the improvement of older cleaner fuel sources, many people now look to a post fossil fuel world – including businesses. So why is it important for you and how can you get involved?

In short, sustainability looks to protect our natural environment, human and ecological health, while driving innovation and not compromising our way of life. Sustainability skills and environmental awareness is becoming a priority in many corporate jobs as businesses seek to adhere to new legislation and reduce their environmental impacts.

To help you settle in and support the sustainable Loughborough community, we have created 7 Steps to becoming more sustainable.  These 7 quick, easy, and everyday steps and the further information they link to will help you and us manage our climate and environmental impact

Stay in the Loop

This one is super easy and will help you stay up to date on everything we are doing on campus.

Reduce Reuse Donate Recycle

The University works tirelessly with both staff and students to reduce what we bring onto campus and how we dispose of what we have. We have several different campaigns and plenty of information available to you to help our staff and Students make informed choices whilst here on campus and out in the community.

Carry a re-usable – This is one of the easiest ways to reduce your impact. When you’re out and about on campus make sure to take a re-usable water bottle or coffee cup.

Donate – From our annual Give n Go event to BHF donation points, there is plenty of opportunity to give back.

Know your bins – Whether you are in your halls or out in our academic buildings its important you know how to dispose of your waste correctly. Check out the guidelines here.

The Loughborough Cup

Reduce your Energy

We all know saving energy is pretty straight forward, if it’s off its not using energy – simple! So here are a few simple things you can do in halls to do your bit to reduce your halls carbon footprint. 

  1. It’s Better OFF, to switch OFF lights when you don’t need them, some lights are automatic, but many aren’t, make sure you know which you can control.
  2. Only use what you need – heating anything uses a lot of energy, so from water to beans, in the kitchen only heat what you need, any extra is a waste of energy!
  3. Dress suitably. If it a little cooler than you like, close windows and pop a jumper on before you hit the heating dial! (and the reverse if it’s too hot!)
  4. Report it! from dripping taps to lights that aren’t doing what they should, report it to your hall management team to get it fixed. You can help be our eyes and ears on energy waste!
Example of It’s Better Off campaign

Choose How You Move

The University is committed to creating a healthy, sustainable environment that is accessible for everyone. We aim to make travelling to, from and around campus better for everyone and ease pressure on the environment at the same time. The potential implications for congestion and air pollution from traffic are significant.

You can find out how easy it is to get around campus here.

Shop Sustainably

Consumerism drives a lot of the environmental issues we face today, making some small changes can have a big impact.

  1. Shop plastic free in Green Pea at LSU.
  2. Find local businesses and community initiatives that help promote a circular economy.
  3. Consider the materials used in clothes you buy. Fast fashion is a huge polluter.
Zero Waste Shop

Try a student society

LSU have loads of societies for you to get involved in. Check out our top 3 Sustainable societies

  1. Landscape and Gardening Society – You will learn planting skills from master gardeners and most important socialising with open/like minded students every Friday afternoon!
  2. Veg Society – Aims to provide a safe space for people to chat, relax, and have fun. Welfare of the environment and animals around the world, as well as the happiness of the vegetarians and vegans at Loughborough University.
  3. Environment & Sustainability Society – Developing the student conversation around global warming and sustainable living.

Get involved

There are plenty of ways to get involved in an activity that benefits the environmental around you, there are several opportunities and ways to do this…

  1. Come to one of our events – We regularly hold events during the year from litter picks, sustainability week, Grime Scene Investigations and Fruit Route.
  2. Student Green League – If you are living in halls you can’t have missed the Student Green League, a network of Champions across the campus bring you information, activities and challenges so you can collect point towards your Hall of the Year Awards.
  3. Volunteer with Action – action assist out team with many of our activities throughout the year.
Student Volunteers for Hedgehog Friendly Campus Litter Pick
This article is in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 11: Sustainable Cities & Communities. To read more click here.

Equal Finances and Support for Doctoral Researchers

August 24, 2020 Zoe Chritchlow

Dear all,

It is important that everyone feels informed about the University’s response to research disruption following the COVID-19 lockdown, and the ongoing tumultuous return to a new normal. Your Presidential Team & Representatives have taken on your concerns and are working together with the Doctoral College to ensure information is as clear and straightforward as possible. Although clear communication is no panacea to troubles you may be facing, transparency can lead to better understanding and adjustments of support for where it is needed most. We hope it will go some way to allaying concerns and answering questions you may have.

Extensions and financial hardship are understandably of vital importance for our community. You may want to know if you are eligible for support, and if so, what the process entails; or question the reasons or rationale behind the decision making; or just want to feel assured that the process is a fair one for all Doctoral Researchers. With these concerns in mind, we asked the Doctoral College for further clarification over extensions and what level of support is being given. Moreover, how this is being treated fairly across potentially more disadvantaged groups and what actions are taken to ensure equal treatment, and how assessment into rectification occurs. We received a lengthy, helpful, and informative response from the Doctoral College, and we wish to share it with you today:

“The current pandemic has had an impact across the University community, not least Doctoral Researchers, and we have been proactive in taking steps to support the wellbeing and ease financial and other concerns of many of our Doctoral Researchers. We recognise that no two doctoral programmes are the same, and no two researchers are the same, and so the impacts on individuals are inevitably varied in nature. 

Any student can apply for an extension to their registration period using the mitigating circumstance process. We are hugely sympathetic to the difficulties that our 1400+ PhD students are facing due to the pandemic but, like all Universities, we are operating in very challenging financial times with very uncertain income streams. That said, the University has already paid out over £22,500 to PhD students this year due to Covid-19 via the hardship fund which is a 188% increase on hardship fund payments made to this group of students last academic year.

To date, both UKRI and the University have had to prioritise doctoral researchers whose funding ends soonest (up to 31 March 2021) because this group have likely been most severely impacted by the pandemic and have had less opportunity to alter their research plans to mitigate against any negative impacts from lockdown, this is also in-line with UKRI’s window for stipend extension eligibility, so is broadly in-line with the approach across the sector. Those who are in receipt of a stipend from UKRI/LU, and where their funding ended/ends March 2020-March 2021, have had the opportunity to present a case for a stipend extension. We have agreed a substantial amount to University funded PhD students in additional stipend payments and fee waivers.

We are undertaking an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) of the stipend extensions process and decisions, which was weighted favourably towards those with caring responsibilities and those with physical/mental health impacts. The EIA will include ethnicity as a protected characteristic in the Equality Act 2010, and should we identify any disproportionate impact or unfair treatment, please be assured that we will take steps to address this. Similarly, if any disproportionate impact or unfair treatment is identified with regard to the other protected characteristics actions will be taken to remedy this.  In considering cases for stipend extensions and extensions to registration periods, factors such as research project mitigation plans, wellbeing and caring responsibilities have been taken into consideration.  Where international/EU students have returned to their home countries, they have been supported to continue to study remotely and additional welfare checks have been put in place via the Doctoral College Office. We also recently offered a one-to-one wellbeing call with flexible engagement options to make this as open to all constituent groups within our DR community as possible.

I understand from our conversation that there is some concern for externally-funded students who are in receipt of scholarships from overseas, and that they would like some support with understanding what the future funding position is likely to be in light of Covid. Where individuals have specific concerns, such as if their stipend is directly paid by a sponsor and this hasn’t arrived, they should contact the Doctoral College directly. Where students are encountering financial difficulties we strongly recommend they utilise the hardship fund, which is a safety net for all of our students.  We will discuss within the Doctoral College whether there is more we can do to advise international researchers with external funding, and will always do our best to support individual students where they raise specific concerns with us.”

We have also received additional clarification on the manner in which BAME and international students can, or should be able to, access assistance and information; the relevant response is below:

additional checks were put in place for Tier 4 students who were based outside of the UK for longer than the 60 day period which is usually permitted by the UKVI. This was to enable us to check on welfare but also to specifically offer reassurance about the visa status of these DRs (i.e we could continue to sponsor remotely if the DRs remained engaged with their research).

We didn’t complete other checks based on location during lockdown, but instead worked with School administrators to check all DRs had supervisory meetings recorded in Co-tutor during the initial lockdown period. We asked Schools to follow up on any cases ASAP if there were concerns that a DR and their supervisory were not in contact. The feedback was very reassuring in that contact between supervisors and DRs was still taking place regularly via remote means.

We are currently working on the communications that will support the registration and re-registration process for this year. This will include some specific messaging for those based overseas who are intending on returning to campus. At this stage, it’s likely we’ll identify relevant students via the home address they have provided in the self -service portal so we can send some targeted information (including self-isolation procedures etc).”

The Presidential Team have been having discussions with the DCO on how best contact and raise such concerns directly. If you have not received the support you need, or worried about your financial position, or have not been aware of anything mentioned above, please email in the first instance Doctoralcollege@lboro.ac.uk to organise a 1:1 session.

Any Doctoral Researcher is always able to contact your Lead Reps and Presidential Team for support in these matters, and if you require a chaperone or any other assistance please get in contact with the emails supplied at the bottom. Further to this we would like to share some links as a reminder in which you can access current support systems:

(Careers Support for Black and Ethnic minority students) [https://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/careers/students-and-graduates/diverse-students/bme/]

(Welcome information for international students) [https://www.lboro.ac.uk/students/welcome/international/]

(Postgraduate Study – International Students) [https://www.lboro.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/international-students/]

(Equality, Diversity & Inclusion)[https://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/hr/equality-diversity/]

Please also note that the UKRI, as of 20/08/2020, have stated that international students are now eligible for UKRI funding, as per their news piece: (UKRI-funded postgraduate programmes to open to international students)[https://www.ukri.org/news/ukri-funded-postgraduate-programmes-to-open-to-international-students/]

We hope that this response alleviates some of the transparency concerns on finances for the Doctoral Researcher community and what assistance is available, and how this is being treated for matters of equality. If you have any additional concerns or questions, please get in touch.

This blog post has been put together by the Presidential Team (Thomas Baker and Rieman Rudra) in collaboration with the Doctoral College and the Doctoral Lead Representative for the School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Nathan Ritchie.

Emails:
Thomas Baker, DR President – T.E.BAKER@LBORO.AC.UK

Rieman Rudra, DR Vice-President – R.RUDRA@LBORO.AC.UK

Nathan Ritchie, SoSSH DR Lead Representative – N.RITCHIE@LBORO.AC.UK

What to bring to university: Ultimate packing list

What to bring to university: Ultimate packing list

August 24, 2020 Guest Blogger

I remember the few months before I started at Loughborough, the excitement and triple-checking every student forum on ‘What to Bring to University’. So, to save you from the same panic searching that I did, I’ve compiled this list of things you will need and, more importantly, stuff that you really won’t need – remember, you’ll likely be sharing communal spaces so you don’t want to overpack! 

If you’re going into private halls, it’s a good idea to check with your landlord as to what will be provided – you might need a kettle/toaster etc.  

I’ve handily separated this list into categories, so you can refer to each section as you need. 

We’ll start with the daily essentials first. 

Daily essentials: 

  • Clothes – I would advise going through your clothes before you get here, I promise you won’t need those shorts that you’ve had since you were 14. Bring a warm coat as Loughborough can get windy!  
  • Loungewear is definitely essential – joggers, trainers, sliders and a dressing gown. You will spend more time in comfy clothes than you’d like to admit!  
     
  • Towels – a big one for the shower and a smaller hand towel.  
  • Toiletries – Make sure you have your own shower gel, soap, shampoo/conditioner. If you need to, you can bring hair straighteners, curlers, and a blow-dryer. 
  • Medication – trust me, you will be very grateful for taking paracetamol with you. Don’t forget to take a first aid kit too – it does come in handy when you need a plaster, sting relief or a bandage! There is a pharmacy on site though if you need any extras or emergency supplies.  
  • Money – do not forget to bring debit/credit cards. There are ATMs dotted around campus if you need to get cash out but our shops, bars and eating outlets all take card.  
  • Laundry basket – you don’t want a dirty pile in the corner of the room so make sure you take one of these, but you can also buy one when you get here, there are loads of shops in town (Wilko’s/TK Max) 
  • Sports clothes/equipment – not essential for all, but it might be worth having a pair of shorts and t-shirt ready in case!  
  • ID – passport or driving license (you’ll need this for registration) 
  • You’ll also probably need fancy dress, as you’ll likely have the opportunity to dress up during fresher’s but there are plenty of charity shops in town (okay, so maybe this one isn’t an exact essential…..!). 

Bedroom 

  • Duvet and sheets – I bought both from Tesco in Loughborough (other stores are available), but if you’ve got particularly nice ones, bring them with you!  
  • Pillows – everyone has their own preference for pillows so bring them along with you.  
  • Mattress protector – not essential but some like the extra layer!  
  • Clothes hangers – Halls don’t tend to supply lots of these.  
  • Extension cords (trust me, you’ll need them) 
  • Photographs or other things to personalise your room with – some people bring lights, plants, and posters. Candles are not allowed in Halls due to the fire risk.  
  • Something you might not think to bring (you can also buy one once you get here) is a doorstop:  
    There are two reasons for this:  
    1) is that it’s easier to move stuff in when you don’t have to contend with opening a door backwards and carrying boxes on your front. 
    2) It’s easier to chat to your new flatmates when your door is open! 
  • TV – you can bring a TV to University if you wish, however, there may be limited reception due to surrounding geography, so we recommend you use the online catch up options. But, if you intend to watch or record live television broadcasts on your PC or laptop, you should ensure that you have a valid UK television licence. 

Kitchen 

The kitchens are university are supplied with a fridge and freezer, a toaster, a kettle, a microwave, and hob. Each student has a lockable cupboard to store their items. Most students bring an army of kitchen items and then find that all their flat mates have done the same, and end up with 8 pans, 8 graters, 8 chopping boards. Sometimes its good to just take the basics and then see what extra is needed once there.

You may need to bring the following if you’re in self-catered halls:

  • Pots and pans
  • Mugs and glasses – I’d recommend two of each, you really won’t use a set of six!
  • Bowls and plates – you probably won’t need a full dining set initially, one or two of each should do
  • Cutlery and utensils – a wooden spoon, a grater but make sure you don’t forget your tin opener (nothing worse than not being able to open the coveted tin of beans for your toast)
  • Tupperware – a definite kitchen essential as it means less cooking – just make double and store the rest in the fridge/freezer for later
  • Chopping board
  • Scissors
  • Oven gloves and tea towels

Lastly are the things you will need for studying –  

Study Essentials 

  • Laptop/Computer – we have Wifi all over campus and this is included in your room charge.  
  • You do not need to bring a printer – use the printers on campus, the cost per page is kept to an absolute minimum, and it works out significantly cheaper than having to buy paper, cartridges and a printer.  
  • Headphones
  • USB stick 
  • Stationary – pens, notebook, folders for notes 
  • A planner of some sort (you can also buy one of these once you get here) 
  • Bag/rucksack 
  • Books (some of these may be available at the library or cheap online so DON’T buy the whole reading list immediately as you could waste a lot of money on expensive books that are not needed.) 

Ultimately, you probably do not need to bring as much as you think you do and, if you do forget something, it is not the end of the world! There are plenty of shops in town to grab extra bits you might need! Please do not be the person (like I was) that arrives with boxes and boxes and boxes of clothes…

Resistance and the Warsaw Ghetto

August 19, 2020 Catherine Armstrong

Author: Theo Pow


The objective of my dissertation was to illuminate higher levels of Jewish resistance to the Holocaust than those historians have previously argued to exist. My research contended that discovering true resistance to the Third Reich and the Holocaust from the Jewish victims required historians to focus on local communities and populations, as only once the unique asymmetrical existence between the Jewish people and their Nazi oppressors is established, can all forms of resistance be discovered. It is with this thought process in mind that I decided to focus on the Warsaw Ghetto.

The decision to focus on the Warsaw Ghetto derives from the fact that during the last months of the Ghetto the remaining Jewish people staged two acts of armed resistance to the final liquidation of the Ghetto. This is an overt act of resistance and has been rightfully classified as such, but leading up to these heroic acts of defiance there were countless other acts of resistance that have not been acknowledged as such and have in some cases even been classified as compliance and/or collaboration to the Third Reich. This negative classification of Jewish acts derives from previously constructed narrow definitions of resistance, which only classified an act as resistance if it was armed, organised and considerably affected the Third Reich’s ability operate.

Therefore, in my research I decided to employ a wider definition of resistance, which I created through the amalgamation of previous wider definitions of resistance from historians as well as a few bespoke additions from myself. A key distinction in the definition of resistance that I implemented was that I argued what was of importance was the motivation to resist, not the outcome of resistance, as the outcome of Jewish resistance was already pre-determined by the unassailable asymmetrical power relationship.

Due to the extensive breadth of the Third Reich’s scholarship in order to research this project correctly I had to cover a vast range of secondary sources. This is where Loughborough University and my dissertation supervisor were instrumental; my supervisor was able to continuously direct me to the best and most applicable sources in order to save me time, whilst still accessing the best material. I was also able to attend a seminar on how to visit and research at an archive and this gave me the confidence and the know-how to conduct independent research. Following this I visited the Wiener Archives in London, where I was able to gain access to amazing primary sources that improved the credibility and thoroughness of my dissertation.

I found researching and writing my dissertation one of the most fulfilling and rewarding pieces of work I have ever done. As Loughborough allows its History students to choose any subject to cover from modern history, I was able to choose a topic that I found interesting and challenging, which continuously kept me engaged with my research through having to come up with answers to complex and thought-provoking questions.  


Bio: I have always wanted to pursue a career in Law and when I discovered that an ideal path to Law was to first study History and then do a Law Conversion course, I instantly knew it was a perfect fit for me and decided to study History at Loughborough. I have continuously loved studying History at every step of my academic career, but I have undoubtedly enjoyed it the most whilst being at Loughborough, as you are given the opportunity, independence and skills to be able to research History in the same manner as a professional historian. 


Image by Moritz Schumacher

A guide to working safely on our campuses

A guide to working safely on our campuses

August 18, 2020 Sadie Gration

Following the guidelines set by the government, we’re slowly beginning to resume on-campus activity in Loughborough and London. As a result, more staff members are already working on our campuses or making preparations to do so soon.

For most of us, this will involve a combination of working on campus and at home, and the extent to which colleagues are on campus will depend on the nature of the role. 

Before you come back on to campus, make sure you’ve completed the online training on Learn. The course is available in both text and video format and provides guidance on accessing buildings and following social distancing measures when using communal facilities, offices, labs and workshop spaces, as well as staircases and lifts.

It’s important to stay in touch and proactively plan ahead with your colleagues to make sure everyone can follow the guidance and stay safe. For example, social distancing will mean that fewer people can work in an office at any given time. Therefore, managers should consider putting a rota system in place. It may also mean you need to use a different desk or workspace, so having a plan and keeping lines of communication open will make things more manageable.

Cleaning arrangements will be in place but given desks and work equipment may need to be shared with others, it will be important to clean them after use. Warm water and soap or washing up liquid will deactivate the virus more effectively than alcohol wipes – you can then leave them to dry or use paper towels, as tea towels are not as hygienic.

If you have taken chairs, docking stations or other equipment home with you, discuss with your line manager where you will be spending most of your time. If that is back on campus, we would advise to bring them back with you when you return.

Once you have arrived on campus, keep an eye out for the various posters, signs and floor markings in the buildings – they will provide clear instructions or directions on one-way systems, including entrances and exits. It might be quite different from how you’ve previously navigated your building, so it’s worth spending some time having a look around to familiarise.

The video below gives you an overview of what some of the key buildings on campus will look like, as well as the signage and protocols in place.

In line with government guidance, everyone should wash their hands frequently and for at least 20 seconds at a time with soap and water. Posters have been put up in toilet and kitchen facilities with NHS guidance on how to wash your hands most effectively. You should also avoid touching your face and other surfaces with unwashed hands.

Biological Safety Officer, Julie Turner explains in this video why hand washing is so important in stopping the spread of the virus.

Whilst wearing a face covering is not a substitute for social distancing and good hand hygiene, they will be required in all indoor public spaces:

  • Common indoor public areas, for example communal areas such as EHB and James France
  • Lecture theatres and teaching rooms
  • Multi-occupancy toilets
  • Main thoroughfares and common communal areas

Face coverings are not, however, required in offices, laboratories, or areas where it may be impractical (for example, when eating and drinking).

The University’s face covering policy is available in full here.

When wearing a face covering, it should cover your nose, mouth and chin and be washed regularly, unless it is a disposable one, in which case discard it after use.

You should keep at least two metres apart from others, both within buildings and outside at all times wherever possible.

Staying safe is a team effort and we all have a role to play. If you spot someone who isn’t following the guidance, you should feel confident in being able to say something, no matter who it is.

For example, if someone is standing too close, or enters a space (such as a shared kitchen) where it’s one in-one out, you can politely ask that they take a few steps back, or that they wait a few minutes until you’re done.

But be considerate of others. It could be a genuine mistake as we’re all adjusting to new environments and ways of working.

While it’s encouraged that we ask each other to uphold high standards of safety, it’s important to remain aware of the different needs within our community – for example, some people with disabilities are exempt from wearing a face covering, and people with visual or hearing impairments may not be able to see or hear you.

It’s important to stay in contact with your line manager, especially if you have any concerns about working on campus – whether about safety, childcare, managing your workload or any other issues – an initial conversation can help identify what support is needed.

If you are worried you have symptoms of COVID-19, or have been told to self-isolate, do not come on to campus. Similarly, if you are concerned about a close relative or have other personal circumstances that need to be addressed, make sure your line manager is aware of your situation so arrangements can be made.

Your health and wellbeing remains a priority, and there are a range of services that can help should you need some extra support:

  • The Employee Assistance Programme – an external, confidential service which staff members can access 24/7, 365 days a year for support on their personal or professional life obstacles
  • The LU Wellbeing app – a digital toolkit for staff and students to aid your mental health using a holistic approach based on the NHS’s five ways to wellbeing

Working together to follow the guidance and systems in place will give us the best chance of keeping our campuses safe for all who use them.

Whether you’re yet to come back on to campus or you are on site regularly, take a look at the Back to Campus website which has further guidance and information for staff.

Doctoral placements are a thing!

Doctoral placements are a thing!

August 17, 2020 Dr Katryna Kalawsky

Written by Naomi Howard – Doctoral Researcher (School of Science – Chemistry)

It may come as a surprise to some that doctoral researchers can go on industrial placements. It certainly wasn’t something I was aware of. In this blog post, I talk about my career journey to date, how the placement I undertook from January to March of 2019 has helped me think about my next steps and why it’s something I would recommend others consider.

My career journey so far

My final year undergraduate project is definitely where my passion for lab work and a quest for in depth knowledge really took hold. Upon completing my BSc, I decided to progress onto a research-based masters and after completing this, a PhD was the natural next step.  So it wasn’t until some 4 years later, in the second year of my PhD, when some leaflets from the Careers Network found their way to our office, that I even considered what it was that I wanted to do next. My doctorate research had occupied so much of my time that I had failed to expand my thought process to the next step. I am particularly goal orientated and benefit from solid action plans. But I had somehow gotten this far with no post doctorate goal. I had managed to forget that there’s a big wide world outside of my research project.  

After some light research into potential jobs, it seemed that I was approaching a fork in the road; my next career decision appeared to be one between academia or industry. It then dawned on me that since leaving school almost a decade ago, my only real work experience had been in academic, postgraduate environments – environments with a high level of camaraderie and a blind-eye turned on the days when you turn up in a tracksuit! This left me feeling grossly under qualified to make a decision on which direction to take.

For me, my PhD was ideal. Allowing me the flexibility I needed by enabling me to manage my own time, experiments and workflow. But was this bubble actually representative of real life? Was I nearing the end of working in this manner? Would I be best suited to stay in the familiar grounds of academia or to change things up for the more fast-paced, business focused environment of industry? I simply didn’t have the answers to all the questions in my mind. So when the opportunity arose to undertake an industrial placement it felt like the perfect chance to get the answer I needed.

My expectations 

I didn’t arrive at my chemistry PhD through the most traditional route, namely I didn’t study chemistry for my undergrad. So I’ve always felt like I’ve been playing catch up with my skill set and knowledge compared to both my peers and qualification level.

I had also only worked in academic labs and was yet to use my chemistry qualifications in a professional environment. Moreover, at the time the placement opportunity presented itself, and I hate to sound cliché, I was experiencing the Second Year Blues, and my research just wasn’t quite going to plan.

Going into my placement I had three goals in mind, firstly to gain some analytical skills and experience as I hoped this would be beneficial to bring back to my own research and would also bulk out my CV. Secondly, I wanted to see first-hand a typical working environment for professional, industry chemists while taking part in meaningful projects to see some real-world applications of the theories I’d learnt about. And lastly, I simply wanted a bit of a change of scene, hopefully to enable me to return to my own work refreshed and remotivated.

My suitability

When I spotted the advertisements for the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) funded Innovation Placements for doctoral researchers I was intrigued. The placements were fully funded to match stipend payments and could also cover travel expenses where required. This meant they could be undertaken without adding any financial pressure which to me was really important. They were also available all over the Midlands, with a variety of companies, in a range of fields. The placement I applied for was in Loughborough, which meant it didn’t involve a temporary relocation or long commute.

One reason that postgraduate placements aren’t commonplace, is that PhD schedules are relatively tight.  Many students find themselves extending their writing period beyond their initial funding dates, so the thought of leaving your lab and research for several months can seem daunting. To attend my placement I had to apply for a leave of absence, which paused my PhD. This allowed me to undertake the placement without using up my doctorate funding or time.

My experiences

During my placement I was trained on several pieces of lab equipment which gave me the opportunity to gain hands on experience and broaden my analytical skills. I was able to experience a professional working environment enabling me to grow in my understanding of workplace culture. I particularly enjoyed dressing smartly every day, I think it helped me feel like I was there to get the job done. I also enjoyed participating in casual Fridays and the weekly coffee mornings. It was refreshing to feel out of my comfort zone and having to revisit some latent communication skills such as explicitly asking for help and support or to have something explained to a second or even third time. I also experienced a new commercial awareness and the differences in atmosphere and expectations when you’re working towards a realised commercial goal.

The placement did give me some respite from the intense world that is PhD research. In turn, and almost counter intuitively it gave me the headspace to work through some issues with my own research and to clarify a few plans in my mind. I came away with an array of skills to add to my CV and the added bonus of some new friends too!

Ultimately, I still don’t have a clearly defined path or even career goals in mind for after my PhD. Several recent global events have forced me to consider more than ever which causes are close to my heart and where and what I can see myself contributing to and investing time in during the next stages of my life. I do however feel in a better place than before, and the additional experiences will certainly only be beneficial in helping me make future career-based decisions. My placement was a wholly positive experience, one that I will not forget quickly and would wholeheartedly recommend to others.

Preparing for the post Covid-19 job market: what you need to know about virtual assessments

Preparing for the post Covid-19 job market: what you need to know about virtual assessments

August 17, 2020 Loughborough University London
Laura Hooke, Careers Consultant at Loughborough University London

In this blog, Careers Consultant, Laura Hooke, discusses the increase in virtual assessments in the current covid-19 era and explores what to expect and how to prepare for these types of application processes.

Before Covid-19, some of the big recruiters of graduates and students in the UK had started to include virtual assessments in their recruitment process for jobs. Lockdown has forced many more organisations into using online and remote assessments and this may become a permanent solution for some. The Institute of Student Employers (ISE) reports that some member companies are keen on the financial savings and find they can reach a wider range of applicants, some of whom have given positive feedback about the virtual recruitment experience. 

Online tests have been used for several years, usually at the initial stage of the recruitment process, and there are no signs of them going away. Be brave and try a few of the free example tests on the Assessment Day website to get a taste of they can be like. Answers are provided at the end to help you with anything you might have got wrong. 

Video interviews are popular, and, like online tests, they often pop up at an early stage of applying for a job. Take a look at Sonru and Hire Vue, two of the companies that sell video interview platforms to UK employers. As an applicant, you would receive log in details to the video interview and a short time frame e.g. a few days, in which to complete it. Interview questions appear one by one on-screen and you have to answer them to a tight time limit while being recorded on camera, you then submit when you are done. Answers need to be concise but provide enough information to help the assessor decide if you meet the criteria for the job and can progress to the next stage, which might be an invitation to a virtual assessment centre. 

Many ISE members use assessment centres as part of graduate recruitment and believe they are an effective selection tool. They are often at the later stage of recruitment and usually involve activities designed to see if you have abilities needed in the job. Examples of activities include: group discussion e.g. a case study (observed by assessors), presentation (to assessors and sometimes other applicants, too), tests (again) and one or more further interviews. Fear not, it wouldn’t be all of these.  Usually.  

There is a great video from FDM with top tips on using your web camera effectively which may be useful for video interviews and activities in virtual assessment centres.

Some of the bigger organisations in the UK have introduced assessments that resemble games and products that use artificial intelligence (AI). For example, you apply to a company and receive a link to a virtual scenario where you make decisions for a character as they progress through typical events at work. Or, you take a test that is not the usual series of multiple-choice questions but more like a game. For a sense of what these might be like take a look at the companies that supply these products to employers, such as Pymetrics, Arctic Shores,  Cappfinity and Hire Vue.

If these assessments sound like fun, that’s great. If they fill you with terror, relax, only a few of the big companies have moved to ‘gamification’ and other AI assisted selection platforms so you will still see more traditional tests and assessment centre activities being used. Also, recruiters in smaller companies who cannot afford to buy in or devote time to assessments (and have fewer applicants for their jobs) might have a simpler recruitment process. For example, submit a CV and cover letter and if you demonstrate you meet the criteria you might be invited to an interview e.g. by Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams or something similar. After wowing them at the interview, you get a job offer. Or maybe you don’t get an offer, but that’s ok because there’s a much better job out there for you.     

If you need any reassurance or are keen to find out more about the new world of virtual assessment, the careers staff at Loughborough University London, are familiar with many of the different tools and approaches used by employers in recruitment and can discuss them with you. We also help our students to prepare including practice virtual assessments and practice interviews with feedback. If you are interested, you can start by emailing me, Laura Hooke, at l.hooke@lboro.ac.uk.  

I will leave you with another challenge. Current students, graduates and staff can get access to ‘Graduates First’ where you will find treasures such as practice tests, including examples of ‘gamified’ tests and also a video interview. Have fun. 

To find out more about Loughborough University London’s careers and employability activities, please visit our website.

How we’ve changed our service for you: An overview of the new measures in place at the University Libraries

How we’ve changed our service for you: An overview of the new measures in place at the University Libraries

August 17, 2020 Sadie Gration

Over the last few months, gradually the Pilkington Library has reopened to support staff and students – whether they need a space to study, books to take home or to talk in person to a member of staff.

Library Assistant Tessa Boyd along with the Director of Library Services, Emma Walton, share their experiences and the precautions taken to keep the services running smoothly and safely for both staff and users.

I joined Loughborough University relatively recently, in November last year, as a Library Assistant at Pilkington Library. Being in a customer-facing role, I never considered the possibility that I may have to adapt to working from home. Yet, this was the reality the User Services team faced back in March.

While the building was shut, the Library service as a whole never completely closed, and much of the online support and enquiries were handled by the Senior Library Support managers. Physical books were temporarily unavailable, but our extensive collection of e-books and online journals really came into their own as exam season hit for students. 

It was something of a relief to be asked to come back to work in early May, as I welcomed the return to some routine and a good excuse to get out of the house. Living with my parents – who both work in the NHS – and the novelties of being home alone during the day had definitely started to wear thin, what with their long hours and the constant hanging up of scrubs on the line! 

Initially, the Library was completely closed to all students and non-library staff. Only a very limited number of staff were permitted in the building, and without the constant crowds of students that traditionally accompany the exam period, the Library felt cavernously empty and somewhat eerie. 

The first major task for us was returning the thousands of books that students had dropped off as they left campus when the national lockdown was triggered. We emptied our external drop boxes throughout the day with latex gloves, loading up trolleys with the avalanche of returning books, and depositing these in a corner of the Library to be ‘quarantined’ for 72 hours before returning them.

We also started up a book collection service. Students and staff emailed in the details of the hard copies of the books they needed, and we fetched these from the lower levels, leaving them in the foyer for collection so users didn’t need to enter the building fully.

As we embraced the possibility of the Library opening back up in a limited capacity for study space, additional safety and precautionary measures were put in place. Most of the Library remains taped off so we can keep an eye on things, and the reception desks are now all behind solid Perspex. 

The days of hot-desking are over for the time being, and staff members have their own designated workspace and equipment. The lift is reserved for books only, and there is also now a one-way system for staircases – one for going up, and one for going down. We’re blessed with lots of space in the Library, so with the limited numbers social distancing is far easier to maintain than a shop at Tesco’s!  

Some of my friends and family were surprised to hear the Library was back in action so soon, but I can honestly say I feel safer here than any other enclosed public space I’ve been to since the pandemic began. 

The amount of attention and consideration to safety has been very reassuring, and the risk assessments our Facilities Manager Brant has organised have certainly not been in vain. 

It’s good to know we’re providing a service staff and students really do appreciate; we’re one of the only university libraries in the country to have re-opened in any capacity, and friends of mine studying at other institutions are extremely envious that we’re providing study space and a book collection service. 

For those trying to write theses in the confines of the same four walls for months on end, the value of a new, quiet, and safe space to focus is not to be understated! 

The demand for book collections has increased too, and we’ve been able to provide texts impossible to access online for all types of library users, from Professors prepping for the next academic year, PhD students writing proposals, to undergraduates re-sitting exams.

It’s been personally gratifying for me to  know we’ve been able to provide some continuity and support for members of the University. 

The ability of the service to adapt in these challenging and rapidly evolving times has been genuinely impressive, and I have no doubt we’ll be working hard to do the same when the new academic year begins.  

Director of Library Services, Emma Walton, provides further insight into the work that has gone on behind the scenes at the University’s libraries:

I really enjoy being at work. I like the energy that comes with working in a busy environment, being around colleagues and the wider University community. And even though many library services are increasingly delivered and provided digitally, the physical building and collection is, I believe, still important.

The change in circumstances saw the Library Service move completely online, and I am incredibly proud of how the team across both of our campuses adapted and developed services to ensure that we continued to support all of our users.

Inevitably, the closing of the buildings restricted some services, but we all worked really hard to keep supporting our community.

Our support and services continued, but I personally found remote working a struggle. I live on my own and despite a lot of excellent digital communication, I really missed working on campus so as soon as we were able to, a small number of staff including myself started working from the building.

The space was reconfigured following support from our colleagues in Health and Safety and our fantastic Library facilities team, which allowed us to work safely using one-way staircases, waiting areas, clear signage and Perspex screens. It gave me and other staff members an opportunity to see how the measures worked and where they needed adapting.

In order to support students who remained on campus and in the local area during the assessment period, myself and colleagues managed a study space in James France, complete with socially distanced study spaces, screens and lots of cleaning products.

Those who used the space really valued the opportunity to have somewhere different to study and this is why, in part, we were keen to open to users as soon as we were able. We have been open since July with a limited ‘stay and study’ offer in the Pilkington Library to complement the ‘click and collect’ service that the London campus Library offers too.

More and more colleagues in the Library are beginning to work in the building and are learning to work with the changes we have made. I am even starting to remember which staircase is up and which is down – progress! Having a limited service open for our users means that we can still interact with them,  even if it is from behind a screen or a face covering, and this can only help as we get closer to the new academic year.

We will need to work differently, but ultimately these measures mean both users and staff can feel reassured, confident and comfortable in their surroundings.

The Community Action Heroes project

The Community Action Heroes project

August 13, 2020 Loughborough University London

The Institute for Design Innovation is leading a project which aims to empower young people to imagine and create desirable futures for themselves and their community as they progress into adulthood.

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Technology and its role in racialised surveillance

Technology and its role in racialised surveillance

August 12, 2020 Loughborough University London

Dr Angela Martinez Dy, Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship for the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship recently participated in a virtual panel discussing technology and its role in racialised surveillance.

Technology and surveillance have been around for a while, however, we are constantly faced with new developments and wider uses being made available. Automated facial recognition, contact tracing apps, and digital identity initiatives are on the rise. Taking examples from the UK, EU, and Australia, the virtual panel event with WebRoots Democracy and The Portal Collective explored the implications of these new technologies for migrants and people of colour. In particular, the event looked at the ways in which these technologies risk perpetuating racist outcomes in society.

Watch the virtual panel

About the virtual panel

Taking place on Tuesday 22 July 2020, the session was chaired by Yassmin Abdel-Magied (The Portal Collective), and featured Sarah Chander (European Digital Rights), Gracie Mae Bradley (Liberty), Dhakshayini Sooriyakumaran (Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility) and Dr Angela Martinez Dy (Loughborough University London).

Dhakshayini was tasked with giving an overview of the history of surveillance. She explained that data collection was a tool used by colonial powers to inform their rule. For example in India, colonial Britain conducted a mass census which gave details around the caste system which was utilised by the colonial power to promote/create division among the population thereby making it easier to control. Such surveillance was often driven by “scientific” racism and therefore furthered notions around white supremacy.

Gracie discussed “policing by machine” with predictive policing systems.  This however, results in racialised, self- fulfilling policing, as rather than data about where crime occurs, it highlights the areas that police are going, thus creating patterns of discrimination backed up by technology. The Durham police force used technology to determine if someone should go to court for an offence or receive a warning etc. In this case, an individual’s liberty can be determined by a corporate machine using crude stereotypes. These stereotypes were also centred on class, gender, sexuality and disability.

Some see data collection as an act of violence with Dr Angela Dy providing a concrete example of this in the US. She cited a group called “Mi Gente” whose slogan is “No tech for ICE”. They have identified links between corporate players such as Thompson Reuters and immigration enforcement in America. Lots of seemingly innocuous data is collected, analysed and used to make profiles of undocumented people, which is then passed on to ICE agents to make raids.

Gracie commented that in the UK this is quite rudimentary. In the UK data is collected around children in schools, including those who have English as a second language. Schools share information with the government and such information can be used for immigration enforcement. Sarah added that this type of control is also used in Europe, where biometric data on non-European migrants is used, making certain groups exceptional in terms of human and civil rights.

The US context was further explored by Dr Angela Dy who cited a long history of “racialised surveillance of activism” with particular emphasis on black and indigenous activists, which, she states, is a live situation. In the 1950s/60s, cold war tactics were used to destabilise political movements by people of colour. This included assassination, for example the murder of activist Fred Hampton in 1969 by police. With regards to the collection of data around the covid-19 crisis, Dr Dy highlighted concern that the government is the customer rather than the regulator. With such a climate of fear around the virus people are willingly providing their data and information without regard to the possible ideological use of such data by data companies. She preceded to argue that data could be used to support and direct resources to those people in need rather than being used in a punitive way with law enforcement and immigration.

Sarah argued that data collected by transnational corporations is used in the criminalisation of certain groups as the profiling of marginal populations can be used to discriminate. She stated that data can be used to discuss racial and social justice, to redirect resources to those who need it, however, there is a big argument for the abolition of big data.

Gracie added that politics came before technology and that technology is used in a political way. She advocated the need to disrupt the “logic” of technologies, whereby it is seen as neutral collection of everyday/minor data.

Sarah mentioned “Digital Rights” – an organisation which advocates the abolition of big data arguing that it will always be used negatively. Dhakshayini agreed with the “defund the police movement” arguing that the money could be used to fund other things such as health and education.

The final part of the panel focused on questions and answers and positive action. For example, how can students resist attendance technologies used to make decisions for their visas? Dr Angela Dy suggested that this is an opportune moment for student activists to pressure universities to de-link from being part of state control. Sarah proposed unionisation for those working in the tech industry, not just around harmful tech but harmful employment practices.

Gracie mentioned Against Borders for Children, who argue that schools should not collect data that can be used by immigration enforcement. Her argument: “why not give resources for everyone” rather than targeting a particular group? Dhakshayini stated that in Australia, using predicative policing, children as young as 10 years old are stopped and searched. That data could be used to reduce race pay gaps and non-disclosure agreements.

Dr Angela Dy finished by talking about building an anti-racist classroom, bringing together all universities, to discuss all university stakeholders and what universities can do. One example being the “Justice for Cleaners” campaign at Kings College.

Finally, all panellists gave their tips on how they stop themselves from “drowning in anger” at the current state of affairs. These included: connecting with people who are resisting, activism and new business models such as platform co-operatism and green taxis.


To find out more about the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, please visit our website.

University Life: From Surviving to Thriving

University Life: From Surviving to Thriving

August 12, 2020 Ella Kirby

My name is Dan Glentworth and I’m a final year International Business student at Loughborough University. I’m not one to worry, but even I thought university could be daunting. I’m here to share some tips and tricks to help those of you embarking on your upcoming journeys and how to adjust to your new surroundings. 

Move-in Day 

I remember waving my parents goodbye on move-in day and thinking “right, where do I go from here?!” 

Those feelings I had on move-in day quickly faded when students on the accommodation committee and fresher helpers made me feel at home straight away. They helped me move my belongings into my room and answered all my questions – even the ‘silly’ ones you feel you shouldn’t ask!! The fresher helper checks in on you and your flatmates during the first few weeks, and even on nights out there are designated sober helpers to ensure that everyone gets home safely. You’re never left to get through anything on your own and you will be looked after in your first few weeks.  

Making friends 

I thought getting to know people could be a challenge, but I found it much easier to meet new people at university. It may seem scary, but if you start a conversation, you can bet your flatmates will be grateful for it. Everyone is in the same boat and wants to meet new people. But if you really don’t want to be the instigator, a good way to show you’re open to socialising is by leaving your door open. In my Hall, doing this invited everyone into my room to watch the sunset.  

Your flatmates won’t be your only friends at university, I met lots of other people because we’re all encouraged to get to know everyone! Sports and societies are a great way to find people with similar interests. Loughborough caters for all ability levels when it comes to sport, so don’t count yourself out if you feel you don’t meet Loughborough’s high standards! Even if it’s not your thing, try watching sports around campus – you’re unlikely to see better standards without paying for it!  

Support 

If you don’t get on with your flatmates or you’re having other issues settling in, it isn’t the end of the world. Each accommodation has a team of Wardens who would be your first point of call if you want to raise any concerns. Loughborough offers additional assistance through the Accommodation Centre and Student Support building where we have friendly staff for Disability support, Counselling, Mental Health support and a great medical centre and pharmacy on site. and Support networks at university are much larger in size compared to those at schools or colleges so you’ll be well looked after. 

Freshers 

 The university organises events during the day like sports and society bazaars, barbeques, and movie nights; there are SO many fantastic opportunities. My advice would be to get stuck in and say yes to everything! They also put on some less fun (but very useful!) talks about general university stuff including how to use your student card, sending, and receiving parcels and signing up to the local GP. 

Missing home?  

Bringing home comforts with you can help you settle in as leaving home can be difficult. I didn’t do this to begin with, and my bare room became an ongoing joke for my flatmates as they reckoned it could have done with some ‘personality’. I improved this by putting photos up and bringing bits and pieces from my room at home. Speaking of home, don’t be afraid to pop back if you want to, the Loughborough family will always be here! If it’s challenging to get home, don’t forget, friends and family are only a video call away.  

Starting your degree! 

Towards the end of freshers fortnight Loughborough provide big talks that ‘show you the ropes’ and aim to prepare you for your studies. No stone was left unturned – topics like lectures, seminars, referencing, modules, exams, coursework were all explained. I even found out that we have access to free academic support services like free Maths and English help centres! You also have a personal tutor and wellbeing advisor who are figures in your Department who you can talk to about anything. So, utilise them!  

Before you know it you’ll be attending classes! Get to know people on your course because it’s likely you’ll have group work to do. It’s also helpful to have people to discuss your work and revise with. It’s important to remember that University academia is very different to school or college. At school, there’s little flexibility and you’re told exactly what to study by teachers but University is completely self-directed and you must do the work yourself. You’ll notice that you no longer get half terms off, and that your lectures can go on until 6pm, though it’s unlikely you’ll have classes all day. University style learning is different and note-taking becomes more important in order to keep up with the modules. You need to be self-motivated and learn to manage your time effectively. My advice here would be to remember how much you’re paying to get a degree! So be smart about your work-life balance. The year is split into two long semesters with sets of exams after each, which gives you a very long holiday after each year! 

And that’s about it! You’ll probably be surprised by how much faster time seems to go at university. You’ll also get to experience more formal events like balls and dinners throughout the year. Student life can be busy, stressful and sometimes messy but will teach you many lessons and you’ll gain loads of independence. It’s up to you to make the most of your time at university, so be proactive and don’t waste it!  

Update to Windows 10 Staff Re-Image Task Sequence

August 12, 2020 Mike Collett

On Friday 14th August from 8:00am to 10:00pm, the Windows 10 Staff Re-Image Task Sequence will be updated. Support for a new model of Dell Laptop will be added.

The Task Sequences will be at risk during this period. It is therefore recommended that you do not attempt to image any Windows 10 staff computers at this time.

CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION AND HELP?
Please contact our Service Desk at it.services@lboro.ac.uk for more information

Drawing and Loss

August 10, 2020 Deborah Harty
Line Tamarin Norwood 2012

TRACEY: Call for journal papers

Guest Editor: Dr Tamarin Norwood

Drawing is typically imagined as an additive, connective and creative process. Adding marks to paper sets up a mimetic lineage connecting object to hand to page to eye, creating a new and lasting image captured on the storage medium of the page. Or does it? A strand of art historical thought from Pliny to Derrida emphasizes what is lost in drawing, exploring the drawing process as a phenomenon that begins from a point of blindness or looking away and proceeds from a perspective of extreme myopia. Implicit in the myopic movement of the stylus is loss of perspective, direction, intention or foresight, such that drawing can be imagined to proceed in a state of not knowing. This changed perspective can result in the conceptual loss or retreat of the thing being drawn, as it is objectified and even dissected—literally or metaphorically—by the person drawing, who might themselves feel alienated from their object by this process. Finally, the work of paper conservation shows us that the storage medium of the page is anything but stable, and far from storing an image, can suffer damage and loss of its own without monitoring and periodic intervention in the archive. 

This special issue aims to reflect upon the dynamic relationship between drawing and loss, taking a multidisciplinary approach to integrate otherwise heterogeneous connections to this often neglected aspect of drawing. Potential contributors might arrive at the subject through fine art, philosophy, conservation, the study of death or memorialization, taking a theoretical, historical or practice-based approach to such issues as: 

  • The losses and gains brought about by the myopic quality of the drawing process;
  • How drawings or drawing processes might mitigate against loss, by memorializing or standing in for the deceased or departed;
  • The effect of a drawing upon its object, or the dynamic between the life of the drawing (in process, and once completed) and the life of its object;
  • The material, affective or ethical dynamics of learning to draw in the anatomy class or the life class;
  • How material loss and damage is approached in conservation, and how this might nuance our understanding of the drawing as a memorial, or of the page as a storage medium.

TRACEY would like to invite the following submissions in response to the theme:

Full academic papers between 4500-5000 words to be submitted through TRACEY’s online submission portal: https://ojs.lboro.ac.uk/TRACEY/about/submissions  

Please ensure that you use the template for your submission, which can be downloaded from the submissions link above. 

Deadline for all submissions: Friday 30th October 2020

Please include the following information for papers: 

Author(s) 

Institutional Affiliation (if appropriate)

Thinking of starting an Etsy?

Thinking of starting an Etsy?

August 10, 2020 LU Arts

Student Gemma shares her advice and top tips

For many, lockdown has brought out an innate creativity and desire to try new things. As Covid-19 has postponed my industry placements, this new found time provided me with the unexpected opportunity to explore my entrepreneurial side. Combining ceramic skills learnt through my textiles degree with a love of accessories, I decided to launch ‘Gemma Fay Design’, creating statement polymer clay accessories. The excitement of having a new focus during these uncertain times threw me into creating bold and colourful collections to sell on Etsy.

In the past few weeks I have learnt so much about not only the processes and techniques involved in making the accessories; but also useful tips and tricks relating to marketing and specifically running a business on Etsy. Although in its infancy, I am optimistic about the future of ‘Gemma Fay Design.’ If, like me you have considered starting an Etsy, here are some things to consider, and tips and tricks I hope you might find helpful:

1) Product
It sounds obvious, but creating something you are passionate about will ultimately determine the effort and time you put into your business. Make sure your products are something you yourself would wear/use. Create prototypes that you/your friends and family can test to assess the results. I’d recommend focusing on a small product range to begin with, paying special attention to the materials you use, as this really impacts the quality and finish of your product.

2) Back to basics
For me, drawing jewellery prototypes, exploring colour variations and different textures before I began making each collection was crucial in promoting an outcome I was happy with. Even if it’s just a quick sketch, this is really useful to help form a cohesive collection. A bonus of this is that sharing the creative process with your social media following gathers more recognition, as followers feel they are part of the process!

Design process drawing (Gemma Fay Design)

3) Research
One thing I hadn’t really considered was the amount of products already on
Etsy! It’s a wonderful platform to use for handmade products; however you need to find a niche in order to make your product stand out from the crowd. What makes it unique – is it the colour? Is it the shape? Is it your materials? I’d also suggest identifying a target group, and looking at what products appeal to this market. You can do this by looking at the products people are favouriting on Etsy, are they similar to your products? Asking questions regarding your products using polls on Instagram is a great way to gather immediate feedback to help you create a product that will sell well.

4) Branding
Your logo and banner are one of the first things people see when they visit
your Etsy page. They will build their impression of your brand based on this; as well as using it to identify you on other social media platforms e.g. Instagram, where you might wish to share your products. If you have access to Adobe, Photoshop and Illustrator are such useful and quick applications to create a logo and banner on. If not, I’d recommend hand drawing and scanning in a design to upload. The most important point is to ensure your brand name, logo and graphics are clear and uniform across all
your platforms!

Etsy banner (Gemma Fay Design)

5) Photographs
A picture really does speak a thousand words. The lighting and
background of your photos are really important in determining what catches a potential buyers eye. I’d recommend using a background with relevance to your product e.g. similar colours, as well as natural lighting if possible. Etsy favour products that have as many images as possible (up to 10!), so focus on including, individual shots, close ups, collections, as well as photos of the product in use.

6) Marketing
I’d suggest releasing collections of products together e.g. perhaps they’re
of a similar style/colour. This will allow you to produce visually cohesive graphics to support your products. I found Adobe Illustrator enabled me to create graphic drawings on my products that I could then use to promote them on social media. This also helps distinguish between product collections.

‘Terra’, ‘Candi’ and ‘Bride Tribe’ collections graphics

7) The Etsy algorithm
Something I initially didn’t understand was how Etsy orders product listings; and what factors are super important in getting your product out there. Key word tags and categories are crucial in deciding where your product will appear on the site. To put you in the best possible position, provide Etsy with as much information about your product as you can. Size, style, function, care etc. The more information provided the higher your listing will rank. Following on from this; Etsy allows you 13 key word tags which will indicate under which searches your product will appear. Fill all 13 of these and you maximise your reach; however do not duplicate words already used in your title as this wastes valuable words and does not increase your listing order. An easy way to determine how successful your listing is is to use E-rank: https://erank.com a website that will grade your listings and make useful suggestions for improvements, an Etsy life saver!


8) Invest
Before starting my business, I massively underestimated how important it is to invest before expecting to make a profit! Etsy do take a % of your profits, and also charge a listing/selling fee, so take this in to account when pricing your products! I’d recommend setting aside some funds for use on packaging as this is crucial in making a good impression, as well as ensuring your products arrive safely! Providing free UK delivery encourages sellers to purchase as there are not extra fees at the checkout.
Etsy also favour sellers offering free delivery. Something that definitely helps, and is likely more feasible after you have made a profit, is paying a small promotion fee to Etsy. This makes sure your listings appear much higher when potential buyers are searching.

9) Networking/Social Media
I’ve found so many likeminded creatives on social media. Whatever product you’re making, there’s likely people in the same position as you, promoting their own designs. Reach out, follow, like and ask questions! Most people
are happy to help and are open to collaborations. Bear in mind, any one of your followers are a potential sale. How you represent yourself on social media could really entice the consumer. Once you’ve made your first few sales, encourage customers to leave reviews/post pictures of them wearing/using the product on social media. Positive ratings on Etsy are a key indicator of a successful business, and will also help gain site traffic too.

Instragram feed promoting my products (@gemmafaydesign)

10) Patience
Everyone hopes to make an instant profit, however realistically these things
take time, and persistence pays off. Etsy actually take a while to notice new products, so don’t be disheartened if you don’t get any product views for a few days! The more listings you add/changes to your page you make, the more it indicates to Etsy you are an active user. Consistency is key; keep track of your views/sales on the Etsy dashboard, so you can assess what your best sellers are!

I currently have 3 collections available, the ‘Terra’ (Earth) collection, ‘Candi; collection and ‘Bride Tribe’ collection. Take a look here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/GemmaFayDesign
My future plans for ‘Gemma Fay Design’ include an upcoming summer collection featuring peachy tones and unique shapes. I look forward to diversifying into more accessories, other than just earrings and hair clips. Given the current circumstances, I am partaking in my first virtual market shortly, and hopefully (when lockdown is over!) a real craft fair in the
future. I hope to continue to grow my business alongside my placement year, and be able to apply the hand making skills I have learnt to my final year degree project in 2021.

I wish you every success in opening your Etsy shop! Please feel free to DM any questions or queries on Instagram: @gemmafaydesign I’d be happy to help!


By Gemma Luteijn

I am a second year multi media textiles student, due to commence my placement year shortly. Particularly interested in interior textiles, I hope to pursue a career in this industry following completion of my degree. Starting an accessories business, ‘Gemma Fay Design’ in lockdown has been such a creative focus that has helped me to cope with these uncertain times. You can find my work on Instagram @gemmafaydesign!

I am a coffee enthusiast and avid yogi. I often find my greatest inspiration comes to me drinking a blonde roast latte or in a downward facing dog!

Masculinisation in Political Leadership

Masculinisation in Political Leadership

August 7, 2020 Catherine Armstrong

Author: Louise Campbell

Throughout my journey at Loughborough, my focus and interest has been around gender and politics. Being a woman in a male-centric society and observing the effects of this in aspects of daily life, this is something I have sought to study so that I am equipped with the knowledge to some day create change. For this reason, the topic of the masculinities of political leadership really appealed to me. I used key elements of teachings from my Gender and Politics module to create an essay that addressed some of these issues.

My essay explored the way in which the characteristics of masculinity play a huge role in the success of political leaders. I used Donald Trump and Margaret Thatcher to present the argument that the media reinforces the societal link between masculine traits and successful political leadership. They do this by framing positive political activity as masculine and any weakness within leadership as feminine. As well as this, they often delegitimise female leaders by focusing on non-political aspects of their lives, such as their clothing and their roles as mothers and wives.

The use of Trump’s testosterone levels in the 2016 US Presidential election is a great example of glorifying masculinity. On a TV appearance with Dr OZ, the assertion that “good” levels of testosterone were somehow relevant to Trump’s ability to be a good President suggests that masculinity is valuable within politics. The manipulation of these results is a clear example of one way in which the media’s gendered framing of masculinity as positive and essential, can be used by politicians. This particular example is especially important because it links Trump’s masculinity to biological constructions of maleness, something that Hilary Clinton, as a woman, could not compete with.

Additionally, I used research papers such as the finding of Jennifer Lawless, who found that ‘citizens prefer men’s leadership traits and characteristics [and] deem men more [politically] competent’ (Kurtzleben, 2016). This work was used to evaluate the causes of these gendered leanings. I argued that although there is a difference between maleness and masculinity, the historic prominence of men in political leadership roles may have caused this societal preference, making it harder for women to succeed in political leadership.

In writing this essay, I learnt that the media is fundamental in shaping societal views of gender. I believe that in order to disrupt this notion and begin to balance the scales of opportunity and success, the media must change the way in which they gender strength and weakness in politics. It is my hope that in doing so, society will start to appreciate the potency of femininity and the ways in which its acceptance can benefit society as a whole.


Bibliography

Kurtzleben, D., (2016). NPR Choice Page. [online] Npr.org. Available at: <https://www.npr.org/2016/10/01/494249104/trump-and-the-testosterone-takeover-of-2016?t=1588090689714> [Accessed 28 April 2020].


Bio: Louise Campbell – Politics with a Minor 2020 Graduate

I am a passionate and articulate Black British female, who has worked very hard to learn about and teach others about the impact of gender in everyday life.

I am an organised individual with a great eye for detail who is currently looking for opportunities in Personal Assistant roles as well as other supporting roles such as Operations Management which will utilise my skillset and challenge me to take on lots of responsibility.


Photo by Aaron Kittredge from Pexels

Disability Support at Loughborough University: Mental Health

August 5, 2020 Guest Blogger

Hi, I’m Chloe and like most first year students, I was delighted to have been accepted into Loughborough, my first-choice university, to study Sport and Exercise Science. Continue reading

Blurred lines: The balance of work and home life

August 5, 2020 Sadie Gration

Planning Officer Amanda Silverwood shares her experience trying to find the balance between her work life, her personal life and also home-schooling her child. In addition, she discusses the ideas and top tips that have been shared between parents and carers in recent ‘Connect over Coffee’ sessions held by the University’s Women’s Network, Maia.

The last time I was in my office was Friday 13 March. When I left to go home that night, I had no idea that five months of working from home lay ahead of me.  

Prior to the pandemic, I regularly worked from home once a week which allowed me to drop my son off at school instead of sending him to breakfast club, and also meant I was able to skip my two-hour daily public transport commute. Despite being an experienced home-worker, I like many others, have really struggled during lockdown.

My husband and I have battled to simultaneously work full time, home-school our seven-year-old and give him the care and attention he needs. Neither of us feels like we are doing a good job of either being an employee or being a parent.

I also miss being ‘work me’ and having the opportunity to get away from the everyday stresses and strains of family life. Although my regular commute probably seems excessive to some, I really valued having that time to myself to read and drink a coffee in peace while on the train. I miss informal chats in the kitchen with my colleagues and seeing real life faces instead of interacting with a screen all day.

I know I am not alone in feeling like this. As part of my job-share with Emma Dresser as an Engagement and Communications Lead on the Maia Women’s Network Committee, I helped to facilitate two informal online discussion sessions in June with women from across the University on the subject of home-schooling and caring during the pandemic.

It is clear that some people are really struggling and dealing with some very difficult situations.

It made me reflect on the fact that you never know what other people are dealing with in their personal lives, but during this crisis, the separation between home and work is becoming increasingly blurry and people don’t get to ‘escape’ through work anymore.

The Maia committee thought it was important to capture some of the themes of these sessions – and below you’ll find an extract of things people have found helps them to balance work and home life:

  • Creating a dedicated office space – separation of work and home
  • Letting cleaning standards slip!
  • Making time for exercise
  • Finding someone to talk to
  • Honesty from other people about how they are feeling and if they are struggling
  • Accepting it is impossible to do it all
  • Having a strict finish time every day
  • Setting small goals and expectations
  • Meal planning
  • Writing a list of all the things you have achieved during lockdown, instead of the things you haven’t
  • Focusing on children’s happiness rather than the amount of schoolwork completed
  • Communicating with your child’s school – if they are sending too much work, tell them. Equally if they are not doing enough, tell them that too.
  • Where there is more than one adult:
    • Split the day looking after your child – one takes the morning shift, the other takes the afternoon shift
    • Have a joint calendar to avoid booking meetings at the same time as each other
  • If you are the only parent in the household, speak with your line manager to discuss options for flexible working if you haven’t already. For example, you could block your diary in the mornings so people do not invite you to meetings so you can dedicate this time to home-schooling.


Following the Connect over Coffee online discussion sessions, some attendees have broken into smaller groups of six or so people to provide an informal support network to each other and share useful resources and tips.

If you are interested in joining the Maia Network and taking part in future events and discussion groups, you can find out more information here.

As the school holidays are now underway, I am grateful home-schooling pressure has eased, but there are still six weeks with limited childcare availability and little in the way of safe entertainment stretching out in front of us. 

I have stolen this quote from our Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research, Professor Steve Rothberg’s email signature as I think it is excellent advice for all of us to remember:

“Be kind to yourself; try not to judge how you are coping based on how you see others coping.
Be kind to others; try not to judge how they are coping based on how you are coping.”

If you are struggling and need advice and support, please do speak to your line manager. You can also seek free, independent and confidential advice through the University’s Employee Assistance Programme, or download the University’s LU Wellbeing app which is available on both the App Store and Google Play.

How I manage my Anxiety Disorder at University

How I manage my Anxiety Disorder at University

August 5, 2020 Guest Blogger

Hi, my names DavidI’m from Belfast and Im about to enter my fourth year at Loughborough University. I study Physics and Mathematics and I also have an Anxiety disorder. Continue reading

Understanding and Responding to our Doctoral Researchers during the Pandemic

Understanding and Responding to our Doctoral Researchers during the Pandemic

July 31, 2020 Duncan Stanley

The current pandemic has had an impact across the University community, not least doctoral researchers, and the Doctoral College has been proactive in taking steps to support the wellbeing and ease financial and other concerns of many of our doctoral researchers. We recognise that no two doctoral programmes are the same, and no two postgraduate research students are the same, and so the impacts on individuals are inevitably varied in nature. 

At the start of last month, we undertook a survey to better understand the impact of Covid-19 on our doctoral researcher community. We had a fantastic level of response – 668 individual responses, which represents approximately half of the University’s actively enrolled doctoral students, from all nine academic Schools. Thank you to those who took the time to respond, we have used the results in Committee discussions, and to inform policy and practice, some of which are summarised in this blog. The raw results have been carefully anonymised and shared with each School. This blog focuses on the important areas of Wellbeing, Finances, Supervision, and Workspace and Disruption.

Wellbeing

You were asked to rate your physical health, mental health and work-life balance on a five-point scale from very good to very poor (see figure 1).

Figure 1: Responses to questions relating to wellbeing for all schools.

Generally, respondents rated their physical health as being better than their mental health. This corresponds with anecdotal evidence from across the UK that lockdown affected people’s mental wellbeing more than their physical health. It is also clear that when working from home it is difficult to maintain work-life balance (which can already be a struggle in an academic environment). While we do not have comparable pre-Covid data on this, we do intend to assess wellbeing in this way in any future surveys.

We consider the wellbeing of our doctoral researchers to be of utmost importance and have taken steps to address this. In April, the University engaged a new provider for its Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), which is an external resource and helpline for a wide range of wellbeing issues including mental health support and financial advice. The Doctoral College funded provision of the EAP for doctoral researchers, and you are able to access the resources and advice here. This service complements that provided by Student Services which is also fully accessible to all postgraduate research students.

There is a wide array of online resources available for wellbeing support; we asked which ones you had heard of and used. The most commonly used were the wellbeing section of our Remote Learning site (used by 15% of respondents) and the University’s Wellbeing App (7%). Other resources can be found on the new Wellbeing section of our website. These resources are available for you, do use them.

For a more ‘personal touch’ we have also provided the opportunity to talk with a member of the Doctoral College team in July, and Katryna and Duncan hold regular training and development online appointments, bookable through the Development Portal.

Finances

Of all respondents, 177 (26.6%) reported that they were facing some level of financial hardship. The most common reasons were loss or reduction of part-time work at the University or outside the University, a reduction in income for somebody providing financial support, and studentships coming to an end. Uncertainty about future income had also pushed some to make adjustments to their finances so that they have some money in reserve in case it is needed.  The University’s hardship fund has given funding to 19 out of the 22 doctoral researchers who have applied, paying out a total of £25,998 to support them. You can find further information on the University’s Hardship Fund pages.

We are hugely sympathetic to the financial difficulties many of our students are facing. Like all Universities, though, we are operating in very challenging financial times with very uncertain income streams. For this reason, the provision of studentship extensions has been very carefully considered. The Doctoral College surveyed doctoral researchers in receipt of a studentship that was due to end between 1 March 2020 – 31 March 2021. Of those, 109 (56%) requested an extension to their studentship and 98 of those applications were awarded an extension (90% of applicants). If you are due to submit after this time period, you should work with your supervisors to modify your research plan so that you are able to meet your submission deadline with a thesis of an acceptable standard, which might be quite different from your original research vision. The survey indicated that 62% of you had already reviewed or revised your research plans in light of the disruption caused by the pandemic; it is clear that some level of disruption will continue for the foreseeable future, so we urge you all to check and revise your plan for thesis completion on a regular basis. Consideration will be given to whether further stipend extensions may be possible, although it is expected these will only be awarded in exceptional circumstances.  

Supervision

Ninety-five percent of respondents reported meeting with their supervisors at least once a month, with most meeting more frequently than this. Encouragingly, only a small proportion felt that the level of supervision that they were receiving was inadequate, and this data has been fed back to Schools. The Doctoral College Office also undertook an audit of Co-tutor records to look for any signs of researchers in need of further support. If you still feel concerned about your supervision you should get in touch with a member of the Doctoral Programme team in your School in the first instance, book an appointment through the Development Portal or make contact with the Doctoral College directly.

Workspace and Disruption

The survey indicated that around 34% of doctoral researchers did not have access to a full-time work space. A third of you stated that you would be likely to use a bookable University study space complying with social distancing guidelines. Since the survey, first James France and now the Library have been open for study on the Loughborough Campus. Graduate House is not yet open due to spatial constraints. A quarter of you (26%) reported that you had significant caring responsibilities that disrupted your work schedule, and 47% reported that they were unable to work without significant disruptions. If you feel your studies have been significantly disrupted, this can be taken into account via the mitigating circumstances process at your annual progression review.

As always, the Doctoral College values the many contributions you make, not only in terms of research but more broadly to the University community and beyond. If you have any queries about the survey or our response please get in touch with us directly via the email address doctoralcollege@lboro.ac.uk. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us, and we look forward to continuing the ongoing dialogue with you.

Behavioural Economics and the 2008 Financial Crisis

Behavioural Economics and the 2008 Financial Crisis

July 28, 2020 Catherine Armstrong

Author: Tobie Timmermans

Hindsight – the unfair belief that I should have started collecting research for my dissertation earlier when in reality, I think it is important to not get bogged down in pages on notes but instead allow your dissertation subject time to develop gradually. But also, it perfectly summarises the link between my degree as a history student and my dissertation in behavioural economics and the 2008 financial crisis.

Across my time studying history, I was taught not to approach any aspect of the past at face value but instead to understand different biases in order to reach an accurate conclusion. Whilst both studying economics during my year abroad in the US and looking for jobs in my final year of university, I regularly found myself explaining the significance of a history degree. My reasoning is simple. You can often learn from history and use it to analyse, understand and explain the present and/or future. By applying the historical context of behavioural economics to the 2008 crisis, I believed I could illustrate this.

Hindsight bias makes it easy for economists, bankers and government advisors to insist that the crisis should have been foreseen before it caused global catastrophe. However, in reality very few people predicted it, and even fewer could understand it. One of those who did, was Robert Shiller who voiced his opinion that the housing bubble in America would burst and a worldwide recession would follow.

Shiller based his argument on behavioural economic theory – an inter-disciplinary study of psychology and economics – that had been developed across the previous two centuries but did not become academically apparent until the late 20th century and didn’t become mainstream until the causes of the financial crisis unfolded following 2008.

My dissertation, primarily aimed at using history to understand the present, used key behavioural economic research journals from the latter half of the 20th century to explain the causes of the crisis in the US and analyse the economic model’s proficiency in government policymaking going forward. I analysed the limitations of the widely accepted neoclassical models including the efficient market hypothesis which attempts to predict financial market movements based on the rationality of human beings.

Instead, using quantitative data such as graphs and tables, I demonstrated the effect behavioural theories like human irrationality, limited cognitive ability, short-term bias and overconfidence had on financial markets in the United States that caused the economic crash. Whilst behavioural economics is neither a new nor an under-researched sub-discipline, its real-life application is minor, and I attempted to fill this void. By combining the two topics and following the development of behavioural economics, I evaluated its application potential going forward which has thus far seen inadequate implementation in policymaking. However, with greater improvements based on historical research, behavioural economics and the understanding of real human nature may enable the prevention of future financial crises which, according to US Senator Elizabeth Warren, will reoccur every 15 to 20 years if human irrationality is uncapped. This study is one of extreme importance and one I will continue to research in the future.


Bio: My name is Tobie Timmermans, I have recently (2020) graduated from Loughborough University with a First-class Honours in BA History accompanied by an international Diploma of Studies following my year abroad in the United States majoring in International Business and Economics at Oklahoma State University. I plan to move back to the US to pursue a career in Business Analysis and Management Consulting which was largely inspired by my Dissertation subject; Behavioural Economics and the 2008 Financial Crisis in which I achieved a mark of 75.


Photo by David McBee from Pexels

Chinese Women in Art

July 24, 2020 Stephen Ashurst

Author: Karra Hough

My personal interest in the Chinese culture, language, and history undoubtedly influenced my choice of dissertation topic. This interest was first sparked when I visited China and was able to experience and appreciate China’s history and art in person. Writing a dissertation allowed me to explore this interest further.

My dissertation explores how Chinese women belonging to the Qing Imperial court were portrayed in traditional Chinese paintings. To accomplish this, I analysed fifteen Chinese paintings of women, also known as meiren paintings. I conducted a visual analysis of each painting, identifying common symbolism and motifs (such as plants and animals), commenting on the use of certain colours, and any shared physical characteristics between the women.

From this, I was then able to argue and explore three ways in which Qing court women were represented in Chinese paintings. In my dissertation, I argue that Qing Imperial court women were portrayed as;

  • Sexual objects used for viewing pleasure
  • Possessions that belonged to the Qing Imperial court and the Qing emperor
  • Idealised images of what was considered to be the ‘perfect’ woman from a male perspective

Further research into Qing meiren paintings revealed that this area of Chinese history was neglected, with limited scholarship dedicated to the subject. While I acknowledge and praise research that does discuss meiren paintings, I felt that there was still much to be explored and so, through my dissertation, I aim to highlight the importance and value of studying Chinese paintings in history and contribute to the discussion of Qing meiren paintings.

I began the research process by scouring my university’s library and the internet for books and articles that discussed my dissertation topic. While this was a difficult task in itself given the scarcity of such sources, the literature that I did discover was incredibly useful. It helped me understand how I wanted to structure my own dissertation and how I could contribute and build upon existing research on meiren paintings.

A significant part of my research process was also dedicated to learning about Chinese culture, particularly Qing culture, in order to aid my analysis of the symbolism and the hidden meanings behind them. I also relied heavily on my knowledge of the Chinese language to help my analysis.

I credit the module for this dissertation for supporting and guiding me through writing my dissertation. This module helped me to improve my ability in finding credible academic sources and how I should use them in my own work. It also supported me in developing the necessary skills to critically discuss and analyse other scholars’ work.

Writing a dissertation was an incredibly challenging, yet rewarding, experience. While there were moments when I doubted myself and my dissertation, I am sincerely grateful to my family and my dissertation supervisor for believing in me and for supporting me throughout this journey.


Bio: My name is Karra and I am a Loughborough University 2020 graduate with a BA degree in History. I am a very career-driven person with ambitions to teach English as a foreign language in China and South Korea. Studying foreign languages is a passion of mine. I have been studying Mandarin for three years as part of my degree, as well as also self-studying Korean. I love exploring and learning about different countries and cultures, and in my downtime I enjoy watching Netflix, napping and cooking.


Photo by Robert Nyman on Unsplash

The Role of the EU and the African Union in Somalia

July 24, 2020 Stephen Ashurst

Author: Omotara Nadi

My dissertation question: To what extent is the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) an equal partnership between the EU and Africa aimed to examine the relationship between the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU). Whilst the world has been focused on Brexit and the EU’s relationship with other countries such as the US and China, little attention has been paid to EU’s relationship with Africa. As such, I found the topic both innovative and exciting, and I was proud to be able to contribute to the existing literature on this sorely understudied relationship.

The research process

I had not studied the EU-Africa relationship specifically during my undergraduate degree, so the first step was making myself aware of what had already been written on the topic. To do this, I visited the European Commission Library in Brussels in March 2019. The Library gave me access to many valuable resources on the EU-Africa relationship. The next major task was sifting through the piles of sources I had acquired in order to focus my argument. Even though a dissertation is 12,000 words, it is extremely easy to go well over the word limit due to the amount of information that is available.

 Finally, the dissertation module helped me to understand how I can successfully present my argument. The weekly lectures that focused on a different approach were immensely useful when I was deciding upon which research method I would use to argue my points. I decided to conduct a single case study analysis on AMISOM which helped me to focus my research.

What I found

Despite the rhetoric given by the EU and Africa that AMISOM was a partnership, my dissertation argued that the partnership was still unequal. I found that there were two main reasons for this. The first reason is that the EU and Africa do not share the same interests when it comes to military intervention in Somalia. The EU’s involvement likely stems from a desire to prevent the proliferation of piracy – an issue that negatively affects the EU’s trade – as opposed to a genuine desire to help Africa with its security issues.

The second issue, and perhaps the one I was most surprised about, was the actions of African states. Only six countries within the African Union (AU) contributed troops to AMISOM. In addition to this, AU Member States are not mandated to contribute to the AU’s budget.

This means that the bloc relies on donations from western actors, such as the US and the EU, to fund its military operations. In the case of AMISOM, this has meant that the donor-recipient dynamic that the EU and Africa have pledged to move away from is apparent, resulting in a partnership that continues to be based on inequality.


Autobigraphical statement – Omotara Nadi studied Politics and International Relations at Loughborough University. Alongside her degree, Omotara was an active volunteer at Loughborough Students’ Union (LSU). Some of her volunteer positions included POLIS & English Department Chair 2019/2020, Chair of the Ethnic Minorities Network 2019/2020 and Student Coordinator for the International and Erasmus Scheme 2018-2020. After graduating, Omotara joined the Loughborough Graduate Programme as a Graduate Management Trainee.


Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels

Institute of Diplomacy and International Governance: Security, Sovereignty and Covid-19

July 23, 2020 Loughborough University London
Tatevik Mnatsakanyan, Security, Sovereignty and Covid-19

Loughborough University’s Institute of Diplomacy and International Governance have created a series of mini-lectures that discuss the effects of Covid-19 on a national and global scale. The lectures have been distributed to students providing weekly video content that pose pivotal questions and encourage students to consider the implications of a global pandemic on politics and the economy.

Tatevik Mnatsakanyan: Security, Sovereignty and Covid-19

In the final part of the Institute of Diplomacy and International Governance’s mini-lecture series, Dr Tatevik Mnatsakanyan talks about security, peace and the current Covid-19 pandemic, and offers reflections and connections with her research and teaching.

Mnatsakanyan first highlights some issue areas and trends in the fields of international security, and conflict and peace: impacts of this crisis on the re-eruption or worsening of conflicts, as well as on human vulnerabilities caused by long term structural inequalities. She then reflects on the very unique status of the pandemic, i.e. what it exposes about discourses and practices of “security”, “political violence” and “sovereignty” – conceptually and theoretically, the areas of her research, along with her specific concern with the politics of denial. She briefly explores the paradox of “boundary” thinking; suggests examining multiple and overlapping forms of denial that the politics around Covid-19 is exposing across the globe; and how they call for a re-articulation of the ethos of sovereignty. She finishes by reflecting on the intellectual and policy opportunities: the pandemic allows re-connecting the dots in national and global politics across and traversing a multiplicity of issue areas and problematic, demanding synergistic approaches.

Institute of Diplomacy and International Governance: Covid-19 and Political Leadership

July 23, 2020 Loughborough University London
Helen Drake, Covid-19 and Political Leadership

Loughborough University’s Institute of Diplomacy and International Governance have created a series of mini-lectures that discuss the effects of Covid-19 on a national and global scale. The lectures have been distributed to students providing weekly video content that pose pivotal questions and encourage students to consider the implications of a global pandemic on politics and the economy.

Helen Drake: Covid-19 and Political Leadership

In this lecture Professor Helen Drake, Director of the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance at Loughborough University London, asks what Covid-19 can tell us about political leadership.

Professor Drake tackles the difference between leaders and leadership, looks at questions of trust and communication and addresses the under-representation of women in global decision-making.

The lecture considers how the Covid-19 crisis has exacerbated the ongoing power struggles between the worlds biggest and strongest nations. Drake discuses how political leadership is more than the leader and who has authority, it must consider who trusts the authority and the legitimacy of that leadership. She discusses how leadership is as much about followers as it is about leaders.

Drake concludes her lecture by asking what we – the followers – want from political leadership at this time of crisis.

Institute of Diplomacy and International Governance: Covid-19 and European Diplomacy

July 23, 2020 Loughborough University London
Dorina Baltag, Covid-19 and European Diplomacy

Loughborough University’s Institute of Diplomacy and International Governance have created a series of mini-lectures that discuss the effects of Covid-19 on a national and global scale. The lectures have been distributed to students providing weekly video content that pose pivotal questions and encourage students to consider the implications of a global pandemic on politics and the economy.

Dorina Baltag: Covid-19 and European Diplomacy

Dr. Dorina Baltag elaborates on the diplomacy of the member-states of the European Union (the EU) in the new world order created by Covid-19 in the fifth part of the mini-lecture series.

Usually, scholars evaluate the European Union as a political entity based on the politics of rule -since it is based on a vast amount of regulations and directives. Instead, Covid-19 has given the rare opportunity examine the European Union based on politics of events -on an ad-hoc basis. A retrospective timeline of diplomatic actions of EU member-states reveals the vulnerability of the interconnected states and the current political crossroad that the EU finds itself at: that of national interests and solidarity efforts.

Dr. Baltag ends this mini-lecture by looking forward and proposing several ways in which this vulnerability can be addressed via diplomacy.

Institute of Diplomacy and International Governance: Covid-19 and the World Order

July 23, 2020 Loughborough University London
Cristian Nitoiu, Covid-19 and the World Order

Loughborough University’s Institute of Diplomacy and International Governance have created a series of mini-lectures that discuss the effects of Covid-19 on a national and global scale. The lectures have been distributed to students providing weekly video content that pose pivotal questions and encourage students to consider the implications of a global pandemic on politics and the economy.

Cristian Nitoiu: Covid-19 and the World Order

Two months ago, the world order was mostly centred around the struggle between the western world and the non-western world. The world order has been created and populated by a wide range of views about the way in which the world order should be organised, what should be the main values or the main ideas that should characterise the behaviour of states and international organisations.

The arrival of Covid-19 has meant a lot of things have changed, not only domestically in the way we live our lives but also in the way States behave within the world order as well as the world order as a whole. The coronavirus has bought states and societies together in an unprecedented manner, it has seen states imitating one another, waiting on other countries to lead the way in making tough decisions. Other states have adopted what we may have referred to as authoritarian policies a few months ago to curb the liberties of people.

As the world order increasingly adopts a more monolithic belief in science, the importance of international organisations such as the World Health Organisation grows and there is a move away from the pluralistic approach which has previously characterised the world order, we begin to see numerous political shifts happening globally.

In the fourth part of the mini-lecture series, Dr Christian Nitoiu discusses the global response to Covid-19 and how, despite stark differences between states, a ‘one size fits all’ approach has been adopted internationally. Nitoiu considers the positions of international organisations within the world order and the increasing importance of the impact conspiracy theories have on the world order.

Institute of Diplomacy and International Governance: Covid-19 and the Future of Europe

July 23, 2020 Loughborough University London
Nicola Chelotti, Covid-19 and the Future of Europe

Loughborough University’s Institute of Diplomacy and International Governance have created a series of mini-lectures that discuss the effects of Covid-19 on a national and global scale. The lectures have been distributed to students providing weekly video content that pose pivotal questions and encourage students to consider the implications of a global pandemic on politics and the economy.

Nicola Chelotti: Covid-19 and the Future of Europe

In the third part of the Institute of Diplomacy and International Governance’s mini-lecture series, Dr Nicola Chelotti discusses how European Union (EU) countries have reacted to the Covid-19 crisis. The lecture reviews what the European Central Bank did before focusing more specifically on the reaction of individual governments of EU Member States. In this context, the video introduces some of the main controversies amongst EU countries (especially between Northern and Southern states) on how to finance the debt incurred from dealing with Covid-19.

Chelotti looks at the necessity of economic expenditure to sustain affected sectors in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the implications this has upon economic markets within the European Union. The lecture concludes with a poignant reflection on how the political and economic compromises and negotiations of the moment will determine the future of Europe, whether the European Union will survive and how these decisions will inform the state of politics on the European continent.

Institute of Diplomacy and International Governance: Brexit Means Brexit Despite Covid-19

July 23, 2020 Loughborough University London
Dr Tim Oliver, Brexit Means Brexit Despite Covid-19

Loughborough University’s Institute of Diplomacy and International Governance have created a series of mini-lectures that discuss the effects of Covid-19 on a national and global scale. The lectures have been distributed to students providing weekly video content that pose pivotal questions and encourage students to consider the implications of a global pandemic on politics and the economy.

Tim Oliver: Brexit means Brexit despite Covid-19

Boris Johnson might have won in the December 2019 UK General Election campaign with the slogan ‘Get Brexit Done’. In reality, however, it was a case of ‘Get Brexit Started.’ The UK’s withdrawal at the end of January 2020 was more the end of the beginning of Brexit than the actual end of it. No surprise then that it looked like Brexit would continue dominating UK politics. Covid-19 soon displaced it from the headlines. Brexit, however, has not gone away. Lots remains to be negotiated and Covid-19 has made things more complex. Even a No Deal Brexit, which has grown more likely, won’t ‘get Brexit done’. What Brexit means remains deeply contested in both debate and practice. 

Dr Tim Oliver contemplates how COVID-19 has slowed down Brexit negotiations, conversations and decisions as we approach the end of the beginning of the UK’s exit from the European Union. Oliver poses the question of politics or economics; which will drive what happens to the UK?

Institute of Diplomacy and International Governance: Protest Movements During Covid-19

July 23, 2020 Loughborough University London
Aidan McGarry, Protest movements During Covid-19

Loughborough University’s Institute of Diplomacy and International Governance have created a series of mini-lectures that discuss the effects of Covid-19 on a national and global scale. The lectures have been distributed to students providing weekly video content that pose pivotal questions and encourage students to consider the implications of a global pandemic on politics and the economy.

Aidan McGarry: Protest Movements during Covid-19

COVID-19 has upended politics as we know it, and it is likely to have a long-lasting impact on how we organise and express ourselves politically. One way this is going to be felt acutely is through protesting. It begs the question, how can we protest/gather and demonstrate as we comply with social distancing rules?

In the first part of the mini-lecture series, Dr Aidan McGarry discusses some of the manifestations of protest since Covid-19. The lecture considers some examples of how protests have manifested since Covid-19 looking at anti-government protests in Israel and anti-lockdown protests in the USA. McGarry concludes by suggesting that protests and resistance will be vital in terms of building community and addressing global concerns in a post Covid era.

“Geography? It's just about standing in rivers and colouring in!”

“Geography? It's just about standing in rivers and colouring in!”

July 23, 2020 Guest Blogger

After gaining my place at Loughborough to study Geography with Economics, my friends joked that I would need to take my colouring crayons, and that I would just be sat learning about rocks and rivers all day. Continue reading

How to make your tuition fee worth it? Travel!

How to make your tuition fee worth it? Travel!

July 22, 2020 Guest Blogger

£9,250 a year is a lot of money to spend whilst sitting in one place, in one library, just to get one piece of paper. Continue reading

Art foundation: A waste of time or the best decision you’ll ever make?

Art foundation: A waste of time or the best decision you’ll ever make?

July 22, 2020 Emma

I had a stereotypical view on foundation years to begin with, but I couldn’t have been more wrong! Continue reading

My PhD experience

My PhD experience

July 22, 2020 Loughborough University London

Dr Adaku Jennifer Agwunobi is our first Black doctoral researcher to complete her PhD, and the first doctoral researcher to complete their PhD within the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. What’s more, Dr Agwunobi also completed her PhD in an impressive 2 years and 10 months – pretty inspiring, right!

In this blog, hear from Dr Agwunobi in her own words as she reflects on her PhD experience at Loughborough University London.

Continue reading
Doctoral President Team Update

Doctoral President Team Update

July 21, 2020 Dr Katryna Kalawsky

Written by the Doctoral President Team, Tom Baker (President) and Rieman Rudra (Vice-President)

A short update regarding the Presidential Team, PhD Awards, Communication with Senior Management, and our Surveys and Open Letters.

Presidential Team Applications

Hopefully you have seen the email from Ana-Maria, our LSU Education Executive Officer, that applications are open for the new Doctoral Research President Team of 2020-2021. The Role Descriptor is available online, and applications can be made on the LSU Website, with the deadline being Monday 27th July at 5pm. The Team have had to adapt significantly over the past few months for reasons that are hopefully clear. This is a very important time for representation and to have a voice in matters pertaining to all aspects of our Doctoral journey. We have set aside time in the latter half of next week for interviews, with the role handover being a transition over the next few months.

If you are interested in the role and wish to find out more, please reach out to myself or Rieman (emails at bottom) for further information or consider talking with your Doctoral Representatives and Lead Representatives on how we work in combination. The role changeover for Reps and Lead Reps will occur at a later date.

PhD Awards

The PhD Awards are in the midst of planning as you read this. We have been meeting weekly to update the awards as this year we have combined some with the LSU Loughborough Academic Awards. We have done this to better align how we are part of the LSU student representative system. Something we have been aiming to improve upon since the loss of the PGR Executive Officer, although more on that another time. We are on track for the end of August, where we will also announce the new Presidential Team and generally celebrate all the wonderful work the Loughborough Doctoral community do!

If you wish to put anything forward for mention, please contact us (emails at bottom), otherwise keep your eyes peeled for the nominations!

COVID-19 Survey Results

Although submitted to the Research Committee near the start of the COVID lockdown, we wish to thank all the respondents to our survey: COVID-19 – Understanding Doctoral Researcher Perspectives. From this we have managed to foster improved mental wellbeing support in a number of areas (such as Student Services, Skills Development, Resource Access, and the Doctoral College Development Portal), access to the Employee Assistance Programme, Doctoral specifics FAQs (Staff FAQs also applicable), improved access to the Hardship Fund, among other assistance areas.

If anyone wishes to see the report, please email us to be sent a copy. We cannot append documents to the Blog.

We wish to extend another massive thank you to all those in the Doctoral College for their endless support in these matters. We couldn’t have had much of this without the team and we couldn’t be more grateful for their work.

Research Culture Survey

You may also remember the Research Culture related work ongoing throughout the year, and the survey (now closed) we shared earlier this year. Unfortunately, many of the events we were planning or were scheduled had to be cancelled/postponed. Nonetheless, we wish to thank the respondents to our survey and to say that these comments have not gone unheard. A paper is due to be submitted to the Research Committee being held in September. Once this is complete, please feel free to request a copy from myself or Rieman (emails below).

Open Letter

We have the initial points of an open letter to be submitted to senior university staff in the works. We have had comments from your Lead Representatives added so please continue to pass information along, or as always, contact us directly. The Presidential Team, Doctoral Lead Representatives and members of your department Doctoral Representatives have met twice so far this year directly with the Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research (Steve Rothberg), Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Doctoral College (Elizabeth Peel), and other individuals to discuss the information. We are due to meet again in September.

If you wish to put forward or see the current points or comments, please get in touch.

On top of the above, please consider signing the open letter Research Student Funding during the Coronavirus Pandemic addressed to UKRI and subsequent Councils. Previous correspondence has been made by UKRI.

Any other questions please get in touch.

All the best,

Doctoral Researcher President: Thomas Baker – T.E.BAKER@LBORO.AC.UK

Doctoral Researcher Vice-President: Rieman Rudra – R.RUDRA@LBORO.AC.UK

Loughborough University awarded 5+ QS Star rating

Loughborough University awarded 5+ QS Star rating

July 21, 2020 Loughborough University London

So we really can say we are a super star institution, but what does this actually mean?

The QS Stars rating system is an opt-in rating system for higher education institutions and unlike other ranking systems which compares the performance of different institutions, the QS Stars system rates a university entirely on its own performance. Institutions receive a rating between 0 and 5+ stars overall, with 5+ being the highest and most desirable rating as well as a rating of between 0 and 5 stars in a number of sub-categories: teaching, employability, internationalization, research, facilities, innovation, and inclusiveness.

Teaching

The rating for teaching is calculated by looking at student satisfaction, the faculty-student ratio and the rate of study. Student satisfaction totalled 90% contributing to the 5 stars awarded for the great teaching delivered at Loughborough University.

Employability

At 5 stars, employability is not just about academic strength but focuses on students’ actual readiness for work. This not only takes into account the university’s reputation among employers, (we garnered a massive 157 nominations from the 2019 QS global employer survey), but also skills such as: the ability to work effectively in a multi-cultural team, deliver presentations and to manage people and projects. With on-campus careers fairs, interview training and career advice sessions, it’s not surprising that we were awarded 5 stars for employability!

Internationalisation

At Loughborough University we realise the importance of our global reputation. This category considers international research collaborations, partnerships with international institutions, international exchange students and international diversity on campus. With 998 international partners it’s not surprising that we were awarded 5 stars in the internationalization category.

Research

As a core component of many universities, research is a key area for us at Loughborough University. The research category considers research productivity and the impact of that research, the amount of funds dedicated to research as well as the university’s reputation for research among academics. We received a colossal 966 nominations from the 2019 QS global academic survey, contributing to our 5-star rating.

Facilities

We are proud of our 5-star facilities! This category may be of great importance when selecting a university as it provides students an insight into the environment they can expect for their university experience. At Loughborough, we have a strong library expenditure, approximately $272.4 per student. Did you know students at our London campus can request books to be sent from Loughborough’s Pilkington Library for free?

Innovation

The advanced criteria of the QS Stars system also includes innovation – a characteristic we at Loughborough value and stimulate. Innovation and knowledge transfer are becoming more and more important for modern, progressive institutions, . Our 5-star rating was achieved through various innovations at Loughborough University including 25 patents, 3 spin-off companies established in the last five years and 69 distinct industrial research collaborations in scopus in the last five years.

Inclusiveness

For an institution to be world class it must value and implement inclusiveness. Loughborough University has received a further 5 star rating for this advanced criteria, which takes into account: provision of access and support for a variety of disabilities, the amount of funds available for student support and the number of students from low-income backgrounds.

Overall

Taking into account the solid 5 stars given to each area it is not surprising that Loughborough University was given a 5+ star overall rating. Proud as we are, we will strive to maintain and improve all areas of university life, so come to our 5+ star institution and become an all-star graduate!

2040: The Year of the Drought? And How to Start Saving Water at Home

2040: The Year of the Drought? And How to Start Saving Water at Home

July 21, 2020 Amber Quraishi
Water is a human right, right?

Supporting children through the COVID-19 pandemic

July 21, 2020 Sadie Gration

Our institution has been open and committed to supporting the wellbeing of its staff throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Maia, the University’s Women’s Network, has recently hosted virtual Coffee Hour chats, which have highlighted how many staff are worried about the mental wellbeing of their children.

In this blog, Dr Gemma Witcomb takes a look at some of the concerns raised and offers some advice on how we can best support children at this time, drawing on research expertise of colleagues in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences.

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown has caused an unprecedented change to everyday life. This change is particularly challenging for those with parental responsibilities.

Many of the narratives of the difficulties faced by parents specifically have focused on the challenges of attempting to do two jobs simultaneously: working from home and caring for children.

Such challenges have been witnessed by many – from unexpected little guests on Zoom calls with colleagues, to accidental Teams calls to School and Admissions staff (sorry!), to national news interviews that have featured children interrupting their parents with their burning questions or requests. While on the surface these may be rather amusing incidents, they highlight the inescapable overlap between work and family; something that is uncomfortable for both parents and their children. 

As expected, anxiety – a natural reaction to an invisible, uncontrollable threat – has soared. But wellbeing has also been affected by the specific precautions necessary to control the virus, which in an unfortunate coincidence target the known major risk factors for poor wellbeing: access to outside spaces, opportunity for physical activity, and interactions with supportive family, friends, and others.

Commonly, parents are not a significantly vulnerable group (with appropriate exceptions) and single parents living alone with children may not typically be at risk, but the effects of lockdown on social isolation and connectedness may exacerbate the development of poor wellbeing.

Since caring responsibilities remain predominately the burden of women, women (and those they care for) are likely to be disproportionately affected. Decades of research has shown that children’s mental wellbeing is closely linked to that of their parent(s) and so it is important that we safeguard parents’ wellbeing at this time.

But it is important to remember that children are living through this too. Their worlds have also been turned upside down and many parents are concerned about their children’s wellbeing.

Below are a few of the common concerns raised and some tips on how to approach them.

  • My child is really worried about the virus.

Talk to them. It is really important to have age-appropriate honest and open conversations with your child(ren). You may instinctively feel that you want to shield them from any information that you feel will worry them but dismissing their concerns do not make them go away. Rather, they will continue to grow and may be fuelled by false information. Talking to your child and engaging with their fears allows you to address their anxieties and can help children gain a better understanding of the situation. Talking – both by instigating conversations with your child and being receptive to conversations instigated by your child, is a crucial part of supporting their wellbeing.

  • My child is having difficulties sleeping.

Anxiety in children can be experienced in a number of ways, including increased restlessness, tummy aches, and difficulties sleeping. These effects are due to quite clever physiological processes that are there to protect us. In the case of sleep, if we perceive a threat it makes sense that our brains will stay alert when they should be sleeping, so that we can respond quickly if we need to. Children may not be aware that they are feeling anxious and may be unable to associate their physiological feelings with their thoughts, so it is important to try to help manage their possible anxiety for them.

Dr Iuliana Hartescu stresses the importance of “a predictable sleep time routine, to mentally unwind and prepare children for sleep”. Weighted blankets, which work by providing deep pressure to calm the nervous system and have been used widely in the treatment of conditions such as ASD, ADHD and anxiety for years, are growing in mainstream popularity too. Research suggests that they can calm and improve the sleep of individuals suffering from insomnia and may help with anxiety. While these are available for children, always check with your GP before using a weighted-blanket for your child.

  • I am finding it difficult to manage my child’s time and schoolwork while I am working.

Be kind to yourself, and your child. We are not home-schooling our children. Home-schooling parents do not have jobs that they are simultaneously trying to do. Nor do they follow the same curriculums, in the same way, that mainstream schools do. So the strange set of circumstances that we find ourselves in – working at home, “role-playing” a teacher (in my case for Years 4, 5, 6 and 7 – ouch!), with tasks often unconducive to a traditional home-school education – is going to be tough. 

Maintaining a routine and focusing on activities that promote wellbeing is the most important, incorporating key skills if possible and feeding children’s natural curiosity. Play, and especially play in nature, is fundamental not only for young children’s learning but also for their mental health and wellbeing. Research has shown how the natural environment serves to improve mental wellbeing and work led by Dr Janine Coates relating to Forest School has demonstrated the power of the natural environment as a remedy for the stresses some children experience.

  • We have no routine anymore.

Children really like structure and routine, even if they may object to getting out of bed early! One of the easiest ways to build in structure and routine, especially in lockdown, is around mealtimes. A recent report by BiteBack2030 found that 60% of teenagers (14-19 years of age) thought that family meals were good for health and wellbeing and wanted this to continue after lockdown. 

Dr Hannah White’s own research supports this, showing that having more frequent family meals for both adolescent girls and boys is linked with lower levels of depression. Therefore, trying to ensure meals are eaten together can help restore routine that has a positive influence on children’s wellbeing. It may also provide more natural opportunities to talk about fears and worries.

  • My child is spending a lot of time online and on devices.

We are all spending a lot more time in front of screens and children are no exception. Without devices, many children would be totally cut off from friends and extended family and would be losing out on much needed social connectedness and social support. Indeed, many young people play online with their real-life friends and maintaining this connection is vitally important, especially during adolescence – a critical period in identity development. Loneliness during COVID-19 poses a significant risk factor for poor mental wellbeing in this age group and so being supportive of online interactions may be helpful. However, as with everything, moderation is key. Providing attractive alternatives is important now more than ever.

Kids FIRST’, a recent pilot randomised controlled study led by Dr Natalie Pearson and colleagues in SSEHS, found evidence to suggest that, for younger children, having non-screen activities available and accessible can help to reduce screen time. School-age children enjoyed having an activity jar which was filled with suggestions for various activities such as reading a book, playing football, going for a walk, craft activities or baking cakes. Activities could be written on bits of paper, lolly sticks or cocktail-stick flags and put into the jar for children to select from. However they’re presented, the evidence suggests that this can help children to engage in a variety of activities rather than resorting to having their eyes glued to a screen.

  • I am worried that my child is not coping at all.

For some children, increased anxiety can instigate the use of more extreme coping strategies, such as tightly controlling their eating behaviours, compulsive exercise, or engaging in self-harm. While this may be extremely alarming for parents, it is important to avoid attempting to stop the behaviour through anger, threats, or coercion, as this rarely works. Rather, seek help from your GP as soon as possible.

Useful resources:

  • Barnardos have some useful tips for helping young children cope with anxiety, including breathing exercises and grounding exercises.
  • Headspace also has a mindfulness app for older children that can help them manage their feelings. 
  • For eating concerns, please visit BEAT.
Blessing in disguise: was COVID-19 a turning point for the high street?

Blessing in disguise: was COVID-19 a turning point for the high street?

July 17, 2020 Majd AbedRabbo

Few months ago, people were shopping in the high street, going into the stores to browse for their items. What used to be a normal shopping trip suddenly became a luxury! In March, COVID-19 turned into a pandemic, leaving governments with a single option: Lockdown. This decision couldn’t get any worse for high street retailers who for years have been threatened by the elephant in the room: E-commerce (yes, Amazon!). In 2019, experts were predicting the downfall of brick and mortar stores, arguing that consumers will shift towards a fully digital shopping experience for several reasons including convenience. But that was due to happen few years from now until COVID-19 showed up. Customers were forced to shop for their non-essential items online, and in many cases, their essential shopping too (unless you wanted to risk your health or waste hours in queuing). This condition left all of us with one major question:

Is it finally the end of the physical store shopping experience?

Even the optimistic would have said: Yes.

However, the enforced lockdown exposed the downfalls of pure online retailing: Late deliveries, inconvenient delivery slots, out-of-stock items, wrong orders delivered, stringent return and exchange policies, etc. (Hang on, weren’t most of these the reasons why people stopped shopping in the physical stores at the first place?). But these issues were only at product/service level. Shopping experience includes emotional and social elements to it such as going with your beloved ones to shop, meet friends for a drink, or even enjoy a nice film after shopping. All of these were never part of online shopping experience. During lockdown, shopping was mainly involving you and a device that literally shows you pictures of products (videos if you are lucky), and some music in the background (did you know that the type of music can affect your buying decisions?).

Four months into the pandemic changed how we see the physical store. Customer realised why the high street was essential for them. For customers who were going into the high street before the pandemic, it was the experience beyond obtaining the product or service that kept them going. The lockdown amplified customers’ desire to experience feelings and emotions when shopping such as enjoying a vibrant atmosphere and talking to people. The evidence? Just look at the picture above of customers queuing on the first day of non-essential stores re-opening.

Yes, the high street took a significant hit during this pandemic, particularly retailers who don’t have an online presence. Customers’ patronage of the high street may take a long time to return to pre-pandemic level. However, these unprecedented circumstances showed us ways to revamp the high street and capitalise on it. Here are two suggestions based on academic research I have conducted at Loughborough University:

1) Re-shape the store shopping experience by offering superior customer service, lean store layout, strict hygiene protocol, distinct atmosphere with aroma and music, and better assortment.

2) Integrate digital into the physical store. It is simple, customers went shopping online in search of reduced transactional costs, save time and effort. However, the shortcomings of deliveries and returns was exposed. Thus, high street retailers can retrieve customers patronage to the store by offering new services such as click and collect, online queuing system, mobile payments and tablets to order items that are not available in the store.

This Blog post was written by Dr Majd AbedRabbo a member of the Centre for Service Management. Majd can be reached on M.AbedRabbo@lboro.ac.uk

Studying Politics and International Relations: Podcasts, Radio and TV  Show recommendations from the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance

Studying Politics and International Relations: Podcasts, Radio and TV Show recommendations from the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance

July 17, 2020 Loughborough University London

There is no shortage of podcasts on politics, business, international relations, diplomacy, war, trade and much, much more. We asked what podcast, radio or TV show IDIG staff would recommend students subscribe to or tune in to listen to. Here are their suggestions.

Dr Tim Oliver – In Our Time

For over 20 years this radio discussion show has been one of the most successful and popular shows broadcast by the BBC. Chaired by veteran broadcaster and polymath Melvyn Bragg, each programme is essentially an academic seminar involving Bragg and three academics who are top in their fields, discussing a specific cultural, scientific, historical, philosophical or religious topic. Its weekly audience of millions of listeners, along with the millions who each week download one or more of the 900 episodes freely available on the BBC archive, is proof that hard, intellectual thinking can be accessible and popular.

Dr Aidan McGarry – Talking Politics

Talking Politics is produced through the London Review of Books. They have a series called ‘History of Ideas’. It takes big concepts like freedom or liberty or the state or patriarchy and uses key thinkers to discuss them, usually analysing their key books and arguments. It gets to the point and serves as a useful introduction to key thinking and thinkers on central political ideas which have occupied political theorists for centuries.

Dr Nicola Chelotti – RadioLab

RadioLab is a New York-based documentary radio. It presents itself as a radio show and podcast weaving stories and science into sound and music-rich documentaries. But it covers also many stories related to politics (recently, 6 excellent episodes called “The Other Latif” on an alleged Al-Qaeda’s top explosives expert). The best thing of these docu-stories is that they combine rigorous evidence, traditional investigative journalism and innovative storytelling methods.

Dr Dorina Baltag – The World in 30 minutes 

Chaired by Mark Leonard, the founder and director of ECFR (European Council on Foreign Affairs), this is a weekly series where the host explores big issues in foreign policy with invited guests. Most of the podcasts offers insights into developments that affect European countries. The latest themes covered Europe’s pandemic politics and the way in which the virus changed the public’s world view; how solidarity was felt in the different European countries during COVID-19; on anti-racisms protests in the US and Europe or the peace process in Libya.

Dr Cristian Nitoiu – Foreign Correspondent

My recommendation is the weekly documentary shows Foreign Correspondent on the Australian ABC news channel. The episodes focus on timely issues around the world. Some recent stories include China’s changing foreign policy, the role of the church in Russia or Poland or the conflict in Syria during the coronavirus crisis.  I really appreciate the Australian perspective on reporting which is very detailed, insightful, self-aware (and self-critical) and objective. It is very difficult nowadays to comes across quality reporting about world affairs that is sensitive to different points of view and does not try to convey an underlying normative or civilisational message. 

Professor Helen Drake – Rethink

The BBC in June 2020 started a series of 6-minute ‘essays’ designed to ‘RETHINK’ the world, the planet and its humans in the light of Covid-19. A recent highlight is the Dalai Lama on ‘Rethinking Ancient Wisdom.’ The essays cover a huge range of topics (health, sport, the body, debt) – you name it and it is probably there.

Dr Tatevik Mnatsakanyan – Conversation

The Conversation is an online magazine which brings to us news stories and in-depth analyses on current affairs produced by academics and researchers. It combines researchers’ knowledge of their subject areas with journalistic storytelling — in their own words, “unlock[ing] their knowledge for use by the wider public”. Recent highlights are on the 1990s as the foundation of modern day Russia; on the long-awaited UN Security Council’s call for global ceasefire; and on the moral indefensibility of vaccine and “treatment nationalism” emerging out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Recent success for our doctoral researchers

Recent success for our doctoral researchers

July 15, 2020 Loughborough University London

Loughborough University provides our students with an environment that encourages them to become innovators and leaders in their fields of study. In celebration of this, we wanted to highlight some recent notable achievements from our PhD students.  

Alan Brejnholt (Institute for International Management)

Alan has had immense success recently with Sustainability. Published only just in May, his article is quite literally, hot off the press! Having studied at the Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering, at the Loughborough University campus in Leicestershire before continuing his studies at our London campus, Alan has had the dual campus experience. His article appeared in the Special Issue Design and Management of Sustainable Products, Industrial and Manufacturing Systems. Demonstrating what can be achieved through our outstanding university, we are certain that he will sustain his achievements in this field.

Joosep Hook (Institute for Digital Technologies)

Joosep’s most recent triumph has been to be published in Neural Networks.  His article, Deep Multi-Critic Network for accelerating Policy Learning in multi-agent environments, contains a wider feature selection and practical implementation than previous research, making him an innovator.  We at Loughborough inspire and nurture innovation in all of our students. Joosep’s journey began at the Institute of Digital Technologies at Loughborough University London, and has accelerated to him being published in a national and highly respected publication and he will, without doubt, continue to even greater heights!

Talia Hussain (Institute for Design Innovation)

Thanks to her inventive and imaginative research, Talia has garnered funding from Techne for the remainder of her PhD.  This is no mean feat. While Loughborough University, one among the handful of universities whose students are accepted, gave her the opportunity by referring her to the fund, it was her own performance that lead to her success. According to Techne they only fund “outstanding students pursuing the ‘craft’ of research through innovative, interdisciplinary and creative approaches across the range of the arts and humanities”. A justly outstanding endorsement of her work!

Hussa Khalid Al Khalifa (Institute for Sport Business)

Hussa truly is a winner, having been shortlisted for the International Olympic Committee Women and Sports Awards. Here at Loughborough we pride ourselves on our home grown champions and not only is Hussa a sporting champion, she is also about to be published, with an article entitled: Adapting to Local Context and Managing Relationships: A Case Study of a Multinational SDP Partnership in Bahrain to be published in the Journal of Global Sport Management.  Hussa expresses creditably, the global and academic aspirations of our students, stimulated by their time with us.

Fiona Meeks (Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship)

The word outstanding is often used indiscriminately, however in the case of Fiona it categorically does apply! She was awarded the 2020 Doctoral College Research Student Prize due to her outstanding academic performance and achievements. As if this were not enough, it also included contributions to the university over and above her own research! Illustrating that, as we at Loughborough embolden our students to do, going above and beyond yields success. Her distinction and drive have been recognised and rewarded, an auspicious start to what we envisage to be an outstanding future.

Federico Winer (Institute for Sport Business)

Federico is not only an academic high achiever but also appears to have “the gift of the gab”. Invited as a speaker at Esports Trade Association – US and on Sports Talk Ukraine he revealed the ability to discourse with ease, fluency and authority. On top of that, he has been interviewed by both The Independent, in the UK and Pagina 12, Argentina. Notwithstanding all of these achievements he has also authored: Sport after the coronavirus: A cross-sectional view of the impact of the crisis on sport published by Amazon in May of this year. A highly contemporary and forward thinking work, exemplary of what we at Loughborough anticipate from our community.

My experience at the 2020 University of the Year – Seyi Asa

My experience at the 2020 University of the Year – Seyi Asa

July 14, 2020 Ella Kirby

My name is Seyi, and after four years, I’m finally graduating from Loughborough University with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering.

To top it all off, as I am about to become an alumna, the University has been awarded ‘University of the Year’ at the WhatUni Student Choice Awards – ‘proud’ would be the biggest understatement of the year, I couldn’t have imagined ending university like this.

My student journey, like anybody else’s, has been unique to me. But what has made it more unique today is the fact that I’ve spent those times at Loughborough. The accolade is very much deserved, and I thought I would share my experience at the 2020 University of the Year with you.

For someone whose ambition has been to go to university based on the career path I’d like to follow in life, I initially had no idea as to what to expect. Speaking to my teachers, family and older friends, there was always this running theme of ‘my time at university has been one of the best times of my life’.

However, 16-18-year-old Seyi would roll her eyes every time she heard that phrase and think what an exaggeration, how could it be? You’re in education, learning, going through assessments, what could have possibly made it so great?’

After four years, I get it. It wasn’t the stress and challenges brought on by academia, but the university experience outside of getting a degree: the life lessons; the people you meet; the ‘pushing me out of my comfort zone’ activities you undertake; the societies that become your own mini-community inside the big community that is the Loughborough family. It’s the growth you experience.

Receiving my golden ticket was my first indication that I’d become a part of the Loughborough family. On 18August 2016, I joined this special community and not once have I been disappointed.

To me, the facilities and resources available at the University are second to none. The quality of teaching on my course surpassed my expectations; the lecturers were not only friendly but helpful, devoting their time and resources to dish out the knowledge and skills needed. Their style of teaching involves collaboration and teamwork both within and outside the University.

The support I received during my time at Loughborough was incredible, ranging from career advice, access to mock assessment centres, to CV checks. These were extremely helpful when applying for and undergoing the two summer internships I was able to complete whilst at University.

Outside of the University bubble, students are constantly going through their own issues and problems and being in an environment where pastoral care and wellbeing are emphasised upon can be such a soothing relief.

Whilst at Loughborough, my family experienced the death of a loved one and I truly cannot quantify the support emotionally and academically received from not just the friends I’d made at University, but also the University itself.

A family doesn’t take care of only one aspect of your life, they do their best to help in all areas. The same applies to being a part of the Loughborough family – it is a community that cares for all.

Now I could go on and on as to why I’m so proud of Loughborough University. From the beautiful and well-cared for campus (massive shout out to the University gardeners, they are brilliant!), the five-star accommodation (I know very few would disagree – I lived on campus for two years, so that says something right!?), the iconic fountain in front of the Hazlerigg and Rutland buildings, to our very own VC Bob.

The celebration of individuality, culture and community were all rolled into one. But really and truly, I’m very proud of the connections I’ve made and my personal development in being a well-rounded individual.

For anyone reading this, whether you’re considering studying at Loughborough or maybe you’re already a student here, I’ve put together my three top pieces of advice:

  1. Collaboration and teamwork are two of the most important life skills anyone could ever acquire. Working with people is essential to a progressive environment, so aim to develop upon these skills during your time at university. You can do this not only academically, but by taking part in Loughborough’s extracurricular activities by joining a sport or society. I’ve been involved in kickboxing, the Loughborough Women’s Engineering Society and a Christian society called Radical Youth.
  2. The Loughborough Careers Network Team are not one of the best kept secrets of the University but make the most of them! They provide 1-1 appointments, workshops as well as events to meet with potential employers throughout the academic year.
  3. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. My university experience has taught me that a well-educated individual isn’t one that has many degree certificates, it’s the individual that has been exposed to different people and cultures, learning and growing from those interactions.

Overall, reflecting on my time at Loughborough, I have to admit it was a worthwhile adventure studying at one of the UK’s greatest universities and I now understand why people say being at university was some of the best years of their lives. The conducive environment gave me all I needed to excel academically and achieve all-round development, and for that, I thank everybody in the Loughborough family who helped me get to where I am now.

Now, I’m ready to see what the future brings!

Pursuing a career in international politics and business

Pursuing a career in international politics and business

July 14, 2020 Loughborough University London

On 16 June 2020 the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance together with the Institute for International Management hosted an event with their alumni to showcase how to achieve a career in international politics and business.

The panel was chaired by Dr Tim Oliver, Director of Studies, and Senior Lecturer for the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance, and included four alumni from the institutes: Christina, Theresa, Oliver and Tomhas. Professor Helen Drake, Director of the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance, and Dr. Gerhard Schynder, Director of the Institute for International Management also participated in the panel discussion.

Initially Professor Drake began the session by providing an overview of careers paths and attainable services within the university. Then, following questions from Dr Oliver, our four alumni provided enthusiastic, articulate and highly motivated responses throughout and shared their practical advice based on their own personal experiences. While each alumnus had their own individual area of focus, they all shared an attitude inculcated during their time at Loughborough University London. This included: being open to all opportunities, in depth research into particular interests, flexibility, authenticity and networking.

They all expressed a great deal of affection for Loughborough University London and their time with here.  Christina, who currently works for the United Nations in Nigeria, referred to Loughborough University London as “family”. 

Tomhas, who has been working at Chatham House, recommended that students take up the opportunities offered by the University and networking routes particularly funnelled through the Future Space team. Tomhas provided a concrete example of how he used networking and volunteering to obtain a role at Chatham House: “I went to Loughborough University London, I met Tim and through him I managed to get volunteering experience at Chatham House.”

Oliver, who works for an MP, said “I did what Loughborough taught me to do”, this in effect was to narrow down and select his focus and network. His top tip when networking is to always come away with contact details and leave your own, this was the way he obtained his current role.

Theresa, a freelance consultant, stressed the importance of being flexible and authentic. Furthermore, not only Theresa, but all of our alumni strongly recommended and undertook voluntary work. For Tomhas this led to employment, for the others it was a great way of getting valuable experience.

During this event our alumni gave detailed accounts of their experiences, recommendations, and provided our current students with the opportunity to ask their questions about the sector. These included questions covering topical issues such as how to network during the current pandemic; Theresa suggested joining webinars where possible and to continue to network online.

Another question referred to what can be quite a challenge, moving to study in London.  Again, the alumni highlighted the opportunities offered by the University and that students should take every opportunity given.

The event proved to be engaging, practical and of great use for students to see the possible breadth of options and how to access them for those considering careers in international politics and business.

Loughborough University London would like to thank each of our alumni for sharing their insights and experiences.

To find out more about the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance or the Institute for International Management, please visit our website.

Waste and Recycling: The Bigger Picture

Waste and Recycling: The Bigger Picture

July 14, 2020 Amber Quraishi
With the current news exposure of labour exploitation in the garment industry, our new blog post explains why we need to transform our relationship with "stuff", why we should care about where it comes from, and where it ends up.
Adapting to our new ‘normal’: Working in Print and Post Services during lockdown and beyond

Adapting to our new ‘normal’: Working in Print and Post Services during lockdown and beyond

July 14, 2020 Sadie Gration

Print and Post Services Manager Helen Clarke has continued to work on campus throughout the coronavirus pandemic, supporting both her team and the students that have remained in halls over the last few months.

Here she explains how her team have adjusted to working in lockdown, and the steps taken to make staff, students and visitors feel safe when using the print and post services.

It’s fair to say that this is a stressful time. COVID-19 has impacted everything and everyone in some way or other, including our work.

The University’s Print and Post Services has not closed during lockdown, along with a few other teams, we have stayed open throughout.

We have done that for our students still on campus. The team in the Herbert Manzoni Building have been consistent – taking in and handing out mail as well as providing a friendly face and a caring voice. But that’s not happened without concern, careful planning and constant communication.

The service has had to adapt: ways of working, building layout and processes have all had to change. Our team has learnt how to exist safely yet practically, and as some colleagues have returned, these measures have eased worries and given confidence to live the ‘new normal’.

Full risk assessments, signage and floor markings have been used to define and mitigate risk to reassure colleagues of the safety of the environment.

One of our front of house supervisors Michelle had expressed her concerns before returning, with initial worries about staying within two-metre working spaces and having the correct PPE (personal protective equipment) for her own safety.

“After my induction, I felt reassured that the necessary steps had been taken to ensure I felt safe and confident to work,” said Michelle.

“We have Perspex screens for the counters, clearly defined work areas to ensure we have the right number of people in a space and my manager is constantly checking that we have the PPE we need.”

One of our other team members, Tony, also shared similar feelings: “Working with couriers and delivery drivers had been a real worry for me coming back to campus, but the steps taken to protect us and make us feel safe have been well thought out and work in our practical environment.”

Keeping customers and visitors safe has been equally planned to assess and mitigate risks. Essential activities to manage printers across campus, reinstate postal deliveries, and the management of couriers have all been modified to meet current guidelines.

Redefining service delivery and managing expectations in the ‘new normal’ have been essential to the service moving forward as lockdown eases. Huge changes have happened within the service, including a significant move to all print requests coming via the Online Shop to reduce human interaction.

Postal services have also changed as turnaround times are unpredictable, and an increase in department mail to the Herbert Manzoni Building adds to the workload whilst most other buildings are closed.

And yet, the team know these changes are essential to the future of campus operations. Becoming the single location for mail has enabled the University to control cross-contamination. Couriers and delivery drivers can no longer move freely across campus nor enter buildings unchallenged.

Mailroom Manager Sue has continued to work throughout the pandemic: “Providing our service to the students has been crucial. Packages from home have not stopped, and myself and the team have worked hard to be the friendly face, still here, still smiling and having a laugh.

“Some of these students have been in their halls for weeks on end because of the lockdown. They needed to see us, to see that we are happy to be here. We could have let our own worries and stresses show but we knew our role was beyond that.”

The team’s unwavering ‘can do’ attitude during lockdown has been exceptional and their emotional intelligence and resilience to do right by others in the face of dramatic challenges has set them apart.

Their confidence in the social distancing measures and their willingness to make them work has enabled the service to carry on and stand as an example to others as the campus is reoccupied. I’m very grateful for all their hard work during this time, and I hope gradually I can start to see more familiar faces return to our campuses soon.

Studying Politics and International Relations: Book recommendations from the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance

July 10, 2020 Loughborough University London

We asked academic staff, post-docs and PhD students from the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance for their book recommendations. Whether you are currently studying Politics and International Relations or just have an interest in these areas, keep scrolling to find out which books should be on your reading list.

Hoffmann, Stanley (1967), ‘Heroic Leadership: the Case of Modern France’ in Lewis J. Edinger (ed.) Political Leadership in Industrialized Societies: Studies in Comparative Analysis. (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1967). 

“Stanley Hoffmann has been an inspiration and a role model for me from the very start of my studies in international relations, and this is one of his most-cited pieces.  Hoffmann’s life experience taught him that boundaries and borders are arbitrary and permeable and he brought this to his scholarship, bringing whatever academic tools he could to the study of the realities and messes of world politics.  He made the marriage of theory and empirical research seem particularly effortless. He also had a soft spot for Charles de Gaulle and this piece on ‘heroic leadership’ is one I return to again and again when thinking and writing about diplomacy and leadership today. Oh, and he was nice and generous to other scholars and to his students.  That matters.” – Professor Helen Drake, Director of the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance

Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth. (New York: Grove Press, 1961)

“It’s one of the most important books of the 20th century and is vital reading today. It explains how colonised people fight for freedom, and the political, social and psychological impact of colonisation. If you want to understand issues like BlackLivesMatter and contemporary racism then this is essential reading into structures of oppression and how they can be dismantled.” – Dr Aiden McGarry, Reader in International Politics

Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century, 1914-1991. (London: Abacus, 1994). 

“This is one of those required readings from a university course that stays with you for the rest of your life. Hobsbawm’s breath-taking (if not entirely perfect) review of the world from the start of the First World War to the end of the Cold War puts our current world into perspective by showing how much we have been shaped by that short, bloody but transformative century. It is the final book in a widely acclaimed series on world history since 1789.” – Dr Tim Oliver, Director of Studies, and Senior Lecturer for the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance

Arlene Tickner and David Blaney, Claiming the International, (London: Routledge, 2013) and Thinking International Relations Differently (London: Routledge, 2012).

“I would recommend these complementary as two of the recent most rich and inspiring collections exemplifying the evolving movement and call to diversify and pluralise  the otherwise conventional Western-dominated disciplines of International Relations and Diplomacy. The volumes bring together alternative voices and “worldings” – i.e. ways of writing and theorising that open up to the world and bring the world in – through uncovering alternative histories. In so doing, authors from across the world explore alternative ways of thinking about “the international”, “security”, “sovereignty” and “politics”. Contributions range from indigenous women’s pluralising of sovereignty to Arab scholars’ take on globalisation; from a critique of reading the world in ways that absents Africa to Chinese IR theorising; from religion and the state in Southeast Asia, to how the world “looks” from Latin America. ” – Dr Tatevik Mnatskanyan, Lecturer in Diplomacy and International Governance

Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow. (London: Penguin, 2011)

“This book on behavioural psychology and decision-making is by the Nobel-prize winner, Daniel Kahneman. It is an accessible text that summarises and further develops a series of important articles that Kahneman wrote together with Tversky in the 1970s and 1980s. The book analyses how humans make decisions – and incidentally how people make wrong judgements due to biases and heuristics. It argues that we have two systems of thinking – System 1 (thinking fast) and System 2 (thinking slow) – and that we use both systems to make sense of the world and to operate our choices.” – Dr Nicola Chelotti, Lecturer in Diplomacy and International Governance

Georg Sørensen, Rethinking the New World Order. (London: Macmillan, 2016)

“Few books have managed to  provide a clear understanding for the concept of the world order. This  is one of the recent attempts to theorise the world order through a wide of Western and non-Western perspectives. It is an important guide to understanding changes in the world order in the context of the rise of China.” – Dr Cristian Nitoiu, Lecturer in Diplomacy and International Governance

James Martin, The Meaning of the 21st Century. (Eden Project Books, 2006). 

“Not only must we avoid the mistakes of the 20th Century, but – argues Martin – we must reckon with a series of challenges that will come to a head by the middle of the 21stCentury, if we are to make it through that ‘canyon’.  Some have already come, like challenge 10: a planet-wide pandemic (p230).  That means we must not only address these issues now, but we must be training the next generation of leaders in various sectors who will have to navigate us through the mid-century perfect storm.  Depending on how we do, Martin posits four ‘world scenarios’ for 2050 (chapter 18).” – Professor Phil Budden, Visiting Professor

Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy. (Simon and Schuster, 1994)

“When you are born and raised during Soviet Union (and from 1991 the independent Republic of Moldova) you are taught to understand world affairs in the key of Realpolitik and the 1994 book Diplomacy written by Henry Kissinger, a former US National Security Advisor and Secretary of State, is your academic initiation. It walks you through a history of IR and the art of diplomacy of the 20th century showing the balance of power in Europe. Although today I no longer examine global affairs through the prism of the school of realism in international affairs, this book remains the departure point for Diplomatic Studies.” – Dr Dorina Baltag, Excellence 100 Postdoctoral Researcher

Jan Melissen, The New Public Diplomacy, Soft Power in International Relations. (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2005)

“The New Public Diplomacy can be mentioned amongst one of the most frequently cited titles on public diplomacy. The book was written and edited by well-known and widely respected academics in this subject area.  This book presents an extensive debate about public diplomacy and evaluates its role in foreign policy.” – Alicja Prochniak

Robert Jervis, Why Intelligence Fails: Lessons from the Iranian Revolution and the Iraq War (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2011)

“This book can be regarded as a sort of the Haynes manual for understanding intelligence failures. It provides clearly written political and psychological case study analysis of two major intelligence failures. The failure to recognise the fragility of the Shah in Iran and the process failures leading to the assumption that Iraq had WMD’s. This book offers a good introduction to understanding the processes, pressures and pitfalls in formulating intelligence assessments. Despite being written in 2011 it is still relevant today. The section on Iraq can be used to cross reference the redacted SIS intelligence assessment and the CIA National Intelligence estimate of Saddam Hussein, both are available online.” – Sean Calvin

Katy Hayward and Catherine O’Donnell (eds., Political Discourse and Conflict Resolution: Debating peace in Northern Ireland (Abingdon: Routledge, 2012)

“This book explores the role of political discourse in conflict transformation, drawing specialist contributions from established scholars in the field of Northern Irish politics. It provides a unique and detailed insight into how political discourse shapes and influences political terrain in Northern Ireland. A must-read for those interested in gaining an understanding the importance of discourse in a region emerging from conflict, and how localized diplomacy plays a crucial role in securing an end to violence.” – Ruairi Cousins

Yuval Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (London: Jonathan Cape, 2018).

“This book can be seen as a summary of Harari’s two previous books, one based on the distant past experience of humanity named Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2011) and the one the author’s vision on the potential distant future, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (2016). In this book Harari looks at the current technological, political, social, and existential issues that the human race has to deal with to face its potential future threats. This piece of work will be useful for those interested in futuristic ideas in IR Theories and for those who aim to form their own holistic views on international relations from the lens of past, present, and future of humankind.” – Viktoriia Startseva

Student vlog: My self-care practices by Yasmin Ijeoma

Student vlog: My self-care practices by Yasmin Ijeoma

July 9, 2020 Sophie Dinnie
Yasmin Ijeoma shares her self-care practices in a vlog.
Loughborough or London?

Loughborough or London?

July 8, 2020 LU Arts

My name is Darya, I am originally from Tehran, Iran and 22 years of age. Last year I graduated from Loughborough University with a degree in Industrial Design and Technology and I am currently doing my master’s in Design Innovation at Loughborough University London. Here in London, I get so many questions from my peers about how studying in Loughborough compares to studying in London and I have so many friends from London that are considering going to Loughborough but are worried about moving to such a small town. So, I thought I’ll write a short blog to share my experience of studying in Loughborough and London.

Initially, I found choosing which university to go to extremely difficult. I really wanted to go to Loughborough because they were the best in the UK for the course I wanted to study i.e. Industrial design. However, my friends and family were trying to talk me out of it because they thought I wouldn’t be able to have a good social and nightlife in a small town like Loughborough. However, having studied my A-Levels in Harrogate, a small town in North Yorkshire, I knew that the size of the town you live in doesn’t matter as long as you have good friends to enjoy your time with and of course, studying the course you are passionate about. So eventually, I decided to take a risk and accept my offer to study at Loughborough University despite being a little worried about my social and nightlife.

My time at Loughborough

Darya at Loughborough University main entrance

I fell in love with the campus from the moment I stepped foot on it. It was huge, absolutely beautiful and as it was freshers’ week, there were so many exciting events happening there; from that moment onwards, all my doubts about not having a good night and social life magically disappeared.

The majority of my lectures and tutorials were in the Design School which is a very beautifully designed building with amazing staff and an incredibly friendly atmosphere. Everything I possibly needed to be creative, design and produce products were in one building which was extremely convenient. I spent so many days and nights in that building, ordered many Dominos when I was pulling all-nighters and even took showers there! Looking back at it now, I probably would not have been able to do all that in a big city university. I used to live in Robert Bakewell hall, so the Design school was just a quick shuttle bus away from my accommodation which meant that I could easily go to the Design school whenever I wanted to.

One of my favourite things about living in Loughborough was surprisingly the fact it was quite small. I could wake up just 30 minutes before my 9am’s and still make it on time and that I barely had to spend any money on transport. Reflecting back on my time at Loughborough now, I realise that not having to spend so much time travelling, not only helped me save a lot of money, but also time and energy. Everything I possibly needed was on campus, from a library to a nice Chinese restaurant and decent clubs. I’m sure final year students can relate to this a lot because the last thing you want to do in your final year is waste your precious time travelling for your daily essentials. Plus, I always found the walks to lectures and town really enjoyable because the campus was so beautiful and picturesque, especially during spring and autumn.

The last point I want to make about studying in Loughborough is that because almost everyone I interacted with on a daily basis was either a student or worked at the university, (apart from self-checkout guy at Tesco), it helped me stay focused on what I was in Loughborough for, studying, socialising and sometimes partying. I felt like I was living in this really nice bubble with other hardworking and smart students and staff who inspired me to stay on top of my game and work towards my goals.

Finally, after three years of blood, sweat and tears, I graduated from Loughborough with a degree in Industrial design and technology. But that wasn’t to be the end of my Loughborough journey.

Darya on her graduation day

Studying my master’s at Loughborough University London

There were many more things I wanted to learn such as the role of cultures and identities in design and design thinking techniques, therefore, I decided to pursue a master’s degree in Design Innovation at Loughborough University London.

Loughborough University London, Here East

I found moving to London quite intimidating as I knew studying in London was going to be significantly different from studying in Loughborough. At the start of the year when I was quite nervous, I surprisingly found a lot of comfort in seeing the classic purple Loughborough signs and Learn’s web page amongst all the rather scary and significant changes.

The main difference between studying in London compared to Loughborough for me was the students. In my undergraduate course, I was one of the few international students; whereas in London, almost all my course mates were international. I found working with students from different backgrounds incredibly difficult at first, especially the time when I was in a group with four people all from different countries who spoke different languages. However, over time, I realised how much working in diverse teams helped me grow academically and as a person. Each student brought a completely new and fresh perspective into the group which I found invaluable and now, I absolutely love working in diverse teams because although they can be challenging at times, they are extremely rewarding at the end.

Another difference between studying in London and Loughborough was the commute time…obviously! I spent more time than I would’ve liked on the tube going from one place to another which was really tiring and an absolute pain in the neck when I had a lot of fast-approaching deadlines; and although I’m loving living in London, with all the hustle and bustle of a global hub, I do sometimes miss the quiet and peace in Loughborough.

I can’t write about studying in London without mentioning the immense opportunities here. The highlight of my time in London has been attending fashion shows and design events and making new connections and friends. I found these experiences extremely valuable as they helped me grow a lot as a person and get first-hand insights into the industry I want to work in. Furthermore, I managed to find an internship in a sustainable fashion company back in October which I am still doing alongside my studies. This is something that would have been almost impossible in Loughborough as although the university tried their best to bring different businesses and opportunities to the campus, they were quite limited and the number and variety of them cannot even be compared to London. However, considering everything is now online, the lack of physical opportunities in Loughborough might no longer be an issue for future students.

Lastly, I must add that I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Loughborough and London; there are many pros and cons to each place, and I consider myself extremely lucky to have experienced both. I guess I’ll have to see where life takes me next once I finish my master’s in September, after living for 16 years in Tehran, two years in Harrogate, three years in Loughborough and one year in London.

So, to answer all my friends’ questions about studying in London and Loughborough, I have to say it really depends on what you want to get out of your university experience and how YOU choose to experience it.

A walk through Loughborough's cinema history

A walk through Loughborough's cinema history

July 8, 2020 LU Arts

Because of coronavirus, Loughborough’s cinemas have been empty and silent for the last four months. While we wait for them to be lively again, American Studies lecturer Dr Andrew Dix has created a podcast which recaptures the vivid history of the town’s film-watching from the end of the nineteenth century to the present.

Andrew takes a walk not only to the Odeon and Cineworld that are still thriving, but to Loughborough’s several ‘ghost cinemas’: those sites, now put to other uses, where townspeople once gathered to watch films. We will hear about the Victory, the Playhouse and Vint’s Electric Hippodrome – and about the community’s film-viewing even before the coming of purpose-built cinemas.  

“In my film studies work, I’m interested not only in what’s on screen but, increasingly, in the places in which people watch movies – and where better to research than Loughborough itself?

“Through audio and images, I tell the story of eight locations in Loughborough where people have watched films from the 1890s to the present, including one cinema that boasted about its high-quality heating system, and another that was previously a roller-skating rink. I hope that in the podcast the town’s ghost-cinemas, as well as its two current ones, come alive.”


This podcast was commissioned by LU Arts as part of Loughborough University’s Arts Week, a programme of online talks, performances and workshops celebrating the creative community at Loughborough.

LU Arts would like to thank Dr Andrew Dix for his time in creating this podcast.

Why Rishi Sunak can complete George Osborne’s ambition to make work pay

July 8, 2020 Donald Hirsch

On this day in 2015, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a newly elected Conservative Government dramatically announced a National Living Wage designed to ‘make work pay’, while easing the burden on the Exchequer by cutting state support for working families.

It’s been a very long five years since this grand plan was launched by George Osborne. But it’s worth reflecting on how things have worked out – not least because this story remains particularly relevant today, in a much-changed Britain.

The Tories have made good on their pledge at that time to increase minimum wages for over-25s by about a third within five years (it has risen from £6.50 to £8.72 an hour). But the wider plan turned out to be flawed. As I pointed out the day after the announcement, higher hourly pay will never make up for cuts in targeted support for low-income working families, whose incomes tend to be constrained more by the  number of working hours than by hourly pay. A major backbench Tory revolt in autumn 2015 caused Mr. Osborne to cancel some of the cuts, but not the freeze in benefits, tax credits and Universal Credit, which continued to undermine the value of working incomes.

But this year, not only has the freeze ended, but Working Tax Credit and Universal Credit rates have risen (temporarily) by £1000 a year more than inflation, in response to the coronavirus crisis. Coinciding with a 6% increase in the National Living Wage, this raises the net income for a family with parents working on low pay considerably, as long as they maintain their previous working hours (of which more later). Where does this leave the adequacy of working incomes, relative to family needs?

Coincidentally, today we are also launching the 2020 results of our Minimum Income Standard, with fresh research on what people require for an acceptable standard of living. While we have not yet been able to incorporate the new patterns of living seen since lockdown (which are in any case changing by the day), our research reflects how important it is for households to be able to afford to access to current technologies supporting their everyday lives, both for practical tasks and for social participation. The dawning of the age of Zoom, with remote working, remote schooling and remote socialising, has hugely reinforced these findings.

But another feature of our findings relates directly to the policy challenges of supporting working incomes in order to allow families to have decent lives. The Minimum Income Standard allows us to track whether people on minimum wages have enough to make ends meet. In 2008, when we started this research, tax credits got families almost to the MIS level, but by 2019, even helped by higher pay, they were falling well short. For example, a lone parent working full time to support two children had more than 20% less disposable income than they needed.

In 2020, for the first time in over a decade, state support for working families and minimum hourly pay are rising simultaneously. This has boosted working incomes so that it is now possible for the first time for a dual earner family, with a full-time and a part-time working parent, to have disposable income around the minimum level with the help of Universal Credit. Lone parents still fall short, but by only 8% if they work full time and get UC.

Of course, this does not mean that families are thriving: as mentioned earlier, the amount of work plays a greater role than pay rates, and many families are now out of work, or on shorter hours than six months ago. Nevertheless, Rishi Sunak has demonstrated something that George Osborne never accepted: that increases in state help can complement decent wages in raising the prospects of families with low earnings.

People like Marcus Rashford have helped shine a spotlight on the struggle faced by those on low incomes, and not just during the time of Covid. This highlighted the case for improved support for such families, on a permanent not just a temporary basis.  In the months and years ahead, as Britain works to reduce its suddenly high rates of unemployment and underemployment, a renewed commitment to helping people whose incomes are falling short could become one of the benign legacies of 2020.

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July 6, 2020 Stephen Ashurst

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July 6, 2020 Stephen Ashurst

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July 3, 2020 Stephen Ashurst

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New Office 365 training service

July 3, 2020 Matt Hope

IT Services have launched a new training service to support staff and students in the use of Office 365 applications.

The new self-service area on Learn hosts a variety of learning resources from Microsoft and LinkedIn Learning. The module is easy to navigate through and offers a range of bitesize videos and downloadable guides.

How to access the module

Sign into LEARN with your Loughborough credentials and use the module search bar to search for ‘Office 365 Training’ (you can click on the link here for quick access). The module is set to ‘Self-Enrol’ so you’ll need to click on this to access all the content.

Training Workshops

To complement this, IT Services – in collaboration with Organisational Development and the Doctoral College – will be launching bookable face-to-face training workshops for staff and Doctoral Researchers later this year. These courses will introduce you to the available tools and features for storing, communicating, and collaborating with others using Office 365.

OneDrive

If you have struggled to understand when you should be using OneDrive or O365 Groups, then this course will help you to understand the basics of how to store and share documents and collaborate effectively with others.

OneNote

A basic introduction on how to access the app, create a notebook to collect and organise different types of information, and how you can use it collaboratively to collect and share resources and information with your team.

Forms

An introduction to Forms to help you create surveys, quizzes, polls, and capture feedback and how to access real-time analytics once live.

Dates for these workshops will be released in the autumn of 2020 and will run if it is safe to do so at that time, ensuring any health and safety requirements are met.

Loughborough University London Inspiring Success Programme

Loughborough University London Inspiring Success Programme

July 2, 2020 Loughborough University London

The Loughborough University London Inspiring Success programme is currently in its 6th year with our latest 2020 cohort.

What is Inspiring Success?

Inspiring Success is a two-part programme designed to provide employability support to unemployed and underemployed East London graduates. As part of this exciting opportunity, participants are invited to attend insightful workshops delivered by Loughborough University London staff and experienced trainers. As well as access to the workshops, eligible candidates are also invited to apply for a 100% scholarship for a master’s programme of your choice offered at our London campus.

Our Inspiring Success workshops

We welcomed our latest participants to the workshop programme in June 2020. For the first time, the sessions were completed virtually across a series of six online evening workshops. The programme was led by the Future Space team and throughout the programme we covered a range of topics, including:

  • • networking
  • • recruitment
  • • LinkedIn
  • • and interviewing.

Whilst staff and trainers delivered the sessions, we always encourage our participants to get interact and engage in the session content and therefore our sessions featured various activities including video interview tasks and whole group discussions to make sure everyone had the chance to get involved and share their experiences.

Our workshop on LinkedIn was popular with participants taking us into the deeper depths of the world of LinkedIn. Throughout the session everyone explored the newly discovered functions on LinkedIn, and participants were encouraged to try these features out. Each of our experienced trainers delivered interactive sessions giving our participants a chance to discuss their experiences and challenge them to reflect on of ways they can put the lessons from the sessions into practice.

Another favourite moment for many was when three graduates from the Inspiring Success programme joined the workshop. Our participants were inspired by their experiences and discussed the positives of coming to study at Loughborough University London. Our alumni gave some great tips on how to make the most out of your experience studying by getting involved with extra-curricular activities and enjoying the sense of community here at Loughborough University London.

Our penultimate session saw participants take on the challenge of speed interviewing. We invited interviewers from different businesses including BT Sport, Ford and Here East to come along to the session and give participants a great chance to practice their interview skills. The session was fast-paced, fun and energetic for all involved! The programme ended with our enjoyable celebration session, where our participants described the programme as engaging and inspiring. Our staff were praised, and participants felt the staff’s enthusiasm and passion for Inspiring Success made the experience more exciting and encouraging.

The Inspiring Success Scholarship

As well as offering employability support and access to 1-to-1 career consultations, the Inspiring Success programme offers participants access to apply for Inspiring Success scholarship. Eligible participants can apply for a 100% scholarship to study a master’s programme with us here at Loughborough University London. Our Inspiring Success workshops are a fantastic opportunity to benefit underemployed and unemployed East London graduates and empower you to take the next steps in your career journey.

If this opportunity or the scholarship interests you, check out our website and we might see you in September or as part of next year’s Inspiring Success team!

Celebrating the RiTA and TIA Award Winners for 2020

July 2, 2020 Matt Hope

Wednesday 1st July should have seen us coming together for Loughborough University’s annual Learning and Teaching Conference.  Whilst the current situation means that we cannot gather in person to share the innovation and good practice that happens at Loughborough we can still celebrate this year’s Teaching Award winners.                   

Congratulations to the winners of the prestigious Research-Informed Teaching Awards.  This award recognises excellence in research-informed teaching at Loughborough.  The four winners are Lara Alcock (Mathematics Education Centre), Ash Casey (School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences), Clare Hutton (School of Social Sciences and Humanities) and Chris Wilson (School of Business and Economics). 

Congratulations also go to our 2020 Teaching Innovation Award winners.  Whilst the current Covid-19 situation may necessitate delays or changes to some of these projects we want to celebrate their success and look forward to a time when we can share in the outcomes of their innovative projects. 

More information about the RiTA and TIA award winners can be found at https://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/cap/procedures-schemes/teaching-awards/

Trying to see the upside of lockdown

Trying to see the upside of lockdown

July 2, 2020 Sophie Dinnie
Jon Duckworth writes about the positives of more family time in lockdown.
Weekly digest - 01.07.20

Weekly digest - 01.07.20

July 1, 2020 LU Arts

From 22nd to 29th June we hosted the University’s Arts Week. Held annually to coincide with  the School of Design and Creative Arts’ degree shows and end of year drama production, it celebrates our creative staff and students through a programme of workshops, discussions and events. With the restrictions placed on us by Covid-19, and the fact that students and academics are currently scattered around the country we felt it was even more important to amplify the students’ work to create a sense of community amongst our staff and students. We embraced online technologies and delivered a series of events that made visible some excellent work being undertaken by staff and students.

My personal highlight had to be the short film competition, whose winners were premiered as part of the week. We received 29 entries, all made during lockdown and with the limitations it brings with it, and the overall quality was very high; so much so that we selected four rather than the intended three winners. (See separate entry on The Limit).

I was also impressed with the quality of prose and poetry that was performed by our English and Creative Writing students; and with the fact that Dr Barbara Cooke could easily step into Victoria Coren’s shoes as Chair and Quizmaster, which were the roles she had for An Evening of Readings and our Literary Lockdown Quiz.  Our Drama students also produced a fantastic radio play that was very professionally delivered and presented.

I have also got to mention our Fine Art and Textiles students. Each year I have the pleasure of being one of the judges of the Edward Sharp Prize, through which we purchase works from the degree shows. These then become part of the University’s art collection and are exhibited within the University campus. Rather than just see the work in exhibition this year we were able to see their research and experimentation process, which really shone a light on just how considered and informed the final works are. The students’ ability to communicate and engage others in their practice was also shown through three Arts Week workshops we organised, in which students shared their skills via very popular video tutorials on Facebook Live. These are still available on our Facebook page, as are the other videos from the events which were live streamed via Facebook. 

I am also very grateful to PhD students and academic staff within the School of Creative Arts who contributed to the week. We had some fantastic discussions around textiles practice, looking at its relationship with technology and alternative forms of living, whilst Daniel Fountain delivered a really interesting presentation on ‘queer craft’. On Saturday night it was great to  get an insight into the storytelling and performative aspects of professional wrestling from Dr Claire Warden and Sam West.

Image from Wrestling Resurgence

 Jackie Donachie is an artist we commissioned for Radar a number of years ago and since then she has taken up the post of Doctoral Prize Fellow at Loughborough. To kick off Arts Week, we hosted Jackie in conversation with Professor Craig Richardson, looking back at her extensive practice. Finally, I would highly recommend the video essay  looking at Loughborough’s cinema history put together by Dr Andrew Dix, which combines a walking tour of the town with archival images that covers its architectural, social and cinema history .

We are still learning about which are the best platforms to present work on, and while the digital will never replace the live experience there is a real appetite to be part of live online events, which also open them up to international audiences. We tend not to get people travelling from Kentucky to Loughborough for events on campus! We will no doubt continue, in part, to embrace the digital in the next academic year.

This will be the last weekly digest until September.  We are reducing content on The Limit over the summer months while we organise programmes for the new term, and hopefully get a holiday. Have a great summer.

Nick Slater
Director, LU Arts

Short film winners

Short film winners

July 1, 2020 LU Arts

As part of our Creative Media Weekend (16 & 17 May 2020) we launched a short film competition, which encouraged students to submit their creative short films. We had some excellent work sent to us and we are really excited to share the winning entries with you!

We received 29 films in total and were very impressed with the overall quality of the submissions. They represented a broad range of film making styles and content and the level of creativity involved made the judging extremely difficult. In the end we went for the films that had left the biggest impression on us, the ones who had used the medium most effectively. While the four films selected are very different they manage to engage the viewer successfully through the quality of the content and the film making.  

You can watch all four of the winning films in the video below including a short introduction by each student.

First Prize: Amber Cannings – Every Day is the Same but Different

Footage from Loughborough, Britain, during the corona virus pandemic. It tells the story of two girls from the beginning of the pandemic, and how they grow to adapt to a ‘new normal’, a normality of virtual relationships and lots of time spent at home.

The judges commented on the quality of the observational recording of real lives during the pandemic.  The film was an honest and real portrait of the protagonists lives and the relationships they maintained with each other or their friends.   It also contained humour which the judges felt is not easy to achieve successfully.   It was an excellent piece of documentary film making.

Second Prize: Laura Evans – Bodies of Water

From rural paths to the confines of my back garden, I have used my time in isolation to journey through and investigate ways humankind experience nature. Astrida Neimanis’ essay ‘Hydrofeminism: Or, On Becoming a Body of Water’ (2012) forms the narrative of this short film, and I attempted to visualize her concepts around re-connecting the human form with the landscape and the importance of ecological kinship. Humans continuously cut ties to the earth, replacing this vital relationship with screens and pixels. Technology persistently takes root in all areas of our lives and as we willingly plant and water it, we extend the distance between self and nature exponentially. Through mining resources both online and on-land, I have visualized the connection between the digital and the natural in collage form.

By using footage appropriated from nature documentaries, YouTube and Google Maps, I have explored how our encounters with nature are now mediated through screens and based upon our rampant, obsessive consumption of imagery whilst scrolling through mass and social media. I hope to replicate these notions, whilst acknowledging a growing desensitization to the world around us; the physical, the daisy in our garden, the duck in the river, the bodies we occupy. Our digital devices facilitate journeys across the globe – we inhabit foreign landscapes, experiencing a 2D, pixelized rendition of Victoria falls whilst remaining within the confines of our homes. In a culture where the narrative surrounding our impact on the environment grows bleaker, I hope to highlight how, and the importance of, reconnecting and re-blending our watery bodies with the other bodies of water that surround us. I found Neimanis’ poetic writing the perfect framework to illustrate and weave together my love of visual imagery and the ecological concepts I have been considering.

The judges commented that this was a very considered piece of film making, involving significant research and combining high quality videography overlaid with a narrative written by the artist. It was a very accomplished film.

Third Prize: Rennae Walker – 56 Black Men 

Inspired by the 56 Black Men Campaign, this story reflects and challenges the stigmas black men in Britain combat daily, with a hope for a land of higher ceilings and ferocious dreaming.

The judges commented on the quality of the film making which powerfully communicated the message in a very direct and engaging way.  It was very well produced and put together.

Special/Honourable Mention: Sri Hollerma – The Hollerma Bubble

A really seductive heartfelt bit of film making that is beautifully filmed and offers a glimpse into the Hollerma family life in lockdown


We are grateful to alumnus Alex Widdowson for his help in selecting the winning films.

Alex studied Fine Art at Loughborough University and animated documentary at the Royal College of Art. His graduate film screened at festivals around the world and received seven awards. He is currently developing project on autism as part of his PhD at Queen Mary, University of London, funded by the Wellcome Trust.

A Different Home

A Different Home

July 1, 2020 LU Arts

By Mayowa Fagbure

Sunshine fills the room; this place that I occupy for the time being. The duvet sits above me, protecting me from the rambling wind outside of my window.

It is 8am and my lecture starts in an hour. Toast is my breakfast, quickly made and buttered. I settle onto the plastic kitchen chair, hearing my flatmates’ accents before I see them. The two other people I live with come through the kitchen door.

I am greeted with a forced smile, as usual. Once, when I had tried to socialise with them, the differences between us were made evidently clear. Every word I said was met with a puzzled look; they didn’t understand my accent. This accent that I never even knew I had before leaving Nigeria.

They enter the kitchen and continue chattering away. I scroll through my phone and try finishing up breakfast, quickly.

“How are you?” one of the flatmates asks, pushing a bowl into the microwave. I mumble, “Good”, over the sounds of the beeping controls.

That question does not seek an answer. That and many other things I have come to understand are normal here.

“Ah, good” she responds. “Just got a lecture.” She rolls her eyes. I should sympathise and understand. The only thing we have in common is that we are both University students.

The accent is what I have not been able to perfect. My friends from back home, who came here at the same time as me, have become fluent in switching. On the phone with one of my friends, I heard the Nigerian and British accents waft through her voice as though two people lived within her. I just can’t seem to get the pronunciations down. On the outside, I act like I’m too stubborn to switch; that I’m too pro-African. Asking, “They don’t switch for us, so why should we for them?” But inside, I understand that knowing how to switch would benefit me.

She grabs her heated up bowl of food and leaves the kitchen with the other flatmate.

My mother wonders why I am not closer to my flatmates. It is not only the cultural difference that distances us, but the fact that they do not want to get over it. There is the presence of difference, but the continued acknowledgement of it, is what creates barriers between people.

I drop my empty bowl in the sink, unwashed. I know there will be a message on the flat group chat later today. Something along the lines of ‘Could we please remember to wash up after we cook and eat? It’s really not that hard like just do it xxx” The passive-aggressiveness of their messages amuse me. Sometimes I don’t wash up, on purpose. Just to see what they’ll text next.

I track back to my bedroom, staring at the mirror as I put my clothes on. I can understand how a bedroom can be a haven for some. After a long day out, it must feel great to come back to a place that is all yours. But for someone like me, who hides out every day underneath her duvet, in this bedroom it is the opposite. The outside has become my haven.

I am already late for the lecture but only by 5 minutes. I take longer to pull my boots and coat on before I lock up my room. The routine of my life sickens me. As does seeing groups of my people – people my age, who I should be friends with but am not, pass by me. They are going to my places – lecture rooms in tall buildings. But I walk alone.


In the lecture, Stella smiles at me and walks over. It’s odd that now I only have one friend. Compared to the number of people I had been friends with in secondary school. Then, I had craved my own company; needed a break from friends. It’s funny to look back on that now. 

“So cold today” she whispers as the lecturer greets the class, answered by a stark silence.

“Yeah” I answer, smiling back.

“What did you do yesterday?” She asks. “There was something at the Union?”

“Didn’t go.”

“Okay,” she says. Always smiling, she is.

“I had this British guy trying to dance with me all night. They’re so clingy!” she laughs.


After the lecture, we walk back to our accommodation buildings. I like speaking to Stella. We bond over being strangers in Britain, far away from home. I can’t do that with my friends from home, who are here. They seem to have adjusted quickly to all that comes with living here. I feel left behind.

“We should go to the cinema on Saturday, if you’d like to come?” she asks.

“Yeah. That would be nice” I answer.

We keep talking until we get to my building, then hug goodbye. I exhale deeply before walking in. I know that this is my life now. It is something I have to accept. I was happy that it snowed the other day. I felt euphoric, seeing that for the first time. It’s a daily thing, adjusting. Living with myself in a strange place. Soon, the switching will fall upon me and I will become who I am meant to be here. And then people will understand me. And then I will have friends. I have to keep learning how to make Home here.

By Mayowa Fagbure

Mayowa Fagbure is a Nigerian writer who enjoys using words to paint vivid pictures and capture the human experience. Her stories and poetry cover a range of emotions – from pain, grief, joy, melancholy and nostalgia . They are all written with an eye to understand and encapsulate the mystery of life. She blogs at www.mayowafagbure.wordpress.com.

Update to Windows 10 Staff Re-Image Task Sequence

July 1, 2020 Mike Collett

On Friday 3rd July, from 8:00am to 10:00pm, the Windows 10 Staff Re-Image Task Sequence will be updated. Support for five new models of Dell Laptop will be added.

In order to support updated network drivers on these models, Task Sequence Media will have to be updated after this change.

The Task Sequences will be at risk during this period. It is therefore recommended that you do not attempt to image any Windows 10 staff computers at this time.

CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION AND HELP?
Please contact our Service Desk at it.services@lboro.ac.uk for more information

Playing for the Planet: Sports Greatest Game

Playing for the Planet: Sports Greatest Game

July 1, 2020 Elliott Brown

In sport, human beings and the natural world come together as competitors and partners, an athlete’s relationship with the natural world is raw, passionate and physical.

Nature and sport are inextricably connected and nature’s role can be decisive in the outcome of an event. The greatest tournaments and events rely on energy, infrastructure and resources to be successful. Therefore, it is vital sport plays a role in protecting the natural world it so heavily relies on.

Sport and Nature coming together.

All of us have experienced sport at some point in our lives. You might have been the overly competitive kid at school like me, perhaps you avoided it at all costs growing up, or you prefer just to watch it from the comfort of your sofa. However, even those with little interest in sport day-to-day usually come together to enjoy the huge world spectacles such as the Olympics or world cups. Estimates vary, but the sports industry is commonly considered to be worth around $1 trillion, with some estimates suggesting as high as $1.3 trillion.

For me, sport is a huge part of my life; it’s one of the reasons I came to Loughborough to study. I’ve also got another huge passion – sustainability. Therefore, I’ve always been interested in exploring whether these two areas should work hand in hand, and subsequently, is sport doing enough to reduce its environmental impact?

An often-overlooked issue is climate change’s influence on sports and recreation. Cancelled football matches, flooded cricket grounds, lack of snow on the slopes and golf courses crumbling into the sea – climate change is already impacting our ability to play and watch the sports we love.

Sport is not just a victim of change, however, but also an important contributor.

One thing that cannot be escaped is the commercial beast that is football, its estimated that European professional leagues are worth €28.4 billion, yet currently only 2% of clubs in the top-5 leagues are signatories of the UN Sport for Climate Action Framework.

The constant strives by both sports brands and clubs, to maximise their brands across the world comes at a heavy price. It’s common practise for clubs to release brand new kits before every season, with Man Utd topping the sale charts with an average of 1.75 million shirt sales globally each year…..the city itself only has a population of around 600,000 people! These alarming levels of consumption are not exclusive to football and can be seen in sports like rugby too.

Travel associated with sports teams or events is quite often the largest contributor to carbon emissions for example the 2010 World Cup in South Africa showed an impact of 2.8 million tonnes CO2 attributed to travel, representing 86% of the total event’s reported footprint.

It’s not surprising that travel has this level of impact when you consider international events. For example, pre-season tournaments like the International Champions Cup see between 15-20 European football clubs travel to the US, Singapore and China to play in friendly games. We’ve also seen the growth of American sports being played in the UK, with London hosting NFL, MLB and NBA games annually. Flying all over the world to play games that could be played on the same continent and still be broadcast to millions all over the world seems questionable. As we all know though money talks!!

The Olympics are frequently described as the greatest show on earth, and often seen by governments as a way to bring in investment and create an Olympic legacy for the host country, but what happens when the eyes of the world turns its attention away after the games? All too often these venues can be found unused and in disrepair within months of the hosts celebrating the biggest event in the world. There are even examples of stadiums being built where the capacity exceeds the cities they are located. Surely we need to see Countries demonstrate the viability of these facilities long term before handing over these vast sums of money and the environmental costs that come with hosting these huge events.

Rio aquatic centre, abandoned
Rio aquatic centre less than 9 months after Loughborough swimmer Adam Peaty was celebrating gold! Source: BBC

However, some sporting events have begun to recognise their environmental impact and have started working towards minimising this or even making a positive impact.

The 2012 London Olympic games were supposedly “the greenest ever” held. It made use of existing venues and the Olympic Park was largely accessed by public transport. Some 86% of Olympic visitors travelled by rail, according to the post-game sustainability report. And 99% of the 61,000 tonnes of waste was either recycled or reused. The London Games stadium wrap, made of hundreds of fabric panels, were repurposed for projects benefiting former child soldiers in Uganda, and for use at shaded community areas at the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil. This is great example of SDG 12, Responsible Consumption & Production.

Formula One recently announced that they plan to be net Zero Carbon by 2030, this is remarkable considering the whole sport has been built on fossil fuel-powered engines. You may not realise it but F1 has been a pioneer in a lot of technology we now use to reduce our environmental impacts. For example, the hybrid systems we now see in everyday vehicles and the aerofoil technology used in supermarket refrigerators to reduce their CO₂ footprint were both developed on the racetrack.

Sports brands are trying to reduce their footprint by looking at how they produce their products. In 2015, Adidas launched their ‘Parley for Oceans’ scheme, where they make football shirts, training clothes and trainers using recovered plastic from clean-up operations around the world.

*
Real Madrid ‘Parley’ Home Shirt. Source: Adidas.com

Parley’s strategy is based on three ideas: avoiding plastic where possible, intercepting plastic waste and changing how plastic is used. It takes 11 plastic bottles to make a pair of trainers, with other recycled materials making up the rest of the shoe. Big hitters such as Real Madrid have worn full kits made from recycled plastics. These kind of collaborations between clubs and major sports brands are the positive stories that can make a huge impact. Furthermore, Adidas has also committed to using recycled plastic in all its products by 2024.

It is also pleasing to see most Premier league football clubs are now taking their environmental management obligations more seriously. I won’t go into all the detail but you see here that most teams are engaging in some form sustainable practises.

Its interesting to bring this topic back to the context of Loughborough, The University is renowned for its world class academics, athletes and facilities, it also plays host to a large number of the UK sports governing bodies. Could we use this unique position drive meaningful change across sport at Loughborough and beyond?

Its clear sports are not doing enough, and as the participators, observers and funders of the industry, we can help show we want change by supporting campaigns such as Parley for oceans and demanding better resource management. A survey from Sport Positive, showed more than half of respondents (58%), strongly agreed with the statement: “I care about how my club impacts the environment.

Sport’s status as a beloved entertainment form has perhaps shielded it from the scrutiny felt by other economic sectors. But it is time now for sustainability to play a central role in sport.

Jochem Verberne, WWF international

I believe sport is in a unique position to lead by example when it comes to sustainability. It is something we all encounter at some point in our lives and many of the clubs and individuals act as role models for millions across the world. There can be little dispute about the extraordinary levels of passion that sport is able to inspire as well as its capacity to cross boundaries and bridge divides is unique. Not many sectors have this ability.

Rio 2016 engagement. This demonstrates sports ability to reach huge numbers of the world’s population. Source: BBC

It is in the interest of sports to try their best to reduce their environmental impact, for some sports climate change could be their demise.

Twenty years of LORLS

July 1, 2020 Gary Brewerton

It doesn’t seem like five minutes ago since we were celebrating the 15th anniversary of the launch of LORLS and now here we are now at its 20th. Unfortunately the current lockdown prevents us from celebrating its birthday in the usual manner (i.e. with cake).

LORLS was initially conceived of in 1999 in response to an enquiry to the Library from the University’s Learning & Teaching Committee. The system was written using the open source LAMP development stack and launched the following year. Since then it has been used by a dozen other institutions, survived six major revisions, three different library management systems and seen the rise and fall of numerous other reading list management systems.

So what does the future hold for LORLS, well the sad truth is that all of the staff involved in its development have either moved on to take on new responsibilities or left the institution. And finally after 20 years there are now commercial offerings that at least meet, if not exceed, the capabilities of our little in-house system. So whilst LORLS is not yet dead, it is more than likely it will be taking a very well deserved retirement at some point in the coming years.

Questioning Racism in the Indian Diaspora: Cultural Perspectives

Questioning Racism in the Indian Diaspora: Cultural Perspectives

June 30, 2020 Loughborough University London

SASNET (The Swedish South Asian Studies Network) at Lund University in Sweden hosted a panel discussion on “Questioning Racism in the Indian Diaspora: Cultural Perspectives” on 16 June 2020.

Continue reading

Plastic Free July 2020:

June 26, 2020 Amber Quraishi

One of the 5 key environmental challenges for the UK highlighted by the House of Commons was waste, in particular, our inefficient use of resources
and single use plastics.

To help you feel a little less overwhelmed by Plastic Free July, we’ve made a fun bingo card so you can take a step at a time.

You can download the bingo card from the link below. Feel free to share it on social media (don’t forget to tag us) or print it and pop it on your fridge so you can cross off your achievements!

From my personal experience, some of the best changes I have made

Switching from disposable sanitary products to a menstrual cup was incredibly easy and I am so glad I made the decision.

My calculated waste saving by switching to a menstrual cup. Source: Organicup.

I think what is important to keep in mind about Plastic Free July is that it doesn’t mean going cold turkey. Nobody is expecting you to completely cut out plastic from day one! It’s deeply embedded into every part of our lives. Medicine, fashion, beauty, food – the list goes on. Reducing our reliance and use of plastic is a journey, and Plastic Free July simply helps you to take those first steps.

Plastic Free July isn’t just about buying a reusable cup or bag, it’s giving people the tools to  change their habits, to pause and think how we as individuals can make an impact for the better and reduce our reliance on plastic.

Erin Rhoads, Author ‘Waste Not’
This article is in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. To read more click here.

This Virtual Week at Loughborough | 29th June 2020

This Virtual Week at Loughborough | 29th June 2020

June 26, 2020 Ella Kirby

Featured

Creative Arts and Design Degree Showcases

18 Mar | All day | Room 1

Our final-year Creative Arts and Design students’ work is being showcased exclusively online. The exhibits demonstrate a breathtaking combination of creativity, imagination and technical skill.

Arts Degree Show 2020 – http://artshow.lboro.ac.uk/

Design Degree Show 2020 – https://designshow.lboro.ac.uk/

The Aesthetics of Risk: A conversation with Francesa Cavallo and Ksenia Chmutina

Risk Related logo
29 June | 6 – 7:30pm | YouTube

We’ll be exploring many of the issues at the heart of Radar’s Risk Related project via this conversation between the disasters researcher Ksenia Chmutina and curator Francesca Cavallo. Drawing on artistic works, curation, the urban environment, the politics of disasters and more, the wide-ranging conversation will explore the ways in which artists have approached, used and reformulated ‘risk’. It will ask whether risk produces its own aesthetics, but also whether the aesthetic might be mobilised to rethink risk. 

Radar Producer Laura Purseglove will also provide an introduction to Risk Related and outline the approaches taken by commissioned artists.

Click here for more information.

Doctoral College Summer Showcase

Summer Showcase 2020 - 29 June to 3 July
29 June – 03 July | 9:30am – 5pm | Online

Our annual Summer Showcase is taking place between 29th June and 3rd July and will be held entirely online! All doctoral researchers at both campuses will have the opportunity to show off their work and learn about the great research being undertaken by their peers. 

For more information, click here

Inspiring Minds Online: STEM taster event

Inspiring Minds Online STEM
01 July | Online

This event is open to UK and international students in Year 11 (going into Year 12) and post-16, and is a great opportunity to learn more about the options available to you at university across science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects.

You will be able to view a range of taster sessions from our academic departments, as well as learn more about Loughborough University and receive guidance on university applications and careers. There will also be the chance to take a virtual tour of our outstanding campus, with live web chats for you to ask our current students any questions you may have.

Click here for more information.

CALIBRE Awards: Voting Now Open

Online

Voting is now open to help choose the winners of the Summer 2020 CALIBRE Awards. The Awards – which recognise the excellent work undertaken across both campuses – celebrate our international research collaborations.

Click here to cast your vote

IAS Themes 2021/2022: Sandpit 2

30 June | 10:30am – 12pm | Online

We are delighted to announce the second in a series of sessions to develop IAS Themes for the 2021/22 Academic Year.

IAS annual Themes are organised around an inspiring concept designed to highlight aspects of Loughborough’s most innovative areas of research activity by facilitating interactions between the arts, humanities, social sciences and STEM subjects through a coherent programme of International Visiting Fellowships and events.

Do you have an idea for a Theme that you would like to lead? Or would you just like to learn more about how to become involved in an IAS Theme and brainstorm potential topics with colleagues?

Then come along with your ideas, thoughts and colleagues to our virtual Sandpit/Ideas Lab via Zoom on 30th June, 10.30-12.00. A link to the Zoom meeting will be circulated on the day.

Click here for more information.

End of Term Clear-Out

Until 04 July | Loughborough Town

Students who have stayed in Loughborough throughout the coronavirus pandemic are being encouraged to get behind an end-of-term blitz on waste on Saturday 4 July.

Charnwood Borough Council and waste management partner Serco have teamed up with Loughborough University to organise the big clear-up in student areas of the town including Kingfisher Way and Park Road.

Click here for more information.


Got something for This Week at Loughborough? Email us at digital@lboro.ac.uk

Eight outdoor activities to boost wellbeing

Eight outdoor activities to boost wellbeing

June 26, 2020 Sophie Dinnie
8 outdoor activities to boost wellbeing
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