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Data management – from a section in the grant proposal to a day-to-day reference manual 

January 27, 2023 Lara Skelly

By Krzysztof Cipora, Lecturer in Mathematical Cognition, Open Research Lead of the School of Science, Centre for Mathematical Cognition, Loughborough University, k.cipora@lboro.ac.uk, @krzysztofcipora

Most funding agencies require grant proposals to contain a data management plan. It may seem an extra burden to prepare yet another document, as all applicants have been handling research data and know how to do it, so why mandate such a technicality in the proposal? At the same time, many researchers have not been formally trained in data management. Open Research practices becoming more and more widely adopted (and more and more often mandated by funders) include Open Data, that is sharing research data, either in the public domain or granting access to other researchers. No matter whether shared publicly or with some restrictions, the data need to be understandable and usable. This requires the data to be thoroughly curated, documented, and at best to go along with the programming code used for its processing and analysis. Researchers also benefit from good data curation and documentation if they come back to their own data after a few months or years. Data management is even more critical in large-scale projects including many researchers, research assistants etc. However, the document typically supplied to the funder is relatively short (space restrictions!) and therefore quite generic, so it cannot fully satisfy the day-to-day data management needs. 

In June 2022 at Loughborough University, we launched £ 9 989 000 Centre for Early Mathematics Learning (CEML; ceml.ac.uk) funded within ESRC Research Centre scheme. Funding covers a period of five years and over twenty-five researchers from several institutions are involved within five CEML challenges. They are supported by several research assistants and PhD students. Various types of data are being gathered. One of the crucial issues at the CEML onset was to ensure we are on the same page with data management. It has been necessary for several reasons both within CEML and for future data sharing. The same variables should be named and coded consistently across studies to streamline the readability of the data, facilitate the re-use of analysis code, and collapse datasets if needed. In case a researcher is reallocated from one study to another, they can catch up easily. Keeping our data curated and consistent for ourselves also makes it more accessible to other researchers when we share it with the community. 

Together with other colleagues, I took on preparing a detailed Data Management Policy for the CEML. In the following, I briefly describe what we did and how this might be used as an example for other projects (including much smaller ones). 

We started from the Data Management Policy from the CEML proposal and elaborated on the details (see CEML Data Management Policy https://doi.org/10.17028/rd.lboro.21820752). The document first outlines the responsibilities of Challenge Leads and Leads of specific studies being run (this is particularly important given the number of researchers involved in CEML). It specifies where the data are stored, who should have access to the data (working together with researchers from outside Loughborough University required some thinking of how to set this up efficiently), and when the data can be shared publicly. The document also specifies how to document the data entry process and how to document data analysis to ensure analytical reproducibility. We also specify the process of creating backups and data sharing. 

The Data Management Policy refers to Variable Dictionary (see CEML Variable Dictionary https://doi.org/10.17028/rd.lboro.21820824) – a document providing detailed information on how to name and organise data files and how to name variables. We also provide a template for the meta-data file to be created for each study (see CEML Variable Dictionary Template https://doi.org/10.17028/rd.lboro.21820947).  

To make these materials more accessible to CEML colleagues, we prepared a short video highlighting the most important aspects of the CEML data management and justifying why such detailed guidelines have been prepared (see CEML Data Management Training Video https://doi.org/10.17028/rd.lboro.21820713). 

All these look quite elaborate and may not seem very useful for smaller projects. However, at least some of these points may be worth considering. It is worth remembering that “there will be at least two people working with your data, you and future you”. Thus, ensuring a consistent way of naming data files, their structure, variable names, the analysis code, and documenting the progress of data processing is a big favour to future you and, most likely, other researchers who may work with your data. Hopefully, the CEML documents linked may serve as a useful template on how to prepare a day-to-day data management reference for other projects.

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

This Week At Loughborough | 23 January

This Week At Loughborough | 23 January

January 23, 2023 Charlotte Lingham

Trans Abstraction – Art exhibition 

23-27 January 2023, 12pm-2pm, Martin Hall exhibition space 

An exhibition of abstract expressionist digital paintings; representations of the feelings, emotions and issues in coming to terms with being transgender as a 40-something in the early 2020s.  

Find out more on the events page 

Refreshers Big Match 

25 January 2023, 3:30pm, Sir David Wallace Arena 

It’s a Big Match triple-header! See 3 games with 1 ticket. Loughborough Men’s 2’s take on Birmingham City, Women’s 1’s face Northumbria and Men’s 1’s round off the evening against Northumbria.

Grab your ticket now and support Loughborough Students Basketball at SDW! 

Find out more on the events page  

National Theatre Live: The Crucible 

26 January 2023, 7pm, Cope Auditorium   

A witch hunt is beginning in Arthur Miller’s captivating parable of power with Erin Doherty (The Crown) and Brendan Cowell (Yerma). 
 
Raised to be seen but not heard, a group of young women in Salem suddenly find their words have an almighty power. As a climate of fear, vendetta and accusation spreads through the community, no one is safe from trial. 

Find out more on the events page  

Lightning Netball Pre-Season vs Strathclyde Siren 

29 January 2023, 11am, Sir David Wallace Arena 

Loughborough Lightning welcome Strathclyde Sirens to campus as part of their pre-season campaign. 

With unrivalled match day experience and fun for all the family, why not witness our new look team in action for the first time ahead of the Netball Super League season. 

Find out more on the events page 

Lightning Wheelchair Basketball vs Worcester Wolves 

29 January 2023, 5pm, University Netball Centre 

On Sunday 29th January, Loughborough Lightning kick start their 2023 home campaign in the British Wheelchair Basketball Women’s Premier League, welcoming Worcester Wolves onto campus. 
 
With unrivalled match day experience and fun for all the family, why not witness our new look team in action for the first time this season whilst watching some of the best international sporting talent. 

Find out more on the events page 

Packing for University

January 16, 2023 Loughborough University London

Aayush Verma, MSc Digital Marketing

I joined Loughborough University London in October from India. Before starting university, I was lost on where to start with packing. Especially as an international student from outside the UK. I have put together a short post on what to include with some of my tips on what to bring, to make the process as smooth as possible. 

You could be asked to present various documents during your first few weeks of university and it is crucial that you look after them. Make paper and digital copies of everything and keep them safe. 

  • Driver’s license  
  • Passport 
  • Passport photos 
  • Birth certificate 
  • Travel card (If you have a railcard or something similar, bring it) 
  • Student Finance documents 
  • Insurance documents 
  • University acceptance letter 
  • Student bank details 
  • Prescription copies (You’ll also need your NHS number to register to a doctors) 
  • National Insurance Number (If you want to apply for part time jobs) 
  • Copies of your CV (again, if you’re applying for jobs) 

Your accommodation will be your retreat and it’s best to make it as comfortable as possible. Don’t cut corners when furnishing your room as this will become your safe space during busy work weeks. 

  • Duvet 
  • Pillows 
  • Mattress protector 
  • Duvet cover 
  • Pillowcase 
  • Bedsheets 
  • Coat hangers 
  • Desk lamp 
  • Laundry basket 
  • Dressing gown 
  • Medicine (If you take any medication, ensure you bring it with you & keep it in a safe space)  
  • Plug adapters (If you’re an international student) 

You don’t have to purchase this ahead of arrival, you can buy items for your accommodation when you arrive in the UK. The following places might be useful: 

  • IKEA: There is a store just 30 minutes away that you can visit as well as a widely available delivery service. 
  • Amazon: anything and everything available to order to your room or Amazon locker. 
  • Want your room complete before you arrive? Uni Kit Out has a selection of options available to you before you arrive in the UK. 

Of course, we can’t forget the practical items needed for classes! This list will help you get ready for your master’s and the workload that follows. 

  • Laptop 
  • Laptop bag 
  • Pens and pencils 
  • Notebook 
  • Diary 
  • Stapler 
  • Files 
  • Blue/White tack 
  • Course textbooks 
  • Water bottle 

Some other items worth mentioning: 

  • Kitchen items 
  • Toiletries 
  • Clothing items (Warm clothes) 
  • Snacks 
  • Bedroom items e.g. Sheets, pillows, towels. 

Packing is very subjective, an essential item to one person could just be an extra for another. Keep this in mind when using the above list. Regardless, I hope I have managed to help you ahead of your trip to the UK. I can’t wait to see you all in January 2023! 

<strong>The boost you need to beat the January blues</strong>

The boost you need to beat the January blues

January 16, 2023 Soph Dinnie

In our last blog post we spoke about how to start the new year on a high note. However, we know that January can be a tricky month for many and so we’ve compiled a list of tv shows, podcasts and books from submissions by our staff that will help to make the longer nights a little easier.

If you’re looking for something to put a smile on your face we recommend:

The Off Menu podcast

Hosted by comedians James Acaster and Ed Gamble, the duo interview celebrities about what their ultimate meal would be.

Taskmaster

Comedians compete against each other to complete ridiculous brain-teaser challenges.

The Office (US)

The famous mockumentary sitcom, adapted from the BBC series, starring Steve Carell.

Parks and Recreation

Another mockumentary style sitcom that provides a political satire on a mid-level town government department in America.

If you’re looking for something to motivate you with your new year’s goals, you could try:

Sports biographies

From footballers and rugby stars to Olympians and Paralympians, reading about the highs and lows of their journeys, the dedication needed and the mishaps along the way might be inspiring for you. Recent releases include top scorer Beth Mead’s ‘Lioness: My Journey to Glory’ and Poorna Bell’s ‘Stronger: Changing Everything I Knew About Women’s Strength’.

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day

This podcast centres around celebrities exploring what their failures have taught them. It is for reminding yourself that no one is perfect and that you can always learn something from your failures.

Diary of a CEO with Steven Bartlett

In this podcast, Steven sits down with celebrities, entrepreneurs and big business moguls to discuss how they became successful.

If you’re looking for escapism the following might be the perfect thing to get lost in (we will try not to be alarmed by the number of staff members who suggested true crime podcasts):

White Lotus

This dark comedy-drama TV show features a star-studded cast including Jennifer Coolidge, Aubrey Plaza and Theo James.

Casefile True Crime podcast

Each episode explores both cold and solved criminal cases in Australia, America and the UK.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

A Hollywood icon reveals the truth behind her glamourous life and infamous husbands.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

The book follows the stories of people who go to a café in Tokyo that allows its patrons to travel back in time, as long as they return before the coffee gets cold.

If you’re looking for something uplifting, you could try:

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Nora is given the chance to live out the many different versions of her life to try and find what is the most fulfilling path.

Ten Percent Happier podcast

Hosted by journalist Dan Harris who began to explore meditation after having a panic attack live on television. He interviews scientists, celebrities and meditation teachers to discover more about how to combat anxiety.  

If you would like to recommend any uplifting, inspiring or funny shows/books/podcasts for our University community, please leave a comment below.

Information on where to find wellbeing support at the University.

This Week At Loughborough | 16 January

January 16, 2023 Jemima Biodun-Bello

IAS Friends and Fellows Coffee Morning

17 January 2022, 10:30am, International House 

On Tuesday 17th October we will be hosting an IAS Friends and Fellows Coffee Morning, where we will be joined by our IAS Visiting Fellows Dr Alison Jane Martingano & Dr Benjamin David Goddard.

Find out more on the events page


Understanding Anxiety Webinar

18 January 2022, 1pm, Online 

This session explores what is happening in our brain and our body, from key neurotransmitters to expanding science around the microbiome. As well as explaining the stress-sugar-anxiety connection.

Find out more on the events page


Group business and enterprise coaching session

20 January 2022, 3:30pm, Start Up Lab 

Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey, but it doesn’t have to be. Start-up businesses can feel less alone if they talk about their experiences and share solutions and strategies that work for them. All businesses experience challenges and business owners can support each other through these.

Find out more on the events page

What was the UN's Biodiversity Conference (COP15), and what were its outcomes?

What was the UN's Biodiversity Conference (COP15), and what were its outcomes?

January 16, 2023 Rhiannon Brown

What was COP15? 

There are two COP events each year now. The first focuses on climate change and you can read our blog on this year’s COP27 here. The second is specifically on biodiversity (COP15), with this year’s being the 15th meeting of the United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity. This year’s two-week COP15 summit took place in Montreal, Canada from Wednesday 7th December to Monday 19th December 2022.

The conference brought together countries from across the world, with representatives from 196 governments, and delegates from a wide range of stakeholders such as Indigenous peoples, academics, scientists, local communities, youth representatives, and people from the business and finance community.

A brief background to the Biodiversity Crisis:

Addressing biodiversity loss is absolutely critical, especially at this stage. The largest loss of life since the dinosaurs, with one million species being threatened with extinction, is underway.

Check out the Living Planet Index, a great metric which was created by the WWF and the Zoological Society of London to measure life on earth. Wildlife figures have dropped by an average of 69% between 1970 and 2018 according to recent studies.

Here is an infographic which shows the five main threats to biodiversity:

Source: Living Planet Report, 2020, WWF

What were the main outcomes from this year’s COP15?

I know this is what you’ve all been waiting to know- did the conference actually achieve anything? Well, I’m happy to say that, yes, a landmark agreement was made to guide global action on combatting biodiversity loss. On the last day of negotiations, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) was adopted, which aims to address biodiversity loss, restore ecosystems and protect indigenous rights. The GBF replaces the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 and associated Aichi Targets agreed on by parties in 2010. Importantly, almost every nation in the world signed up to this framework!

There are 23 targets set to achieve by 2030 within the GBF, including some which I have split into the following categories:

Conservation, Restoration, and Management

  • Effective conservation and management of at least 30 per cent of the world’s land, coastal areas and oceans.
  • Restoration of 30 per cent of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Currently, 17 percent of land and *8 per cent of marine areas are under protection
  • Reduce to near zero the loss of areas of high biodiversity importance and high ecological integrity

At Loughborough University, we are lucky to have such an amazing gardens and grounds team who maintain the campus and its biodiversity. The University has an established Biodiversity Working Group who develop and steer delivery of the Biodiversity Action Plan for the whole University. There is also a Woodland Management Group which meets twice yearly and offers an opportunity for external stakeholders to comment on management of the woodlands and contribute their knowledge and advice.

Check out our ‘Support a species’ page for more information on some of the species living in our environment, key facts, some of their threats, and importantly how you can help them.

One key area which comes into this section, is deforestation. It was found by scientists, in 2021, that the Amazon rainforest is now emitting more C02 than it is absorbing. A large amount of these emissions is the result of forest fires, caused deliberately to clear land for beef and soy production. We can see how devastating this is, and the urgent need for change to happen.

As I mentioned in the COP27 blog, the new president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, won against the former far-right president Jair Bolsonaro and has since pledged to save the Amazon rainforest (much of this lying within Brazil) and to end deforestation there by committing his country to reaching net-zero deforestation by 2030. As Bolsonaro appeared largely pro-deforestation, the new president’s goals display a huge sign of hope and change for our world.

Food waste

  • Halving global food waste

To put this into perspective, in UK households we waste 6.5 million tonnes of food every year, 4.5 million of which is edible. This statistic has to change for us to meet the targets set within the GBF. If everyone in the UK stopped wasting food at home for just one day, it would have the same impact on greenhouse gasses as planting half a million trees.

Loughborough University segregates its food waste in the majority of retail and all catering operations, as well as providing the opportunity for students to do so in all our on-campus halls of residence. This food waste is then sent for anaerobic digestion instead of going to landfill, saving both money and the environment.

LU also supports the Love Food Hate Waste campaign, where you can find some great food saving tips! Check out the below video (and more here) for some insights and tips.

Finance

  • Mobilizing at least $200 billion per year from public and private sources for biodiversity-related funding
  • Raising international financial flows from developed to developing countries to at least US$30 billion per year
  • Phasing out or reforming subsidies that harm biodiversity by at least $500 billion per year, while scaling up positive incentives for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use
  • Requiring transnational companies and financial institutions to monitor, assess, and transparently disclose risks and impacts on biodiversity through their operations, portfolios, supply and value chains

Just an ‘agreement’?

So, as I mentioned in our COP27 blog post, the pledges and agreements made are not legally binding, and countries are not penalised if they don’t meet them. Despite the embarrassment that the countries may face if they don’t meet their pledges, this may not be enough to ensure that the proposed (and critical) action is taken.

This same issue can be seen with the Global Biodiversity Framework, with targets having been set to be met by 2030, but no binding contract for countries to meet them except a ‘pledge’. Concern has been demonstrated here, as nations had previously set Aichi targets at COP10 in 2010 to be met by 2020. Shockingly, the world failed to achieve even a single one of these targets by the 2020 goal, sparking a conversation about how well the COP15 GBF will do (already coming two years late due to COVID as it is). All we can do is have hope though, right?

Here’s a video that shares the thoughts of 10 people on what they believe needs to happen to make the GBF successful:

How has Loughborough University been involved with COP15?

Loughborough University is a proud founding member of the Nature Positive Universities Alliance that was launched on Thursday 8 December at the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15). This is a global network of universities that have made an official pledge to work towards a Nature Positive goal in order to halt, prevent and reverse nature loss through addressing their own impacts and restoring ecosystems harmed by their activities.

For more information on this, see the University’s article on it here.

A new report, SPORTS FOR NATURE, carried out the first-ever assessment of how sports that take place on landscapes ranging from water, turf, mountains, and cities can act to protect nature. The report was commissioned by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), led by researchers at Loughborough University. The study – which consulted more than 100 organisations representing 30 different sports across 48 countries – assessed what work is currently being done by sports on the global nature agenda and was supported by the International Olympic Committee.

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

This Week at Loughborough | 9 January

January 9, 2023 Jemima Biodun-Bello

Exam Success Toolkit

10 January 2022, 2pm, Online 

Feeling a bit rusty on how to prepare for in-person exams? This session is designed to equip you with tools and techniques for refining your memorisation strategies so that you can achieve exam success in your assessments this January

Find out more on the events page


Getting ‘Match Fit’ For your Exams

12 January 2022, 11am, Council Chamber 

Run by Loughborough University academic, Dr Chris McLeod, this workshop will explore practical changes you may want to make to your food and physical activity habits to put yourself in the best position for exam success.

Find out more on the events page


Group business and enterprise coaching session

13 January 2022, 3:30pm, Start Up Lab 

Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey, but it doesn’t have to be. Start-up businesses can feel less alone if they talk about their experiences and share solutions and strategies that work for them. All businesses experience challenges and business owners can support each other through these.

Find out more on the events page


Thinking of Running Sessions

13 January 2022, 6:30pm, Council Chamber 

Are you interested in running for an executive position in our upcoming elections? Attend one of our ‘Thinking of Running’ sessions to find out exactly what the role of student executive entails and what it is like to work at Loughborough Students’ Union.  

Find out more on the events page

How to prioritise your wellbeing in 2023

January 5, 2023 Sadie Gration
Image: Courtesy of Getty Images

Hopefully the Christmas period was an opportunity for many of you to wind down, spend time with family and friends, and embrace the festivities.

January can be a daunting month for some; the cold and dark weather continues, there’s the longer-than-usual stretch to pay day, and the return to work can cause feelings of anxiety and stress.

Whilst these feelings are only natural, it’s important to remember the start of a new year can also be a wonderful opportunity to embrace new things, set goals, and put your health and wellbeing first.

Follow these self-care tips to help you step into the New Year as a better version of yourself.

Look after your body

From staying hydrated and sleeping well to eating nourishing meals and regularly moving, remember your body is your home – and a healthy mind needs a healthy body to keep it functioning.

The NHS recommends drinking 6-8 glasses of water, tea and coffee, low-fat milk or low-sugar drinks each day. Keeping hydrated regulates your body temperature, helps organs to function, and prevents infections amongst a range of other benefits. In winter, due to the cold, our bodies trick us into thinking our fluid levels are okay, making us less inclined to drink when actually you could be dehydrated! Dehydration in winter is harder to spot, so make sure you regularly reach for a drink – even if you don’t feel thirsty.

Furthermore, adults are advised to aim for at least 7 hours of sleep every night. A variety of habits can help you to snooze easier if you struggle: maintaining a daily routine, staying away from screens before bedtime, keeping your bedroom dark and quiet, reducing caffeine later in the day, and incorporating exercise into your day.

Speaking of exercise, a mixture of strength-based and cardio exercises most days each week can reduce your risk of major illnesses and is described as the ‘miracle cure’ to a healthier and happier life. Exercise is also a fundamental contributor to boosting your mood and self-esteem. Find out more about exercise guidelines for adults aged 19-64.

Spend time with others

Sharing our time with family and friends can boost our mood and decrease feelings of loneliness. It also allows us to try new things, gain new perspectives, and receive support from others when we need it most.

Struggling to find time to meet in person? Why not suggest speaking over the phone or arranging a video call? Even just a text to check in with someone can have a positive impact on them as well as you.

But don’t forget, it’s not always a bad thing to say no to social plans. When we’re feeling burnt out, sometimes the thought of being sociable can be overwhelming for both our mind and body, so make sure you take the time to assess your mental health and what works for you in the moment.

Live in the moment: Disconnect from the digital noise

Today’s world means the news and the lives of others (whether we know them or not!) are at our fingertips if we choose to see it. Social media, the internet and various apps can play a big distraction in our everyday lives, and it’s not necessarily the healthiest of distractions.

Reflect on how accessing certain social media channels and/or content elsewhere in the digital sphere makes you feel. If for any reason it makes you feel anxious, inferior, or that your life is not as good as others, consider taking a break from it for a week – or even set yourself a daily limit – and assess your mental health to see if you notice a difference. Research suggests that time away from your phone and other digital devices can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression whilst boosting self-confidence and your sleeping pattern.  

Do what makes you happy

Some people struggle to put themselves first, and even if they want to find the time, they find reasons not to due to other events and scenarios that take place in their life, whether or not they directly or indirectly affect them.

Relaxation is a significant factor in improving wellbeing, and it can mean different things to different people. For some, it might be taking an indulgent bath or going on a dog walk, whilst for others, it could be watching a new film or reading a book. Whatever ‘relaxing’ means to you, make sure to implement something that’s just for you into your regular routine – even if it’s 15 minutes a day. And if you’re someone who struggles to sit still, look for an activity with a fun or creative outlet, one which has the ability to take your mind away from the daily stresses that life might bring.

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

Maximus has supported more than 12,000 people through the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service to improve their health, cope better with work, and feel happier.

If you would like to book an appointment, you can fill out an online form or call 0300 456 8114. They also have virtual, confidential one-to-one appointments available for Loughborough University staff on Tuesday 28 February. Please note Maximus will not inform the University of your query/appointment unless you want them to.

The delusion of racial tolerance in the UK

The delusion of racial tolerance in the UK

December 21, 2022 David Roberts

The greatest trick the devil ever played, was making us believe he doesn’t exist – The Usual Suspect

A Very British Notion

Britain has long prided itself on being a tolerant society. Far Right rags like The Spectator proudly trumpet Britain’s ‘tolerance’ in the face of a ‘few football racists’ that can be dismissed as rotten apples. Diversity UK pointed out that ‘seventy years ago in Britain, issues of race and identity were unfamiliar to most [if you were White]. However, since then the face of the nation has changed rapidly’. The education group ‘Total People’ claims tolerance is a primary value in the UK.

Britain’s reward for such tolerance is to be perceived as ‘morally praiseworthy’. But what is it being praised for? Polycarp Ikuenobe argues that this reward is in fact about restraint: it is about ‘refraining from mistreating others regarding their racial difference’. It shows that there is a power dynamic at work in the act of tolerating someone else. There is an implied right NOT to tolerate under certain conditions decided by those professing tolerance. Magali Bessone describes the act of tolerance as:

refraining from interfering with something deeply disapproved of in spite of having the power to interfere.

Here is the power we rarely consider: tolerance condones judgmental interference by the judging, dominant, and powerful. Power is present in both interference and in not interfering. It is masked by the concept’s rhetorical magnanimity. The relationship between those expressing tolerance, and those they are judging, is asymmetrical.

Image: The power dynamics of racial tolerance in the UK. Created by and copyright of author

Where occasional intolerance arises, like at those ‘few football matches’ The Spectator pointed at, they are reduced to individual acts, every time they happen, no matter how many times they happen. They are separated from cause and effect relationships, disconnected from any organized determinism that might intrude on the sanctity of the idea of ‘tolerance’. Where that fails, such acts’ connections to organisation are cloaked in misdirection, misrepresentation, lies and obfuscation, all to protect the myth that organised racism doesn’t exist.

But there’s no shortage of examples of majority behaviour being misrepresented as an unhinged, illegitimate minority when in fact, support for such racism is widespread. Think Brexit; racism remarketed as patriotism. Think Meghan; the idea of a woman of Colour ‘polluting’ a blue blood, White-skinned hereditary monarchy that is itself a hundred shades of European that Brexiteers ran from. Or the brutal, racist bile that poured into the Twittersphere and wider media from old, racist, white misogynist men openly using Far Right ‘news’ platforms to actively, publicly, unashamedly incite racial hatred, telling people to throw excrement at a woman of Colour who has ‘infected’ the imperial Royal Family in the UK. Think millions applauding an imperial monarch and her reign over the world, and the preservation of the last vestiges of formal empire in the shape of the Commonwealth. These are instead all unrelated acts, for the Right, who refuse to see cause and effect in anything they are responsible for.

Think of the dreadful racism directed at Marcus Rashford and two others after England lost at the EUFA Euro 2020; just the odd idiot on Twitter, or a residue of race hatred that, despite a self-proclaiming ‘tolerant’ society, is an immutable, violent, painful, oppressive constant?

The claim to tolerance masks and denies the notion, the intolerable, horrible idea, that all those individual acts might form part of a larger structure, a learned – and therefore taught – code of behaviour, a pan-national attitude of hostility or disdain or hatred or fear. The UK Court system is acknowledging institutional racism. The British healthcare system is now found to harbour institutional racism. UK mental healthcare is similarly afflicted. The police are also concerned about their own racist structures, and an independent review of the Fire Brigade found it to be institutionally racist and misogynist. Its author warned this would be a common theme across UK public services. The former Vice-Chancellor of Loughborough University openly recognised institutional racism at the institution, and another Vice-Chancellor declared it a problem across the whole sector. Britain’s national identity, pride and progress were made on Empire, as so many nationalists never tire of pointing out. It should be no surprise that imperial attitudes, of racial superiority, remain deeply embedded in all aspects of government, its institutions and their instructions to society.

Are we actually tolerant of intolerance?

So we are left in a quandary: if we are tolerant of race, why is there racism everywhere, everyday? Perhaps some answers lie in the idea of the term itself. What does it involve? How might you feel, if you were told that someone tolerated you? Where is power revealed to lie? With you or with them? I feel dominated and patronised when I think of that dynamic. I feel like a child whose existence is accepted on condition of not upsetting anyone – seen and not heard, permitted as long as I concord with certain conditions of my existence that have been set by someone else, by the society in which I am permitted to reside. Tolerance involves degrees of resistance: I accept you here but do not necessarily wish you here. Your presence is not at my request but I will accept it as long as it breaks no rules or challenges my right to determine how or to what extent I accept you. Tolerance is power.

Tolerance has been defined as ‘value orientation towards difference’. Value orientation encompasses the

ensemble of convictions, attitudes, behaviors that are in a hierarchical relationship and monitored by values in a social environment

Among other things, this means there is a sector of society whose values are considered legitimate and dominant, passing judgment on another group of people whose values may be different, or appear different, or intimidate because of that perceived difference. Tolerance in this form is a toxic structure and process because it masks the same power relationship that its use implies does not exist – the devil’s greatest trick.

Toxic waste pollutants, destroying the environment. Created by and copyright of author

British values about racial groups have historically been linked to its imperial history: that period of global dominance without which the UK would not have industrialised and evolved into a global superpower of the 20th century. The country’s economic descent and its collapse in comparative global prowess over recent decades does not detract from what placed it at its apogee until its place in the world was challenged by newer superpowers. Britain once controlled nearly one quarter of all people on the planet, through an empire over which the sun never set. This was then and, for almost half the population, still is, a source of great national pride in a halcyonic era that many continue to believe defines the best of Britain.

Since Empire is always based on superiority, whether Roman, Nazi or British, the dynamic of White and Black mirrors that eugenicist ideology. Empires stole countries and then tolerated the presence of their indigenous populations (Cesaire, 1972; Fanon, 1961; Mbembe, 2020). Those indigenes who served imperial occupation were tolerated as long as they did not contravene the interests of the colonizers. Permissions were granted for integration within the colonial institutions on condition of loyal subservience. Our presence in our own lands was tolerated as long as we didn’t get ‘uppity’. Those subjects of Empire who were admitted to the White Motherland required similar permissions and tolerances, and still require permission to stay, after decades of residence, in the face of ignorant, racist, State persecution. In the face of tolerance.

Tolerance involves the power to grant permissions to others with less power. In this case, it is White England granting terms of existence to those of Colour who are literal and figurative descendants of Windrush. White England is a concept. It is made up of government elites, Left and Right, who set the tone of race relations through the Executive and Legislature (the contemporary Right in the West is almost always far more racist than the Left). It is the courts that apply the laws of the land. It is the police who execute them. It is the media that reports according to its ideological and racist biases. It is the wider society that watches such procedure and takes its cue from those rulers and rules and permissions and exclusions and constraints and limits; and takes its cue from that tolerance of the Other as determined by imperial history and political identity. Power is present in both interference and in not interfering, but it is masked by the label’s rhetorical magnanimity. The greatest trick…

In the end…

Tolerance permits difference as long as the difference doesn’t get ‘uppity’. And as long as ‘tolerant racism’ is the mindset of a society and its institutions, that mindset will reinforce racism, and restrict change to the terms and conditions of White Fragility. This term refers to ‘a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves’ like denial, misdirection, misrepresentation, obfuscation, lies and so on. In Derrick Bell’s words, tolerance will be framed by interest divergence: People of Colour in the UK, under a regime of ‘tolerance’, can co-exist as long as what they do, does not clash with what White England wants to happen. Thereafter, ‘tolerance’ becomes ‘intolerance’; but tolerance is already intolerant. It comes from and perpetuates racial power, control and abuse, whilst presenting as doing the opposite. ‘Tolerance’ is the ‘credible’ institutional face of race relations in the UK; we pride ourselves on this Janus term. Making us believe…

Janus – icon of duality. Copyright of author

As long as we can claim to be tolerant, we have done nothing wrong and nothing needs to change. Yet for many People of Colour, tolerance is imperial continuity; the past in the present, as Mbembe said. Tolerance is a mindset rooted in relations of power that ceded and cede limited freedoms to a captured society. That mindset is masturbatory self-indulgence and denial that we still use to congratulate ourselves on our sterling contribution to race relations. We are not who we think we are, in the same way that America is not the land of the free or the home of the brave. Those who have exercised racial violence most, are those most active in denying it, and defending and disguising the ideology it rests on. As George Orwell wrote in The Road to Wigan Pier, people tend to think they can ‘abolish [societal] distinctions without making any uncomfortable change in their own habits and ideology’. They cannot. Until British people move away from a nationalist mindset that internalizes and sanctions permission granting by a dominant race over a subjugated Other as a way of being multicultural, we will remain in race purgatory, with the Devil looking on.

Bibliography

Cesaire, A. (1972) Discourse on Colonialism, New York: Monthly Review Press.

Fanon, F. (1961) The Wretched of the Earth, Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Mbembe, A. (2020) Necropolitics, Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

What to Consider Over Christmas

What to Consider Over Christmas

December 20, 2022 Rhiannon Brown

Guest blog by Louis Guest from Enva.

‘Tis the season for responsible waste management!

What to consider over Christmas?

Hello and welcome to the latest in a series of blogs on sustainable waste management. My name is Louis and I work for your university’s sustainable waste management provider, Enva. The article below is being written with the goal of proving information on what can and cannot be recycled over Christmas.  

It is always important to consider the waste hierarchy before making any purchases. Remember that even though recycling is a good option, ultimately it will always be more sustainable to not create waste in the first place.

Another important Christmas caveat is that as your Christmas period will likely not be spent on campus, you will be subject to the recycling rules of your local council. So, while this information should be accurate for the majority, you should can always check online here for your local recycling scheme.

Composites over Christmas:

We all have memories of loved ones running around on Christmas morning with a black bag, frantically stuffing away the shreds of what used to be perfectly wrapped presents. However, while you played with your remote-control car or brand-new Barbie fun house did you ever consider what bin that bag of paper should have ended up in?

Well, the truth is that if you can avoid the paper going into a bag, you should. This can be achieved by using string to hold together your wrapping, you can then use that paper year after year without throwing it away.

However, when wrapping for children we recognize that the careful act of unwrapping might lose out to the frantic excitement of Christmas morning. This is where the scrunch test comes into play. If you scrunch up wrapping paper and it stays scrunched, then the paper is only made of one material, paper. However, if the paper begins to unravel, then it is what’s known as a composite material. This means it is combined of two materials, usually paper and a metallic plastic film.  These materials cannot be separated and unfortunately that means this paper cannot be recycled. It is also worth noting that any paper with a glittery exterior also cannot be recycled.

Another item that unfortunately fits the composite category are plastic Christmas trees. These are again made from a variety of materials meaning they cannot be recycled.

However, most councils do offer recycling for real Christmas trees, these are shredded and turned into clippings and shavings for parks and woodland areas. 

So, if you’re in the market for a Christmas tree you might be wondering which route is more sustainable. Well, you should first consider the waste hierarchy. Do you really need one? If yes, could you offer a second life to one that has already been purchased? Potentially online or via a charity shop? If this isn’t an option, the facts are that it would take 10 years of use for an artificial tree to have a better carbon impact than having a real tree and disposing responsibly every year. Thankfully, the artificial trees are built to last, this example is still looking good after twenty years.  

Christmas Crackers

Christmas crackers are brilliant fun but did know that each year forty million Christmas crackers are thrown away. That’s a lot of bad jokes and party hats. Sadly, a lot of the waste that comes from Christmas crackers isn’t recyclable. It is important to first consider, do we really need crackers this year? If yes, it is likely that the outer cardboard exterior is recyclable if it isn’t covered in glitter or foil coated.  The same should be the case for the small paper jokes and that lovely paper crown someone forces onto your head every year. Unfortunately, the gift within that often comes in a small plastic bag is likely not recyclable. Nor is the bag it came in.

Did you know?

Batteries are one of the most frequently used products over the Christmas period. A study found that over Christmas Brits will use 189 million batteries. Batteries are treated as hazardous waste in the U.K so these should not be put in a general waste bin. If you’re experiencing a fast build up over the holidays, we advise putting them to one side and taking them to a local supermarkets collection point.

Every so often, somebody will miss the mark with an ambitious gift idea. we smile gratefully and exclaim that its just what we wanted. all the while knowing that you’ll never use or need the item you’re holding. As we so often say in December, it’s the thought that counts. That’s all well and good, but did you know that it is estimated £42 million worth of unwanted gifts get sent to landfill each year. In this situation we strongly suggest exploring alternative options, such as giving to charity or regifting to some who would have more use for the gift than you do.

Thankfully, Christmas cards are recyclable. This is greats news because over one billion Christmas cards are thrown away every year! It’s important to remember that these cards are only recyclable if they’re free from contamination. This not only means the glitter and glue that can so spoil a piece of recyclable card, but also what bin the cards go into. Please remember to keep food and liquids away from your recycling bin this Christmas. If you do receive any Christmas cards a helpful tip might be to cut out any suitable pictures and use them for gift tags next year.

It’s not all doom and gloom:

While it might seem from the beginning of this article that Christmas must be severely altered to be a sustainable practice that isn’t the case. There are many different products and alternatives that are fully recyclable.

As mentioned previously, many of the products entirely made from natural greenery such as “real” Christmas trees and authentic wreaths can be recycled. However, this is only the case if they’re not covered excessively in things like glitter. It would also be important to remove things like ribbons and baubles before adding these to your green waste.

Another scenario that everyone can relate to is trying to set up your Christmas fairy lights after their year in storage only to find that they no longer work. The good news is that these items are recyclable. Anything with a battery or a plug falls under the category of WEEE (Waste Electrical Equipment) waste.  These items can be recycled by local recycling centers. Some councils even provide local Wee waste collection points at supermarkets for convenient disposal.

One element of British culture that goes hand in hand with Christmas is drinking. Did you know that 13,350 tons of glass bottles are mistakenly placed in the general waste every year, please remember when throwing your Christmas party that both glass and aluminum cans are both recyclable.

Finally, most paper-based greetings cards can be recycled via household recycling collections. As mentioned with the wrapping paper these can be contaminated by glues and glitter and so when attempting to recycling these cards simply tear off and separate any contaminated sections. With any musical cards it is also important to remove the batteries and bulbs before disposal.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article, from all of us here at Enva we wish you a very merry and sustainable Christmas. 

Bravery and courage come in many colours (of the rainbow)

Bravery and courage come in many colours (of the rainbow)

December 19, 2022 Guest Author

It is just over 50 years since a group of people were forcibly detained by police offers one night at a bar in New York City for the crime of being themselves. The subsequent reaction from this group of people, who had quite simply had enough of being persecuted, would go down in history as the Stonewall Riots or the Stonewall Uprising. These events are now widely viewed as the start of the gay civil rights movement and, in the intervening years, significant progress has been made in the fight for equality and acceptance for LGBT+ people. However, such progress is not uniform across our society, nor in all places in the world (as has been highlighted by the current Men’s Football World Cup in Qatar).

Today, it is shameful that anti-LGBT+ sentiments persist in many places. Some are obvious. Some are not. But all will be particularly felt by those in the LGBT+ community and their allies.

When the Loughborough University LGBT+ Staff Network championed and worked to have the rainbow installation painted on our campus, I felt a strong sense of pride. How great it was that we were able to work together – our staff network, student representatives, facilities and maintenance staff, senior leadership, and the communications team – to install, celebrate and promote a wonderful piece of art, that not only looks good, but sends a powerful message of acceptance, love and pride.

However, I did not expect what came next. I did not expect the thousands of comments on Twitter, some personal and others more general. Toxic, hurtful, aggressive and threatening.

My surprise only serves to highlight my privilege. I am a heterosexual white man. I fit into many of society’s “norms”. I don’t get heckled in the street because of what I choose to wear (unless it’s a West Ham shirt). I am not routinely threatened with violence because of whose hand I am holding. My sexuality or gender has never formed an undertone in a job interview or a discussion about career progression. I have never been afraid to speak about who I love.

Watching the Twitter diatribe unfold, the hurtful comments came largely from people outside of the University. I was pleased to see our Loughborough community supporting the installation. But it turns out that this clear-cut characterisation isn’t the whole picture. While our staff and students don’t generally make anti-LGBT+ statements in a public forum, we have recently seen anti-LGBT+ vandalism on our campus. Incidents of anti-LGBT+ language and targeted bullying have also taken place within our student community. Where we have been able to identify the perpetrators, we have taken disciplinary action against them.

This means Loughborough University is not always the safe, positive and inclusive environment it should be. This is completely unacceptable. Everybody is welcome here. Everybody is entitled to be part of our community. Everybody should be valued and accepted. Such inclusion and belonging are necessary to achieve our ambitions as an institution and to create a vibrant University community.

Now, while these are important statements, they need to be accompanied by action. We have started on this journey. Our actions will benefit all our under-represented groups, as we review our policies and systems, to ensure they are as inclusive as possible.  Specific actions have already included making EDI central to our new Strategy, clarifying how we protect academic freedom but do not allow hate, and installing LGBT+ inspired artwork around campus. We are rolling out training and awareness, so all staff understand the challenges faced by those from our LGBT+ community and how they contribute to a welcoming culture.  And in the New Year we will implement changes to our student IT systems to extend the use of the ‘preferred names’ category, thereby reducing deadnaming. But this is just the start.

Stonewall published research that in the UK 35% of LGBT+ staff have hidden the fact they are LGBT+ at work out of fear of not being accepted. Over 40% of LGBT+ students have hidden their identity at university for fear of discrimination. I cannot imagine the challenges this must bring, and I am personally committed to doing all I can to make the University an environment where students and staff feel no need to hide their identity.

To help me better understand these challenges, for several years now I have engaged with a number of LGBT+ groups. I work hard to educate myself, to listen and learn from others’ experiences, so I can be a better ally and understand how I can best use my leadership position to help.

The LGBT+ Staff Network Chair and other members of the committee and community have been generous in giving me their time and allowing me to ask questions to improve my knowledge. I encourage you all to read the blogs published, look at the webpages – not just internally, but also outside of Loughborough (some reading I found useful is at the end of this post). Learning makes us all better, and we must all continue to educate ourselves.

I remember having a conversation with a colleague about the idea that once you have come out, many think that you have shed that weight and you can move on with your life. However, the reality is that you have to keep coming out over and over again as you meet new people, join a new club or society, or start a new job.

And while it might get a little easier each time, the reaction of the person you are telling is uncertain and can present a moment of immense vulnerability. It still takes bravery for a member of the LGBT+ community to tell someone for the first time. So, if nothing else, I hope everyone reading this blog remembers the courage involved next time you are on the receiving end of that conversation. Thank the person telling you for trusting you with their whole selves – it is a privilege to work with someone who is willing to do this.

And for the members of the LGBT+ community who have to have those conversations all the time – I am humbled by your strength and enthused by your determination. Let us all continue to work together to create better futures for everybody at the University.

Professor Nick Jennings CB FREng FRS

Vice-Chancellor

Further information, networks and further reading:

Bravery and courage come in many colours (of the rainbow)

December 19, 2022 Nick Jennings
Hazlerigg building illuminated by rainbow lights

It is just over 50 years since a group of people were forcibly detained by police offers one night at a bar in New York City for the crime of being themselves. The subsequent reaction from this group of people, who had quite simply had enough of being persecuted, would go down in history as the Stonewall Riots or the Stonewall Uprising. These events are now widely viewed as the start of the gay civil rights movement and, in the intervening years, significant progress has been made in the fight for equality and acceptance for LGBT+ people. However, such progress is not uniform across our society, nor in all places in the world (as has been highlighted by the current Men’s Football World Cup in Qatar).

Today, it is shameful that anti-LGBT+ sentiments persist in many places. Some are obvious. Some are not. But all will be particularly felt by those in the LGBT+ community and their allies.

When the Loughborough University LGBT+ Staff Network championed and worked to have the rainbow installation painted on our campus, I felt a strong sense of pride. How great it was that we were able to work together – our staff network, student representatives, facilities and maintenance staff, senior leadership, and the communications team – to install, celebrate and promote a wonderful piece of art, that not only looks good, but sends a powerful message of acceptance, love and pride.

However, I did not expect what came next. I did not expect the thousands of comments on Twitter, some personal and others more general. Toxic, hurtful, aggressive and threatening.

My surprise only serves to highlight my privilege. I am a heterosexual white man. I fit into many of society’s “norms”. I don’t get heckled in the street because of what I choose to wear (unless it’s a West Ham shirt). I am not routinely threatened with violence because of whose hand I am holding. My sexuality or gender has never formed an undertone in a job interview or a discussion about career progression. I have never been afraid to speak about who I love.

Watching the Twitter diatribe unfold, the hurtful comments came largely from people outside of the University. I was pleased to see our Loughborough community supporting the installation. But it turns out that this clear-cut characterisation isn’t the whole picture. While our staff and students don’t generally make anti-LGBT+ statements in a public forum, we have recently seen anti-LGBT+ vandalism on our campus. Incidents of anti-LGBT+ language and targeted bullying have also taken place within our student community. Where we have been able to identify the perpetrators, we have taken disciplinary action against them.

This means Loughborough University is not always the safe, positive and inclusive environment it should be. This is completely unacceptable. Everybody is welcome here. Everybody is entitled to be part of our community. Everybody should be valued and accepted. Such inclusion and belonging are necessary to achieve our ambitions as an institution and to create a vibrant University community.

Now, while these are important statements, they need to be accompanied by action. We have started on this journey. Our actions will benefit all our under-represented groups, as we review our policies and systems, to ensure they are as inclusive as possible. Specific actions have already included making EDI central to our new Strategy, clarifying how we protect academic freedom but do not allow hate, and installing LGBT+ inspired artwork around campus. We are rolling out training and awareness, so all staff understand the challenges faced by those from our LGBT+ community and how they contribute to a welcoming culture. And in the New Year we will implement changes to our student IT systems to extend the use of the ‘preferred names’ category, thereby reducing deadnaming. But this is just the start.

Stonewall published research that in the UK 35% of LGBT+ staff have hidden the fact they are LGBT+ at work out of fear of not being accepted. Over 40% of LGBT+ students have hidden their identity at university for fear of discrimination. I cannot imagine the challenges this must bring, and I am personally committed to doing all I can to make the University an environment where students and staff feel no need to hide their identity.

To help me better understand these challenges, for several years now I have engaged with a number of LGBT+ groups. I work hard to educate myself, to listen and learn from others’ experiences, so I can be a better ally and understand how I can best use my leadership position to help.

The LGBT+ Staff Network Chair and other members of the committee and community have been generous in giving me their time and allowing me to ask questions to improve my knowledge. I encourage you all to read the blogs published, look at the webpages – not just internally, but also outside of Loughborough (some reading I found useful is at the end of this post). Learning makes us all better, and we must all continue to educate ourselves.

I remember having a conversation with a colleague about the idea that once you have come out, many think that you have shed that weight and you can move on with your life. However, the reality is that you have to keep coming out over and over again as you meet new people, join a new club or society, or start a new job.

And while it might get a little easier each time, the reaction of the person you are telling is uncertain and can present a moment of immense vulnerability. It still takes bravery for a member of the LGBT+ community to tell someone for the first time. So, if nothing else, I hope everyone reading this blog remembers the courage involved next time you are on the receiving end of that conversation. Thank the person telling you for trusting you with their whole selves – it is a privilege to work with someone who is willing to do this.

And for the members of the LGBT+ community who have to have those conversations all the time – I am humbled by your strength and enthused by your determination. Let us all continue to work together to create better futures for everybody at the University.

Professor Nick Jennings CB FREng FRS
Vice-Chancellor


Further information, networks and further reading:


This post originally appeared on the University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion blog.

[Student Post] Clare Hutchinson: "Women, Peace and Security"

December 16, 2022 Duncan Depledge

Introduction     

In November, Loughborough University’s Geopolitics & International Affairs webinar series welcomed Clare Hutchinson to speak about her work on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS). Ms. Hutchinson is a deeply experienced practitioner having spent eighteen years working in UN peacekeeping, and three years (2018-2021) as the NATO Secretary General Special Representative for WPS. Her remarks were passionate and thought-provoking, and produced an enlightening conversation about the challenges and opportunities of applying the WPS agenda to emerging global risks and threats.    

Defining the role of gender in security    

Ms. Hutchinson opened her remarks by explaining the importance of defining ‘gender’ and especially the difference between gender ‘parity’ and gender ‘equality.’ In short, simply having an equal number of women and men in the room (gender parity) is not the same as having gender equality (which requires a combination of cultural, political, and economic shifts towards women’s rights and recognition). Ms. Hutchinson was also keen to emphasise that “gender is not exclusively a women’s issue”, but a complex discussion impacting all members of society.    

Gender and conflict    

Ms. Hutchinson next elaborated on several issues relating to gender and conflict, especially the historical tendency to focus on men as the key combatants. Such a perspective is tested, for instance, by the roles that women have played in terrorism. Ms. Hutchinson’s point was that because women have tended to be treated as victims (in part because Western societies have often been uncomfortable with the idea of women as ‘threats’), security analysts have tended to ignore the potential for women to be recruited into terrorist organisations and engage in violent activities. The prospect of women serving as security providers has also largely been dismissed, including until recently at the very highest level. Prior to 2000, there were no women serving on the UN Security Council. This too has contributed to the marginalisation of women in conflict, whether as combatants, security providers, victims, or peace-builders. Ms. Hutchinson began to make the case that women are in fact extremely politically significant, and that we should more readily acknowledge the realities of gender-based violence ever present in warfare, as well as the solutions that women can provide.    

Gendered violence    

Ms. Hutchinson then turned to the disproportionate levels of violence that women face in conflict zones. Here, Ms. Hutchinson predominantly focused on how women can be kept safe during unprecedented, unstable times. Addressing these challenges requires significantly more funding and far greater efforts to understand the experiences of women in conflict zones (with a particular need for more sex segregated data to support decision-making). This challenge is only likely to deepen as the gendered impacts of other global issues (such as climate change) on the security of women are recognised. Ms. Hutchinson further emphasised this point with the example of how women in emerging areas of drought are having to travel further from home to collect water, which is putting them at higher risk of attacks. A major cultural shift is still needed amongst security providers to understand this problem and address it appropriately, to ensure the specific challenges facing women in conflict zones are not marginalised.    

Questions and discussion     

Following Ms. Hutchinson’s talk, a variety of questions were presented by lecturers, PhD candidates and students. One point of discussion was the role of women as security providers and whether this is in fact putting more women at risk or ensuring that more women are being monitored by women in conflict areas. Ms. Hutchinson suggests that it should be a right for women to be included in peacekeeping and conflict management. However, this needs to be done with high levels of care as there is still a long way to go to ensure that women are not exposed to greater levels of risk than men.    

Ms. Hutchinson was then asked if, in her 25-year career, she had witnessed much positive global change, or whether the problems of the previous generation persisted. Ms. Hutchinson responded that some positive steps had been made in recent years, particularly to certain kinds of language used (such as the implementation of the ‘NATO Gender-Inclusive Language Manual.’) and approaches to getting women into decision making roles, although much work still needs to be done to recognise women in conflict.  

Ms. Hutchinson also argued that women are still seen as victims rather than agents with autonomy and influence in a community, and that this issue needs significantly more attention. The following question asked how one might realistically measure the success of WPS initiatives. Ms. Hutchinson responded that there are 27 indicators recognised by the UN, which include, for instance, committing to increase the number of women deployed in conflict resolution roles. However, Ms. Hutchinson’s main point here was that the criteria being measured are difficult to assess as change will only become visible over the long-term. A lack of funding also stymies progress. This is a generational challenge rather than an issue which can be addressed quickly and concisely.    

The discussion then turned to the question of whether gender-based policy is simply a Western imposition on differing cultures. However, Ms. Hutchinson felt that the WPS agenda is easily defensible; when human rights breaches are being made, including cases of sexual violence and gender discrimination, initiatives aiming to cooperate, mandate and defend vulnerable people are rightly encouraged. She used the example of female genital mutilation to demonstrate how cultural measures can be used to mask violence, with disproportionate impacts on the livelihoods of the women. Ms. Hutchinson recommends that these kinds of harmful cultural practices must be “cut at the grass-roots” by educating communities, increasing funding to do so, and conducting specific research into understanding how such issues affect not just women, but wider communities as well. 

Ms. Hutchinson concluded by suggesting that the “lack of coordination collaboration and control” remains the biggest challenge to tackling the security challenges that women face around the world, and detrimental to the cause of the WPS. The agenda must, in future, be taken with seriousness, appropriate funding and more training in gendered violence for peacekeepers.   

Final reflection

What did I takeaway from Ms. Hutchinson’s talk? Firstly, the significance of the work of the WPS, Ms. Hutchinson gave many detailed examples of gendered violence that demand the attention from the international security community. However, it was clear too that the WPS agenda continues to face many challenges, from securing greater recognition and funding, to measuring the impacts of changes that often take years to become observable. All this serves to underline the importance of continuing to advance the WPS agenda as conflicts continue around the world. 

Jesse Prevatt is studying Politics and International Relations in her second year at Loughborough University. She is passionate about the contemporary issues surrounding global security and gender disparity. Moving forward, she is aiming to specialise in these areas and gain more experience in journalism.

From the Vice-Chancellor - December 2022

December 16, 2022 Nick Jennings

In my last newsletter of 2022: the Nature Positive Universities Alliance, two new sports partnerships, the Social Mobility Pledge, sport and the metaverse, winter graduation, and a look back on 2022.

Nature Positive Universities Alliance

Through research, innovation and education, universities contribute so much to the global sustainability agenda and are real drivers of positive change. But we cannot be complacent. Everything we do – from the way we manage our buildings and open spaces to the goods and services we source – has an environmental impact and we must ensure that it’s positive.

This month, at the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Montreal, Canada, Loughborough became one of the founding members of a new network, the Nature Positive Universities Alliance, of more than a hundred universities around the world that have pledged to work together to promote nature on our campuses, in our supply chains and within our cities and communities. The network is part of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a movement to avert climate catastrophe and mass extinction.

As a member of the Alliance, we have pledged to assess the impact of our activities on biodiversity, to set ourselves and work towards measurable targets and to make transparent annual reports on our progress.

With Climate Change and Net Zero one of the themes of our strategy, I am incredibly proud that we have committed to this new and hugely important initiative. The East Midlands campus has extensive green spaces that include wildflower meadows and grasslands, fruit trees, ponds and woodlands, providing habitats for a range of wildlife; the London campus is based on one of the capital’s newest emerging parklands, which has been awarded Green Flag status for the last eight years. Our sustainability research and innovation are becoming more prominent, in areas such as clean energy and the circular economy.

We’re taking good steps forwards, but we need to maintain the momentum. Our membership of this new global Alliance underlines our commitment to advancing our positive impact on biodiversity and the wider environment.

New sports partnerships

West Ham United Women and Loughborough University logos / Official Higher Education Partner

This month we announced exciting new partnerships with two leading sports organisations – West Ham United Women and England Athletics.

The University is now the official higher education partner of West Ham United Women. The partnership, the first of its kind in the Barclays Women’s Super League, will bring multiple benefits for the Club, its players and our own staff and students.

The University and Club will work together on cutting-edge research projects, using performance analysis to shape and enhance the future of the women’s game. We’ll offer elite athlete education programmes and scholarships through our Loughborough University London campus to support the players’ post-football careers. Our sports performance experts will share their knowledge and experience with the West Ham coaches and support staff on supporting dual-career athletes. Our own students will be able to apply for internships in a range of sport support areas at the Club.

Lastly, but by no means least, West Ham Women will play a first-team fixture on our Loughborough campus at the University Stadium, giving staff, students and members of the community the opportunity to watch, in my opinion as a West Ham fan, the best team in the country!

Under our partnership with England Athletics, the University will become a national Talent Hub, providing coaching support, coach education, mentoring and a range of sports science and therapy services to athletes and coaches on the England Athletics Talent Pathway. As well as creating a training and educational environment for pathway athletes and their coaches, the Hub network aims to develop links with local clubs so they become an integrated part of the England Athletics structure.

These two partnerships align strongly with so many strands of our University strategy. We’re using our pre-eminence in sport to spearhead new opportunities and to develop new, exciting partnerships associated with our sport, health and wellbeing theme.

Social Mobility Pledge

Social mobility is a much talked about issue. Essentially it looks at where we start out in life and the opportunities afforded to us as we progress through the years. As major institutions within their communities, universities have a key role to play in enabling social mobility, in helping people to overcome the barriers they face and in driving equality of opportunity at key life stages.  

This month the University partnered with the Purpose Coalition and former Education Secretary Rt Hon Justine Greening to sign up to an innovative framework, the Social Mobility Pledge, that will measure Loughborough’s social impact. Our activities and social impact will be mapped against a series of 14 Purpose Goals. These cover a number of areas, such as education and training opportunities, career progression, and good health and wellbeing, and provide a universal benchmark against which organisations can measure their impact.

The Social Mobility Pledge demonstrates our clear commitment to ensuring that everyone has opportunities for development and progression throughout life, and chimes clearly with the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion aim of University strategy, as well as the Vibrant and Inclusive Communities theme.

The future of sport and the metaverse

On Monday Loughborough and the MIT Sloan School of Management will co-host an event on the future of sport and the metaverse. We’ll bring together academics, entrepreneurs, policymakers and business leaders to explore the emergence, and potential applications, of one of the most exciting technological innovations of recent years.

The event will aim to demystify the metaverse concept and define what it is and what it’s not. We’ll examine its early applications in sport as well as the emerging implications and issues around health and wellness, data privacy and security, and sustainability. We’ll be asking whether we can build a better version of the Internet, and whether sport can lead the way and show what is possible. It promises to be a really exciting day.

The metaverse will provide businesses and organisations with opportunities that we are only just beginning to understand, and it’s exciting that we’re at the forefront of discussions about how the metaverse could transform the world of sport, health and wellbeing.

Winter graduation

Two female students in graduation robes and hats posing for a photograph

Today we host the second of our two days of winter graduation ceremonies. Last week we welcomed students from our London campus to celebrate their academic achievements; today we share the day with our East Midlands graduands, their families and friends.

At one of today’s ceremonies, we will award an honorary degree to the rugby union player, alumna Sarah Hunter MBE. Sarah has represented her country since 2007 and is the most capped England player of all time. She is now captain of the England women’s team, currently ranked number one in the world, having led them to World Cup glory in 2014 and to the World Cup final in 2022.

At club level she has played for our own Loughborough Lightning team since its inception in 2017 and currently holds a player-coach role. Beyond the pitch, Sarah is passionate about the growth of women’s rugby and gender equality within the sport. Her success to date has been outstanding, and she has undoubtedly contributed significantly to the University’s sporting reputation.

We will also present Professor Steve Rothberg with a University Medal. Steve has played a key role in the success of engineering at Loughborough and more broadly in research and innovation across campus. In his 32 years at the University, he has held several senior positions, including Dean of Engineering, Pro Vice-Chancellor (PVC) for Enterprise and most recently PVC for Research.

As PVC for Research, Steve was a driving force behind Loughborough’s excellent performance in the Research Excellence Framework; in the last round more than 90% of our research was classed as world-leading or internationally excellent. His own research in noise and vibration contributed to our Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Optical Engineering and High-Value Manufacturing. Steve also led the University’s first ATHENA Swan award submission and is Panel Chair for ATHENA Swan nationally. I’m sure many of you will join me in congratulating Steve on his University Medal.

Our graduation ceremonies are always special occasions for everyone who attends. As always, thank you to everyone at the University who works so hard to ensure that all our graduates, their families and friends have a memorable day.

Reflections on 2022

As 2022 comes to a close, I want to thank you for everything that you have contributed to another successful year at Loughborough. We have achieved so much over the course of 12 months, a summary of which is captured in this video that we will release at the end of the year.

Whatever you are doing while the University is closed please enjoy the holiday, relax and take a break from work.

I wish you a very Happy Christmas and look forward to seeing you in the new year.

What was COP27 and how will it influence our future?

December 13, 2022 Rhiannon Brown

Introduction

Firstly, I just want to make a point of saying why it is that we have waited over a month since the start of COP27 to publish this blog. Even as someone who is working in Sustainability, I have found it incredibly hard to digest all of the information that is out there on COP27 and its outcomes! With the sheer number of articles, papers, and statements that have been released since the start of the conference, I wanted to take some time to gather my thoughts coherently on the subject and ensure that the information I tell you is fact not fiction. So, here’s my take on this year’s COP…

What is COP27? 

Since its birth in 1994, countries from around the world have come together for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This is a global summit called COP- ‘Conference of the Parties’. Representatives from each country engage in two weeks of debate and negotiations to determine the future global policies on tackling climate change.  

COP27, this year’s 27th annual conference, was hosted in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from 6th November until Friday 18 November. The aims of COP27 were to: 

Mitigation- Limit global warming to well below 2 degrees and work hard to keep the 1.5-degree target alive. 

Adaptation– The Global Goal on Adaptation is a significant outcome of COP26. Urging all parties to demonstrate the necessary political will, and assess their progress towards enhancing resilience, COP27 aims to also assist the most vulnerable communities who are already experiencing the brunt of climate change. 

Finance- Finally, it is crucial that countries put forth a significant and meaningful budget to contribute efficiently to mitigation and adaptation. 

Collaboration- Governments, the private sector, and civil society need to work, in tandem, to transform the way in which we interact with our planet. We must introduce new solutions and innovations that help alleviate the adverse impacts of climate change. We also need to replicate and rapidly upscale all other climate-friendly solutions towards implementation in developing countries. 

Climate Justice- This concept refers to equitable sharing of the burden caused by our changing climate. It is essential as we progress with tackling climate change. 

So, what happened at the last COP? 

COP26 was held in Glasgow in 2021, and the key outcomes were:  

  • Lowered temperature limits: The main goal of the Paris agreement (COP21) was to keep global temperature rise ‘well below 2C’. In Glasgow, updated scientific evidence resulted in a change to keep warming below 1.5C. 
  • Deforestation: 100 countries promised to end deforestation by 2030. 
  • Coal use: Coal is a fuel source which is responsible for 40% of yearly CO2 emissions, and this was the first time any clear reduction plan has been agreed to.  
  • Emissions: It was agreed that countries would meet again in 2022 (for COP27) to discuss further cuts to CO2 emissions.  
  • Fossil fuels: Although no deadlines were set, an agreement between world leaders to phase out fossil fuels was made.  
  • Methane: 100 countries agreed to a 30% reduction in methane emissions by 2030. Despite this, China, India, and Russia declined to agree.  
  • Financial: Pledges were made to support developing countries through monetary help for reducing their footprints and coping with the threats of climate change. However, the 2009 pledge of donating $100 billion by 2020 was never met, resulting in much speculation. In addition, financial organisations have agreed to back ‘clean’ technologies thanks to an initiative that involved private companies in net zero targets. Until the large fossil fuel companies commit to the same, sadly the desired outcomes are unlikely to be achieved.  

Check out our COP26 blog from last year for more information. 

What were the main outcomes from this year’s COP27?

Loss and Damage

Firstly, let’s begin with one of the most significant moments of this year’s conference- the ‘Loss and Damage’ fund agreement. What does this mean? Well, an agreement was signed to create a fund for developing countries who have experienced loss and damage as a result of severe weather events caused by climate change. Worsening weather events such as floods, droughts, heatwaves, and forest fires are increasingly experienced by countries across the world, with this year alone seeing flooding in Pakistan through to drought in east Africa having devastating impacts. These events are primarily the result of major emitters in the global north, who are continuing to burn fossil fuels with the knowledge that they are destroying our planet, and not caused by those who are suffering the devastating consequences. Therefore, this is a huge global injustice that requires significant action.

This “Loss and Damage” fund agreement has been made by developed countries signing to help developing countries and those who are vulnerable to the effects, such as South-East Asia, African states, and small islands to mitigate and manage the effects of climate change (CEDREC). Developed countries, development banks, NGOs and businesses are all “urged” to support this fund.

The final agreement text includes two references which mention helping developing countries that are “particularly vulnerable” to climate change. It has since been suggested that this language choice may pose a risk in future for problems such as who qualifies for this fund. I would agree with this statement when considering how it has the potential to be underfunded like many other climate finance funds are. However, I have hope that, overall, this is a huge step forwards for climate justice.

Here is some more information on this “Loss and Damage” fund.

Biodiversity and Deforestation

Moving onto biodiversity, and specifically deforestation, 145 world leaders made a commitment to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030 in Glasgow. A year later, record levels of the practice are still being carried out.

On the other hand, the new president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, won against the former far-right president Jair Bolsonaro and has since pledged to save the Amazon rainforest (much of this lying within Brazil) and to end deforestation there. As Bolsonaro appeared largely pro-deforestation, the new president’s goals display a huge sign of hope and change for our world.

I hope that more positive decisions are made on the topic of biodiversity at the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) which began on 7th December and is estimated to end on 19th December. COP15 will bring countries from across the world together to discuss plans for tackling the biodiversity crisis. Keep an eye out for our blog on this!

Coal

At COP27, multi-country efforts to phase-out coal-fired power did not come in large numbers. As coal is the single largest driver of global temperature rise, this outcome is hugely disappointing. This is especially true when comparing to last year and how this was the first time any explicit reduction plan had been agreed to.

Net-Zero

A fundamental issue with the outcome of this year’s COP is the failure to commit to net-zero. The Glasgow summit resulted in a huge increase in countries pledging to lower their emissions, yet 11% of global emissions are unaccounted for to this day. With no countries taking responsibility for these emissions, and slow implementation of real action on the move to net-zero, the fear that staying below the 1.5C is out of reach seems evermore real.  

Here is a website which includes more outcomes from this year’s COP27.

Is there too much emphasis on COPs?

This year has sparked a lot of conversation about COPs and whether they are really doing enough. One figure in particular who released her thoughts on them is Greta Thunberg, a well-known public climate activist. Her accusation of COP27 being “greenwashing” raised a lot of attention, sparking the argument that leaders at the event are taking advantage of the opportunity as a way of promoting themselves rather than advocating for its true purpose of saving our planet. Do you agree with this? In particular, one of COP27’s event sponsors was Coca-Cola, the largest plastic producer in the world. This faced heavy criticism from many (understandably!) and resulted in a petition which called for the sponsorship to be cancelled. However, this still went ahead as planned.

To follow on from my previous point, another area that has resulted in a lot of discussion is who the representatives were at COP27, and their ties to fossil fuels. Global Witness carried out some research and found that over 600 people at COP27 have ties to fossil fuels. This is a 25% increase compared to those present at COP26. Some may argue that having representation from these fossil fuel corporations at COP27 provides an opportunity for progression and change within. However, lots of people see this as a huge issue, demonstrating our destructive reliance on fossil fuels to this day. With Shell having made a profit of £8.1 million, and BP having made a profit of £7.1 million between July and September 2022 alone, the outrage comes with no surprise. This also signifies how, as dangerous as it is, the oil and gas industry is clearly still the main energy source of our world. How do you feel about fossil fuel companies being at COP? Do you think they should be involved in these conversations?

One example of how the fossil fuel industry wields such a huge power from being present at COPs is from this year. At Glasgow, the agreement to the “Phase down of coal” was made, with the hope that progress would be made this year to change this to the “Phase out of coal”, or even the “Phase down of all fossil fuels”, as was suggested by India this year. However, backlash came from many countries, particularly those that are largely oil producing such as Saudi Arabia, which resulted in the agreement remaining the same as last year (to the “Phase down of coal” only).

Despite the above and the potential issues surrounding this, in my opinion this is a conference which is absolutely necessary every year as a bare minimum. Countries can’t solve the climate crisis alone, and this provides a platform for coalitions and collaborations to aid progress. As I stated, this is the bare minimum, so without the emphasis on COPs we would be even worse off.  

In addition to the large-scale decisions and coalitions, these conferences also provide a great opportunity for countries to form smaller coalitions and discuss their progress and ideas with others. Civil services and countries are forced to consider their own individual climate action by bringing forward points. 

Of course, skepticism about the level of progress is justified. Particularly as every country must sign onto an action for it to pass. However, hope needs to be maintained for change to happen, and even raising awareness during these COPs is playing a role by educating people. 

No penalties for un-met pledges?

A significant issue with COPs is that the pledges and agreements made are not legally binding, and countries are not penalised if they don’t meet them. Of course, it can be argued that the embarrassment a country would face by not meeting their targets is a driver, but is this really enough?

On a positive note, in November 2008 the UK Climate Change Act became law, and is one of the earliest comprehensive framework laws on climate change globally. The Climate Change Act requires the UK Government to produce a UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) every five years. This assesses the risks to and opportunities for the UK from climate change, both currently and in the future. This follows up on the target to significantly reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and the path to get there. To read more on The Climate Change Act of 2008, I recommend starting here

Despite this, do you think that the UK Government are doing enough?

How has Loughborough University been involved with COP27?

Loughborough University-led Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS) programme led numerous sessions in the SDG 7 tent during COP27. The MECS session aimed to enhance global understanding of clean cooking, and position energy-efficient electric cooking devices as a game-changing critical climate and health solution. Expanding access to clean cooking improves health, empowers women and girls, protects the environment and bolsters livelihoods.

Finally, to bring things back to a local scale, Loughborough University’s physical geographer, Richard Hodgkins, has produced an infographic showing how negotiations made at the Conference of the Parties (COP) may impact weather and temperatures in the East Midlands:

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

<strong>Tackling stigmas and looking after your wellbeing: Life with a visual impairment</strong>

Tackling stigmas and looking after your wellbeing: Life with a visual impairment

December 12, 2022 Guest Author

There are many of us with disabilities, both hidden and visible, not just at Loughborough but in our local communities and beyond. What impacts us all is so often borne of a lack of understanding, of people not being able to walk a mile in our shoes.

I’d like to explain a little of my experience, both in a work setting and my personal life, so please grab a beverage of your choice and humour me whilst I describe my experiences in the hope that it interests, or at least enlightens you.

I have a visible disability, and I live with my partner and child, both of whom have hidden disabilities. That isn’t unusual in society, but often assumptions are made that a visibly disabled person either doesn’t or dare I say, ‘shouldn’t’ have this close family unit. Some are surprised when I say that I’m a parent and I work full-time. I’ve been asked when commuting to and from work whether I’ve had a nice day out shopping. My response has often been to offer a humorous response whilst pointing out that it would be lovely to have had time to shop during the day, but work commitments and parental duties have not allowed me to indulge in these activities, but I do enjoy meeting friends for coffee when the opportunity arises.

My job is very rewarding, and the biggest bonus for me is working with so many varied people, all of whom bring a new aspect of life to consider. Having a disability can be a lonely experience without having close family, friends, understanding colleagues and a good support network. I have been very fortunate to have great support from employers throughout my career, although there have of course been moments when things didn’t go smoothly.  Throughout these experiences I’ve tried to build my resilience and tried to help others who may also be facing difficulties.

The most exhausting part of my disability is my total reliance on my memory, and my many now well-developed coping mechanisms that allow me to function when confronted with new spaces, locations or situations. It’s mentally exhausting trying to function normally in these new situations for many, but especially difficult when you find it impossible to read the room without some assistance. I often find that at the end of a particularly long day, when my memory has reached capacity and I’m feeling totally drained, that I become very accident-prone and clumsy. However, I’ve come to accept my limitations and laugh at myself when these things happen.

When I’m feeling really stressed I immerse myself in music, both listening to and playing it. My moments of calm can also come when I’m out walking, enjoying the sounds of nature and feeling the sun on my face. One of the greatest pleasures used to be marvelling in the amazing colours of nature, which I miss since I’ve lost my sight completely, but I’m grateful to have a fantastic memory for colour tones and shades. I also love photography, and with the aid of assistive technology this pleasure is once again possible, as my camera even tells me when I need to adjust the lens to ensure it’s straight.

My greatest ally is my assistance dog, Pickle. She is extremely bright, willing, capable and fun. One of the real benefits is that she also brings an opportunity for others to de-stress when we’re in the office. She’s always happy to play, offering anyone who comes near the chance to participate and have some fuss and playtime.

Those who know me will recognise my mantra, that disability is always written with a capital A, as it’s our special abilities that make us who and what we are. We should be proud of what we achieve, and not be afraid to speak out when we recognise that there are things that need to change to make life better for everyone.

Loughborough University’s Disability History Month campaign is running until 16 December. The dedicated microsite has information about the campaign, what activities have been taking place and where to find support.

CRCC to co-host international workshop on pandemic communication and populism in June 2023

December 12, 2022 Iliana Depounti

The Centre for Research in Communication and Culture is pleased to co-host an international workshop on pandemic communication and populism, to be held at Loughborough University on 12-13 June 2023. You can submit your abstract until 15 January 2023.

As the COVID-19 pandemic disappears from the headlines and attention turns to new political crises, it is more important than ever for the scholarly community to continue asking difficult questions about the way the pandemic was handled, and about things that need to change to ensure individuals and communities are better prepared for any future public health crises. This symposium, linked to an ongoing transnational research project (PANCOPOP), is designed to bring together scholars interested in the dynamics of health crisis communication and pandemic politics, with a particular focus on the impact of populist leaders and attitudes on the nature, dynamics and effectiveness of public communication processes.

Media serve as important sources of information about health, and their role increases during public health crises. We know that the way media select and present information during a crisis can have a significant impact on public attitudes and behaviour; it can encourage social cohesion and compliance with public health measures, or alternatively saw division and distrust. However, less is known about how the presence of populist leaders, parties or attitudes changes this dynamic. It is feasible to argue that the presence of populist leaders can obstruct the ability of media organisations to engage in effective health crisis communication. It is also likely that the presence of populist politics, due to its reliance on anti-elite discourse and divisive rhetoric, may encourage polarized attitudes and distrust among citizens, making them more vulnerable to misinformation spreading through socio-digital networks. But does existing evidence support these arguments? How and why do experiences vary across different countries, and across different types of populist leaders? Given the growing appeal of populism globally, we urgently need a better understanding of how populism affects health crisis communication. Such knowledge is of vital importance if we want to make our societies more resilient in the face of future pandemics.

We invite proposals for papers that examine these issues from any vantage point, in relation to any health crisis and any country and using any methodological or theoretical approach. However, we are particularly interested in contributions that use original research to investigate topics and questions that are pursued by the PANCOPOP project team, in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. We also welcome papers that seek to build on existing knowledge to develop practical recommendations for media practitioners and policymakers, with the aim of building more resilient media organisations that are better equipped to withstand the challenges of future pandemics in divided societies. We are open to contributions from researchers at different career stages, including PhD students, and would particularly encourage submissions that examine pandemic communication and populism in countries beyond the West. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

Health crisis communication: How was government-led pandemic crisis communication organised in different countries, which actors were involved, what kinds of themes were dominant, and how was all this affected by populism? What was the relationship between political and scientific actors? Which actors and choices are pushed toward polarization and partisanship, or toward solidarity? What was the role of populist leaders in this context?

Media policy: How did media policies (e.g., freedom of expression and right to information, distribution of advertising) change during the pandemic, and what role did populist leaders play in these changes? What was the impact of these changes on democratic governance and pro-democratic news media functions?

Media coverage: What were the key traits of domestic media coverage of the pandemic, their implications for the quality of public deliberation, and their links with polarization? Which actors, and what kind of themes and frames were dominant in media coverage, and did they differ from actors and themes present in government-led crisis communication? How polarized was the media coverage of the pandemic? Did populism contribute to polarization?

Public attitudes and news consumption: What were the key patterns of public attitudes and information-seeking behaviour before, during and after the pandemic? Who did citizens trust when it came to health matters, where did they turn to for trustworthy information, and to what extent were they exposed to unreliable health information, including misinformation associated with COVID-19? What were citizens’ attitudes to the pandemic and key preventative measures (e.g., mask-wearing, social distancing, etc.) and how did they change over time?

Pandemic geopolitics: While populists at home have used the pandemic for advancing their agendas, on the international scene countries challenging the so-called liberal democratic order have also used the momentum to increase their influence. What was the role of China and Russia in this context, and how were their geopolitical efforts during the pandemic received by the media and public opinion in different countries? What is the relationship between media use, public attitudes to China and Russia (including vaccines), and attitudes to democracy and different policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Confirmed participants so far include:

Daniel C. Hallin, University of California San Diego, USA;

Beata Klimkiewicz, Jagiellonian University, Poland;

Marlene Laruelle, George Washington University, USA;

Sabina Mihelj, Loughborough University, UK;

Danilo Rothberg, Sao Paolo University, Brazil;

Václav Štětka, Loughborough University, UK;

The Everyday Misinformation Project – with Andrew Chadwick, Cristian Vaccari, Natalie-Anne Hall and Brendan Lawson, Loughborough University, UK.

Symposium fee: We hope to be able to cover all the costs of the event but may need to charge a small fee (up to £50) to contribute to the costs of food and refreshments. In the event of a fee, a waiver will be available to early career researchers and contributors with limited resources.

Format: The symposium will be held in person and streamed online. We expect the majority of presenters to join the event in person. However, exceptions may be made for presenters from beyond Europe and those who are less able to travel due to personal circumstances.   

SUBMISSION: Please submit an abstract (c. 300-500 words) and a short biographical note for each author (c. 100-150 words) by 15 January 2023 using the online form: https://forms.office.com/e/HnisvqNjqY.

For any queries please contact Brigita Valantinaviciute, PANCOPOP Project Administrator (B.Valantinaviciute@lboro.ac.uk)

About the PANCOPOP project:
The PANCOPOP project develops the first comprehensive, comparative study of health crisis communication in the context of populist politics, bringing significant advances in knowledge at the intersection of political communication and public health. The focus is on four countries that were led by populist leaders during the pandemic, and which capture different types of populist responses to the pandemic: Brazil, Poland, Serbia, and the USA. The project is led by Professor Sabina Mihelj, Loughborough University, and involves a team of five Principal Investigators, six researchers and a project administrator, working across three continents.
For further information please visit the project website https://www.pancopop.net/ and follow us on Twitter @pancopop.

This Week At Loughborough | 12 December

December 12, 2022 Jemima Biodun-Bello

GENERAL

Loughborough University Choir presents ‘A Christmas Carol’

14 December 2022, 7:30pm, Cope Auditorium

Take a journey back in time with the University Choir as we bring Dickens’ classic tale to life in a joyful musical setting.

Find out more on the events page

Drag Ball

15 December 2022, 7pm, The Basement

Drag Ball returns to the Union this December! Come along for a fab night of fun, drag acts and music. We are accepting sign-ups for performances! 

Find out more on the events page

LSU EVENTS 

Study Café

13 December 2022, 3pm, G Block 

Study cafés are a supportive and structured environment for self-study. Students will set self-learning goals and targets then work in companionable quiet on their chosen work.

Find out more on the events page

The Great Enterprise Elf Game

13 December 2022, 6:15pm, The Treehouse

Take your chances with the weather as you go into business as Santa Claus selling Christmas Trees.

You will have 12 elves working for you and your job is to send them out to get Christmas Trees for you to sell.

Find out more on the events page

Open Mic Night

13 December 2022, 7pm, The Lounge 

Open Mic makes a return with faces both fresh and familiar. Whether you’re a dab hand or first-timer, this stage is open to anyone who dares embrace the limelight – just turn up and play.  

Find out more on the events page

Flix Film Screening – ‘Die Hard’

15 December 2022, 7pm, Cope Auditorium 

An NYPD officer tries to save his wife and several others taken hostage by German terrorists during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.  (IMDB, 2022).

Find out more on the events page

Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE) launches an MSc Programme in Digital Entrepreneurship

December 8, 2022 Loughborough University London

By Gloria Manuel1

The MSc programme in Digital Entrepreneurship is one of the newest programmes in the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE), and for a taste of the discussions within this fast-growing field, a Panel on Digital Entrepreneurship was held in November with four distinguished guest speakers.

The event attendees were welcomed with an introduction from Professor Aaron Smith, the Director of the IIE Institute, and Dr Anna Grosman, the Program Director of MSc Digital Entrepreneurship. After the brief on the new MSc programme, Dr Grosman introduced the first panellist to the stage, Inbal Colley-Croitoru, co-founder and CEO at “Tuniverse“.

Inbal explained that Tuniverse is now working on a machine learning-powered app that enables novice and amateur musicians to start with just their voice or a vocal recording and compose an entire music production. Inbal highlighted an entrepreneurship checklist throughout her journey that does not only apply to her digital business but to any type of enterprise, namely: teaming up with people with the necessary skills, building your connections, brainstorming your idea until you reach a pain point, and back it up with data in efforts to create a product or service that brings value. Moreover, conducting an industry analysis is crucial to building short- and long-term business strategies that are market-focused. Lastly, Inbal states that “your enterprise must be your dream job”.

Followed by Inbal, Louise Patel, a freelancer Television Producer/Director and the founder of “Share My Telly Job”, was the second panellist presenting. Louise stated that the “The Time Project app” is an anonymous data collection tool to improve working patterns in the television industry. Additionally, Louise identifies fundamental aspects of building the app, firstly, acquiring funding or enough resources to set it up, engaging with developers, working on an MVP (Minimum Viable Product), working on a ‘sprint’ design and concept sessions, picking the most suitable platform that will sustain your app, learning more about user engagement and feedback, and lastly, testing and sorting legal matters. Louise ends by stating that working without passion becomes tedious and entrepreneurs need to be collaborative, learn quickly from mistakes and that ethical projects still need to be commercial.

Next presenting was Dr Jon Webster, Managing Partner, Financial Institutions and Technology Advantage practices at Boston Consulting Group. Dr Jon revealed six factors that companies need to get right to reach digital transformation success, 1- an integrated strategy with clear transformation goals, 2- leadership commitment from the CEO through middle management, 3- Deploying high-calibre talent, 4- An agile governance mindset that drives broader adoption, 5- Effective monitoring of progress towards defined outcomes, and lastly 6- Business-led modular technology & data platform.

Lastly, Professor Mathew Hughes, Professor and Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the School of Business and Economics at Loughborough University and author of “Digital Entrepreneurship” provided unique insights on research in Digital Entrepreneurship. Prof. Hughes outlines a dilemma in the literature “what makes entrepreneurship digital?” and “what makes digital entrepreneurial?”. He also highlighted some observations of his research, for instance, he found out that entrepreneurial passion plays a very strong part in taking technological innovation forward. Furthermore, the relationship between top management to lower-level employees is also very important to pass the vision down and develop its implementation. Prof. Mathew reveals the new idea called hierarchical erosion, where the further down the business you go, the less familiar people are with your strategy, so communication is therefore vital to pass the idea through.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Inbal Colley-Croitoro, Louise Patel, Dr Jon Webster, and Professor Mathew Hughes for visiting our London campus and for leading such stimulating discussions.

To apply for January 2023 or October 2023 start to the MSc Digital Entrepreneurship or further information about its modules, please visit our website.

Footnotes

  1. Gloria Manuel is a 2nd year PhD student in the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, at Loughborough University London, conducting research in Entrepreneurial Motivation and Resilience of SMEs. Gloria’s academic background includes BA in Management and Entrepreneurship from Lancaster University, and a Master’s degree in Human Resources Management and Organisations from London School of Economics.
Life as a Hedgehog Host

Life as a Hedgehog Host

December 7, 2022 Rhiannon Brown

In support of our Hedgehog Friendly Campus Campaign, LU’s Postgraduate Taught and Distance Learning Administrator, and keen hedgehog enthusiast, Natalie Sullivan, has written a guest blog for us…

The Hedgehog is such an iconic feature of the British garden and countryside, and yet many of us have never seen one. These wonderful little animals are officially recognised as vulnerable to extinction and appear on the Red List for British Mammals. With that in mind, when I discovered that we had a hedgehog nesting in our garden in July this year, I jumped at the chance to help her.

Judi Dench and Alberto

I was up early one morning and noticed a little hedgehog through the French doors who was gathering grass and entering a hole she’d made in the long grass – she was building her nest for the day. I named her Judi Dench and watched her intently for about half an hour. Before the day had even started, I’d ordered a Hedgehog House and Starter Pack online for her and got in touch with a local wildlife support group who are doing incredible work to support hedgehogs in the village that I live in.

Within a few days we discovered that we had lots of hedgehogs sleeping in our garden! We had Judi Dench, Eilish McColgan and a tiny hoglet we named Alberto. We have a number of visitors too, I had my eyes on 5 one night, with another 2 that I’d seen trundling away up the path to a neighbour’s garden. Summer 2022 was warm and dry, so these hedgehogs needed some support. I left water out for them in various places around the garden, we set up two feeding stations and we bought two hedgehog houses. I put out food for them every night and I keep a plant pot next to each of the hedgehog houses that I fill with bedding so they can maintain their nests. We have 5-7 hedgehogs visiting our garden at night, so I keep a close eye on who we have coming and going and making sure everyone is healthy. Now that it’s time for hibernation, their habits will change quite a lot. I’m really looking forward to when they all wake up in the Spring to start all over again!

Eilish McColgan

While I chose to spend money to support our hedgehogs, helping them can be completely free. Their needs are really quite simple. They need somewhere safe to sleep during the day, they need food, and they need access to a mate.

Sleeping Alberto

Here are some ideas of things you can do to help, many of which don’t cost a thing:

  • Their natural habitat is a hedgerow. Keeping healthy hedgerows is essential to looking after these animals.
  • Be really careful when cutting grass, hedges or using a strimmer – check the area for sleeping hedgehogs.
  • Don’t tidy away leaves in the Autumn. These serve as ideal bedding for nests, they sleep in leaf piles, and they hold insects for them to eat.
  • If you can afford to, you can buy a hedgehog house. You can also make one if you’re handy! Put it in a quiet spot with a bit of dried grass and/or leaves inside. Let the hogs do the rest.
  • A Hedgehog’s natural diet is insets and slugs. Leave some areas of your garden to grow a little – this will support bees and other pollinators too.
  • Consider creating a sunken wood pile. If you dig a wide and shallow hole with twigs and leave in it, this will quickly fill up with critters for them to feast on.
  • Never use slug pellets, they poison hedgehogs.
  • Leave water out in shallow, low sided dishes. This is particularly important when it’s hot in the summer. Hedgehogs do tend to stand in their food and water bowls, so try and leave them on stable ground.
  • If you wish to support them further, offer meaty dog or kitten food, or kitten biscuits.
  • Make sure there are ways for hedgehogs to get in and out of your garden safely. We have hedgehog holes cut into the gravel boards in our fence. A hole that is 5 inches wide and 5 inches tall is all they need. They can travel over a mile every night and will visit multiple gardens, so long as they have safe access. You can create steps with bricks for any height difference between the fence on each side.

There are so many issues facing our planet at the moment but helping the hedgehogs to recover isn’t difficult to achieve. You can find lots of information and ways to help through the British Hedgehog Preservation Society website. We’ll continue supporting hedgehogs in our local area. The more people who can support them, the healthier the hedgehog population will be.

To get involved with our Hedgehog Friendly Campus campaign, contact enviroassist@lboro.ac.uk, and check our social media out for updates!

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

This Week At Loughborough | 5 December

December 5, 2022 Jemima Biodun-Bello

GENERAL

A Conversation with Author Rene Germain

5 December 2022, 3pm, SBE 

Rene is a writer, speaker and champion of the Black community. She has worked at leading investment banks, professional services firms, and media companies. She will be giving a presentation about her career and the writing of her book, followed by a Q&A.

Find out more on the events page

Annual Research Conference 2022

6 December 2022, 9:30am, Holywell Conference Park

Open for all for doctoral researchers and research staff to attend. Aligned to the University’s bold and ambitious strategy, the theme of this year’s conference is ‘Creating better research. Together’ to emphasise that we can achieve greater influence and impact when we work in partnership.

Find out more on the events page

Personal Best: My Story – Andy Hodge

7 December 2022, 12:30pm, James France

This Personal Best: My Story event will look at how Andy’s career developed and some of the challenges that were overcome, along with providing advice for current students today on how to make the most of opportunities available.

Find out more on the events page

University Carol Service

7 December 2022, 3pm, Martin Hall Theatre

The university community are invited to attend the annual Carol Service. It is an opportunity for us to come together with the university choir and alumni association to sing Carols and hear Christmas readings from the University and wider community.

Find out more on the events page

Remember Remember, Exam Prep in December

7 December 2022, 5pm, Start Up Lab (STEM)

Feeling a bit rusty on how to prepare for in-person exams? This session is designed to equip you with tools and techniques for refining your memorisation strategies so that you can achieve exam success in your assessments this January.

Find out more on the events page

DISABILITY HISTORY MONTH

Presentation, film showing and Q&A with award winning Richard Butchins

8 December 2022, 5pm, Stewart Mason

Richard uses his own experience as a disabled person to make work which addresses disability through mainstream television documentary in both arts and current affairs, and in his personal art practice

Find out more on the events page

LSU EVENTS 

Study Café

5 December 2022, 3pm, G Block 

Study cafés are a supportive and structured environment for self-study. Students will set self-learning goals and targets then work in companionable quiet on their chosen work.

Find out more on the events page

Empowerment Series Session 

5 December 2022, 6:30pm, Online

LSU Training Academy would like to invite you to an Empowerment Series. This is a five-part series which explores how to be the best version of yourself. 

Find out more on the events page

Speech Bubble

5 December 2022, 7:30pm, The Lounge 

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

Find out more on the events page

Flix Film Screening – ‘Top Gun Maverick’

8 December 2022, 7pm, Cope Auditorium 

After thirty years, Maverick is still pushing the envelope as a top naval aviator, but must confront ghosts of his past when he leads TOP GUN’s elite graduates on a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those chosen to fly it (IMDB, 2022).

Find out more on the events page

National Tree Week, Chapter 3: What is Happening to the Hazel in Burleigh Wood? 

December 1, 2022 Rhiannon Brown

You might have noticed on your walks in the wood that some of the hazels are being cut right down to the ground.  This is nothing to worry about and is called coppicing (which is an ancient way of managing hazel).  Let me explain. 

Coppicing is a very old practice in Britain, dating back to Neolithic times.  It involves periodically harvesting wood from deciduous species like hazel resulting in a multi-stemmed tree.  Historically the wood would have been used for fuel (including charcoal making), building and fencing materials, and other purposes. Coppicing meant that areas of ancient woodland that might have been cleared, were in fact retained because they produced these useful products.

The word ‘coppice’ is derived from the French word ‘couper’ meaning ‘to cut’.  The woodland is divided into areas called ‘coupes’ each being cut rotationally every seven to ten years.  The coppice trees, like hazels, are termed the ‘underwood’.  Underwood species respond to cutting by producing multiple stems.  The base from which the stems arise is called the stool.  The periodic cutting of the underwood extends the life of these trees, so that many coppiced stools are in fact hundreds of years old.

The hazel is cut close to the ground. Next year, new stems will begin to grow.

Coppicing in woodlands like Burleigh has been practiced for hundreds if not thousands of years.  For this reason, many of the species in the woodland depend on coppicing activities for their survival.  Some insects feed on hazel at different stages whilst clearing a coupe favours the growth of light-loving plants for a short time on the woodland floor.

To ensure the long-term survival of these species at Burleigh and to continue to extend the life of the hazel stools, it is necessary to coppice.  You will notice the use of the coppiced material in the woodland.  Hazel poles will be used to create barriers to restrict access to the bluebell areas, whilst arisings (brash) will be used to create habitat piles that will benefit invertebrates, fungi, birds and small mammals.  We ask that you do not remove any wood from Burleigh as this provides important habitat to the species that have called this place home from many thousands of years.

The remaining hazel stump is called a ‘stool’. Some stools in Burleigh Wood may be hundreds of years old because they are coppiced.

Thank you for your understanding and if you have any questions regarding the management of this wood, please email Richard (r.s.fenn-griffin@lboro.ac.uk).   

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

From the Vice-Chancellor - November 2022

From the Vice-Chancellor - November 2022

November 30, 2022 Nick Jennings

In my November newsletter: THE Awards, COP27, Disability History Month, building partnerships in India, and the strategic ‘enabling’ projects.

THE Awards

In my September newsletter I let you know that we had been shortlisted for two Times Higher Education Awards, in recognition of the way we responded to the Covid pandemic, and successfully managed its impact on our communities, during the 2020-21 academic year.

The awards were presented earlier this month, and while we may not have won on the night, we should still be incredibly proud of the fact that we were shortlisted for such prestigious awards, and of the way in which we responded, as a whole community, during an unprecedented period in our lives.

During that academic year, amid widespread disruption across society, we were able to safely welcome back our staff and students to the University, having put in place robust health and safety measures and extensive testing facilities to screen everyone on our campus. More than 90% of our staff and students tested and recorded their results regularly and at the pandemic’s peak almost 20% of asymptomatic testing within the higher education sector was being done at Loughborough.

We were able to deliver two-thirds of our teaching in person. Students who were isolating received free food and laundry, and students’ library books, prescriptions and parcels were delivered to them. We were able to offer safe, Covid compliant student social activities and we were one of the only universities to be able to hold graduation in person in the summer of 2021.

Our response was remarkable and sector leading. The national guidelines issued to higher education institutions on managing students’ return to campus were based on our work. When the Government announced that all schools must conduct asymptomatic testing, we ran a series of national seminars and site visits to Loughborough for more than 300 schools to share best practice on the operation of a safe and effective testing facility.

Our response to Covid, and our success in managing its impact, was truly a University-wide effort. Everyone – our staff, students, their families and all those who visited our campus – pulled together to help us minimise the impact of Covid on our community.

Thank you again for everything you did.

COP27 and our climate research

Loughborough University at COP27

Some of the most powerful and influential people from around the globe gathered in Sharm El-Sheikh this month for COP27, to discuss the climate crisis and, importantly, the steps the world needs to take to address it.

Among those in Egypt were academics from the University’s Centre for Sustainable Transitions: Energy, Environment, Resilience (STEER), who chaired or spoke at several events at COP27 to showcase their sustainable energy research that has the potential to benefit millions worldwide.

Professor Ed Brown, the co-director of STEER and MECS’ Research Director, co-led a session in the Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) Pavilion, the main hub at COP focused on how to unite global efforts on energy, climate and development. The session brought together utility companies, high-level government representatives, development banks and philanthropic organisations to discuss the benefits of a pivot to cooking with electricity.

Alongside COP, the Climate Compatible Growth (CCG) programme, which is part of STEER, hosted a series of Side Events under the theme ‘Africa-Asia: A Just Transition to Low Carbon Development’, bringing together global experts and policy practitioners.

In the run up to COP27, we hosted the Sustainability in Sports Summit at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London, which was attended by world-leading academics, international sports brands, national sports bodies and top business leaders. At the event, sports ecologist Dr Maddy Orr, from Loughborough University London’s Institute of Sport Business, launched a report, commissioned by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and supported by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), into how sports can act to protect nature.

It is hoped the report will be a step towards an international action campaign to coordinate sports’ response to the triple planetary crisis (the three interlinked issues of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss) in the lead up to the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games and throughout the UN’s Decade On Ecosystem Restoration initiative.

In addition to the report launch, the Sustainability in Sports Summit included panel sessions with representatives from UNEP, the IOC, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, EY, Wimbledon and Chelsea Football Club. We were delighted to be able to bring such high-profile organisations together for this important discussion.

Through opportunities such as these, our research and innovation, and the partnerships we develop, which align with our strategic theme of Climate Change and Net Zero, we have a real opportunity to make a tangible, positive difference.

Disability History Month

Disability History Month

Each year Disability History Month, which runs from mid-November to mid-December, allows us to learn more about the different types of disability and to showcase the invaluable contributions made by people with visible and invisible disabilities. 

Throughout the month there are several events taking place on our campus. Full details are available on the dedicated Disability History Month website. You’ll also find links to news articles and some key resources, including the Staff Inclusivity Group.

I would, however, particularly like to draw your attention to the ‘Staff and Student Voices’section of the website. Members of staff from the University have shared their personal experiences of having a disability in a new video. Please do take a look. Hannah Lancaster, one of our Psychology students, reads a selection of poems she has written about the impact that concussion has had on her, and the students’ Disability Support Network has launched its #DontDisMyAbility campaign which aims to celebrate the experiences of students through videos and blog posts.

Engaging with Disability History Month enables us to play an active part in creating and sustaining an inclusive environment where we value and respect people for who they are, rather than be defined by the restrictions all too often placed on them.

Building partnership in India

A group of people posing in front of a screen with the words 'Vice-Chancellor's Alumni Reception, New Delhi'

Extending our international engagement and impact is one of the key aims in our University Strategy and at the start of this month I was delighted to embark on my first overseas trip since joining Loughborough, when colleagues and I, including our two recently appointed India Special Envoys, Dr Kirti Ruikar and Professor Bala Vaidhyanathan, travelled to India.

We visited The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi and IIT Bombay. Academics from Loughborough and IIT Delhi have been collaborating on research projects for more than 40 years and our visit allowed us to discuss how we might develop our strategic partnership further. Current and future research collaborations were also on the agenda at IIT Bombay.

We visited our partners Bajaj Auto, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of motorcycles and three-wheeled vehicles. Our partnership with them enables employees from the company to study for a master’s degree with us, and I was pleased to be able to present staff who had completed their studies with their certificates.

We met the Makers Lab team at Tech Mahindra, a multinational information technology services company that’s headquartered in Pune, to hear about their innovative R&D projects that are having a positive impact across different parts of Indian society.

I was also delighted to attend two receptions, in Delhi and Mumbai, where I met some Loughborough alumni, one of whom had graduated more than 60 years ago in 1958. The fondness and enthusiasm our alumni still have for Loughborough is truly wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing their many stories about their time here and learning about their lives since leaving Loughborough.

Visits such as these enable us to reinforce the partnerships we already have and forge new research, innovation and education links for the future.

Strategic ‘enabling’ projects

Our University strategy is an ambitious plan that will direct the activity of all the academic Schools and Professional Services sections over the next ten years. The Strategy’s six aims will be delivered through a series of integrated core plans, and the delivery of those plans will in turn be supported by six ‘enabling’ projects.

These interrelated projects will seek to develop our processes, our digital capabilities, our profile, our approach to compliance and our ways of working to ensure that the right foundations are in place for us to achieve our strategic aims.

Project Enable, which is exploring how we can create the capacity and thinking space staff need in order to work towards our strategic priorities, was the first to launch. It is now progressing several workstreams related to University processes – for example, updates to the assessment format and approach to placement progress meetings are estimated to result in savings of over 5,000 hours for staff; and enhancements to the ethics approvals and fieldwork risk assessment processes will remove thousands of additional checks from the processes, saving both time and resource.

Work is also underway on Project Compliance and Project Workplace. Project Compliance will ensure we can meet our regulatory requirements by making sure staff have the right skills and are empowered to take appropriate action at the right times. This will help to improve our efficiency and effectiveness and reduce bottlenecks that might hinder our progress in delivering the Strategy.

Project Workplace has begun to make changes to the way in which we use the spaces on our campuses. For example, office moves, with the introduction of some hot desking, for Marketing and Advancement and Organisational Development and Change are enabling these teams to work more collaboratively, in line with our Strategy’s core values.

Further information on all these Projects, including Expectations, Reputation and Digital, which are all in their early stages, can be found on the Organisational Development web pages and we’ll provide updates at key points as all the Projects progress.

National Tree Week: Campus Tree Necklaces

National Tree Week: Campus Tree Necklaces

November 30, 2022 Rhiannon Brown

In honour of National Tree Week 2022, Rich-Fenn-Griffin, Loughborough University’s arborist has written a second guest blog for us, this time on the tree necklaces that have been placed around campus…

Why were the tree necklaces produced?

The tree necklaces were introduced following a request from Jo Shields, the former Sustainability Manager.  She had seen a similar scheme (in Manchester, we believe) and loved how it promoted their trees and the role they play in delivering healthy ecosystems.  Consequently, she asked the Gardens Team if we could do the same for some of our ‘trees of interest.’

Why were these species picked?

The species were picked by Kaz Setchell (Gardens Manager), Rachel Senior (Assistant Gardens Manager), Mark Hillman (Senior Arborist) and Helen Exley (Arborist).  Species that were deemed of ‘interest’ were ones that had ‘stories’ to tell.  These might be historical, aesthetic, or regarding their value to biodiversity or ecosystem services.  Whilst all our tree species are special we’ve hopefully managed to pick out the ones with important messages about how we manage our world.

Where did the wood come from and who produced the necklaces?

The wood is from a campus oak.  It has been lost in the annals of time why the tree needed to be felled, although memories seem to recollect that storm damage might have been the culprit.  The necklaces were produced with no budget and all work was goodwill.  The University joiners sliced and planed the wood.  Rachel Senior (Assistant Gardens Manager) provided the words with the help of Mark Hillman (Senior Arborist).  Helen Exley (Arborist) wrote the words on the necklaces and varnished them.

What are your hopes in terms of public engagement, for having the necklaces made?

In terms of public engagement – it’s as simple as we wanted to inform people a little more about some of the trees as they walked across campus.  There are 15 trees dotted around all parts of the campus apart from Holywell Park.  There is no specific route to visit the trees – you just happen upon them. 

Will there be more tree necklaces to go up?

Possibly, although the Gardens team are considering lots of different ways of engaging campus users in the story of our trees.  We will keep everyone informed to as and when future developments take place.

Where are they?

Find the campus tree necklace map below to explore for yourselves!

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

Disability History Month: An interview with Loughborough Para Sport athletes Jabe and Yasmina

Disability History Month: An interview with Loughborough Para Sport athletes Jabe and Yasmina

November 30, 2022 Soph Dinnie

Jabe Peake and Yasmina Eissa discuss what it is like to be a Para Sport athlete at Loughborough, as well as what they do as part of the Para Sport Exec Committee.

What do you study at Loughborough and what year are you in?

Jabe: I am studying Maths and I’m in my fourth year of a part-time undergraduate master’s degree.

Yasmina: I study Politics, Philosophy and Economics and I’m in my second year.

What sport have you participated in and how has Loughborough helped you on this journey?

Jabe: I am a Boccia athlete and have competed for England. I have not competed so much during my Loughborough journey but it’s great to still be involved in Para Sport and give back to the community.

Yasmina: I play Para-badminton representing Egypt at an international level in the SH6 (short stature) category. There is nowhere else I’d rather be on this journey than here. Loughborough has been very supportive of my athletic career, providing me with the necessary training and support to help me in achieving my goals. My coaches and teammates have all been amazing and I’m thankful for their support.

What is your current role on the Para Sport committee?

Jabe: I am the Student Advisory Group Co-ordinator responsible for forming a panel to advise on all things accessible around campus.

Yasmina: I’m the Vice Chair on the Para Sport exec.

How important is it that this committee has been formed to help enhance the Para athletes that we have here at Loughborough?

Jabe: It is so important as it gives Para athletes a voice and allows us to form a strategy as to how we can improve Para Sport at Loughborough.

Yasmina: I think the role that this committee plays for Para athletes is essential. It helps bring attention to how the different AU sports can be more accessible to everyone. It also gives Para athletes a point of contact for anything sports related and using our connections we do our best to meet each person’s needs. The committee acts as a voice for Para athletes and we work to make Loughborough as accessible as possible for others.

What does Disability History Month mean to you?

Jabe: It’s great to have a dedicated month to raise awareness of disability and continue the momentum of the Paralympic movement.

Yasmina: While there has been more attention and inclusivity for people with disabilities there is still a large gap. Having this month allows disabled people to shed light on their achievements and highlight where improvements in accessibility are needed.

The theme of Disability History Month this year is Disability, Health and Wellbeing – what do you do to look after your wellbeing?

Jabe: I am dedicated to my wellbeing and development. I’ve invested my time and energy into setting myself up in a way that I can perform at my best. I have really enjoyed listening to motivational and personal development books and podcasts as I truly believe I am on a journey and I strive to be the best person I can be.

Yasmina: One of the most important things I do to look after my wellbeing is making sure I have time for myself to have fun and do things beyond academics, societies and sport. This can be going out with friends to eat, sitting at home and watching movies or simply taking a walk. It’s easy to get caught up with everything and sometimes I forget to just pause and do something that’s care-free and that’s why at times I have to actually put it in my agenda otherwise I won’t end up doing it. 

Does sport play a role in looking after your wellbeing?

Jabe: Getting physical exercise keeps my body in a good condition and it’s also good for my mental wellbeing.

Yasmina: For me playing sports allows me to forget about everything going on and just focus on what I’m doing. It’s like taking a break from all the stress and busyness of life. 

What would your piece of advice be for anyone who feels like they cannot get involved in sport because of a disability?

Jabe: I used to think I couldn’t get involved in sport; then I found Boccia and a 10-year career started. Look for the opportunities. They won’t always be obvious but trust me they are around.

Yasmina: I think the nature of sport has drastically changed over the past few years and there has been a lot of adaptability to allow people of different disabilities to participate. Of course, there is still so much room for improvement, but things are going in the right direction. Unfortunately, it’s not often advertised so sometimes people are not aware of the options available for them. I would recommend choosing a sport and then checking the different offers they have. At Loughborough, the Para Sport Exec is always more than happy to help guide students in finding a sport that they can get involved in.

You can keep up to date with the Para Sport Exec Committee by following them on social media:

More information on Disability History Month at Loughborough University.

This Week At Loughborough | 28 November

November 28, 2022 Jemima Biodun-Bello

GENERAL

More Talk and Action: Men’s Wellbeing Online Workshop

30 November 2022, 9:30am, Online  

This workshop offers a safe space in which men and those who identify as men can talk about the challenges they face and learn practical tools to improve their health and wellbeing and learn coping strategies. Together we will explore ways to overcome the stigma and shame that often leads men to ignore their mental and physical health until it’s too late. This interactive online event will include discussion, team activities and some self-reflection. 

Find out more on the events page

Cost of living survival kit

30 November 2022, 1pm , EHB

This workshop will look at the current cost of living crisis, why it is happening, and the impact being felt. We will discuss a range of ideas to help students through the current situation, to mitigate the impact and make attendees aware of the different kinds of support available for when students are struggling. 

Find out more on the events page

Student Success Academy Hackathon

3 December 2022, 9am, West Park Teaching Hub

The first Student Success Academy Hackathon will be on the Digital Skills theme, with more details to be announced soon! Register now to keep informed if you are interested in taking part. This opportunity will be open to all students and no coding knowledge will be needed – you do not have to be on a Computer Science course to get involved!

Find out more on the events page

DISABILITY HISTORY MONTH

Random Kindness, Radical Stitch (sewing workshop)

30 November 2022, 7pm, Martin Hall

During these workshops you will get the opportunity to explore and document through stitch a random kindness, perhaps one experienced or a kindness acted. All materials will be provided. However, if you have any old worn-out clothing or fabric that needs new life breathing into it you are welcome to use this to create your personal random kindness quilt panel.

Find out more on the events page

LSU EVENTS 

Empowerment Series Session 

28 November 2022, 6:30pm, Online

LSU Training Academy would like to invite you to an Empowerment Series. This is a five-part series which explores how to be the best version of yourself. The course will consider the impact of your thoughts, how to break patterns of behaviour, establish goals, and value yourself. 

Find out more on the events page

Study Café

29 November 2022, 3pm, G Block 

Study cafés are a supportive and structured environment for self-study. Students will set self-learning goals and targets then work in companionable quiet on their chosen work. Half-way through the session participants will be encouraged to have a break, refreshments (which are free!) and chat. These will take place regularly, 3 times per week, throughout the academic year.

Find out more on the events page

Crochet 101

29 November 2022, 6:30pm, The Treehouse 

Come over to The Treehouse and learn or practice crocheting! Non-alcoholic drinks and material will be provided. This is a collaboration between ISNxHeadsUp.

Find out more on the events page

Flix Film Screening – ‘Bodies, Bodies, Bodies’

1 December 2022, 7pm, Cope Auditorium

Flix Cinema presents, ‘Bodies, Bodies, Bodies’. When a group of rich 20-somethings plan a hurricane party at a remote family mansion, a party game turns deadly in this fresh and funny look at backstabbing, fake friends, and one party gone very, very wrong. (IMDB, 2022)

Find out more on the events page

Winterfest

3 December 2022, 12pm, Students’ Union

Whether you are a student or a member of the public, come down and join us at Loughborough Students Union for a day filled with crafts, market stalls and a whole lot of festive fun! With budget-friendly activities, a festive photobooth and presents galore, there’s something for everyone!  

<strong>Football: For Fairies or Future Heroes?</strong> 

Football: For Fairies or Future Heroes? 

November 28, 2022 Guest Author

Every four years, the World Cup provides a sporting spectacle for people across the world. In almost every nation, people come together to celebrate what can feel like a truly global sport: football. Here at Loughborough University, this could not be more true. Students watch the game at the Students’ Union, family and friends gather at houses and pubs, and academics publish their research articles and opinion pieces.

Especially this year, the controversies around the host country have made the World Cup feel particularly spectacular in its scale and reach. With debates about human rights, values, and cultural differences, it can feel like the very soul of football is at stake. But what really is football? It is easy to claim a type of global craze nested within masculine structures of power, but this would lose moments of difference and resistance that can occur at the grassroots which can shape the future of the sport. 

Football in the UK 
(by Stevie Ashurst)

Many sports are enjoyed in the UK, but for a long as I’ve been aware, football has felt like ‘the’ sport of this nation (others may disagree and that’s fair enough). With chants and celebrations referring to back World Cup of 1966 that England won, it was hailed as being the pinnacle of the country’s achievement in football. The fact that England beat West Germany in the final of that year also created unkind comparisons to both of the prior World Wars. However, this connection has had the effect of embedding it into our country’s culture. Even more so as we now know that hostilities ceased briefly between England and Germany on Christmas Day in 1914, and a game of football was played between the opposing sides. A gesture of goodwill between the nations and something that would create an even stronger emotional connection to the sport for both countries. 

Personal experience of football in the UK, especially in the 80s and 90s, conjures images of aggressive males shouting at TV screens in pubs, with testosterone fueled jeers and cheers being hurled with passion. It was an environment that did not feel particularly inviting to the LGBT+ community, such as it was back then. I remember that whilst I kind of enjoyed playing football at school, I never felt as passionately about it or aggressively as others clearly did and this made me feel that it was a sport for the ‘masculine’ males and that I didn’t belong. Derogatory words of abuse such as ‘poof’ or ‘queer’ were regularly used towards anyone who didn’t fit the stereotypically aggressive male personality, regardless of any genuine sexual orientation.  

Over the last two decades and especially in the last few years, I felt that outwardly the LGBT+ community seems to have been accepted and allowed into ‘normal’ society. So naively my assumption was that this was the case everywhere. But given the quite recent announcements of high-level male footballers having to come out publicly seemed to be a surprise that they needed to do so, but clearly not all cultures and environments develop at the same time, even within the same country. 

I have two boys at high-school currently and the fact that they have an LGBT+ community is a fantastic thing. Staff and pupils there – I’m told – don’t find many LGBT+ related issues to need deal with. Which is an amazing situation to be in. My boys have certainly never faced the kind of homophobic abuse I faced. My brother-in-law coaches two youth teams in the area and – to my knowledge – doesn’t face any LGBT+ issues as in this day and age, people being gay, lesbian, trans, is becoming more normal in popular culture, so not something to find ‘different’. A very comforting thought considering where things were not that long ago. Hopefully the youth of today will be accepting of people regardless of any LGBT+ association and that the football clubs of tomorrow will be populated by a more understanding youth of today. 

Football in the US 
(by Michael Bukur) 

Soccer (as us Americans call it), has quite a different landscape and culture than in Europe. Although football is a relatively common sport played alongside its more popular counterparts like American football, basketball, and baseball, there has always been a difference in social status between soccer players and the other athletes. 

Growing up in the Chicago suburbs in the early 2000s, it was normal that most kids would choose a sport to play by the time they entered primary school. For me, I chose football. I remember my best friend in preschool played football and so I wanted to play too. For those early years, we played in a local community league in our town hosted by the YMCA. The games were often informal, and you had a mix of serious footballers, kids who sat and picked the dandelions, and some who did both. 

As the years wore on, the number of football players continued to drop as people found other sports and hobbies. Those of us who remained formed our own local subculture. Although there were always one or two players on each team who had the confidence and swagger of the standard European footballer, many of us never inherited that perspective. Many of us quietly loved our sport for years, knowing that many of our friends and family would never care for football as much as we did. 

For years we played on pitches that were often flooded, with overgrown grass, and filled with holes perfect for rolling an ankle. They were often located on the outskirts of town or in open fields behind churches or schools with just a goal and maybe painted side lines if we were lucky. But this invisibility granted us a kind of possibility, especially for boys, which wasn’t possible in other sports.  

In this space we could be ourselves because there wasn’t a dominant societal standard for us to compare ourselves to. We could chant ‘pink… rainbow… popsicles’ before running onto the pitch, make dandelion necklaces between rounds of sharks and minnows, and embrace each other in celebration after each win playing World Cup. Nobody cared. We didn’t mind if our classmates referred to us as ‘grass fairies’ and insinuated that we were less masculine or gay for playing football. We knew that they just didn’t understand our love of the sport. 

A global sport 

With a global sport like football, there can often be a dissonance between our local subcultures and the global culture we find them positioned against. In some cases, this global culture can provide context for empowerment and elevation; however, in other cases, it can be a jarring experience of cultural conflicts between values and perspectives. During these days, it is easy to let all of our energy and attention be consumed by the World Cup and focus solely on criticisms of FIFA’s decisions and the government of Qatar for not meeting our cultural expectations. But in some ways, this outward fixation can be a distraction from our unique ability to shape sport, and specifically football, here at home.  

Our children can be the future heroes of football who can come to influence the politics and direction of sport and society. Or maybe they will end up being fairies who go on to pursue other dreams. Either way, football is unique in its position as a global sport and can provide endless paths and possibilities. And at the very least, from this fairy, I am grateful to football for all the friendships, memories, and most of all for the confidence to be myself. 

Michael Bukar
Doctoral Researcher, School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Playing the Role of Large Herbivores

Playing the Role of Large Herbivores

November 28, 2022 Rhiannon Brown

In honour of National Tree Week 2022, Rich-Fenn-Griffin, Loughborough University’s arborist has written a guest blog for us…

The University has many little corners that people pass by daily without thinking ‘what is in there?’  One such place is Brockington Wildlife Area, which is situated opposite the cricket on the East Park Link Road.  This tiny slither of land provides a semi-managed area where nature can find a foothold in the otherwise urban landscape of East Park.  The area boasts a meadow, some scrub, a hedge and a small woodland area. 

Managing these areas can be challenging for the Gardens Team as they’re often at the bottom of our priority list.  Thankfully our students present a ready source of labour through Student Action Volunteering to keep on top of places like Brockington.

So, what have the students been doing in Brockington this week? 

Nature, in the absence of large herbivores, tends to revert most land to woodland.  This isn’t particularly great for biodiversity as one habitat has less species than multiple habitats.  This means that, unmanaged, the meadow area at Brockington would become scrub and eventually woodland.  To prevent this from happening some of the student work parties were uprooting self-set tree saplings in the meadow area whilst another student cut back the encroaching bramble edges of the woodland.  In order to develop the species richness of the meadow, another pair of students scarified the ground and spread wildflower seeds.  Some of these seeds are yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor) which is a wildflower that is semi-parasitic of grasses.  These beautiful yellow flowers will weaken the grass and create a more open structure that favours more wildflowers colonising the area.  Hopefully, this will provide a rich source of pollen and nectar for pollinators like butterflies and bumblebees, in this urban area.

The woodland section also received some management.  Last year’s student action group coppiced the hazels in the woodland’s understory, and this has encouraged a more diverse range of flowers to appear on the woodland floor.  Gap formation in the canopy is a normal part of woodland ecology.  If gaps don’t form, then the woodland floor tends to be colonised by a handful of shade tolerant species.  In natural systems, gaps would be created by trees dying through a variety of causes (not least large herbivore damage) and causing them to die.  This means light pours down to the woodland floor and encourages lots of light loving species to grow.  This window lasts for as long as the gap, with shade tolerant plants returning as the gap fills in.  Our students were playing the role of the large herbivores by cutting and damaging woody material and thereby opening gaps in the canopy.  The woody material is simply left on the floor as many organisms will feed on it as it breaks down. 

Candle-snuff fungus
Oysterling mushrooms

During our short visit, I spotted some candle-snuff fungus and these oysterling mushrooms in a deadwood pile.  Also present was a slime-mould – this is often misidentified as a fungus, but it is actually a very different group. 
Slime mould

If you are passing by Brockington Wildlife Area over the next year, why not pop through the hedge and have 5 minutes in the wildflower meadow.  You’ll be surprised how quickly the natural settings makes you think you’re a million miles away from the bustle of a busy university campus.

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

Maia marks White Ribbon Day

Maia marks White Ribbon Day

November 25, 2022 Guest Author

Today (25 November) marks the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls, which is known as White Ribbon Day in the UK. 

The Problem  

Every day in this country and across the world, acts of violence are committed against women and girls*. According to the UN, this type of violence remains one of the most widespread, pervasive and devastating human rights violations in our world today. This issue is further compounded due to being largely unreported because of stigma and impunity.  

The UN estimates that almost 1 in 3 women have been subjected to some form of gender-based violence at some point in their lives, with this figure not inclusive of sexual harassment. Gender based violence is rooted in harmful and long-established systems, attitudes and behaviours around masculinity that perpetuate gender inequality and violence of this nature. 

Whilst gender-based violence can happen to anyone, some women and girls are particularly vulnerable, for example those who: are younger or older, identify as LGBTQ+, are migrants or refugees, are from underprivileged communities, are living with disabilities, and those who are from ethnic minorities. 

The Solutions 

The MAIA Network condemns violence against women in all its forms and stands steadfast with others in addressing this issue and its root causes. We are promoting two methods of tackling this issue, in line with the White Ribbon organisation and in the spirit of allyship: 

  1. Engaging with men (and allies) and encouraging them to make the White Ribbon Promise  
  1. Encouraging everyone to cultivate and embody the ‘11 traits’ , which have been selected by men and boys as the traits they think are most important when ending violence against women and girls 

Across our campuses and as a society we have a collective responsibility to ensure safety for all women in our communities. Through allyship and decisive action, it is our hope that we can make women feel safe no matter who they are or where they are. 

Emily Hansell (she/her) 

Allyship and Advocacy Champion for MAIA 

* In this blog, we use ‘women’ to refer to all those who identify as women. We acknowledge that discriminatory violence is not an issue faced only by women and condemn all discrimination and violence.

Loughborough University London and Samosa Media collaborative project supportsbilingual learning in the curriculum for 11-18 year olds.

November 22, 2022 Loughborough University London

Samosa Media challenged a group of 20 students enrolled in Masters’ programmes at the Institute of Media and Creative Industries, Loughborough University London, to create a set of materials and research which will potentially help support teaching professionals with bilingual learning in the curriculum for 11-18 year olds. The students were a diverse group from various countries in the world.
Many young people in London don’t speak English as their first language at home or among friends at school, meaning the language they use with family and friends and the material they use to learn – TV, internet, magazines – is different from the language and communication channels used at school. Given the institutional and ethical restrictions on working with under-18 year olds, the
students conducted secondary source analysis combined, where possible, with direct interviews and questionnaires with teaching professionals and alumni. They focused on these questions:

  1. What are the key statistics concerning bilingual populations in UK schools?
  2. What can help educational development and pedagogy regarding bilingual
    schools?
  3. What do employers want? What are the labour market advantages of
    bilingualism in today’s interconnected world?

Course tutor Dr Tatevik Mnatsakanyan said: “Masters students from the Institute of Media and Creative Industries were offered a wonderful opportunity to work with The Samosa Media on an interdisciplinary project that benefited both their teambuilding and research skills, and had the potential to contribute to The Samosa Media’s valuable work towards more empowering and meaningful integration of bilingual students into mainstream British schools and the wider society.

“Students had to tackle institutional and other restrictions (limited access to schools), as well as grapple with themes and research problems crossing disciplinary divides and being beyond their usual comfort zone. But precisely for these reasons students, who embraced the challenge with all its difficulties, grew and enriched their skills and felt the reward of potentially contributing to a charity organisation and to social change in this country.”

Feedback and quotes from students Avi, Anh and Yan who worked on the project under Team Melo are below:

“This collaborative project with Samosa Media has opened a door to new experiences and knowledge that we barely had the chance to gain before. The project does not only aim to help the bilingual secondary school students but also we, as bilingual students, can relate to this phenomenon that forces us to do the work even better with tremendous meaning.”

“We gained an understanding of the bilingual students’ groups and sympathised with their difficulties. The project helped us to practice our interdisciplinary skills.”

“Teamwork and establishing relationships with each other were crucial to help progress through complex situations and further involve ourselves with the topic at hand.”

The report produced by Team Melo was also selected for the Collaborative Project Show which took place at Loughborough University London in June 2022.

Anwar Akhtar Director of Samosa Media said: “This collaborative project was a positive, fascinating education experience and live work experience for students, as they had to analyse in many cases a different cultural and social education from their own societal
context, dealing with bi-lingual communities, pedagogy and education policy. They then analysed that research and provided policy recommendations.”

The Collaborative Project is a unique module, requiring students to work on a ‘live brief’ from a partner organisation, to bridge innovation between academia and practice through learning.

It encourages multi-disciplinary collaborative working, as well as hands-on experience of real-world challenges, organisational development, and business model innovation. The Collaborative Project is where students from across the University form
interdisciplinary teams and use their individual experiences and expertise to solve a real business problem, provided by one of our corporate partners.

Samosa Media is a BAME-led education charity working primarily with young BAME people with a focus on young people in East London. We produce media and run workshops in schools, colleges and universities to promote and support diversity across in the curriculum. This supports young BAME working class people in their social and educational development, helping them gain cultural capital and confidence. Our educational work has been recognised as a model of good practice for supporting social mobility and community cohesion and challenging extremism, and is now being embedded into schools, colleges and universities. www.thesamosa.co.uk/2020/02/18/schools-colleges-and-universities

Samosa Media is an arts and educational charity, and works to embed diversity in the arts and humanities curriculum. This work is supported by The Portal Trust, The Foundation for Future London and The Arts Council.
Anwar Akhtar Director – Samosa Media www.thesamosa.co.uk

CRCC scholars publish interdisciplinary volume ‘Cultures of Authenticity'

November 22, 2022 Iliana Depounti
© 2022 Emerald Publishing Limited

Authenticity has become a buzzword for our times. A new collection, edited by scholars in the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture at Loughborough University, provides the first interdisciplinary examination of authenticity. The book titled ‘Cultures of Authenticity’ analyses the concept of authenticity in relation to travel and tourism, branding and marketing, popular culture, social media and political communication.

The idea for the book was developed after a successful interdisciplinary webinar series on the topic that was held at Loughborough University in 2020. Our very own Dr Thomas Thurnell-Read, Dr Michael Sky and Dr Marie Heřmanová (Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences) have edited this timely collection compiling interdisciplinary works that explore the complex and controversial idea of authenticity. Drawing on cases from around the globe, including Taiwan, Denmark, the USA, China and Russia, established scholars and early career researchers have brought together the latest empirical and conceptual scholarship addressing authenticity and its centrality to debates about contemporary culture, media and society. In this way, the authors are able to pinpoint the growing significance of authenticity in the contemporary era, the various ways in which different disciplines approach the topic, and possible ways of advancing the field across disciplines.

As one of the editors of the book, Dr Thomas Thurnell-Read, explained, ‘as authenticity has been so prominent in various areas of academic research, we saw there was scope for a volume bringing together approaches from a range of disciplines such as media and communications, politics, cultural studies, sociology, tourism studies and heritage. The book showcases the similarities and differences in how different disciplines engage with the concept of authenticity and examine how it is claimed and who can claim to be authentic or not’.

This volume contains an Open Access chapter., which is available now via: https://www.emerald.com/insight/publication/doi/10.1108/9781801179362

<strong>Gender and Liberty in Social Care during Covid-19</strong>

Gender and Liberty in Social Care during Covid-19

November 21, 2022 Peter Yeandle

by Hermione Spencer

My undergraduate degree at Loughborough was somewhat overshadowed by the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus during the spring of my first year. The subsequent restrictions on social gatherings and, then, working from home produced a unique situation which lent itself to a part of my International Relations degree which I was particularly interested in; liberty.  So, for my dissertation, I used the ongoing pandemic responses to think about liberty.


I felt the ideas of positive liberty – freedom to, and negative liberty – freedom from, were too rarely used to understand real life government policies. Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts of Liberty” had captured my attention even before the outbreak of Covid-19. The restrictions put in place by governments around the world provided contemporary case studies of how liberty could be understood and practiced differently. I was also interested in reactions to the imposed restrictions.

I used the presence of traditional gender roles to then explore how the understanding of liberty used by governments, either positive or negative, could impact the reproduction of certain social norms. My research was focused on social care in the United Kingdom as social care is a particularly gendered field and working with policies made in English allowed me to carry out a discourse analysis more accurately than when working with translations.

As part of my undergraduate degree, I had studied positive and negative understandings of liberty. I also had some knowledge of how gender is reproduced in society. However, to build on my existing knowledge and understanding, I relied on the extensive pools of literature available for both gender studies and liberty. Particularly influential were John Stuart Mill’s essay “On Liberty and the Subjection of Women” [1879] and, of course, Berlin’s “Two Concepts of Liberty” [1969]. Building this background knowledge on gender reproduction and liberty meant, when it came to my discourse analysis of Covid-19 policies, I was well placed to use a poststructuralist feminist approach to answer my research questions: how has gender impacted social care responsibilities during Covid-19?; how have restrictions been applied to arguments around liberty?; how has social care been used to affect the liberty of genders differently?

I used the International Labour Organization’s care work research and studies of lockdowns in the UK as social context for my analysis. This showed the gendered distribution of care work during the pandemic, how this was affected by liberty, and how in turn this affected future liberties by reproducing norms. The key issues I wanted to address were the reproduction of traditional gender roles and how a government’s understanding of liberty could be used to shape social norms. To do this I looked at the average number of hours men and women spent doing domestic labour, and government policies put in place during Covid-19.

Although in my own family housework is shared pretty evenly, spending time back at home and working online during the pandemic made me more conscious of the division of domestic labour and the everyday implications of traditional gender roles. Women were largely left to navigate the consequences of children being home from school. Whether that was assisting with learning from home, or just increased hours of childcare, women were left with fewer hours for their own work and hobbies. Entire families being at home also increased other domestic work such as cleaning, tidying, and cooking, often leading to something called the ‘double day’ where women complete their productive work and then also have to complete the majority of reproductive work as well.

Social norms such as these are hugely impacted by a government’s understanding of liberty. Hence: although the British government adopted a positive understanding of liberty during the pandemic, restricting social gathering and movement to later allow greater health and survival, what this meant, however, is that the freedom of one social group had to be sacrificed to ensure freedom of society as a whole later.

In the end I found that working from home reversed years of progression towards equal domestic labour. The United Kingdom like many other countries easily slipped back into traditional divisions of labour allowing these norms to be further reproduced. I also found that traditional gender norms not only meant women’s liberty was more restricted that men’s, but the repercussions of women leaving work during the pandemic had the potential to create lasting financial inequality. Finally, the British government’s use of positive liberty indicates a willingness to sacrifice one social group, often a minority, for the ‘greater good’ of society. This is a worrying implication for vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, the disabled, ethnic minorities, and members of the LGBT+ community.


Biography:

I completed my Bachelor’s degree in International Relations in July 2022 and really enjoyed my time at Loughborough as an undergraduate. The wide range of modules allowed me to explore parts of IR I had very little knowledge of before starting my degree, such as Anarchism. Also being able to take modules from other subjects meant I could broaden my general knowledge by studying topics like Geography of Identity and Slavery in a Global Context. I decided to continue my studies at Loughborough and am now working towards an MA in International Security.


Here are some of the readings I found helpful:

  • Berlin, I. (1969). ‘Two Concepts of Liberty’. In: Four Essays On Liberty. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p118-172.
  • Chatzidakis, A. Hakim, J.Littler, J. Rottenberg, C. Segal, L (2020). The Care Manifesto: the politics of interdependence. London: Verso.
  • Hirschmann, N.. (2012). Feminist Thoughts on Freedom and Rights. Politics & Gender. 8 (2), p216-222.
  • Mainardi, P. (1993). ‘The Politics of Housework’. In: Jagger, A. Rothenberg, P. Feminist frameworks : alternative theoretical accounts of the relations between women and men. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Mill, J.S. (1879). On Liberty and The Subjection of Women. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

Photo by Anna Shvets: https://www.pexels.com/photo/hands-with-latex-gloves-holding-a-globe-with-a-face-mask-4167544/

[Student Post] Dr Nick Ritchie: "The Threat of Nuclear War in Europe: Risks and Responses"

November 21, 2022 Duncan Depledge

By Alexander Weatherstone

“The risk of nuclear omnicide did not disappear with the end of the Cold War, and it still remains a systemic, existential risk” – thus began the third series of Geopolitics & International Affairs (GIA) webinars, as Dr Nick Ritchie joined staff and students from across Loughborough University to discuss the ‘The Threat of Nuclear War in Europe: Risks and Responses’. A Senior Lecturer of International Security at the University of York, Dr Ritchie’s interest and work has long been directed towards questions of nuclear disarmament, proliferation, and arms control.

Scale of Nuclear Violence

Dr Ritchie opened his talk by reminding us of the existential threat that nuclear weapons pose to humankind, and the speed with which such incontestable violence could be unleashed. During the Cold War, a 1955 Churchill-commissioned report estimated that just ten 10 megaton Soviet bombs detonated above ten major cities, in a matter of minutes or hours, could damage the UK beyond recovery. Dr Ritchie described this as ‘nation-breaking’ violence. Today, Russian bombs increase that capacity tenfold. Even a relatively ‘small’ nuclear war would have profound effects: alongside the direct costs in terms of human lives and destruction of cities and infrastructure, such a conflict could also lead to the destruction of food systems, famines, and economic ruin, not to mention severe climatic and ecological breakdown. Indeed, establishing nuclear weapon’s real capacity for destruction is vital to understanding the gravity of the threat of conflict.

Nuclear Deterrence & Rationality

Nuclear deterrence refers to the willingness of a country to use its capacity to engage in nuclear war as a threat. However, while the intention behind the threat may be to avoid or limit nuclear conflict, the potential for miscalculation arguably increases the likelihood of nuclear catastrophe. Dr Ritchie illustrated this with consideration of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and ongoing invasion of Ukraine. To deter a Western response, President Putin has issued several direct and indirect nuclear threats to which the UK, US, and other nuclear powers have responded with condemnation. The issue is that while both sides are trying to deter one another, it is impossible to know whether the issuing of threats actually has any strategic effect. Since we have yet to see nuclear deterrence fail, we cannot assess what conditions are likely to lead to failure. Nor can we prove that nuclear deterrence is working because that would mean proving a negative (i.e. that the absence of nuclear conflict is due to successful deterrence as opposed to other factors).

Next, Dr Ritchie discussed whether it is reasonable for orthodox nuclear deterrence theory to assume that nuclear actors always act rationally. Here, Dr Ritchie pointed to questions about the role of perception, bias, simplification, group-think, and emotion, particularly in terms of how these ‘intangibles’ contribute to miscalculation in nuclear decision-making. In contrast, Dr Ritchie regards the idea of nuclear deterrence as almost entirely irrational, a point he reinforced with a powerful quote from General George Lee Butler, the US’ last commander in chief for Strategic Air Command amidst the Cold War: “[d]eterrence was a dialogue of the blind with the deaf”.

Nuclear Escalation

Dr Ritchie then turned to discuss the increasing number of pathways to nuclear use, and the oft-contradictory invocation of Western exceptionalism to argue in favour of nuclear weapons being held by certain ‘responsible’ hands. The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) moves towards codifying this discriminatory nature of international nuclear relations. It makes allowances for the stockpiles of certain countries while either disregarding the nuclear status of certain countries or preventing the formation of new nuclear powers. Generally speaking, Western countries seem less inclined to take issue with the existence of nuclear weapons, than with the idea of nuclear weapons being held by others outside of their control and ideological influence. For example, Iran saw billions in assets frozen by the world’s major nuclear powers when they tried to develop nuclear weapons.

Dr Ritchie also questioned whether NATO is willing to allow itself ‘to be deterred’ – to, in effect, accept a level vulnerability to other nuclear weapons states. The West’s push for restrictions and treaties on nuclear development could be interpreted as a way of circumventing this. NATO frames Russia’s possession of nuclear weapons as irresponsible and volatile, and its own as legitimate and in the interest of the greater good. The UK Ministry of Defence describes its nuclear weapons stockpile as a means to preserve peace and prevent coercion, yet it decries nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands. Beijing has recently framed itself as a ‘responsible’ nuclear power, too, and joined NATO states in denouncing Russia’s threats to use all means at its disposal as it seeks to win its war in Ukraine. In doing so, China has somewhat tentatively aligned itself with the West’s altruistic capacity for nuclear destruction.

Nuclear Identities & Pertinence  

For Dr Ritchie, the key to understanding whether and how nuclear weapons might be used requires an identity-based understanding of the nuclear powers. Using Russia as a case study, he explored the idea of NATO as a cultural, existential threat to Russia, and nuclear weapons as a last vestige of a great power in decline. Nuclear weapons form, in part, a nation’s identity: for instance, Dr Ritchie drew connections between the hyper-masculine portrayal of Putin and Pan-Slavic strength of the nation to an increase in nuclear research and development, military exercises, and threats. This further entrenches the contemporary importance of Dr Ritchie’s webinar which, with contrast to February’s 2022 webinar on How Russia Sees the World by Catherine Royle, demonstrates the unpredictable dynamism of the subject.

Post-talk Discussion

Dr Ritchie’s talk was followed by questions addressing the power of public opinion and the pacifism of Jeremy Corbyn, the extent to which there are parallels to be drawn between nuclear disarmament and efforts to address the climate emergency, and NATO’s stamina to see through the conflict in Ukraine. One point, citing the high failure rates among conventional Russian weaponry, questioning the implications of this for risk calculations, was particularly constructive. Linking back to the idea of a hegemon in decline, Dr Ritchie acknowledges the intensive use of resources required to maintain 1000s of nuclear warheads and the squandering and redirection of military budgets towards corrupt generals in Russia. Is Putin himself able to know the condition of his stockpile?

What have I learned?

First and foremost, I want to extend my gratitude to Dr Ritchie for the insightful webinar, and to Duncan Depledge for this wonderful series. From this webinar, the complexity of nuclear theory has become abundantly clear to me, yet I find myself enthralled by the ideas of nuclear identity and Western supremacy, which remind me of the power relations and winner’s justice present in the Nuremberg Trials. The conflict in Ukraine really does, as argued by Dr Ritchie, cement the return of geopolitics. However, I found it necessary to be reminded that this threatens to steal the limelight from global inequalities and the cooperative endeavour required to respond to existential ecological threats. With the UK’s economic and energy crisis, the rise of new nationalist state identities, migrant crises, COVID-19, and the existential threat of climate disaster looming, it will be fascinating to apply the lessons of this webinar as current affairs unfold.

Alexander Weatherstone is studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics in his final year at Loughborough University. His dissertation, framed as a political and pedagogical analysis, will analyse the presence of the British Empire in the National Curriculum, and he holds other interests in business ethics and 20th Century American political history. Leaving Loughborough, he is seeking out roles in public relations and business strategy.

This Week At Loughborough | 21 November

November 21, 2022 Jemima Biodun-Bello

GENERAL

Student Live Lounge

21 November 2022, 7:30pm, The Lounge  

An open mic night showcasing the best student talent from our Loughborough campus. If you enjoy live music and discovering new artists then join us for a special, laid-back evening as we present the best talent from Loughborough University.

Find out more on the events page

UNISON celebration event

25 November 2022, 6:30pm, Burleigh Court Hotel

The UNISON Loughborough Branch Committee invites you to kick off the festive period by joining us for a celebration event. The evening will commence with a complimentary glass of buck fizz, followed by a three-course dinner and dance. The music will be provided by a live DJ. 

Find out more on the events page

DISABILITY HISTORY MONTH

Movember and Disability History Month Quiz Night

22 November 2022, 6:30pm, The Lounge  

This year’s Disability History Month theme is disability, health, and wellbeing. Within this, the Disability Support Network is hoping to focus on long-term mental health conditions and the impact that living with a disability can have on mental health. This is a collaboration with HeadsUp, the LSU’s mental health association.

Find out more on the events page

TV Discussion Club for Disability History Month

23 November 2022, 1pm, Online

The Staff Inclusivity Network is delighted to invite staff and students to a facilitated online discussion of the BBC drama ‘Then Barbara Met Alan’. Think of it as a book club but for TV instead. Watch the programme at a time that bests suits you and come to the online discussion ready to share your thoughts, opinions and questions.

Find out more on the events page

Random Kindness, Radical Stitch (sewing workshop)

23 November 2022, 7pm, Martin Hall

During these workshops you will get the opportunity to explore and document through stitch a random kindness, perhaps one experienced or a kindness acted. All materials will be provided. However, if you have any old worn-out clothing or fabric that needs new life breathing into it you are welcome to use this to create your personal random kindness quilt panel.

Find out more on the events page

LSU EVENTS 

Study Café

22 November 2022, 3pm, G Block 

Study cafés are a supportive and structured environment for self-study. Students will set self-learning goals and targets then work in companionable quiet on their chosen work. Half-way through the session participants will be encouraged to have a break, refreshments (which are free!) and chat. These will take place regularly, 3 times per week, throughout the academic year.

Find out more on the events page

Flix Film Screening – ‘Weathering With You’

24 November 2022, 7pm, Cope Auditorium

Flix Cinema present, ‘Weathering With You’.A high-school boy who has run away to Tokyo befriends a girl who appears to be able to manipulate the weather. (IMDB, 2022)

Find out more on the events page

CAREERS NEWTORK EVENTS

Time Management 101: How to Balance your Uni Workload 

21 November 2022, 5pm, Online  

Having trouble balancing your time? Are you setting unrealistic study targets for yourself? Distracted by your phone? This session is open to all no matter your year or programme of study!

Find out more on the events page

PoWEr Up Networking: mentoring/networking virtual opportunity

22 November 2022, 12pm, Online

Our PoWEr Up Networking and Mentoring raises aspirations and confidence through engaging students and those in their early career with accessible role models in the industry who can provide insightful career and life advice.

Find out more on the events page

Business and Enterprise Group Coaching

22 November, 12pm, James France


Come along to the session and join likeminded friendly and supportive peers led by one of our LEN team members, to work through business queries together!

Find out more on the events page

Workplace benefits – what to think about when looking at jobs

22 November, 1pm, James France

The Student Success Academy is excited to provide this workshop delivered by the Money Charity covering some really important aspects of money management. 

Find out more on the events page

Welcome to Academic Success Coaching 

22 November, 5pm, Online

This session will be around 40 minutes in length and will cover what success coaching is, how it can help you and where to sign up, our expectations and goal-setting and Action Planning: making the most of your coaching sessions 

Find out more on the events page

Finalist Futures: Starting a business 

23 November, 1pm, Online

Discover how the Loughborough Enterprise Network can support you to start your own business and/or learn entrepreneurial skills.

Find out more on the events page

Preparing for interviews and assessment centres 

23 November, 6pm, G Block

This session will cover the various formats of interviews and the question types you may encounter, the differences between good interview answers and bad ones, what to expect at an assessment centre and further support from CN, now and after you’ve graduated.

Find out more on the events page

Procrastination: Beat the Beast 

24 November, 5pm, Brockington

Learn more about what procrastination is, why you are procrastinating and applying strategies to beat procrastination.

Find out more on the events page

Open Research across disciplines

November 18, 2022 Lara Skelly

By Camilla Gilmore, Chair of Loughborough University’s Open Research Group and Professor of Mathematical Cognition

One of the challenges of institutional change around open research practices is the diversity of disciplines involved. Open research covers a range of activities that promote the openness, transparency, rigour, and reproducibility of research. These values are relevant to all disciplines, but the way these activities are applied and the (perceived) barriers to using them can look very different in different disciplines. 

The challenges of promoting open data provide a clear example of this. In behavioural sciences, where quantitative and qualitative research data comes from human participants, one of the major challenges is how to share data ethically and anonymously. In contrast, in STEM subjects, particularly where industrial partnerships are common, the challenges are around confidentiality, commercial sensitivity and IP protection instead. Consequently, promoting open data at an institutional level must be informed by these different concerns and challenges and provide appropriate disciplinary-specific training and support.

This was a problem that I became immediately aware of when I took over the role of chair of Loughborough’s Open Research Working Group (ORWG) in early 2020. As individual researchers, our perceptions of the “state of the art” of open research are informed by our own disciplinary experience. But to make institutional change, we need to ensure that the systems supporting open research and the opportunities and incentives we promote apply to researchers in all disciplines. I felt that I didn’t know enough about what open research looks like in other disciplines.

Fortunately, I was not alone in feeling like this. Professor Emily Farran (Academic Lead, Research Culture and Integrity, University of Surrey) had similar concerns, and so we decided that it would be beneficial to draw together examples of open research practices and resources across as wide a range of disciplines as possible. This project quickly became a substantial task and benefitted from many authors and contributors. The resulting document, Open Research: Examples of good practice, and resources across disciplines (osf.io/3r8hb) was initially launched in December 2020. The document is updated annually in response to suggestions and feedback from readers (if you think good practice in your discipline is missing, why not suggest it here?).

This work has now been incorporated into the UKRN (UK Reproducibility Network) webpages, where 28 separate disciplinary pages provide case studies, examples of open research practices and disciplinary-specific resources. These highlight that, while open research practices may look different in different disciplines, there is much to learn by looking beyond our own discipline and seeing commonalities in approaches.

At Loughborough, we are ensuring that our institutional activities are sensitive to disciplinary differences by creating Open Research Leads in each school who sit on the ORWG. But we are building on the commonality of challenges by working across schools to provide training and opportunities. Look out for more opportunities in the coming academic year.

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

DRAWING (NO)THING(S)

November 17, 2022 Deborah Harty

Phil Sawdon

Phil Sawdon, (Un)titled, 2021, Ink and tape on paper, digitally modified. Image courtesy of the artist.
Phil Sawdon, (Un)titled, 2021, Ink and tape on paper, digitally modified. Image courtesy of the artist.

DRAWING (NO)THING(S)
(Some)thing(s) of no importance … (un)important fragment(s) … 

Phil Sawdon

The Fictional Museum of Drawing continues to attract the blurred notice of strangers … not the new … as yet (un)imaginable non-museum, still subterranean regardless of being no further realised … a contradictory paradoxical corpus of no things, non, notwithstanding some things of no importance … indefinitely (un)built, periodically framed, site not yet known … (un)known … what is not and that is … in print … with nothing markedly original and or interesting to impart.

Soaked and steeped in [arts] meaning perhaps a draughter’s labour is to find a way out of the labyrinthine Museum … to a non-site where ironically the (un)doing of a drawings’ meaning will inevitably be recovered by the Museum, aided by string, it will become (un)conventional.

The annals present barely a modicum that is worthy of annotation. As has become customary visitors comment that there are matters to relate which excite regret, more than invite us to applaud.

There may well be occasions to renew that thinking.

Meanwhile, the Museum has received contributions. It is rumoured that Eva’s pencil has been exercised whilst (un)drawn. The cabinets and shelves are groaning, consigned to an obscure corner, an open frame or perhaps to a drawer, where they can seldom ever be seen.

‘The draughts are realising themselves!’ 

‘Is that likely?’

Aside: ‘Such superfluities are either numerous nor ponderous.’ 

‘Perhaps they are enough to secure a rationale for pressing the need of furnishing additional galleries?’

There is almost no likelihood of draughting (un)objectionable plans for the creation of a building. Consequently … a recommendation for serious and immediate consideration … a prepositional proposition to attempt to obtain the structure now occupied by the Museum but as yet (un)built. There is reason to believe that such a non-building might be acquired on sympathetic terms, and that, without any drawings, it might be (un)drawn, erased, in order to provide sufficient room for the ‘additions’ in perpetuity, without any interference from the galleries which are still (un)used by the Museum. 

The arranging and displaying of the contents of the Museum is timeless. A number of illustrated small brown birds, previously in the drawers, have been stuffed and so positioned as to render the Museum ineffectual and so it goes … a collection of stuffed birds whose feeding is prohibited.

Please note that on the question of the studying of pen and scholarly papers little progress has been made. It appears that attention has been directed chiefly to other improvements and in this there is a belief that they are carrying out, in the most effectual manner, the fallacies of the founder … the present keeper.

In addition to the indulgences and improvements various objects new to us all … hand-picked from the Museum archive have not been as expedient as they might be. An instance which it may not be relevant to mention … laid line on line … symptoms of decay … many of the descriptive labels have become obliterated …

‘… nothing of the kind.’ 

It is with regret that historically the lines of the Museum, have been so narrow; and seem to have been involved more with the stuff of funding than philosophical inquiry, however, we can now conjecture the adoption of a plan for erecting a larger and more striking structure, and having undergone various amendments, which prompted delay in the implementation of the design, it is finally agreed on and the foundation-stone will be drawn. 

The site is one of the finest that could be found for the various objects that will be on display albeit rarely. The upper when finished, according to the undertaker will be at once (un)seen and when suitably fitted up, will display the collection to the greatest advantage. 

Meanwhile, visits to the collections have included the head who has, by permission, taken rubbings from various inscriptions, among which the ‘G’ stands conspicuous. These marks were for transmission with others of the same kind attesting to the benefit of the local repositories … destroyed or dispersed.

The embarrassments which previously impeded progress and limited operations,
are now fast disappearing, and it is hoped that, in a short time, all these (un)pleasant reminiscences of the past will be but incentives to renewed exertion for the future … under a little obscurity, more than usually brief … having occurred of a nature to demand a particular remark … salvaged or preserved in black and white?

Phil Sawdon, (Un)titled, 2021, Photograph, digitally modified. Image courtesy of the artist.

Institute for International Management hosted the launch of Global Production, National Institutions, and Skill Formation (Oxford University Press, 2022) by Dr Merve Sancak

November 16, 2022 Loughborough University London

On 3rd November, the Institute for International Management (IIM) at Loughborough University London hosted the launch of Dr Merve Sancak’s book Global Production, National Institutions, and Skill Formation. The panelists included Professor Ben Ross Schneider (Ford International Professor of Political Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Professor Christel Lane (Emeritus Professor of Economic Sociology at the University of Cambridge) and Professor Marius Busemeyer (Professor of Political Science at the University of Konstanz), leading scholars in the fields of comparative political economy of development, skill formation, and institutional analysis. Professor Gregory Jackson, who is a Professor of Comparative Management at the IIM, hosted the session.

An image of Dr Merve Sancak, Professor Christel Lane, Professor Marius Busemeyer, Professor Ben Ross Schneider and Professor Gregory Jackson.
An image of Professor Gregory Jackson, Professor Christel Lane, Dr Merve Sancak, Professor Marius Busemeyer and Professor Ben Ross Schneider.

Main arguments of the book

The book’s main argument is the state matters the most for skill systems, and higher state involvement in skill systems is more likely to lead to longer-term and inclusive development. This is elaborated through four sub-arguments:

  1. Governance structures in global automotive value chains shape firms’ skill needs but not the ways they address those needs: Price and quality are the main expectations of lead firms in global auto parts-automotive chains (AACs), which together affect suppliers’ skill needs. The price expectations push the firms to have a group of low-wage workers with flexible employment arrangements. The quality requirements lead to the employment of a group of (semi-)skilled workers.
  2. Firms in Turkey and Mexico have different practices to address their similar skill needs due to their different national institutions: In Turkey, firms employ students/trainees or recent graduates of public vocational education and training (VET) programmes until they leave to conduct their military service. These individuals re-join the labour market as workers with a VET certificate and some experience, and are employed as operators on a permanent basis. These operators can be promoted to higher level positions such as foreman, team leader, shift supervisor, even plant manager. In Mexico, firms have two distinct skilling strategies for the low-wage and (semi-)skilled posts. For the former, the individuals residing near the company are employed at a very low wage and are provided basic firm-level training. The content and length of the training varies significantly depending on firms’ size and location. For the (semi-)skilled posts, firms recruit those with post-secondary certificates. The possibility of low wage operators to move to higher posts is extremely limited.
  3. The state plays the major role shaping the national institutions: The state in both countries plays the key role in the public VET system, labour regulations including the minimum wage and contractual terms, firms’ location and accessibility to workers via cheap public transportation, and, for Turkey, the military service requirement, which constitute the key institutions for skill formation.
  4. Skill systems with higher state involvement may lead to longer-term and more inclusive development: The skill system with more state involvement in Turkey creates a higher possibility for class mobility due to the career development opportunities of operators while small-and-medium-sized firms can access skilled workers via public VET programmes. In contrast, operators’ career development is constrained in Mexico while firm-based training restricts the skill profile of smaller firms. The smaller firms’ access to skilled workers and operators’ career development opportunities can bring longer term and more inclusive development, although this aspect is not empirically examined in the book.
An image of Dr Merve Sancak, Professor Ben Ross Schneider and Professor Gregory Jackson.
Professor Gregory Jackson, Professor Ben Ross Schneider and Dr Merve Sancak

Discussants’ reflections

Professor Busemeyer, Professor Lane and Professor Schneider praised the book for its contributions to the understanding of skill formation particularly in late industrialising countries like Mexico and Turkey. The importance of the book’s multi-level approach was particularly emphasised, which involves firm-level research on employment and training practices, nation-level inquiry on institutions, and global-level study of governance structures of GVCs. The extensive fieldwork and rich empirical data drawn from interviews were shown as key strengths. The book’s theoretical contribution through linking two distinct fields of research that have remained apart, namely comparative capitalism and GVC governance, was particularly applauded.

In addition to their comments about the book’s contributions, the discussants pointed to some key issues the book raises, which may lead to further research and discussion. One common point mentioned by all discussants was the role of the state. The critics questioned whether the state’s importance is overemphasised, and whether other factors could be affecting the state’s involvement such as party politics, business politics or certain political leaders. Concerns about the links between state involvement and (un)democratic governments were also raised.

Dr Sancak explained that the institutions and infrastructure that enable high state involvement pre-date the current governments in the two countries. For instance, collective business associations’ involvement in VET is a key character that differentiates Mexico and Turkey. However, this is not merely due to businesses’ linkages with different political parties. The institutions for collective business activity are different in the two countries because of the distinct paths the states have taken during the liberalisation of their economies: while the chamber structure was maintained in Turkey, giving important economic and representational power to the umbrella organisation of business chambers, this structure was dismantled in Mexico after its joining to NAFTA. The governments in Turkey have been using this existing infrastructure for developing links with smaller firms and for managing the firms’ involvement in VET. The high state involvement may indeed come with democratic costs, Dr Sancak responded. The situation was also similar during the developmental states of Asian Tigers and the latest state capitalist development model in China.

An image of Dr Merve Sancak and Professor Christel Lane.
Professor Christel Lane and Dr Merve Sancak
An image of Dr Merve Sancak and Professor Marius Busemeyer.
Professor Marius Busemeyer and Dr Merve Sancak

The event attracted many participants in person and online including Loughborough students and staff, as well as those interested in the subject across the world.

Why I Returned to Halls for 3 Years

November 15, 2022 Guest Blogger

Every time I say I returned to halls for all of my undergraduate studies, people seem surprised. I lived in Cayley for all 3 years, based on this you can only assume how much I enjoyed my stay.


My name is Ayfra, I’m 20 years old and I’m from Azerbaijan. I studied Media and Communication at Loughborough University. I graduated in July and am now staying to complete a Masters.


I was accepted into Loughborough University when I just turned 17 years old. As an international student, it was a BIG change. It was my first time visiting the UK and there I was arriving completely by myself, without my parents (miss independent). I remember stepping off the coach that picked us up from Heathrow Airport and the first people I met were the Cayley sub wardens. They helped me with my luggage and welcomed me to my new home; I instantly received the support I really needed. However independent I thought I was, it was always nice to know there were people who wanted to help me. Being underage, the wardens even made extra effort to see how I was settling in, sending me invitations for sober events. I remember one of the events in Cayley was the international meet and greet, held in the dining hall. That was the evening I met my closest friends, we still laugh and talk about it to this day.


Cayley is a catered hall and being someone that strongly dislikes cooking, being catered for was a blessing. Food was all included during weekdays with 3 meals per day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For breakfast, I would get hashbrowns, baked beans, an omelette, orange juice, pain au chocolat and a cappuccino (free coffee machine = UNLIMITED coffee). For lunch, I would usually get a tuna mayo sandwich from the salad bar (quick and easy in between lectures) but nothing beat dinner. Particularly the lasagne with garlic bread, so good! On the weekends I even had a chance to practice and improve my cooking skills, which was fun even if I’m not that much better now. It really was the best of both worlds.


Moving into second and third year I knew that I still wanted all the benefits of living in halls. I wanted the convenience of being on campus and the feeling of safety. Being in the centre of everything, having a hall community around me and best of all…rolling out of bed and getting to a lecture in 5 minutes. I filled out my application and was relieved that I knew exactly where I would be staying and how much it would cost the next year. Some of my friends did decide to live off campus and were shocked by the amount of research they had to do to find the right accommodation to suit their needs.


If someone asks me why I stayed in halls for all 3 years of my undergraduate studies, I tell them it’s because there is an accommodation type suited to every student out there. You don’t want to cook? Return to a catered hall. Want to improve your cooking skills? There’s also self-catered. Living in halls made the student experience just a little bit more manageable when the workload increased in second and third year and I wanted to avoid any additional stress.


So looking back, I guess the reason I stayed in halls was because it was exactly what I was looking for when I came to university.

Written by Ayfra Mang-Benza Dit Manthota

Behind the Scenes: Students get an insider view of an International Development Communications team

November 15, 2022 Loughborough University London
A few students from the Global Communication for Social Change MA programme.

Practical Action’s External Engagement and Marketing Manager, Oliver Arnold-Richards, and Senior External Engagement Officer, Anna Svensson, took time out of their busy COP27 schedules to give students a behind the scenes perspective on working in communications departments in development organisations.

Students on the Global Communication for Social Change MA programme are exploring the wide range of roles that media and communication play in processes of social change and development, including communication about development, donor and fundraising communication, and advocacy communication.

Practical Action describes itself as a “global ‘change-making group”, based in the UK with community-led projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Practical Action was founded by the economist E.F. Schumacher (the author of Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered) in the 1960s in response to the mainstream norm of large-scale, resource-intensive development projects. The organisation today continues its focus on community-led projects in sectors such as small-holder farming, waste, water and sanitation, energy access, and disaster risk reduction, and collaborates with stakeholders to take locally grounded work to a national and global scale.

Students were particularly interested to hear about some of Practical Action’s practices to ensure ethical representations of people featured in NGO communication. One example shared was Practical Action’s use of illustrations rather than photos in contexts such as refugee camps to protect the dignity of those being represented.

“In most cases, people featured in audio-visual materials agree to release agreements without knowing exactly how far the content can reach. I was impressed with Practical Action’s content production process, which puts first the interest and dignity of their human subjects.” said Freddy Rangira-Gahaya.

Much of the discussions centred on how Practical Action is working to confront the problematic role of communications departments in perpetuating stereotypes over decades.

Soyem Osakwe reflected “Anna and Oliver’s most noteworthy remarks for me were their reflections on the reality of colonial legacies and racism in the international development sector, and the importance of recognising this background when deciding on communication tactics.”

Soyem added, “Additionally, the idea of international nongovernmental organisations lobbying their own governments in the ‘global north’ directly as a potential future strategy offers a fresh way to examine and comprehend discussions about the role of communication in development”.

This Week at Loughborough | 14 November

November 14, 2022 Jemima Biodun-Bello

GENERAL

Whatuni 2023 Student Review Collection

16 November 2022, 9:30am, Students’ Union  

This is an opportunity for students to have a voice and help prospective students make decisions on what and where to study. It also allows the University to find out what you think and make improvements. Taking part in the review collection also puts you in with a chance of winning £2,000.

Find out more on the events page

Race and Racism in Higher Education

16 November 2022, 3pm, Online

School of Social sciences and Humanities Black History Month, with Prof. Kalwant Bhopal (Professor of Education and Social Justice, University of Birmingham) and Dr Pragya Agarwal. Prof Bhopal will give a talk titled ‘BME experiences in Higher Education. Social justice, inclusion and white privilege’. Dr Agarwal will give a talk on ‘Race and racism in Higher Education.

Find out more on the events page

Inspirational Black Leaders

17 November 2022, 6pm, Brockington 

Join us and meet Black professionals recounting their career journey to senior positions in the workplace. Come along, listen to their stories and hear their honest advice on how they succeeded in their professions whilst overcoming obstacles in their paths. 

Find out more on the events page

LSU EVENTS 

Think Green, Think Bigger Hackathon

14 November 2022, 6pm, The Treehouse 

During Global Entrepreneurship Week, LSU Enterprise would love to invite you to a mini hackathon. Get into groups and work together to solve a problem related to sustainability in Loughborough, then present it back to the group. The best group’s solution will win a prize!

Find out more on the events page

Study Café

15 November 2022, 3pm, G Block 

Study cafés are a supportive and structured environment for self-study. Students will set self-learning goals and targets then work in companionable quiet on their chosen work. Half-way through the session participants will be encouraged to have a break, refreshments (which are free!) and chat. These will take place regularly, 3 times per week, throughout the academic year.

Find out more on the events page

The Students’ Low-down on Skilling-up

15 November 2022, 6pm, The Treehouse

Are you confused about what opportunities you may have during your year out? Should you do a year out? But what about micro-internships? And placements? Or setting up a business and creating a side hustle while you study? We’ve got students and graduates who have been there and done it, ready to answer your questions. Whether you have a bunch or questions or just want to sit back and listen, this is a great way to start thinking about your opportunities for development. 

Find out more on the events page

CAREERS NEWTORK EVENTS

Interviews – Preparing for Success with ATOS and GE Aerospace

15 November 2022, 11am, Online  

Hear Top Interview Tips from direct employers with opportunities for Q&A. Structuring your answer, articulating your skills/ evidencing through examples.

Find out more on the events page

How to submit a successful application with Bloomberg

16 November 2022, 1pm, James France

Bloomberg is building the world’s most trusted information network for financial professionals. Come along to meet members of the Bloomberg recruitment team, where they’ll be discussing how to submit a successful application.

Find out more on the events page

Business and Enterprise Group Coaching

16 November, 4pm, Start Up Lab
Peer support happens when people who have similar experiences of facing challenges come together to support each other. So come along to the session and join likeminded friendly and supportive peers led by one of our LEN team members, to work through business queries together!

Find out more on the events page

Microsoft presents MS Excel Features Demo 

17 November, 12pm, Online

This event, delivered by Microsoft, will cover some of the useful features you would commonly use Excel for in placements or graduate roles to give you a greater understanding of how to action these effectively.

Find out more on the events page

Mock Assessment Centre

17 November, 6pm, Online

Mock Assessment Centre hosted online by Careers Network, to help you prepare for the real thing. 

Find out more on the events page

Year in Enterprise information session 

18 November, 12pm, Brockington

Year in Enterprise Coordinator and our Academic Lead, Amanda Berry, will discuss the support available to students wishing to find out more about the Year in Enterprise Programme. 

Find out more on the events page

Tips From a Commuter Student

November 8, 2022 Guest Blogger

Hi! I’m Rebecca, a final year Mechanical Engineering student who currently commutes from Leicester. Choosing to commute can leave you feeling worried about missing out on the ‘university experience’ but I want to share my tips to help you make the most of your time at Loughborough. 

I drive to university, which makes it easier to be flexible with plans than if I took public transport but I still prefer to try and make plans the night before so I can make the most of my day. Commuting can be a good chance to catch up on work (if you’re not driving), listen to some music or a podcast or to take some time for yourself! It may take a little more effort and organisation to get involved but it really is worth it. Here are six ways that you can get involved: 

1. Find other commuters. Each year, before lectures start, Loughborough holds a commuters’ welcome event which is a great chance to talk to both current commuter students and other freshers who will be commuting just like you. It’s a great chance to share your excitement and worries with students in the same situation and make new friends. You may even find someone who lives near to you or who is on the same course!

2. Affiliate to a hall. By affiliating, you can have the same access to in-hall events, such as IMS and socials, as students living in halls. IMS is the inter-hall sports league and is a great way to join a social sport team, especially as there are lots of one day events held at the weekend which I find easier to fit around commuting. By affiliating to a hall, you have access to more social events on top of what the Students’ Union has to offer, especially during freshers. Nights out can be tricky if you don’t live in Loughborough but I normally stay with friends, or you could book a hotel so you don’t have to worry about making your way home. 

3. Say yes to every opportunity. Brunch on a Sunday with your new course mates? A society taster session? A My Lifestyle free sports session? There are plenty of daytime and early evening events to get involved in. At the beginning of every year, there are sports and societies bazaars which give you a chance to speak to each club/society and sign up for taster sessions. You could also get involved in action projects (volunteering with the local community on projects such as IT with the elderly), RAG (raising money for charity) or Happy Mondays (an LU Arts weekly event giving you a chance to get creative). I’ve skydived for Mind and Alzheimer’s Research UK, learnt to climb with course mates, competed at BUCS for Loughborough Students Judo Club and been part of the Welfare & Diversity Committee alongside my course, which has helped me to make Loughborough feel like a second home.

4. Make the most of your time on campus. Although I have gaps between lectures, I can’t always pop home between them. Instead, I use this time to do work with course mates in the library or coffee shops (Bom Bom is a particular favourite), grab lunch in town with a few friends or explore Loughborough by taking a walk. Just because you don’t live in town doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of some of the many things it offers, and these gaps are a great opportunity to socialise with friends. 

5. Get a job. You may already have a part-time job at home but if you don’t there is plenty of part-time work available on campus at either the Students’ Union or as a Student Ambassador. I’ve made some of my closest friends by being a Student Ambassadors and it has allowed me to stay involved in campus life. It’s a great way to get to know your way around campus and learn more about Loughborough whilst developing friendships and transferrable skills. The flexibility of shifts also allows me to fit them around commuting and the money helps to pay for my petrol!

6. Be proactive. Check your timetable at the weekend and plan ahead so you can get involved or factor weekly social events into your routine. Remember, your social life is not limited to Loughborough – if you have fellow commuters near you why not organise something closer to you? Maybe a night out in your city/town or a meal in the evening?

Despite not living away from home, it is still important to look after yourself whilst at university, especially during freshers. As a commuter student, you have access to the same support as every other student, including the Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity team who offer mental health support, and the Welfare & Diversity section of the Students’ Union also offer support and events such as Self-care Sundays. Starting university can feel like a big change but getting involved, creating a routine that works for you and making new friends can help make the transition easier. 

DRN2023: Drawing in Relation - Call for Online Paper Presentations

November 7, 2022 Deborah Harty

Conveners: Drawing Research Group Loughborough University

Yonat Nitzan-Green, ‘Conversation with Avocado Stone

DRN2023: Drawing in Relation – call for paper presentations
Deadline: Friday 9th December 2022

This series of online events aims to explore the notion of drawing in relation. With this title we suggest that drawing can be considered relational; it is a means by which relations and the conditions through which they are created, maintained, and broken can be investigated. Connections are made between divisible surfaces, relations are engendered. Rather than being isolated, these surfaces exist in relation to their milieus. In this way relations propagate and disseminate outwards. Simultaneously relations are brought inwards, what is exterior and separable to the drawing act is interiorised; the milieu makes its way onto the page—drawing in relation. To draw is to make contact, to touch and be touched, and yet there is discontinuity, contact is severed, and surfaces break away.

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

• How can drawing investigate relations of affect, agency, and materiality?
• In what ways can apparatuses and other forms of technical mediation hinder, bridge, connect, or relate in drawing practices?
• How can drawing explore interdisciplinarity and the sharing and extension of knowledge?
• In what ways can drawing practices explore and/or transgress boundaries of difference between humans or other lifeforms?
• How can drawing connect to practices of care?
• How can drawing express our relationship to ourselves?

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

Deadline Friday 9th December 2022

Submission link:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc4z32B3nyefzw4caOr8xmg99JWw4Mnwbh8QDoNUFJSZRwbsA/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1&flr=0

This Week at Loughborough | 7 November

November 7, 2022 Jemima Biodun-Bello

GENERAL

Understanding credit, savings and banking with The Money Charity

8 November 2022, 12pm, Edward Herbert Building 

The Student Success Academy is excited to provide this workshop delivered by the Money Charity covering some important aspects of money management.  The interactive face-to-face workshop will look at how to save effectively for your goals, unravel the meanings of different sorts of credit, help with tips for staying on top of your banking and helping to build your financial resilience. 

Find out more on the events page

Creative Wellbeing Workshop Series

10 November 2022, 3pm, Michael Pearson Boardroom 

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

Find out more on the events page

Remembrance Service 

11 November 2022, 10:45am, Garden of Remembrance

Open to all staff and students to attend. Prayers will be said for all those who have died in conflict, and for those who are remembered in the Garden. Refreshments will be served in the University Chaplaincy afterwards. 1st floor, EHB. If wet the service will be held in the Chapel.

Find out more on the events page

LSU EVENTS 

Study Café

8 November 2022, 3pm, G Block 

Study cafés are a supportive and structured environment for self-study. Students will set self-learning goals and targets then work in companionable quiet on their chosen work. Half-way through the session participants will be encouraged to have a break, refreshments (which are free!) and chat. These will take place regularly, 3 times per week, throughout the academic year.

Find out more on the events page

Inspiring Future Leaders

8 November 2022, 6:30pm, The Lounge

Anyone can be a leader, including you! Join us to learn how you can develop core leadership skills that will allow you to empower individuals and create a positive culture around you. G Team Academy will be walking you through the secrets of being a successful leader alongside some interactive activities for you to get some hands-on experience on what it’s like to be a leader!

Find out more on the events page

Flix Film Screening – ‘Everything, Everywhere, All at Once’

10 November 2022, 7pm, Cope Auditotium

Flix cinema presents, ‘Everything, Everywhere, All at Once’. An aging Chinese immigrant is swept up in an insane adventure, in which she alone can save the world by exploring other universes connecting with the lives she could have led. (IMDB, 2022)

Find out more on the events page

CAREERS NEWTORK EVENTS

Work Experience Q&A for First and Second Years

8 November 2022, 11am, Online  

The Careers Network are on hand to provide support and answer your questions in this popular Q&A session helping you to prepare for work experience/placements.

Find out more on the events page

Money Management: Saving. Banking, Credit and Financial Resilience

8 November 2022, 12pm, Edward Herbert Building 

The Student Success Academy is excited to provide this workshop delivered by the Money Charity covering some really important aspects of money management. 

Find out more on the events page

Online Mock Assessment Centre

8 November, 6pm, Online


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

Find out more on the events page

Welcome to Academic Success Coaching 

9 November, 1:30pm, Stewart Mason Building

This session will cover, what success coaching is (how it can help you and where to sign up), our expectations, goal-setting and Action Planning: making the most of your coaching sessions. 

Find out more on the events page

Be Spookily Sustainable: Tips for Halloween!

October 31, 2022 Rhiannon Brown

It’s that time of year again that you either love or hate… or just want a good excuse to dress up.

We’ve put together a few tips for how to embrace the Halloween fun, whilst considering your environment whilst you do so.

TIP 1: Stay local and get to know your neighbours by paying them a visit (unless your neighbours don’t celebrate Halloween that is!)

This one might not be at the top of your expectation list for how to be sustainable at Halloween, but it does link in with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 16 (In relation to promoting peaceful and inclusive societies). According to statistics from the UN, 1/3 of the world’s population fear walking alone in their neighborhoods at night (mostly women). When relating this specifically to the UK, 76% of UK residents feel safer in their homes if they know their neighbours, and 67% of people who took the time to get to know their neighbours felt happier as a result. With one in 10 UK adults – equivalent to around five million people – not knowing any of their neighbours by name, this indicates a need to get to know!

So, Halloween can be used an opportunity to pay your neighbours a visit, have a chat and introduce yourself, compliment their decorations, or simply smile at them when you see them. One thing I will say though is please don’t knock on anyone’s door who doesn’t have any Halloween decorations out- this probably means they don’t celebrate it and don’t want you to disturb them! Building a supportive community also includes having respect for individuals’ privacy.

TIP 2: Stock up on plastic-free, bulk bought sweets (and vegan if possible!)

I can remember getting home from trick or treating as a child, armed with a bag full of individually wrapped sweets, chocolates, lollies, and other balls of sugar that I’d eat entirely within an hour of sitting down. That part of Halloween I have absolutely no regrets about…

The one thing I think we should control, however, is the type of sweets that we buy and give out to trick or treaters. Instead of choosing lollies with individual plastic wrappers on all of them, why not try a box or bag of sweets without the plastic wrappers? To do this, buying bulk is best as it is both cheaper for you, and better for the environment! I saw these sweets on wholesale which I think are a perfect example of what I mean! But what about if I don’t get many trick or treaters and I have just bought all these sweets for nothing- isn’t that worse? Well, no actually because you should be able to keep them until next year if they’re already all sealed! If you have opened them though, check out Olio to share your sweets with others in your area, and reduce food waste!

Another suggestion is chocolates (such as chocolate coins) which are foil-wrapped. This foil can be recycled if you scrunch it and keep it until it’s the size of a tennis ball. You could also make your own sweets or cakes, which may save you money too.

Of course, I could just say give fruit instead of sweets but I’m sure lots of kids wouldn’t be very happy about that one…

TIP 3: Go handmade for your costume! Or second-hand as I appreciate that not everyone is as crafty as Instagram might make out.

When I’m scrolling through my Instagram around Halloween it seems like everyone and his dog are making glamorous, wacky, and wild costumes for themselves! I promise you, not everyone’s costumes look this good- I can assure you that my arts and crafts abilities are far from good. However, why not give it a go, even if it’s just a hat?! Get yourself secondhand shopping and pick up some random items that you can fit together into a wacky costume to get some laughs. One of my ideas for this year was to be an old woman- an easy charity shop haul!

So, why do this?

TIP 4: Make full use of your pumpkin!

According to the Guardian, 81% of families of four believe they throw away less than £30 worth of food a month, when in reality they waste nearly double that at £58.30 a month, on average. This is so much food waste!

Halloween is an occasion which encourages this issue further, through the tradition of pumpkin carving and leaving the pumpkin outside to rot. One way of reducing pumpkin food waste is to cook with the pumpkin ‘guts’ or insides. Here’s a website with various yummy recipes to use up your pumpkin leftovers!

Send us some tips, photos, or ways that you are sustainable this Halloween to enviroassist@lboro.ac.uk for us to share on social media!

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

From the Vice-Chancellor - October 2022

October 31, 2022 Nick Jennings

In my October newsletter: a new education partnership, reflections on Black History Month, the outcomes of the Knowledge Exchange Framework, funding from the Loughborough Town Deal, and strategy roadshow events.

New international engagement partnership

In my July newsletter, I spoke about the International Engagement and Impact plan, the first of the six core plans that will underpin the delivery of our University strategy. The plan outlines how we will intensify and extend all aspects of our international activity, including the changes we need to make to our educational offering to make it as attractive as possible for international students.

To this end, I’m delighted to announce that we will form a new partnership with Cambridge Education Group. Cambridge Education Group delivers high quality academic programmes that are the stepping-stone for international students to progress onto courses at the world’s leading universities.

As part of our partnership, Cambridge Education Group will have a dedicated Centre on our East Midlands campus. The first cohort of students will begin programmes in Loughborough from September 2023 and, on successful completion, have the opportunity to join a Loughborough degree programme the following academic year.

Our partnership with Cambridge Education Group will enable us to welcome more international students to our campus, and from a greater range of countries. This will make our community more internationally diverse, meaning that we can offer a more culturally enriching experience for everyone here. We will be able to expand our overseas networks, which in turn will enable us to offer a greater range of overseas opportunities for our students and graduates.

It’s a very exciting development and I will keep you informed of the key milestones as we progress our partnership with Cambridge Education Group.

Black History Month

Black History Month

October is Black History Month and once again our staff and students, supported by our alumni and external partners, hosted some truly inspirational events. 

These activities align closely with our strategic theme of ‘Vibrant and Inclusive Communities’ and our aim to be more diverse, equitable and inclusive.

Most of the events, as well as reading lists, news and a special edition of the Let’s Talk Loughborough podcast, were drawn together on our Black History Month microsite. I hope you’ve all been able to get involved in some way during the month.

I know many of you around the University have been actively involved in Black History Month in some way, by helping to run or attending an event, acting as an ally or commentator, or simply ensuring our campus was a welcoming place for everyone. Thank you for everything you have done. However, we need to maintain the momentum throughout the year. Black History Month helps us to shine a spotlight on race, ethnicity and our aim to be an anti-racist organisation, but that does not end on 31st October. 

To this end, Professor Charlotte Croffie, our first Pro Vice-Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion will soon start work on the implementation of the EDI core plan for our new strategy. Please engage with this activity as EDI is everybody’s responsibility.

The Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF)

At the end of September, we received the results of the second Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF). ‘Knowledge Exchange’ refers to the activities that universities undertake with external partners to ensure that our research and innovation can be used for the benefit of society and the economy. Partners can range from members of the public who attend university events to multinational companies who work with us to develop new systems and processes that will enhance their business.

For the KEF, universities are grouped into ‘clusters’ of peers – institutions with similar characteristics such as how much research they do and in what subject areas. Loughborough was grouped into the cluster described as “large, high research intensive and broad-discipline universities undertaking a significant amount of excellent research.” 

The data from the 2022 KEF shows Loughborough is in the highest quintile – quintile 5, classed as “very high engagement” – for Intellectual Property (IP) and Commercialisation, and Working with Business. 

Examples of success in these areas are our partnership with Rolls Royce which has led to the creation of the National Centre for Combustion and Aerothermal Technology, and the achievements of Previsico, a University spin-out, launched in 2019, which provides surface water flood forecasting enabling people and organisations to minimise the impact of flooding.

Loughborough also performed strongly in Local Growth and Regeneration and Working with the Public and Third Sector, placing in quintile 4 (“high engagement”) for both areas. 

Our good performance in all these areas is due to the hard work of our staff, students and the external groups, organisations and business we work with.

There are, however, areas of the KEF where we can improve. Our engagement level for Public and Community Engagement, for example, was lower than the average for our university cluster. Our recent exhibitions at the Royal Society Summer Exhibition and the British Science Festival are good examples of the activity we must undertake as part of a sustained public and community engagement programme.

Loughborough Town Deal

Eight people standing in a row wearing hard hats and hi-vis jackets holding a sign saying 'Loughborough Town Deal'

In 2021 Loughborough town received £17 million of funding under the Government’s Town Deal scheme, to enable it to support initiatives that regenerate the town centre, boost businesses and improve infrastructure and connectivity.

As part of this package, Loughborough Town Deal has now awarded us a grant of £2.5 million which will help us to drive forward a number of initiatives in sport, business, and health and wellbeing.

A proportion of the grant will support the expansion of SportPark on Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park (LUSEP). The development of SportPark’s fourth pavilion will enable us to attract more sport-related organisations and businesses to LUSEP, underlining our global reputation for sporting excellence, and will also generate further job opportunities in the region. 

Some of the Town Deal funding will also be used to support 60 new businesses through a New Business Wayfinder programme that provides office space, access to coaching, training, expertise, and innovation and prototype labs on LUSEP and in the town.

A further portion of our funding will help us to support the health of the local communities and improving the connectedness between the railway station, the town centre and the Science and Enterprise Park.

The Town Deal funding is a good example of the ‘Partnerships’ aim in our strategic plan, particularly our ambition to accelerate our impact through collaborations with businesses and other organisations.

Strategy roadshows

Next month we will hold a series of roadshow events to thank staff, particularly those in operational, administrative and technical roles, for their ongoing contributions to the University’s success, and to consider how the work they do will contribute to our new strategy.

The strategy will guide everything we do at the University over the next decade and will inform the day-to-day activities that each of us undertakes. It is an ambitious plan and we can only be successful if we all, whatever our role, understand what we have to achieve collectively and how the things we all do, every day, will contribute to it.

The roadshow events will also enable us to launch a new network for staff on grades up to and including Grade 5. Everyone at the University, whatever their role and their grade, should feel part of the University and its future. I hope this new staff network will help us to engage more effectively with these groups of staff.

A reflection on Black History Month from the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion)

A reflection on Black History Month from the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion)

October 31, 2022 Guest Author

As a Black woman and a senior professional and now one of the very few Black female Professors in the UK, I am often asked about my opinion on Black History Month and whether it should exist at all. My response is the same. I start by recognising that there are many views on Black History Month even amongst the various Black communities because we are not a homogeneous group. Some people are very much in favour whilst others are not, and each view has its place as it allows for diverse perspectives to be presented. 

On a personal note, my view is that Black History Month should be celebrated because it provides a platform for Black and Brown people to raise awareness of, acknowledge and celebrate the positive contributions of Black and Brown people throughout history, now and how that is projected into the future.

I am very fortunate that I know my history which allows me to stand proudly on the shoulders of the many who have gone before me. Some I have had the privilege to know and others that I have never met. Knowing this history and their accomplishments has provided me with a solid foundation, strong values, principles, and a social consciousness that guide my decisions and actions.  This knowledge also reinforces many of the African proverbs that have been shared with me. For example, “it takes a village to raise a child” is a nod to difference, the diversity of roles, to inclusion, social responsibility, each one person has value and that in one way or another, each one teaches the other.

Another example is the famous line in a Bob Marley & The Wailers song, ‘Buffalo Soldier’ that says ‘’if you know your history then you would know where you’re coming from”. This also reminds me of another adage “if you want to know the way, ask someone who is coming back”. Knowledge and learning happen in multiple ways, knowing your history can help you to plot your future as it acts as a reference point that provides you with a type of compass or blueprint of what can be accomplished and what to embrace, and equally as important, the things you may very well want to avoid!

Many Black and Brown people have been denied this because their history has not been told; they have been hidden or rewritten or distorted to the extent that some Black and Brown people have only seen themselves represented in negative ways. This is perpetuated through conscious and unconscious biases and legitimised through systemic practices and when attempts are made to redress it, is often further accentuated on the negatives or remedial rather than positive action. I believe Black History Month provides an opportunity for us to reframe this and reset the dial.

One of the ways to challenge this bias is to present a different narrative. One where the many who were once looked to for sources of wisdom: innovators, composers, scientists, etc who helped to create great libraries where knowledge was developed, stored, transferred and disseminated; can be celebrated.  Their diverse contributions can be reintroduced into the discourse and provide a more inclusive environment.

I have seen this at Loughborough University where colleagues from within the Black and Brown community have come together to generously share their experiences, culture, religion, talents, research and so much more. 

I have also seen allyship at its best where simple acts of getting involved have signalled an appreciation of difference and helped to foster a more inclusive environment. 

This shows the best of Black History Month and I look forward to the day when Black History Month is not needed because the achievements and contributions of Black and Brown people are recognised every day. 

Professor Charlotte Croffie, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion)

Find out more about how Loughborough marked Black History Month.

Towards a Caring Community at Loughborough University London

October 31, 2022 Loughborough University London

A programme of activities was developed at Loughborough University London as a response to the need to do more in the community to help those who balance work with caring responsibilities. Led by Loughborough University London Carers and Parents Group alongside Lboro London EDI Committee, it also considered how caring can be put at the centre of what is done more generally at Loughborough University London. This resulted in the School adopting a vision for a Caring Community, a set of principles and identifying a range of actions that it might take from here. The programme received a Vice Chancellor Award (2022) under Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Campus Development category.

The School’s Dean, Tony Edwards, said, “The award is a recognition not just of the progressive changes that this has brought about but also the participative way in which Emily and Ksenija have led us to this point. The initiative has the potential to be carried over into the rest of the university through Loughborough University London’s involvement in the Working Parents Network and MAIA and be adopted by other schools.

Dr Emily Hayday and Dr Ksenija Kuzmina receive Vice Chancellor award on behalf of the Lboro London Carers Programme.

OUR PROCESS

Several activities, including online café meetups and an informal email list, were initiated between members of staff early on during pandemic, the time that challenged the concept of a strong separation between work and caring responsibilities. These conversations captured experiences of carers and parents at LUL reflecting issues identified in extant literature on this group in the HE context, including gender, intersectionality, part-time contracts, and the impact it has on individuals’ well-being, productivity and opportunities for promotion. These findings led to a set of formalised co-creation workshops and consultations with members of academic and professional staff, doctoral researchers and the LUL EDI Committee over the course of two years. This contributed to a view that an approach and support for carers and parents needs to shift from responsibility for change lying with the parent and carer alone, towards community-based approach that is caring and action-oriented. From this work a vision for a caring community emerged, alongside community-based approach guiding principles, which can be found below and will inform a set of actions that the school is planning to implement.

OUR VISION

Our vision for Loughborough London is to create an Inclusive, Equitable and Diverse community that is underpinned by the notion of care. Caring for others is part of the human condition and within the Loughborough London community, caring should be reciprocal between all its members. In a caring community every individual should feel supported to thrive without causing detriment to others. A community that invests in all its members recognises that its members have different needs, and that everyone can contribute to the community in different ways.

We acknowledge that this vision cannot be implemented by a single individual, instead it requires a collective approach that draws on our interdependence and the need to create opportunities for all members to participate in realising the vision. We call this a community-based approach and provide a set of principles that can guide our actions.

OUR PRINCIPLES

  1. We embrace a flexible mindset;
  2. We engage in non-divisive approaches to change;
  3. We recognise and respect differences and diversity in individual circumstances;
  4. We aim for an equitable community with different allowances based on personal circumstances;
  5. We aim to create a safe environment where we feel comfortable to raise challenges and complaints;
  6. We promote and aim to support the growth of community-based approach.

Dr. Andrea Geurin, EDI Lead at Loughborough University London said, “The work undertaken by Ksenija and Emily to develop a vision for a caring community and the related guiding principles highlights the fact that it is human nature to care for others, whether that be as a parent, carer, manager looking after a team of employees, or a lecturer caring for the wellbeing of their students. Caring is something that we all do, and the resulting vision and principles will be important in setting the agenda for further EDI initiatives and work on our campus.

LOOKING AHEAD
With the vision and principles being adopted by Loughborough London, we use these as a guiding framework and now move towards a structured stage of principle implementation. The focus now will be to explore how the principles can be implemented through actions, across four areas: culture, structure, strategy and resources of the School.

If you have any further questions or reflections please email: Dr Ksenija Kuzmina and Dr Emily Hayday.

This Week at Loughborough | 31st October

This Week at Loughborough | 31st October

October 31, 2022 Charlotte Lingham

GENERAL

“Dearest Old Creature”: The Life of Eva Emilie Larkin

2 November 2022, 6pm, Martin Hall  

In this illustrated talk, drawing extensively on the Larkin Archive, Philip Pullen, Larkin researcher and trustee of the Philip Larkin Society, will examine the significance of the close relationship between Larkin and his mother and the part played by the town of Loughborough in shaping both of their lives. 

Find out more on the events page

National Theatre Live: The Seagull 

3 November 2022, 7pm, Cope Auditorium   

A young woman is desperate for fame and a way out. A young man is pining after the woman of his dreams. A successful writer longs for a sense of achievement. An actress wants to fight the changing of the times. In an isolated home in the countryside, dreams lie in tatters, hopes are dashed, and hearts broken. With nowhere left to turn, the only option is to turn on each other. 

Find out more on the events page  

Meet 2018 Bake Off winner alumnus Rahul Mandal 

4 November 2022, 3:30pm, Edward Herbert Building 

Winner of The Great British Bake Off 2018, Rahul Mandal baked his way to glory with a series of spectacular creations on the popular TV show.  The event will take place in EHB and guests are invited to meet Rahul, purchase a copy of his new book, and to watch a cake decorating demonstration! 

Find out more on the events page  

LSU Events 

Happy Mondays: Spooky Plant Pot Painting 

31 October 2022, 7pm, Michael Pearson Board Room 

Come along to decorate your own spooky plant pot! You will be supplied with your own terracotta pot and paint, so you can decorate it however you like! Bring your friends along or come by yourself and meet new people.? No experience necessary. 

Find out more on the events page  

LU Arts Creative Workshop: Walk in my BLACK shoes 

2 November 2022, 2pm, Michael Pearson Board Room 

LU Arts is working with artist Nadina Ali to capture the Black students’ experience on campus and celebrate Black identity and culture in graphic form. The project will serve as an open forum for students who identify as Black to express themselves and showcase their creativity to the rest of the student community. 

Find out more on the events page  

LSU Rag Firework Extravaganza 

5 November 2022, 5:30pm, LSU  

LSU is excited to announce that the RAG Fireworks Extravaganza is back with a bang! You can expect funfair stalls offering amazing prizes up for grabs as well as state of the art fairground rides and food and drink outlets. Later in the evening you will experience the mind-blowing main fireworks display, alongside a state-of-the-art projection experience… and to top it off ALL the money raised goes to charity! 

Find out more on the events page  

CAREERS NEWTORK EVENTS

Leap ahead with your LinkedIn 

1 November 2022, 12pm, James France  

Find out how to create a great LinkedIn profile, build your network, utilise recommendations effectively and create your first post with this interactive session led by student entrepreneurs. 

Find out more on the events page  

Going places with your Master’s  

1 November 2022, 1pm, Online  

This session is for current postgraduate students. This presentation will talk you through job hunting strategies and where to look for opportunities in the UK and overseas for a job or further study such as a PhD. 

Find out more on the events page  

Careers in Marketing  

2 November, 1pm, Online 

Want to know more about what a Career in Marketing could look like, and what skills and experience can help you get your first job? Join this session with a panel of expert speakers to find out. 

Find out more on the events page  

CV Structures – How to develop a CV 

3 November, 1pm, Edward Herbert Building   

In these sessions you will get an overview of how to structure a CV and understand what employers are looking for. 

Find out more on the events page  

In person Mock Assessment Centre  

3 November, 6pm, James France Exhibition Area 

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

Find out more on the events page  

Finding Opportunities and Networking your way to Success 

4 November, 1pm, Edward Herbert Building 

Find out more about how you can search for a range of opportunities, including those that aren’t advertised! You’ll also learn some top tips for networking your way to success! 

Find out more on the events page  

Sharing my mastectomy journey: Early diagnosis, the impact on mental wellbeing, and knowing how to check yourself 

Sharing my mastectomy journey: Early diagnosis, the impact on mental wellbeing, and knowing how to check yourself 

October 27, 2022 Sadie Gration
Image courtesy of Getty Images

I am away from work at the moment, recovering from my second mastectomy. Writing those words feels surreal. How did I get here? 

Roll back to February 2019, the University held an event in conjunction with Loughborough Students’ Union called ‘Lumps and Bumps.’ It was co-organised by my immediate colleagues in Marketing and Advancement and its primary aim was to educate staff and students on how to check for signs of breast and testicular cancer.  

Through my own self-education, mainly from reading articles in magazines, I felt well-informed about the signs of breast cancer. My mindset was that I would go to the event to support my colleagues and perhaps get some affirmation of the things I already knew. On the actual day itself, I had a busy diary. My inbox was filled with emails. I was starting to have thoughts that I just didn’t have time to go. My line manager emailed me that morning asking if I was going and offered for us to go together. That made me decide I should make the time for this.  

So, I went. I wasn’t being completely arrogant in that I did already know some of the information shared. I also learnt some new things I was unaware of. For me, the most valuable part of the session involved hands-on training using prosthetic breasts and testicles which contained lumps that simulate cancers.  

I can’t lie… it felt completely weird doing this amongst work colleagues and students, some of whom I knew, some of whom I didn’t. The Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer were in the same group as me – it wasn’t your standard day at work, for sure! Whilst initially I felt a little uncomfortable, I realised I needed to grow up. If the prostheses were for any other parts of the body, I wouldn’t have been having those feelings.  

Ten months later, I was at home lying in bed. It was a December morning and I was in that state of being half awake, half asleep. Unconsciously, I ran my hand over my chest. I turned over in bed and there it was. A tiny, but very hard lump on the side of my breast. Instantaneously it triggered the memory of feeling the lump in the prosthetic breast during the training session. It was a horrible moment. One I will never forget. Adrenaline flashed through my body. I ran to the bathroom and wretched. I just knew.  

I went to my GP the very next morning. He confirmed there was a palpable lump but tried to reassure me. He told me that this was very common. When lumps are investigated, they are very often found to be benign cysts or fatty mass. He was absolutely correct in what he told me. I was referred to the Breast Care Centre at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester. Unfortunately, as well as the lump, the mammogram showed some signs of what are called calcifications. These manifest on the image as tiny white dots in clusters. They appeared in two different areas. I was told this could be a sign of early-stage cancerous cells. I had an ultrasound and they took a biopsy from the small lump. During the biopsy procedure, the doctor told me I had done very well to find the lump. It was just 2mm in size. It was cold comfort at the time but underlined once more the importance of the training I had received.  

At the time, I was 37 years old. I was not aware of any family history of breast cancer, I had never smoked and whilst there is always room for improvement, I led a reasonably healthy lifestyle. I had never been someone who didn’t believe that anything like this would ever happen to me, but I was pragmatic about things. I was still relatively young and had no reason to think I would experience this.  

After that first appointment, I was referred for more tests. I had two MRI scans and another type of biopsy procedure. From my first visit with my GP it took six weeks to get a full diagnosis. It was a really difficult time. I had been told by more than one doctor that it looked to be very early stage and it was completely treatable.  

In spite of their reassurances, my mind went to really dark places. I have three young children. My twins were just two years old and my older daughter was seven. I worried that I wouldn’t be there for them. That I would miss seeing them grow up. How would my husband cope?  What if the doctors were wrong and it turned out to be worse than they thought? 

The series of appointments and waiting what felt so, so long were incredibly hard. I remember channel flicking one evening and ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here’ was on television. A celebrity was having buckets of scorpions, snakes and spiders thrown all over him. I genuinely thought, ‘I think I’d be alright with that… I’d rather go through that than this mental torture of not knowing what’s going to happen to me.’ It may sound extreme, but I couldn’t suppress those dark thoughts. It made me so angry with myself. As the University’s Market Insight Manager I bang the drum for evidence-based thinking on a daily basis – but I really struggled to think rationally.  

When I took my daughter to school in the mornings, I looked around at the other mums – all in their thirties too. They were laughing and chatting, seemingly without a care in the world. Why was this happening to me? I felt like I had let my children down in the most fundamental way. My body had failed me. Of course, if anyone else in the same position were to say that to me, I would tell them that was complete and utter nonsense. How could you be to blame? Nevertheless, I had those feelings. 

When I got my diagnosis, it was confirmed to be what they had said. A condition called DCIS which is the very first stage of cancer development. It is where the cells are still confined to the milk ducts and before it becomes what is termed as ‘invasive.’ It was an enormous relief to hear this and I realised how lucky I was to have found it so early. For treatment, no chemotherapy or radiotherapy was required but they told me in my case, I needed to have a mastectomy. Sometimes breast cancer surgery involves a lumpectomy where only the affected tissue needs to be removed but as there was DCIS in more than one area, a mastectomy was needed. 

What many people don’t realise is that a mastectomy isn’t one thing. There are different ways of going about it and performing breast reconstructions. In my case, it was possible to have a reconstruction using an implant at the same time as the mastectomy operation. The consultant spoke at length about the aesthetic outcomes of the surgery. I was dismissive of this at first. As far as I was concerned, there were cancerous cells in my body, and I wanted them out as soon as possible and at any cost. The consultant told me firmly that the aesthetics were incredibly important – and she was totally right.  I needed to be able to accept my body for the rest of my life. I would see it every time I showered or dressed, and it was crucial that I was as happy as I could be with it.  

Whilst I was shown pictures of surgery outcomes, I noticed women of all different ages, shapes and sizes in them. It was difficult to envisage what I would end up with. One of the reasons I wanted to write this piece is to highlight how good the surgery outcomes can be. When I attended a follow-up appointment after my surgery, there was a junior doctor in the room. When the consultant told her I’d had a mastectomy her jaw dropped to the floor. She couldn’t believe it. On very close inspection, you can of course see signs that surgery has happened but I am very happy with the outcome. Many women who go through this find the prospect of a mastectomy very traumatic and de-feminising. Those are totally valid feelings that I completely understand. However, I personally don’t feel that way. Like the scar I have from when I had a C-section, I just see it as a sign of something my body went through – and I survived it. 

In March 2020 the country went into lockdown. Like many people during this time, I began to experience some mental health issues. Although I had now been signed off by my consultant, I began to process what had happened to me. I was suffering from anxiety about my health. It usually kicked in on a Friday night when the children were in bed, work was done for the week and I had time to think. At other points in my life, I had previously felt worried or stressed about things but experiencing real anxiety was a totally different thing. I would panic that I was going to get ill again, that it would come back. My thoughts would escalate rapidly to the point that I would feel nauseous, my heart would pound in my chest and sometimes, I went into a cold sweat. It was horrible. I also felt a strange sense of disconnection from my own body. I was afraid of it, of what it might do. For a long time, I was too scared to bathe alone in case I saw or felt something that would take me back to that awful place again. My husband supported me through this amazingly. He would sit with me whilst I had a bath in the evening. We would talk about mundane things and it gave me the distraction I needed. 

I realised that I needed some external help. I have always been quite a solution-focused person and when there are problems, I want to fix them straightaway. The trouble with a mental health issue is that there is rarely an easy or quick fix. I decided to seek some counselling. As we were in midst of the pandemic, I didn’t fancy my chances with the NHS waiting lists so I turned to the University’s EAP (Employee Assistance Programme). I would urge anyone who feels they need any kind of support to use it as I found it an incredibly efficient service. Within 12 hours of completing the online form, I was assessed over the phone. I was then allocated a counsellor and had my first appointment the following week. I received six weeks of completely free and confidential counselling over the phone. This was mainly talking therapy. I told her how I felt, about the anxiety and I cried a lot. She gave me some techniques to help control the panic. I’ll be honest, not all of them worked for me but some were pretty effective and I still use them when I need to. 

One of my biggest struggles was that I felt I should be handling things better. Thousands of other women go through this and with much more serious cancers than mine. Why wasn’t I moving on in the way I felt I should be? Over time I have tried to reframe this and not be so hard on myself. The way I see it, worrying about what might or could happen is an inescapable part of human nature. It’s the ‘fight or flight’ instinct kicking in and anticipating possible danger so we can protect ourselves. What I try to do now, is accept that those thoughts might come but then ask myself, ‘is that a fact or is it a thought?’. 

In December 2021 I got some bad news. My mum, whom I am very close to was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was 69 at the time. It was so distressing because of the love I have for her and because it reopened the box of my own troubles. Fortunately, Mum’s cancer was detected at a relatively early stage but she endured six months of gruelling chemotherapy and lost all of her beautiful, thick hair very quickly. It is so hard to see someone you care about go through that. Because of the advances in treatment and early detection, she got the all-clear just over a month ago. It couldn’t have been a better outcome and we are so, so grateful to the NHS staff who supported and cured her. 

After my first mastectomy, having my other breast removed had always been on my mind and I had discussed it with my consultant a few times. She was very clear with me from the start that this was not medically necessary and she wanted me to give myself more time before making that decision. When the situation with my mum arose I talked to the consultant again and she understood my psychological need to feel I had done everything I could to protect my family and myself from future problems.  

I had several appointments with a health psychologist to assess my reasons for wanting the surgery and to ensure I had fully considered all the implications and arguments for and against it. It’s important that this happened. It’s not right for every woman and all of the health professionals wanted to be certain I would not regret my decision at a later date. 

So, now here I am. I am naturally sore and uncomfortable, but my second operation seems to have gone well so far. I feel sure this was the right decision for me. I’m not advocating mastectomy as the only route to dealing with breast cancer risk by any means. It’s a fairly drastic action but I wanted to highlight that it’s not as frightening as it may sound in case that helps others. 

Of course, as October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I also wanted to reiterate the importance of knowing the signs of cancer and of how to check yourself. High-profile celebrity cases like Sarah Harding or Julia Bradbury do this much more effectively than me – but even if you think you know it all, take five minutes now to remind yourself. This applies to men as well. Whilst it’s rarer, men can also get breast cancer. 

I am proud to say that the NHS saved my life – but I am also proud to say, so did my colleagues at Loughborough University. 

Abbie Loney 
Market Insight Manager, Marketing and Advancement 

Information about the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) 

EAP is a confidential employee benefit designed to help you deal with personal and professional problems that could be affecting your home or work life, health, and general wellbeing. Our EAP service provides a complete support network that offers expert advice and compassionate guidance 24/7, covering a wide range of issues. More information can be found on the University website 

This Weekend At Loughborough | 24th October

October 25, 2022 Jemima Biodun-Bello

Black History Month 

Black History Showcase and Launch of the Black History network in SSH

24 October 2022, 12pm, Edward Herbert Building 

We hope to break down this barrier with the use of visual images of work that has taken or is taking place internally and externally through an art gallery-style showcase. Work includes research, as well as NGO work and other forms of engagement with Black History. 

Find out more on the events page

Exploring Black History: Angelo Soliman, Black agency and ‘scientific racism’ in the European Enligh

26 October 2022, 4:30pm, Brockington U005 

It explores historical and contemporary representations of Angelo Soliman and introduces some insights from our current collaborative research. We show how critical analysis of the racist representations ascribed to Soliman as a Black man in eighteenth-century Vienna can help us to understand and challenge the white normative colonial underpinnings of anti-Black racism in Modern Europe, in its historical and contemporary forms. 

Find out more on the events page

Black History Month Parade

27 October 2022, 1pm, Hazelrigg Fountain  

To round off Black History Month we will be holding a parade. This will be a chance to reflect on events of Black History Month and to think and talk about race at Loughborough with other staff and students. 

Find out more on the events page

Inspirational Black Leaders

27 October 2022, 6:30pm, Brockington U005

Join us and meet Black professionals recounting their career journey to senior positions in the workplace. Come along, listen to their stories and hear their honest advice on how they succeeded in their professions whilst overcoming obstacles in their paths. 

Find out more on the events page

GENERAL

Professor Marcus Enoch: Inaugural Lecture

26 October 2022, 4:30pm, West Park Teaching Hub, WPT003

In this inaugural lecture, Professor Marcus Enoch will present his own journey researching transport systems and the factors influencing their development, with a particular focus on how transport might evolve in the future.

Find out more on the events page

Eco Replenishers, Zero Waste Pop-Up Shop

25 October 2022, 12pm, Edward Herbert Building  

Start saving your jars, takeaway containers, and other packaging so you can bring them to campus and fill up on dried food goods, and cleaning supplies in a sustainable way! They sell sustainable, vegan and cruelty-free cleaning solutions, beauty/personal care products, food goods, and toiletries. 

Find out more on the events page

Diwali Lunch

28 October 2022, 12:30pm, Robert Allison Suite, Holywell Football Stadium

Celebrate Diwali with a three-course meal.

Find out more on the events page

LAGS Fruit Pressing Event

28 October 2022, 2pm, Prairie Garden 

This event is an additional harvest event where members from Transition Loughborough will be pressing campus apples and pears into juice for people to drink or take home to make cider. Please bring a bottle(s) to take juice home with you. The event will be held in the prairie garden, close to the LAGS garden.

Find out more on the events page

Diwali Dinner and Dance

29 October 2022, 6:30pm, Village Bar and Restaurant

Celebrate Diwali with a three-course meal and entertainment. 

Find out more on the events page

LSU

LSU Houseplant Sale

26 & 27 October 2022, 10am, Union Lawn

Want to make your friends back home green with envy? LSU are thrilled to let you know that the Houseplant Sale is back for two days only. Cash, card and contactless payments are all accepted!  In the fight against plastic, we would love it if you could bring your own re-usable bag 

All staff and students are welcome!  

Find out more on the events page

CAREERS NEWTORK EVENTS

Business and Enterprise Group Coaching

24 October 2022, 12pm, Online

Peer support happens when people who have similar experiences of facing challenges come together to support each other. So come along and join likeminded friendly and supportive peers led by one of our LEN team members, to work through business queries together!

Find out more on the events page

Making the most of your Masters

24 October 2022, 5pm, Online 

This session is for current postgraduate taught students. We will consider your motivations for undertaking PG study and how to make the most of your time to prepare for moving into employment.

Find out more on the events page

Digital Skills to help your employability 

25 October, 1pm, James France


We will look at how you can manage your digital footprint to protect yourself online, provide advice on things to consider from an employability perspective with your social media profiles, tips on managing your email inbox and advice on data protection.

Find out more on the events page

Online Mock Assessment Centre 

25 October, 6pm, Online 


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

Find out more on the events page

Developing Self-Awareness for Success

26 October, 12pm, EHB, J.002

This presentation covers the importance of self-awareness and reflection, how to improve your skills in this area and how it can enhance your future employability.

Find out more on the events page

L’Oreal Lock in Skills Session

26 October, 1pm, West Park Teaching Hub, WPT006


This session will be an insight into the business of beauty, how we work withing that and how you can create an impact as an early careers talent in the future. 

Find out more on the events page

Royal Air Force Presentation 

27 October, 6pm, West Park Teaching Hub, WPT.005

The Royal Air Force isn’t just about aircraft and the people who fly them. There are over 50 different career paths available with many opportunities suitable for graduates, as well as sponsorship options for undergraduates. If you haven’t considered an RAF career before, why not have a look? It may just surprise you.

Find out more on the events page

Meet Grace!

October 24, 2022 Loughborough University School of Science
I can’t wait to work alongside Katrina, Simona and Rupo to spread awareness of the gender stereotypes in science which still need to be addressed.
Returning to Study

Returning to Study

October 24, 2022 Guest Blogger

‘Old ways won’t open new doors’. Truer words have never been spoken in my opinion. In today’s globalised world where change is the only thing that is constant, continuous learning is the only way to keep up and remain relevant. Just as food fuels our bodies, knowledge fuels our minds, and this knowledge can come from anywhere. So this is not me saying you have to go to school nor is it a ploy to get you to enrol at Loughborough University although it would be splendid if you did!

Morolake Macaulay (Rola) in front of Pilkington Library,
Blue skies and sunshire at Pilkington Library.

For me, the desire to change my perspective and find new and improved ways to open the doors ahead of me is a major reason I decided to return to studying after graduating in 2016. I have big dreams of where I want to go in life, professionally speaking and I just knew deep down that for me to get there, I needed to be grounded in the theoretical and practical elements of business and so I chose to take a master’s degree in International Business. Additionally, I finished my undergrad with an unrealised goal which was to graduate with a First Class. I finished with a 2:1 and was three points away from a First and it might sound silly, but it knocked my confidence down because I worked hard to ensure I achieved my goal. I wanted another chance and right now, I am on track for a First Class which is great. 

Morolake Macaulay (Rola) studying in Pilkington Library.
“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” – Ryunosuke Satoro

Between graduating in July 2016 and returning to uni in October 2022, I’ve worked in various progressive roles and across various industries. I started out as Marketing Assistant with a travel company and worked my way to becoming an Assistant Brand Manager at an FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) company which is a subsidiary of Coca-Cola. In my role, I was responsible for developing and supporting the successful execution of marketing and brand campaigns to deliver the organisation’s objectives and drive business growth. So putting a progressive career on hold to return to school was a major decision. 

Morolake Macaulay smiling.
A little blue to keep the Monday blues away.

Postgraduate study is a different to undergraduate study. PG study is the kind of holiday where you hike to every attraction site and hope you can find a lift back to your hotel. The hiking trip is where you learn your core strengths and competencies. It’s also where you identify your shortfalls and make necessary adjustments to make them less of a weakness. 

PG study prepares you for the real world whereby nothing is handed to you. You learn to find your way and that way, the knowledge and experience is wholly yours.  

Morolake Macaulay (Rola)
All about sun days.

The major challenge for me was getting my mind back into academia because I missed working but it was ephemeral. By the second half of Semester 1, I had found my crew of like-minded people and we supported each other at every stage of the way with occasional meet-ups for drinks in between. The new perspective I now have, whilst still undergoing my course, has enabled me to work in the capacity of a consultant for friends, family and intergovernmental organisations all from the comfort of my student accommodation. I have a better understanding of the business environment, of industries of interest and of people. Post-graduation, I have no doubt that I’ll be back to work but better at it. So, if you’re thinking of taking a break from working to return to studying, this is the call to do so. Knowledge is never wasted.

Written by Morolake Macaulay (Rola)

From the Vice-Chancellor: Cost of living crisis

October 19, 2022 Nick Jennings

Dear Colleagues,

I am very aware of the current cost-of-living crisis the country is experiencing and I am conscious that this will be having an impact on everyone, to a greater or lesser degree. In response, I have been in discussion with senior leaders and with union colleagues about what support we can provide to both our staff and students. Details of the support for students will be shared when they are ready.

We have developed a financial wellbeing website for staff. I would encourage you to take a look as it contains lots of helpful guidance on financial wellbeing, as well as signposting to organisations who can provide specific support.

Additionally, I am pleased to let you know that we have taken the decision to make a one-off payment to most colleagues. In making this decision, we are conscious that research shows that the current financial situation is likely to have a greater adverse impact on lower earners and will therefore be paying lump sums on a tiered basis based on earnings. 

Our current financial position means that we are able to make these payments at this point in the academic year. This is a result of a number of factors including project delays and the higher-than-normal number of vacancies seen across the University. These savings are time-limited and will diminish as we return to expected levels of resource and activity, but it gives us a unique opportunity to make these one-off payments to colleagues. 

We have carefully considered how best to do this to ensure that colleagues who are most likely to be affected by the crisis receive the most in order to support them. We have decided to make payments as follows:

  • Staff earning up to and including a full-time equivalent salary of £31,411 per annum (spinal point 26 and the top of the normal range for grade 5) will receive a single payment of £1,200, pro rata for part-time staff subject to a minimum payment of £250. 
  • Staff earning a full-time equivalent salary of between £32,348 and £51,805 per annum (spinal point 43, the top of the normal range for grade 7) will receive a single payment of £750, pro rata for part-time staff subject to a minimum payment of £250.
  • Staff earning a full-time equivalent salary between £53,353 and £67,541 per annum (spinal point 52, the spinal point below the grade 9 minimum) will receive a single payment of £500, pro rata for part-time staff subject to a minimum payment of £250. 
  • Any staff in receipt of a market or retention supplement or a pay allowance, eg shift or flexibility allowance, that takes their total pay above the salary thresholds above will receive a payment calculated using their combined salary and allowance/supplement. 
  • People who have worked more than 200 hours in the last 12 months on a casual basis and who have worked during October 2022 will receive a payment of £200.

This will be paid with the November payroll and it will be subject to the usual tax and national insurance deductions. Any member of staff who leaves during November will not receive the payment. 

If you are in receipt of Universal Credit, I am aware that this payment may have an impact on the benefits you are receiving. If you would prefer to receive the lump sum in five instalments (November 22 – March 23) then please contact the HR Payroll Team by email before 1 November 2022 by emailing payroll@lboro.ac.uk.

I am pleased that our current financial situation enables us to make these exceptional one-off payments and I hope that the payment goes some way to support you over the coming months.

Best wishes,

Professor Nick Jennings
Vice-Chancellor and President

This Week at Loughborough | 17 October

October 17, 2022 Jemima Biodun-Bello

Black History Month 

CARE x Citizens UK Anti-Racist Listening Campaign: What’s Next for Loughborough

19 October 2022, 2:15pm, Edward Herbert Building 110A/B

The event will focus on how we are planning to progress race equity this year in line with our three main asks as discussed already and documented.

We will hear from Charlotte Croffie, Pro Vice-Chancellor for EDI, Nick Jennings, Vice-Chancellor, supported by Richard Taylor, Chief Operating Officer.

Find out more on the events page

Black History Month Enterprise Event

19 October 2022, 5:30pm, Start Up Lab, STEM 2.01 and MS Teams

Interested in entrepreneurship, learning new transferable enterprise skills and expanding your network? Join the Careers Network at their Black History Month Enterprise event!

There will be a Q&A panel with entrepreneur founders who will be speaking about their businesses and enterprise experiences.

Find out more on the events page

Black and Empowered: Celebrating Black Talent

20 October 2022, 6:30pm, Martin Hall 

An evening celebrating Black talent, including an inspirational keynote from Claud Williams, a talent showcase from some of our incredibly talented students on campus and a chance to meet and network with other students.

Find out more on the events page

Black Comic Book History Month

21 October 2022, 11am, Online  

Come join us as we look at the past one hundred years of comic books, and the Black artists, writers and characters that helped shaped them.

Find out more on the events page

GENERAL

Get Ahead Together: Welcome event

19 October 2022, 6pm, James France Exhibition Area 

We have an exciting opportunity for first-year undergraduate students to join our Get Ahead Together Programme that takes place in semester one. 

Get bespoke support from a peer mentor at the start of your academic studies through four unique group discussion sessions across semester one on the topics:

  • Step into Study at Loughborough
  • Managing Money and finding a job
  • Study skills
  • Confidence and Handling Challenges

Find out more on the events page

Arts Scholarship Drop-In

20 October 2022, 12pm, Online  

Drop into this online event for help with your Arts Scholarship application and find out more about the scheme.

To help you with your application – or decide whether or not you think you should apply – we’re running this online drop-in event. This is a chance to ask any questions you might have about the scholarships and the application process. You might want to check your eligibility to apply, discuss your ideas (particularly for the type of support/mentoring you might ask for), ask about what supporting evidence to include or find out more about the selection process.

Scholarships are open to all current Loughborough University students (UG, PGT and PGR) from our East Midlands and London campuses.

Find out more on the events page

CAREERS NEWTORK EVENTS

Finalist Futures: Exploring postgraduate study 

17 October 2022, 12pm, Online  

Many finalists are considering whether further study is a good choice for them as their next step after graduation. But what options are open to you, what do you need to consider when choosing, and where can you find the information, you’ll need? Join this session to find out.

Find out more on the events page

Autumn Careers Fair

18 October 2022, 11am, Sir David Wallace 

This is one of the largest higher education careers fairs in the UK, with over 130 employers from across the world attending. These employers will be promoting opportunities within their organisations. From graduate and placement roles to vacation and volunteering opportunities – there’s something for all year groups and degree disciplines. 

There’s going to be a range of top companies attending including Amazon, JLR, Just Eat, Mercedes AMG, Mondelez, Samsung, Aldi, HSBC, PepsiCo, Tui, TJX, Boeing, Deutsche Bank, Next, JCB and many more!

We understand that Careers Fairs can be busy and noisy events which can make them an overwhelming experience. For those who may have difficulty attending, there is a quiet time slot starting at 10:30am to allow for a calm half an hour before the doors open at 11am.

Find out more on the events page

How to manage your money at university

20 October, 12pm, James France, D002


This interactive workshop gives an introduction to budgeting, managing finances, and useful advice on how to save money and where you can find support while at University. 

Find out more on the events page

Finalist Futures: Getting a graduate job

20 October, 1pm, Online 


Are you starting to think about finding a job, for after you graduate? Are you wondering where, or how, to begin looking? Bring your questions to this informal session for finalists and find out more.

Find out more on the events page

In person Mock Assessment Centre

20 October, 6pm, James France Exhibition Area 


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

Find out more on the events page

Simona's placement year

Simona's placement year

October 13, 2022 Loughborough University School of Science
Our Women in Science ambassador shares her experiences of her placement year with RSK, an environmental, engineering and technical consultancy service.
Academic Freedom and Equalities Charters 

Academic Freedom and Equalities Charters 

October 11, 2022 Guest Author

In May, the Acting Chief Executive of the Office for Students tweeted a link to a SpikedOnline article that heavily criticised Advance HE’s Race Equality and Athena SWAN Charters. Susan Lapworth’s tweet said, “I’d expect autonomous universities to be thinking carefully and independently about their free speech duty when signing up to these sort of schemes.” 

The article, and Susan’s tweet, are examples of concerns that there are fundamental tensions between a university’s duty to uphold free speech and academic freedom, and equalities schemes designed to tackle inequity in our sector.  

Following discussions with stakeholders, and especially our staff networks, Loughborough University will remain members of the Race Equality Charter, Athena Swan Charter and Stonewall Diversity Champions. We’ve also committed to the IHRA definition of antisemitism. Our position doesn’t mean that we comprehensively agree with, for example, every single policy statement by a sponsoring group. It’s possible to find value as members of the schemes and still disagree with aspects. The schemes though remain important mechanisms to aid progress on matters of equality. We know recent online attacks on the University’s decision to renew our membership of the Stonewall scheme have caused genuine distress amongst some in our community. We want to take this opportunity to reassure and reassert the University’s commitment to all three Charters. 

There is not and never has been an unfettered right to freedom of expression and academic freedom. You can’t falsely shout ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre. Nor can you bully, harass or discriminate against colleagues and students. 

We need to be really clear. Academic freedom and free speech are precious and our University will resolutely defend these. But we also will resolutely deal with bullying, harassment and discrimination where we find it, and take disciplinary action when appropriate. Freedom of speech and academic freedom allow an individual to believe in a Free Palestine, but it is antisemitic to stick such a leaflet to our Jewish students’ noticeboard. Freedom of speech and academic freedom allow the holding of gender-critical academic perspectives, but not the transphobic defacement of material promoting LGBTQ+ inclusivity. These are both real examples from our campuses in recent months. 

We have debated and approved at Senate, resources to help apply our existing duties on academic freedom and freedom of speech. We are well prepared and know how to differentiate in each situation. 

The Government believe freedom of expression to be under such threat in higher education that primary legislation is on its way. Our view is we are unconvinced such legislation is necessary, with already existing strong measures to protect free speech on campus. Regardless we are confident LU’s commitment to advancing equity, diversity and inclusion and free speech & academic freedom, are not in fundamental tension, even if it suits some to suggest they might be. 

To this end a series of ‘Strategic Conversations’ led by Professor Croffie, are being designed to explore actual and perceived tensions that exist across the Equality, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion space.  Further details of these inclusive events will follow.   

Professor Charlotte Croffie, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Equity, Diversity & Inclusion) 

Richard Taylor, Chief Operating Officer 

Green and Serene: The powerful benefits of nature on our mental health

October 10, 2022 Rhiannon Brown

The positive effects that nature has on our mental health is no new topic of conversation, yet it is something that is easily forgotten or overlooked during our busy lives.

A large study was conducted in Denmark which included over 11,000 adults. It was found that those living more than 1km away from an area of green space reported a poorer quality of life than those living closer. The same participants also had a higher chance of experiencing stress than those who lived less than 300m from a green area. From studies such as this, we can understand the extent of nature’s role in mental health and well-being.

Public parks and green spaces provide services, such as the improvement of public health, valued at £5bn per year.

LONDON ENVIRONMENT STRATEGY, PAGE 137

Nature can be defined very broadly- from green spaces such as forests and parks, to blue spaces such as lakes, beaches, and canals. Private gardens, trees on a street of houses, houseplants, and even watching nature documentaries have been found to have positive effects on mental health.

Research has shown that 2-4 hours per week is a perfect amount of time spent in nature for most people. Interestingly, it doesn’t matter when this is achieved. Whether it be on one long Sunday cycle, or across lots of shorter periods of time, the most important thing is that you get in nature in a way that suits your lifestyle.

One way of spending time in nature is through gardening. Landscaping and Gardening Society have an allotment on campus where they spend time on Friday afternoon, growing, planting, and chatting amongst the nature. Whether it’s with them, another organisation, or by yourself, gardening has profound positive effects on mental health. This is not solely through spending time in nature, but also by providing your body with some physical activity (and a sense of amazing achievement when you get to eat something that you’ve grown!).

As many people will know, mental health issues such as anxiety and depression come with a proneness to overthinking, worrying, and becoming trapped in spirals of negative thoughts. Immersing yourself within nature can help by encouraging your focus to be on the natural world around you, allowing your negative thoughts to take a pause. By allowing your senses to take over when watching birds fly above you, trees sway, or the fresh smell of rain, the reminder that the world is so much bigger than what is going on inside our minds comes into play. It is this mindful practice of focusing on the here and now that helps me so much in times of struggle.

“No Mud, No Lotus”

The above book is one of my favourites, written by Thich Naht Hanh, a Buddhist Monk. He discusses this practice of being present in nature, and the freedom it can bring to the mind.

No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering by Thich Nhat Hanh | Goodreads

Investing in green infrastructure would reduce costs to the National Health Service alone by £2.1bn. 

LONDON ENVIRONMENT STRATEGY, PAGE 137

When it comes to how I spend time in nature, I enjoy getting out and about for walks, cycles, swims, and sometimes nature naps (only in summer!). We are so lucky to have our Loughborough campus, where the gardens team do an amazing job of maintaining a gorgeous, biodiverse campus.

I quite often take myself for a nature break along the Fruit Routes on campus to soak up the beauty. There’s even a foraging map for days where you have a bit more time!

Sadly we can’t be outside all the time. To bring nature indoors, I have filled my flat with houseplants… as I’m sure many people will have done since the pandemic. I have included a photo of one of my family’s houseplants that I am still in absolute awe of! I seriously need to get some tips here.

Send some tips, photos, or ways that you spend time in nature to enviroassist@lboro.ac.uk for us to share on social media!

This article is in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being. To read more click here.

This week at Loughborough | 10 October 2022

October 10, 2022 Jemima Biodun-Bello

General

National Theatre Live: Prima Facie

13 October 2022, 7pm, Cope Auditorium

Jodie Comer (Killing Eve) makes her West End debut in the UK premiere of Suzie Miller’s award-winning play. Prima Facie takes us to the heart of where emotion and experience collide with the rules of the game.

Find out more on the events page

LSU EVENTS

Happy Mondays: Clay Creatures 

10 October 2022, 7pm, Michael Pearson Boardroom, LSU

Try your hand at coiling and pinching techniques to create your very own unique clay creatures. This workshop will give you the opportunity to learn the basics of hand-building clay forms in a relaxing, playful way. No experience necessary.

Find out more on the events page

LSU Rag Colour Dash

16 October 2022, 1pm, Union Lawn 

LSU Rag’s iconic Colour Dash is back! Run, walk, cartwheel – however you want to get around the 5k course.  The campus-based run is dotted with paint stations, where you’ll run through a rainbow of powder paint. Be prepared to get messy but it’ll be worth it for that Insta photo at the end! Meet at the Union Lawn at 1pm to get your T-shirt and get started.

Find out more on the events page

Black History Month

Book reading and discussion event with Dr Catherine Armstrong

13 October 2022, 1pm, U005, Brockington Extension

Dr Catherine Armstrong (Reader in Modern History) will be introducing her recent book ‘American Slavery, American Imperialism: US Perceptions of Global Servitude 1870-1914’.

Find out more on the events page

Interrogating Empire in the post-Elizabethan Age: Blackness and the ‘Postcolonial’ Dilemma

13 October 2022, 6pm, U020, Brockington Extension

A discussion on Empire in the Post-Elizabethan Age from a Caribbean perspective by Agostinho Pinnock from Loughborough’s Geography department.

Find out more on the events page

CRCC doctoral researcher contributes to national exhibition on 100 years of broadcasting

October 3, 2022 Cristian Vaccari

From 23 July until 2022 until 31 January 2023, the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford is hosting “Switched on: 100 years of broadcast innovation“. This is he largest exhibition in a series of events organized throughout 2022 by Science Museum Group across Manchester, London and Bradford in collaboration with the BBC to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of broadcasting.

One of Loughborough University’s doctoral students in Communication and Media, Natasha Kitcher, has contributed to the exhibition during a placement and as a freelance curator. Natasha’s doctoral research provides a comparative approach to the history of the Electrophone.

The exhibition looks at different broadcasters, the move from television to streaming, and celebrates some of the key pioneers involved in the development of the medium. Natasha Kitcher has also authored various digital posts around the exhibition, including on Tuning into ChildhoodTelevision and Radio in the Second World War and International Women’s Day.

The exhibition opened in July 2022 and will remain open until January 2023. Tickets are available to book online via the Science Media Museum website.

This Week At Loughborough | 3 October

October 3, 2022 Jemima Biodun-Bello

Black History Month: Keynote from Charlotte Croffie, PVC-EDI

6 October 2022, 5:30pm, CC011 James France and online

This event opens Loughborough University’s celebration of Black History Month, where newly appointed, Pro-Vice Chancellor for EDI, Charlotte Croffie, will talk about her role and her plans for Loughborough.

The talk will begin 6.15pm with light refreshments in the James France Exhibition area from 5.30pm.

A Teams link to watch the talk online will be available closer to the date.

Find out more on the events page

Campus Conservation Walk

3 October 2022, 11am – 12pm, Burleigh Wood

Explore the University woods with Loughborough Greens and University arborist Rich Fenn-Griffin.

As part of LU Arts’ Climate Action campaign, student environmental society Loughborough Greens and Loughborough University’s arborist (tree expert) Rich Fenn-Griffin will lead a pleasant stroll through Burleigh Wood on the edge of campus. Discover the history and ecology of this ancient wood and learn about the local biodiversity of trees and other wildlife.

If you’re new to Loughborough or have never ventured into Burleigh Wood before then this is a great way to familiarise yourself with the nature on your doorstep and get some fresh air and exercise.

Everyone is welcome and no prior knowledge is necessary to join in. Please wear suitable outdoor clothing and footwear.

Find out more on the events page

Happy Mondays: Create your own cyanotype prints (workshop)

3 October 2022, 7pm, Michael Pearson Boardroom, LSU

The Cyanotype, also known as a sun-print, is one of the earliest methods of photography famous for its Prussian blue colour. It is a photographic printing process using iron compounds that produces a dark (cyan) blue print.  Artist Kim Evans will guide you through this magical process. No experience is necessary and all materials will be provided – apart from the leaves and other natural items.

This is a process that embraces simplicity, requires no previous experience and is a great opportunity to spend time working with nature. It is also the perfect chance to unwind during your busy Freshers schedule, get to know our campus and chat to other students while making something to take away and keep.

Find out more on the events page

Globe Café

3 October 2022, 7:30pm-9pm, Edward Herbert Building

The Globe Café happens every Monday in the Edward Herbert Building. It is a chance for international students to meet one another and make friends. Usually there is a different theme each week. Everyone is welcome.

Find out more on the events page

National Theatre Live: Jack Absolute Flies Again

6 October 2022, 7pm-10pm, Cope Auditorium

A rollicking new comedy by Richard Bean (One Man, Two Guvnors) and Oliver Chris (Twelfth Night). National Theatre Live presents Jack Absolute Flies Again, based on Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s ‘The Rivals. After an aerial dog fight, Pilot Officer Jack Absolute flies home to win the heart of his old flame, Lydia Languish. Back on British soil, Jack’s advances soon turn to anarchy when the young heiress demands to be loved on her own, very particular, terms.

Directed by Emily Burns, featuring a cast including Caroline Quentin, Laurie Davidson, Natalie Simpson and Kelvin Fletcher.

Find out more on the events page

LSU EVENTS

LSU SING! KARAOKE NIGHT

3 October 2022, 6:00pm, The Lounge

Grab your mic and cough drops and head to the Lounge to find out who’s the Aretha in your flat and who is just flat….

Find out more on the events page

Bingo Bonanza

3 October 2022, 9:00pm, The Treehouse

Does what it says on the tin. People shout out numbers, and if those numbers are on your piece of paper, you can win some prizes. This isn’t your average bingo night, things can get a bit rowdy. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Find out more on the events page

OUT! FT. Cheryl Hole

3 October 2022, 10:00pm, The Basement

Calling all LGBT+ students and allies: are you coming OUT? Celebrate all things queer at Loughborough’s only LGBT+ club night, right here at LSU!

Find out more on the events page

The Ultimate Uni Survival Guide

4 October 2022, 2:00pm, The Treehouse

We’ve been lucky enough to work with some incredible experts and thought leaders in their field on of these events, but we wanted this one to be a bit different.

The Ultimate Uni Survival guide is hosted entirely by current students or recent grads. It’s a warts and all, no nonsense conversation and Q&A about what being a student right now is really like.

We’ll be diving in on topics around social life, studying and the highs and lows of student life. We’ll be exploring the top tips, tricks and hacks from people that are living the Loughborough Life!

Find out more on the events page

Sing Off

4 October 2022, 6:00pm, The Basement

One of Loughborough’s weirdest and most prestigious traditions. It’s time to represent your Hall by chanting your way to success. Loudest wins. Bring Strepsils.

Find out more on the events page

Outdoor Cinema

6 October 2022, 6:00pm, Union Lawn

Grab your popcorn and head out to the lawn to watch a movie with us… Reveal coming soon!

Find out more on the events page

Quiz Night

6 October 2022, 6:00pm, JCs

You may be smart but are you brainy enough to compete against the whole of Loughborough? Find out in our big Quiz Night and show off your niche knowledge of horoscopes and world flags to impress your new flat mates.

Find out more on the events page

Freshers’ Ball 2022

8 October 2022, 8pm, The Lounge

Freshers has come to an end, but there’s still time for one more party! We’re putting on the biggest night of music, dancing and pure vibes to welcome you into the Loughborough family for good.

There will also be a casino, funfair rides, a photo booth and MORE – you won’t want to miss this one.

Find out more on the events page

From the Vice-Chancellor - September 2022

September 30, 2022 Jonathan Walters

In my first newsletter of the new academic year: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Times Higher Awards, the inaugural Vice-Chancellor’s Awards, new staff appointments, support for Ukraine, the British Science Festival, and the Commonwealth Games.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II

Earlier this month we received the very sad news of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. I know many of you marked the event by signing our book of condolence, leaving floral tributes and sharing your own memories of The Queen’s visits to Loughborough through our social media channels. During the period of national mourning, I was honoured to lay a wreath for The Queen, on behalf of the University, and to attend a reading of the proclamation of the accession of King Charles III at Queen’s Park in the town.

Queen Elizabeth visited Loughborough University twice during her reign. We first welcomed her in 1989, when she visited the campus and the Students’ Union. To mark the occasion she signed a photographic portrait that will now be displayed in the Hazlerigg Building. There is a delightful video of her 1989 visit available on our YouTube channel. Do take a look if you haven’t already seen it.

The Queen’s last visit to Loughborough was in 2003, to officially open the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) National Academy. After observing Academy players practising in the main hall, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh toured the facility, unveiled a commemorative plaque, and signed a portrait photograph and presentation cricket bat.

Loughborough was also honoured with seven Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education throughout Queen Elizabeth’s reign. The biennial awards were established in 1994 to recognise work of outstanding quality and innovation that delivers real benefit to the wider world and public.

Times Higher Education Awards

On 1 September it was revealed that Loughborough University has been shortlisted for the prestigious Times Higher Education (THE) University of the Year award and the Outstanding Estates Team award. Both nominations recognise our response to the Covid-19 crisis and are testament to the way in which the whole University community, both staff and students, pulled together during one of the most challenging times we have all ever faced.

The University of the Year nomination also recognises the role we played in influencing the national higher education sector response, and our leadership on asymptomatic testing, Covid risk assessments and student welfare. The Outstanding Estates Team submission references the huge operational role played by the Covid Logistics hub, providing support to around 1,500 isolating students.

The winners will be announced at an award ceremony in London on 17 November. I’m sure we will all have our fingers crossed that evening.

Inaugural Vice-Chancellor’s Awards

Winners at the Vice-Chancellor's Award ceremony

This week we announced the winners of the first-ever Vice-Chancellor’s Awards, which have been established to recognise the ways individual staff and teams across the University have demonstrated our strategic aims and values.

You can see details of all the award recipients online. Each winner was presented with a bespoke Loughborough-made award, which was designed by Creative and Print Services in Marketing and Advancement. The award is made from laser-cut Perspex, which was skilfully created by the STEMLab staff, mounted on a base of wood reclaimed from former University buildings. There’s a video showing the creation of the awards, which is well worth a watch.

Awards such as these allow us to raise the profile of the many excellent things we do at the University. As well as the Vice-Chancellor’s Awards, we have the University Medal, which celebrates the best of the Loughborough community, and our Honorary Degrees, which recognise the work of individuals around the world. Although the latest round of nominations for these awards has now closed, I would encourage you to consider who you think should be put forward for future rounds.

Special Envoys for India and Associate Deans for Research and Innovation

The creation of the Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation role brought together research and significant parts of the innovation agenda, enabling us to reshape the Associate Dean posts within our Schools that support these important areas of our activity.

I am delighted that we have now appointed to each of the new Associate Dean for Research and Innovation roles, with details available on our website. My congratulations to all of them on their appointment.

I am also pleased that we have now recruited Dr Kirti Ruikar and Professor Bala Vaidhyanathan as our first two Special Envoys for India. The Special Envoys will play a key role in delivering the International Engagement and Impact Core Plan, which forms a part of the University’s strategy Creating Better Futures. Together.They will be responsible for leading the University’s regional strategy for India and will work closely with me to develop relationships with partners in the region.  

Dr Ruikar is Programme Leader for the BSc Architectural Engineering and Design Management degree in the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering. Professor Vaidhyanathan is an expert in Advanced Materials and Processing and coordinates the Loughborough-Asia Materials Partnership (LAMP) programme promoting teaching and research links with India.  

I look forward to working with Dr Ruikar, Professor Vaidhyanathan and all the new Associate Deans for Research and Innovation as we drive forward our global ambitions.

Support for Ukraine

With the war in Ukraine continuing, we have expanded our support for colleagues and students in the country by signing an agreement with the Ukrainian Global University (UGU) – an initiative that brings together educational institutions from around the world to provide education and research opportunities to Ukrainian students and scholars to enable the rebuilding of Ukraine. 

This latest partnership builds on the memoranda of agreement we signed with two Ukrainian universities in July, and all are part of an initiative called Twin For Hope, run by Universities UK International. 

Our partnerships are already starting to make a tangible difference. For example, we have welcomed our first Ukraine Academic Fellow to the School of Social Sciences and Humanities, three Doctoral Researchers will start their PhDs in October, having received one of Loughborough’s Ukraine scholarships, and staff and students from the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering have supported a summer school project for Ukrainian students and school-leavers to develop the skills and knowledge needed for the post-war reconstruction of their cities.

British Science Festival

Each year the British Science Festival – which aims to celebrate the people, stories and ideas at the heart of science, engineering, technology and social science – is held in a different town or city in the UK. This year’s five-day Festival was based in Leicester, with academics from Loughborough University hosting four events.

Dr Roger Newport from Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences led two events: a talk exploring how well we understand the relationship between pain, and other sensations, and what’s really happening to our bodies, and then a drop-in session looking at mind-bending body illusions

Loughborough’s SlowCat team – led by Professor Sandie Dann from Chemistry and involving academics and Doctoral Researchers from Chemistry, Automotive Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Materials – showed visitors how they are transforming biomass into fuel and many everyday items with the help of special new catalysts. 

On the final day of the Festival, a team of our Physicists hosted a family engagement event titled ‘Life Through a Lens’, to show how the science of imaging can help us to live and work more sustainably, stay healthy and explore the secrets of the universe.

Events such as these enable us to take our research and innovation to a broad public audience and crucially help us to engage young students in science, engineering and technology. My congratulations to all those who were involved in organising, managing and hosting events at the Festival.

The 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games

While the summer may be over, I wanted to reflect on the fantastic performance of the Loughborough-linked athletes at the Commonwealth Games, who brought home a record total of 47 medals – 14 gold, 17 silver and 16 bronze. If Loughborough were a country, we would have finished sixth in the overall medal table, ahead of South Africa, Jamaica and Nigeria. A truly phenomenal result that is testament to the dedication, hard work and commitment not only of the athletes themselves, but also the coaches and many support staff who help them on their way.

There are so many highlights it is difficult to mention just a few. But who could forget alumnus James Wilby winning the men’s 100m breaststroke gold, our eight Loughborough players and staff winning an historic England Women’s hockey gold, current Loughborough student Daniel Wiffen winning Northern Ireland’s second-ever medal in the pool, and Olivia Broome, another current Loughborough student, winning silver in Para Powerlifting.

Among those cheering on our athletes were the lucky staff who received free tickets to the Games as part of a ballot for Grades 1-5. Having seen some of your photos from the events, you seemed to have an absolutely wonderful time. I know that all of us who watched the Games, either in Birmingham or at home, were incredibly proud of all our athletes, coaches and support staff.

7 Simple Steps to Being a Sustainable Student

September 26, 2022 Rhiannon Brown

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 movement to 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 being sustainable at Loughborough.  These 7 quick, easy, and everyday steps, and the further information they link to, will help you and us manage our everyday climate and environmental impact.

STEP 1: Stay in the Loop

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

STEP 2: 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 help our staff and Students make informed choices whilst here on campus and out in the community.

  1. Carry a re-usable – Support the Ditch the Disposables campaign by carrying a reusable cup, water bottle, and even lunch box.
  2. Donate – Your unwanted clothes in the British Heart Foundation Banks across campus, most halls have one so there are plenty of opportunity to give back. Support the Give ‘n’ Go campaign in halls during move-out period, or the Choose to Reuse campaign for those who live in town.
  3. Know your bins – The university works hard, with both staff and students, to manage our waste, seeking opportunities to reduce waste, maximise reuse, increase recycling, and divert waste from landfill at every opportunity.  To help you dispose of waste and recycling correctly, we have plenty of signage around the campus and in halls as part of our ‘waste… let’s get it sorted’ campaign which encourages ‘right stuff, right bin…’ as this helps reduce contamination and improves recycling rates.  We also have our A-Z of recycling which provides further guidance on specific waste items, and if you need further advice you can contact us through waste@lboro.ac.uk
The Loughborough Cup

STEP 3: 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 hall’s carbon footprint. 

  1. Don’t Standby… It’s Better OFF to Switch off before you leave your room, help us reduce our energy use as we strive to make the campus achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
  2. Dress suitably. If it’s 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!)
  3. If you’re in halls, ask your Campus and Sustainability rep if you can host an energy black-out to earn points for your hall in the Student Green League!

STEP 4: 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.

  • Try walking – we have a lovely green campus
  • Try Cycling – it’s the easiest way to get around campus and not only does it help reduce our carbon impact, but it helps you keep fit and healthy and there are plenty of bike racks.
  • Try Public Transport – the campus shuttle is free whilst on site and, for a small fee, a good way to get in and out of town

STEP 5: Shop Sustainably

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

  1. Shop at the Green Pea – the Students Union pop up sustainability shop promoting sustainable products and reuse
  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.
  4. Take your bag for life when you hit the shops.
Zero Waste Shop

STEP 6: 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 importantly spend time 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. Loughborough Greens – A space for students who empathise with the current climate catastrophes, seek climate justice and are eager to prevent further loss of biodiversity and ecological destruction.

STEP 7: Get involved

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

  1. Come to one of our events –– which we will promote via our social media
  2. Support your Hall Campus and Sustainability rep’s activities if living in halls and get involved in the Student Green League!
  3. Sign up as a Sustainability Ambassador – email enviroassist@lboro.ac.uk to find out more
  4. Volunteer with Action within the local community
Student Volunteers for Hedgehog Friendly Campus Litter Pick

The 7 steps above helps support the University’s Environmental Policy

This article is in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 11: Sustainable Cities & Communities. To read more click here.

CRCC to host the 8th conference of the International Journal of Press/Politics

September 20, 2022 Cristian Vaccari

The Centre for Research in Communication and Culture is delighted to host the eighth conference of The International Journal of Press/Politics, an interdisciplinary journal for the analysis and discussion of the role of the press and politics in a globalized world. After two years in which the conference was successfully run online, this year the conference returns to Loughborough University’s Holywell Park Conference Centre. Seventy scholars from many different countries and disciplines will be present.

The conference will open on the 21st of September with a public keynote speech by Professor Maria Repnikova (Georgia State University), titled “Advancing Research on Communication under Authoritarianism”. It will then continue on Thursday and Friday with an intense program of panels spanning across various key contemporary topics around the relationship between media and politics in an international context.

The full program of the conference is available here.

A different kind of diversity

September 20, 2022 Lara Skelly

By Lara Skelly, Open Research Manager for Data and Methods

A few years ago, I submitted a methodological paper to a discipline-specific journal. The reviewers were not kind, one of them saying “There is no narrative of the findings.” Well naturally not, as the findings were the methodology I was describing. While entirely likely that I presented the purpose of the paper poorly, being a freshly minted PhD with limited publication experience, I remember the confusion I felt around the limited expectation of the reviewers.

Methodological papers are still a rarity, despite the slightly increased popularity that I saw during the COVID lockdowns. Most researchers that I encounter still see the typical paper of introduction-literature review-methods-results-discussion as the only format worth putting out into the world. And as is the case in any one-size-fits-all approach, much is lost by this homogeneity.

Research and the people who work in research are anything but homogenous. I have seen all manner of opinions of what counts for science, what data are, and ways of engaging with their craft. I’ve known researchers who are interested in the broad and the narrow, the individual and the collective, the future and the past. Boxing this variety into a homogenous communication is in this day-and-age, down-right daft.

We are in a wonderful age that strives to see diversity as a celebration. The time has come to celebrate the diversity in our research as well. To recognise that the typical paper format is perfectly fine, but researchers are not restricted to it. Sharing code, protocols, data, any of the ingredients of our research is one way that we can live our diversity, upholding a value that has become global.

Thanks to Katie Appleton and Gareth Cole for insightful comments on early drafts.

An update from the Vice-Chancellor: Industrial Action

September 14, 2022 Nick Jennings

As you may know, there are a range of matters nationally where the UCU trade union has been in dispute with employers. Locally we continue to work collegiately with colleagues in our UCU branch, and I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on that work. 

USS pension scheme

UCU nationally have made a number of requests, some of which we agree with and some with which we do not. There are some key points which we have committed to and agreed locally with our branch to support. We affirmed these in a joint statement with the local branch earlier this year and reaffirm them now.

Since then, Universities UK has launched a consultation on governance reforms for the USS pension scheme. You will remember from previous correspondence that the University has been supportive of such a review, and we agreed with our local branch that Richard Taylor, Chief Operating Officer, would put himself forward for the Review’s liaison group. We are in agreement with local branch members that any review of governance must address the lack of trust between all the parties, and Richard will make this point on our behalf if he is selected. This is one example of how we are attempting to influence this dispute at a national level.

Pay

Nationally negotiated, this is the hardest item for us to address at a local level. Our biggest single income line, the regulated undergraduate student fee, has barely changed in a decade and will remain frozen during this period of high inflation.

In the same period, the University’s pay bill has increased by circa 20% and employer pension contributions have risen significantly. This inflationary squeeze on the University financial model will be compounded by the current high levels of inflation; our utilities charge alone has risen from £7m in 2020/21 to an expected £14m in 2022/23. We are making cost savings wherever possible and working hard to avoid compulsory redundancies, and we have had significant success in diversifying our income streams. This financial model however remains a challenge, and to address this we are looking at how we can increase our income through various other means. One example is our work to establish a Private Pathway Provider to help increase our international student recruitment. We are also working closely with Imago to increase their profitability which, in turn, supports the University’s financial position.

It is within the constraints of this tight financial model and national bargaining, that I have asked our HR team to work on reviewing our pay, reward and benefits package and to identify how we can make changes that will enable us to continue to be competitive in the changing world we are living in. For example, we are looking at a range of options including our commitment to paying the Real Living Wage, while Project Expectations, one of our enabling plans for our new strategy, will be reviewing our reward arrangements.

Equality

As you will know, we have committed in our new University Strategy to become increasingly diverse, equitable and inclusive as an organisation. A significant amount of work is underway, led by the newly created Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Sub-Committee, which will be instrumental in coordinating activity and driving forward progress. This will be converted into a full formal Committee of the University during the coming academic year. Read more about our achievements and plans.

Professor Charlotte Croffie joined us earlier this month as our first Pro Vice-Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and an implementation plan to support our aspirations will be developed in the latter part of 2022. The creation of this new Pro Vice-Chancellor role provides visible and senior leadership in this important area and is, in part, in response to feedback from colleagues at the University, many of whom are from many of the staff networks which indicated that they felt we lacked leadership at the highest level in equity, diversity and inclusion.

One of the areas that I know has attracted media attention recently is our gender pay gap. We have been working hard to understand this gap. Our analysis shows that one of the main reasons why our gap is relatively high in the sector is because we directly employ our operational services colleagues, whereas many other employers outsource colleagues to agencies or third parties. If, for example, we exclude these colleagues from the data set, our median pay gap reduces from 31.3% to 23.2%. We recognise that this remains too high, so there is still plenty of work to do, but it demonstrates how the population of an employer has a big impact on their gender pay gap results.

I want to make it clear that we have no intention of outsourcing these activities. I am very proud that we employ them directly, believe this is fairer and more equitable and makes our organisation more effective. We will, of course, continue to work on improving our pay gap results as part of our ambition to be more diverse, equitable and inclusive. Actions include a comprehensive review of our RTE academic promotion processes and criteria, two development programmes for women, the TORCH programme, participation in the 100 Black Professors Now external programme, and applying positive action, where appropriate, in our recruitment practices.

Although there is no statutory requirement to publish our race pay gap data, we have published our data from 2020. We will publish both our gender and race pay gaps for 2022 in the spring of next year.

Workload

One of the first projects to be established in support of the delivery of the new strategic plan is Project Enable. This has been set up to create capacity within Schools and Professional Services so that we can deliver on the ambitions contained in the new University Strategy. Stage 1 of the project is complete, with over 70 items being identified as within the scope of the project. 

These include activities such as the streamlining of ethics approvals, faster decisions on research and innovation contracts and improved support around export controls. A number of priorities are being developed for stage two of the project (including student assessment) which aim to reduce workload, bring changes to our culture and ways of working and improvements to our systems and processes. We are liaising regularly with our trade union colleagues on this important work and their insights are providing valuable to the project. Updates on the project can be viewed on the Project Enable webpage

Casualisation

A working group comprising senior leaders and representatives from the campus unions recently agreed and implemented a document setting out some principles on casual working. These aim to make sure that people who work for the University are given an appropriate contract for the work they’re undertaking and are treated fairly while working here. If you are a manager, please make time to familiarise yourself with these principles, if you haven’t already.

We are enjoying some success. In the years prior to the pandemic, we saw a gradual decrease in the use of fixed-term contracts to 13.9% of all contracts being issued. This increased slightly during 2021 up to 16% which is mainly due to the fact that there was a recruitment freeze; consequently, we mainly recruited to externally funded posts during that time, and these are typically fixed term in nature, eg Research Associate. We will continue to monitor this carefully and take action as appropriate. 

Since I joined Loughborough just under a year ago, I have been very impressed with the constructive way that our leaders and campus unions work together. That’s not to say we agree on everything – we quite often have different perspectives and viewpoints, but ultimately, we’re all working towards the same outcome – a great employment experience for our staff that is underpinned by fairness, equity and inclusion and is competitive with other employers.

In addition to those mentioned above, there are other examples of our success in working together, such as the joint statement on PDR, where we agreed on some changes to how the PDR process would run during 2022, and our joint working in response to the pandemic where a number of actions that the University took were as a result of discussions with the campus unions.

We have recently been shortlisted for the Times Higher Education University of the Year award as a result of our response to the pandemic. However, I am not complacent, and I recognise that there is more work to do. I believe our strength is in working together and you have my commitment that this collaborative approach will continue.

If you are a UCU member you will know there is currently a ballot for further industrial action – whichever way you decide to vote, I hope that you can see the genuine efforts to address the issues that matter to you. Working together at a local level enables us to influence the national discussions more effectively, and I would prefer our energies to be focused on this rather than on more industrial action that will further impact our staff and students.

Best wishes,

Professor Nick Jennings
Vice-Chancellor and President

Professor Maria Repnikova to give keynote speech on "Advancing Research on Communication under Authoritarianism"

September 12, 2022 Cristian Vaccari

On the 21st of September 2022, the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture will host Professor Maria Repnikova (Georgia State University) for a talk on “Advancing Research on Communication under Authoritarianism”. Professor Repnikova’s talk will be open to the public and will also serve as the keynote speech for the eighth annual conference of The International Journal of Press/Politics, a leading interdisciplinary journal for the analysis and discussion of the role of the media and politics in a globalized world.

Date: 21 September 2022
Time: 5:00pm
Location: Brockington Building, room U0.20

An abstract of Professor Repnikova’s talk and a short biography follow.

In the current moment of resurgent authoritarianism and democratic fragility, it is timely to reflect on creative approaches to researching political communication in non-democratic contexts. Drawing on past research on media politics in China and Russia, as well as on the current project on China’s diplomatic footprint in Africa, and on other studies in the field, this talk calls for de-essentializing our treatment of political communication under autocracy. Complicating labels like “digital authoritarianism” and “digital iron curtain,” this talk attempts to showcase the dynamism and complexity of political communication practices carried out in and by non-democratic regimes. Specifically, the analysis will interrogate the binary of democracy and autocracy by delving into the evolving repertoire of creative mediatized expression in China and Russia, as well as by exploring some surprising areas of convergence and divergence in how China and the West practice public diplomacy. As part of this reflection, the talk will also address some analytical and methodological tools for expanding our study of political communication to non-democratic contexts, including the importance of comparative case studies and grounded ethnographic fieldwork, as well as the challenges of doing such work in the current political climate.

Professor Maria Repnikova is an expert on Chinese political communication, and an Associate Professor in Global Communication at Georgia State University. She has written widely on China’s media politics, including propaganda, critical journalism, digital nationalism and soft power. Dr. Repnikova is the author of the award-winning book, Media Politics in China: Improvising Power Under Authoritarianism (Cambridge 2017), as well as the recent, Chinese Soft Power (Cambridge Global China Element Series). Her public writings have appeared in the New York TimesWashington Post, and the Atlantic, amongst other publications. Other than working on China, Repnikova does comparative work on information politics in China and Russia. Most recently, she has been researching and completing a monograph on Chinese soft power in Africa, with a focus on Ethiopia. Dr. Repnikova holds a doctorate in politics from Oxford University where she was a Rhodes Scholar. In the past, she was a Wilson Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center (2020-2021), a visiting fellow at the African Studies Center at Beijing University (2019), and a post-doctoral fellow at the Annenberg School for Communication (2014-2016), amongst other positions.

South Asian Heritage Month: Sri Lanka

September 6, 2022 Loughborough University School of Science
From colourism to misogyny, imperialism has created the toxic and rigid systems that we so desperately need to fix.

Loughborough University PhD Awards 2022

September 2, 2022 Dr Katryna Kalawsky

Written by Jaydeep Bhadra & Alex Christiansen

Hello everyone!

We celebrated the Loughborough University PhD Awards 2022 on 29th of July 2022 to recognize the achievements and contributions of Doctoral Researchers (DRs) and staff to the University’s DR community. Following a bit of restitution, it is long due for us to reflect on the event.

First off, congratulations are in order to all the winners and nominees, whether you were able to join us on the night or not. Also, a big thank you is owed to all the wonderful individuals and teams who nominated them! We received a total of 142 nominations, a number which reflects both the amazing work done by doctoral researchers and the appreciation felt by those who benefit.

If we had one goal with this year’s event, it was to make it a proper celebration of you, our colleagues and friends. With help from the doctoral college and the LU events team, what started as a small-scale event quickly became drinks, food, banners, fancy trophies and live jazz music in the company of 120 colleagues from both London and the Midlands. We leave it up to our attendees to measure the success here, but we trust that no less will be required in the future! If you have been enjoying the pictures we have included here and would like to see more from the evening, the full album is available here.

During the event, we presented eight PhD awards to Doctoral Researchers and three to staff who contributed to the doctoral community. We also had the honour of hosting three awards celebrating Open Research Excellence on behalf of the Open Research Committee, a partnership we hope will continue going forward.

Professor Steve Christie, APVC (Doctoral College) said “These awards show the fantastic range of activities and depth of the abilities of our Doctoral Researchers. After a few years of curtailed events, this was a great celebration for our Doctoral Community. With the new University strategy having research and innovation and student experience as two of its aims, the Doctoral College is at the core of helping to deliver the strategy.” 

Finally, thank you dearly to all our presenters, both for being part of the event and for recognising the importance of doctoral research to Loughborough University. Special thanks to the Vice Chancellor, Professor Nick Jennings, and the APVC of the Doctoral College, Professor Steve Christie, for opening the show and for helping with our secret extra-awards at the end.

And speaking of awards, it is high time we give people what they most likely came here to see: nominees and winners.

If you were nominated for a PhD Award and were not able to join us on the 29th, you are still owed a certificate of nomination. As volunteers, we don’t have the capacity to send all of these out, but you can get your certificate at the Graduate House. We also know that a lot of people would like to thank the people who nominated them, but as a rule of thumb we consider that information confidential and likely to skew people’s motivations for nominating. If you nominated someone, you are of course more than welcome to let them know.

What follows is now finally the list of winners and short-listed nominees for the PhD Awards 2022. Thank you for your patience and for your continued support, and congratulations once again to everyone we are about to mention.

The event consisted of a drink’s reception, followed by a three-course dining experience and the prize giving. Professor Steve Christie gave the opening remarks followed by a welcome address by Professor Nick Jennings, Vice-Chancellor. The event was attended by 120 guests comprising of DRs and staffs. Special guests include Professor Nick Jennings, Professor Steve Rothberg, Professor Steve Christie, Professor Rachel Thompson, Dr Duncan Stanley, Dr Katryna Kalawsky, Dr Manuel Alonso, and Dr Rebecca Ginger. Alex Christiansen and Jaydeep Bhadra hosted the evening and the award ceremony.

The criteria of each award with the shortlisted nominees and winners are below. Well done and a huge congratulations to all! We look forward for your continued contribution the DR community. All the best for your futures,

Awards for Doctoral Researchers

  1. Contribution to Knowledge – Presented by Professor Steve Rothberg (Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research)

This award is given to someone who has made significant contributions to their field of study, whether through articles, conference papers, artistic presentations, or any other field-appropriate format. 

The winner is Zhi Hu! Zhi has contributed important knowledge in his field of work, the tunnel construction industry and the carbon reduction agenda. Due to the results of his research into low carbon sprayed concrete, HS2 stands to lower their carbon footprint by tens of thousands of tons of CO2 which is a significant achievement of which he should be immensely proud.

The shortlisted nominees were Anna Tholen/ Aravind Kanna Kundumani Janarthanan/ James Tinkler/ Lei Ye/ Maria Goodwin/ Priyanka Ghosh/ Renee Karunungan

  • DR Teaching Excellence – Presented by Professor Rachel Thomson

This award is given to a doctoral researcher who has demonstrated innovative and impactful teaching capability in any capacity. From labs to lectures, seminars to supervision, this person has gone above and beyond in their role as an educator.

The winner is Theodoros Marinopoulos! The nominations highlighted his “energetic approach”, his “deep theoretical knowledge of his field” and his “dedication and efficiency” in both online and hybrid teaching.

The shortlisted nominees were Carla Cannone/ Daniel Miramontes-Subillaga/ Ghazaleh Mazaheri-Tehrani/ Kuldeep Singh Sodha/ Samantha Rowland/ Theresa Wege/ Ximing Fan

  • Contribution to Doctoral Researcher Community – Presented by Professor Steve Christie

This award is given to a doctoral researcher who is particularly active outside of their research-centered activities. Their contribution will have substantially impacted the doctoral researcher community at Loughborough University across either of the campuses. 

The winner is Artemi Tonikidou! Artemi runs the SSN book club, and it is through her dedication to this project that she wins this award. Her nominations speak of her outstanding work creating this monthly community and how it offers a “healthy distraction to the, sometimes stressful, research work”.

The shortlisted nominees were Alizee Cambier/ Evelina Palkanoglou/ Felicity Slocombe/ Izabela Lackowska/ Josh Thompson/ Richlove Frimpong/ Will Chartier

  • Contribution to the Wider Community – Presented by Dr Duncan Stanley

This award is given to a doctoral researcher who is particularly active outside of their research-centric activities. Their contribution will have been outside of Loughborough or to the wider Loughborough family, including Loughborough Students Union activities, volunteering, or any other contribution to the wider community.

The winner is Ruby Appiah-Campbell! Ruby founded the charity Life Beacon with the goal of “educating and mentoring young people”. Her nominations describe her work as “remarkable” and highlight the positive feedback already received from schools.

The shortlisted nominees were Angharad Evans/ David Whitfield/ Felicity Slocombe/ Festus Adeyemi/ Iman Khan/ Ishan Nadkarni/ Viktoriia Startseva

  • Sub-Warden of the Year – Presented by Dr Manuel Alonso

The Sub-warden of the year award is given to a doctoral researcher who has gone above and beyond in the role of Sub-Warden, and who has used this role to enhance the quality of life for students in their respective hall.

The winner is Wole Adaramoye! His nominations highlighted the degree to which his work has made a difference to the students in his hall and described him as “hard-working” and “incredibly supportive” with a “friendly and charismatic personality” and note that “he serves as an example” to all his contemporaries.

The shortlisted nominees were Huyen Le/ Nicolette Formosa/ Omeiza Haruna/ Priyanka Ghosh/ Sam Faulkner/ Tunmike Olowe

  • Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Champion of the Year – Presented by Dr Katryna Kalawsky

This award is given to a doctoral researcher who has dedicated time to champion equity, diversity, and inclusion in the community through their work and activities. This wide-ranging award recognizes work done to increase awareness of or access for groups such as LGBTQ+, BAME, International doctoral researchers, parents & caretaker, or any other group of doctoral researchers. 

The winner is Rhianna Garrett! Rhianna recently joined the University, but has already made invaluable contributions as an EDI advocate and leader. Her nominations highlight her awareness and attention to structural issues as well as her tireless efforts to affect change both inside and outside of Loughborough University.

The shortlisted nominee was Roman Lukianchuk.

  • Team of the Year – Presented by Dr Rebecca Ginger

This award is given to doctoral researchers (and staff) who have collaborated to plan a successful event, series of events, research group or other endeavor. This will have had a positive impact on the doctoral researcher experience and/or wellbeing. Their work is to the benefit of the entire community at Loughborough University.

The winner is Midlands Graduate School (MGS) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) Conference Team! They received nominations from both our doctoral researchers and staff members who wanted to celebrate this teams’ hard work and dedication to produce an excellent conference.

The shortlisted nominee were Digital Concrete 2022 Organising Committee and delivery team/ Open Research Collective/ PhD SSN/ Research team from the Department of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering/ AACME DR Rep Team/ The Covid testing centre team/ Water-WISER CDT

  • Open Research Excellence – Presented by Theresa Wege

This award looks to celebrate Doctoral Researchers who excelled in learning about, conducting and promoting open research. Open research means to strive for transparency and reproducibility, but also to advocate for new and innovative ways to conduct and communicate research, to engage with non-traditional sources of knowledge and to seek collaboration with relevant communities or societal actors in your research.

The winners are

  • Petra Salaric for “creating interactive content on social media and in a temporary exhibition that bridges the gap between academia and the public” 
  • Beth Woollacott for “authoring a practitioner-facing guidebook on textbook and multimedia design which was in part informed by her own research”
  • Lars Claussen for “promoting open access publishing and transparent and reproducible methodology with industry partners

The shortlisted nominees were Jiayin Guan/ Serena Rossi/ Aakash Bansal​/ Carla Cannone​/ Alessio Norrito​

  • Doctoral Researchers Presidents’ Award of the Year – Presented by Professor Nick Jennings (Vice-Chancellor and President of Loughborough University)

The Doctoral Researchers President’s award is awarded to a doctoral researcher who has been a central figure in the community and has made a significant impact through their research and community engagement. To be nominated for this award a doctoral researcher will have made a sizable contribution to the research culture in their academic school, not only proving themselves to be a great researcher, but also leaving their mark at the institution.

The winner is Aakash Bansal! His nomination said “his PhD was outstanding. Beyond this his all-round exceptional performance includes supporting undergraduate, masters, and other PhD students; investigating faulty laboratory equipment; being a sub-warden; supporting postgraduate taught admissions; Volunteering with STEM outreach and so much more (I would prefer to write 1500 words rather than 50!)”.

The shortlisted nominees were Carla Cannone/ Mark Hutson/ Megan Constable/ Petra Salaric/ Tasha Kitcher/ Xin Yee Tai

Awards for Staff members

  1. Contribution to DR Development – Presented by Alex Christiansen

This award is given to a member of staff who has enhanced doctoral researchers’ personal and professional growth, whether through organising events, lending a hand, or just being an overall ally to the doctoral community throughout the year.

The winner is Dr Matt Vidal! His nomination credits him with transforming the DR experience at Loughborough University London, bringing about a marked increase in PRES results and general DR satisfaction. His contributions are described as “extensive”, spanning from creating a stronger sense of community to providing more opportunities for DR development.

The shortlisted nominees were Dr Hemaka Bandulasena​/ Holly Collison-Randall​/ Lennie Foster/ Professor Liz Peel​/ Peter Godfrey​/ Professor B. Vaidhyanathan​/ Professor Jeremy Coupland​/ Professor Sabina Mihelj/ Berkeley Young​/ Dr Cristian Tileaga​/ Dr Diwei Zhou​/ Dr Jie Meng​/ Dr Kirti Ruikar​/ Dr Duncan Stanley​/ Professor Hilary Robinson

  • Supervisory Team of the Year – Presented by Alex Christiansen

This award celebrates the people who support doctoral researchers on their often-challenging journeys and is given to a team that has gone above and beyond in that capacity. Without teams like these, a PhD would be impossible.

The winner is Dr Dong Li, Professor Jiyin Liu & Dr Wendy Jiao. Their nominations highlight the remarkable level of support, both in terms of research and pastoral care that they give to their students. They are commended for creating a safe and encouraging space to conduct research even in difficult times.

The shortlisted nominees were Silvia Costa, Emily Petherick, Will Johnson​/ Professor Will Whittow, Dr Chinthana Panagamuwa​/ Jin Xuan​/ Dr Mhairi Morris, Dr Liz Akam​/ Professor Lee Bosher, Dr. Ksenia Chmutina/ Professor Hilary Robinson, Professor Marsha Meskimmon​/ Kemefasu Ifie, Nina Michaelidou, John Cadogan/ Julie Stirrup, Rachel Sandford

  • Pete Beaman Unsung Hero Award – Presented by Jaydeep Bhadra

This award is given to a staff member who has positively contributed to the social and/or research experiences of doctoral researchers. This person deserves more credit than they currently get, and we wish to thank them for all their efforts behind the scenes. The award is dedicated to Pete Beaman who won the award in 2018 and is the paragon of an unsung hero

The winner is Berkeley Young! His nominations described him as quite simply “the glue that holds the department together”, highlighting his “positive, kind, and caring” personality and showing appreciation for his many contributions. As one nomination puts it, and I quote, “we are incredibly fortunate to have him in our corner”.

The shortlisted nominees were Dawn Spencer​/ Jessica Noske-Turner​/ Phil Sadler/ Tim Coles/ Tom Carslake/ Tracey Preston

During the event, Special Recognition for services rendered to the Doctoral Community was given to Dr Duncan Stanley and Professor Steve Rothberg.

Duncan spent close to seven years in the Doctoral College and was a well-known figure among the DRs. Throughout some incredibly tumultuous years, he has been a rare constant at the Doctoral College and has contributed immensely to the development opportunities and training that are available to DRs at the university. Duncan helped to build the ladder and to anchor it solidly to the ground for many DRs. Dr Duncan Stanley was felicitated with the special recognition award to recognize his commitment and services to our Doctoral Research community.

Professor Steve Rothberg will be stepping down from his role as Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University in September 2022. Steve is many things to many people; a peerless professional, an irreplaceable asset, a survivor, but above all he is endlessly kind and supportive of those around him. In his role as Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, he has been instrumental in leading the University’s research strategy to new heights, culminating in an outstanding REF result we should all be exceptionally proud of. In addition, he has always been a staunch ally of Doctoral Researchers, listening to and amplifying their voices. It is for these, and many other reasons, that Steve deserves our recognition and appreciation this evening. On behalf of the President’s Team and the Doctoral College community, the VC presented Professor Steve Rothberg with a special award for his service and thanked him. The Doctoral College also made a donation in Steve’s name to the Anthony Nolan Trust.

The event was organised by the DR Presidential team, Alex Christiansen (DR President 2021/22) and Jaydeep Bhadra (DR vice-President 2021/22) with support from Professor Steve Christie and Professor Rebecca Ginger in the Doctoral College, the events team led by Claire Fletcher, the catering team led by Debbie Price. The event was hosted at the West Park Teaching Hub, Loughborough University on 29th of July 2022 and was made possible by the Research Culture Fund provided by the Doctoral College. We are immensely grateful for all the dignitaries and guests who attended the evening!

Happy Anniversary Fruit Routes: 10 years on

Happy Anniversary Fruit Routes: 10 years on

August 18, 2022 Rhiannon Brown

Guest blog from artist and Fruit Routes founder, Anne-Marie Culhane.

In May 2022, we celebrated 10 years of the Fruit Routes- with the first fruit trees having been planted early in Winter 2012. The day to mark the 10 year anniversary successfully coincided with the Transitions Festival, programmed by the Institute of Advanced studies. This felt like an ideal moment to mark and celebrate the Fruit Routes, as well as direct it from being led by myself alongside the sustainability and gardens team, into the hands of a steering group consisting of university and academic staff, students and the local community.  

This mini-festival of the Fruit Routes was titled ‘In Your Hands’, and included many of the elements that have shaped the Fruit Routes’ identity : walks, talks, performances, participation, foraged food and interdisciplinary, ecological and experimental events. Visitors ranged in age, with students and staff among school children and community elders. Both newcomers and those who have been visiting events for many years joined to celebrate the anniversary.  

For me, the most exciting part was the moth trapping with Graham and Anona Finch.  On this cool May evening, the moth traps created a pocket of light that lit up the tree canopies and allowed us to have a glimpse at the active invertebrate life that calls this time their day. It’s amazing how beautiful some of the species are considering they spend their lives flying around in the dark!

Rich Fenn Griffin- Campus Arborist

Tuesday began by teaching the students an eco-activism module from a range of disciplines, with some interesting discussions. Tutor, Fred Dalmasso, led on the intersection of art and activism, covering the opportunities (or lack of them) for collaborative and interdisciplinary working on their courses. The students then walked across campus and took part in the afternoon’s activities on Fruit Routes.

After lunch we hosted the Branching Out UK Treescapes project. This is a project which looks at the social and cultural value of city trees alongside biophysical data . Patrick Ryan, a storyteller, used this event to trial a tree story walk which he will use in different UK cities as part of the Branching Out project. After the walk, students stayed on with Elizabeth Lovely, from the University’s Storytelling Academy, to listen and share their own stories of trees.

Martha Worshing from LAGS (Landscaping and Gardening Society) has been the steady force behind this remarkable and inspirational food growing and biodiversity project.  We spent some time foraging and gathering: nettles, marigold, lavender, lemon balm, ox-eye daisies, clover, chives, garlic mustard, wild garlic, elder flower, rose petals, and jars of campus honey. 

On Wednesday, the foraged goods were delivered to chef Rose Bunce, who made wild cheese from yoghurt, and used the different plants to coat the cheese balls so that people can get a better taste of their flavour! We cooked together with Jo Jennings, a member of the Fruit Routes Steering Group. 

“One of the highlights for me was prepping the afternoon tea treats with Rose and Anne-Marie, using nettles, marigold, wild garlic, and other foraged ingredients to coat cheese balls and decorate cakes.”

Jo Jennings- Member of the Fruit Routes Steering Group

Thursday morning started with talks from Marsha Meskimmon (Director of the Institute of Advanced Studies), Chris Fremantle (Grays School of Art, Aberdeen) myself, David Bell (RADAR at Loughborough University), and Jo Shields (ex-Sustainability Manager), talking about the context of the Fruit Routes within the wider art world, feminist eco-art, the university, and Loughborough town. You can read more about Chris’ talk and experience at the Fruit Routes here.

After this, a panel of Rich Fen-Griffin (campus arborist/tree expert), Paul Conneally (local resident and Fruit Routes poet), Gillian Whiteley (ex-professor of Fine Art), and Alena Pfoser (lecturer) took centre stage.   

I talked about the interdisciplinary nature of Fruit Routes and the importance of levels of care and inclusivity in the project.  I also talked about my surprise at how little progress has been made nationally to shift to more localised and sustainable food systems in ten years. When carbon footprint of food production is so key to reducing carbon emissions, its deeply disappointing that our food systems aren’t being radically reconfigured – in terms of reducing wasted fruit (thousands of tonnes in the UK go unharvested) and maximising the diversity of what we can grow locally in shared spaces, commercial, and private space.   

After this, we took a walk through the Fruit Routes whilst engaging in discussions about the planting, permaculture, project design, and the future of the project. We then arrived back at the Barefoot Orchard with tables set for our Wild Tea. Rose’s food, elderflower cordial, and campus foraged tea (UniT) were laid out. There was a chance to imagine our futures in a cup of campus foraged tea using the art of reading tea leaves. The activity referencing this ancient art was curated by myself and Paul Conneally. People happily shared stories and chose songs to reflect their visions.

“We met some local schoolgirls who walked through the campus and came across the Fruit Routes outdoor tea event at the Barefoot Orchard. They stayed chatting and eating as we welcomed them and showed them the art of reading tea leaves!”

Jo Jennings- Member of the Fruit Routes Steering Group

Later on, a yurt (a large circular tent originally from Central Asia) was prepared for Gillian Whiteley’s performance, ‘Spelling the green knowledge”. An audience gathered for an intense improvisation of words, sound, image making and movement. This was followed by a procession out into the orchard, leading to a ceremonial handing over of the Fruit Routes project to Marsha and David as custodians. Gifts of tiny origami seeds made by artist, and Fruit Routes collaborator, Jo Daccombe were thrown like confetti and gifted to everyone.

The project itself is situated in part on the ‘fertile edges’ of the campus grounds, in close physical proximity to the local community. In ecology, ‘edges’ are the dynamic place where two different ecosystems meet, which brings greater diversity of species. These edges are also the ones that hold the least economic value for the University, but offer an easy to access meeting point for people. It is this sense of community and feeling of being ‘at home’ within the Fruit Routes that makes this project remain so incredibly special 10 years on.

Keep an eye out for future Fruit Routes events!

This project is in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on Land. Read more here.

New DARG site on its way!

August 17, 2022 Saul Albert

We are currently designing a new site for DARG. More soon!

Tips and tricks to acing your GCSE Options

Tips and tricks to acing your GCSE Options

August 16, 2022 Saagar Sutaria
Hi, my name is Georgia and I am just about to start my final year of studying a Psychology with Criminology degree at Loughborough. I understand that choosing what you want to study at GCSE can be a tricky thing to do. There are so many confusing thoughts about your future and how best to make your decision. With that in mind, I would like to give you my tips on a few of the popular questions you are asking!  

How do I choose my GCSEs? 

Every school has their own individual process when it comes to students choosing your GCSE options. It can be a daunting time with such a big decision, but your teachers and advisers are there to help you make the best choice for you! 

The general process involves narrowing down the subjects you currently study, to around 8-11 subjects (depending on the school). It is worth checking with your school how many subjects they expect you to choose and if they have any conditions. For example, all schools will require you to take GCSE Maths, English and  Science. Some schools also ask that you take at least one Modern Foreign Language, so check with your school before you decide!  

What GCSEs should I choose?  

Over the course of your school years, you will have studied a tonne of different subjects! This can make it really difficult to narrow down as you might enjoy more than 11.  

Pick what you enjoy 

The most important thing to think about when making this choice is to pick the subjects you like the most. GCSEs are all about expanding your knowledge and learning about your favourite subjects in more depth, it’s therefore really important that you enjoy these subjects. You will be studying for your GCSEs for 2 years, so you don’t want to get bored.  

Don’t just pick the same subjects as your friends  

Don’t make your choices based on what your friends want to do. As fun as it is to be in lessons with your friends, you don’t want to be stuck studying subjects you don’t like, just because your friend wanted you to. You will see your friends outside of lessons, so you won’t miss out on anything if you pick different GCSE subjects!  

This is your choice and your choice only!  

This is your decision, and the choices of others shouldn’t play a part in the process. Don’t let your friends decide your GCSEs and equally, don’t let your parents decide for you either. Only you know what you truly enjoy, and therefore what GCSE options would be best for you. By all means check in with parents, guardians and teachers and see what ideas they have, but do not feel pressured or obliged to take their advice if you really don’t agree.  

Do my GCSE choices and results affect my future studies?  

In short, YES!  

Your GCSE choices often affect which subjects you can study at post-16 level (A Levels, BTECs etc.). Often schools require a certain baseline level of knowledge for students to be able to study particular subjects in sixth form/college, so you might need to have taken that subject or a similar one at GCSE. Keep this in mind when choosing your GCSE subjects – are there any subjects that you could see yourself studying as an A Level or BTEC.  

Adding to this, sixth forms and colleges sometimes require that you attain certain grades to progress to the next years after GCSEs. It is therefore really important to focus during your GCSE years and work hard to get good grades!  

Despite what some people believe, Universities DO look at your GCSE grades. They also often have minimum GCSE grade requirements much like they do with A Levels. These minimum requirements are often in English, Maths and Science. For example, Loughborough currently requires a minimum of Grade 6 in GCSE English Language and Maths for some of its courses and a minimum Grade 4 for some other courses.  

So, my final thoughts…  

I hope this has given 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. 

Loughborough successfully pilots ‘Freedom School’ across both campuses to enhance anti-racist and decolonial knowledge and increase inclusion for BAME Doctoral Researchers

Loughborough successfully pilots ‘Freedom School’ across both campuses to enhance anti-racist and decolonial knowledge and increase inclusion for BAME Doctoral Researchers

August 15, 2022 Angela Dy
Dr Angela Martinez Dy Land Dr Addy Adelaine partnered to develop a programme promoting knowledge sharing and upskilling for researchers in the topics of anti-racism, intersectionality, and scholar-activism. 

Plasma Drawing Chamber and Bosun’s Mate of the Inbuilt from GreenBox in the Rough

August 11, 2022 Deborah Harty

Edwin VanGoder

Cyber drawing as laser light touches on plasma, that state of equilibrium very hot or cold by which the photon originally “humankinds’ measure of light” seems in a measure quoted in Duchamp’s Why Not Sneeze… where a thermometer in vicinity of marble cubes facing a wire grid as their time space metaphor is esconced with honey comb or virgin honey ie the perhaps sugar cubes in their marble weight surprise like light magnetic fields wrapped around each other in quantum leaps from light to heavy: an ensconced link here to Ars Technicia article on such magnetic field is preserved here … my meaning is to compare the Greenbox as though the flash of light to green shift on Horizon at equator is implicate to the wholeness of new world orders in drawing research in the dawning cosmology. Similarly one might think of this as a kind of daughter field as when Ingres references works in which so much time is invested in a portrait a child grows to age and is removed from picture… or Again: The early Szeeman -Hopps curatorial venture of artistic igloos places creative limbo in the temperatures becoming. Seeking the best one does not want the Rube Cubed to be too useful!.. time melts away our narcissism and we become narcissists assistants in the kaleidoscope of evolving dimensions of world orders on a collective vision. In the drawing the idea of an implicate whole is fielded to single diagonal facets at a grid face which are the subject dimension each to the facet extended in length by polygon representing dimension ie a five sided figure via base representing 4 dimensions similar to the way a century number is a digit removed from its description as in year 1340 of fourteenth century … Heraclitus perhaps playing with this in his Great Year which seemingly found its way into “light year”… In a way the drawing references the way I learned mathematics of a sort in an architects office via simple act of ripping a piece of paper by rolling a cone about the paper crease which takes in the slack of an initial field in to the lengthening gesture…
https://arstechnica.com/science/2022/06/behold-the-magnetar-natures-ultimate-superweapon/

Dimensioning Experience

August 11, 2022 Deborah Harty

Edwin VanGorder

The New Dimensions of Drawing Experience
Waking City Minute Drawing to Cosmic Second Walking through Minutia of the Magnetar as Minotaur upon Space Time

The Magnetar has all the elements for understanding a new order of physics by considering mathematical dimensions: we can begin by considering the Webb Scope currently cooling down to coldest temperature as part of its focusing prelude.
Cosmologically the initial orders of the Big Bangs first seconds created gravitational fields, magnetic and radiation phenomena which interacted with slight cooling so that the quantum turn of event defining motion itself met via cooling at slight discrepancies and so small differences bonded offset in their reading or chain mathematics by which the elements of a plasma or continuous rhythm are fielded to these interference’s as a preliminary time space eventua.
The magnetars or comic ticking neutron stars meeting a weakly generated magnetic field which folds on itself to quantum like leap from magnetic amplification as virtual dimensions make this evident to speed and spin replacing heat… backtracking, if the flash events in which fields collapse the crust to new gamma ray outburst the image of the big bang is reviewed to speed and spin ie mathematical origins behind our familiar heat wave view of big bang. The equal energy distribution of space itself behind space time then can be see in relation to the offset of space time as harboring similar effects as the magnetar eventua in the ontology of our transitive vision by which the stretching out of atoms like the weak single atom cloud around a black hole and its weak copies of information are in that stretching out to a vibrating state a realization towards string mathematics as always re-conceiving dimension according to it’s lights…..

Drawing Research of the Webb Age Scope

August 11, 2022 Deborah Harty

Edwin Van Gorder

Emerging ideas that remain to find focus withing the cosmological drawing research of the Webb age now – dawning pertain greatly to finding within that Bose Einstein concentrate implicated in the cooling of the the Webb-scope instruments that existing tension between plasma and dark radiation as embedded mathematical dimensions by which; to begin with :the conditions of experience simultaneous to phenomenon of physics and mind find resource. This resource being brought to mind span in quick succession the recent solution of the three bodies problem by which the velocity of two find the third as their implicate whole, correspondingly the erratic forms of circulating three body black holes, the tertiary structure enabling the recent invention of quantum fluids, the closer study of magnetars as generating weak magnetic fields which quantum leap in strength as thereby mathematical dimensions and the single atom cloud around special black holes which contain a “weak “ copy of information implicating within the emergent analysis of gravity waves the kink of pulsar information the magnetars suggest is forthcoming…

Personal pronouns: Why do they matter?

Personal pronouns: Why do they matter?

August 4, 2022 Sadie Gration
Image courtesy of Getty Images

The LGBT+ Staff Network has been working with colleagues from across the University to raise awareness about the use of personal pronouns. It can be easy to assume what someone’s personal pronouns are, but your assumption might be wrong.

This piece looks at pronouns in more detail, explaining what they are, when to use them, and why it’s important to respect other people’s personal pronouns.

Learning about personal pronouns is one of the many ways we can make Loughborough University a more inclusive institution which respects and celebrates diversity.

What are pronouns?

Pronouns are words we use to refer to each other in the third person. When we know someone’s gender, we often use gendered pronouns to refer to them. For example:

“Geoff is my partner. He works in the NHS.”
“Have you met Priya. It’s her first day.”

What are ‘personal’ pronouns?

Your personal pronouns are the ones you have decided people should use to refer to you. It’s important that when someone has made you aware of their personal pronouns you always use those, whether or not the person you’re referring to is there.

Gender-neutral pronouns

In everyday speech when we don’t know the gender of the person we’re talking about, we naturally use gender-neutral pronouns such as they/them/their. For example:

“Someone has left their phone behind. I hope they come back for it.”

However, some people use they/them/their as their personal pronouns (rather than he/him or she/her, for example). This may be because their gender identity is not encompassed within the man/woman gender binary. They may call their gender identity ‘non-binary’, ‘genderqueer’ or another similar term. In these instances, he/him or she/her is replaced by they/them. For example:

“David likes coffee. They often buy it from the café.”

“Were you in a meeting with Alex earlier? Their MS Teams background was excellent.”

When should we share our personal pronouns?

It’s helpful to make your personal pronouns known so people understand which ones to use in a given context – you could let people know when introducing yourself in a meeting, or by stating them on any online profiles you have.

Some people may feel uncomfortable sharing their personal pronouns, particularly if they’re unsure about their own gender identity or do not feel ready to share it with others. Therefore, nobody should feel compelled to state or share their personal pronouns. However, it is worth bearing in mind that not expressing a preference will not stop people from assuming your pronouns, so it may be worth expressing what your current preference is, on the understanding that it’s okay to change this later.

How are sharing personal pronouns helpful?

Most of us have learned to assume someone’s gender identity based on cues such as their appearance, voice, or name. We judge whether they are a man or a woman and use gendered personal pronouns “he” or “she” based on this. This can go wrong when someone has a gender-neutral name such as “Sam”, or because they do not conform to our expectations of gendered characteristics. 

You may feel that your gender, and therefore your pronouns, are obvious to the people around you.  However, people whose gender expression does not match the expectations of others often need to explicitly tell people what pronouns they use. Normalising sharing our pronouns is an act of solidarity with these people so that they do not stand out as different. This makes the environment more inclusive.

What if I get someone’s pronouns wrong?

If you make an honest mistake (and naturally, mistakes happen!), simply correct yourself and move on. There’s no need to make a big deal about it; doing so just draws attention to the mistake and makes the situation more uncomfortable.

However, deliberately misgendering someone, including using the wrong pronouns, is offensive and may be considered harassment. It is upsetting for the individual because you are choosing to undermine their identity.

For more information on personal pronouns and how to use them, take a look at the following resources:

Living with Type 1 Diabetes 

Living with Type 1 Diabetes 

August 1, 2022 Sadie Gration
Image courtesy of Getty Images

What is Type 1 Diabetes? 

Type 1 diabetes is very different to type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can often be controlled by tablets, a well-managed diet, and an active lifestyle.  

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition – which is when an illness or disorder occurs when healthy tissue (cells) are destroyed by the body’s own immune system. 

In the case of type 1 diabetes, the disease-fighting system mistakes healthy cells in the pancreas for foreign, harmful invaders and attacks them, leaving the body unable to produce its own insulin and keep levels of blood glucose under control. 

For people with diabetes, the cells in their body which are mistakenly targeted are the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. People living with the condition control this by injecting insulin into the body various times each day. 

It is a daily planning task with everything you eat, any form of exercise undertaken, and pretty much everything else that is done from the moment you wake up in the morning right through to – and especially – before you go to sleep at night. 

Diabetes is one of the unseen disabilities and it’s important to remember that each individual living with it has very different experiences, just like many other conditions.  

My story 

I was first diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic in the late 1970s, and at that time the condition was not widely known or understood by the public. 

I was the first person in my family to have diabetes, even though the condition is thought to be hereditary.   

My parents and teachers had noticed that I was drinking water and going to the toilet frequently, much more so than anyone else. I was getting up during the night many times, I never had an appetite, and I was losing weight. Despite undergoing various blood tests and attending check-ups with a GP, it was only when I fell unconscious on a family trip one Sunday afternoon that I was then rushed to hospital. 

If type 1 diabetes is left untreated, blood sugar levels can rise to a dangerous level and can cause people to slip into a coma – this is what caused me to become unconscious. 

I spent two weeks in hospital, which is when my parents and I were informed of my condition and a treatment plan was devised. 

To suddenly be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at eight years old was an enormous shock, my life totally changed forever. No longer could I eat things the rest of my family enjoyed like sweets. My diet had to be changed and I had to start injecting myself with insulin multiple times a day.   

Just imagine, an eight-year-old having to measure insulin into a syringe and inject themselves, as well as pricking their fingers multiple times a day to test their blood sugar levels. 

Did I rebel to the changes in my life? Of course I did. I did not appreciate the health implications that continuing to eat sugary foods would cause, especially in later life. I regret that now I’m in my fifties. 

School life changed; I was the only person at primary school with the condition and was looked at and talked about as the odd one out. It continued like that throughout high school and secondary school too… but the one good thing that came from being diabetic was that I didn’t have to do cross-country! 

Living with the condition has had a big impact on my life. It affected my early career choices, as I wanted to be a police officer when I was younger. Growing up there were so many careers that a type 1 diabetic would not be considered for – the armed forces, emergency services, and being a pilot to name a few. Luckily, I was able to become a Special Constable in my early twenties, but that was as far as I would be accepted in the police force.  

It’s a daily struggle to maintain a good blood sugar level. I generally prick my fingers to test my blood at least eight times a day and have at least four injections a day. If blood sugar levels are too high, I need to take additional injections and blood tests. 

During the daytime, I inject a rapid-acting insulin that covers the food I am about to eat.  Injections must be taken 10–20 minutes before meals, which is why lunchtime meetings are difficult for someone like me due to the risk of suffering a hypoglycaemia (hypo) attack which could lead to unconsciousness. 

Before bed, I take a longer-lasting insulin injection which attempts to stabilise blood sugar levels throughout the night. The concern with this is that if too much insulin is injected, it could lower the blood sugar so much that it can cause me to go into a diabetic hypo, which could lead to a coma. This does happen, probably on average a couple of times a year. When a hypo in the night is serious, and family members cannot bring me around from it, they have to call for a paramedic. Neighbours have frequently seen an ambulance appear outside my house over the years. 

Because of this, every night the same thought goes through my mind: “Will I wake up in the morning, will I be found in a hypo, or worse, unconscious?” – just imagine having that daily thought. 

If my blood sugar levels begin to drop (which they do leading up to mealtimes) that can affect my concentration as well as causing blurred vision and slurred speech. 

The term for when blood sugar levels drop is hypoglycaemia, and when a type 1 diabetic goes into a hypo, they are unable to think or act rationally and if they do not get a sugar intake quickly enough they will go unconscious. 

My first hypo happened in a French lesson at high school. I was rushed to hospital and the first moment I became aware of my surroundings was several hours later in a hospital bed. A similar incident happened while at work; I had been working and hadn’t realised anything was wrong, and later I was told that I had appeared to just slip off my chair onto the floor. Once again, I was rushed to hospital because I was unconscious and paramedics were unable to bring me around. 

Most type 1 diabetics are aware when their blood sugar is dropping, but if it has dropped too much they are not physically able to help themselves recover. 

There are many side effects to having type 1 diabetes and you are more susceptible to other illnesses because the immune system is low. Every six months I have a full set of blood tests taken and have a diabetic review with my GP. Annually, I must have my eyes photographed at the hospital for retinal screening because diabetics are very prone to haemorrhaging and other eye-related conditions. I also have to renew my driving licence every three years, with a completed medical questionnaire and authorisation from my GP. 

Hypoglycaemia 

Here’s a list of the symptoms typically associated with hypoglycaemia.  

Most people around me would not be aware when my blood sugar levels are low, but there’s rarely a day that goes by without it doing so and many of these symptoms occurring as a result. 

All sorts of things can cause my blood sugar levels to go low: types of food eaten, exercise, having the common cold, stress, too much insulin, alcohol… even certain types of flowers and fragrances can due to some smells making my heart race more, which uses up sugar in the blood. 

How can you help a diabetic experiencing a hypo? 

1) Talk calmly to them, that is essential.   

2) Ensure they have something sugary to drink or eat, even if they cannot administer it themselves.   

3) Call 999 if they do not come around within 30 minutes. 

When a diabetic does come round from a hypo, they are likely to feel very ill for the rest of the day, and it can then cause their blood sugar levels to be very high for several hours due to the sudden increase of sugary food or drink. 

High blood sugar (hyperglycaemia) 

High blood sugar levels can happen by not injecting enough insulin or by consuming a certain type of food. 

There are times that I have forgotten to take my bedtime injection. When that happens, hyperglycaemia sets in as opposed to a hypo. The result of this is a very uncomfortable day the next day, bringing on a different set of complications.   

Alcohol, sweet drinks, sweet foods, and high carbohydrate meals are examples of what can cause blood sugar levels to become too high. In addition, not taking enough insulin or being ill can also cause my blood sugar levels to spike. When this happens, I can experience severe headaches, lose my appetite, feel weak and tired, as well as blurred vision, nausea, and extreme itching.  

Luckily, I don’t forget my bedtime injection very often, but it has happened. If there is a long meeting to attend or a training course, I always ensure I’ve eaten enough to prevent my blood sugar from going too low, but that can have the opposite effect by becoming too high. 

It’s certainly not easy being a type 1 diabetic, and everything I do I’m always thinking about how it might affect my sugar levels. However, with careful monitoring through regular finger prick blood tests, maintaining a healthy balanced diet, keeping my insulin with me, and making sure I always have close access to food or glucose tablets, I get by. 

Andy Tatler 
Software Engineer/Dev-Ops Manager 
IT Services 

How stable are (numerical) cognition effects?

How stable are (numerical) cognition effects?

July 29, 2022 Centre for Mathematical Cognition

Written by Krzysztof Cipora. Krzysztof is a lecturer at Loughborough University. Please see here for more information about Krzysztof and his work. This work is based on an international collaboration with Lilly Roth (University of Tuebingen, Germany), Verena Knoedler (University of Tuebingen, Germany), Stefania Schwarz (University of Tuebingen, Germany), Klaus Willmes (RWTH Aachen, Germany), Jean-Philippe van Dijck (Thomas More University of Applied Sciences and Ghent University, Belgium) and Hans-Christoph Nuerk (University of Tuebingen, Germany).

Generalisation in research

Psychologists make many generalisations when investigating the basic processes underlying numerical cognition. They test a group of participants (a sample) and see whether they observe an effect of interest. If they find an effect, they assume these results generalise to a wider population. The natural question that follows is what constitutes the population and how broadly can we generalise? To people of the same age? People from the same culture? Individuals with a similar level of education? This sample-to-population generalisation is a general principle of cognitive research, but this post will examine it further in relation to the SNARC effect.

SNARC effect

The SNARC effect is the phenomenon whereby people both respond faster to smaller numbers with their left hand and larger numbers with their right hand. This happens even if they are simply pressing one button when the number is odd and the other button when the number is even – i.e., if the task does not explicitly ask about number magnitude. This is thought to relate to a ‘mental number line’ where numbers are ordered from left to right in order of increasing magnitude. This effect may tell us a little about how the brain represents numbers.

Ecological fallacy and other generalisation problems

Typically, experiments analyse group effects. That is, the results of one group or condition are compared to the results of another group or condition. Within a group/condition results are averaged together, and researchers do not look at a particular individual’s performance across groups/conditions. If researchers confirm the presence of an effect at the group level, by means of inferential statistics, they make a first generalisation: the effect is likely present in the population. This issue has been the subject of tons of papers, and we will not focus on it. Rather, we will focus on two other generalisations that are very important for theory building – even if they are not always expressed explicitly.

Firstly, theories aimed at explaining general principles of cognition often assume that the group-level effect is present in each individual. This does not necessarily need to be the case, and these unjustified generalisations are called ecological fallacy. Quite often, we find that what is present at the group level, may not adequately represent all the participants. For instance, in SNARC experiments, at the group level we can observe a so-called ‘size effect’ – where it takes longer to respond to large-magnitude numbers than to small-magnitude ones (e.g., to tell whether the number is smaller or larger than ‘5’). Such group differences, in order of milliseconds, can be detected in lab experiments and tell us quite a lot about how humans process information. However, this pattern of responses is reliably present in only 30% of participants, and a reliable reverse pattern (i.e., slower reaction times to smaller numbers) is found in about 10% of individuals (see here). Since the majority of participants do not demonstrate a reliable response pattern, this has serious consequences for how we build a theory of humans’ number representation in general.

The individual prevalence of cognitive phenomena has been intensely investigated in past years. However, even when establishing the individual prevalence of the effect, we still make another generalisation! Namely, we assume that the effect we observed in a given participant is stable. Studies aimed at checking whether this is the case are very scarce, and usually limited to testing the same participants twice. In this project, we decided to go a bit further, and conducted an experiment called Ironman SNARC (named after an exhausting ironman triathlon). Having recruited ten volunteers, we asked them to perform the same task 30 times within 35 consecutive days. This allowed us to check how stable the effect was within the participants and see whether SNARC reflects a stable individual characteristic. The results were really instructive: (1) as expected we observed a robust group-level SNARC effect: the average response times were faster to small / large magnitude numbers when participants responded with their left / right hand respectively, (2) as expected, this pattern of results was not present in all participants, but only 8 out of the 10, (3) there was massive variation in the effects observed in different sessions, (4) when we used our methods, based on bootstrapping approaches to check whether a given participant reveals a reliable effect in a given session, we saw that only one of our 10 participants revealed a reliable effect in more than half of the sessions.

Conclusion

What can we take from this? This study shows that before we generalise, it might be worth checking whether our generalisations are justified. In particular, before we even start thinking about which populations our effects may generalise to (people of a certain education level, culture etc.) it might be worth checking whether our conclusions, based on group-level effects, actually generalise to our sample: to all the tested participants, and to which extent they are stable within our participants. Additionally, each time we wish to consider a cognitive effect as a potential indicator of something (e.g., whether we can use the SNARC effect to predict someone’s level of maths skills), it is worth checking whether the effect we observe is stable across time – it may well be that if we tested the same person on another day, their score would differ dramatically. The Ironman SNARC is still a work in progress, you can see the conference presentation of the preliminary results here

Glossary

Ecological fallacy – assuming that a group-level effect is present within a single person, which may be the case, but doesn’t have to be. For instance, a result of a survey showing that British people on average prefer tea (rating it 9 out of 10) over coffee (rating it 7 out of 10) does not imply that every British person prefers tea over coffee. It may well be that there are some individuals, who love coffee and dislike tea, as well as those, who like them equally. We can also imagine a scenario where the majority of participants likes tea and coffee equally strongly (around 8 out of 10), but there is a minority of tea-lovers who rate it 10 out of 10 while strongly disliking coffee (1 out of 10). When averaging across individuals who are indifferent, and the minority of tea-lovers, we would also observe that on average tea is preferred over coffee.

Inferential statistics – infer an effect from a sample to a population, as opposed to descriptive statistics which merely describe the sample you have.

SNARC – Spatial-Numerical Association of Response Codes – a phenomenon whereby participants respond faster to small / large magnitude numbers on the left / right hand side respectively, even if the task does not require them to react to the magnitude (e.g., they are judging whether the number is odd or even).

From the Vice-Chancellor – September 2022

July 29, 2022 Jonathan Walters

In my last newsletter of this academic year: the 2022 Commonwealth Games, the first of our Strategy’s underpinning core plans, Royal Society Summer Exhibition, National Student Survey, Graduation and Open Days.

2022 Commonwealth Games

Loughborough at the Commonwealth Games 2022

Throughout July we have been counting down the final days to the 2022 Commonwealth Games, which are taking place in Birmingham. Our celebrations in Loughborough began mid-month when we welcomed the Queen’s Baton Relay to campus.

The Baton began its journey here with a private visit to Team England, who were based at the University for their immersion camp and ‘kitting out’ ahead of the Games. Its public tour of the town then started from the Hazlerigg Building, with Batonbearer Abbie Brown, the Loughborough Lightning and England Rugby Sevens star, running with it on its first leg to the Rugby Pitch. Next, the Baton was passed to Dr Sola Afolabi, a Senior Lecturer in Water and Environment Engineering based in the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering, who carried it to Shirley Pearce Square. 

On leaving the campus, University alumni, Paralympians Dan Greaves and James Hollis, who is also a current member of staff, and their fellow Paralympian Emma Wigg ran with the Baton through the town.

The atmosphere on campus that day was truly amazing. The University choir entertained hundreds of staff, students and members of the local community, who all enthusiastically waved flags of the Commonwealth countries to cheer the Baton on as it crossed the Hazlerigg-Rutland Lawn. At the Rugby pitch, Pauline Matturi, our HR and Organisational Development Advisor, acted as host for a range of events, some of which involved Perry, the Commonwealth Games mascot, and our very own Lightning mascot, Bolt.

Shirley Pearce Square was transformed into a summer festival, including food stalls, wheelchair basketball games and a caricaturist. The crowds there gave the Baton a rousing send-off as it left the campus through one of the striking sculptures by Ghanaian artist Atta Kwami that are currently on loan to us. Kwami and his wife, the printmaker Pamela Clarkson-Kwami, who was present on campus for the Baton Relay, divided their time between Kumasi in Ghana and Loughborough.

Now many of us will be glued to the Commonwealth Games, which began yesterday, to see how all the Loughborough-linked athletes fare. We have more than 120 athletes, coaches and practitioners involved in almost 20 sports, representing ten countries, which in itself is an amazing achievement. Our dedicated Commonwealth Games website will keep you all updated with the latest news and results as they come in – do keep checking it regularly for updates. 

I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing all our athletes, and the many coaches and staff who support them, the very best of luck for the next two weeks.

International Plan

Our Strategic Plan, Creating Better Futures. Together – which provides us with a high-level framework to guide the University’s direction over the next decade – includes six strategic aims, covering specific areas of activity. The aims will be delivered though a set of institutional Core Plans, the first of which, theInternational Engagement and Impact Plan, has now been approved. 

UK universities today face tougher competition than ever before to attract students from overseas. To ensure we are well placed to do this, we need to build a distinctive reputation internationally, as we have done in the UK. We need to intensify and extend the reach of our international engagement and impact. The Core Plan sets out how we will begin to do this.

We have many strengths that we can leverage to increase our international engagement and impact – our research and innovation, particularly across the three institutional themes of our Strategy; our pre-eminence in sport; the student experience we provide; and the strong affinity our current international students have for Loughborough.

There are also areas where we must develop. We have to increase our overseas partnerships, our research collaborations and the breadth of scholarships we award. We must attract more international staff to work here, broaden the range of countries from which we recruit students, and consider changes in our educational offering to make it as attractive as possible for international students. All this must be supported by targeted marketing campaigns that raise profile and awareness.

To achieve all this we will need to adopt a phased approach, and the Core Plan outlines the high-impact actions we will prioritise now. We will all have a role to play in delivering the International Engagement and Impact Plan and, if we are to succeed with our global ambitions, we must work together.

Royal Society Summer Science Festival

Four members of University staff standing in front of the Festival stand

Each year the Royal Society stages a prestigious Summer Science Exhibition in London to showcase to the public the very best of the UK’s science and technology. Only 16 exhibits are selected from the many submissions they receive, and Loughborough was fortunate enough to be one of the universities chosen for this year’s exhibition.

Our exhibit, titled Replacing Oil, focused on how the world would look without fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are used to create the vital ingredients, known as platform chemicals, that go into a surprising range of products. The Loughborough team – led by Professor Sandie Dann from Chemistry and involving academics and Doctoral Researchers from Chemistry, Automotive Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Materials – is designing a new generation of catalysts that will be needed to convert biological waste into useful products such as plastics, paint and cosmetics in a post-petrochemical world.

One of the examples the team showcased at the Summer Science Exhibition was the use of algae to create eco-friendly, bio-sourced materials for shoes. Drying the algae, crushing it into a powder and mixing it with ethylene-vinyl acetate creates an algae foam that can be press-moulded into outer and inner soles. This would cut the synthetic materials used in shoes by up to 20% – while controlling algae populations, improving water health and reducing CO2 emissions.

The Royal Society Summer Exhibition attracted more than 5,700 visitors from the across the UK and beyond, including more than 700 students and teachers. We must ensure we maximise opportunities to take part in prestigious events such as the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition whenever we can to ensure we raise the profile of our pioneering research to national and international audiences.

National Student Survey (NSS)

The results of the latest National Student Survey (NSS) were released this month. At Loughborough, 83.8% of our students who took part said they were satisfied overall with their course, compared to the national average of 76.3%.

At subject level, Loughborough was ranked top in the UK in five subject areas – Computer Science, Drama, Information Services, Natural Sciences and Physical Geographical Sciences. Eleven of the University’s subject areas had overall student satisfaction rates of more than 90%. 

The academic year has again been challenging and we should be pleased with the ‘overall satisfaction’ results we have achieved. However, the data shows there are areas in which we need to do better. The response to the Assessment and Feedback bank of questions was particularly disappointing and we are now significantly below the sector average. We must address this and have already launched an Assessment and Feedback project to consider how we might improve. If we are to strengthen our sector-leading position for education and student experience, as outlined in our Strategy, this must be a major focus for us all in the next academic year.

Summer graduation ceremonies

A graduating student in robes and hat with two supporters holding 'Proud family' and 'I just graduated' signs

Last week we hosted our summer graduation ceremonies. It was wonderful to see so many graduands back on campus with their families and friends to celebrate their achievements. 

At the ceremonies we awarded a number of honorary degrees. We recognised David Pond, a Loughborough alumnus and the former Chief Executive of Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby (GBWR), for his outstanding contribution to sport. Since stepping down from his GBWR role, David has been supporting the humanitarian effort in Ukraine. Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director of the Bajaj Automotive Company, one of the largest motorcycle and three-wheeler manufacturing companies in India, was recognised for his services to automotive and manufacturing engineering.

Two former lay members of the University’s Council – Alan Hughes and Ann Greenwood – were also recognised for their outstanding contribution to higher education and expertise provided when supporting the governance and development of local universities.

Alongside the honorary degrees, we presented two former members of staff with University medals, which recognise outstanding service to the organisation. Between them, Patrick Gallagher, a drainage technician with the Estates team, and Sue Bruce, an HR immigration adviser, have more than 80 years’ dedicated service at Loughborough. An outstanding achievement.

My congratulations go to all the recipients of degrees, honorary degrees and University medals. Thank you too to the very many staff who worked so hard – and dealt admirably with the searing temperatures at the start of the week – to make our degree ceremonies such fantastic and thoroughly memorable occasions for the thousands who attend.

Open Days

This month also saw the return of our in-person Open Days, with almost 13,000 people coming to our campus. The pandemic forced us to change the way we did so many things and I was incredibly proud of the virtual Open Days we held to ensure that prospective students were still able to get a better understanding of the education and experience Loughborough could offer them. But nothing can better an in-person Open Day and it was wonderful to be able to talk to so many students, their families and friends and to showcase everything the University and our beautiful campus have to offer.

Events such as this are key points in our student recruitment cycle and so many people across the University work incredibly hard to make them so fantastic. Thank you for everything you do.

Do I have to be sporty to study at Loughborough?

July 21, 2022 Guest Blogger

Sports impact

Ah – the age-old question: Do I have to be sporty to study at Loughborough? The short answer is, No! I certainly wouldn’t describe myself as sporty. Of course, there is no denying that sport has a significant presence here at Loughborough, but as someone who isn’t that sporty, I found that its less of the actual sports and more the attitude towards sport that rubs off on you. It is hard not to get inspired by the myriad of Olympic athletes that train here, or your flatmate who gets up on Wednesdays at the crack of dawn because they love what they do. People’s passion for their craft and eagerness to get involved can be infectious, I simply decided to take this attitude and apply it to other aspects of my life.

What else is there to do?

So, you don’t want to play a sport –what else are you going to do with your time? Firstly, I’d recommend checking out the Students’ Union website and have a scroll through everything they have on offer! The Union is split up into seven sections: Enterprise, Sport, RAG (Raising and Giving), Action (Volunteering), Welfare & Diversity, Media, and Societies. Each with its own unique identity and community. Beyond LSU, your department also has a committee that will put on social events, welfare events, and anything else they see fit. This is student run and like most things at the Students’ Union, there’s opportunity for both skills building and leadership. The amount of things to get involved in may seem intimidating at first, but we will introduce you to everything during freshers week!

My experience

When I walked into the fresher’s bazaar in October, I think it would be fair to say that I was slightly overwhelmed by the number of organisations I was met with. The room was filled with societies and eager students trying to convince me to join. They had everything from Cook ‘n’ Bake society, to medieval re-enactment society. Whatever you’re interested in, there’s more than likely to be a society for you. Take a look at the societies list here. In my first year I joined LSU SING! – our choir group, Musoc – holding weekly jam sessions and gigs and set up debate society with some friends (if there’s not a club for you, grab 5 mates and you can start it yourself with the help of LSU!) It was amazing to have a place to explore my passion for music in my spare time, and with other like-minded people. In my second year, I was chair of Feminist society, which meant holding a position of leadership that not only looks good on your CV but is such a great learning experience . We held educational events about the different strands of feminism, encouraged activism on campus and created a community of people who would hang out, talk about politics and also just enjoy each other’s company. My second half of second year has to be the most memorable however, as on a whim, I decided to audition for the drama societies (LSU STAGE) adaptation of ‘A Picture of Dorian Grey’ by Oscar Wilde. Surprising myself, I was cast as one of the leads, Basil the painter, and spent the next three months learning lines and bonding with my fellow cast members. I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone by joining stage, but I’ll be forever grateful that I did. I truly believe I have met life-long friends in that group, and we are planning to visit each other after graduation.

So, as you can see, there is an enormous amount of stuff to get involved with outside of sport here at Loughborough, all you have to do is go and seek them out and have the courage to put yourself out there! It is daunting at first, but take a mate with you or reach out to the committee members of the society/organisation that you’re interested beforehand and have a chat before going to an event to make yourself more comfortable. There is life beyond sport at Loughborough! We hope to see you soon. 😊

My Italian Exchange

My Italian Exchange

July 21, 2022 Guest Blogger

Ciao a tutti! 

Although it has been a year since I left Italy, Italy has not left me, for it will always be my second home now. Since my Study Exchange semester (I did the second semester at home virtually in England!), visiting a different part of Italy annually is now on my bucket list! I can only thank Loughborough for this life-changing opportunity and myself, for choosing to study abroad during a pandemic!

Why did I choose to study abroad?

I decided to study abroad because the thought of a traditional placement year did not excite me!  I remember spending a whole day researching the available Erasmus Universities to choose from with my Mum’s help. In fact, it was my Mum, who pushed me towards choosing Salerno! I remember her distinctly saying, “Shannon, go to a country that you haven’t been to before!” Therefore, jointly inspired by my mum and my desire to break out of my comfort zone, I chose Salerno and emailed my Study Exchange form immediately!

After countless hours of Duolingo and finally condensing my wardrobe in one suitcase (this was a challenge!), I was ready for my adventure. From hugging my parents tightly before my 6 am departure to the roaring of my plane’s engines on the runway, this was it; I knew my life was about to change for the better. And it did…after a rocky start!

Truthfully, the beginning of my Exchange was not easy, I suffered from homesickness, the uncertainties of the pandemic, and the stress of adjusting to remote learning. Also, what a time to have a birthday, I turned 21 in the same week! Luckily, I managed to celebrate it with my Study Exchange buddy at a Burger restaurant! She is also from Loughborough and is now one of my closest friends. Fun fact, we both study English but we never knew each other before Italy!

Selfie of two students smiling

Support from Loughborough

With Loughborough’s pastoral support and sharing my problems with my Study Exchange buddy, my transition to Salerno became easier as I overcame my troubles of living internationally. 

My pastoral support from Loughborough involved frequent video calls on Teams with my Study Exchange Coordinator. She checked to see if I was settling in well and adjusting to my new modules. The Study Exchange Team were also great because I was stressed about not being enrolled in any modules, and they intervened! Within a couple of days, I met my Italian Exchange tutor, and my modules were sorted because of Loughborough. At that point, I was honestly reminded of how great Loughborough’s care for their students is, which stopped me from returning home in the end! 

My semester abroad opened up my eyes to a brand-new country that I had never visited before, all of this within exceptional circumstances! Now, I am comfortable in facing any ambiguous situations, whether they are abroad or in England because conquering Italy has reminded me of my hidden resilience!

Coast and mountain in Italy

What was my course like?

Unfortunately, I did not see my University, nor did I meet any native Italian students because the teaching was virtual. Nevertheless, I enjoyed my modules. I chose a combination of Undergraduate and Postgraduate modules taught in Italian and English, which was very challenging at times! My favourite modules were Circus in Victorian Literature, Global Gender Studies, and Intermediate Italian. With virtual learning, I found that I had more freedom to do what I loved best and that was being a tourist!! During my study breaks, I used to walk along Salerno’s lungomare (Seafront), visit fashion boutiques, and eat Tiramisu-flavoured gelato! Despite my region’s covid restrictions, I managed to visit a few beautiful places close to Salerno which include Pompeii, Napoli, Amalfi, and Vietri Sul Mare (A little ceramic town on the Amalfi Coast!). 

Final thoughts

I can honestly say that my experience has transformed my confidence and my awareness of the Italian culture and its music, (currently, I am a crazy fan of the Eurovision 2021 winners Måneskin!).  Yes, my Study Exchange was not a “normal” one, however, I would not change it for the world! It is true, your experience abroad truly does enhance your life in all aspects. A few examples are, I am amazed at my personal growth, and I am open to interacting with people from all walks of life. Since Italy, I returned to Loughborough with a passion to complete my English degree and I even joined the Italian society! My mornings before lectures now involve learning Italian with a mug of coffee to remind me of Salerno.

My decision to study abroad was no doubt the best decision I have ever made. Not only did it inspire my current dissertation topic, but I learned how to appreciate the littlest things in life! On a final note, how many people can say that they studied abroad during a pandemic? I can and I have no regrets! 

L’Italia, on vedo l’ora di rivederti e anche grazie Loughborough!

Cricket as metaphor for empire

Cricket as metaphor for empire

July 19, 2022 Peter Yeandle

by Tom Mather


My dissertation focused on the relationship between cricket and empire, focusing specifically on visual representations of two cricketers – the famous WG Grace, about whom a lot is known, and less-well known but nonetheless also very important Prince Ranjitsinhji. The seed for my undergraduate dissertation blossomed quickly from new ideas gained at the start of the final year of my degree. I studied Pete Yeandle’s module, ‘Empire, War and Popular Culture in Britain’. Learning about the British Empire and its effects on popular culture and ideology at home was a new area of learning for myself and I found the module thought provoking. I am a cricket enthusiast, so a dissertation on cricket history and popular imperialism perfectly fitted my personal as well as my academic interests.

I read general histories of cricket at the same time as I learnt more about the debates about imperialism and popular culture from the module. It quickly became apparent that cricket was entwined with the notions of popular imperialism. I decided that it would be fascinating to contrast the celebrity of W.G. Grace and K.S. Ranjitsinhji in the context of the popular imperialism debate. In my dissertation, I analysed media representations of W.G. Grace and K.S. Ranjitsinhji to address the maximalist and minimalist debate – that is, does close attention to how these two cricketers were depicted in the press enable insight into whether imperialism had a distinct influence on British domestic culture? Although there is ample reading material on Grace and Ranjitsinhji and their ties with notions of empire, my focus was a comparative analysis of how they were represented in visual culture. Such an area of exploration allowed the project to be adequately original. In order to undertake this research, I found evidence from digitised newspapers and other online sources from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Non-textual sources included cartoons, portraits, photographs and advertising and these were studied alongside written accounts.

As a keen cricketer and cricket fan, of course I think more should be known about cricket history. Many key themes in English history can be understood in relation to the great game. The growth of the cricket exemplifies the modernisation of the country but also appeals of tradition. We can explore use Grace and Ranjitsinhji as exemplars to study the cultural phenomena of celebrity and heroic culture. Cricket was understood as an imperial game, and these players were considered imperial celebrities – each signifying different imperial values and allowing comparative analysis of race, masculinity, and national identity. Cricket symbolises a distinctive type of Englishness and, thus, research into values attached to cricket and cricketers can reveal how values and attitudes evolve over time. Cricket was much more than just a game. It was deployed as evidence of the superiority of Anglo-Saxon culture and ways of life; it was used to represent core values such as respect, character building, physical health, teamwork, and much more. Furthermore, my study found that between the late nineteenth century and the First World War, the national game was saturated in cricketing language – and that cricket could be used to promote imperial values. Cricket was exported across the empire as one perceived mode of “civilising mission”, and it is no coincidence the majority of nations which play cricket in the modern day were formerly part of the British Empire. Cricket was perceived to be the perfect means by which to build a harmonious relationship between the mother country and its ‘sons across the world’. Ironically, cricket later provided opportunity for colonies to find distinctive national identities in the face of the ruling empire.

Working on this dissertation throughout my final year was one of the highlights of my university experience. I feel honoured to have been involved in such a venture at the University. Looking back on the project, I really appreciated the first-rate guidance from the department’s lecturers accompanied with freedom to explore my own research interests. It should fill everyone with great pride to know they have contributed to an area of scholarship or research in their own way.


Bibliography:

Holt, Richard. Sport and the British: A Modern History, U.S.A: Oxford University Press. 1990.

Huggins, Mike. Victorians and Sport. Bloomsbury Continuum; Illustrated edition, 2004.

MacKenzie, John M. Propaganda and empire: the manipulation of British public opinion. Manchester University Press, 1984.

Porter, Bernard. The Absent-minded imperialists: Empire, Society, and Culture in Britain.  Oxford University Press, 2005.

Sen, Satadru. “Enduring colonialism in cricket: From Ranjitsinhji to the Cronje affair.” Contemporary South Asia, 10, no. 2 (2001): 237-249. DOI: 10.1080/09584930120083837

Stoddart, Brian. “Sport, Cultural Imperialism, and Colonial Response in the British Empire” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 30, no. 4 (1988): 649-673. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0010417500015474

Washbourne, Neil. “W.G. Grace: Sporting Superstar, Cultural Celebrity, and Hero (to Oscar Wilde’s Villain) of the Great Public Drama of 1895.” Historical Social Research / Historische Sozialforschung. Supplement, no. 32 (2019): 186-208. https://www.jstor.org/stable/26836217?seq=1


Biography:

I studied at Loughborough between 2018-2022, including an industrial placement year. I’m a sport and cricket enthusiast. After graduation, I will be traveling to Asia and Australia before starting a job in recruitment.


Photo by Alessandro Bogliari on unsplash

Starting something new

Starting something new

July 14, 2022 Guest Blogger

Hi, my name is Ash – I’m a part-time finalist studying Sport and Exercise Science, due to graduate this summer. There’s an amazing number of clubs and societies to join during your time as a student at Loughborough – or start!

The studies that brought me to Loughborough – Sport and Exercise Science – tie close to a wider interest in cooking, baking, and bringing people together. During secondary school, I had been running a food blog, where I would challenge myself to create thrifty and/or more nutritious twists on classic recipes. I am lucky to not have any dietary requirements or allergies, but my family and friends do (and have different restrictions!) so I had lots of different angles to experiment from.

Pictures of Cookies made by alumna, Ash

I didn’t immediately realise I could start a society. Like many other students, my first introduction to the Societies Section was via the Activities Bazaar. In my first year, a cooking and baking society didn’t yet exist – however, my hobbies naturally lead me to meet others with similar interests within my hall. In our Freshers group chat, I asked if anyone had some nutmeg I could use in a pumpkin pie. One of my now closest friends, Teiba, offered for me to use hers. To say thank you, I brought her some pumpkin pie that I had made, and she invited me inside for a coffee and to have a chat!

That meeting – and my cheeky request for an ingredient – got the snowball (doughball?) rolling to begin Cook ‘n’ Bake. Teiba had been hosting groups of friends for themed food nights at her flat already, so it was a concept we expanded upon from Falkner Eggington. With some guidance from the third years living with me, we planned a visit to the LSU Societies Office to ask them how we go about establishing a society, and what the requirements were.

After spreading the word via our hall and courses, we had our founding meeting (in a kitchen, no less) where we brainstormed ideas for the society, how we would aim to run our core activities (cooking and baking) and discussed who was interested in a committee role. Naturally, many of us brought homemade snacks to share…!

Becoming a society

We officially established as a Society after the Refreshers Bazaar in 2018, with 26 members in our first year. As a first year Co-Chair, I had a lot to learn about room bookings, risk assessments and leading a team. It was fantastic experience and all members and committee involved in handling or cooking food had the opportunity to obtain a Level 2 Food Safety and Hygiene certificate used in industry at no cost.

Student Society Pizza night picture

One of the funniest – and most challenging to plan – events of that inaugural year was an event where we took over a room in the Union (now the Lounge) where groups and couples were fed a three-course meal (with a menu of choices!) by the Cook ‘n’ Bake committee, accounting for allergies and other food preferences.

Other stand-out events in the first year included a pizza workshop (feeding 40+ students for just £16!), microwave baking and a trip to the BBC GoodFood show.

What was an official membership of 26 grew to over 120 members in our second year. Economies of scale are real with food – and so we were able to keep our membership affordable while offering an increasing range of opportunities to our members, and we always kept dietary inclusion in mind, offering gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, and other options. Events were also designed to try and help students living in catered halls to still have opportunities to get stuck in, and any competitions were light-hearted and engaging (we collaborated with the Design Society once for a cake-construction challenge – Sprint Bus made from cake, anyone?!).

Our Society was established around a simple set of ideas – learning basic (and advanced) culinary skills, expressing creativity, and embracing curiosity. Committee members had skill sets they took an interest in, but it was our members that amazed us with what they could make in even the smallest of kitchens. My go-to marketing message catchphrase was “whether you want to learn to boil an egg or are an aspiring Michelin star chef, we want you!”. Subsequent committees have run with this ethos and run amazing events of their own and overcame the difficulties of isolation and COVID by running online “cook-alongs”.

Becoming award winning

Cook ‘n’ Bake won Society of the Year 2018/2019, following our previous year’s Best New Society Award in 2017/2018. The pride and smile on my face in the photos from that night are yet to be matched. Years later, I’m so proud of what we had achieved. Cook ‘n’ Bake has a firm place on my CV and has led to many interesting discussions since!

I’m grateful to all the committee members I worked alongside – and we all developed so much confidence from running events and workshops for so many people. Cook ‘n’ Bake events saw workshop attendances regularly between 40-60 students. We balanced each other out well, and each helped one another through the peaks and troughs of our academic and personal lives as well alongside the logistical challenges of planning events, purchasing ingredients, testing recipes, advertising, creating content, instructing, and entertaining – and then washing up – for so many people.

Alongside my degree, a bit of part-time work and the Society, I was experimenting with a protein brownie recipe that would become the cornerstone of my business idea, Bake Balance. The encouragement, ideas and input from the Cook ‘n’ Bake committee, members, and the wider student community I was involved with helped me take this from a delicious idea to a piloted start-up in my second year. The LSU Enterprise Section helped me refine my ideas and action the launch of my protein brownie (and blondie!) by post service, as the LSU Societies Section helped with the development of Cook ‘n’ Bake.

Essentially – I’ve been working on carving out my own niche in the overlapping worlds of sport, nutrition and food, and University has been the perfect playground to experiment. As I draw towards my graduation this July, I have a lot to look back on and be thankful for – and the opportunities Loughborough presented to me have me feeling prepared for life as a graduate and my ambitions as an entrepreneur.

Now is the time to start something new, without placing too much pressure on yourself. The business I started in my second year drives so much of what I do, but I am not actively selling right now as I was in 2018/2019 – starting something might mean launching and re-iterating, or beginning, stopping, reflecting, and later being inspired to start something entirely different. Effort is never wasted, as it will set something else in motion.

I will be the first to say I had absolutely no idea how to start a Society, and I set foot in my first Activities Bazaar with a view to join something already established. Never be afraid to ask for help – your passion will shine through and we’re lucky to be part of a university that develops you academically and more generally.

Starting your own society

If you’re interested in creating your own Society, look at what current societies are available and make sure you’ve got your own niche. In terms of membership, a food-based society clearly benefits from the everyday requirement of nutrition, but any interest, activity, or hobby you are passionate about could open an amazing chapter for you and other students. 

Being business-minded can be a serious strength for any committee member, as it helps you to think about your society (or club) in a holistic way. It’ll help you establish (or grow) your current membership, and help you focus on the value you aim to provide members and wider stakeholders. If it’s your own business you’re looking to start, the LSU Enterprise section runs a variety of networking, up-skilling and showcase events and can provide 1:1 guidance.

Trying a new activity could introduce you to lifelong relationships, career opportunities and hobbies. Have fun and enjoy your time at Loughborough. It will fly by faster than you might imagine – now’s the time to make an impact!


Find out more about LSU Societies.

Find out more about LSU Enterprise.

Maia celebrates: International Non-Binary People’s Day

Maia celebrates: International Non-Binary People’s Day

July 14, 2022 Guest Author
Thursday 14 July marks International Non-Binary People’s Day. Maia's Advocacy and Allyship Champions, Meredith and Emily, share guidance on creating an inclusive space for all.

Giving back as a Community First Responder

July 12, 2022 Sadie Gration

In the maelstrom of working life, it can often feel like we become stuck in a routine, with half an eye always on the weekend. Three and a half years ago, whilst still a student at Loughborough, I signed up to become a volunteer Community First Responder (CFR) and it opened my eyes to an entirely different side of life.  

The concept of CFRs is simple – we are all volunteers, trained by East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) and dispatched to 999 calls by their control centre to attend local medical emergencies, usually quicker than an ambulance, to provide initial, sometimes life-saving treatment. We attend patients from day-old babies to centurions, from cardiac arrests to allergic reactions – very little is off limits! 

One of the joys of volunteering is that you can give back as little or as much as you like. It’s great that one University policy in particular supports staff volunteering: Loughborough’s Employer Supported Volunteering (ESV) Policy. It aims to “enable and support members of staff to be proactive in voluntary activities that mutually benefit the individual, the University and the community”. All substantively employed members of staff are eligible for up to one day’s paid absence each year. 

Living in Loughborough, I joined the local CFR scheme: Shepshed Lions Community First Responders. We cover a radius of six miles from our tracked response car, meaning we frequently attend 999 calls in Loughborough, Shepshed, Quorn, Mountsorrel, Barrow upon Soar, and other surrounding villages. This includes medical emergencies that take place within the University community. It’s not uncommon for me to find myself in a Halls of Residence or the Students’ Union in the early hours of a Saturday morning (I thought I had left my clubbing days far behind me!). 

Whilst the prospect of voluntarily attending 999 calls is understandably not for everyone, I find it incredibly rewarding. I feel privileged to be that person walking into a room when someone has called in a moment of need. Of course, there are challenging moments and incidents that will stay with me forever, but they are in a minority when I reflect on the 99% of calls I have attended where I have been fortunate to have spent such precious time with a patient. 

I’m not the first member of University staff to have volunteered as a CFR. Andy Stephens (former Director of Finance) volunteers for a Nottingham-based scheme, and Liam Ross (former Digital Engagement Officer, Marketing & Advancement) now runs my local scheme. Whilst they may be former colleagues, our friendship has endured beyond the day job thanks to ‘CFR-ing’, and I’m fortunate to call them fellow CFRs. 

“Volunteering as a CFR is like no other role. Every shift is totally different and you’re never sure where you’ll end up or what you’ll see. You meet wonderful people and work as part of a fantastic team alongside ambulance crew colleagues.” – Andy Stephens 

“Becoming a CFR is one of the best things I’ve ever done. It’s exciting, fulfilling and you take away both basic life-saving practical skills and transferable skills you’ll use in your day job. I would recommend it to anyone who isn’t squeamish!” – Liam Ross 

Now that life is starting to return to normal, recruitment has reopened for new CFRs, so if you’d like to do something totally different to the day job, support the NHS and give back to the local community, why not drop us a line and find out more about us.  

You can look on EMAS’ dedicated webpage. Alternatively, if you live locally, feel free to get in contact with Liam or myself for an informal chat.  We’re also on Facebook

Irrespective of whether first responding is for you or not, do take a moment to look at local volunteering opportunities that you could take advantage of using the University’s ESV Policy. It is a great way to engage with the local community, take some time out (guilt-free!) from the day job, and meet some truly amazing people at the same time. 

Matt Youngs  
Graduate Management Trainee (Organisational Development) 

DRN Ecologies of Drawing: A More Than Human World Recording

July 12, 2022 Deborah Harty

Thank you to Penny Davis for chairing the final event in the series of DRN2022 Ecologies of Drawing events, to the presenters Jan Hogan, Lucia Cunnigham and Anka Makrzanowska for their thought provoking presentations and approach to the theme, and to everyone who attended.

Video also accessible at: https://vimeo.com/729236968

[Student Post] Professor Adrian Hyde-Price: "Reshaping security and geopolitics in the Baltic Sea Region"

July 11, 2022 Duncan Depledge

By Rachel Littlewood

In May, we were joined by Adrian Hyde-Price, Professor of Political Science at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. Professor Hyde-Price is an expert on European security, particularly in terms of the Baltic Sea region. During his talk, he argued that Russia’s brutal and unprovoked war on Ukraine has illuminated important weaknesses across the European security system. He addressed three key issues: (1) the clash that has occurred between those that advocate a rules-based system rooted in the dynamics of globalisation, and those that believe in great power realpolitik, (2) the significance of the Baltic Sea region to European security, and (3) the implications of Sweden and Finland’s applications for NATO membership. He pointed out that throughout the 1990s, some scholars argued that the end of the Cold War signified globalisation was eradicating traditional geopolitical dynamics and dissolving state borders. Yet, past, and current events demonstrate otherwise. As Professor Hyde-Price observed, the first Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014 illustrated that geopolitics had not disappeared but had and was, in fact, “returning with a vengeance”.

Europe: still whole and free?

Professor Hyde-Price began by arguing that “we are witnessing a clash between two conceptions of European security”. On the one hand, liberal democracies believe in a Europe ‘whole and free’, with ever-increasing co-operation and economic interdependence. This, he explained, is rooted in a belief that globalisation is reshaping the international system, requiring states to contemplate new strategies of defence to combat transnational and emerging threats, such as terrorism and cyber-attacks.

The Putin regime, however, believes in a very different vision of Europe based on spheres of interest, in which Russia, fuelled by nostalgia for the Soviet Union, is once again treated as a great power. However, this is not to say that that a new Cold War has begun. Rather, it is the dynamics of the 1930s that offer the closest parallel. Therefore, the task for European democracies is to reconstitute credible deterrence based on intensified security and defence co-operation. Drawing on the metaphor of Chiron the Centaur, famous for his wisdom and teachings in Greek mythology, Professor Hyde-Price argued that Europe needs to draw on both soft and hard power in the face of Russian aggression and its attempt to create a new world order. This is an interesting perspective, providing an alternative understanding of how to synthesise a complex and diverse system of conflicting beliefs and construct a response that includes both means of power, and how to use human qualities as well as utilise military and economic strength.

Security in the Baltic

The talk argued that the Baltic Sea region offers an ideal case study for examining the recent shift from globalisation to geopolitics as the main determinant of East-West relations in Europe. According to this interpretation, in the early 1990s, many scholars believed the Baltic was a region where “a divided Europe could be stitched back together” through institutional and personalised co-operation with Russia. The Council of Baltic Sea States, for example, was established in 1992 to stabilise the region and foster international co-operation. This cooperative vision has now clearly ended. Rising tensions due to increased Russian assertiveness abroad has changed the atmosphere in the Baltic Sea. The annexation of Crimea, in 2014, established the region as NATO’s new frontline with Russia. In June 2015, for instance, seventeen member states of the Alliance participated in Baltic Sea naval drills to demonstrate their resolve to defend the region.

Neutral no more?

Given the growing tensions in the Baltic, Professor Hyde-Price argued that Sweden and Finland’s decisions to apply for NATO membership will prove to be momentous. His analysis is that the decision was ultimately driven by Finland, where there was a greater shift in public opinion and a greater desire by the Finnish political and security elite to join the alliance in order to ensure military support. At the start of the Ukraine crisis, Sweden has repeatedly stated that it would not change its security policy, arguing that military non-alignment had always served it well. Yet, within a few weeks Stockholm had decided to follow Finland.

However, Professor Hyde-Price also argued that although neutrality appears to be deeply embedded in Swedish national identity, the decision to apply for NATO membership was the logical next-step for a country that has been undergoing a quiet revolution in security thinking since the early 1990s. Already in 1992, Sweden had formally dropped its ‘neutrality’ policy in favour of military non-alignment in preparation for joining the European Union. Most significantly, in 2014, Stockholm signed a far-reaching defence co-operation agreement with Helsinki, effectively rendering both countries officially ‘un-neutral’ and no longer militarily non-aligned. In Professor Hyde-Price’s view the decision to apply for NATO membership resolves the many ambiguities and contradictions surrounding security and defence thinking in Sweden. Notably, a Nordic enlargement of NATO would also strengthen the protection of key strategic islands in the Baltic Sea. Finland, meanwhile, adds impressive defence capabilities, which would significantly strengthen NATO’s defences on Russia’s borders.

***

Following the presentation, many questions were raised. The most pertinent concerned the contemporary significance of state neutrality. One key question is, with Europe once again divided, can anyone still afford to remain neutral? Perhaps Austria and the Republic of Ireland can, given that they are surrounded by EU and NATO countries or sufficiently distant geographically from the threat of Russian aggression. Sweden and Finland, however, do not enjoy either of these luxuries and have had had to acknowledge that neutrality – or even ‘military non-alignment’ – is no longer their best guarantee of security.

So, what have I learnt from the latest webinar? Crucially, it is evident that the war in Ukraine has caused a fundamental shift in the world order. Not only can we see this in the changing security structures, but also in economic networks worldwide. Secondly, it is necessary to consider the role of geopolitics in foreign policy decision making. Lastly, Russian aggression against Ukraine is driving important changes in European security networks, especially in the Baltic. But I wonder if Putin feels threatened by the efforts that have been made to enhance security in Europe since 24 February, or whether it has simply further strengthened his position at home?

Rachel Littlewood will soon be entering into her third year as a Politics and International Relations student at Loughborough University, after which she plans to apply to study for a Master’s degree in International Security, also at Loughborough University. She is mainly interested in climate change, contemporary security threats and Middle East foreign policy.

From the Vice-Chancellor - June 2022

June 30, 2022 Nick Jennings
In my June newsletter: the Complete University Guide, Pride Month, a new partnership with FIFA, a new innovation district on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the students’ Degree Show and how to get involved in Give ‘n’ Go.
Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution

Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution

June 21, 2022 Peter Yeandle

by Chloé Marie Bemba.


My final year of study for a degree in Politics and International Relations at Loughborough University coincided with the 10th anniversary of the Arab Spring. This blog is a reflection on study undertaken between October and December 2021.

I remember vividly seeing all the revolutionary movements making the headlines in the early 2010s and the fact that everyone was worried of potential wars across the region, which sadly happened later in Yemen and Syria. As I wanted to learn more about the Middle East and its rich history and politics, I enrolled in the “International Politics of the Middle East” module. The module was led by Dr Ali Bilgic.

One of the main aims of the module was to demystify the Middle East, to help students understand the complexities of the region’s politics, recent history, and relationship to the wider world. From the Ottoman Empire to the Syrian Civil War, lectures covered different eras, topics, and geographies, and taught us several theories that we used in a simulation as well as our research essay. The lecture featuring the content that most fascinated me was on the revolutions that started in 2011 in Tunisia, the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring has had tremendous effects on democracy and rights. However, I was wondering if it was still the case, ten years after? Was the Tunisian revolution still considered a success? Or, had the ambitions of the revolutionaries slowly fallen apart?

After deciding the topic and choosing a question, the lecturer recommended me to use a more focused approached and think of a way to measure what might constitute success. In this case, the success was measured by various factors: the democratic transition and its aftermaths, if violence was overly present throughout the revolution, and finally if the situation had improved a decade after.

I chose Tunisia as a case study for various reasons: first of all, the contestation started in Tunisia for economic and socio-political reasons and the movement was well-organised – especially compared to other uprisings that followed. Moreover, it is the place where it all started in 2011. After the Jasmine Revolution, Tunisia was considered a tremendous accomplishment especially when compared to other nations that underwent similar political upheavals, as it was the only country to successfully experience a democratic transition. Nonetheless, the economy remains an issue, social issues remain unresolved, and political contestation is rising.

I came to the conclusion that the case of Tunisia can be described as an achievement compared to its neighbours Algeria or Libya as they have a democratically elected government. Despite being imperfect, some progress has been made in other areas. I also argued that the Jasmine revolution could be deemed successful because there had a fairly peaceful transition compared to what happened and is happening in Yemen or Syria. However, despite improvements, the situation is not ideal – especially after the pandemic – as Tunisia was greatly affected from the lack of tourism. There is an upcoming election this summer to elect a new president.


Biography: I am going to graduate from Loughborough university this summer 2021 with a degree in Politics and International Relations. I really enjoy studying International Politics and International Relations especially those between the African continent and China. I will pursue my studies and deepen my knowledge further. I am French and Congolese and used to live in Congo-Brazzaville until moving to university.


To find out more about the topic here is a selection of readings:

Cammett, M. and Diwan, I. (2018) The Political Economy of the Arab Uprisings. London: Routledge, pp. 1-44.

Cammett, M., Diwan, I., Richards, A. and Waterbury, J. (2015). A Political Economy of the Middle East. 4th ed. New York: Routledge, pp.1-32

AFP, “Tunisia to vote on ‘new republic’ on July 25”, France 24 online, 26 May 2022. URL: https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20220526-tunisia-to-vote-on-new-republic-on-july-25 (accessed 29 May 2022)

Korany, Bahgat. (2011) The Changing Middle East: A New Look at Regional Dynamic. American University in Cairo Press: https://cairo.universitypressscholarship.com/view/10.5743/cairo/9789774163531.001.0001/upso-9789774163531  

Wiśniewski, A. (2018). Arab Spring and its Aftermath on the Example of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Securitologia, (2), pp.81-92. https://doi.org/10.4467/24497436SCU.18.016.11490


Photo by Juan Ordonez on Unsplash

This Week at Loughborough | 20 June

This Week at Loughborough | 20 June

June 20, 2022 Saagar Sutaria

Postgraduate Week 2022

20 – 24 June 2022

This in-depth series of online events explores everything you need to know about postgraduate study at Loughborough University London. It covers topics on who a master’s degree and PhD is for, understanding how an advanced qualification can help you further your career and what we offer. Browse our schedule below and book the sessions you want to attend today.

Find out more on the events page.

IAS Spotlight Series: Pacifism and Nonviolence – Seminar 3

20 June 2022, 11am – 1pm, Online

As part of the IAS Spotlight Series, ‘Pacifism and Nonviolence’, this seminar will bring together a group of scholars to examine more closely a range of concrete examples of responses to violence, including in civilian protection initiatives, with military defectors, and in responses to ‘killer robots’ and to counterinsurgency.

Find out more on the events page.

IAS Spotlight Series: Pacifism and Nonviolence – Seminar 4

20 June 2022, 3pm – 5pm, Online

As part of the IAS Spotlight Series ‘Pacifism and Nonviolence’, this seminar will bring together a group of scholars to discuss various facets of militarism, including faith in the institutions of violence, how political philosophers overlook militarism, wargaming in the US military, and militarisation in Palestine.

Find out more on the events page.

IDIG – “Gezi Park a decade later: how Turkish civil society has changed?”

21 June 2022, 3pm, LDN 3.23 (London Campus) & Online

The Roundtable is organised by Dr. Cristian Nitoiu and Massimo D’Angelo within their research on the way civil society enhances its resilience in fragile and vulnerable democracies. In this first event, the focus will be on Turkey and how its civil society has changed in the last ten years.

Find out more on the events page.

IDIG – “Gezi Park a decade later: how Turkish civil society has changed?”

21 June 2022, 3pm, LDN 3.23 (London Campus) & Online

The Roundtable is organised by Dr. Cristian Nitoiu and Massimo D’Angelo within their research on the way civil society enhances its resilience in fragile and vulnerable democracies. In this first event, the focus will be on Turkey and how its civil society has changed in the last ten years.

Find out more on the events page.

A life course approach to menopause: what it is and why it is important

22 June 2022, 12.30pm – 1.30pm, Online

This talk will be delivered by Professor Rebecca Hardy, Professor of Epidemiology and Medical Statistics at Loughborough University. The talk will discuss a life course approach to menopause, what it is and why it is important.

Find out more on the events page.

You Cannot Step in the Same River Twice (discussion)

22 June 2022, 6.30pm – 8pm, Online

An online discussion bringing together the arts and sciences to explore measures of time, environmental change, policy and politics.

Find out more on the events page.

LGBT+ Campus Pride March 2022

23 June 2022, 1.30pm, LSU Lawn

Join the University’s LGBT+ Staff Network and Students’ Union’s LGBT+ Association as we celebrate Pride Month with a march across campus.

Find out more on the events page.

LSU Events

Hey Ewe (LDOT)

22 June 2022, 10.30pm, LSU

Whether you’re celebrating a win or reeling from a loss, Hey Ewe is the place to go after a game!

Later entry means there’s plenty of time to shower and get yourself ready for a night of chart hits, pop anthems and student singalongs. We have DJs in The Basement and The Treehouse serving up bangers and cheese until 4am! 

Find out more on the events page.

Incognito

23 June 2022, 10.30pm, The Basement

Welcome to INCOGNITO, Loughborough’s biggest and best night for all things hip-hop, rap, trap, R&B, reggaeton, dancehall and bashment! We’ve taken everything we knew and loved about Cogs and moved it into The Basement for a full night of the biggest beats and best bars around.

Find out more on the events page.

Loughborough Experience Awards

24 June 2022, 6pm, The Basement

The Loughborough Experience Awards are a celebration of our fantastic student and staff successes, rewarding them for their outstanding contribution to the Loughborough Experience.

Find out more on the events page.

FND

24 June 2022, 10.30pm, LSU

Welcome to the biggest Friday night in Loughborough! Our resident DJs will be dropping the best of disco, house, drum and bass, hip hop and R&B in The Basement throughout the night, while The Treehouse is taken over by cheese anthems and retro-pop singalongs until 4am!

Find out more on the events page.

Video recordings of CRCC Seminar Series 2021-22

June 20, 2022 Cristian Vaccari

We have now completed our 2021-22 Seminar Series, which was mainly held online. We are delighted to share the video recordings of most of our events.

Urban Cultural Institutions in Post-Pandemic Perspective” by Dr Fabian Holt (Roskilde University)

Networked power and arbitrariness in the U.S. asylum system” by Professor Caroline Nagel (University of South Carolina)

Globalized memorial museums: Traveling memories and musealization trends” by Dr Ljiljana Radonić (Austrian Academy of Sciences)

Miscommunication and repair in Dutch task-oriented human-robot interaction” by Dr Wyke Stommel (Radboud University)

Islamist and nativist reactionary radicalisation in Europe” by Professor Ayhan Kaya (Istanbul Bilgi University)

The politics and ethics of representing ‘the trolls‘” by Dr Jonathan Corpus Ong (University of Massachusetts – Amherst)

My Degree Show Experience

My Degree Show Experience

June 16, 2022 Guest Blogger

My three years as a Fine Art student were coming to an end. The Design and Creative Arts Degree Show 2021 was just around the corner, and I believe I selected the most challenging room for my exhibition space. The walls were uneven and bumpy, and I made it a goal to paint every inch of them vibrant shades of red, blue, purple, and green. The race to hand in my final submission had passed and mindlessly painting came as a welcomed change of pace. Everyone in the Fine Art building worked together to curate their exhibition because everyone had the same aim – to celebrate their work and what they had achieved during their years at Loughborough University.

True to our cohort’s nature, the scramble to set up our degree show meant many were still painting in the final hour. Due to COVID-19, I had only seen a select few artists developing their practice. It was exciting to see everyone’s work. From sculptures to immersive installations, the pieces displayed passion and resilience.

I created a home-cinema experience, with posters on the wall, merchandise, and a rotoscope animation playing on repeat. The animation had taken months to make and refine. I used myself as the model, recording, sketching over each frame, editing the audio, and then repeating the process from the beginning. I used my final year to refine my style. I discovered how much I enjoyed animating and digital illustration after years of painting portraits. Critical thinking surrounding which fonts to use, colour theory, cut scenes, sound editing and utilising stylistic choices to convey emotions motivated me further.

The art pieces worked together to create a campaign surrounding the gaze and its impact on young women online. COVID-19 meant that the ever-popular social media platforms were relied on more for ‘human contact’. Wanting to feel close to others whilst being unable to see them meant that many turned to social media. Although this pseudo intimacy helped some, it also highlighted the way people view others online. Internet trolls and conflicting standards inflicted on young people can be damaging to their mental and physical wellbeing. My practice focused primarily on young women as I can identify and empathise with them. The campaign aimed to highlight how harmful the way we view others can be and what we could achieve without being constantly criticised online.

I invited my friends and family to the Design and Creative Arts Degree Show. I was proud of myself for creating something I had proactively learned and refined during COVID-19. The degree show was a chance to celebrate myself and those graduating in 2021.

What happened next?

A lot has changed since this time last year. My degree show came and went. I was ordering my graduation gown and feeling like there were 100 and 1 different paths I could take – but which one would I choose?

When the degree show ended, I had moved back home. It was time to think about what I wanted to do next. Do I pursue graphic design and animation, or do I continue to look towards campaigns and management? I had the privilege of time. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do next. I now have a creative role in social media. I use my skills to produce engaging content shared with a diverse audience on multiple platforms.

A creative degree doesn’t just give you the time to explore your art practice. It allows you to gain skills in multiple areas. One of my favourite phrases to say when someone asks, “what makes Fine Art ‘fine’?” is that it is the research and intention behind it. When you study a creative degree, you research everything from socio-political issues to biology. The tutors here at Loughborough University support the topics you are interested in. They put you in contact with the right schools and lecturers that can help you enhance your learning in that area.

I am really looking forward to walking around the Design and Creative Arts Degree Show this year!

Indonesian Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Delivered Talk in IDIG Negotiation Module

June 15, 2022 Loughborough University London

On the 9th of December 2021, IDIG module on International Negotiation, led by Dr. Nicola Chelotti, invited a diplomat from the Indonesian Embassy in London to give talk about the life of a diplomat and negotiator. Professor Helen Drake as the director of IDIG welcomed Mr. Khasan Ashari, the Deputy Chief of Mission of Indonesian Embassy in London and delivered her opening speech and short introduction of Mr. Ashari to the class.

Prior to his assignment in London, Mr. Ashari served as Director of Junior Diplomatic Training Unit at the Centre of Education and Training, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and has served as Vice-Consul at the Indonesian Consulate General in San Francisco, USA; Head of Section at the Directorate General of Multilateral Cooperation; and First Secretary (then promoted to Counsellor) at the Indonesian Embassy/Permanent Mission to the United Nations and other Organizations in Vienna, Austria.

Mr. Ashari is an alumni of Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia and the Australian National University.

Mr. Khasan Ashari delivered his presentation to around 35 IDIG’s masters students from many different countries. He started the talk by illustrating his journey into diplomacy and updating the class about current issues in Indonesia’s foreign policy. He then explained more in detail the functions of a diplomat according to the 1961 Vienna Convention, and gave a vivid demonstration of how these functions translate into the daily working of an embassy. Further, Mr. Ashari elaborated on the necessary skills to become a diplomat – one of the most important one being the capacity to negotiate skillfully, that is, to present and debate issues in an effective, way, as well as to understand various point of views to reach consensus.

Mr. Ashari delivering his presentation to IDIG master’s students

Mr. Ashari highlighted that international negotiations often consist of many layers, because before the diplomats can negotiate in the international level, they first need to negotiate with domestic stakeholders such as the different ministries to reach an agreed national position. He also explained that multilateral negotiations are generally more complex than the bilateral ones, where less parties are involved, and issues are more specific and focused.

Based on his experience, he also shared the real-life challenges of international negotiations, such as the cultural differences among different delegates from various countries. He highlighted the need to adopt and adjust to these different styles, to maximize success in the negotiation process. One practical challenge of multilateral diplomacy (that many commentators hardly consider) is that negotiations often occur in distant parts of the world – far away from your own capital. For example, during the COP 26 in Glasgow, the Indonesian delegation faced 6 to 7 hours-time differences between the UK, where the embassy is stationed, and Indonesia, where the Indonesian government agencies are located. This time difference sometimes complicates the coordination process embedded in every international negotiation and gave agency to individual negotiators participating in the international conference.

Mr. Ashari with some IDIG master’s students

The presentation was followed by Q&A session where students asked many interesting questions, from the different negotiation style adopted by diplomats from different countries, to the biggest challenge faced by ASEAN today. From this talk and Q&A session student were able to learn from the analysis of diplomacy and international negotiations and from the interesting examples shared by the speaker.

The talk and Q&A were followed by an informal reception where everyone enjoyed drinks, light lunches and continued the discussions with the speaker in a more informal and interactive setting.

Informal reception with Mr. Ashari and some IDIG master’s students
This Week at Loughborough | 13 June

This Week at Loughborough | 13 June

June 13, 2022 Saagar Sutaria

Collaborative Project Show 2022

13 June 2022, 5pm, Plexal, Here East, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

This year 484 students from all academic Institute disciplines at Loughborough University London embarked on a 10-week collaborative innovation journey.

Working in 85 teams, students selected one of 24 briefs, specifically co-created with our highly valued Partner Organisations and set about creating innovative and unique solutions using their vast array of skills and experiences from around the world, while overseen and facilitated by our academic Project Leads.

Find out more on the events page.

Fellowship Inaugural Lecture: Dr Petre Breazu

14 June 2022, 12.30pm – 1.30pm, LDN 1.04 & Online

In this lecture, Dr Petre Breazu will introduce their MSCA project carried out at the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance under the mentorship of Professor Aidan McGarry. This project investigates contemporary expressions of racism and xenophobia toward the Roma in the context of the growing populism in Europe.

Find out more on the events page.

Barnes, Bots, and Bears: Chatting with AI in Museums with Dr Kathryn Brown

14 June 2022, 3pm – 4pm, International House

As a follow on from the IAS event on AI and Cultural Heritage, please join us in person for ‘Barnes, Bots, and Bears: Chatting with AI in Museums’ with Dr Kathryn Brown (School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Loughborough University).

Find out more on the events page.

Public lecture: Omega-3s and cardiometabolic disease

14 June 2022, 6pm – 7pm, Online

The talk will discuss the use of Omega-3s for the management or prevention of cardiometabolic disease. Cardiometabolic disease is a term used to describe largely preventable lifestyle-related conditions like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver.

Find out more on the events page.

Menopause and the brain

15 June 2022, 12.30pm – 1.30pm, Online

In this talk Professor Eef Hogervorst will discusss what we know about the brain and menopause. Should we take hormones for the complaints of brain fog, problems with memory and concentration, the mood swings and irritability and loss of libido? Can hormones protect against dementia? If that is so when should we take these and for how long?

Find out more on the events page.

Meet the Author: Christina Sweeney-Baird

15 June 2022, 12.30pm – 1.30pm, Stanley Evernden Studio, Martin Hall

Join author Christina Sweeney-Baird for a Q&A and a reading from her novel The End of Men.

Find out more on the events page.

Disability Support Network Event

15 June 2022, 6pm – 7pm, Future Space London

Join the Disability Support Network team to learn more about the types of support available to students at the London Campus.

Find out more on the events page.

The End of Men

15 – 17 June 2022, Various Timings, Martin Hall Theatre

‘The End Of Men’ explores what the world would look like without men. In the book, there is a pandemic that quickly kills 90% of the male population. The performance follows a range of characters as they try to keep their friends, sons, husbands, and fathers safe and they explore how to reconfigure and survive in a world that has changed enormously. This production was adadpted by Jake Truman and Jess Magson, and directed by Iona Gray.

Find out more on the events page.

LSU Events

Keep Calm: Study Lounge

13 – 17 June 2022, 9am, The Lounge

The Lounge is open with free refreshments to keep you going through the day, and board games to help take your mind off things for a while!

Find out more on the events page.

Keep Calm: Silent Study

13 – 17 June 2022, 9am, The Lounge

The Lounge is open with free refreshments to keep you going through the day, and board games to help take your mind off things for a while!

Find out more on the events page.

Keep Calm: Bricking It

13, 15, 17 June 2022, 11am, The Lounge

If you have questions about exams, mitigating circumstances or anything else relating to your education, come and see our Advice team in the Michael Pearson Board Room! We’ll have the Lego out too, so even if you just want to build something and have a chat, come and say hi!

Find out more on the events page.

Robogals – Lego Session

13, 16 June 2022, 11am, Student Hub Meeting Room

Robogals have their Lego in the Student Hub Board Room.

Find out more on the events page.

Keep Calm: Puppy Petting

14 June 2022, Various Timings, The Treehouse

Join us for puppy petting as part of our Keep Calm Week events. There are various timeslots available and limited spaces, so don’t forget to book your slot!

Find out more on the events page.

Open Mic Night: The Best of

14 June 2022, 6pm, The Lounge

This evening sees the ultimate in performers come together for one final night of Open Mic’s best and most memorable. Crowd inspiration, innovation and untapped potential all combine to embody tonight’s line up of alluring uniqueness and verified talent.

Find out more on the events page.

Hey Ewe

15 June 2022, 10.30pm, LSU

Whether you’re celebrating a win or reeling from a loss, Hey Ewe is the place to go after a game!

Later entry means there’s plenty of time to shower and get yourself ready for a night of chart hits, pop anthems and student singalongs. We have DJs in The Basement and The Treehouse serving up bangers and cheese until 4am! 

Find out more on the events page.

FND

17 June 2022, 10.30pm, LSU

Welcome to the biggest Friday night in Loughborough! Our resident DJs will be dropping the best of disco, house, drum and bass, hip hop and R&B in The Basement throughout the night, while The Treehouse is taken over by cheese anthems and retro-pop singalongs until 4am!

Find out more on the events page.

OUT!

18 June 2022, 10pm, The Treehouse

Find out more on the events page.

Funky Bunch Trivia Quiz

19 June 2022, 8pm, The Lounge

Join us every Sunday from 8pm for a night of tricky trivia in The Lounge. Vote on the theme over on our Instagram every Thursday, and see if your specialist subject shows up – then put together the perfect team and maybe you’ll be taking home the cash prize!

Find out more on the events page.

This Week at Loughborough | 6 June

June 6, 2022 Saagar Sutaria

Featured

School of Design and Creative Arts Degree Show 2022

10 – 19 June 2022, 10am – 5pm, The Design School and Creative Arts Building

The annual School of Design and Creative Arts Degree Show is an opportunity for graduating students to showcase their work to industry, friends, family, potential students, and the public.

The Degree Show is such an exciting and valuable event for students, staff, and visitors; it is a culmination of so much hard work, and a chance for students to celebrate, share and exhibit their final year projects.

Find out more on the events page.


Diverse Voices In Textiles (exhibition)

6 June – 29 July 2022, 12pm – 2pm, Martin Hall Exhibition Space

Diverse Voices in Textiles is a pioneering teaching initiative by an academic team at Loughborough University based in the School of Design and Creative Arts who were awarded an Inclusivity Teaching Innovation Award (2021). The project aims to build a considered, inclusive and diverse agenda to advance the conversation in textiles and amplify the voices of those it serves. This exhibition sets out to celebrate distinguished textile designers, artists and practitioners who have otherwise been under-represented within curriculums and the history of textiles by bringing critical stories to the forefront, to enrich and enhance our students’ knowledge and understanding of the discipline.

Find out more on the events page.

IDIG Online Student Experience Summit

7 June 2022, 11am – 12pm, Online

Have you ever wondered what studying in our Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance is really like?

Would you like to hear from researchers, students and alumni about how our courses could boost your career?

The event will see the Institute’s Director, Professor Helen Drake, joined by members of her Institute to discuss the critical components of the Institutes courses. They will introduce the key concepts and drivers of the Institutes programmes of study. Members of faculty will be joined by current students to share their experience and discuss their views on the programmes.

Find out more on the events page.

Menopause and your heart

8 June 2022, 12.30pm – 1.30pm, Online

The subject of menopause, its symptoms and treatments has become a more prevalent topic in recent years. In this NCSEM online lecture series we will myth bust and outline what the evidence says around aspects of menopause.

Find out more on the events page.

Menopause and your heart

8 June 2022, 12.30pm – 1.30pm, Online

The subject of menopause, its symptoms and treatments has become a more prevalent topic in recent years. In this NCSEM online lecture series we will myth bust and outline what the evidence says around aspects of menopause.

Find out more on the events page.

Negotiating the Political in the Indian Community Radio Sphere

8 June 2022, 4pm – 5pm, Brockington U1.22

This talk will critically examine the complex ways in which the community radio sector in India has been negotiating the ‘political’ in their programming as well as through their engagement with the state. It considers some key challenges of the community radio sector in India—content restrictions, state funding, monitoring and surveillance, and the NGOization of community radio— in order to analyse how this complex web of patronage and surveillance results in keeping CR stations, from the state’s perspective, at a safe distance from the potential ravages of the political. In the end, Professor Pavarala discusses the possibilities for rebooting the community radio sector in India based on discourses of communication rights and freedom of expression.

Find out more on the events page.


LSU Events

Keep Calm Week Puppy Petting

7 June 2022, The Treehouse

Join us for puppy petting as part of our Keep Calm Week events. There are various timeslots available and limited spaces, so don’t forget to book your slot!

Find out more on the events page.

Hey Ewe

8 June 2022, 10.30pm, LSU

Whether you’re celebrating a win or reeling from a loss, Hey Ewe is the place to go after a game!

Later entry means there’s plenty of time to shower and get yourself ready for a night of chart hits, pop anthems and student singalongs. We have DJs in The Basement and The Treehouse serving up bangers and cheese until 4am! 

Find out more on the events page.

Keep Calm Week – Stretch Class

9 June 2022, 1pm, The Treehouse

Find out more on the events page.

LSU Media’s Masquerade Awards

9 June 2022, 5.30pm, The Lounge

The Media Masquerade Awards are happening on Thursday 9th May 2022, beginning with a Prosecco Reception at 5:30 pm, followed by a two-course meal in The Basement at LSU and an After-Party at The Indie Club.

The LSU Media Awards are a celebration of our fantastic student volunteer successes, rewarding them for their outstanding contribution to the section this year.

Find out more on the events page.

Indie Club

9 June 2022, 10.30pm, The Basement

Get on your dancing shoes and dust off your bucket hat for The Indie Club! Our resident DJs will be playing your favourite indie and alt-rock anthems throughout the night.

Find out more on the events page.

Keep Calm Week Yoga Session

10 June 2022, 11am, The Treehouse

Find out more on the events page.

Enterprise Awards

10 June 2022, 6pm, The Basement

Thank you for being involved with Enterprise – you are invited to join us to celebrate student Enterprise at our annual Awards on Friday, 10th June, 6:00 – 9:30 PM at LSU! It’s the time when we’ll be showcasing YOUR hard work and the best of Enterprise across the Union and University, so we would love to see you on the night!

Find out more on the events page.

FND

10 June 2022, 10.30pm, LSU

Welcome to the biggest Friday night in Loughborough! Our resident DJs will be dropping the best of disco, house, drum and bass, hip hop and R&B in The Basement throughout the night, while The Treehouse is taken over by cheese anthems and retro-pop singalongs until 4am!

Find out more on the events page.

Funky Bunch Trivia Quiz

12 June 2022, 8pm, The Lounge

Join us every Sunday from 8pm for a night of tricky trivia in The Lounge. Vote on the theme over on our Instagram every Thursday, and see if your specialist subject shows up – then put together the perfect team and maybe you’ll be taking home the cash prize!

Find out more on the events page.

Institute for International Management Alumni Event

June 1, 2022 Loughborough University London

Every term, the Institute for International Management (IIM) organises at least one alumni event that allows our current students to meet former students who have successfully navigated the transition from the classroom into the world of business. This term, we had the great pleasure to welcome back four of our graduates from last year. Abhishek Ray (Lloyds Banking Group), Hadiza Adetunmbi (TransPerfect), Victoria Sedlak (DeltaCapita), and Rhianna Leslie (Aldi), shared tips and tricks about how to go about finding your ideal job after graduation.

(L-R Hadiza Adetunmbi, Rhianna Leslie, Victoria Sedlak & Abishek Ray)

What was most impressive was to see just how innovative, persistent, and creative our students are when it comes to entering job market. It was particularly fascinating to see the diversity of approaches to identifying potential employers, securing an interview, and preparing for interviews that Abhishek, Hadiza, Rhianna, and Vicky adopted. There clearly is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach! What works and what does not seems to depend on the norms in any given sector, the organisation’s culture, as well as the personality of the people involved in the recruitment process. In some cases, starting a conversation with your interviewer about ‘Family Guy’ may allow you to create a connection with the people who may employ you…in other sectors or companies, such a relaxed approach may not be the right way to go.

What it all shows us though, is that looking for a job is a very personal processes where every student tries to develop a strategy that fits their own personality as well as the norms and standards in their preferred industry and organisation.

Needless to say, the best way to get started on developing your own job-hunting strategy is to talk to people who have been there themselves. The wealth of experience, tips and tricks that our alumni can share are a tremendous resource for our current students. As IIM gets ready to welcome our 5th cohort of students, our alumni network has grown and each year we get to hear more diverse and interesting stories about our IIM graduates’ exciting journey in the ‘real world.’

We are looking forward to welcoming more of our dear alumni back to Loughborough University London in the autumn!

DRN Ecologies of Drawing: Mapping Environments Recording

May 31, 2022 Deborah Harty

Thank you to Kiera O’Toole for chairing the third event in the series of DRN2022 Ecologies of Drawing events, to the presenters Daniel Coombes, Uri Wegman and Ann McDonald for their interesting insights and approaches to the theme and to everyone who attended the event.

Video also accessible at: https://vimeo.com/715575795

Master’s Students on Peace-building Course Discuss Partner-driven Engagement 

May 31, 2022 Loughborough University London

Master’s students on the course Peace-building, taken by students on the MSc Security, Peace-buidling and Diplomacy, as well as other programmes at the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance, hosted guest speaker, The Baroness Caroline Cox, to discuss practitioner experiences and views on working in complex (post)conflict environments. The session was part of the “NGOs and Peace-building” lecture theme of the course. Lady Cox is a life peer at the House of Lords, and the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords. She is the founder of the UK-based NGO Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), and is  a staunch humanitarian with some 40 years of practitioner experience in (post)conflict communities, with humanitarian, peace-building and conflict advocacy initiatives. She has often spoken out for communities and issues least discussed and visible in the House of Lords and the mainstream media coverage, and has worked to practice a local partnership-based approach with communities around the world.  

Her insights into combining of humanitarian aid with advocacy in conflict (HART’s approach), and particularly the issue of local partnership (the theme of one of the major debates we explore in the Peace-building course) were to complement students’ academic study on these and related themes. 

At the session, Lady Cox presented HART’s approach and methods, its work to date in various regions, followed by a discussion and debate with the students. Below, Victoria Migliora, one of the students on the course, is sharing her thoughts on the event.  

Understanding humanitarian Efforts in (Post-)Conflict Communities through the Lens of HART: A Seminar with The Baroness Caroline Cox 

By Victoria Migliora 

We were very fortunate to be joined in our seminar by The Baroness Cox, a Member of the House of Lords and founder of Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), to shine a light on the on-the-ground work that humanitarian and advocacy organisations carry out in conflict and post-conflict communities. 

After weeks of lectures and theoretical readings on peace-building, having explored various models of peace-building, critical currents and some cases and examples, it was truly fruitful to hear the first-hand practitioner experience of HART. 

Lady Cox briefly introduced to us HART’s work in six conflict zones – Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), Burma (Myanmar), Sudan, South Sudan, Nigeria and Syria. Each of these cases, with its particular needs, allowed us to relate more closely to, and further think through, some of the most-studied theories in the peace-building literature. 

Image 1: Artsakh Rehabilitation Centre

It is worth noting that HART’s goal, as stated on its website, is to “alleviate poverty, empower communities and promote human rights” through aid and advocacy operations on the ground and not to become politically involved in the local context. Notwithstanding, they take advantage of their position to raise some of the issues related to these communities in the UK Parliament when they see fit, and most often when these communities’ plight is left out of attention or action.  

This brings me to the first debate in the peace-building literature: attention to the locals. 

Lady Cox highlighted that in all of their operations, they turn to the local people and ask them for their priorities. For example, she said, the people of Artsakh “emphasised the need for rehabilitation for people with disabilities” after the bombings in the first Nagorno-Karabakh war in the 1990s, as there was “no treatment available” within their capabilities.  

According to some liberal peace critics1, the liberal peace-building approach (especially of 1990s-early 2000) had little success in significantly improving the lives of those affected by the conflict because it overlooked the grassroots dynamics and the “everyday” lives of the local people. Local actors are often the foundation of a humanitarian response and are on the front lines of it in conflict situations, so partnering with them is critical. 

A similar situation occurred in Burma, Lady Cox continued, where their dialogue with the locals led them to partner with Sasa, a local man who, with their help, created an organisation to provide vital medical care by training community health workers (CHWs) for villages “deep inside Chin State where there was no health care at all”. As a result, 317 students arrived from 153 villages (some walked 5-7 days to attend) and with their newly-acquired knowledge, started saving the lives of 8 out of 10 people in their villages who would previously have died from preventable infections such as malaria or diarrhea. 

Image 2: Training Centre in Burma

This leads me to another question within the liberal peace studies and its critiques: the type of association between international organisations (Western, in this case) and the local people. 

According to scholarship2, the interaction between local peacebuilders and external organisations is determined by how the partnership is structured. Is it top-down, hierarchical, or more giving agency to the local organisations and community groups? 

In the case of Syria, for example, HART partnered with a local organisation, St. Ephrem Patriarchal Development Committee (EPDC), to create 20 jobs to combat food security. Currently, they are raising funds to assist EPDC and its projects to provide clothing and food to more than 2,000 Internally displaced people (IDPs). This type of partnership could be classified as partner-driven partnership, where local agencies maintain their independence, rely on external aid and have regular meetings with the donor’s organisation. More on HART’s work, meetings and testimonials on Syria can be found here: https://www.hart-uk.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Syria_Visit-Report_2018.pdf  

Image 3: Project partnership with EPDC to support local women

After the presentation by Lady Cox, students engaged in a very interesting discussions around many puzzles, challenges and debates in peace-building such as: 

  • The importance of the integration with the local people, which includes understanding the different levels and networks in their society. 
  • The (in)effectiveness of sanctions in conflict countries and their impact  on societies. 
  • The media (mis)coverage of conflicts and the trauma that these may bring to the local and displaced people. 
  • The challenge of understanding how complex and asymmetrical conflict is within different levels in the local structure. 
  • The need for more NGOs or operations run by charities rather than by governments who have national interests. 

Lady Cox was open to challenges and constructive probing of ideas by the students, and nurtured an atmosphere of trust where we could test and further our thinking on these complex issues.  

Overall, Lady Cox’s presentation and further discussion were a great way to end our lectures on peace-building studies as it allowed us to engage with an experienced practitioner in the field. Some of the theories that we had studied during the Peace-building course gained another dimension when listening to the stories that the Baroness shared, and these will stay with me to shape my understanding on peace-building. 

To know more about HART’s work, please visit their website at https://www.hart-uk.org/  

Drawing Research Group: UNSW Sydney

May 30, 2022 Deborah Harty

Emma Robertson

The Drawing Research Group at UNSW Sydney was founded in 2012 and is affiliated with DRN. As it is 10 years since our inception and in light of the retirement / redundancies of several members we are seeking to rebuild and strengthen our group in the wake of a challenging two years and a workplace change process. The Faculty of Art & Design at UNSW recently merged with two others, and our new Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture gives us an opportunity to also extend our reach and connect with like minded colleagues who work in architecture, psychology, media and other disciplines where drawing plays an important role.

Please contact Assoc Prof Emma Robertson if you are based in New South Wales and wish to be involved: e.robertson@unsw.edu.au

Thank you, and kind regards, Emma

This Week at Loughborough | 26 May

This Week at Loughborough | 26 May

May 30, 2022 Saagar Sutaria

Behind The Mask

30 May – 4 June 2022, Various Locations

Free literary festival including open mic, poetry workshops, online crime panel, graduate panel, and a full day of performances.

‘Behind the Mask’ is a student-run literary festival of identity and diversity at a time when everyone has experienced the effects of living behind a mask. This series of events aims to unveil stories and experiences, bringing awareness to the literal and figurative masks that occupy the space between creative writers and their writing.

Find out more on the events page.

Sir Nevill Mott Lecture: Professor Leon Chua

30 May 2022, 4.20pm – 6pm, DAV031 Sir David Davies & Online

This year’s Sir Nevill Mott Lecture will be given by Professor Chua from the University of California, Berkeley who theoretically proposed memristors in 1971.

The title of the Mott lecture is ‘Memristors are the elan vital of Brain-like Machines’. There will be an introduction before the lecture given by Professor Stanley Williams.

Find out more on the events page.

Loughborough University London Family Fun Day

1 June 2022, 10am – 4pm, Loughborough University London

Organised by LUL EDI Committee and LUL Parents and Carers Group, the aim for the day is to bring LUL families and their children together in a social and relaxed environment.

Find out more on the events page.

Loughborough Cycling Festival

4 June 2022, 8.30am – 6pm, Loughborough Campus

Loughborough University’s famous campus is being turned into a racetrack. The fast, technical circuit makes this the perfect type of course for spectating some of the UK’s best cyclists including our Loughborough Lightning team, the UK’s leading University female race team.

Find out more on the events page.

LSU Events

Inclusive Elections Forum

30 May 2022, 6.30pm, Online

On Monday evening, we will be hosting an on open forum for students to give feedback on Loughborough Students’ Union’s elections processes and how we can make them as inclusive as possible.

Find out more on the events page.

Hey Ewe

1 June 2022, 10.30pm, LSU

Whether you’re celebrating a win or reeling from a loss, Hey Ewe is the place to go after a game!

Later entry means there’s plenty of time to shower and get yourself ready for a night of chart hits, pop anthems and student singalongs. We have DJs in The Basement and The Treehouse serving up bangers and cheese until 4am! 

Find out more on the events page.

FND

3 June 2022, 10.30pm, LSU

Welcome to the biggest Friday night in Loughborough! Our resident DJs will be dropping the best of disco, house, drum and bass, hip hop and R&B in The Basement throughout the night, while The Treehouse is taken over by cheese anthems and retro-pop singalongs until 4am!

Find out more on the events page.

Funky Bunch Trivia Quiz

5 June 2022, 8pm, The Lounge

Join us every Sunday from 8pm for a night of tricky trivia in The Lounge. Vote on the theme over on our Instagram every Thursday, and see if your specialist subject shows up – then put together the perfect team and maybe you’ll be taking home the cash prize!

Find out more on the events page.

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