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Global Communication and Social Change: an open access reading list

Global Communication and Social Change: an open access reading list

April 15, 2021 Rebecca Davis

Dr Jessica Noske-Turner, Senior Lecturer and Programme Director of the MA Global Communication and Social Change programme, offers her reading recommendations from a new Open Access reading list on Global Communication and Social Change.

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Meet the panel from the 'Women in Everything' series

Meet the panel from the 'Women in Everything' series

April 14, 2021 Ella Cusack

This ‘Women in Everything’ series was created by the Women in Sport Group in celebration of International Women’s Day and featured a number of amazing female panellists who are paving the way for females in industry. In this blog, we will introduce you to these panellists from a range of different industries and delve deeper into these event.

Women in Sport (8 March)

For the ‘Women in Sport’ event, we were joined by:

Kathryn Ratnapala: Former England Netball player and current Technical Coach for England Netball and Head Coach of the Saracens Mavericks.

Cameron Myler: Four time US Olympian, sport lawyer and lecturer focusing on legal & governance issues in sport.

Hussa Al-Khalifa: Developer of women’s football and now PhD student that focuses on sport for development and peace programmes for women I the Gulf Cooperation Council region.

This insightful event saw the discussion of topics such as entering the sports industry as a female, achievements, male allies, female coaches and the  importance of role models amongst others. 

Women in Entrepreneurship (17 March)

For the ‘Women in Entrepreneurship’ event, our panel was made up of:

Meredith Unger-Cass: Founder & CEO of Nix Biosensers, a business based in Boston focused on developing wearable hydration sensors for athletes.

Kate Bosomworth: Former M&C Saatchi CMO, Kate co-founded Platform in 2020, a transformational brand platform based in London.

Gabriella Pimentel: Recently awarded an OBE for her work during COVID in starting a Youtube Channel for keeping the elderly and vulnerable active.

In this event, discussions were centred around coming up with business ideas, having a good team and shared vision, securing funding and building businesses that promote equality and representation.

Women in Leadership (25 March)

In the final event of this series, our panellists were:

Preeti Shetty: CEO of Upshot, a social enterprise that helps non profits manage, monitor and evidence the work they deliver.

Angela La-Chica: President & CEO of LaChica Sports & Entertainment Group which focuses on social justice advocacy and social justice media campaigns.

Olivia Eastwood-Gray: Programme Director of Badu Sport +, a new programme between Loughborough University London and Badu Sports with an aim of making the sports industry accessible to young people in East London and developing them to be part of the sporting world. (You can read more about this partnership here)

This event delved deeper into leadership styles, managing gender disparities in the workplace, knowing our worth and not being afraid to step into opportunities and importance of role models amongst others.

We would like to say a huge thank you to all of our wonderful panellists for taking part in this event and for providing such thought-provoking dicussions across the event series.

We would also like to thank the Women in Sport group who creating this insightful event series. The Women in Sport group allows students and academics from our Institute for Sport Business to engage, network and discuss how we can decrease the gender disparities that lie in the sport industry.


To find out more about the ‘Women in Everything’ series, take a look at this article.

If you would like to find out more about our Institute for Sport Business, please visit our website.

Can Empty Protractors Help Pupils to Measure Angles?

Can Empty Protractors Help Pupils to Measure Angles?

April 13, 2021 Centre for Mathematical Cognition

Written by Tom Francome. Tom is a PhD student and a Senior Enterprise Fellow at the CMC at Loughborough University. If you are interested in this blog post and would like to get in touch, please email him directly at T.J.Francome@lboro.ac.uk, or comment below to start a conversation.

How would you teach pupils to measure an angle? What are the steps in the process? Where do learners make mistakes with using a protractor? This article describes the empty protractor: a simple tool that you can use as a replacement for, or as a scaffold towards, a conventional protractor. 

Protractors are used routinely in schools, typically from year five (aged 9-10) onwards. My experience of working with children and the literature suggest that there are several possible misconceptions that can arise around angle measurement.

Learners can get the impression that ‘angle’ means the distance between the two points rather than a measure of turn, so some pupils may perceive this to be larger than that

Using a protractor, learners can perceive ‘angle’ as the ‘curved distance’ between points rather than a measure of ‘turn’.[1]

Learners may not position the centre of the protractor on the angle point. 

Learners may not position the line on ‘zero’ or may do so in a way that prevents them from reading the angle. 

When doing everything else correctly, pupils read the incorrect number off the scale. 

Students often see angle as the distance between the ends of lines[3]. This may emerge from always seeing examples where both arms are equal length so care should be taken to provide at least some practice where they differ. Students can also learn that bigger arcs, indicating angles, imply bigger angles[4]. The invariance of the angle can be emphasised by drawing multiple arcs for the same angle and also helps focus on the turn they are to measure. Students can draw lots of 15° angles with different arm lengths and orientations and throw in some 20°and 10° angles for others to find.

“The use of a protractor is twofold, viz, to lay down an angle or to measure an angle already laid down” (Meredith, 1791). 

How to measure an angle

  1. Place the centre of the protractor on the vertex of the angle. 
  2. Place any particular protractor line on top of one angle ray.
  3. Count from this line to the other ray[5].

An example (how to measure 35°):

How to draw an angle

  1. Draw an initial line (if not given).
  2. Place the centre of the protractor on the vertex of the angle.
  3. Count the desired angle and mark.
  4. Draw a line through the marked point to the vertex.

Rather than a long list of steps to remember, learners only need one; to place the centre at the point of the angle they wish to measure. Learners count the degrees so there is no need to place any particular protractor line on top of the angle line. However, learners quickly conjecture that measuring from one of the angle’s longer lines is easier (although using a pencil to extend the lines (arms) of the angle negates this need). Pupils then count around to the required line. Pupils can draw the turn of the arc, which may be helpful with measuring and understanding angles.

The empty protractor is a simple tool that can help learners develop their conceptual understanding of angles and procedural fluency with measuring and drawing of angles that are crucial for reasoning and problem solving.

Excitingly, if you’d like to try out an empty protractor with your pupils, they are now available to buy alongside some guidance for how to use them and guidance for tasks your pupils can explore whilst developing their expertise with angles.

Here’s a parallel lines task to get you started. As the empty protractor is circular, you can use it to create a circular geoboard and then all the angles will be nice numbers so pupils can measure with confidence.

If you mark a point  a point every 40° you create a 9-dot geoboard. The purple line segments in this image are parallel. Work out the angles in the diagram – predict them first. What is the minimum number you would need to measure to know all of the rest?

You can find more tasks for developing thinking about angle in the teacher resources here. Additionally, Jo Morgan collected some other useful resources in a Maths gems post on her excellent Resourceaholic website.


[1] In fact, if the radius is 1 this gives the radian measure of an angle but is hard to do ‘in the field’.

[2] Francome, T. (2016). Empty Protractor. Mathematics Teaching, 253, 32–33.

[3] See: DfE (2020) Guidance for teaching mathematics in primary schools available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/teaching-mathematics-in-primary-schools

[4] See also: Gates, P. and Griffin, P. (1988) Preparing to teach angle, Open University

[5] Angles can be measured clockwise or anticlockwise on the empty protractor and there are no extra rules about this to be remembered. I have tended to go anticlockwise in the diagrams.


Happy 65th Birthday Litter?

Happy 65th Birthday Litter?

April 13, 2021 Nik Hunt

When my grandparents were young there was virtually no litter, in fact when my parents were born there was virtually no litter but by the mid 1950’s litter was becoming a problem resulting in the first Litter Act in 1958.

When I was born The Wombles was a television series, they were fictional pointy-nosed, furry creatures living in burrows, who aimed to help the environment by collecting and recycling rubbish in creative ways.  These days volunteer litter pickers seem to be using the Wombles name as they seek to clean up the nations litter.

Fast forward to today and the litter problem is now worse than ever.

As an avid walker and mountain climber it still surprises me how much litter there is in the countryside.  A few years back I climbed the three highest peaks in the UK and found litter on all of them.  I’ve also climbed the highest peak in North Africa and found litter on that, why do even people who like nature (assuming they do) leave litter on the very thing they are there to enjoy.

  • Litter costs more than £1 billion a year in clean up bills nationally
  • 30 million tonnes of litter are collected from our streets every year – enough to fill four Wembley Stadiums
  • Chewing gum costs local authorities £20,000 a year to clean
  • 99% of streets in town centres have cigarette litter
  • 62% of people in England drop litter – but only 28% will admit to it
  • Litter is causing damage to rivers, seas and marine life
  • Littering is accountable for the deaths of millions of animals but is also a cause of an increase in vermin
  • Litter contributes to soil, waste and air pollution
  • Litter contributes to flooding

These days its less fictional pointy-nosed, furry creatures living in burrows that are interested in your waste and they are never far away.  They feed on your discarded litter, reproducing every 3 weeks with litters of 6-20 babies.  Rats can cause damage to buildings, cabling and are able to chew through soft concrete, wood, plastic, aluminium, and even cinder blocks are no match for these rodents.

Environmental Impact

It’s nearly three years since Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II raised the issue of plastics in the ocean but littering continues to contribute to this. Litter travels, with 80% of the plastic found in the ocean estimated to have come from land-based sources. Litter can be washed into drains, streams, rivers and ultimately the ocean. 

It can also contribute to blocking drains causing flooding.  Litter containing food feeds vermin such as rats whilst some animals can get entangled in littered objects and die a slow and painful death. Items like broken glass, pins, and other sharp objects present in the litter can injure animals who tread on them unknowingly. Some substances present in the litter can be ingested by animals and produce toxic effects inside their bodies, irreversibly harming them.

Litter and the law

  • The main piece of legislation covering littering and refuse is Part IV of the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) 1990. Crucially, section 87 of the EPA states that it is a criminal offence for a person to drop, throw down, leave or deposit litter in a public place. It carries a maximum fine of £2,500 and can be tried in a magistrate’s court but the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act (CNEA) 2005 also allows for on the spot fines (Min £75)
  • Updated laws mean councils no longer have to prove who committed the offence, with car owners responsible for anything thrown from their motor vehicle.

So given that it is illegal to litter why are we still a nation of litter louts?

A recent article in the Independent rightly highlights the environmental as well as health and safety risks.  It notes the reactions of an 11 year old to the litter being generated but suggests we should consider and perhaps have empathy to those whose emotions and/or home life may be the cause of them littering.  However given the impacts I have already mentioned is this a legitimate excuse?

Every time there is a spell of warm weather in the UK the masses descend to our beaches and parks to enjoy the sun. While its great to see these places being enjoyed it comes with the inevitable rubbish that gets left behind. Another article on the BBC news talks about the amount of litter left by crowds enjoying the sunshine in Cardiff Bay but cited the lack of bins as potentially being a contributing cause of the litter. Maybe there aren’t enough bins in some locations. Surely though if you can take those items with you, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to take the rubbish away until you find a suitable place to dispose of it!

Source: yorkmix.com

Each week the University spends 150 hours on everyday litter picking, more if there is an event or exceptional occurrence, that’s over 7500 hours per year or more than 200 working weeks.

There is no excuse for littering. If there are bins please use them, if you’re not close to a bin take the waste home, it takes little effort or time.  This is our campus, our environment, our planet and we need to respect it please. 

Don’t be a T****R.

Inclusive Beauty: Making Cosmetics More Accessible for the Blind and for Visually Impaired Consumers

Inclusive Beauty: Making Cosmetics More Accessible for the Blind and for Visually Impaired Consumers

April 12, 2021 Ella Cusack

This article is written by student Akriti, who currently studies MSc Design, Disability and Innovation programme.

The Disability, Design and Innovation MSc programme is offered by the Global Disability Innovation Hub in collaboration with Loughborough University London, University College London and London College of Fashion. This article looks at making the beauty industry more accessible for blind and visually impaired customers.


Assistive technology refers to a field of technology that aids or assists individuals in a multitude of different ways: from the completion of daily chores to travel and education. Typically, assistive technology is designed for individuals with impairments or disabilities but if the technology is inclusive, it can be used by the wider population.

The World Health Organization reports that, as of 2020, there were approximately 2.2 billion visually impaired (VI) or blind individuals globally.1 Visual impairments can range from color blindness and presbyopia to glaucoma. In addition, vision deteriorates with age. Given the immense range of visual impairments, and that their degree of severity can vary from person to person, visual impairment and blindness is a niche issue that requires a diverse range of options and the personal­ization of assistive technologies.

There are two schools of thought in relation to disability management: medical and social models of disability. The medical model has focused primarily on the impairment and rehabili­tation of the disabled individual, rather than the improvement of their environment and the elimination of social barriers. The social model, on the other hand, aims to empower the individual by giving them the independence, equal accessibility and social benefits to seamlessly integrate into society.2

Read the full article here.


To find out more about the MSc Disability, Design and Innovation programme, please visit the Global Disability Innovation Hub page.

Please visit our website to read more about our partnership with the Global Disability and Innovation Hub.

What’s it like to be deaf in a global pandemic?

What’s it like to be deaf in a global pandemic?

April 12, 2021 Sadie Gration

Terrifying.

I was diagnosed with congenital bilateral hearing loss when I was five years old. I have 90% hearing loss on one side and 50% loss on the other. I rely massively on lip reading and facial expression to interpret and understand speech.

This is hard work in normal circumstances, but communicating with people face-to-face and in person during the pandemic when they are wearing face masks and/or standing two metres away is a huge struggle and most of the time impossible.

Not being able to hear and understand what people are saying to me is upsetting and disorientating even in banal social situations like receiving a home shopping delivery. In the grand scheme of things not being able to converse about the weather with a stranger is not a big deal.

What is a big deal is not being able to understand what the chemist is saying to me about my son’s prescription, not being able to do my job because I can’t understand what my colleagues are saying to me, and being in hospital surrounded by mask-wearing strangers and not being able to understand a word.

In pre-Covid circumstances I “masked” my hearing loss very successfully through a variety of proactive coping mechanisms that I have developed over the course of my life to improve my chances of hearing and understanding what has been said and effectively communicate with people.

None of my usual methods work right now.  Not in the office and not in the wider world.

I can’t stand closer to people.

I can’t ask them not to cover their mouth.

I’m not sure it’s possible for you to understand how frightening that is for me.

Employers are required by the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments so that deaf people and those with hearing loss are not unfairly disadvantaged in the workplace. I haven’t needed any specific adjustments in my pre-Covid working life, but because of the impact social distancing measures including mask wearing will have on my ability to do my job successfully, I have made a formal request to continue working from home until such time that social distancing and face masks are no longer required.

I’m lucky to have a job that I can do from home. Other Loughborough colleagues with hearing loss and the small but significant number of Loughborough students with a declared hearing loss may not all have this option. There are at least 50,000 children who are deaf in the UK including my 7-year-old. They will be experiencing similar difficulties with in-person communication due to face masks and social distancing.

I spoke to another colleague, Ann Browning, Research Associate in the School of Social Sciences and Humanities, who sustained partial but significant hearing loss in her mid-40s due to post-concussive syndrome and meningitis. While Ann has also been able to work from home, she has found participating in online meetings through Microsoft Teams difficult due to a lack of synchronicity between audio and visual cues. When the video freezes or lags behind the audio, combining limited interpretation of sound whilst simultaneously lip-reading is very challenging. When people speak too quickly or talk over each other, full participation is not possible. One way you can help colleagues is to note key pieces of information in the chat function to ensure that vital information is not missed.

I’ve actually found online meetings easier than in-person meetings in many respects, especially when people are facing the camera directly and speaking clearly into a microphone. I’ve got my laptop plugged into a separate speaker so I can adjust the volume up if needed. I often wished in pre-Covid times that people would come with subtitles, so I’ve found Microsoft Teams automated live captions function to be very helpful (click on the three dots on the meeting task bar and select “turn on live captions”).

Ann and I do find it frustrating when pre-recorded video communications including lectures and training videos are not captioned as it prevents us from fully participating in university life. There are plenty of free auto captioning tools you can use for work and personal use (eg for videos on social media) – see the University of Washington’s helpful guide to creating accessible videos here.

If you are working with a colleague or student who has hearing difficulties, ask them what you can do to help support them. Adjustments might include:

  • Write things down instead – on paper or even on your phone if conversing face-to-face
  • Wear a clear face mask (but be aware that these can steam up and obscure the panel)
  • Have clear rules of engagement for online meetings
  • Provide subtitled video content or transcripts
  • Be aware that this is an issue and be patient.

Amanda Silverwood
Planning Officer

Comment from Miranda Routledge

I am Amanda’s manager. When she submitted her request, it took me about five minutes to read it. And then about 20 minutes to REALLY read it and absorb a tiny bit of what it might feel like to be in her position. It then took me about three seconds to decide what to do about it. Amanda will not be required to come back into the office physically until such time that she can deploy her usual coping mechanisms. That is until face masks and social distancing are no longer required.

That bit was easy. What was more difficult was the realisation that I hadn’t appreciated the extent to which Amanda has successfully masked her hearing loss from myself and other colleagues. Until she wrote to me with the request to continue to work from home, I had no idea how difficult she finds things and I particularly hadn’t considered the very specific impact of the pandemic on her.

I am looking forward to the day when Amanda can return to the office and when she does, I will continue to be mindful of the coping mechanisms that she deploys in the workplace and I am making it a personal mission never again to shout across the office to her, speak to her without facing her or cover my mouth whilst I talk to her.

We wanted to share this with other colleagues to raise awareness of the issues facing deaf staff and students and hopefully help people to find new adjustments that can support them both in the short term during the pandemic and longer-term. 

This Week at Loughborough | 12 April

This Week at Loughborough | 12 April

April 12, 2021 Jess East

C-DICE and UKCRIC ‘All Hands’ (staff event)

13 April, 1 – 4pm, Online

The aim of this ‘All Hands’ event is to introduce academics and post-docs in the UKCRIC partnership to the C-DICE programme.

At this session you will:

  • Learn about the benefits of working with C-DICE
  • Help us to develop an operational framework and future activities
  • Find out about synergies between UKCRIC and the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA)

Delegates will break into World Cafe style workshops on Training, Development and Sandpits Workshops to discuss:

  • Research priority areas
  • Training opportunities
  • Interface with infrastructure, Cities and Energy
  • Barriers to participation
  • Engagement with postdocs and academics
  • Working with industry and other external stakeholders

Book your place on the event page.

AFM-FLIM Inaugural Event

14 April, 10 – 12.30pm, Online

We recently installed and commissioned an integrated atomic force (AFM) and fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) microscope, funded by a Strategic Equipment grant from EPSRC. We are holding an inaugural event and it is open for everyone interested. We will share details of the kit and ways to access it, and we have two great invited speakers – Dr Mela from the University of Cambridge and Dr Kuimova from Imperial College London – who will tell us how AFM and FLIM systems can be harnessed to obtain further insights in materials science.

Find out more information on the event page.

Covid-19 Roundtable (staff event)

14 April, 2 – 3pm, Online

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted all of us and continues to do so.

As the vaccine is rolled out and we begin to consider what a new ‘normal’ may look like, we are offering you the opportunity to engage with a panel of University researchers with broad-ranging societal expertise related to the pandemic.

Find out more on the events page.

International Day of Sport for Development and Peace

International Day of Sport for Development and Peace

April 9, 2021 Ella Cusack

This blog is written by Ana Geppert, an intern with the ALL Institute at Maynooth University, in partnership with Loughborough University.

Loughborough University and Maynooth University are currently collaborating together to study Assistive Technology and Sport Engagement as part of the AT2030 programme.


“Sport can be a powerful tool contributing to community development. Engagement in Sports has the ability to unify people from the most diverse backgrounds, as well as strengthen the relationship we have with ourselves. In many ways, the practice of engaging in Sport (in the broadest sense of the concept) is like accessing a gateway to so many different levels of society. From our closest surrounding context (micro level) to the highest structures of society (macro level). It can help accessing community services and assistive technologies, which are all crucial to community development. In my discussion today, I am speaking about Sport broadly – not elite-level performance, but rather the every-day sports practices many of us engage in. Encompassing everything from physical activity, to exercise but also recreational play.

As a third culture kid (someone  who was raised in a culture other than my parents’ culture and my passport’s nationality) I  have often experienced being or at least feeling like an outsider or the feeling of being different to the rest of people around me. When engaging in sports, however, I gained a lot of respect from my classmates and I felt like I belonged. This helped strengthen my self-esteem and realize my differences could be used to an advantage to the group’s goal.

Through Sports I found a collective of people which could not be more “different” when looking from the outside, but we all had something in common which united us and was more powerful than our differences.”

To read the full article, please visit the Ideas in All blog.


This blog is by Ana Geppert in the ALL Institute at Maynooth University. The Ideas in All blog is dedicated to assisting living and learning.

To read more about the AT2030 programme and our partnership with Maynooth University, please visit our website.

Institute for International Management academics write for The Conversation

Institute for International Management academics write for The Conversation

April 9, 2021 Ella Cusack

The Director of the Institute for International Management, Dr Gerhard Schnyder and Visiting Fellow, Dr Luda Svystunova recently wrote an article which was featured in The Conversation.

This article entitled ‘How the gig economy finally went into retreat‘ looks at the new IR35 regulation and the impacts of this on large companies and the self-employed.

The Conversation is an independent source of news and views, sourced from the academic and research community. The Conversation work with university and research institute experts to share their knowledge for use by the wider public.

This will be Dr Luda Svystunova’s first article for The Conversation and Dr Gerhard Schynder’s third article.


“A loophole that many self-employed people have used to avoid paying income tax and national insurance in the UK has closed. After a yearlong delay, the IR35 regulation came into force on April 6. It gives larger companies the responsibility for deciding contractors’ employment status, with a view to ensuring they pay the taxes that they are supposed to.

This will reduce the leeway thousands of voluntarily self-employed workers have to avoid tax payments and social contributions. It also makes it harder for companies to avoid taking proper responsibility for these people by denying them employment rights and benefits such as pensions or holiday entitlements, while avoiding the considerable expense of paying employers’ national insurance for them.”

To read the full article please visit The Conversation.


To find out more about our Institute for International Management and the research projects within this Institute, please visit our website.

Top 5 Tips to Deal with Stress

Top 5 Tips to Deal with Stress

April 9, 2021 Guest Blogger

Hi everyone, Leah Langley back here with my 5 top tips about dealing with stress. Stress is a natural part of everyday life and it can be hard to avoid, but it is important to take the time to deal with it in a way that is suitable for you. I have found five ways that work wonders for me, and I like to try and alternate between them to ensure that I am dealing with my stressors in the best way possible. Here is what I do to tackle my stress, maybe you could try some of these ideas next time you need to take a break:

1. Get Creative

I love to do mini arts and crafts projects to keep my mind occupied on something and to give me something new to concentrate on. It can be therapeutic to take the time to focus on the details of a creative project and it is a process that usually has an amazing end result too. I am by no means an artist and so I usually spend my time doing 5D diamond art paintings, paint by numbers, or book folding. It does not have to be something that is museum-worthy but taking the time to release your inner artist can be enjoyable and exciting. Why not pick up some paints or grab some colouring pencils and see where your inner imagination takes you!

A gorilla painting I did – you might be surprised what you come up with!
A small book folding project to unwind

2. Explore Nature

Nature is my home. I often spend hours getting lost in fields of flowers and tress whilst listening to the songs of the Earth. Fresh air is beneficial for everyone, but I like to fully immerse myself in what mother nature has to offer. Switching off from social media and leaving my desk allows me to forget whatever it is that is bothering me. Through pure chance, I have stumbled across some pretty incredible places because I’ve taken the time to see where the path takes me (literally!). It can be fun to grab some friends for an adventure too. Not only do you get the joy of exploring the world, but you get to catch up with friends and make new memories.

Me and the gang on one of our countryside walks

3. Put Words onto Paper

Journaling has been one of my biggest saviours. I could never get on board with the whole “write what happens in your daily life” type of journaling and so I had to find something that suited me. I got involved in a journaling project during the first lockdown that changed my life and has given me pages and pages of stories that I did not know I had within me. Different styles of journaling suit different people. Whether you want to write about what happened in your day, or you want to find more creative prompts, getting words onto paper can be a huge release of emotions and can be very cathartic. I found myself writing about things that I had previously forgotten about and it is now really nice to be able to look through journals of my own writing. Journaling also gave me my love of words and writing back. I had lost touch with that side of myself and by taking the time to get to know my writing side fully, I now have a creative outlet. Why not pick up a pen and write what comes to mind? You could end up creating a bestseller or documenting some fun memories to share with friends in years to come!

4. Escape to New Worlds

Books are one of life’s greatest gifts. They give us the ability to escape to new worlds from the comfort of our own home. I have always been a bit of a bookworm and often opt for a night curled up in my blanket with a hot chocolate and a good book. I find that immersing myself in a new world can give my mind the break that it needs. I switch between the types of books that I read and find myself in completely fictional worlds or learning about some of my greatest inspirations in their own words. If it is a nice day outside, it can be great to find a park or quiet spot to read so you still get to enjoy the fresh air. Is there a book that you have been meaning to read for a while? Why not give yourself a break each day to read some of it, you deserve it!

My recent reading library

5. Songs of the World

Music can be a great healer. I enjoy nothing more than putting my headphones in and listening to the lyrics of some of my favourite songs. I have learnt that there is an art to listening to music though. When you are stressed, try not to listen to sad or emotional songs as this can sometimes lead to your stress being prolonged. For me, I often opt for some classical music, Disney music, or a bit of musical theatre. It is the one time I can indulge in my guilty pleasures and feel no judgement. Even if you only spare 10 minutes a day to allow yourself to listen to some tunes, it can be really helpful to just centre yourself and remind your body to breath. Maybe make a playlist of songs you know boost your mood or give you that desired motivation so that next time you’re stressed, you can press play and relax.

If you or someone you know within the Lboro family is having problems with stress or another aspect of their mental health, the Loughborough Student Services team is always available and has lots of recourses to help in difficult times. 

Supporting low income families beyond the pandemic

March 29, 2021 Katherine Hill

The Covid-19 pandemic has shone a light on what it means to experience sudden income loss, insecurity and difficulty making ends meet.  It has also revealed and exacerbated the instability that many low income families already face on a regular basis.  But what can be learnt in the light of responses to the pandemic?  Our research with low income families before and during the pandemic, looks at what families need to get through difficult times.  It is a useful lens through which to reflect, both on the support provided during the crisis, and what families need to bring some stability beyond the pandemic.  

As the pandemic started to affect everyday life in the UK, the government stepped in to provide a radical range of support: furlough and self-employment support to help protect jobs and earnings; increasing Universal Credit (UC) by £20 a week to bolster the social security safety net; mortgage holidays and eviction bans to reduce the risk of losing a home; free school meal vouchers over school holidays to help alleviate food insecurity; and provision of digital equipment in recognition of the digital gap.  Of course these were not without issues: gaps in support for some self-employed, the temporary nature of the UC uplift, the delivery of digital support, and the government’s reluctance to extend the free school meal vouchers over the school holidays.  However, these measures have been vital, not only to help millions caught up in the impact of the pandemic, but also in attempts to prop up businesses and the economy.  These responses also signal the ability of government to take action, provide back up, and spend money boosting support for households in times of difficulty – in contrast to the austerity/cutting back mantra of the last decade.  

But delving deeper, the introduction of these multiple measures raises questions about the adequacy of existing levels of support.  The need for action during this crisis was clear, as suddenly the lives of swathes of the population were disrupted. Families with children have been particularly hard hit financially.  Moreover, the pandemic exposed insufficiencies and gaps in the pre-pandemic safety net that people depend on in ‘normal times’.  

Our study following 14 families over the last five years through to the first six months of the pandemic showed the insecurity low income families often faced from multiple pressures even before the pandemic hit.  Poor health or a change in family circumstances, as well as unstable and low paid work or issues with benefits meant fluctuating income and financial constraint.  Over the five years we saw how parents worked hard to make ends meet but keeping their heads above water could be an ongoing battle.  Where finances were on a tightrope, losing a job or experiencing a delay in benefits could jeopardise the delicate balance with an ever-present risk of being pulled under, debt and going without essentials. 

What families really wanted was stability and enough income to manage on without it being a constant struggle.  But this has become more difficult in recent years with growing work insecurity, reduced real value of working age benefits, and increasing child poverty, particularly among children with working parents.  The pandemic intensified insecurity for families in already precarious situations: those in casual or temporary and low paid jobs were more susceptible to losing work and incomes; extra costs on food and energy bills with children being home added more pressure to already stretched finances; and families without leeway in their budget or savings had nothing to fall back on.  

So what difference have government measures and wider responses to the pandemic made to families and how can this be taken forward? 

  • Furlough helped to ease potential work and income precarity: it enabled some parents (and older children) to keep jobs, prevent a steep drop in income when not working, or at least delay redundancy.  But what most helped some families to get by better than others before and during the pandemic was having steady work and pay, flexibility and an understanding employer, highlighting the longer term need for more secure work opportunities.  
  • The £20 a week UC uplift had made a difference, though this was harder to discern where payments fluctuated, were reduced for example by UC advance repayments, or swallowed up by increased costs.  The key issue is that before the pandemic the basic level of benefits was seen as too low and when reduced further by deductions was even harder for families to live on. The £20 uplift needs to be made permanent and extended to families on legacy benefits who have missed out, or better still linked to Child Benefit.  Given the reduced value of benefits this is more redressing the balance than an ‘increase’.  
  • Providing free school meal vouchers during school holidays was appreciated by families, occasionally helping with school uniform costs too.  But struggling to manage food costs or ‘food insecurity’ is about lacking enough money to go around per se, and a symptom of the underlying problem of low income that needs to be addressed through reliable earnings and adequate benefit levels.  
  • Families in our study had kept up with their rent during the pandemic, even though the introduction of ‘eviction bans’ lessened the implications of arrears.  Housing Benefit/ UC housing element helped, but families saw rent as a priority due to the deep-seated importance of ‘keeping a roof over your head’, even if it meant cutting back in other areas.  However, mortgage holders who were struggling with reduced income had made use of the mortgage holidays.  Despite the fear of pushing a problem further down the line, they had little choice as, unlike renters, they were not eligible for support with housing costs from benefits.  The option for families to pause mortgage payments averted the prospect of losing their home.  This is a measure that could pave the way for better future support for mortgage holders in times of difficulty, in contrast to stamp duty relief which makes no difference to low income families struggling to cover housing costs.  

The government responses provided during the pandemic are welcome – but for many low income families further measures are needed to help deal with knocks in life and precarity experienced in ‘normal times’.  Indeed the last year has highlighted how sudden job loss and reduced income can expose many of us to financial vulnerability.  The experiences and responses to the pandemic can give hope though.  Public attitudes are softening towards benefits.  This could relate to more people claiming, including many who have not engaged with the social security system in the past, perhaps the feeling that it could happen to any of us, or a greater awareness around the subsistence level of benefits – that it isn’t an ‘easy life’, and a wider dependence on state support.  Furthermore, while furlough is not framed as a benefit, it has been providing a vital form of social security for millions of people over the last year, the bulk of which is funded by the taxpayer – getting this across could help ease negative attitudes towards benefit recipients.  Importantly, following a period of austerity and benefit cuts, government can now choose to change course, by introducing or stepping up financial support to people facing precarity.  The temporary measures put in place were a tacit recognition that the existing safety net was inadequate – and not the ‘normal’ that we should return to.  

The action taken during the pandemic could be seen as a precedent and opportunity for positive change.  Thus, the government’s ‘road map’ out of the pandemic should be extended to include longer term plans to provide more adequate support for low income families going forward.  Three essential features of this map should be:

  • An improved level of the safety net, whether by keeping the £20 a week uplift or else increasing benefit rates by amounts proportional to family size.
  • Improvements in job stability, for example by improving workers’ rights to secure employment.
  • Improvements in the provision of affordable housing, to reduce the costs faced by low income families.
Digital arts commission - interview with artist Sarah Selby

Digital arts commission - interview with artist Sarah Selby

March 26, 2021 LU Arts

LU Arts has commissioned artist Sarah Selby to work with the University population throughout 2020/21 to produce a digital output which harnesses the potential of digital technology to engender a sense of community in the student population.

We caught up with Sarah to find out how her commission is progressing.

Could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself and your practice?

I’m an interdisciplinary artist exploring digital culture through creative applications of emerging and pervasive technology. I’m interested in the relationship between the digital and physical and how they overlap, contradict and impact one another. How as artists we can expose intangible systems, manifesting them in the physical and offering a platform for critique and discussion.

I studied Interactive Arts at Manchester Metropolitan University which had a strong influence on my practice. It was a very ideas-driven and collaborative course – we weren’t required to specialise in any particular medium and often spent more time in other university departments such as the Bioengineering Centre than the studio. After graduating I was selected to participate in Roche Continents, a unique residency that brings together science and arts students from European institutions to explore sources of inspiration at the intersection of science and art, as well as the creative processes that drive innovation.

It took a while for me to understand the value of my role as a connector and an interdisciplinarian. It’s challenging because you are always out of your comfort zone and you’re usually the person with the least knowledge about a subject in meetings. You have to be confident asking stupid questions but also develop a fluid ‘expertise’ to be able to navigate unfamiliar disciplines – each with its own language, thought process and approach. People often have preconceptions about what art is or can be, so fostering mutual understanding, common goals and respect for one another’s field early on is very important.

You have been asked to develop a new work that engages with the context of the campus. Please could you tell us about your initial approach to the commission.

It’s been interesting to work on a proposal that has such a strong focus on place during the current pandemic when our sense of place has been severely disrupted. I’m currently based in Bristol and only made it to the physical campus once before C19 restrictions made it impossible, so most of my interactions with staff and students have taken place online. I don’t see it as a negative thing – it reflects our collective experience and has helped to shape the project.

During the research stage I have met with a mixture of students, societies (including FemSoc, People for Plant and Marxist society), research groups such as the Politicised Practice Research Group and academics to better understand their interests and barriers, and find out more about life at Loughborough University. I have also been exploring the technological infrastructure of the university. Because of the pandemic, my consideration of the ‘campus’ context has also expanded to explore virtual learning environments and the ethical issues surrounding it. I’ve also met with locals and carried out artist research. I try to stay open-minded during the research stage of any project, allowing myself to tangent and consider things from multiple angles.

What key themes have emerged from your initial research phase?

One source of inspiration for me was this perceived tension at Loughborough – whether between students and locals or groups with different values and beliefs. Society is made up of microcosms of different communities and diversity is an important and valuable asset to any environment. The events of the past few years have led to a rise in friction and conflict between these communities which our digital environments perpetuate through echo chambers and the increasingly polarised society they produce. The current pandemic has seen these divides expand, divided now not only by ideologies but also physical space.

Another source of inspiration for me was ecology of place and how our connection to the natural history of a place creates a desire to preserve the health of the land. How we can promote a connection to the local environment in a university setting where the consistent flow of students creates these fluid social ecologies? I was particularly inspired by Edith Cobb’s notion of the nature-mind-body-society continuum, arguing that nature for a child is a sensory experience that combines the cultural and the natural, the self and the world. I wanted to explore how art can promote engagement with the natural environment, and how ecology can be utilised to promote a better understanding of the social and cultural issues we face as a society.

When considering the commission’s aim to facilitate a sense of place, I also began to think about ownership of both our physical and virtual environments. The current student group – often dubbed ‘generation rent’ – have little ownership over their physical environment. How might that extend to the digital places we inhabit, particularly during the current pandemic? To connect with the digital learning environment now essential to university studies, students are increasingly required to accept the rules imposed on them by third party software. Societies such as People for Plant and Femsoc are protesting surveillance measures that contribute to the hostile environment towards foreign students in which student’s attendance is tracked via bluetooth technology and reported to the Home Office. This led to my consideration of off-grid, decentralised networks owned by the community.

Please could you give us some information on what you would like to do?

My initial proposal for LU Arts Digital Art commission is an ecological time capsule that encompasses the stories and experiences of the diverse communities of Loughborough. I’m hoping to use DNA data storage to encode messages into synthetic DNA, before using CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing to modify the genome of a tree seedling and embed the memories into the plant. It is designed to exist in a neutral environment wherein the physical space, virtual space and information is owned collectively by the community. They will need to work together to ensure the future of the tree and the survival of the history it holds, reinforcing notions of community and collaboration. The idea is that at any point in the future, the data can be retrieved by taking a leaf and sequencing its DNA, before decoding the original message.

DNA

A common theme in my practice is a desire to reconcile the digital and physical. This artwork is designed to give physical presence to the underlying digital unrest at Loughborough University. Rather than student activism becoming displaced and lost in the obscurity of the cloud, it will become embedded in the natural environment. Taking inspiration from steganography (concealing information in ordinary objects), I want to create something that will blend seamlessly with the pristine environment, reflecting the paradox of the University’s immaculate appearance and the disruption below the surface.

Could you talk a bit about the process you are now going through in the development of the work and ensuring it is viable?

For me this stage is all about experimentation and testing ideas out, so you need to be adaptable. I try to meet with as many experts as possible to determine feasibility and hear their thoughts. This is really where interdisciplinary collaboration and diverse thought-processes lead to interesting idea development and results. It’s exciting when you meet people from other fields who share your enthusiasm for a project. They can completely shoot it down one minute but in the next breath offer an even better alternative that you hadn’t even considered or known was possible.

I’m currently meeting with a mixture of  researchers from various fields such as plant biology, bioengineering and computer science to identify the barriers and possibilities of working in this medium. I’m learning about the (many) ethical and legal considerations to take into account, particularly around the insertion of synthetic DNA into a living organism. I’ve also been in touch with a few bio-artists that I admire such as Anna Dimitriu, Roland Van Dieroneck and Adam Zaretsky. They’ve all been really helpful and it’s great to get advice and insight from other artists who understand the unique challenges of working on a project like this.

DNA man

When will the work be completed and will there be further opportunities for staff/students to engage with it?

The final piece will be realised in an exhibition in June, so there’s still plenty of time for staff and students to engage with the project. I’m particularly interested in developing the narrative of the work collaboratively, and exploring what experiences and legacy the Loughborough community would like to leave behind. I’d be interested in speaking with researchers, lecturers or students who would like to contribute.


Anyone interested in getting involved in Sarah’s project should email LU Arts (luarts@lboro.ac.uk). Details of Sarah’s exhibition will be added to the LU Arts website in the summer term.

You can find out more about Sarah’s art practice on her website or follow her on Instagram.

The show must go on(line)! Institute for Media and Creative Industries students experience a virtual poster event

The show must go on(line)! Institute for Media and Creative Industries students experience a virtual poster event

March 25, 2021 Rebecca Davis

Students in the Institute for Media and Creative Industries (IMCI) recently presented their research proposals at a virtual poster event.

Continue reading
Power and Privilege. A Personal View

Power and Privilege. A Personal View

March 25, 2021 Chris Linton

I am male, I am white and by any reasonable definition, I am middle class. My father was an academic, as was my grandfather. I am acutely conscious, therefore, that when the phrase white privilege is used in the context of academia, I am the archetypal beneficiary of the structural advantages that exist within Higher Education.

When I reflect on this, two things come immediately to mind.

The first is that I don’t think the characteristics outlined above define me. While they are accurate, there is more to me than that – it is the truth, but not the whole truth. The reality of my life is in many ways atypical (though I’m not sure I know what a typical life is) largely due to the fact that my parents lived and worked overseas during my childhood and early adulthood. Growing up alongside people whose skin was a different colour to mine, not something I had much experience of in the north east of England in the early 1970s, opened my eyes to a world that was both richer than I had ever imagined existed and also beset with difficulties that your average white, British teenager had no concept of.

The second is that while I might prefer not to associate myself with the stereotype that I portrayed in my opening sentence, my position of power and authority within the University means that I have to accept that others will do precisely that. I embody something that is not just about me as a person, but about what I represent. And while that is uncomfortable at times, it is also true.

Let’s be clear, white privilege is real. Sexism in the workplace is real. Some barriers that get in the way of other people simply do not exist for affluent white men. It doesn’t matter whether in a particular circumstance I have personally benefited from my skin colour or my gender, they afford advantages that even a casual glance around the University demonstrates are very powerful indeed. There is no doubt that taken as a whole I have benefitted from systemic biases in society in general and in Higher Education in particular.

So here is the main message of this blog. In order for us to make progress to a more equitable society, to a work environment where white privilege is acknowledged, addressed and dismantled, to a place where barriers that impact negatively on the careers of women are eliminated, people like me need to give up some of our privilege and power. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a lot – there are a great many of us – and it might just be an acceptance that as a white man you won’t progress in the way or at the rate that might have happened in the past.  

An example that is directly relevant to me concerns opportunities for senior roles outside the University. Organisations are quite rightly insistent that their advisory and governance structures are created in a way that allows diverse views to be heard. It is imperative, for example, that our own University Council reflects views of a very mixed set of people.

When it comes to those who are currently in senior roles that might make them eligible for an external opportunity, there is an over-representation of white men and yet organisations want diversity. It follows that as a white man it is harder to get such a position. This is absolutely as it should be. On a personal level it might feel unfair, but people like me need to accept it. You cannot remove the structural problems by simply levelling the playing field. It is not enough.

Professor Chris Linton
Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor
Loughborough University

Presidential Team blog: March Update

March 25, 2021 Zoe Chritchlow

Written by Nathan Ritchie and Callie Merrick

Hi there! It’s been a while! I am excited to write this blog to tell you all about our activities the last couple of months. This blog will be highlight some key developments from the past few months and get you up to date with some of our activities. I hope you enjoy!

Caring responsibilities support

At the beginning of the academic year. I put parents & carers front-and-centre of my activities. The aim was to achieve two things. First was to campaign for financial support for those parents & carers who were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. This support would not only benefit parents & carers, but also the children, and/or relatives, so I was extremely pleased that the university responded swiftly and secured funding from Office for Students for parents & carers. This support, although not wiping away, an awful, disruptive year, will provide parents & carers with the breathing room they need to complete their thesis. I’d like to thank all the parents, Doctoral College staff and representatives for making this happen.

I also wanted to address and improve on what is currently on offer for parents in terms of wider support, whether this be online resources or a move towards a more childcare friendly PhD journey i.e., supervisor awareness, child access to events. Again, I’d like to thank members of Doctoral College and Student Services, especially, Manuel Alonso, for making strides towards this goal. With help from other parents, we have also built a Facebook community of parents & carers with over 50 members. This will hopefully ensure that the community continues to prosper after this academic year. I also hosted a parent’s event for the Wellbeing Fortnight (more on that later), this brought together many parents to discuss their experiences. I have heard positive feedback from parents about the event, so I am glad for that. I am really happy with how things have gone so far, and that a previously underrepresented sub-population now has their voice heard. A special thanks must go out to Demi Wilton, Penny Davis, Amelia Mills, Yasmin Jaaron and PhD SSN for their hard work behind the scenes.

Mental health support

The PGR wellbeing fortnight was a brilliant success. Katryna Kalawsky, from the Doctoral College, organised the series of events and was the glue that held it all together. An amazing achievement in a challenging year where these events are needed more than ever. A big congratulations to Katryna and all the contributors who made the event success. Also, well done if you got involved and took advantage of what is a unique set of events exclusive to Loughborough University.

I’d like to give a special shout to Loughborough Students Union who showed their willingness to engage with the PGR community once again by holding an LSU awareness event. Special thanks to Alex Marlowe, Ana-Maria Bilciu and Hannah Smith for all their hard work putting on that event. We hope to be sending out clips from the event on our social media channels shortly. There is a lot that LSU can offer PGRs, and I think this year can be the beginning towards further integration between the PGR community and the LSU. A lot of these foundations are being built with an expectation of further progress, whoever the next LSU Exec happens to be (elections soon, keep an eye out!).

So, what I have been up to relating to PGR mental health and wellbeing? I have  met with the Centre for Faith and Spirituality and we will be holding an event, in collaboration with PhD SSN on the 9th of April to raise awareness of that service. I met with Head of Wellbeing Services, Veronica Moore and outlined some aspects of PGR mental health support that could be worked on. I sat on the inaugural PGR wellbeing working group and hope to see that flourish throughout the year. I have been actively promoting the EAP: My Healthy Advantage App on our social media channels, a fantastic app, currently underutilised by our PGR community. I have also been fundraising for the mental health services. I am really thankful to everyone who donated to the campaign. Together we raised £860 for MH services and the whole £10k campaign raised close £30,000! A brilliant achievement. Well done to everyone who got involved and again a huge thank you to those who sponsored me! Special thanks also go to Lboro Alumni for organising the campaign.

Representative activities

So, you may, or may not know, that one of the primary responsibilities of the Presidential Team is to oversee PGR representative activities. In practice, this means trusting that Lead Representatives from each school are active and contributing to their community and looking after their own team of reps. I am really delighted to say that the Lead Representative this year have been amazingly supportive, not only of their PGRs but also to each other. It would be wrong of me to pick certain Lead Reps out, so I will just say a huge thank you to each and every one of them for pulling together in what has been an extraordinary challenging year to be a representative.

With help from the reps, we have raised several issues with the Doctoral College and Schools and continue to work on these matters for the benefit of our community. These include Covid-19 financial support from the University, PGR access to campus facilities, professional development, in particular, in relation to marketing of events, career guidance and support and supervisor related issues. You cannot solve any of these overnight and improvements on this front are achieved through ongoing dialogue and perseverance. I look forward to working together with colleagues to make progress on these fronts.

So, what I have been doing in regard to rep activities? This year we introduced Rep Forums for the first time, these are spaces where PGR reps can voice their opinions on a range of topics. We have, so far, discussed PGR teaching and University response to Covid-19. These are really useful events with the key themes then relayed to Liz Peel in our monthly meetings. We have two left, one event will discuss international PGR issues, and the other, PGR Research Culture. I have also been working closer with members of the Exec to ensure our representatives are heard at the LSU on a more frequent basis, this has resulted in regular meetings with LSU President, Matt Youngs and his team. I hope this will develop into a long-lasting arrangement where every Lead Rep team will meet on a semi regular basis with the LSU Exec. Overall, I hope the lead representatives have felt supported, and they can approach us when they feel the need to. This extends to all representatives and PGRs for that matter, you can always feel comfortable raising an issue directly with the Presidential Team.

Broadening our social media horizons.

PGRs use social media in different ways. It is not enough to communicate using only Facebook or Twitter because there are large numbers of PGRs who do not regularly access these platforms. Recognising that, we have put energy into making sure we are present across all the available social media platforms. This means we now have an Instagram account, where we post more videos, and we now have WeChat, the number one used social media platform in China. This allows us to reach a wider audience of our DRs and engage with them through various means, an important thing to do, in a year where we have less physical access to each other. We are continuing to look at our social media material and will soon be posting short videos of our Doctoral Researchers introducing their environmental themed research on our social media platforms, so stay tuned for that! A special thanks goes out to Angelina Pan, who has been helping me navigate the unfamiliar territory of WeChat!

What do we have to look forward to?

With less than six months to go of this academic year, this year is flying by! But I still have a lot I would like to achieve. In particular, I am interested in opening discussions about conditions around PGR teaching and how we can progress on this front for the benefit of our PGR community. Just as parents were the priority at the beginning of the year, I want to dedicate energy to PGR teaching, so please do come forward to speak to us if you would like to raise any concerns. I also see as one of our biggest collective challenges, the integration of our community back into physical campus life. In many ways, this challenge is a welcome one, as it will hopefully mean a return back to a semblance of normality. What that normality will look like, and what lessons we have learnt under these new working conditions, are all things worth bearing in mind and systematically getting to grips with as we enter a post-pandemic era. I look forward to being part of those discussions at the tail end of my tenure as Co-President.

Many things are coming up that are worth noting. The Postgraduate Researcher Experience Survey (PRES) is imminent, this is the survey and has the widest reverberations across the institution. I strongly advise PGRs to take part in this survey when the chance arises. There will be an environmental week takeover in the build-up to Earth Day, so please keep track of our social media to keep in touch with that. At the beginning of April, the representatives will be meeting with Steve Rothberg and Liz Peel to ask questions and discuss key issues. If you would like anything raised at that meeting, please do get in touch with your representatives. As mentioned, there will also be a Centre for Faith and Spirituality awareness event in April in collaboration with PhD SSN, so we look forward to welcoming you there also. And that is just April!

Looking further forward, I will continue to work collaboratively with PhD SSN, who have an amazing committee this year led by Chair Tymele Deydier. The hope being that we can work together when people in the UK can meet outdoors to socialise. We will, before we know it, have the Loughborough University PhD Awards to look forward to, in the meantime you can nominate both staff and PGRs for the national PhD awards (see SSN hint above). There are many PGRs deserved of a nomination, so hopefully we can get a couple awards for Lufbra. There will around the time of the Loughborough PhD awards, be a new Presidential Team appointed! So, if you are interested, please reach out to us, as soon as you like,  so we can brief you on the role.

Many thanks for reading and if there are any questions or comments please feel free to reach out to us directly at Drpresidentialteam@lboro.ac.uk.

DRN Temporal Drawing: Stillness & Motion Recording

March 24, 2021 Deborah Harty
Thank you to Serena Smith for chairing the second event in the Temporal Drawing series and to presenters Jo Lewis & Emily Carrington Freeman for their fascinating presentations and to everyone who attended the event to keep the dialogue around temporal drawing going.
Trans Visibility as an Act of Resistance

Trans Visibility as an Act of Resistance

March 24, 2021 David Wilson
The 31st of March is Transgender Day of Visibility. Here we consider what it means to be trans and visible.
Special issue on State Capitalism in International Context

Special issue on State Capitalism in International Context

March 24, 2021 Ella Cusack

Dr Anna Grosman was the co-Editor for the  Special issue on State Capitalism in International Context featuring her Editorial Review Article, in the Journal of World Business (5-Year Impact Factor: 6.774).

Anna Grosman

This Special Issue is dedicated to Professor Mike Wright, who started this project until his untimely death in 2019.

In her research, Dr Grosman investigates variegations of state capitalism, including in economies that were traditionally considered as market-driven. One of her ongoing projects investigates the bailouts of UK firms during the COVID-19 pandemic to uncover what led to the uneven distribution of government funding amongst firms, industries, and regions in the UK.

In another related project, Dr Grosman investigates the use of healthcare digital technology by governments to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Anna Grosman is a Senior Lecturer in the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

You can find out more information about the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship here.

To view our research opportunities within the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, please visit our website.

This Week at Loughborough | 22 March

This Week at Loughborough | 22 March

March 22, 2021 Jess East

University Choir: Schubert’s Mass in G (virtual concert)

22 March, 7pm, Online

Join Loughborough University Choir for a virtual concert and singalong.

Throughout this term, the University Choir has continued to meet online and rehearse on Monday evenings and this event is a showcase of what they have been working on. The main performance on the night will be Franz Schubert’s Mass in G, supported by other uplifting classical choral pieces and some solo items from members of the choir.

The Choir will launch their new video of the Kyrie from the mass with choir members singing together virtually via their individual recordings. For the other movements of the mass they will be singing along to carefully selected great choir performances. If you have (or can download) the scores you can join in the singing at home – or just watch and enjoy.

There will be a further video performance of the Choir singing a well known choral classic – but you’ll have to login on the night to discover which it is!

The choir will be on Zoom and you will be able to join them live via Youtube – there will be a link sent out. Find out more on the events page.


Speech Bubble

22 March, 7.30pm, Online

Join us for an evening of performance poetry showcasing the spoken word talent at Loughborough University.

Speech Bubble is an opportunity for Loughborough University students and staff to perform their own work in front of an audience. It’s also a chance for everyone to enjoy the considerable talent the University population has to offer. Every year the event impresses with the range and depth of spoken word talent – from across all subject areas and interests.

As this is an online event, open mic slots must be booked in advance. Any Loughborough University student who would like to perform should contact LU Arts by emailing LUarts@lboro.ac.uk no later than Monday 15 March. Slots are subject to availability and are open to students at the East Midlands and London campuses. Find out more information on the events page.


Mathematics Education Centre seminar

24 March, 2 – 4.15pm, Online

Presentation and Q&A: Professor Robert Coe, ‘The development of the Great Teaching Toolkit: ongoing work in progress’, Loughborough University), Presentation and Q&A: Professor Manu Kapur, ‘Productive Failure’, (ETH Zurich, Switzerland). Find out more information on the events page.

Paulo Freire centennial (multiple events)

23, 24 March, 1 – 2pm, Online

The Institute for Media and Creative Industries invites you to join their next cycle of talks celebrating the birth centennial of the Brazilian educator Paulo Freire.

Over the course of seven 60-minute talks taking place between 9-24 March 2021, the cycle includes two Plenaries and five Global Exchanges exploring themes such as dialogue, love, empathy, hope and humility. Find out more information on the events page here.


Initiate Programme: Introduction to Finance and Funding

25 March, 6.30 – 8pm, Online

Every Thursday evening from 6.30pm – 8pm, join Loughborough Enterprise Network and guests online via Microsoft Teams for our Initiate Programme – an introductory series of workshops on getting started with thinking about all things business and enterprise! In the final session of our Initiate Programme, our Student Enterprise Adviser, Hayley Jones, will introduce you to the basics of business finance: cashflows, forecasting, bookkeeping and accounts, and all you need to know and prepare yourself for when it comes to these parts of running your dream business! Find out more on the events page.


The subject of Left-Populism: People, class, and intersectionality

26 March, 2 – 3.30pm, Online

In this presentation, Óscar García Agustín will discuss ‘the people’ as the political subject of populism by considering the importance of class and transnational formation as well as the need to add an intersectional perspective to highlight the plurality of social struggles within the left populist project. Find out more information on the events page.

Emma

Emma

March 19, 2021 LU Arts

By Tandrima Bhattarcharjee

A hand holding a glass of red wine

The morning on that day was not unlike others. It began, as always, with a cup of coffee on her balcony as the radio droned on in the background. As she sipped the coffee, Emma looked through her calendar. There was nothing new there either, a regular workday from 9 am to 5 pm, until she scrolled down to 7 pm. Written in pink, perhaps with hope or expectation, were the words “Blind Date”.

She felt a tiny flutter in her stomach, which quickly disappeared. It was extremely unlikely that the evening would lead to something. Blind dates rarely did, for her at least. But the thought lingered at the back of her mind as she went about her day. She took a little more time to get dressed, the heel on the shoe she picked was an extra inch higher, and her hair curler lay in her bag, just in case.

The rest of the day went on as it always did. Team meeting at 9:30 am, lunch at 1 pm and tea at 4 pm. So, by the time 5 pm drew close, Emma was ready to find out if love was in store for her that evening. As she shut down her laptop and wrapped up the charger, a voice rang out behind her, “Are you leaving already?” She recognised both the voice and the intent behind the question and cursed under her breath.

“Hey, George. Yes, I have somewhere to be. I was hoping I could…”

“Somewhere? A hot date? Is it?” the chuckle that followed contained hints of mockery and malice.

Unwilling to give anything away, Emma let out a dry chuckle as well.

“Well, can’t have you leaving yet. The client has some requirements he would like to discuss. The rest of the team slipped away, guess you’re it today.” He said with a hearty laugh. “It won’t take more than an hour; you can spare an hour for work, can’t you?” He added, noticing the look of rebellion on her face.

Emma resigned, knowing that an argument would be pointless, “Sure, I’ll take the call.” She said, glancing at her watch, which read 5:02 pm. She turned her laptop back on and sent a silent prayer to the heavens, Dear Lord, I hope I don’t get late.

When Emma got out of the cab outside the pub they were meant to meet, she was officially 10 minutes late and 15 bucks poorer than planned. She hurried to cross the road and was almost across when a taxi hurtled towards her. She caught herself right on time, and the taxi missed her narrowly. Breathing a sigh of relief, she made her way to the other side of the road.

 She scurried into the pub and looked around anxiously. There were no tables with a solitary person. Thinking that he might be waiting at the bar, she made her way there. It seemed that he wasn’t there either. She wondered if he was running late as well. But 20 minutes and half a glass of Bordeaux later, her phone buzzed in her bag. He was apologetic, but something had come up, and he would not be able to make it to the date. Emma was being stood up.

An unusual combination of anger, embarrassment and despair overcame her as she gulped the other half of her glass of wine and got up to leave with a certain degree of aggression. In that, she walked straight into a waiter, sending his tray of food and drinks flying across his body and painting the white shirt of a man standing close to him. But it wasn’t until she heard the man’s sharp yelp and the waiter’s horror-ridden gasp that she was brought back to her surroundings.

“Oh, My God! I am so sorry!” Emma lamented, aghast. She looked around at both the men helplessly. “Oh, God! Oh God!” she continued whispering under her breath as she tried to pick up the broken dishes off the ground.

“Ma’am, it’s okay. I’ve got it.” The waiter spoke from behind her, his voice kind but stern. She turned around; her apology plastered across her face. The waiter smiled kindly, “It’s alright, ma’am.” He said as a colleague handed him the cleaning equipment.

She turned around, slowly, with a grimace, to face the other man, expecting him to be livid with anger. Instead, the man looked amused, his arms limp by his sides, spread out slightly as he said, “I guess the shirt was too boring, better now?” his eyebrows rose in question as the moment stood silent. In the next moment, the man broke out in laughter while Emma joined in. The both of them stood clutching their stomach and laughing for quite some time. When they finally paused for breath, the man spoke first, “You seemed to be in quite a bit of a hurry. Where’s the fire?” His grey eyes twinkled with mischief.

“Fire? Oh no, there isn’t one. It was just…nothing really. I was just looking to leave.” She said as shame returned to stain her cheeks. “I’m so sorry about the mess. I really am.” She repeated her apology.

“Oh! Don’t worry about it.” With a wave of his hand, the man said, “I have a change of clothes in my car”. “Why don’t I buy you a drink and get changed quickly, and then you can tell me all about why you were so eager to leave? Sounds good?” He asked.

“I feel like I should be the one buying you a drink, considering…” She trailed off, signalling towards his shirt.

“Well, that works for me,” The man said with a smile. “Could you get the drinks? I’ll be back in a bit.”

She nodded and asked, “What will it be for you?”

“Oh! I’ll have whatever you’re having.” He said as he walked away from her and towards the door.

She sat at the bar for a few minutes and waited for the man and their drinks. Both arrived at the very same time. “Ah! Perfect timing, eh?” The man exclaimed, throwing his hands up gleefully.

“Indeed, that was perfectly timed.” Emma beamed at the man who now wore a casual-looking blue shirt. He walked up and took up the seat next to her at the bar. His eyes bore into hers as they started talking. And they sat there, at the bar, sipping on sweet wine and talking for hours about everything.

After what seemed forever, Emma told him that it was getting late and that she had to wake up early for work. This seemed to highly amuse the man. He laughed and said, “Yes, yes. It is late, indeed. Let me walk you out.”

Emma smiled and followed him to the door. The man pulled the door open with a smile and said, “Ladies first.” Emma acknowledged his gesture with a nod and a smile and took a step to cross the door. But much to her surprise, she wasn’t able to get through. She looked back at the man, her smile fading slightly, and tried again. There seemed to be a force that was keeping her from leaving. She was getting anxious. She looked at the man with worry and asked, “What is happening? Why can I not get through?”

“Oh! Well, it happens sometimes, no reason to worry, really.” He said with a nonchalance that surprised Emma.

“But…You left. I saw you leave. Why can’t I?” She said, panic thick in her voice.

“Yes. Well…Why don’t you wait right here, and I’ll pop out and see what’s up. Sounds good?” He said as he walked past her, not waiting for a reply.

“Wait!” Emma called out after him, to no avail. As she waited by the door, she kept trying to get through. It felt like an invisible wall was holding her in.

The man strolled in a few minutes later. With a relaxed expression, he looked to Emma and said, “I think we should head back to the bar, really.”

“What?! Why?” Emma demanded, “What is going on? Why am I not able to leave?”

“Well, Emma, they haven’t cleared your body yet.” The man said sheepishly “The police are getting really sloppy these days. Carrying the investigation out with the body lying around.” The man ranted while Emma tried to comprehend what he said.

Body? My Body? Is that supposed to mean I’m…No!

“Wait!” Emma yelled. “Are you trying to tell me that I am dead?!” Her voice ringing out.

“Well, what else do you think is going on out there?” The man said matter-of-factly.

Realisation settled into Emma as she slid down against the wall. Slumped at the corner, Emma recalled the taxi hurtle down the street run her over. She realised that she had indeed died on the road outside. That her life was no more.

TO BE CONTINUED…


Hi! I’m Tandrima (you can call me Tan :P), a MA Storytelling student. I’m a fiction and life-story writer with a particular interest in writing thrillers and crime stories. I enjoy telling stories from the perspective of inanimate objects and like to surprise the reader. My hometown is Kolkata, the cultural capital of India. As such, I love listening to people’s stories and exploring their cultures through those stories.

Mixed-ability Maths Groups Influence Pupils’ Mindsets, Teachers’ Mindsets and Teachers’ Beliefs and Practices

Mixed-ability Maths Groups Influence Pupils’ Mindsets, Teachers’ Mindsets and Teachers’ Beliefs and Practices

March 16, 2021 Centre for Mathematical Cognition

Written by Tom Francome. Tom is a PhD student and a Senior Enterprise Fellow at the CMC at Loughborough University. If you are interested in this blog post and would like to get in touch, please email him directly at T.J.Francome@lboro.ac.uk, or comment below to start a conversation.

The Coronavirus outbreak showcased the adaptability and resilience of teachers. As students across the country returned to classrooms for face-to-face teaching, one consequence of social-distancing measures is that many mathematics classes are now mixed-attainment groups – a practice uncommon in UK secondary schools. The prospect of mixed-attainment mathematics classes might daunt some teachers. However, this can be viewed as an opportunity, rather than a problem.

Setting and streaming are not effective strategies for raising attainment. Everyone in Scandinavia teaches mixed-attainment mathematics, but there are fewer examples of good practice in the UK, so little evidence of benefits to encourage sceptical stakeholders. This “vicious circle” of factors deters UK secondary schools from teaching maths in mixed-attainment groups and maintains the status quo of ‘ability grouping’, which depends upon the misguided beliefs that abilities are ‘fixed’ and can be assessed accurately. Usual setting practices mean up to 50% of pupils are put in the “wrong” set and are rarely moved. This can have dire consequences:

“If three pupils with the same scores on entrance to school were placed in different sets, one in a top set, one in a middle set and one in a low set, the performance of the pupil in a top set would be significantly higher and that of the pupil in the bottom set significantly lower.” (Ireson, Hallam, Hack, Clark, & Plewis, 2002, p. 311)

It is desirable for pupils to believe that mathematical ability increases as a result of effort and effective teaching (a growth mindset). The alternative is that you have a ‘fixed’ ability which is preserved by avoiding challenges and potential failures. Of course, growth mindset interventions do not tend to work beyond the short-term; perhaps suggesting that long-term structural changes may be needed to promote and maintain growth mindsets. Unfortunately, research suggests setting practices can create fixed mindsets. Effectively telling some pupils:

“You’re good at mathematics… so you don’t have to try.”
or
“You’re not good at mathematics… so there’s no point in trying.”

Following on from this research, we conducted a small-scale study looking at the effects of setting versus mixed-attainment groups. We compared beliefs and practices in mathematics in two schools: School M taught in mixed-ability groups and School S taught in setted groups. We surveyed 286 year 7 pupils (age 11/12) and 12 teachers via questionnaires, lesson observations, and interviews.

Teachers of mixed groups believed more strongly that effort could increase ability, compared to teachers who taught setted groups. Pupils in both schools reported growth-mindsets but the beliefs were stronger for mixed-attainment groups who had stronger views that intelligence is improvable, were more strongly motivated by ‘learning goals’, and had stronger beliefs that effort led to improvement. Pupils in both schools wanted challenging work, wanted to learn through mistakes and wanted to discuss their work with others. Data suggested that pupils in mixed-attainment groups were more likely to be given or seek out challenging work, and to believe these tasks would help them learn.

Teachers from both schools expressed similar beliefs about the way they worked with pupils, but this was not supported by the pupil feedback. Mixed-attainment lessons tended to involve pupils discussing ideas collaboratively in pairs/small groups, using mistakes and misconceptions as learning opportunities, and using substantial tasks (i.e., bigger and more challenging tasks, which were accessible at different levels, and may generate more mistakes). Lessons with setted classes tended to involve pupils working mostly on their own, following methods shown by the teacher, and closely following textbooks/worksheets.

“I like discussing my answers with other classmates because I like to see if we came up with similar strategies” (Pupil M29)

“I work hard and I sometimes make mistakes but [the teacher] helps me learn from them.” (Pupil M117)

“My maths lessons are fun and interesting. My maths lessons are helping me get better at maths” (Pupil M12)

“In my maths lessons we always have a worksheet to do but before we start our teacher gives us some examples on the board.” (Pupil S100)

“In my maths class I sit alone and get on with my work” (Pupil S127).

“I’m always doing work at my level” (Pupil S135)

Our observations corroborated the pupil reports and showed that pupils in the mixed-attainment groups spent a far greater proportion of time working collaboratively.

Our observations corroborated the pupil reports and showed that pupils in the mixed-attainment groups spent a far greater proportion of time working collaboratively.

 Whole classWork aloneConsult peers occasionallyWork collaboratively
School M
(mixed)
38%2%25%35%
School S (sets)49%22%24%5%
Table 1 – Lesson observation showing the nature of collaboration in School M (n=165) and School S (n=165). 

Table 1 shows that pupils in both schools spent similar proportions of time in whole-class teaching and consulting with peers (such as checking they had the same answer). The vast majority of the remaining time was spent on individual work in School S and on collaborative work in School M.

A small study like this cannot be generalised but it raises some important questions. Can mixed-attainment groups encourage teachers to believe in pupils’ ability to improve mathematically? Can mixed-attainment groups change teaching practices in ways that support the learning of all pupils? When teachers work with mixed-attainment groups, they have to take account of pupils’ prior experiences in their planning. Teaching “at a particular level” is unlikely to succeed and so offering substantial tasks can allow each pupil to feel challenged mathematically. Different ideas arise and need discussion beyond ‘the answer’ so collaboration can be genuine. Pupils are more likely to make mistakes working on substantial tasks than following small steps and this allows greater opportunity for pupils to learn from their mistakes. Such a variety of pupil perspectives allows for greater opportunity to make connections between the different mathematical aspects of their work.

In contrast, setted classrooms can give teachers false impressions of the pupils being “at the same level”. This may lead to more procedural teaching where pupils are more likely to reproduce steps without error. This often means pupils do not feel challenged, and do not gain the benefits which come with learning from mistakes. There can also be less variety in the mathematics taking place within a lesson and so less opportunity for making connections between different topics. A consequence of this is that the actual experiences pupils have of learning mathematics, and their beliefs about what mathematics is, may be at odds with the beliefs expressed by teachers within the school.

This study also offered some evidence that grouping practices could influence pupils’ mindsets, teachers’ mindsets and teachers’ beliefs and practices when teaching mathematics. We found that both the experience of learning mathematics and pupil outcomes were improved if pupils believed they could improve, were less reluctant to engage with challenging problems, and persevered following setbacks (growth mindsets). ‘Mixed’ pupils had stronger growth-mindsets, ‘mixed’ teachers held more ‘connectionist’ beliefs and also had stronger growth-mindsets. As one mixed-attainment teacher said, “I think the most important lesson for anyone to learn in maths is the harder you work at it, the better you’ll do” (Teacher M4).

If current circumstances necessitate mixed-attainment groups, then we hope that this leads to more collaboration between teachers, generates more good-practice examples of mixed-attainment teaching and makes the transition to mixed-attainment groups less daunting for other schools. What started out as a pandemic-induced necessity, may just be the catalyst we need for improving pupils’ experiences of learning mathematics.

For further details, see: Francome, T., & Hewitt, D. (2018). “My math lessons are all about learning from your mistakes”: how mixed-attainment mathematics grouping affects the way students experience mathematics. Educational Review. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131911.2018.1513908 Available for free: here

What is neurodiversity, and how does it affect me?

What is neurodiversity, and how does it affect me?

March 16, 2021 Sadie Gration

The word ‘neurodiversity’ can be credited to Australian sociologist Judy Singer and journalist Harvey Blume in the late 1990s and is a combination of the words ‘neurological’ and ‘diversity’. 

Singer (1998) wrote that “the Neurologically Different represent a new addition to the familiar political categories of class/gender/race and will augment the insights of the social model of disability”.  Blume (1998) backs this up by agreeing that “neurodiversity may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general”.  He went on to ask who can say what form of wiring will prove best at any given moment?

Neurodiversity is an umbrella term for neurological conditions and identifications.  They include but are not restricted to conditions and identifications such as Autism, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder), Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Tourette’s. 

It is common for people with a neurodivergent profile to have one or more of the conditions highlighted above.  Steiner (2019) explains how “neurodiversity recognises that the brains of people who have neurological conditions are simply ‘wired differently’.” 

He goes on to say that the goal is not to find ways to “cure” the disability, but to embrace the person and treat them as an equal member of the community.  Their differences should be respected and considered normal.

More recently, Professor Kirby (2021) wrote that “neurodiversity is about all our brains and how we think, act, move and communicate. Some of us have ‘spiky profiles’ that mean we have specific strengths but sometimes the challenges in the environment we are in or the demands put on us can reduce the potential to showcase the talents and skills”.

As someone who is neurodivergent, I would definitely describe myself as having a ‘spiky profile’.  Someone recently said, “aren’t we all neurodiverse?” this is true, simply by the fact that we all show a great deal of variety.  I do believe that the more you investigate neurodiversity, the more you see that everyone is somewhere on a spectrum. 

The more I read and listen to others, the more I think “wow, that’s me!”. Yes, I have 20 books on my kindle, and five paperbacks which I’ve started that I could pick up and read at any time, and yes, I have 15 tabs open on my computer. It’s the same for emails, but I know where everything is and what needs doing.  I know I get easily distracted and I know what I need to do to get jobs done.  I work best under pressure.

It has been recognised by some, that people with a neurodivergent profile can be seen to have a competitive advantage. The ability to think outside the box when dealing with difficult or challenging situations has been one reason why large blue-sky companies are renowned for employing staff with a neurodivergent profile. The hashtags #SuperPowers and #Differentisgood are often used by supporters of neurodiversity as part of social media campaigns. 

Some days I believe that my lack of filter is my competitive advantage, however it can also be a curse. I have spent so long training myself to think before I speak, yet on occasion just saying what I think can be just what is needed.  Another superpower leads me to hyperfocus; I am tenacious, I just keep going, especially when I am fighting for something I am passionate about, such as equality, diversity and inclusivity.

Several years ago, Loughborough University signed up to Disability Confident.  Disability Confident is a government scheme that helps employers attract, recruit and retain disabled staff. It provides advice and information to encourage organisations to think differently about disability and how to take action to make the workplace more accessible. The Disability Confident scheme has replaced the previous Guaranteed Interview scheme and Two Ticks scheme. 

The Inclusivity Group consider this commitment by the University to be a great step forward in making an inclusive working environment for all those with physical and hidden disabilities.  You can read more about what Loughborough has signed up to here.

In my role as Chair of the Inclusivity Group, it is my aim to help the group to raise awareness of both physical and hidden disabilities at Loughborough University, whilst having a forum for staff to raise issues and seek support. We want people to feel comfortable talking about disability, and to signpost them to seek reasonable adjustments to enable them to do their job to the best of their ability. As a group, we understand that there is a culture change required within the University to help us achieve this and that this will not happen overnight.  We are, however, confident that given time and the right education, change will happen.  

Anyone who identifies as having a physical or invisible disability – as well as those who are affected by such conditions, such as carers – are welcome to join the group. Please email staffinclusivitygroup@lboro.ac.uk if you would like more information.

Emma Nadin

Postgraduate Research Administrator, Mental Health First Aider and Chair of the Inclusivity Group

References

This Week at Loughborough | 14 March

This Week at Loughborough | 14 March

March 15, 2021 Jess East

Happy Mondays: Portrait drawing workshop

15 March, 7pm, Online

Learn how to draw portraits in this relaxed online art session.

Have you ever fancied having a go at drawing portraits but didn’t know where to start? Are you looking for something relaxing, creative and social to do with your evenings in? Then this could be the perfect session for you.

Artist and educator Katie Sandoval will guide you through the session. You’ll start by looking at inspirational portrait artists and going through some warm up drawing exercises. You’ll then look at mark making and approaches to tonal shading before focusing on techniques for drawing facial features and proportions.

This session is suitable for all abilities including beginners. Find out more on the events page.

Paulo Freire centennial (multiple events)

15, 17, 18 March, 1 -2pm, Online

The Institute for Media and Creative Industries invites you to join their next cycle of talks celebrating the birth centennial of the Brazilian educator Paulo Freire.

Over the course of seven 60-minute talks taking place between 9-24 March 2021, the cycle includes two Plenaries and five Global Exchanges exploring themes such as dialogue, love, empathy, hope and humility. Find out more on the events page.

Public lecture: Mental toughness: From elite sport to weight management

16 March, 5.30 – 6.30pm, Online

Dr Elizabeth Stamp, lecturer in Health and Exercise Psychology at Loughborough University will present her public lecture online.

The talk will discuss mental toughness and its relationship with both elite sport and weight management.

Dr Elizabeth Stamp researchers behaviour change of health-related lifestyle behaviours, predominately focusing on physical activity and diet.

For further information relating to this public lecture please email Alison Stanley on:NCSEM-Education@lboro.ac.uk, you can also find out more information on the events page.

Ideologization and digital network structures

17 March, 2 – 3pm, Online

This event is hosted by the Populism Research Group at Loughborough University and co-sponsored by CRCC. This talk is presented by Athina Karatzogianni, Professor in Media and Communication at the University of Leicester and guest chair Cristian Vaccari, Professor of Political Communication, Co-Director of the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture (Loughborough University). Find out more information on the events page.

Year in Enterprise Briefing Session

17 March, 2 – 3pm, Online

The Year in Enterprise is designed to give students the chance to set up their own business during their placement year. With access to training, mentoring, and plenty of peer support, we aim to help you to maximise your business success. Click here for more info.

Euro-Vision Workshop

17 March, 5 – 8pm, Online

Join FRAUD for a workshop exploring the extractivist gaze of the EU’s migration policy in the Mediterranean.

This workshop will interrogate how phosphate extraction in Western Sahara, fisheries partnership agreements, and the expansion of Free Trade Zones – such as the Tangier Exportation Free Zone – participate in the thickening of borders and the technologies underlying their surveillance. Through the collective creation of an online cartogram, participants will together map different forms of power entangled in extraction politics within EU border countries (such as Morocco), charting migrant flows towards the EU from these zones.

Such a task is particularly relevant at a time when projected free trade (namely with the United States) is lauded as the saviour to a post Brexit ‘immigrant free’ England. In this vision, free trade (i.e. the ability of capital to exploit cheap labour elsewhere) is posited as a solution to the monstrous ‘other’ leaking through the borders. EURO-VISION therefore discusses how these issues are entangled and politically deployed both spatially and socially.

Prior knowledge of this subject area is not necessary. Readings will be distributed in advance of the workshop, but these will not be compulsory.

Find out more on the events page.

Initiate Programme: The Practicalities of Starting Out

18 March, 6.30 – 8pm, Online

In our penultimate workshop of Term 2, Dr Sal Malik and Dr Sophie-Louise Hyde join forces to introduce you to all the significant steps you might need to take and consider when getting started with turning your business idea into the real deal!  You can find out more here.

Self-Care Sundays: Fun, Feel-good, Theatre-improv games

21 March, 4pm, Online

Join us for an unconventional zoom session and have a laugh!

Are you tired and fed up with dry and tedious virtual meetings and lectures? Yash Chawla, a drama student currently on placement at Trestle Theatre, will lead a 90-minute zoom session of fun, feel-good theatre-improv games that challenge the negative connotation associated with virtual meetings. If you are looking to take a break from your busy life, meet new people and have a laugh, look no further!

The session will start with a get-on-your-feet warm up and an interactive ice-breaker, followed by a bunch of basic improv games that will encourage you to be silly and spontaneous, ending with a self-care exercise that will end your week on a positive note. Find out more information here.

Art in Quarantine: Has COVID-19 truly compromised galleries?

March 12, 2021 LU Arts

By Tom Rowland

Copyright: Sofinco

During the pandemic, artists have explored a variety of ways to exhibit, share and sell their artwork. Arguably, the pandemic has created diversity in how art is distributed removing ‘pressures’ to exhibit art within a traditional landscape and has encouraged people to consume and experience in a variety of digital ways. 

Since the rise of social networking, there has been a steady surge in the development of online galleries. The once elitist space of the traditional art gallery has embraced using digital platforms to provide accessibility and encourage new visitors from a mainstream market. Since the global lockdown began major institutions have relied on technology to continue exhibiting art with traditional exhibitions being entirely halted until at least the summer of 2020. Even after the light switch effect of multiple lockdowns, this has created a toll on galleries and museums. Our cultural institutions, like many other sectors and industries, have been forced to become digitally dependent.

Galleries have been forced to question and challenge how art is consumed. Major institutions such as the RA are providing free virtual tours of exhibitions and highlights from their collection, most recently Waterhouse’s A Mermaid’. Inviting audiences to “Spend 60 seconds exploring the dark mythology behind… ‘A Mermaid’”, the video exhibition provides a concise snapshot of the history behind the artwork and how it was inspired by Tennyson’s poem “The Mermaid”, additionally the visuals are accompanied by siren-like music. Overall, these features allow the audience to connect, immerse, and engage within the artwork not only from a historical perspective but through adding sensory elements like sound.

Copyright: John William Waterhouse

Alternatively, the V&A Dundee invited the public to “Enjoy the museum at home” offering learning resources and art initiatives. Their latest feature is titled “Farewell, Mary Quant” an immersive experience about the legendary British fashion designer. The V&A encourage you to engage with the exhibition with the array of video content but, have added a section labelled ‘Curator Insights’. This is an additional aid to help the audience explore and engage the themes of the exhibition which can be insightful to a mainstream audience. Additionally, the subject, Mary Quant is notorious across multiple industries, therefore, the interest in this exhibition could go beyond the traditional audience of the art gallery.

There is also the option of engaging with art using VR, Nottingham Contemporary have employed VR to create as much immersion as possible. They highlight that you can “virtually walk around our exhibition” with the aid of V21 Artspace which is a technology initiative aiming to create a bespoke, fully immersive 3D virtual gallery. Their current exhibition deals with the legacy of Grace Jones and includes 200 works of art, archival footage, film, fashion, and music. As with Quant in the V&A Dundee the notoriety of Jones creates interest for the gallery and hopefully will gain a diverse audience to the exhibition including art lovers and fans of Jones. The implications of using VR attempt to re-create the ‘normal’ and differs from what has been offered by other gallery spaces. However, using VR could be quite costly for the galleries and smaller institutions may not have the resources or funding to achieve this experience.

Yet, no matter what funding or resources galleries have they are trying their best to adapt to the ‘new normal’. The pandemics sheer longevity means galleries will have to continue adapting as the future of face-to-face remains doubtful even with the ‘Lockdown Roadmap’ announced by Boris Johnson.

The narrative of COVID-19 has furthered the gap between established institutions and independent artists. Major institutions that already had an established digital presence and resources have been able to build on what was already in place. Yet, this is detrimental for small, independent spaces that do not have these financial privileges, those institutions need to possess creative resilience and flexibility. Social media has proven a beneficial platform for the creative industries in generating publicity, following, and providing commercial opportunities which were previously unexplored or limited. This has been highlighted in the steady growth in insta-based art collectives such as TAOI Collective & SHIM Art Network each acting as a digital community where members collaborate to curate digital exhibitions. In these instances, Instagram has created accessibility allowing diverse exhibitions to go ahead without needing major funding sources.

We must also consider the possibility that diverse art practices are being compromised because of digital dependency. Can we no longer truly immerse ourselves or interact with art? And with our limited attention spans. Does the abundance of internet art make it just something else to scroll past and nonchalantly ‘like’?

Therefore, while access to art is being opened because of technology, we must be considerate of the labour behind it and not just consume it in a banal manner which social media culture has encouraged us to do. Lastly, when we are reunited with the ‘physical’ art gallery we should continue to engage and treasure them, from the independent to the mainstream.


Hi, my name is Tom Rowland and I am currently studying an MA in Strategic Communication having completed my UG at Loughborough in 2020. I am interested in writing about a variety of relevant topics concerning technology, culture and society and am eager to expand my writing portfolio. You can find some of my other work on my LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tom-rowland-lboro/

Banana Pancakes!

Banana Pancakes!

March 10, 2021 Dr Katryna Kalawsky

During this year’s Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight, we asked Doctoral Researchers to contribute towards our PHooD blog series (PhD + Food = PHooD!) by sharing their ‘go-to’ recipes that are tasty and either quick to make and/or nutritious and/or cheap and/or comforting… enjoy!

Banana Pancakes – Recipe by Tunmike Olowe

For more of Tunmike’s delicious recipes check out their Instagram food page @fooddairy_staysafe!

Ingredients 

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 120g self-raising flour (equivalent to 8tbsp)
  • 1tbsp caster sugar (optional)
  • 200ml Almond milk/ Plain milk

Procedure

  1. Mash 2 bananas in a bowl
  2. Add in the flour, milk and sugar and mix until it’s as smooth as possible.
  3. Spray pan with olive oil
  4. Add enough batter to desired size
  5. Allow to cook on low heat for 1 minute or until slightly brown, flip over and let it cook for another minute.
Chocolate Fondant/Lava Cake!

Chocolate Fondant/Lava Cake!

March 9, 2021 Dr Katryna Kalawsky

During this year’s Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight, we asked Doctoral Researchers to contribute towards our PHooD blog series (PhD + Food = PHooD!) by sharing their ‘go-to’ recipes that are tasty and either quick to make and/or nutritious and/or cheap and/or comforting… enjoy!

Chocolate Fondant/Lava Cake – Recipe by Katrina Duncumb

The nutritiousness of these could definitely be debated, but they are comforting and delicious. They are my ‘go to’ if I want something chocolately, that’s not just chocolate, and they are ready really quickly (probably even quicker if you own a microwave, and are comfortable melting chocolate in one).

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 60g Unsalted Butter (+ a little extra to grease the tins)
  • 60g Dark Chocolate
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Egg yolk (all together this is about 60g of egg, if that helps)
  • 60g Caster Sugar
  • 30g Plain Flour
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Cocoa Powder for dusting

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C.
  2. Grease two ramekins, and dust the entire inside with cocoa powder, and pop these on a tray (believe me they’re hard to get out the oven if you don’t).
  3. Melt the butter an dark chocolate together in a bowl over a pan of boiling water. The bowl should not touch the water, or you can burn your chocolate. Feel free to melt in a microwave instead (the internet recommends 30s seconds at a time, stirring after each round).
  4. Whisk together the egg and sugar till pale in colour.
  5. Add the melted chocolate mixture in slowly and continue to whisk till combined.
  6. Fold in the flour and salt.
  7. Once combined divide evenly between the two ramekins, and bake for 12-14mins. They should be a little gooey in the middle to be a fondant, so they’re done when the top edge pulls away from the ramekin, but it still jiggles a little. If it’s left too long, you still get a rich chocolate cake, and that’s no bad thing either.

These do lend themselves to having berries added to the mix (around 5-6 raspberries work well between the two ramekins), and can be served with cream, ice cream, or custard.

Fish Sauce and Pasta

March 8, 2021 Dr Katryna Kalawsky

During this year’s Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight, we asked Doctoral Researchers to contribute towards our PHooD blog series (PhD + Food = PHooD!) by sharing their ‘go-to’ recipes that are tasty and either quick to make and/or nutritious and/or cheap and/or comforting… enjoy!

Fish Sauce and Pasta – Recipe by Tunmike Olowe

For more of Tunmike’s delicious recipes check out their Instagram food page @fooddairy_staysafe!

Ingredients

  • 450g Cod fillet (Iceland)
  • 200g smoked mackerel fillet (Lidl)
  • 500g Caserecce Pasta (can use any type e.g., penne or even spaghetti)
  • 2 Long red pepper
  • 2 small onions/ 1 large
  • 400g of chopped tomatoes (1 tinned can will do)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 scotch bonnet (optional)
  • Stock cubes (to taste)
  • 3tbsp Stock 
  • Salt
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Curry
  • Thyme
  • Black pepper
  • Olive oil

Procedure

Fish Sauce

  • Season cod fillet with stock cubes, black pepper, salt and Italian seasoning.
  • In a bowl mix chopped smoked mackerel into tomato sauce and add in Italian seasoning, stock, and a little bit of salt. Set aside.
  • Chop red pepper and onion into strips.
  • Cut scotch bonnet and garlic (you can use a garlic press here so it’s as tiny as possible).
  • In a wok/deep frying pan/medium sized saucepanadd in oil 3tbsp of oil. When it is hot add in half of the garlic and scotch bonnet mixture. 
  • Add in the Cod fillet and after a minute flip to the other side then flip back. Lower the heat and cover the pan for 5-8mins (you can add in 1tbsp of water here to help the cooking process).
  • Add in the chopped onions and the remaining scotch bonnet and garlic.
  • Add in Italian seasoning and stock cubes.
  • Add in the red peppers and allow to fry for a few minutes on medium heat.
  • Add in the tomato mixture and curry powder. Allow to cook for 10mins.
  • Make sure you are satisfied with the taste, if not adjust seasoning to preference.

TIP: Watch the amount of salt used as the smoked mackerel fish tends to be salty.

Pasta

  • Add a bit of salt to a pot of boiling water.
  • Add in your choice of pasta. Allow to cook for 10mins or till you are satisfied with the texture.
  • Drain the pasta using a sieve then sprinkle with Italian seasoning while it is still hot. 
  • Stir and serve with fish sauce.

TIP: You can use 1/2tsp of oil while boiling the pasta. This prevents it from stocking together.

Packing the perfect punch for IWD 2021

Packing the perfect punch for IWD 2021

March 8, 2021 Gemma Witcomb

The theme of International Women’s Day (IWD) 2021 is #ChooseToChallenge.

For me, this means two things: 1) challenge to push on equality, and 2) personal challenge. One of the missions underpinning IWD is to strive for, and celebrate, equality for women in sport. For many women and girls, opportunities to participate in sport and physical activity can be limited by the negative influences of gender stereotypes, sexist attitudes, and lack of visibility.

A boxer in silhouette

Take a “masculine” sport like boxing. Traditionally the realm of men, boxing is often viewed as a bloodthirsty and dangerous sport, fuelled by testosterone – a hormone usually found in greater abundance in males. Thus, when women participate and excel in boxing, they are often judged as being unfeminine, unattractive, hard, and unemotional, amongst other things. These are all weaponised as negative labels which have no relevance to sporting ability, but which undermine their position in the sport and as women.

Such labels are not bestowed upon men, whose identities and achievements in sport are not undermined by such gendered stereotypes. Following the introduction of women’s boxing into the Olympic Games in 2012, women can at least now win an Olympic medal whilst they have their bodies and “unfeminine” choices scrutinised.

While that is an extreme example, it is clear that women experience significant barriers to engaging in sport and physical activity, even at recreational levels. These barriers range from threats to physical safety (e.g. running in the dark), harassment (e.g. cat-calls), as well as personal body image issues that prevent engagement, or simply logistical problems, for example around childcare.

Research shows that fathers tend to maintain their physical activity regimes after the birth of a child and spend more time exercising compared to mothers, who also exercise less than non-mothers. Since many recreational physical activities may involve other people or group activities, this lack of opportunity can have negative consequences for social support.

We all know that exercise is good for our physical health; it builds lean muscle, reduces blood pressure, and strengthens bones, amongst other things. Many of us know too that exercise is equally as important for our mental health, releasing endorphins that make us feel happier. Indeed, for many people, the two are also inextricably linked – exercise can positively influence the physical body and body image, which can positively impact on mental wellbeing.

Now, while we may not all want to get into a ring and fight, boxing as an integral part of fitness has many benefits, especially for women. As well as building core strength, increasing aerobic capacity, and improving hand-eye coordination and balance, it can build physical confidence and improved appreciation of body functionality – what the body can really do. The latter is increasingly regarded as key in fighting poor body image which can result from societal pressures of attractiveness. And of course, hitting a bag is often a cathartic and pleasurable experience itself!

As part of the IWD 2021 activities here at Loughborough University, local boxing studio BOx are offering a free online session for staff, doctoral researchers and students to see for themselves how box fitness can be beneficial for their health and wellbeing.

BOx are a boutique boxing studio providing a range of different types of classes, all with boxing as a central part. Most of all, they provide an amazing environment where female empowerment is valued, mental and physical toughness is developed, and social support is in abundance.

The 45-minute online boxing class will take place on Wednesday 10 March at 6pm and will improve your power, timing and fitness. You’ll be shadow boxing to the tempo of the beat, and to celebrate International Women’s Day, the session will feature music from strong female artists too.

Book your place here.

This Week at Loughborough | 08 March

This Week at Loughborough | 08 March

March 8, 2021 Jess East

Building your personal brand

8 March, 10 – 11am, Online

Join Sally-Ann Hibberd, lay member of University Council, Loughborough alumna and former Group Operations and Technology Director for Willis, for this workshop session on building and taking ownership of your personal brand. Find out more on the events page.

IWD 2021 launch event

8 March, 11.15am – 12pm, Online

Join us to celebrate the launch of our week-long programme of events to celebrate International Women’s Day and to discuss how Loughborough can #ChooseToChallenge inequality.

Visit our dedicated website for International Women’s Day to find out more about all the events taking place over the week.

Spotlight on Teaching

8 March, 12 – 1pm, Online

This event will be an informal panel session where 2 qualified teachers will be interviewed and asked what it’s really like to be a teacher. As a thank you for attending the session, you will receive a free £5 Uber Eats voucher. Find out more online.

A letter to my teenage self

8 March, 12.30 – 2pm, Online

Our live event will feature a selection of letters which will be read out and shared by their authors, and we will be inviting a small panel of speakers to reflect upon their teenage years. View the event page here.

‘We are International’: Career journeys of our international women

8 March, 3 – 4pm, Online

This panel discussion will showcase the journeys (professional or personal) of our international staff (both academic and Professional Services) and Doctoral Researchers. Find out more here.

Women in Everything series: Women in Sport

8 March, 6 – 7.30pm, Online

How can women create their own success whilst driving change and tackling the challenges in the sports industry? Join us to tackle conversations around transition, transformation and innovation for women in sport. Find out more on the events page.

Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Loughborough Women in Leadership – An Alumnae Q&A

8 March, 6 – 7pm, Online

Join this exclusive event part of our International Women’s Day events to take part in our discussion panel with four female alumni who graduated in 2010 and have navigated their way through the glass ceiling into successful leadership roles. Find out more here.

Personal Best: My Story – Karen Walker

8 March, 7 – 8pm, Online

On International Women’s Day 2021, alumna Karen Walker will share her career story in the next Personal Best: My Story presentation.

As Chief Marketing Officer at Intel, Karen has one of the most prestigious and sought-after roles in Silicon Valley and will give Loughborough students and staff an insight into working life in California.

Find out more on the events page.

Happy Mondays: Finding your voice – an introduction to creative writing

8 March, 7pm, Online

A playful yet practical workshop, perfect for newer or aspiring writers.

PhD student Megan Constable will guide you through different skills and styles of writing, experimenting with techniques that will help unlock the power of your imagination. Find out more information on the events page.

Connect over Coffee (staff only)

9 March, 9.30 – 10.30am, Online

Missing those informal chats with colleagues in the office kitchen? Or just wanting to meet some new people? Join members of the Maia and IWD committees for an informal catch-up. There’s no agenda – just bring yourself and a cup of tea or coffee! Find out more here.

Being an Effective Ally

9 March, 10 – 11am, Online

Join members of the Maia, BAME and LGBT+ networks, as well as other colleagues, to discuss practical strategies for being an effective ally, to consider some of the potential challenges, and to learn from the experiences of others. Find out more on the events page.

Embracing Change

9 March, 10.30 – 11.45am, Online

This session will be a time for reflection, and taking the first steps towards discovering inner peace and balance when facing times of change. The session will be led by Samantha Fraser (based at the International Headquarters of the Brahma Kumaris in London) and Nadine Skinner (Organisational Development Adviser). Find out more on the events page.

Accenture Presentation

9 March, 12 – 1pm, Online

Hear from a Graduate Recruiter at Accenture. Book online.

Book Club: Bernadine Evaristo – Girl, Woman, Other

9 March, 12.30 – 1.30pm, Online

Join our regular Book Club for an online discussion of Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other. Find out more here.

Lunchtime keynote: ‘What has 40 years of body image research taught us?’

9 March, 12.30 – 1.30pm, Online

Dr Gemma Witcomb’s talk will provide an overview of research on women’s body image over the last 40 years, including the rise of the “thin-ideal” and the often deleterious effects of striving for this. The benefits of shifting focus to an appreciation of one’s body functionality will be discussed. Find out more on the events page.

Careers in Sustainability

9 March, 1 – 2pm, Online

The seventh event in the series. Each ‘Careers In’ event will be made up of 3-5 speakers, each delivering a 10-15-minute presentation, designed to provide students with an insight into a particular sector/industry. Featuring Accenture, Environmental Agency, BASF and Severn Trent. There will be allocated time at the end of the session for students to be able to ask questions. Book on here.

Paulo Freire centennial

9 March, 1 – 2pm, Online

The Institute for Media and Creative Industries invites you to join their next cycle of talks celebrating the birth centennial of the Brazilian educator Paulo Freire. Find out more here.

Café Academique: IWD 2021

9 March, 2 – 3.30pm, Online

Café Academique is a popular social and educational event for Doctoral Researchers to share and discuss their research with others in a relaxed and informal setting. To mark International Women’s Day 2021, those speaking will be Doctoral Researchers who are researching matters specifically for/about women (presenters and titles to be revealed in due course). Find out more here.

Meditation: ‘Switching Off’

9 March, 5 – 5.15pm, Online

Join us for a short, guided meditation focused on helping you to ‘switch off’. Find out more on the events page.

What do Doctoral Graduates do?

9 March, 6 – 7pm, Online

Meet Doctoral Graduates who work in a variety of roles. Find out what they do, their career path to this role, how their use their PhD in their work and tips for those thinking of pursuing this career route. Book online.

Venture Crawl 2021

10 March, 9am – 9pm, Online

The Future Space and LEN team invite you to join over 450 students from at least 16 London universities to embark on a unique all-online entrepreneurial journey! Deadline to submit applications: Monday 09/03/2021 by 12pm. Find out more online.

Connect over Coffee (staff only)

10 March, 9.30 – 10.30am, Online

Missing those informal chats with colleagues in the office kitchen? Or just wanting to meet some new people? Join members of the Maia and IWD committees for an informal catch-up. There’s no agenda – just bring yourself and a cup of tea or coffee. Find out more here.

Loughborough’s response to 2020 (staff only)

10 March, 10.30 – 11.30am, Online

This session is an opportunity to hear about the actions that have been taken and the research that has been done to inform Loughborough’s response to the pandemic and its impacts so far, as well as to find out what work is being done to design ‘the next normal’. Find out more on the events page.

The Access Group Presentation

10 March, 12 – 1pm, Online

Join Leah and Rachel from The Access Group who will be discussing their amazing early career opportunities. If you’re wanting to join an exciting, forward-thinking, fast-paced business then Access sound like the place for you. Find out more and book your place online.

Careers in AI, Robotics and Autonomous Vehicles

10 March, 1 – 2.30pm, Online

The eighth and final event in the series. Each ‘Careers In’ event will be made up of 3-5 speakers, each delivering a 10-15-minute presentation, designed to provide student with an insight into a particular sector/industry. There will be allocated time at the end of the session for students to be able to ask questions. Book on here.

Lunchtime keynote: Women Writing Their Lives: The New Audacity

10 March, 1.30 – 2.30pm, Online

Join Dr Jennifer Cooke (SSH) for an insight into life-writing in contemporary literature and to explore how recent feminist writings from life are characterised by boldness, risk-taking, a willingness to explore difficult and disturbing experiences, and a lack of respect for traditional boundaries. Find out more here.

(Trying to) Find calm in the chaos (staff only)

10 March, 2 – 3pm, Online

Join us for this informal session to hear the tools that some colleagues have used to support their own wellbeing and the wellbeing of their teams, and to share your own suggestions. We don’t pretend to have all the answers to this tricky question, but there is power in sharing experiences. Find out more here.

Caroline Kennedy-Pipe: The pacificism of Vera Brittain

10 March, 2 – 3pm, Online

In this presentation, Professor Caroline Kennedy-Pipe will discuss her research on the pacifism of Vera Brittain. This event is hosted by the Centre for Security Studies at Loughborough University. Find out more here.

Cause Apparel Illustrator + T-Shirt Printing workshop

10 March, 4 pm-5.30 pm, Online

In this up-cycling workshop, brought to you by Enactus Loughborough’s Cause Apparel, you will have the opportunity to learn the basics of Adobe Illustrator from a talented Loughborough student, and receive tips and tricks on how to print your own design on an unloved clothing item. Find out more here.

Body Weather: Premiere and Discussion

10 March, 6 – 7.30pm, Online

Body Weather is a new film by Stine Marie Jacobsen, commissioned by Radar as part of its Risk Related project. This event will feature extracts from the film as well as Jacobsen and Berditchevskaia in conversation with Davide Fillingeri, Associate Professor in Skin Health at the University of Southampton. Find out more here.

Getting Work Experience and Shorter Internships for First and Second years

10 March, 6 – 7pm, Online

In this session we’ll be looking at options for shorter-term work experience and hear from internship providers. This event is aimed at first and second-year students from all courses. Find out more and book here.

BOx Beat class

10 March, 6 – 7pm, Online

Join BOx Studio, Loughborough, for a 45-minute online boxing class! For all those dance lovers, this class gets you hitting the bag (or until we can get back into the studio – shadow boxing) to the tempo of the beat. Have fun moving to the beat of the music whilst improving power, timing and fitness.

Find out more here.

Equity in Entrepreneurship: An open discussion for students, graduates and staff

10 March, 7 – 8pm, Online

Join Loughborough Enterprise Network as they facilitate an open discussion with students, graduates and staff on Equity in Entrepreneurship Find out more here.

Goal-setting zine workshop (Doctoral Researchers)

10 March, 7pm, Online

Take a break from your research and focus on your goals as you create your own zine.

A zine is a small booklet containing information about anything, hand produced rather than mass produced. This makes it the perfect personal item for setting your goals in! Discover more about the event here.

Meditation: Feeling Overwhelmed

11 March, 9.30 – 9.45am, Online

Join us for a short, guided meditation focused on helping to tackle feelings of overwhelm. Find out more here.

You, the Menopause, your brain and your body

11 March, 11am – 12.30pm, Online

Join Eef Hogervorst (SSEHS) and Emma O’Donnell (SSEHS) to learn more about the science behind the Menopause, how it can affect your brain and your body, and what you can do about it. Find out more here.

Going Freelance

11 March, 12 – 1pm, Online

We’ll explore the opportunity of Going Freelance – what does this mean, how do you do it, what are the benefits and things to consider. You can find out more here.

UNISON Lunchtime keynote: Getting to ‘yeh’ without feeling ‘meh’

11 March, 12.30 – 1.30pm, Online

We all have lots of ideas to make our work and personal lives better. Yet, putting these ideas into practice can often be difficult, particularly if we lack the skills and confidence to act on them. So, if your new idea is your dream or ambition, and you want to make it happen, this session is for you! Find out more here.

Volkswagen Presentation

11 March, 1 – 2pm, Online

Employability workshop with Volkswagen Group to understand key themes employers look for. Gain insight into the company and automotive industry, includes what to expect from the application process and any hints and tips for applying. This session has been rescheduled from February. Sign up here.

Quietening your inner chatter (staff only)

11 March, 1.30- 3.30pm, Online

This workshop will highlight some key ideas for beginning to quieten our inner chatter and find more balance. Find out more here.

Connect over Coffee (staff only)

11 March, 2 – 3pm, Online

Missing those informal chats with colleagues in the office kitchen? Or just wanting to meet some new people? Join members of the Maia and IWD committees for an informal catch-up. Find out more here.

Book club: A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

11 March, 4 – 5pm, Online

Join us for an informal group discussion of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s short, but brilliant A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions. Copies can be purchased online for around £5, and the audiobook version is available via a free trial of Audible. Find out more here.

Mock Assessment Centre

11 March, 6 – 8pm, 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 workshop is for students from all years in all departments, and will be the last one this academic year. This Mock Assessment Centre is sponsored by Druck Limited. This event is currently fully booked but you can book a space on the waiting list online.

Initiate Programme: An Introduction to Market Research

11 March, 6.30 – 8pm, Online

In this session, our Student Enterprise Manager, Dr Sophie-Louise Hyde, will provide you with everything you need to know about Market Research to get started with it in a business context. Find out more and book online.

Connect over Coffee (staff only)

12 March, 9.30 – 10.30am, Online

Missing those informal chats with colleagues in the office kitchen? Or just wanting to meet some new people? Join members of the Maia and IWD committees for an informal catch-up. Find out more here.

Policy development workshop: townhall session (staff only)

12 March, 10.30am – 12pm, Online

What policy changes and developments do you want to see at Loughborough University, now or in the future?

Join us for this facilitated townhall workshop to share your ideas and have your say in the direction of Loughborough’s EDI-related policy developments. Find out more here.

Fellowship Inaugural Lecture: Dr Nacho Martin-Fabiani

12 March, 12.30 – 1.30pm, Online

Can you make an academic career out of watching paint dry? Harnessing fundamental science to improve functional coatings.

This Fellowship Inaugural Lecture will be given by Dr Nacho Martin-Fabiani. Find out more here.

Lunchtime keynote: Doctoral Researcher spotlight and IWD close

12 March, 12.30 – 1.45pm, Online

As IWD 2021 draws to a close, join us to wrap up the week’s events. In this special keynote session, we will hear from some of our inspiring Doctoral Researchers, share our most impactful moments from the week and make our #ChooseToChallenge pledges for the year ahead. Fin out more here.

Fashion Over Lockdown

Fashion Over Lockdown

March 5, 2021 LU Arts

By Archie Forrester

My name is Archie, and I am a first year Economics student. Fashion is a personal hobby of mine, observing it over the course of lockdown has been fascinating and something I wanted to impart to others. Lockdown started back in March of 2020 and since then it has been a perpetual cycle of reading articles, watching online content and browsing online shops. The consumption of clothing has shifted massively in this period (for obvious reason) but equally as has how I felt about particular brands, sites and even influencers.

Online retail has been one of the biggest influences of the last year with Asos’ revenue increasing just under 20% from 2019 to 2020. At first this statistic seemed counter-intuitive, but with everyone sat at home what else is there to do other than browse webstores and get on the latest tik-tok trend?

Evisu jeans has seen a massive resurgence as park of the ‘Y2K’ trend.
Photo from: https://www.evisu.com/eu/evisu-history

Depop has been the biggest platform for me over lockdown for not only sourcing vintage, discounted and second-hand clothes but also selling. With the resurgence of ‘Y2K’ as a keyword, this punk youth and London’s Southbank inspired aesthetic has become a staple look. Baggy jeans emblazoned with Ed Hardy, Von Dutch and True Religion; paired with pseudo vintage air-max and the latest streetwear bedroom start-up label t-shirt or jumper. The combination of the accessibility of apps like Depop and Tik-tok have meant it has never been easier to dress like your favourite influencer. While I am personally not the biggest fan of this very logo-centric trend, I hope this is the start of a movement towards recycling old trends and as result wearing clothes that are often older than you!

Sustainability is key when it comes to fashion, with the landscape constantly changing for what is in and out for many entry level clothing aficionados. People on the lower end of the budget following their favourite influencer, being able to buy something that has already been loved and worn by others is a great thing when it comes to the longevity of not only brands but also the life cycle of the garment itself, thus limiting the environmental detriment. For many people this ‘re-sell’ value (that was once limited to designer brands and limited release capsules) being applied now to a lot of purely vintage pieces means it is easier than ever to have something then flip it and get most, if not all, of your money back. I conclude this to be very positive, not only can people save money by just rotating their wardrobe, but less clothes are being thrown out, bought new and ultimately limiting the demand for fast fashion in exchange for positive change.

Sustainability has been something that I have become more and more cognizant of. Over the last few years, the long-term damage to the environment and resulting climate change has become a pressing concern for the vast majority. The government is making moves to limit this like the plan to ban the selling of petrol cars by 2030 and the construction of Hinkley Point C, meanwhile what can I do in my life to make a difference? ‘Ninety-two million tonnes of waste are produced annually by the fashion industry and seventy-nine trillion litres of water is consumed’ (Niinimäki et al,2020).  “Nearly 70 million barrels of oil are used each year to make the world’s polyester fibre, which is now the most commonly used fibre in our clothing. But it takes more than 200 years to decompose.” (Forbes, 2015). These statistics highlight the sheer volume of waste that is happening globally in this industry. Production of textiles and garments is happening at such a preposterous rate that it is undeniable the damage that is being done. “The fashion industry is responsible for 8% of carbon emissions” (UN Environment, 2019). This final fact for me was potentially the most damning, if you think about all the goods produced globally and all emissions, fashion is responsible for nearly one tenth of that.

Looking deeper into this issue, it is clear that change is essential to make sure that we can limit the damage done but also allow creativity and the industry to flourish rather than the mass consumption of fast fashion. The biggest argument for fast fashion for me is the affordability. I can preach all day long about buying ethically but I am in a privileged position, to be able to shop with places that are sustainability minded. For a lot of people, it is impossible to be able to afford to shop Asos sustainability section for example, or other brands. And that is if they even have access to these retailers. For a certain proportion of people Primark and other mass production shops serve a purpose: to allow people to buy and wear clothes that they can afford. At the end of the day that is a crucial service for them. And who am I to tell them not to shop there? I believe we should all do what is possible to make a difference within our own means. Put our money where our mouth is, eventually the change will come.

Stϋssy x Our Legacy. Photo from: https://www.stussy.co.uk/blogs/features/stussy-our-legacy

Brands that have been making the move towards sustainability deserve recognition too. Our Legacy (https://www.ourlegacy.se/) springs to mind for me. I first became aware of them on their recent work with Stϋssy, with sustainability as a selling point; they have created the ‘Work-shop’ subline that is entirely using recycled materials from their mainline collections. The brand itself uses small factories in Europe and limited collections at an exclusive price point to maintain an ethical approach to garment production.

Maintaining the Scandinavian theme, Weekday (https://www.weekday.com/) is another brand that has taken an ethical approach to fashion. Since 2015 all of their cotton has been organically produced and 2020 has seen them now using recycled products too. They have a section on their website dedicated to setting out their long-term goals for sustainability for them but also the H&M group as a whole. Their clothing is much more affordable than the aforementioned Our Legacy, they provide a wide range of basic garments for both men and women on a range of styles from baggy to skinny and everything in between. They also offer a student discount too which is always a bonus.

The other brand that I feel deserves recognition is the notorious House of Sunny (https://www.houseofsunny.co.uk/). The London based womenswear label started in Hackney 2011 is a go to for vivacious colourful design at a very affordable price point. They release two collections a year and has been seen on the likes of Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid. In terms of design and affordability, there is little to no competition in womenswear especially considering their approach to sustainability. They use innovative technology to limit water waste with their denim, vegan leather as a conscious effort regarding animal welfare and have minimising waste as their goal. 

My ultimate recommendation though is always buying second hand, vintage and even re-cycling your own clothes. Long lasting and well-made garments are all too often left to rot in a charity shop with a lot of life still left in them. And while there is a spectacular abundance of rubbish, it makes it all the more rewarding to find that hidden gem. The more we do this the less rubbish there will be filling our wardrobes and I believe the environment will be better off for it!

Kendall Jenner in dress from House of Sunny.
Photo from: https://instagram.com/kendalljenner

To round things off, I will mention what I have been wearing. Lockdown and online learning have meant spending all day long inside. So, for me comfort has been key to staying sane. Birkenstocks have been an ideal ‘house shoe’ for me offering great comfort and are super easy to slip on and off. Joggers have also been an absolute must have, while I usually like to wear shorts, during these colder months I have been wearing a pair of baggy grey Weekday joggers. Super simple but I love the way they fit. On my top half I have also been keeping it simple with a white t-shirt, which you can get from pretty much anywhere. Mine is Weekday. Finally, my jacket, a more recent investment a Stϋssy wool work jacket I purchased from depop. Stϋssy always provides great quality in their garments, this jacket it particularly warm and being able to get it massively under the retail price meant I just had to make the investment for now and for when we can one day get out and about once again!

Fajitas!

Fajitas!

March 5, 2021 Dr Katryna Kalawsky

During this year’s Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight, we asked Doctoral Researchers to contribute towards our PHooD blog series (PhD + Food = PHooD!) by sharing their ‘go-to’ recipes that are tasty and either quick to make and/or nutritious and/or cheap and/or comforting… enjoy!

Fajitas! – Recipe by Katrina Duncumb

This one isn’t so much a full recipe, but a general guide. It is really flexible, so can be done cheaply, or adapted to many different food preferences. Can be multiplied up for a group feast with ease.

Ingredients (This amount should serve 4-ish.)

Spice Mix

  • 1tsp Paprika
  • ½ tsp Garlic Powder
  • ½ tsp Ground Cumin
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ½ tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • ½ tsp Chili Flakes (adjust for your level of heat)

Other Components

  • 400-500g Protein – I’ve done this with beef mince, chicken, tofu, quorn pieces, paneer. Just pick a protein that suits you.
  • 1tbsp ish Oil
  • 1 Onion – or add ½ tsp onion powder to your spice mix.
  • Vegetables – I usually go for a couple of peppers, and 100g-ish of mushrooms, but lots of different vegetables work, such as carrots, spinach, sweetcorn, sugar snap peas/mangetout, courgette, even mango and avocado can work. I’d say if you’d roast or sauté it, it’ll probably work, so you can pack this meal with veggies if you want, or  it can help clear out your fridge.
  • Tortilla Wraps – A couple per person is about right. Top tip, get these from the bread aisle, not the world food aisle, the ones next to the fajita kits are smaller and more expensive.
  • Lettuce – If you like a bit of crunch in your wrap, most leafy greens you would eat raw work here.
  • Sour Cream – or mayo works too.
  • Guacamole – This and the sour cream are basically optional sauces/condiments, it’s up to you.

Method

  1. Mix up all the spices in a small bowl
  2. In a frying pan add in your protein (If using meat, make sure that is cooked till safe to eat before adding anything else), oil, onion and spice mix and let the flavours get to know each other.
  3. Add in your vegetables and cook through (longer for things like carrots, shorter for stuff like avocado) till an edible texture.
  4. If you fancy it, warm up your wraps in the oven whilst you do this, just pop it on it’s lowest setting and spread them out on a tray
  5. Once your protein and vegetable mixture is all cooked through, decant to a serving dish
  6. Either serve family style and let people make their own, or then construct your wraps and serve.

This is almost as good cold as it is hot, so any leftover protein and vegetable mix can be stored in the fridge for a couple days and made up later too.

Student vlog: University Mental Health Day

Student vlog: University Mental Health Day

March 4, 2021 Sadie Gration

To mark University Mental Health Day (4 March), Jamie Clark – who studies Psychology with Criminology – explores the concerns surrounding male mental health, the reasons why individuals should try to open up about how they are feeling instead of struggling in silence, and the importance of breaking the stigma associated with mental health.

Furthermore, he shares his own experiences of anxiety as well as his top five tips to maintain positive mental wellbeing.

If you are a student and need support with your mental health, below is a list of internal and external services which you may find useful:

University services

External services

If you are in a crisis and need support urgently, please use one of the following:

  • Call your GP, visit A&E, call 111 or, if it is a life-threatening emergency, call 999.
  • Samaritans – Provides confidential support, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
    T: 116 123
  • Turning Point – 24-hour support service for urgent mental health support.
    T: 0808 800 3302
Chicken with Curry Sauce and Couscous

Chicken with Curry Sauce and Couscous

March 4, 2021 Dr Katryna Kalawsky

During this year’s Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight, we asked Doctoral Researchers to contribute towards our PHooD blog series (PhD + Food = PHooD!) by sharing their ‘go-to’ recipes that are tasty and either quick to make and/or nutritious and/or cheap and/or comforting… enjoy!

Chicken Sauce with Couscous– Recipe by Tunmike Olowe

For more of Tunmike’s delicious recipes check out their Instagram food page @fooddairy_staysafe!

Ingredients

  • Diced chicken thighs/drumstick/breast
  • Marinate chicken overnight with thyme, curry, stock cubes, salt, 1/2 scotch bonnet(optional), dry red pepper, turmeric, parsley, very small size of tomato, diced onions, and ginger
  • 100g Mixed bell peppers and leek
  • 1tsp Sweet chilli pepper sauce
  • Ginger (to taste)
  • 1 small onion (diced)
  • 1tsp Olive oil
  • 1tbsp Cornflour
  • 1tsp Soy sauce
  • 1tsp Tomato paste
  • 1 medium sized carrot
  • 100g Mixed veggies
  • 1 small onion
  • 100g Shrimps
  • 1 cup Couscous

Procedure

Chicken Sauce

  1. Chop veggies (red, green , bell peppers, onion, leek, and tomato). Marinate with stock cube and soy sauce for about 20minutes.
  2. Add olive oil to a pan. Add in the marinated chicken and fry till it is ready or almost done.
  3. In a separate frying pan add in the chicken and sweet chilli pepper
  4. Add in the chopped veggies, tomato paste and a bit more soy sauce
  5. Mix cornflour in cold water and add to the sauce 
  6. Stir, lower the heat and allow to simmer till it’s done (5 to 7 mins)

Couscous 

  1. Put olive oil into the pan used to fry the chicken for the sauce.
  2. Add in the shrimps, onions and mixed veggies and allow to fry for a few minutes then set it aside.
  3. In a pot add in the stock with water and allow to boil (it’s very important for the water to be very hot)
  4. Add in the couscous stir it, cover the pot and turn off the heat. Leave for 10minutes or according to the instructions on the pack.
  5. When the couscous is done add in the shrimps and veggies and stir with a fork.
  6. Serve with the chicken curry sauce and grilled chicken.
Spinach and Ricotta Pasta Bake

Spinach and Ricotta Pasta Bake

March 3, 2021 Dr Katryna Kalawsky

During this year’s Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight, we asked Doctoral Researchers to contribute towards our PHooD blog series (PhD + Food = PHooD!) by sharing their ‘go-to’ recipes that are tasty and either quick to make and/or nutritious and/or cheap and/or comforting… enjoy!

Spinach and Ricotta Pasta Bake – Recipe by Katrina Duncumb

This is a great one if you need something with very little effort. It’s a bit of a twist on cannelloni, as that’s kind of what I wanted when figuring this out, but couldn’t find/buy any cannelloni shells. It’s vegetarian, but also works with vegan cheese substitutes (a family member gave it a try as vegan and GF, and liked it).

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 400g Chopped Tomatoes (1 tin)
  • 1tbsp Tomato Purée
  • 2tsp Garlic Power (or a few cloves finely chopped)
  • 1tbsp Herbs de Provence (Mixed herbs or Pizza herbs would also probably work here)
  • ½tsp Chili Flakes (basically to taste)
  • 250g Fusilli (most pasta types should work here, I just always have fusilli to hand)
  • 100-150g Spinach
  • 250g Ricotta
  • 1tsp Nutmeg
  • 30g Parmesan (or other hard cheese)
  • Salt & Pepper

Method

  1. Boil your pasta, adding the spinach in 2-3mins before it’s done to wilt.
  2. Mix the tomatoes, puree, garlic, herbs, and chili flakes in a bowl, season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Drain your pasta and spinach.
  4. Preheat your oven to 220°C.
  5. Return the pasta and spinach to the pan to add the ricotta and nutmeg, then season to taste.
  6. In an ovenproof dish, layer up your pasta mix, followed by the tomato sauce, and grate the parmesan over the top.
  7. Bake in the oven for 20-30mins till bubbling all the way through.

This recipe is pretty forgiving, so you can increase the pasta if you need to feed another person, and you can add other vegetables if you want, just cook them to be ready with the pasta.

EDI at Loughborough: Creating a Compelling Vision for Organisational Change

EDI at Loughborough: Creating a Compelling Vision for Organisational Change

March 3, 2021 Angela Dy

In her 2012 book, On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life, Sara Ahmed recounts the story of a university diversity worker who described their experience of doing their job as “beating their head against a brick wall.” When I read this book during my PhD studies, I had no inkling that less than a decade later, I would find myself involved in similar work. Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) – the terms, and the organisational change work, both conceptual and practical, to which these terms refer, has become mainstream in academia, and in many other industries. Yet, the glacial pace of change is one that continues to confound and frustrate both dedicated EDI workers, and those whom this attention to social marginality and protected characteristics is intended to benefit.

One of the key tensions that slows down the pace of change is the sparkle of the promise inherent in adopting EDI as an organisational goal. Institutions that seek to champion EDI satisfy multiple objectives: it makes intuitive sense, because who doesn’t want to work in and for a fair and equal institution? and it also makes the organisation look good. However, its social appeal obscures the fact that it is actually extremely challenging to develop meaningful, impactful and effective policy and practice in this space. Good practice requires not just lived experience, but study, humility and openness to getting it wrong and doing better, and continual learning from experience and dialogue. Although EDI is orientated towards a simple aim – creating an organisation from which no member is excluded, and in which no one suffers disadvantage because of their identity, social positionality, personal characteristics or differential needs – achieving this at an institutional level is a nigh impossible task, and yet one towards which it is imperative that we continually strive.

We can unpack some of the complexity in this work through examining EDI’s chronology and evolution in the world of activism and the workplace. It is a composite acronym made up of three separate terms – equality, diversity, and inclusion, all of which have different meanings, intentions and effects. Equality was the demand of marginalised people who first fought for equal recognition under the law. This evolved over time into diversity, a managerial move that sought to help organisations recognise the value of employees of diverse backgrounds. Finally, there was a call for inclusion, or the creation of environments in which all can participate fully – however, even the notion of inclusion has been questioned, as my friend and colleague Deborah Brewis asks: who is being included, into what systems and structures are they expected to adapt, and who, despite these efforts, may remain excluded?

In many organisations, EDI work is driven by those people who have been negatively affected by structures of exclusion that have affected them personally: women fight for gender equality, people of colour (BAME) fight for racial equality, LGBT+ people challenge homo- and transphobia, disabled people push for accessibility, and people from religious backgrounds challenge the stereotypes that they face. However, because of typical exclusionary institutional systems and processes, people from these backgrounds do not often hold the positions of power needed to enact change from the top down. Thus, it is incumbent upon others who do have privileges, platforms and power to echo, amplify and champion the asks of marginalised communities, and if there are no seats at the table, to support them, a la Shirley Chisholm, to ‘bring a folding chair’.

Furthermore, the genuinely diverse nature of these concerns means that advancement in these areas can become haphazard, or worse, provoke the dangerous and damaging ‘oppression olympics’. To counter this, alignment needs to be crafted through the careful and caring development of inter-group communication and solidarity, and reflected in meaningful changes to policy and practice emerging from a deep and broad institutional commitment to EDI work, incorporating all protected characteristics, and recognising diversity within each grouping, especially as it relates to intersectionality, the Black feminist social theory explaining the interplay of multiple aspects of positionality and identity at once, resulting in complex experiences of oppression and/or privilege.

An organisation with such a commitment should strive to develop a comprehensive, ambitious, yet elegant EDI strategy that takes into account the learnings from and progress made by people taking initiative within the organisation at a grassroots level, centring and empowering those most affected and/or most marginalised in decision making in the relevant area. Leaders in organisations with a newly developed awareness of the need to ‘manage EDI’ should prioritise listening, learning and reflection, with a focus on building trust between themselves and communities that may have   suffered under their watch, before implementing policy and practice that may inadvertently cause more harm and/or erase the work that has been done by marginalised groups for years.

I am pleased to be a part of the burgeoning EDI movement taking place at Loughborough University. I write this blog to mark the launch of the LEADING Network, initiated by Professor Liz Peel, that gathers together academics studying issues related to EDI. I am part of the 100+ member EDI Community mailing list, which includes many with institutional expertise in the Advance HE Athena Swan Charter, and sit on the action and working groups driving LU’s participation in the Race Equality Charter. As Advocacy Lead of the BAME Staff Network I re-ignited an institutional conversation around the need for an EDI committee to help govern the proliferation of both formal and organic EDI activity happening across our committees, staff networks, schools and departments. I will chair an emergent EDI Advisory Forum, to help gather concerns and establish priorities from across groups with protected characteristics and beyond. I have also proposed a long-term LU Race Equity Strategy (LURES), co-developed with my colleagues in the BAME Staff Network and with support from senior university leaders and members of Human Resources Committee, that has been approved for further development. As an example of incorporating work from the bottom-up, members of the BAME Staff Network and I developed a set of Guiding Principles for Race Equality Work which we intended to support all those who are asked to take action in the area of race equality, and address the wide variation in understanding around race that currently exists across the university, keeping in mind that a full programme of organisational learning in this space is yet to come. These have been approved by the Race Equality Charter Action Group and will be disseminated through various university channels as a guide and learning resource in due course.

I would not be able to do this work with the confidence and clarity of vision I now have had it not been for my years of experience as a community organiser and social justice worker with arts collectives in my youth, and for the past four years as a co-founding member of the Decolonizing Alliance and the Building the Anti-Racist Classroom Collective, with whom I have developed innovative and collaborative anti-racist pedagogy and practice for higher education. This collective work, alongside myriad other excellent efforts and initiatives in this space, builds on decolonial, intersectional, and indigenous feminist frameworks, decades of critical race theory, and the scholar-activism of the Black radical tradition, a legacy so powerful the current government continually seeks to delegitimise it.

We must not shy away from the fact that we are living in a complex and challenging time of anti-intellectualism and racist conservative backlash, in which critical consciousness-raising efforts are dismissed as ‘wokeness’ and accusations of harm are demonised as ‘cancel culture’. At the same time, contemporary anti-racist movements of Black, Indigenous and people of colour, often led by queer and disabled members, are advocating for a new abolitionist feminist vision of an accountable future, based not around isolation, cancellation and punishment, instead centring care, relationality, pleasure, and transformative justice. I have recently nominated an incredibly inspiring key theorist of this approach, adrienne maree brown, for an honorary LU doctorate; I hope the panel will agree!

Working together with LU senior leadership, the BAME Staff Network, the new Allied Anti-Racist Advocates group, and the emerging LSU BAME Student Council, we are formulating a compelling vision for race equity at LU, and are excited to work with others who care about EDI across the university to join up all of our important work. We recognise that EDI work is not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’. But it is imperative that we who are committed to it continue to make the effort, and encourage others to join us, in order to sweeten the pot for all.

Dr Angela Martinez Dy

The shortcut to mathematics

The shortcut to mathematics

March 2, 2021 Centre for Mathematical Cognition

Let’s start with a simple question, what is 6 + 38 – 35?

Now here’s another question; how did you solve it?

Perhaps you used a left-to-right procedure (‘6 + 38 = 44’ and then ‘44 – 35 = 9’)?

6+38-35

Or perhaps you used a ‘shortcut’ strategy of ‘38 – 35 = 3’ and then ‘3 + 6 = 9’? This strategy is known as an associativity shortcut; we can re-order groups of operations and don’t necessarily need to solve them in a left-to-right order. Associativity shortcuts can help students avoid larger numbers or more complex arithmetic, which typically results in quicker and more accurate solutions.

Students often fail to use associativity shortcuts when solving arithmetic problems. Educators have called for this to change, and for individuals’ knowledge and use of arithmetic principles to improve. Improving conceptual understanding and encouraging the flexible use of efficient strategies are the current goals of mathematics education initiatives (Common Core State Standards Initiative 2012; National Mathematics Advisory Panel 2008). My PhD research looked at how people solve arithmetic problems, and how different cognitive skills may contribute to strategy selection.

Over thirteen studies, I investigated whether domain-specific skills (calculation skill and knowledge of the order of operations) and domain-general skills (working memory, inhibition, shifting and visual attention) enable individuals to ‘discover’ the associativity shortcut. I refer to this discovery as strategy ‘identification’, i.e., the “aha” moment you experience when you first find a way for solving a problem. Identification is distinct from strategy execution, which is the process of using the strategy (i.e., calculating an answer). Importantly, the skills underlying strategy identification and strategy execution might be different.

To investigate the role of different cognitive skills in identification, I developed a new tool (called the ‘Identification Analytic’). With this tool, I investigated the cognitive skills involved in arithmetic-strategy use in a precise, theoretically-driven way. The Identification Analytic recorded calculation times to arithmetic problems in real-time. It formed a rolling average which detected when a significant reduction in calculation time occurred. This enabled me to present problems in a naturalistic fashion where students were less aware of my research aims and identify if/when strategy changes occurred.

Thesis findings

BODMAS

In the first part of my thesis, I used the Identification Analytic in four laboratory-based studies; the findings gave rise to three main conclusions. First, students were less likely to identify the shortcut if they misunderstood the order-of-operations acronyms (e.g. BODMAS, BIDMAS, PEMDAS). Some students have an overly rigid interpretation of these acronyms such as a ‘literal interpretation’, where they incorrectly believe that “Addition must be performed before subtraction”, because of the order in which the letters for addition and subtraction appear in the acronym (A before S). Second, students were less likely to identify the shortcut if they had poor inhibition skills.

This means, the ability to withhold making instinctive/default/routinised responses, in a general sense, is important for identifying alternative-solution strategies.

In the second part of my thesis, I investigated whether the use of the associativity shortcut could be encouraged, and if so, how. In seven studies (one laboratory-based and six classroom-based) I investigated whether presenting ‘a + b – c’ problems in more concrete formats (e.g., with plastic counters), self-reporting solution strategies, and solving visually similar but conceptually different problems beforehand (e.g. ‘a + b – b’, ‘a + b – a’), encouraged associativity shortcut use. The main findings were that concrete materials can be helpful and that ‘a + b – b’ problems possess a unique property that bolsters associativity shortcut use. This property could be domain-general (e.g., attention-inhibition) or domain-specific (e.g., strategy-validation); for further discussion of these mechanisms please see https://doi.org/10.1016/j.learninstruc.2019.01.004.

These mechanisms are purely theoretical, but may suggest that asking individuals to pause before they initiate an arithmetic strategy, or helping individuals to validate strategies, is important in encouraging sophisticated strategy use.

The take-home messages for teachers

  1. The reason a child may not select a strategy is not that they lack an understanding of mathematics per se, but because they lack sufficient cognitive skills (i.e., the ability to withhold making default responses, such as operating left-to-right).
  2. 75% of adults in my thesis had inadequate knowledge of the order of operations, and approximately 30 – 45% had specific misconceptions that could hinder shortcut use. Misconceptions may constrain the development and application of more sophisticated knowledge.
  3. When choosing textbooks/worksheets, it may be helpful to pick those that carefully and accurately explain order-of-operation acronyms. Some acronyms explicitly (and incorrectly) say ‘division then multiplication’ and ‘addition then subtraction’ and some advocate a left-to-right approach within those operations.
  4. It may be helpful to present pupils with a range of ways in which the same problem can be solved to ‘prove’ that different methods are valid and return the same answer.

The take-home messages for researchers

‘Identification’ may be an important, overlooked component of arithmetic strategies. It may be a component that requires domain-specific and domain-general skills, and therefore explain why individuals can fail to use shortcut strategies.

Putting research into the classroom

If you would like to use our associativity-problem sheets in your classroom then please download them from here. If you would like to run your own ‘intervention study’ to try and bolster associative shortcut use, then you can download our research materials from here.

Resources

The materials and arithmetic problems that I have used in undergraduate Psychology classes were published in Eaves, Attridge, and Gilmore (2019) and can be found below.

https://figshare.com/s/230ee9491e0b67d9d3f3

https://figshare.com/s/3b59db4ee96f411cf9e7

https://figshare.com/s/6adad496590c6d713fec

https://figshare.com/s/230ee9491e0b67d9d3f3

https://figshare.com/s/c2b2f174271c7c18e1e6

https://figshare.com/s/7edc99daf2a7588d7d43

https://figshare.com/s/4191d061536fab1b936c

https://figshare.com/s/c3c7ad3aece34ff71aa1

https://figshare.com/s/d5c3fbb77763a9c53778

Glossary

BODMAS: Brackets, Orders, Divisions, Multiplications, Additions and Subtractions.

BIDMAS: Brackets, Indices, Divisions, Multiplications, Additions and Subtractions.

Inhibition: The stopping or overriding of a mental process, in whole or in part, with or without instruction.

PEMDAS: Parentheses, Orders, Divisions, Multiplications, Additions and Subtractions.

Switching: Changing a mental set that has been learned to a new one, which is often interpreted as the ability to shift attention between different tasks.

Visual attention: I refer to as a combination of selective and spatial attention to visual information – i.e., the prioritised processing of relevant information at a relevant location

Working memory: The ability to simultaneously store and process information, which I interpret through the tripartite multicomponent model.

It should be noted that there are many alternative interpretations of these definitions.

University Mental Health Day: How students look after their mental health and wellbeing

University Mental Health Day: How students look after their mental health and wellbeing

March 1, 2021 Sophie Dinnie

To mark University Mental Health Day (4 March), students and members from the Students’ Union Executive team have shared what they do to look after their mental health. 

Alex Marlowe, Welfare and Diversity Executive Officer

“Looking after your mental health is the same as looking after any other part of your being. However, it can be a bit more difficult to notice the signs for when you need to take a moment to look after your mental health.

For me, I need to be really conscious of spotting the signs of my mental health taking a toll and only then can I try and make it better. Sometimes different things work for different times and sometimes I have to try a combination of all of them. But they include: doing some exercise (I like Zumba or dancing), playing a video game, cooking a delicious meal, going for a long walk and spending quality time with my partner. Also, fluffy animals help but I don’t see many of them at the moment.”

Leah Langley, BSc Sport and Exercise Psychology

“When it comes to looking after my mental health, I have found journaling to be really useful. It can feel good to get all your thoughts out onto paper. You don’t necessarily have to write about your day but putting some words onto paper about anything on your mind can be very therapeutic.

Music is a huge help too. Put some cheesy dance music on or some classic pop ballads and go crazy with dancing and sing at the top of your lungs. You may think you look funny, but it’s a great way to relax and channel your energy somewhere else.”

Ada Ughanwa, BSc Sociology and Criminology

“One way I keep my mental health in check is by having phone cut off points. So everyday between 10pm-11pm I have 10 minutes or so of complete silence. I put my phone on flight mode or I switch it off and I close my eyes and reflect on my life thus far. This helps me to gauge where my thoughts are at, reflect on all the good things I’ve done and learn from my mistakes of the past.”

Fejiro Amam, LSU Vice-President

“It can  be easy for poor mental health to spiral downwards so it’s very important to be aware of your triggers and come up with a plan to address them.

I often like to listen to a lot of upbeat music, spend time watching movies, go on long walks or just hang out with close friends. It is often useful for me to remind myself of everything I do have to be grateful for as well, as it helps to put whatever is happening in my life into context.”

Joe Dean, MSc International Financial and Political Relations

“Always be yourself. It can be really tempting to try to ‘fit in’ or change yourself when mixing with new people and making new friends, but be proud of who you are and don’t change! You are enough.”

Beth Hodgson, BSc Accounting and Financial Management

“My top tip for maintaining positive mental health is to try to get outside to exercise every day. It’s so easy at the moment to stay inside but getting outside even for half an hour for a walk or run definitely makes you feel better, it lifts your mood and gives you more of a routine. I’d recommend finding a good podcast to listen to whilst walking – it makes it a bit more fun!”

Emma O’Connor, BSc Psychology with Criminology

“Make sure you have a routine. It’s very easy to lose track of time, so I find creating a plan to follow for the day really helps. I include things I want to do, lectures, breaks etc and this helps to ensure that I don’t put too much pressure on myself to be working all the time. I find it is quite easy to get stressed when I’m not working at the minute as there is little else to do, therefore scheduling the day really reduces this.”

Matt Youngs, LSU President

“Routine and variety have been concepts a lot of us have struggled to find in the current climate. Although perhaps at times contradictory with one another, they are both things I thrive on.

I’ve had to create my own variety in my routine. This can be something as simple as changing up a route I run, cooking something different for dinner, or indulging in a new genre of book.  Whatever I do though, I know I’m in control of which way I go – and that’s okay.”

The Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity team are also running their ‘Five ways to wellbeing’ sessions on Thursday 4 March and you can book the following times via the links below:

Please note booking for these sessions closes on Wednesday 3 March at 4pm.

If you need further support, please complete our online referral form. You can also use Togetherall or the Loughborough Wellbeing App for further resources.

Jollof Rice

Jollof Rice

March 1, 2021 Dr Katryna Kalawsky

During this year’s Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight, we asked Doctoral Researchers to contribute towards our PHooD blog series (PhD + Food = PHooD!) by sharing their ‘go-to’ recipes that are tasty and either nutritious and/or cheap and/or comforting… enjoy!

Jollof Rice – Recipe by Tunmike Olowe

For more of Tunmike’s delicious recipes check out their Instagram food page @fooddairy_staysafe!

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup of Golden Sella basmati rice
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 scotch bonnet (optional)
  • 2 onions
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic 
  • 1tbsp of tomato puree
  • 1tbsp of olive/vegetable oil
  • Curry, salt, thyme, stock cubes (to taste)
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)
  • Beef or chicken broth (to taste)

Procedure

  1. Rinse basmati rice and set aside
  2. Blend tomatoes, 1 onion, scotch bonnet, garlic, and red pepper (blended pepper mix)
  3. Add 1tbsp of oil to a saucepan. Add in chopped onions and tomato puree (allow to fry till onion is caramelised).
  4. Add in blended pepper mix and broth
  5. Add in half a cup of water and season to satisfaction (allow the sauce to be tasty as the rice will soak it up)
  6. Allow the sauce mixture to boil for 5 mins
  7. Add in the rice and cook for 15mins on medium heat
  8. Reduce heat to low level and allow the steam to cook the rice for another 15mins
  9. Serve the Jollof rice with salad and choice of protein
Why I choose to study Disability, Design and Innovation MSc

Why I choose to study Disability, Design and Innovation MSc

March 1, 2021 Ella Cusack

In this blog, student Tamari who studied the Disability, Design and Innovation MSc programme offered by the Global Disability Innovation Hub in collaboration with Loughborough University London, University College London and London College of Fashion. Read more about her experience below.


I’m Tamari and I’m an MSc student on the Global Disability Innovation Hub’s ‘Disability, Design and Innovation‘ programme, and I couldn’t be happier to choose this course.

To begin with, I found this course at the moment in my life when I was trying to make a shift from medicine to innovative technology development. Initially, my desire to help people regain control of their health and physical abilities lead me to medical school. However, after graduating from med school, I realised I wanted to go beyond the clinical walls to the open world. For me, Disability Innovation is a perfect collision of my two passions, desire to help and thirst for understanding innovative technologies implementation possibilities. Disability Innovation is not only about the medical diagnosis but about empowering diversity and difference, acknowledging our future, utilising the latest technological advancements, and designing for people with people to make an impact.

In my view, the MSc Disability, Design and Innovation is a toolkit that enabled me to embrace my prior experience and skills and broaden my vision for future possibilities. The unique opportunity to study and have access to incredible tutors and facilities of three universities: UCL, Loughborough University, and Business School of the UAL, allowed me to shape a clear vision of my potential in the field of innovative design. 

You can read the rest of this blog here.


To find out more about the MSc Disability, Design and Innovation programme, please visit the Global Disability Innovation Hub page.

Please visit our website to read more about our partnership with the Global Disability and Innovation Hub.

This Week at Loughborough | 01 March

This Week at Loughborough | 01 March

March 1, 2021 Jess East

Happy Mondays: Make a macramé plant hanger

1 March, 7pm, Online

Always wanted to learn macramé? Here’s your chance! Learn three different macramé knots to make your own plant hanger, providing you with a beautiful object that helps to bring nature into your indoor space. Keep your finished plant hanger for yourself or it would make a lovely Mothers’ Day present or gift for someone. This workshop is open to beginners as well as those who’ve tried macramé before.

This workshop will led by Emma Constantine, a 2013 Fine Art graduate from Loughborough. Emma is a qualified teacher and also runs a small business, Jup, whose mission is to teach upcycling techniques in order to reduce textile waste.

Find out more information on the events page.

BAE Systems Skills Session

2 March, 12 – 1pm, Online

This skills session will help students understand common mistakes when applying for Graduate & Undergraduate roles, take a look at what qualities employers want to see and we will examine some examples of good and bad applications. Book a place online.

Careers in the Creative Sector

2 March, 1 – 2pm, Online

The fifth event in the series. Each ‘Careers In’ event will be made up of 3-5 speakers, each delivering a 10-15-minute presentation, designed to provide students with an insight into a particular sector/industry. Featuring News Associates, Engage Digital Partners and Pickle Illustration. There will be allocated time at the end of the session for students to be able to ask questions. Book on here.

Initiate Programme: The 8 Signs of an Entrepreneurial Mindset

2 March, 6.30 – 8pm, Online

This is an essential session for all students and graduates looking to learn and reflect on whether they currently possess the characteristics that demonstrate entrepreneurial thinking, as well as to learn about the signs that have been present in some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world. Find out more and book online.

How To Get Into the Media Industry

3 March, 12 – 1pm, Online

Want to work in the Media, but stuck like a fly on a web? Help is at hand! Register here to attend.

Post Graduate Open Evening

3 March, 12 – 4pm, Online

Thinking about a master’s or PhD? Join our Postgraduate Virtual Open Day to find out more about our opportunities.

To book your place head to the event website.

Alexandre Christoyannopo: An Anarcho-Pacifist Theory of International Relations

3 March, 2 – 3pm, Online

Established theoretical perspectives in International Relations (IR) accord little time to rigorous engagement with anarchist and pacifist contributions concerning the analysis of core IR themes such as war and peace, the international order, and the ethics of political violence.

Find out more about this talk on the event page.

Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM)

3 March, 5 – 6pm, Online

Hear from Matt (an alumnus) & Paulina, both trainee doctors at The University of Nottingham Medical School. Book your place online.

Careers in Medical Innovations

4 March, 1 – 2.30pm, Online

The sixth event in the series. Each ‘Careers In’ event will be made up of 3-5 speakers, each delivering a 10-15-minute presentation, designed to provide student with an insight into a particular sector/industry. Featuring ExpHand Prosthetic, Spyras, and Alcuris. There will be allocated time at the end of the session for students to be able to ask questions. Book on here.

Inclusivity in the Workplace – Why Disabilities are Key for Business Advantage, with P&G and Tesco

4 March, 12 – 1pm, Online

P&G and Tesco join colleagues from Student Services to explain why employees with disabilities are an advantage to businesses. This event is aimed at students with any type of disability (for example, long term health, mental health, neurodiversity, visual impairment, deaf/hard of hearing) or those that want to learn more about disability in the workplace, from any year group or discipline area. Sign up here to attend.

Pitching Yourself Well

4 March, 6 – 7pm, Online

This interactive workshop aims to prepare you to ‘Pitch Yourself Well’ to your network, key contacts and employers – making the most of the future opportunities that may present themselves to you!  You can find out more here.

Self-Care Sundays: Tension relief breath workshop

7 March, 4 – 5pm, Online

Learn to release anxiety and stress through the art of deep breathing.

Find out more information on the event page.

Something in the Nothing

Something in the Nothing

February 26, 2021 LU Arts

By Laura Evans

On a sunny day in April, I set out on my walk. I enjoyed this daily excursion, the piece of outdoor exercise that Boris Johnson had permitted once a day to leave the confines of my house. A podcast downloaded, headphones ready, I took this time to ritually invite Russel Brand or Krista Tippett to join me as I wandered about the fields of Lincolnshire. A chance to listen in on a conversation, hear about another life or learn something new. There was something about letting others into that solitary time that distracted me from the frustration that had now taken up permanent residence in my life, a restlessness that itched at my insides and consumed my days. Escapism, one might say, from the global pandemic that had hit the UK one month earlier.

Selfie of Laura walking along a road

10 minutes into this particular walk and my phone dies. I’m too far gone to return to recharge, so I carry on. I was so accustomed to the accompaniment of the voices that inhabited my phone that walking alone felt awkward. There I was, tracing the path as I had thousands of times before, but this time on my own, this time solo.

‘hmmmmm… so…’ my brain mused. Like an uncomfortable conversation with a distant acquaintance, my mind attempted to force a conversation with itself, awkwardly navigating those first few minutes. If I were engaging with an actual other and moments of silence stretched before us, I would look for external distractions to comment upon.

“oh, wow, look at that… tree?”

I gave up. I’d just have to suck up the next 72 minutes and be content in this awkward internal silence. Naturally, as they often do, my mind began to wander, and I allowed it to do as it pleased.

And then I was home. I was shocked, those 72 minutes had flown by, quicker than any previous walk. And for some reason, my head was full of ideas; 27 ways to change the world, 39 business ideas, 54 new artistic ventures. Never before had I felt so inspired.

I began to realise, with hindsight, that a small voice had arisen on the walk. An internal monologue that had filled the silence left in the absence of podcasts. Small snippets at first, and then excitable in its idea generation. The more I listened, the more it spoke. Ideas fell out of me, they bubbled up and generated plans in my mind. It was as if the input into my brain through my headphones had drowned out, shouted down this little internal voice previously – the silence allowed from my broken phone permitted it to bubble up.

Before March 2020, I had been consumed by panic at the thought of nothingness, of no external stimulation. Going from a university day, full of voices, ideas, tasks and doing from 8am – 9pm, or later, to the slow paced, drawn out days that were lock down, was an unexpected shock to the system. I was not used to the silence, not used to nothingness. But what I discovered on that walk is that there is always something in the nothing.

We are used to a buzz, a background noise, a list of things to do, people to see, places to be. In March 2020 an eery silence fell as our calendars emptied. The pandemic took hold as we self-isolated and socially distanced, staying at home to wait it out. But we live in an age where we are never truly ‘alone’ with ourselves. We have digital devices, several for that matter, that allow us to log on, tune in, zone out within an instant. No longer comfortable with our own fleshy brains, we turn to pixelated entities to distract.

In contemporary culture we are constantly bombarded with visual and auditory stimulus, from the moment we awake, to the moment we fall asleep, and to be honest, if you’re a dreamer, it continues into night-time hours too. Addicted to information, an erratic ‘grabby’ side of the human condition, that wants, needs, has an insatiable appetite to do. We are perpetually told that not doing, just being, is a waste of time. Constantly on a treadmill of activity and productivity, doing nothing is not good enough. I have become hyper aware of a pressure, a niggling voice, that if I am not doing, seeing, hearing, learning, what’s the point? My self-worth hangs on the act of doing, to the extent that tasks done really badly is better than doing nothing at all.

Selfie of Laura walking along a path

In all honesty, when I obsessively listened to podcasts on my walks, I felt I was doing the right thing. I was ‘keeping stimulated,’ attempting to pull it off as learning, or bettering myself, in a single day in early lockdown I listened to five different podcasts. With hindsight, I now see this as my unwillingness to sit with myself, a discomfort in hearing what my brain truly had to say, what my body had to report.

Of course, this idea is nothing new. I’m not the first to recognise the power of silence, of just being rather than doing (or learning or listening). It has been described as ‘dribbling time’ or ‘sitting and staring at the wall time.’ I could potentially stretch as far to say that mindfulness sits in this camp. The art of taking no external input in, allowing your only company to be your own company. There is power in giving yourself even half an hour in your own space, in your own time. Deciding that when I walk, I just walk, moving away from the over stimulating nature of society. If we do not stop, notice, how do we know where we are?

In no way am I implying that digital devices are all bad. Zoom allows me to connect with friends, I can carry on ‘going to University’ through the screens I surround myself with, but it’s the blindness with which I engaged with it that is disconcerting.

I wanted to talk about the implications of this on a creative practice. As an art student, I am constantly on the lookout for inspiration. We are actively encouraged to watch, read, listen, talk, see. To externally collect an archive of imagery, a bank of thoughts, concepts and ideas. This process has been key to my practice, but I have discovered a power in listening to my own thoughts. I actively now run or walk without my phone or allow 10 minutes to stare out my window. Here I am quietening the external noise and allowing that quiet internal voice to come alive. I have had my best ideas in this time. I can’t explain where the ideas come from, maybe through a shifting or sorting, but all I know is that listening to it is crucial for my practice now. I have learnt so much from the podcasts I’ve consumed over the past year, honestly, some have altered my outlook on life completely, but nothing more so than my own thoughts.

I challenge you now to sit, to stare at the wall, observe the urges that arise to do and see. And notice the ideas that emerge when that small internal voice speaks up. Don’t force it, just listen. Because if the COVID-19 pandemic has taught me one thing, it’s that there is always something in the nothing.


Hello! My name is Laura and I’m a Fine Art Final year student. My art practice focuses around the body, the digital and the natural world – the spaces that they meet and the conversations and narratives that build there. My love of observing, watching and meaning making has influenced my practice and my writing, and I enjoy thinking through concepts and building connections between seemingly disparate ideas/things/objects. There is an importance in being aware of ourselves and the things that inhabit the spaces we inhabit, so thoughtfulness around wellbeing is something I think about often, and hope to highlight in this article!

LSU blog series: Communication etiquette

LSU blog series: Communication etiquette

February 26, 2021 Ella Cusack

Welcome to our new blog series by LSU for Loughborough University London students! In this series, we will be discussing a range of different topics and want to know what YOU want read about! In this blog, we will consider communication etiquette within London.

Arriving into London, whether it be as an international student or as a UK student, can be quite a daunting experience and sometimes the hustle and bustle of city life can be a shock at first! However, London is a place to make your mark and have your voice heard.

Every opinion matters and is valued and even unpopular opinions are considered important because without them, there would be no debates. Although London is open to and embraces differentiating opinions, manners are a core part of British culture. Some may even joke that ‘sorry’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ are some of the most common words and phrases used in the English language!

In most cultures, people only say sorry when they have done something that has harmed or offended another person and saying sorry is the same as admitting you are guilty of doing something wrong. Saying phrases such as “maybe’”, “possibly”, “I think that…” or “I was under the impression…” are also commonly used by British speakers. These may make it sound like the person isn’t sure of the answer, but often it just means that they are afraid of sounding rude, arrogant or threatening, and so they choose to “soften” their language instead.

You may notice differences between the way things are done and what you are used to at home. This includes the way people dress, speak and behave, teaching and learning styles, food – and you may experience many other cultural difference. This can be frustrating and disorienting at first, but this is definitely something that you will adjust to over time. You need awareness, curiosity and willingness to discover culturally unfamiliar values and motivators to help you navigate social levels and interactions.

London is an exciting place to study, live and work and there are so many opportunities for you to grow and develop, both personally and professionally. Moving to a new place always takes a little bit of time to adjust to a new way of life, but we have no doubt that you will love it here!


We would like to thank you to LSU for this blog. You can find out more about LSU here.

Charles Darwin and Attitudes to Religion

February 26, 2021 Catherine Armstrong

by Robyn Burnette Mason

When I first approached the topics of science and religion in 19th Century Victorian Britain, I was under the impression that these subjects were wholly disparate and conflicting. However, after beginning my research, I began to understand that this was far from the case and I therefore believed it was important to highlight this as a stereotype.

My essay argues that science and religion in Victorian Britain actually co-existed harmoniously at one point, and that publications such as Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859), were not as revolutionary as portrayed. If Darwin’s publication of Origin of Species had not completely changed the perspective on the battle between science and religion, I had to discover why it was so controversial.

To begin with, I familiarised myself with the religious climate during the period, and I found that Josef Altholz’s The Warfare of Conscience with Theology was particularly helpful. My essay shows that although there were particularly deep-rooted beliefs surrounding the creation of man, the universe, and the divine order of the Church, religious insecurity was not rare, and scientific advances were increasing.

One of the most important parts of my essay discusses the way in which scientific discovery was first used in favour of religion. Many believed that revelations about natural phenomena and laws of nature were simply further proof of the existence of a divine architect. This is something that many, including myself, were unaware of before studying this topic, and I felt that it was important to include because it shows that the rise of science did not entirely consume and corrupt religious practices and institutions.

I then moved on to researching the implications of publications such as Darwin’s Origin of Species. I wanted to clarify that the reason for its revolutionary reputation was not because Darwin swept the beliefs of the Church away, but because he challenged the creationist ideology and gave light to theories such as descent through modification (natural selection). This was controversial because it insinuated that man had descended from primates and therefore lowered humans to the animal realm.

The advantages of studying a figure such as Charles Darwin to further understand the relationship between science and religion in Victorian Britain was that I tailored my research to a specific topic which enabled me to ask and answer unique questions. This made writing and researching this topic particularly fascinating.


Biography: My love for history came from living in complete disbelief and awe that there was an entire existence before me. I couldn’t believe that the course of life meant that the rich painting of humanity’s history was simply just a story to me, whereas for some, it was a colourful and lived reality. I felt like it was almost a duty to understand and study it. History in all forms is accessible to everyone, whether through studying the history of your own home or village (something I love doing), or even just watching a period film or documentary- all of which allow us to envision the past through the lens of the present.


Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

LGBT+ civil rights since 1967

February 26, 2021 Catherine Armstrong

Author: Catherine Armstrong

The previous three blog entries have explored the hidden histories of LGBT+ people in the past and argued that it is important to see the histories of the communities coming under this umbrella as diverse and not reflective of a linear narrative of progression. Nonetheless, it is important to acknowledge that considerable strides towards civil rights have been achieved in recent decades. Following the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Britain in 1967, grassroots activism increased and community groups became more visible and radical. On both sides of the Atlantic, LGBT+ activists worked with other civil rights campaigns, including those campaigning for African Americans, indigenous people, women and disabled people.

The stark reality of the 1970s was that legal equality had not always produced cultural equality, nor a more accepting society. While gay and trans people became more visible in popular culture, the reality of their lives was often diminished and belittled with resorting to stereotypes. As LGBT+ people became more visible, anxieties from more conservative parts of mainstream society grew and a backlash, suggesting that minorities were attempting to aggressively take over and convert people. This set the movement for equality back considerably. In the UK in the late eighties, the fight over Section 28 exemplifies this struggle. The campaigning organisation Stonewall was founded in response to this legislation which prevented the teaching of LGBT+ lives in schools and harmed a generation of young LGBT+ people who felt marginalised and excluded as a result. Those young people are still feeling the impacts of Section 28 in their adult lives, often manifesting itself as caution and anxiety over expressing their identities. This legislation was not repealed until 2000 in Scotland and 2003 in England and Wales.

Some parts of society such as mainstream elite and grassroots sport have been slow to welcome LBGT people, encouraging a culture of fear of disclosure. On the positive side, this exclusion and fear has led to the creation of a large number of LGBT+ friendly sports clubs, which have offered safe spaces to those wishing to participate in individual and team sports while not denying or hiding their sexual or gender preferences. Work continues to make mainstream sport more LGBT+ friendly, especially focusing on transgender and non-binary people who face the most hostility in sports spaces.

In the 21st century, the struggle goes on. The emergence of powerful far right populist leaders, intent on appealing to their base by rolling back many of the civil rights acquired by marginalised groups, shows that progress is not always one way. For example in Poland last year, over 100 towns and regions – a third of the country – declared themselves to be LGBT ideology free zones, depicting campaigns for LGBT+ rights as a threat to family life. Trans people have had to fight for their right to be recognised and acknowledged, often on the challenging battlefields of social media.  Ironically, those seeking to deny them often cloak their hate speech in the language of defending the rights of ‘real’ women. Legal fights for trans civil rights continue in 2021, for example around self-certification for the Gender Recognition Certificate. But the range of trans and non-binary experience, represented by figures such as Paris Lees, Jack Monroe, Sam Smith and Eddie Izzard, has led to an increasing visibility of trans and non-binary people and is changing the way that many people think for the better, as well as acting as role models for LGBT+ youth seeking guidance and reassurance about the validity of their own life journeys.

Further reading

Finding out : an introduction to LGBT studies / Deborah T. Meem, Michelle A. Gibson, Jonathan F. Alexander.

Gay histories and cultures : an encyclopedia / George E. Haggerty, editor ; John Beynon, Douglas Eisner, assistant editors.

Lesbian histories and cultures : an encyclopedia / Bonnie Zimmerman, editor.

Playing with fire : queer politics, queer theories / edited by Shane Phelan.

Pride : the story of the LGBTQ equality movement / Matthew Todd

Queer sites : gay urban histories since 1600 / edited by David Higgs.

Sporting gender the history, science, and stories of transgender and intersex athletes. / Joanne Harper. (E-book)

The Third pink book : a global view of lesbianand gay liberation and oppression / edited by Aart Hendriks, Rob Tielman, and Evert van der Veen.

Transgender history/ Susan Stryker. (E-book)

The transgender studies reader 2 / edited by Susan Stryker and Aren Z. Aizura.

Transgender warriors : making history from Joan of Arc to RuPaul / Leslie Feinberg.

The way out : a history of homosexuality in modern Britain / Sebastian Buckle.

We are everywhere : historical sourcebook in gay and lesbian politics / edited by Mark Blasius and Shane Phelan.

Drag on your Primetime TV

Drag on your Primetime TV

February 25, 2021 Sam Chambers

Author: Sam Chambers

Paul O’Grady first started performing as Lily Savage in the late 1970s. O’Grady had moved to London and was working for Camden Council when he was encouraged by a friend to perform in drag. Lily’s debut was at the Black Cap gay pub in Camden and consisted of miming words to Barbara Streisand songs.

With opportunities to perform in London hard to come by, O’Grady briefly moved to Yorkshire with another drag act to perform as the Playgirls. The act was diverse including a tongue in cheek strip tease and even fire eating but the financial strain became too much, and O’Grady moved back to Birkenhead to live with family. Soon after, O’Grady toured parts of Northern England, with his friend Vera, before deciding to move back to London after the act began to take off.

From 1984, Lily Savage had a residency in the Elephant and Castle gay pub in Vauxhall. Hosting “Ladies Night” each Tuesday, Lily became known for her comedy routines insulting both the acts that were performing, as well as the audiences. The show became a great success and attracted large audiences, leading to Lily being offered work at the nearby Royal Vauxhall Tavern. Lily’s new show “Stars of the Future” ran on a Thursday night but before long Lily was appearing up to three times a week, enabling O’Grady to quit his day job and focus on drag full time.

The act toured around the UK, as well as parts of Europe, whilst also regularly appearing in pubs and theatres around London. Through the late 80s and early 90s Lily Savage became a well known comedy act in the UK including a nomination for the 1991 Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. O’Grady would later comment that “The Edinburgh Festival changed my life. The experience opened doors for me that would otherwise have been firmly closed, exposing me to a much wider audience than I’d previously been used to.” A live recorded show from the Hackney Empire followed, the first time Lily had been recorded live, as well as an Australian tour.

TV appearances began to come Lily’s way, featuring on a late night Channel 4 show, “Viva Cabaret” before getting a late night show of her own, “Live from the Lilydrome”. Nominations at the British Comedy Awards for Top Live Stand-Up Comedian and Top Television Newcomer followed before Lily’s biggest TV break came.

The Big Breakfast had been running for three years and had become the highest watched Breakfast TV show in the UK during the early to mid 90s. Paula Yates had been part of the presenting team but quit in 1995 and Lily Savage was hired to replace her. Lily’s part of the show “Lie in with Lily” became a huge hit with viewers. Ignoring the suggested questions of PR agents, Savage asked more personal questions of her guests leading to a much more watchable interview than the norm. Lily was only on the Big Breakfast between 1995-96 but it was huge exposure for her. The number of viewers tuning in to see the presenting of a drag act on Breakfast TV was highly impressive in 90s Britain. Whilst the landscape of LGBT rights was continuing to change, the presence of a Drag Queen on Breakfast television was something quite extraordinary and it led to much bigger things for Lily Savage.

In 1996 ITV broadcast An Evening with Lily Savage attracting over 11 million viewers and this led to the offer of a weekly show. The offer was declined with O’Grady feeling a pre watershed show would force him to tone Lily down. Lily continued to tour selling out for 16 weeks at the North Pier theatre in Blackpool.

During 1998, Lily briefly presented the BBC show, “The Lily Savage Show”, that didn’t go down well with viewers. However, it was also around the same time the BBC had begun to discuss reviving quiz show Blankety Blank, which had been off air since 1990. The BBC approached O’Grady about fronting the show but with a difference to the Lily Savage Show, Lily Savage on Blankety Blank, had no script.

Shown on primetime Saturday night TV, families up and down the country sat and watched as the tongue in cheek, quick wit and acid tongue of Lily Savage struck celebrity guests and contestants week in week out. It was a ratings hit with a regular audience of 9 million viewers tuning in and led to Lily Savage being an iconic figure of UK Saturday night TV. The show’s success led to ITV purchasing it, along with Lily as host, with a lucrative contract and it ran until 2002.

At the turn of the century, O’Grady began to look for work outside of drag, after tiring of appearing as Lily Savage. He would eventually present successful evening shows for ITV and Channel 4 making a career as Paul O’Grady, but the memory of Lily Savage lives on. Retiring the character in 2004, one of Paul O’Grady’s final appearances as Lily can be seen here

Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900)

Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900)

February 24, 2021 Sam Chambers

Author: Sam Chambers

An Irish poet and playwright, Oscar Wilde is well remembered for his plays but also the details of his private life that became a public scandal before his early death aged 46. Wilde studied Greats at Magdalen College Oxford, and it was whilst at Oxford Wilde became known for his involvement in the aesthetic and decadent movements. This led to him wearing long hair, refusing “manly” sports and decorating his room with peacock feathers, sunflowers and blue china. In his third year Wilde met Walter Pater, who would have a huge influence over Wilde. Pater’s book Studies was once described by Wilde as “that book that has had such a strange influence over my life” and led to Wilde becoming devoted to art. In 1878 he won the Newdigate Prize for his poem “Ravenna” and he graduated with a double first in his B.A. of Classical Moderations and Literae Humaniores (Greats).

In the following years Wilde lived off inheritance from the sale of his Father’s house and setup in London looking for work. He continued to publish lyrics and poems in magazines which he had done since his time at Oxford. In 1881 he published “Poems” which featured revised workings of his previous works. It sold out quickly but was poorly reviewed by critics.

The following year Wilde was invited to tour North America, mainly due to his work on Aestheticism. The tour was planned for four months but due to commercial success lasted nearly a year. The press often criticised with one noting of Wilde “whose only distinction is that he has written a thin volume of very mediocre verse”.

On returning to London he was introduced to Constance Lloyd, a daughter of a wealthy Queen’s counsel. Marrying in 1884 the couple had two sons together. Around 1886, Wilde met Robert Ross, who was aware of Wilde’s work. Ross was seemingly undeterred by the Victorian banning of homosexuality and became estranged from his family determined to seduce Wilde. Wilde himself had previously alluded to interested in “Greek Love” and his marriage had begun to fail after his wife’s second pregnancy. He continued to support his family taking work in journalism, initially thriving in his new role but eventually found his interest on the wane as the commuting and office work became tedious.

Wilde eventually began writing again, with numerous publications in the late 1880’s and early 1890’s. One of his more famous novels “The Picture of Dorian Grey” was published in 1890. The novel drew criticism for its decadence and homosexual allusions. During this time, Wilde also built a career in theatre and his productions include “Salome”, “Lady Windermere’s Fan and “An Ideal Husband”.

In 1891, a friend introduced Wilde to Lord Alfred Douglas who, at the time, was studying at Oxford. He was handsome and privileged and an intimate relationship began between the two men. Douglas was spoilt by Wilde who by this time earnt a good amount of money as a playwright. Douglas eventually introduced Wilde to the Victorian underground of gay prostitution and through Alfred Taylor, Wilde was introduced to a number of young male prostitutes. Wilde would offer them gifts and dine with them privately before taking them to his hotel room.

In 1894, Wilde was confronted by the Marquess of Queensberry, Lord Alfred’s Father, about the pairs relationship and warned Wilde never to see him again. It was during the same year Wilde completed his most famous work, The Importance of Being Earnest. It was first performed on the 14th February 1895 and received immediate acclaim.

Just a few days after the opening of The Importance of Being Earnest, the Marquess left a calling card at Wilde’s club accusing him of posing as a sodomite. Wilde took legal action for libel and a court battle began, despite Wilde being encouraged to flee to France by friends. Details of Wilde’s personal life became public knowledge during the trial after Queensberry’s lawyers had a team of private detectives interrogate the underworld. The details of Wilde’s association to blackmailers, male prostitutes, cross-dressers and homosexual brothels were recorded. When the trial opened the weight of evidence stacked against Wilde and caused scenes of mass hysteria in the press and public galleries. Wilde was noted to declare “I am the prosecutor in this case”. Letters and works of Wilde’s that had implied homosexuality were used against him to show immorality, Wilde defended his work with a defence that work could not be immoral only well or poorly made.

After Wilde and his legal team were made aware male prostitutes would testify against him, Wilde dropped his legal challenge and the trial ended. Shortly after leaving the court a warrant for Wilde’s arrest was issued, for the crimes of sodomy and gross indecency. Wilde hid in a hotel with some friends who again told him to flee, his Mother told him to stay and fight. Wilde was arrested on the 6th April 1895 pleading not guilty. His former lovers Ross and Douglas fled for fear of arrest.

His trial began within a few weeks of his arrest and in the end, the jury was unable to reach a verdict and Wilde posted bail. But the accusations and legal challenges continued and Wilde’s final trial was in the May and he was eventually convicted of gross indecency and sentenced to two years hard labour, the maximum sentence. On sentencing the judge commented the sentence was “totally inadequate for a case such as this”, and that the case was “the worst case I have ever tried”. Wilde’s response “And I? May I say nothing, my Lord?” was unheard as cries of “Shame” filled the courtroom.

Wilde was incarcerated between May 1895 and May 1897 at various different prisons in London. Initially he was not allowed books or anything to write with but this was eventually granted after the help of a liberal MP and reformer, Richard B. Haldane. Wilde wrote a 50,000 word letter to Douglas and although he was not allowed to send it, he was able to take it with him on his release.

On his departure from prison, in May 1897, he left for France, never to return to the UK. His health had been in decline due to the conditions and diet in prison and he was impoverished with a tarnished reputation. He continued to write including The Ballad of Reading Gaol as well as letters to various newspapers. He reunited with Douglas and for a time they lived together in Naples, but eventually pressure from their families meant they went their separate ways.

At the turn of the century Wilde was almost entirely confined to his hotel room, occasionally leaving to buy alcohol. He once joked that “My Wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One of us has to go”. In October 1900 he sent a telegram to Robert Ross saying he was weak and asking for him to visit. He was very depressed and was having dreams of death that he recounted to friends. By November of 1900, Wilde had developed meningitis, Ross arrived on the 29th and sent for a priest and Wilde was baptised. The following day he died, aged 46. Oscar Wilde was buried outside Paris and there is a tomb commissioned by Robert Ross for him. His work has stood the test of time and is still adapted and performed to this day.

Martina Navratilova

Martina Navratilova

February 23, 2021 Sam Chambers

Author: Sam Chambers

Martina Navratilova was born in Prague in 1956, at the time part of Czechoslovakia. From a sporting family she began hitting a tennis ball off a concrete wall aged 4 before beginning to play regularly aged 7. When aged just 15, she won the Czechoslovakian national championship and the following year had her debut on the United States Lawn Tennis Association professional tour. In the late 1970s Navratilova became one of the leading players in the female tennis game, winning Wimbledon in 1978 and with it the World Number One spot. In 1981 her third major singles was won, the Australian open, but it was for other reasons that 1981 became a year of great attention for Martina Navratilova.

Navratilova had begun to realise she was not straight around the same time she left her home country for America. As one of the top tennis players in the world, she had begun to find questions of her personal life were more common from the press. Martina had begun to deflect these, saying it was to stay personal. But after meeting Rita Mae Brown, an American writer,  and being introduced to more politically active lesbians, Navratilova began to think about coming out publicly.

In an interview with the New York Daily News’ Steve Goldstein, Martina Navratilova came out as bisexual, revealing she had been in a relationship with Rita Mae Brown. Despite giving the interview, Navratilova asked for the article not to be published until she felt comfortable coming out in public. The New York Daily News ignored this request, and the article was published on the 30th July 1981. Following the revelation, Navratilova and her then girlfriend, Nancy Lieberman, were interviewed for the Dallas Morning News, with Martina reiterating she was bisexual whilst Lieberman identified as straight.

Fears that coming out would result in the loss of sponsorship for herself and even the women’s game overall did not come to fruition at the time. She still had sponsors for her equipment as she had before after coming out, but she is sure she missed out on other opportunities. Recalling how advertising agencies reacted she said in recent years “But I couldn’t get any deals outside of that in the U.S., because I was out. They would call my agent about a commercial or something, and she would say, ‘How about Martina?’ and they would say no and then Chris Evert would get the deal, or somebody else. It was the kiss of death. Advertisers wouldn’t touch me with a ten-foot pole.”

Her experience on the court didn’t suffer, not only did she maintain good form but the support from fans was good and never dropped. After losing a game to Tracy Austin just a few months after coming out, Navratilova received large applause from the crowd showing their acceptance.

Her career following her public coming out went from strength to strength and at her retirement, she had competed in 32 Grand Slam singles finals, winning 18 and losing 14. Between 1983 and 1984 she won 6 consecutive Grand Slams, dominating the women’s game. Her records are unmatched in the male side of the sport either as Martina also had a successful doubles career and to date, she holds the record for most Grand Slam Titles won by a player, 59 combined in singles and doubles.

Over time, Navratilova would begin to identify as lesbian settling into a long term relationships first with Judy Nelson before eventually marrying Julia Lemigova in 2014. She has been part of campaigns to support gay rights but also courted controversy with her criticisms of transgender athletes in women’s sports. Her courage to come out and live openly as a lesbian whilst competing at the highest level of sport has served as an inspiration to many. Sport has often been seen as a challenging place to be LGBT and debates in sports will rage on, but Navratilova’s honesty and courage to live her life true to herself should be a message that it can be a positive experience and not lead to the end of a career or competing in sport. She let her tennis do the talking and her record and career achievements show your skills and abilities are not defined by your sexuality or gender.

“Martina Navratilova” by Paolo Rosa is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

London ranked 2nd in Ranking in Sport Cities

London ranked 2nd in Ranking in Sport Cities

February 22, 2021 Ella Cusack

In search of the city with the strongest association to sport, Burson Cohn & Wolfe Sports (BCW Sports) recently published its annual Ranking of Sports Cities which highlights the top 50 sports cities from around the world.

The ranking focuses primarily on the views of International Federations (IFs) and sports industry experts, combined with an analysis of the digital footprint of the association between sport and a city and international sports media.

In the 2021 rankings, London has been ranked second for the second year in a row, narrowly missing out to New York City.

In London, a diverse array of athletics stretching from football to tennis have further granted its city the spotlight throughout the world. London has hosted the Olympic Games in 1908, 1948, and most recently in 2012, making it the most frequently chosen city in modern Olympic history.

London is a city with a rich sporting history, it’s not hard to guess which sport takes the first spot on the list – football! History proves it as well: football games have been documented in London as early as 1314, and football in its modern form was first codified in London. The city has several leading teams such as Arsenal, playing in Holloway, Chelsea, playing in Fulham and West Ham, playing on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

With 13 football teams, a dizzying array of stadiums and a rich history of sport dating back centuries, the culture of sporting in London is enough to rival every other city in the world. In fact, tourism to the city is energised by sport, too, with many visitors from around the world staying local to stadiums to see the spectacle of rugby, football, cricket and tennis to name just a few.

London 2012 may have passed but it’s clear it has left a great legacy behind in the city and was instrumental in encouraging youngsters to get involved in sport. This legacy also led to the creation of Loughborough University London and the Institute for Sport Business. Based on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in one of the great sport cities of the world there could be no better place to study the business of sport.


For more information on the Institute for Sport Business, please visit their institute page.

This Week at Loughborough | 22 February

This Week at Loughborough | 22 February

February 22, 2021 Jess East

The Role of the Arctic in recent and future security challenges in the Wider North

Monday 22 February, 1.30pm – 3pm, Online

We invite you to join us for a webinar with an expert panel to discuss recent developments in US, Russia, China and the EU Arctic strategy and the implications for the geopolitics of the Wider North.

For more information, visit the event page.

Happy Mondays: Printmaking with everyday objects

Monday 22 February, 7pm, Online

Student Rhian will show you how to make the most of everyday items you’re likely to have at home to create your own prints.

Visit the LU Arts event page for more information.

Mock Assessment Centre

Tuesday 23 February, 1pm – 2pm, 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 workshop is for students from all years in all departments. This Mock Assessment Centre is sponsored by Druck Limited.

This event is currently fully booked but you can book a space on the waiting list online.

LGBT+ History Month: A talk with alumna Lisa Vine

Tuesday 23 February, 5pm, Online

As part of Loughborough University’s LGBT+ History Month programme, alumna Lisa Vine has been invited to speak with staff, students and alumni.

In this talk, she will share her experiences of being a student at Loughborough – including her time as Chair of the LGBT+ Student Association – as well as her career since graduating.

More information can be found on the event page.

Gartner Presentation – Landing Your Dream Job in Today’s Competitive Landscape

Tuesday 23 February, 6pm – 8pm, Online

In this workshop, you’ll get exclusive insight into the recruitment and selection processes and top tips on how to succeed in an application process. Suitable for students from any year group and discipline. Book a place online.

Initiate Programme: Business-Work-Life Balance – Goalsetting and Planning

Tuesday 23 February, 6.30pm – 8pm, Online

This is your chance to consider your business-study-life balance, set goals and plan for your ideas and business using our unique resources and techniques…Find out more and book online.

Year in Enterprise Briefing Session

Wednesday 24 February, 11am – 12pm, Online

Spend your placement year self-employed with our support! Are you thinking of setting up your own business? The Year in Enterprise is designed to give students the chance to set up their own business during their placement year. You can find out more here.

Volkswagen Presentation

Wednesday 24 February, 12pm – 1pm, Online

Employability workshop with Volkswagen Group to understand key themes employers look for. Gain insight into the company and automotive industry, includes what to expect from the application process and any hints and tips for applying. Sign up here.

Careers in Marketing

Wednesday 24 February, 1pm – 2.30pm, Online

The third event in the series. Each ‘Careers In’ event will be made up of 3- 4 speakers, each delivering a 10-15-minute presentation, designed to provide students with an insight into a particular sector/industry. Featuring Barcardi, New York Uni and Kinase. There will be allocated time at the end of the session for students to be able to ask questions. Register your place here.

Ingenuity Programme Briefing Event #3

Wednesday 24 February, 4pm – 5pm, Online

The third event in the series – this is your chance to find out more about the Ingenuity Programme at our third information event, which will continue to cover the Programme in more detail. Book online here.

BERG seminar: Non-domestic buildings

Wednesday 24 February, 4pm – 5pm, Online

In this month’s Building Energy Research Group (BERG) seminar, we hear from three speakers with extensive academic and industry experience in reducing energy demand from various types of non-domestic buildings.

Find out more information on the event page.

Getting into Psychology

Wednesday 24 February, 6pm – 7.30pm, Online

Join us to explore popular career areas in Psychology. Sign up to attend.

LGBT+ Historical Figures

Wednesday 24 February, 6.30pm, Online

This event is a quick presentation of the world’s least famous LGBT+ historical figures.

Find out more information on the event page.

Movement with Meaning: Dance, Identity, Knowledge (discussion)

Wednesday 24 February, 7pm – 9pm, Online

Through discussion and film, this online event will explore how dance produces meaning for audiences and dancers.

To find out more information head to the event page.

Keyence Presentation

Thursday 25 February, 12pm – 1pm, Online

Keyence Corporation is a direct sales organisation that develops and manufactures automation sensors, vision systems, barcode readers, laser markers, measuring instruments, and digital microscopes. Sign up to this session to learn what opportunities they have available.

LGBT+ History Month: Café Academique

Thursday 25 February, 12pm – 1.30pm, Online

To mark LGBT+ History Month (February 2021) we are hosting a special online Café Academique to showcase the work of Doctoral Researchers who are researching matters specifically for/about LGBT+

Find out more information on the event page.

Careers in Finance

Thursday 25 February, 1pm – 2.30pm, Online

The fourth event in the series. Each ‘Careers In’ event will be made up of 3-5 speakers, each delivering a 10-15-minute presentation, designed to provide students with an insight into a particular sector/industry. Featuring Santander, Pirate Studios ltd, Janus Henderson Investors, UBS Investment Bank and Capco. There will be allocated time at the end of the session for students to be able to ask questions. Book on here.

LGBT+ workshop

Thursday 25 February, 2pm, Online

The session will provide guidance for colleagues about appropriate language covering interactions in the classroom, in meetings, in student support and pastoral care, and in our day to day working lives at Loughborough.

It will provide a safe, informal space where you can ask questions without judgement and learn from the trainer and from peers.

Find out more information on the event page.

From The Entrepreneur’s Perspective

Thursday 25 February, 6pm – 7pm, Online

Join us as part of Employability Month for an exciting panel discussion on all things running your own business courtesy of four of our very successful student and graduate entrepreneurs from Loughborough! Find out more and book online.

LGBTQ+ History Month (UNISON): The love that dare not speak its name

Friday 26 February, 12pm – 12.30pm, Online

In his poem ‘Two Loves’ of 1892, Lord Alfred Douglas—the lover of Oscar Wilde—famously described homosexual love as ‘the love that dare not speak its name’. Facilitated by Dr Sarah Parker, Lecturer in English. Sarah specialises in nineteenth and twentieth-century literature, with an emphasis on women’s poetry, decadence and aestheticism, gender and sexualities, and visual culture.

Find out more information on the event page.

Loughborough LGBT+ Association x Uni of Leicester LGBT+ Society: Social Night

Saturday 27 February, 7pm, Online

To draw History Month to a close, Loughborough LGBT+ Association is collaborating with friends at Uni of Leicester LGBT+ Society for a night of fun and games.

Join the Discord and choose from different activities including games and a quiz or just have a chat and make new friends.

To find out more information head to the event page.

Gender identity in indigenous cultures

February 22, 2021 Stephen Ashurst

It is important to understand that the lives of LGBT+ people in the past were experienced very differently in cultures outside Europe and Americas. Examining indigenous cultures, it is clear that the more subtle and nuanced approaches to LGBT+ people that we associate with the recent past have been part of their cultures for many generations. The notion of a third gender is part of Polynesian culture. It can mean a gender between male and female, or alternatively gender fluid. For example in Hawaii and Tahiti, third-gender individuals were known as ‘Mahu’. They were highly respected within native culture as keepers of oral traditions and historical knowledge. They often taught the hula dance, famous to the region, which has a leisure function but also an important spiritual and historical meaning. Mahu people exist not only in the past, but are an important part of queer culture in Hawaii today. Within native culture, the term ‘Aikane’ has come to mean ‘bisexual’ although more accurately, historically, the term referred to those undertaking same sex sexual service to please the chief class. For example, chief Kamehameha, the ruler when Captain Cook visited Hawaii, had several male ‘Aikane’ lovers as well as heterosexual partners.

Other native cultures also display a deep respect for gender diversity. The Navajo tribe from the south-west United States have a gender category called Nadleeh, which can refer to transgender people who have transitioned in one direction along the gender binary, gender fluid individuals and to those whose gender presentation is more masculine or feminine than their gender identity suggests. As with Mahu in Hawaii, Nadleehi in Navajo culture have a spiritual function as well as being respected tribal members in their own right. Compared to Western society, this difference in perception was noted by anthropologists as early as the 1920s, when author William Willard Hill was surprised that Navajo society considered a transgender person ‘very fortunate’, unlike in his own culture in the United States, for which gender fluidity caused anxiety in the mainstream. A timely reminder that it’s always important to look outside one’s own cultural context to learn lessons about inclusion and diversity. You might be surprised by what you discover!

Further reading

Coming to Terms with Navajo Nádleehí: A Critique of Berdache, “Gay,” “Alternate Gender,” and “Two‐spirit” by Epple, Carolyn. Published in American Ethnologist (Electronic article)

Gender on the edge : transgender, gay, and other Pacific Islanders / edited by Niko Besnier and Kalissa Alexeyeff.

The Mahu of Hawii / Robertson, Carol. Published in Feminist Studies (Electronic article)

Native American men-women, lesbians, two-spirits: Contemporary and historical perspectives / Lang, Sabine. Published in Journal of lesbian studies (Electronic article)

Neither man nor woman : the hijras of India / Serena Nanda.

Who is Takatapui? Maori language, sexuality and identity in Aotearoa/New Zealand / by Murray, David. Published in Anthropologica (Electronic article)

Research Spotlight: IIM

Research Spotlight: IIM

February 19, 2021 Ella Cusack

Welcome to back to our research spotlight! In this blog, we will take a look at some of the ongoing research projects led by our Institute for International Management.

The Institute for International Management includes a team of leading academics who work on topics such as the internationalisation of firms, comparative Human Resource Management (HRM), and political activities of firms in Emerging markets. The Institute is actively engaged in numerous international research projects and boasts an impressive track record of attracting high-profile research grants for research into many aspects of international management.

The Institute has also been awarded Economic and Social Research Council funding through the Trans-Atlantic Platform for their project focusing on social innovation processes. The project entitled Social Innovation Processes in and around Multinational Companies: The Role of Social Activists and their Transnational Networks explores social innovation initiatives on inequality carried out by actors within multinational companies in interaction with civil society and government stakeholders in different industry, community and national contexts. The project aims to understand the different types of social activists who instigate, spread and sustain such social innovations, the resources and social skills they deploy, and the level of social reach and impact they attain and includes researchers from universities in the Netherlands, Canada, Mexico and Brazil. 

The Institute recently hosted a mini online workshop series entitled Corruption, Rent-Seeking Behaviour and Informal Practices in Institutional Contexts. The series brought together researchers from different disciplines to improve theoretical, empirical and methodological understanding of different aspects of corruption, rent-seeking behaviours, and informal practices within different institutional contexts. The series was another example of the Institute working in collaboration with other leading institutions with the series being developed in partnership with the Centre for Political Economy and Institutional Studies (Birkbeck University of London) and the Centre for Comparative Studies of Emerging Economies (University College London).

Earlier in 2020, in the latest announcement of funding, the transnational, interdisciplinary research project entitled Populist Backlash, Democratic Backsliding, and the Crisis of the Rule of Law in the European Union (POPBACK) was supported by New Opportunities for Research Funding Agency Cooperation in Europe (NORFACE) to offer timely investigation into the challenges to democratic governance and politics. The project led by the Director of the Institute for International Management, Dr Gerhard Schnyder, aims to inform strategies to increase democratic resilience by studying the mechanisms ‘exclusionary populists’ use to increase their power by undermining the Rule of Law in the areas of law, the economy, and the media. The project also seeks to identify the ‘coping strategies’ societal actors use when faced with exclusionary populism. The project, which is organised into four work packages (legal changes, business and economics, media and communications, and impact), also includes Dr Burçe Çelik from the University’s Institute for Media and Creative Industries who will co-lead the third work project, Media and Communications, with academics from the Peace Institute in Slovenia and the University of Vienna in Austria.

Back in 2019, breaching out into the field of international development, the Institute also studied an innovative micro-finance project in Kenya called Jaza Duka (“fill up your store”) run by Mastercard, Unilever, and Kenya Commercial Bank.

They have also conducted inter-disciplinary comparative ethnographic studies of multinational corporations (MNC) originated from China’s emerging cities to identify key globalizing actors as part of a larger research programme on strategic people management in emerging market MNCs.

Early career researcher, Dr Ling Zhang, has also been awarded funding from the BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grants 2019, a highly competitive funding scheme with only an average success rate of 15%. Her project called Gender and identity in a turbulent space and time: A social network study of diplomats and diplomatic spouses sought to investigate how an extreme form of transnational employment – that is, diplomatic assignments – impacts on gender and identity from a social network perspective in collaboration with a partner from Uppsala University in Sweden.

The Institute’s areas of research

The Institute for International Management is actively engaged in international research projects focusing on the following:

•            Comparative political economy of work

•            Corporate (ir)responsibility

•            Gender and identity in a turbulent space and time

•            Globalising actors/activists in multinational companies

•            The state, law, corporate governance and development

•            The internationalisation of firms from emerging economies


You can find information regarding the research opportunities at Loughborough University London on our website.

To find out more about our seven institutes, please visit our website.

Are you interested in joining our new student-led Chess Club?

Are you interested in joining our new student-led Chess Club?

February 18, 2021 Ella Cusack

The Future Space team here at Loughborough University London have recently teamed up with some our Student Ambassadors to create a student-led chess tournament. The initiative derived from some of our current students who decided to form a Chess Club. This has since grown into a positive community of students meeting weekly to compete.

After seeing the success of the growing chess club, our Future Space team stepped in to launch the Universities first student-led tournament. Student Ambassador, Shreyan’s Nilvarna, has been at the forefront, coordinating and organising this tournament on a virtual platform called Chess.com.

The Chess Club is a welcoming group for anyone who has an interest in learning to play chess or individuals who looking for a community to play with. Shreyan’s has a passion of making chess more of a mainstream sport and to encourage the participation of more female competitors within the game.

The first tournament kicked off on Friday 5 February and involved more than 20 participants. Congratulations to Komal Ghai and Jordan Vasileiadis were crowned the champions in their respective categories for the week. The tournament is set to continue on a weekly basis so don’t miss out on your chance to compete and become the next chess champion!

There is no pre-requisites to join this club – all you need is a computer and an account for chess.com! Whether you are a complete beginner or an experienced player, the tournament will be structured in a way that you will enjoy!

DRN Temporal Drawing: Staging Drawing Recording

February 17, 2021 Deborah Harty

Thank you to Penny Davis for chairing the first event in the Temporal Drawing series and to presenters Sue Field & Justine Moss for their engaging presentations and contribution to the Temporal Drawing theme.

If you missed the event or would like to watch the event again the full recording can be found here: https://vimeo.com/513576197

Booking for the Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight are now open!

Booking for the Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight are now open!

February 17, 2021 Ella Cusack

Following the success and feedback of Loughborough University’s first Doctoral Wellbeing Week last year, an online event from 1-12 March 2021 has been organised to coincide with University Mental Health Day on Thursday 4th March 2021.

Aimed at Doctoral Researchers and those on the frontline of their support (such as supervisors), Loughborough’s Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight will contain a diverse range of developmental workshops and activities to provide practical ways of enhancing doctoral wellbeing.

The event will feature over 40 sessions, covering numerous topics that are aligned to the University’s wellbeing resources and relate to Doctoral Researcher feedback as well as evidence from a growing body of literature.

Event organiser Dr Katryna Kalawsky, said: “At Loughborough, we recognise and value the vast contributions that Doctoral Researchers make. To enable them to achieve their full potential, we need to take a proactive and responsive approach to support and enhance their wellbeing, especially since many challenges faced are different to the taught student populations.

“Whilst wellbeing is important 24/7, 365 days a week, we hope the fortnight will increase awareness of the various support services available, and that it equips our Doctoral Researchers with an extensive array of practical skills that they can apply throughout their doctorate and beyond.”

For more information, including a full timetable and booking details, visit the dedicated event website. To follow the conversation on Twitter, use the #LboroDRWellbeing hashtag.


Please note that all sessions will take place online and most sessions will be recorded for the benefit of those unable to attend in ‘real-time’.

What Is It About Artificial Intelligence and Humanity…?

February 16, 2021 Peter Kawalek

At Loughborough University’s Centre for Information Management[PF1] , we have been asking, “What is it about humanity that we can’t give away to intelligent machines?”

What we mean by this is to ask what might we give and what is it that we must not give. What authority given to intelligent machines is conducive to our human selves, and what authority is not conducive? What helps us and what hurts? Where is the boundary and how will we know it?

We are writing about this topic with multiple authors from across Europe. There is a paper coming soon in the International Journal of Information Management. Our aim is to develop a new perspective on the relationship between our human place in the world and the intelligent automation (Coombs et al., 2020) that we are increasingly drawing into our lives around us.

A New Bauhausian Unity

Taking a cue from Dr Patrick Stacey, whose work calls out a “de-levelling” and calls for a “critique!”, we are writing of a humanity that is elemental in the world; whose best becoming is the ultimate justification of any automation project. In simpler terms, we are ultimately suggesting that we begin to shift the reality of automation decisions from the economic towards consideration of wellbeing. Hence, not for the first time, an economic rationality and a deeper cause of wellbeing are pulled into tension. The resolution of this tension will rely on new understanding of both these subject areas. We need to look again at economic understanding and at theories of wellbeing. The theatre will be staged over thousands and millions of decisions about what should be automated and what should not.

We need to know.

Stacey’s position is that human wellbeing has to be primary. It has to be understood, known collectively, and pursued as an end-goal in the new instrumentation. This “New Humanism” with its call to critique stands in opposition to the fluidity of sociomateriality (Orlikowski & Scott, 2008), wherein human wellbeing is not explicitly prioritised within a social and technological arrangement. Hence, as machine intelligence advances, there is the risk that the human becomes “de-levelled”, or just another aspect of a system that is constructed on some economic rationale and for some ultimate political interest or dystopian technical necessity.

To debate this issue we formed a special discussion dedicated to our question of “What is it about humanity that we can’t give away to intelligent machines?” This special discussion took place within a day during the 2019 annual meeting of the European Research Centre on Information Systems (ERCIS) was held at the Centre for Information Management (CIM) of Loughborough University. Patrick Stacey led the discussion with his presentation “Towards a New Humanism. Or are we too late?” The host team from CIM identified four themes to investigate regarding machines and humanism: Crime & Conflict, Jobs, Attention Economy, and Wellbeing. These themes were selected because of the coverage they had already attracted in the media and academic discourse.

To encourage discussion a world café format was adopted. Our world café had four tables, one for each of the themes and a table host that collated the discussion. There was time for three café rotations to allow ERCIS colleagues to discuss different themes. Key discussion points were captured using post-it notes on flip charts.

After the workshop, Dr Boyka Simeonova reviewed all the post-its and created a matrix of themes and cross cutting issues shared with the table hosts. Patrick and table hosts were invited to write up their contributions for publication. The final paper has authors from five European nations and one from South America. The workshop and write up process has produced a thought-provoking research agenda that we believe will be pursued in further partnership through ERCIS and across global academic networks.

An important output from this debate is that we propose an emboldened humanism that we centre on the notion of a new Bauhausian human-machine unity. Such a unity rests on three pillars.

  1. Accepting this centrality of human critique of our own systems.
  2. Deliberately enabling this critique through design: human need and value must be designed into the loop of intelligent machine decision-making.
  3. Deliberately enabling this design through a traceable relationship – the unity requires that humans can interpret and explain intelligent machine decision-making in progress.

It is through the acceptance of these terms that a new theoretical fork is reached, and the human requirements that have been “de-levelled” in debate, are elevated and prioritised in a re-turn to a newly expressed humanism (Stacey, 2019). Human wellbeing rests on the design of systems that serve it, that refuse to de-level the human to a functionary of some kind of combined intelligence and which reserve for us that power to “critique!”

This blog post was written by Professor Peter Kawalek , Director of Loughborough University’s Centre for Information Management and Dr Crispin Coombs , Head of Loughborough University’s Information Management Academic Group. If you’d like to know more about the research we do in this area please visit the Centre for Information Management website.

References

Coombs, C., Hislop, D., Taneva, S. K., & Barnard, S. (2020). The strategic impacts of Intelligent Automation for knowledge and service work: An interdisciplinary review. The Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 101600. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.JSIS.2020.101600

Orlikowski, W. J., & Scott, S. V. (2008). Sociomateriality: Challenging the Separation of Technology, Work and Organization. Academy of Management Annals, 2(1), 433–474. https://doi.org/10.5465/19416520802211644

Stacey, P. (2019). What is it that Humanity Should Not Give Away to Machines? In Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution. Retrieved from https://www.brlsi.org/events-proceedings/proceedings/what-it-humanity-should-not-give-away-machines


Call for participants: Student focus groups on Race Equality

Call for participants: Student focus groups on Race Equality

February 16, 2021 Ella Cusack

We are committed to eradicating racial inequality and creating an inclusive educational environment where everyone, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or national origin, can succeed.

Following on from the Loughborough University Student Survey on Race Equality, and as the next step in data collection for the Race Equality Charter, the Race Equality Action Group is organising focus groups to gain deeper insight into diverse students’ experiences of study and generate ideas for helping to eliminate racial discrimination at Loughborough.

We are seeking students across racial backgrounds who study postgraduate taught or postgraduate research programmes, and aim to hold separate groups by race, as appropriate.

If you are interested in participating in a focus group, please complete the online form


If you would like to know more about our work on the Race Equality Charter please visit our dedicated webpage.

What makes education trials uninformative?

What makes education trials uninformative?

February 16, 2021 Centre for Mathematical Cognition
A pen resting on a sheet of paper with equations printed on it

The last decade has seen a major change in educational research funding in the UK. The advent of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) means that a majority of the money spent on education research is now used to conduct randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of educational interventions. Prior to the publication of the first EEF trials, such studies were almost unheard of: in 2012 only 3% of articles published in the eight major mathematics education journals reported RCTs.

What is an educational RCT?

The basic structure is simple. An educational designer proposes some kind of intervention – perhaps a programme of one-on-one tuition, or a particular educational game – which they believe will raise student achievement. Researchers recruit a large group of students to take part and randomly allocate them to receive the intervention or to act as a control group and carry on with their normal activities. After the intervention is complete, both groups’ educational achievement is assessed with some kind of outcome measure, perhaps a standardised test, and compared. If there is a difference between the groups, and if that difference could not plausibly be attributed to chance, then the researcher concludes that the intervention caused the difference.

Our research question: has this change in focus been a success?

Matthew Inglis and Hugo Lortie-Forgues recently conducted a review of all RCTs commissioned by the EEF and the NCEE (a US-based funder that also commissions educational RCTs). They note that in typical educational contexts, things are slightly more complex than simply comparing two groups’ performance. For one thing, children are usually taught in classes, so randomisation must take place at the class (or school) level rather than the individual level. Although this adds complexity, the use of appropriate statistical techniques permits causal conclusions to still be drawn.

RCTs are powerful. When we don’t know whether or not a proposed intervention is effective (i.e., causes higher achievement), then a well-conducted RCT with positive results can help us decide. However, results are not always statistically-significant, and not necessarily because the intervention is ineffective. To explain why, we need the concept of an effect size. This is essentially just a measure of the difference in outcome between the intervention and control groups. A positive effect size suggests that the intervention is effective (compared to whatever the control group was doing, usually ‘business as usual’), an effect size of zero suggests that it is ineffective, and a negative effect size suggests that it is actively harmful. The effect size we obtain from an RCT, with its one particular group of participants, is merely an estimate of the ‘true’ effect size: the figure we would obtain if we ran the study on every member of the population of interest (an impossible task).

It is the true effect size that we care about, as it is this effect size which allows us to draw conclusions about future uses of the intervention. Let’s restrict ourselves to the case where an intervention is either effective or ineffective (not actively harmful), i.e., where the true effect size is either positive or zero. We’d like to use our RCT to decide which. To do this we can make some assumptions about the range of plausible positive effects an RCT intervention-study might find, and calculate a statistic known as a Bayes Factor. This quantifies which of our two hypotheses the RCT’s results are more consistent with. Interestingly, sometimes RCTs are equally consistent with both hypotheses. Such an RCT does not allow us to conclude whether the intervention is effective or ineffective. RCTs of this sort are uninformative: before any RCT is run we didn’t know whether the intervention is effective or ineffective, after we’ve seen the results of an uninformative RCT we still don’t know.

Clearly, uninformative RCTs are highly undesirable. The EEF spends around £500k per RCT, so it is obviously problematic if they do not produce new information. But what proportion of educational RCTs are uninformative? To investigate, Hugo Lortie-Forgues-Forgues and I reanalysed 141 large-scale educational RCTs commissioned by the EEF and NCEE. In total 1.2m children took part in these studies.

There were two main findings. First, most educational RCTs find small effects: the average difference between the intervention and control groups was just 0.06 standard deviations. One way of understanding this figure is to ask what the probability is that a randomly picked member of the intervention group has a higher score than a randomly picked member of the control group. With an effect size of 0.06 the answer is 51.7%, barely above the 50% chance level.

Second, and most importantly, we found that 40% of trials were uninformative. In other words, between a third and half of all large-scale educational trials did not permit a conclusion to be drawn about whether the intervention they were testing was effective or ineffective. This is an alarmingly high number: at £500k per trial it suggests that the EEF and NCEE have spent around £28m conducting uninformative trials.

Why are so many trials uninformative? And what can be done about it?

In our paper we discuss three main hypotheses:

  1. Perhaps the interventions which RCTs are testing are based on unreliable basic research.
  2. We may not be effectively translating insights from reliable basic research into interventions that can be implemented at scale with fidelity.
  3. RCTs themselves are typically designed to maximise their relevance to practitioners, but perhaps this comes at the cost of increasing the level of statistical noise in the design to too high a level.

Each of these accounts suggests a different change to practice: (i) and (iii) call for methodological reform, to basic research and RCT design respectively; (ii) calls for increased investment in educational design. Given the level of resource, both in terms of research funding and teacher/pupil time, that is currently being spent on educational RCTs, it is vital that we investigate why so many RCTs find small and uninformative results.

This Week at Loughborough | 15 February

This Week at Loughborough | 15 February

February 15, 2021 Jess East

Happy Mondays: Repair, reuse and refashion

15 February, 7pm, Online

Student Molly Gransden will show you how to convert old or unworn clothes into new items without spending a penny.

Upcycling is great fun and good for the environment. This eco- friendly workshop is all about creating your own unique style from cast offs. By upcycling these items, you’ll feel like you’ve got a new item of clothing that you can’t wait to wear. All you will need is a piece of clothing that you might otherwise have thrown in the bin. Whether you have a denim jacket that you feel looks dated, or a t-shirt that your just plain bored of, you’ll leave this workshop with something ‘new’ and fabulous to rock around campus!

This workshop will take place online via Microsoft teams. Details on how to join the session will be sent via email to everyone who books.

Find out more information on the LU Arts Events Page.

Starting your Own Business – An Introduction to Loughborough Enterprise Network

16 February, 12pm – 1pm, Online

Join our Loughborough Enterprise Network colleagues for an introduction into the support and opportunities available to you when it comes to self-employment and entrepreneurship! For more information and to book your place online visit the events page.

Careers in Research

16 February, 1pm – 2.30pm, Online

The first event in the series. Each ‘Careers In’ event will be made up of around 3-4 speakers, each delivering a 10-15-minute presentation, designed to provide student with an insight into a particular sector/industry. There will be allocated time at the end of the session for students to be able to ask questions. Sign up here.

Unilever Engineering in the FMCG industry Presentation

16 February, 6pm – 7pm, Online

Hear from recent graduates who are now working at Unilever about the role of an engineer in the FMCG industry. Discover what a typical day looks like and how to successfully secure a role in this area. Book your space online.

DRM Temporal Drawing: Staging Drawing

17 February, 11am – 12.30pm, Online

This panel brings together two researchers looking at aspects of film and scenography in response to concepts of temporal drawing. In conjunction with the release of her new monograph ‘Scenographic Design Drawing’ published in 2020 by Bloomsbury, Sue Field examines the process of the scenographic artist as drawing becomes affected by the temporality of live performance and embodiment.

Find out more information on the events page.

BAE Systems Presentation

17 February, 12pm – 1pm, Online

BAE will be delivering a virtual presentation about their organisation and the variety of roles available, including their Graduate programmes that are available all year round. More information to follow but sign up here.

Reloading Democracy: Critique, Re-signification, and Praxis in the Times of Crisis

17 February, 2pm – 3pm, Online

In this presentation, Cristina Flesher Fominaya interrogates the specific interpretive frameworks that underlie the conception of “real democracy” mobilised by activists in Spain’s 15-M/Indignados movement, showing first how they manifested in the occupation camp in Madrid, and then how they manifest in practice beyond the movements that brought them together.

Find out more information on the events page.

Ingenuity Programme Briefing Event #2

17 February, 4pm – 5pm, Online

The second event in the series – this is your chance to find out more about the Ingenuity Programme at our second information event, which will continue to cover the Programme in more detail. Book online here.

FDM Strength Based Webinar

18 February, 12pm – 1pm, Online

With more and more businesses utilising online platforms to conduct interviews, join FDM in this interactive session to gain helpful tips to help with your success! Book your space here.

Careers in Tech

18 February, 1pm – 2pm, Online

The second event in the series. Each ‘Careers In’ event will be made up of 3- 4 speakers, each delivering a 10-15-minute presentation, designed to provide student with an insight into a particular sector/industry. There will be allocated time at the end of the session for students to be able to ask questions. Sign up here.

Initiate Programme: An Introduction to The Business Model Canvas (Continued) and Pitching Your Idea

18 February, 6.30pm – 8pm, Online

Part two of considering your ideas with our Business Model Canvas and the chance to learn more about the elevator pitch – creating intrigue and telling your story! Find out more and book your free place online.

Leicestershire Secondary SCITT Presentation

18 February, 6pm – 7pm, Online

We train amazing new teachers, across Leicestershire, who change young people’s lives. We provide school-based training, working alongside amazing teachers while you work towards QTS and PGCE. Register to attend and learn more.

Relaunching our MA Global Communication and Social Change: a contemporary postgraduate programme for a new generation of change leaders

February 12, 2021 Rebecca Davis

In the face of diverse global and local challenges, brought into sharp relief by the current pandemic, trends show that a new generation of media and communication professionals are looking for more socially engaged and activist careers to reshape a world strained by environmental and wealth inequalities.

At the Institute for Media and Creative Industries at Loughborough University London we believe that communication plays critically important roles in processes of social change. This often occurs within contexts of international development and NGO contexts. However, today communication and social change leaders are increasingly also working within social movements, activist organisations, community media organisations, foundations and social enterprises, community development, and other social justice change efforts.

In recognition of these broadening sites of social change, and also to better reflect our contemporary and interdisciplinary programme content, we have renamed one of our Institute’s flagship postgraduate programmes to ‘MA Global Communication and Social Change’ (previously, MA Global Communication and Development’).

In fact, very little of our learning content will change with the change in title. Our programmes will continue to be taught by a team of field leading scholars. The curriculum we teach draws substantially on researchers from the global south, as well as publications from our own scholars and others. ‘Communication and Social Change – a citizen perspective’ is an example of our own scholarship that aims to rethink the field, bridge research and practice efforts between the global north and south, and open up to discussions about decoloniality, post-development and epistemologies of the south.

Our Institute has partnerships with large and small communication for development and social change organisations, such as UNICEF, the International Paralympic Committee, BBC Media Action, International Media Support, Story Workshop (Malawi), Femina HIP (Tanzania) and IT for Change (India). Our research takes place across a range of locations, from media use in the Amazon regions of Brazil, to community engagement to address disability stigma in Malawi, through to youth in Coventry (see more about Our Research).

We see this diverse engagement with various sites of social change in our students’ MA dissertations too. They have explored youth engagement in climate change, youth civic media, queer cultures and dating apps, and anti-vaccine narratives on social media, and women’s solidarity movements in response to Covid-19 in China, among other topics (see our IMCI Graduate Papers). Our alumni have continued onto careers in climate change advocacy, educational technology sectors, into the public sector (see our Alumni page)

In 2021 we are working to create even more opportunities for our MA students to engage with industry partners in the field of communication for development and social change, and we are including some new and creative learning activities, such as podcasts. It will ensure our graduates are developing a full range of academic, professional, and creative skills.     

Our ambition is that this programme will appeal to a diverse student body including both local students (see our Inspiring Success scholarships for East London residents and other available scholarships) and international students who wish to use their careers to foster change in the status quo locally and globally. The multicultural and multilingual environment of London and our Institute provides the perfect environment for students to benefit from cross-cultural experiences and learning.


Blog written by Programme Director and Senior Lecturer within the Institute for Media and Creative Industries, Dr Jessica Noske-Turner.

To find out more about the MA Global Communication and Social Change programme, please visit our website.

Cross dressing in the 18th and 19th century Europe and America

February 12, 2021 Catherine Armstrong

Our understanding of being transgender has evolved considerably in the last few decades. We now appreciate that the gender to which you were assigned at birth might be entirely different from your gender identity, which is different again to your gender expression. Although this terminology would have been alien in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, in those eras many people would have nodded in understanding when presented with the concepts. In fact, the concept of the fixity of gender emerges in its most rigid form in the late Victorian era and it is then that anxiety comes to the fore around ‘passing’ concerning gender and race.

That is not to say that people from earlier eras were not sceptical about those who did not conform to society’s ideas of masculinity and femininity. Indeed, for those assigned female at birth, playing with gender presentation often formed part of their response to rigid ideas about a woman’s role in society.  Some women who were sexually and romantically attracted to other women, then as now, presented as more masculine, both for personal gratification and sometimes to be accepted by society. Anne Lister (or ‘Gentleman Jack’ – the subject of a recent TV series starring Suranne Jones) is a good example. In accordance with 19th century ideas of gender, Anne Lister would have been read by others of the time as masculine and it wasn’tin accordance with 19th century ideas of gender, Anne Lister would have been read by others of the time as masculine and it wasn’t until 1988 when the biographer Helena Whitbread uncoded her diaries that the true extent of her lesbian relationships and life was discovered until 1988 when the biographer Helena Whitbread uncoded her diaries that the true extent of her lesbian relationships and life was discovered.

Other women presented masculinely for reasons of career ambition, because they wished to make a life choices denied to the half of the population assigned female at birth. In the American Civil War, Franklin Thompson and Harry P. Bufort were widely praised soldiers who fought for and spied for the Confederate States. Both were women passing as men, or in the phrase of historian Matthew Teorey who has worked on their cases, women who ‘unsexed’ themselves. These soldiers through their war time records asserted their independence and bravery, attributes which their society denied that women could or should display. An earlier example of gender fluidity of a soldier, spy and diplomat was the eighteenth-century case of the Chevalier D’Eon, who worked for the French King as a spy in London before later claiming political exile in England. The Chevalier became a minor celebrity in London society and presented as a man and a woman at various points in their life, until aged about fifty they began to live permanently as a woman. They had their portrait painted by several famous artists and their gender presentation was a matter of fascination and gossip in the London newspapers.

Men also cross dressed for work purposes, for example in the molly houses of Georgian Britain. These were brothels and were an important part of the gay subculture of London. Many of the men there who entertained male clients adopted female names and presented with feminine attributes of the time, such as wearing women’s clothes and using fans. During this period (and indeed until 1967) while homosexuality was illegal, to be caught working in a molly house was incredibly dangerous. After the 1726 raid on the famous Mother Clap’s Molly House in Holborn, three men were convicted of sodomy and executed at Tyburn. A sobering reminder that however lively the subculture, or seemingly accepting of alternative lifestyles people in the past could be, persecution and violence were never far away.

Further reading

18th Century Molly Houses – London’s Gay Sub-culture / Mary McKee (Blog post)

Finding out : an introduction to LGBT studies / Deborah T. Meem, Michelle A. Gibson, Jonathan F. Alexander.

I know my own heart : the diaries of Anne Lister (1791-1840) / edited by Helena Whitbread.


Introduction to transgender studies / Ardel Haefele-Thomas; with the participation of Thatcher Combs.
(E-book)

The Life and Loves of Anne Lister / BBC (Website)

Mother Clap’s Molly House : the gay subculture in England 1700-1830 / Rictor Norton.

The Queer Contact Zone: Empire and Military Masculinity in the Memoirs of Hannah Snell and Mary Anne Talbot, 1750–1810 / Le Doux, Ellen Malenas. Published in The Eighteenth Century (Electronic article)

Transgender history / Susan Stryker. (E-book)

The transgender studies reader 2 / edited by Susan Stryker and Aren Z. Aizura.

Unmasking the Gentleman Soldier in the Memoirs of Two Cross-dressing Female US Civil War Soldiers / Matthew Teorey. Published inInternational Journal of the Humanities (Electronic article)

Women in men’s guise / by O.P. Gilbert.

Institute Director for International Management features on Real Talk

Institute Director for International Management features on Real Talk

February 8, 2021 Ella Cusack

Dr. Gerhard Schnyder recently guest starred on an episode of ‘Real Talk’ to consider the new dawn of higher education for 2021 and beyond, post COVID-19.

Dr. Gerhard Schnyder is the Director of the Institute for International Management at Loughborough University London. In an open conversation with Chloe Woods on the most recent episode of Real talk: Connected higher education, Gerhard discusses the shifts made in the UK higher education industry to support the new student experience and how Loughborough University London have adapted hybrid and blended learning approaches to delivering high quality teaching. Throughout this episode, Gerhard also highlights the shifting propositions in attracting new student enrolment going forwards.

Gerhard then goes on to emphasise the importance of an online university degree and how innovative teaching methods must be incorporated to in-person learning. This approach is central to the teaching methods at Loughborough University London in the past, hence why the University has received recognition as one of the leading UK universities. This prior recognition has been awarded for the innovative and pioneering ideas from our alumni and student community.

You can read the full article here.


To listen to the Real Talk podcast episode featuring Dr Gerhard Schnyder’s podcast, please visit the Ring Central website.

To find out more about the Institute for International Management, please visit our website.

This Week at Loughborough | 08 February

This Week at Loughborough | 08 February

February 8, 2021 Jess East

Happy Mondays: Chinese ink painting (workshop)

8 February, 7pm, Online

Create your own paintings in a traditional Chinese style.

Student Suyu Bian will introduce you to this traditional Chinese painting technique using special painting tools and techniques. You will create your own paintings to display in your room or perhaps give to someone else. This workshop promises to be a wonderful drawing experience and a great way to relax – let the paint diffuse on the paper and enjoy the peaceful moment of painting.

Find out more information on the event page.

The Military-Peace Complex: Gender and Materiality in Afghanistan

10 February, 2pm – 3pm, Online

Dr Hannah Partis-Jennings will discuss her recently published monograph The Military-Peace Complex: Gender and Materiality in Afghanistan. The book explores the entanglements between foreign military and international civilian work, mandates, logics and everyday performances. It engages with questions of gender, space and materiality and how these played a role in constituting the social category of the ‘international’ (as defined against the ‘local’) in Afghanistan post-2001.

Find out more information on the event page.

Mathematics Education Centre Seminar

10 February, 2.45pm – 5pm, Online

The Mathematics Education Centre will host this research seminar via Microsoft Teams. Please note the link to join will be circulated a week before the event.

You can find out more on the event page.

In Conversation… Microsoft Senior Leaders and Early in Careers in a Roundtable discussion

10 February, 3.30pm – 5pm, Online

Join us in welcoming Microsoft BAME Senior Leaders and Early in Careers in a Roundtable discussion as part of our LBU Future Black Talent Program. We will be joined by Senior Leaders Bunmi Dorowoju, Parisa Seif Amir Hosseini and Tammy Briggs, who shall share insight about their career journey and experiences.

Take a look at Careers Online for more details.

English Research Seminar: Archives as literary sketchbooks

10 February, 4pm – 5pm, Online

This talk will discuss examples from the personal archives of Ann Quin and Doris Lessing. With Quin’s materials, we see the writing process in action; with Lessing’s, we see a rehearsal of ideas before the fiction, as well as correspondence providing a dialogic form in which to deepen and extend fictional preoccupations. Nonia will speak for 40 minutes with 15 minutes of questions and open discussion.

You can find more information on the event page.

Ingenuity Programme Briefing Session #1

10 February, 4pm – 5pm, Online

This is your chance to find out more about the Ingenuity Programme at our information event, which will cover the Programme in more detail, including the application, Challenge Pathways and Summits, the Mentoring Sessions, the Develop Platform, and the Business Plan Competition, as well as a Q&A session.

View the event page for more information.

Public lecture: Understanding sport and exercise after organ transplantation

10 February, 5.30pm – 6.30pm, Online

Dr Gareth Wiltshire, Lecturer in Sport and Performance Psychology at Loughborough University, will give his online public lecture.

It will discuss the experiences of organ transplant recipients to shed light on how sport and exercise can be a meaningful way for people with long-term health conditions to live well while managing illness.

More information can be found on the event page.

Fellowship Inaugural Lecture: Professor Wen-Hua Chen

11 February, 12.30pm – 1.30pm Online

This talk will discuss some key enabled technologies involved in highly automated systems, our progress to date and the challenges that remain. Professor Chen argues that significant progress has been made in individual functions, such as perception and decision making, but more is required to understand their interactions and their influence on overall performance and safety at a system level. Professor Chen’s lecture will take place on Microsoft Teams, on Thursday the 11th February 2021, starting at 12.30pm.

If you wish to join the presentation then please register for your place via this link, you will be sent joining details in advance of the lecture.

You can find more event information on this page.

Do It Yourself: Pre-AIDS documentaries by lesbians and gay men in Britain

11 February, 6pm – 7pm, Online

This talk by Dr Marcus Collins examines the critical importance of television and radio documentaries and current affairs programmes about homosexuality to lesbians and gay men in postwar Britain.

For more information please go to the event page.

Initiate Programme: Idea Generation / Business Model Canvas

11 February, 6.30pm – 7pm, Online

Every Thursday evening from 6.30pm – 8pm, join Loughborough Enterprise Network and guests online via Microsoft Teams for our Initiate Programme – an introductory series of workshops on getting started with thinking about all things business and enterprise!

Find out more information on the event page.

Careers Network: Mock Assessment Centre

11 February, 6pm – 8pm, 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 workshop is for students from all years in all departments. This Mock Assessment Centre is sponsored by Druck Limited.

Please book your place online.

Chinese New Year

12 February, Online

On 12 February the transition into the Year of the Ox begins and the University has some activities planned that you can do from home to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

LU Arts is hosting a Chinese ink painting workshop for students as part of the Happy Mondays programme on 8 February. This gives you the chance to learn how to create your own painting in a traditional Chinese style. You can book your place for the free workshop here.

Those on campus will be able to purchase Chinese cuisine at the EHB Grill and Elvyn Dining Hall.

You can also take part in the Chinese tradition of bringing luck to your home. The Chinese character Fu(福)means ‘fortune’ or ‘good luck’ and many hang this character upside down on their door or window, inviting good fortune into their homes. You can search online for signs to print out or you can get crafty and make your own.

Creative and Print Services has also created a Chinese New Year background which will be available to use on Teams on 12 February. When you are setting up your video and audio settings before joining a meeting, select ‘Background Filters’ which is below the video image and the Chinese New Year background will be an option.

Don’t forget to tag Loughborough University on Instagram and Twitter when sharing your Chinese New Year activities.

You can find out more information on the event page.

Self-Care Sundays: Ceramics workshop

14 February, 4pm – 5pm, Online

Take some time out for yourself and join Alice Peake for an online ceramics workshop. You’ll start by learning how to handle, roll and mark/add texture to the clay before moving on to form the clay into cups or spoons. You’ll then be shown how to add finishing touches to your piece.

This event will be streamed via Facebook Live from the LU Arts Facebook page. You can also find out more information on the event page.

Video recordings of CRCC Seminar Series Semester 1 2020-21

February 5, 2021 Cristian Vaccari

We are delighted to provide access to video recordings of all the events held as part of our Seminar Series during Semester 1 of 2020-21.

The Clamour of Nationalism: Race, nation and leftist complicities“, by Professor Sivamohan Valluvan, The University of Warwick.

Right-wing Populism in the West: The New Nationalism Revisited“, by Professor Daphne Halikiopoulou, The University of Reading.

Communicating the ‘rules’ of the acute hospital ward to people living with dementia and its consequences“, by Dr Katie Featherstone, Cardiff University.

Journalists’ Roles and the Ultra-Right: The Case of Italy“, by Professor Cinzia Padovani, Southern Illinois University.

The BBC – Imperfect Beauty“, by Professor Jean Seaton, University of Westminster.

Sequential and Socio-Historical Contexts in Talk-in-Interaction: The Case of Racial Self-Categorization in Post-Apartheid South Africa“, by Professor Kevin Whitehead, University of California Santa Barbara.

Exciting new sculpture chosen for campus building

Exciting new sculpture chosen for campus building

February 5, 2021 LU Arts

This year will see an exciting new addition to the Loughborough University campus sculpture collection. Fine Art alumnus Ian Tricker has won the Eccleston Sculpture Competition, which called for proposals for a new sculptural work for installation on the Eccleston Student Engineering Centre, generously funded by a donation from Barry and Valerie Eccleston.

Tricker’s winning design for an as-yet unnamed work takes inspiration from the mechanics and movement of engines: highly appropriate, given the aeronautical and automotive happenings which take place within the building, which is home to a number of extra-curricular student projects.

Ian Tricker's winning sculpture design
Ian Tricker’s winning sculpture design

Tricker’s entry was selected from an incredibly strong collection of proposals from current and former Loughborough University students, from which we selected two runner-up entries. Fine Art BA student Kate Butler’s striking design drew inspiration from the air currents and streamline designs used in aeronautical and automotive engineering, as well as her current study abroad period in Helsinki, with a reference to the city’s famous Sibelius Monument.

Kate Butler's sculpture design
Kate Butler: runner-up

The other runner-up entry came from a collective made up of students studying Fine Art, Natural Sciences and Architecture BA students. Natyra Jashari, Chloé Degnan, Lucy Moult and Jagoda M. Smulska drew inspiration from the history of female engineering at Loughborough University to propose a design based on the legendary Spitfire plane, highlighting the role women played in its creation.

Degnan et al: runner up
Degnan et al: runner up

It was a real privilege for LU Arts to be involved in this competition and we’re really excited to work with Ian in the coming months as he realises his design. But we really enjoyed reading all the proposals and want to thank everyone who took the time to send one in.

David Bell
Programme Co-Ordinator for LU Arts

Loughborough’s Education Advancement Programme (LEAP)

Loughborough’s Education Advancement Programme (LEAP)

February 5, 2021 Ella Cusack

LEAP (Loughborough’s Education Advancement Programme) is an exciting new initiative that aims to increase the participation in Higher Education amongst students in the Midlands and East London. LEAP is a collaborative effort, delivered in partnership by colleagues from the School and College Liaison (SCL) Team, Future Space team (London) and the Doctoral College and provides an opportunity for doctoral researchers to share their research and gain teaching experience whilst supporting younger students to develop key study skills.

Why get involved?

LEAP offers you a chance to gain some valuable paid teaching and work experience. You will have the opportunity to develop teaching materials, skills and lesson plans, providing excellent examples of varied experience for your CV. Throughout the duration of the project you will have a chance to collaborate with colleagues from a number of different departments within the University and develop your own skills/knowledge of new areas. Where relevant it will also provide an opportunity for you to share your own academic interests and discuss your particular area of research.

When does LEAP take place?

LEAP will take place during the summer term and will be delivered over the course of 10 – 12 weeks. During this time, the emphasis will be on supporting participants to develop key study skills that will prepare them for Higher Education. The focus will not necessarily be on expanding subject knowledge, although the University recognises that this is still a likely and positive outcome.

ActionDates
Expressions of interest welcomed11 January – 14 February
Successful students notifiedw/c 22 February
Mandatory training completed1 March – 30 April
Lesson plans drafted and approved1 March – 30 April
Delivery of 6 lessons3 May – 11 June
Participating students create their final project14 June – 27 June
Final projects “marked” and feedback sent to students28 June – 16 July

Please note the delivery dates in bold above when you must be free to work with your assigned cohort (exact days and times can be negotiated). Dates for training and lesson plan development can be flexible.

How will this benefit me?

LEAP is viewed as a collaborative project; we will ensure that you feel supported through all aspects of the programme. Each doctoral researcher will be assigned a contact from either the SCL or Future Space team who can help them with the development of their lesson plan, arrangements with their allocated school and marking of final projects. A full programme of training will be provided for all taking part in the project.

As well as being a paid role, LEAP will provide an opportunity for our doctoral researchers to develop teaching/classroom experience and to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds to realise their academic potential.

What are you waiting for?!

If you’re interested in enhancing your personal development, confidence and knowledge this collaboration may well be the perfect fit for you!

If you’re not already convinced we have a dedicated webpage for any students who might be interested, which also features the expression of interest form (closing date 14 February) and contact details should they have any further questions.

What did it mean to be queer in the ancient world?

What did it mean to be queer in the ancient world?

February 4, 2021 Sam Chambers

Historians working on the queer past often contend with naïve assertions questioning whether gay, lesbian, bi, trans people, or non-binary people even existed in the past. My answer to this is always ‘of course they did’. I then go on to explain the reasons why LGBT+ individuals, along with members of other marginalised groups, appear too infrequently in the historical record – archival and published works which tell us about our past.

Individuals belonging to groups fearing ostracization and persecution would naturally choose to go ‘stealth’ and reveal their true selves to very few people. Thus, the visibility of LGBT+ individuals is diminished in historical moments when they faced hostility. But more than that, there is an imbalance within the surviving historical record which ensures that few stories from the past about members of this community are told.

Writers of the record were often simply not interested in recording this information about someone’s sexual or gender identity. Writers themselves held prejudicial views and did not want to foreground the experiences and lives of those considered shameful by the values of their time. And unfortunately it is only recently that historians have deliberately challenged those views and have begun to truly value the diverse stories of LGBT+ people from the past.

It is wrong however to think that LGBT+ people have faced consistent persecution throughout history, in all times and in all places, or that there is a linear narrative of progress in which the nearer one gets to our own time, the better the situation gets. In the Ancient World intimate and physical gay, lesbian and bisexual relationships, or presenting a different gender identity to the one assigned at birth, was apparent and even highly regarded in specific circumstances.

However, as Alastair Blanshard, Chair of Classics at Queensland University has written, Ancient Greece was far from the ‘gay utopia’ depicted by Oscar Wilde. Same sex courtship was highly ritualised and there were often serious imbalances in power that suggest abusive relationships were common. And although in some of his works, the philosopher Plato said that same-sex relationships were the epitome of love, elsewhere he’s argued that being gay is unnatural.

Regarding gender identities in the Ancient World, eunuchs were present in aristocratic courts in China, India, the Middle East and parts of Africa. Some eunuchs such as the Hijras of India and Pakistan, mentioned as early as the fourth century BCE in the Kama Sutra, were trans individuals, assigned male at birth who identified as women. Others lived as non-binary people, while still others continued after their castration to identify as men. Many eunuchs were enslaved people who were castrated against their will, but then some of these occupied high status advisory roles and lived lives of luxury. Therefore, the experiences of LGBT+ people in the past are more complex and varied than at first appears.

Further reading:

Eunuchs in Historical Perspective / Kathryn Ringrose
Published in History Compass (electronic article)

Finding out : an introduction to LGBT studies / Deborah T. Meem, Michelle A. Gibson, Jonathan F. Alexander.

Gay histories and cultures : an encyclopedia / George E. Haggerty, editor; John Beynon, Douglas Eisner, assistant editors.

Homosexuality in Greece and Rome : a sourcebook of basic documents / edited by Thomas K. Hubbard.

How to do the history of homosexuality / David M. Halperin.

Lesbian histories and cultures : an encyclopedia / Bonnie Zimmerman, editor.

Roman homosexuality/Craig A. Williams. (E-book)

Article image Cornelis van Haarlem, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


DRN Temporal Drawing Online Exhibition Call: Deadline 26th February 2021

February 4, 2021 Deborah Harty
Tamarin Norwood

Continuing the annual Drawing Research Network events, the Drawing Research Group at Loughborough University are pleased to invite submissions for an online exhibition of drawing, curated by Susan Kemenyffy, which aims to explore the notion of ‘Temporal Drawing’. We invite responses to the theme from anyone practicing drawing in a traditional or expanded way. We suggest the following as starting points and as possible prompts and provocations:

• How can drawing ‘reveal’ in time?
• Can drawing be timeless?
• Is stillness possible in and through drawing?
• What is the role of pace in the processes of making and looking at drawing?
• How can duration be explored in drawing?
• How can erasure be explored in drawing?

By ‘temporal drawing’ we suggest that temporality is not only inherent in drawing, both as a process and as a product, but is also its fundamental condition. To draw is to draw inescapably in and of time. If to make a mark is to capture the trace of a gesture, then mark-making reveals the movement of time—of the living present becoming past, and of the past contracting into the present. With this dynamism come repetitions and difference: further marks in anticipation of a present yet to come. Thus, a drawing traces and is traced by these movements and looking closely and slowly at a drawing becomes an act of contemplation that holds motion beneath its surface. And so, we ask: how can we explore the time of drawing? How does time prompt us to think differently about drawing?

Please submit drawings in response to the theme in any of the following formats:
• up to 3 jpeg images of drawn works (resolution 300dpi)
• 1 audio/video submission (MP3/MP4) max running time 3 mins

Please label your file as follows: surname.title of work.exhibition (for example: smith.drawing 1.exhibition) and submit using the online form below :

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeCFB-erBE5h2dIs9fpGxwAZWVaIi9y1tfvgHcdYmO5_ve8XQ/viewform?usp=sf_link

Deadline: Friday 26th February 2021

Susan Kemenyffy has supported the work of TRACEY for many years as a peer reviewer for the journal. Throughout decades, ‘Drawing’—in all its mediums, permutations & iterations—has been the keystone to the work that Susan Kemenyffy has explored, both within her studios & without, in natural & designed landscapes. Her work in these arenas has been strengthened by her Past Chairmanship of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts & her recent recognition as a Distinguished Daughter of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania—the Keystone State.

DRN Temporal Drawing: Staging Drawing 11am 17th February 2021

February 4, 2021 Deborah Harty
Justine Moss
Sue Field

This is the first in a series of events organised by the DRG at Loughborough University investigating notions of temporal drawing.

This panel brings together two researchers looking at aspects of scenography and film in response to concepts of temporal drawing. In conjunction with the release of her new monograph ‘Scenographic Design Drawing’ published in 2020 by Bloomsbury, Sue Field will examine the process of the scenographic artist as drawing becomes affected by the temporality of live performance and embodiment. Field will unpick the terms performance, animation, temporality and ephemerality through an examination of her own practice and other artist scenographers such as William Kentridge, Dan Potra, Gabriela Tylesora, and the co-artistic directors of the British performance troupe 1977 Suzanne Andrade and Paul Barritt to explore the concept of scenographic design drawing as an embodied and expanded practice. The presentation by arts research student Justine Moss, will examine the previously unexamined cinematic trope of female characters discarding garments in narrative film. Moss will discuss drawing’s ability to extend the temporal moment of the split second to explore the expressive potential of the garments in motion. What can drawing apprehend of the motion and duration of these film excerpts and how can drawing’s revision of time reveal what film has overlooked? Penny Davis, a doctoral researcher at Loughborough University, will chair the event.

Tickets available from here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/drn-temporal-drawing-staging-drawing-tickets-135473568089

Other events in the series include:
‘Stillness and Motion’ 24th March 2021
‘Experience’ 21st April 2021
‘Diagrams’ 19th May 2021
‘Queer Traces’ 9th June 2021

DRN Temporal Drawing Events: February-June 2021

February 4, 2021 Deborah Harty
Tamarin Norwood

Organised by the Drawing Research Group, Loughborough University

Continuing with the annual Drawing Research Network events, the Drawing Research Group at Loughborough University are pleased to announce the launch of ‘Temporal Drawing’ online events. The series of free events aim to explore the notion of temporal drawing, by which we suggest that temporality is not only inherent in drawing, both as process and as a product, but also as its fundamental condition. Speakers for each of the events have been selected to offer differing perspectives of themes emerging in response to the call for papers around the notion of temporal drawing. The sessions include:

‘Staging Drawing’ 17th February 2021
‘Stillness and Motion’ 24th March
‘Experience’ 21st April 2021
‘Diagrams’ 19th May 2021
‘Queer Traces’ 9th June 2021


Coming in May an online digital exhibition curated by Susan Kemenyffy

Green Movements and Populism

February 1, 2021 Catherine Armstrong

by Hugo Santiago Barrail

At the start of my final year at Loughborough, the Extinction Rebellion movement was occupying most headlines around the world. The topic of climate change was propelled to the front of policy agendas and the world seemed a better place for it. But through a module called “The Populist Challenge”, I spotted some worrying trends.

The module began with a simple, yet complicated, question: how do we identify a populist? I learned about the different methods and theories which are conventionally used and I immediately identified several populist elements in the narrative adopted by the Green movements around the world:

  • Antagonising society into an “us” against “them” narrative
  • Creating a notion of an existential crisis
  • Simplifying a debate
  • Appealing to the emotions of the public

We often associate all these tricks with far-right or far-left politicians, a political style or ideology used by Hugo Chavez, Donald Trump or the Brexit campaign. Could these young environmentalist activists have unintentionally adopted a populist approach?

So, much to the confusion of some of my classmates, I decided to write an essay on Greta Thunberg and the Extinction Rebellion as the leaders of what I dubbed “green populism”.  My lecturer advised to me to use an approach which defines populism as a style. Scholars who abide to this approach claim populism has different shades of grey and should be studied through their rhetoric and style, rather than their ideas.

This definition seemed perfect for my essay. I did not intend to classify Greta and the XR movement as the fiercest populists in line with Donald Trump or Nigel Farage. While I also agreed with the emphasis on rhetoric since Greta and the XR movement campaigned for policies which are never associated with populism. So, in the essay I argued that Greta and the XR movement are gradually embracing populism similarly to other left-wing movements such as Bernie Sanders and the Occupy Wall Street protests.

I found that the XR movement adhered to conventional tactics in their early days, as did Greta in her initial speeches. They centred on scientific facts and on seeking compromise with mainstream policy-makers, combining urgency with optimism, just like most European Green parties. But I found that a shift took place in the spring of 2019. XR statements started using expressions such as “ordinary people” to target the “elites” and calling for “rapid change”. Greta changed her narrative to address what she calls a “disaster of unspoken suffering” while calling out the “inaction of the elite”. XR leaders also started encouraging their supporters to commit crimes and they sought to alienate mainstream green actors such as Greenpeace.

I found these conclusions to be very significant, since they evidence the perils that a shift towards “green populism” entails. This approach is coercive, rather than persuasive. This only harms the prospect of green policies gaining popularity, as opposing sides feel increasingly alienated. Through my essay, I then hoped to contribute to a rethink of how best it is to advance such an important and urgent cause.


Bio: I graduated from Loughborough in 2020 with a Bachelors in Politics, History and International Relations. My degree included a placement year which I spent working for a business lobbying organisation in Brussels, where I tracked EU policies. I am specialised in issues of democracies and development, particularly in countries in Africa and South America. Currently, I am interning at the Democracy Program of the Carter Center, a US-based organisation focused on promoting good democratic practices. I am originally from Paraguay, although I am now based in Spain, where my family resides.


Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Design, Disability and Innovation MSc programme success

Design, Disability and Innovation MSc programme success

February 1, 2021 Ella Cusack

Our new MSc in Design, Disability and Innovation programme was first offered in 2019 as a collaboration with University College London and London College of Fashion, as the flagship programme of the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDIH). Now in its second year, we have seen a huge interest from students from across the world and have already exceeded our target student numbers.  

The MSc is the result of two-year development plan motivated by a common interest from the three universities to bring disability to the forefront of design and innovation. Driven by the involvement of Loughborough University with the Paralympics and UCL’s long standing interest in inclusive human-computer interactions and LCFs experience in business and innovation, the three Universities realized the first MSc Design, Innovation and Disability.  

Professor Mikko Koria and Dr Antonius van den Broek from the Institute for Design Innovation have led the development and delivery of two core modules. Our module, Design Thinking, challenges students to come up with innovative solutions designed for individuals with an impairment. Our Collaborative Project module allows students to work with Ford Mobility on focuses on inclusive design that addresses mobility challenges. 

Since the start of the pandemic all teaching has moved to fully online delivery. This posed various challenges but also enhanced the accessibility of the course as it allowed students with less mobility to enroll. We have already exceeded our target student numbers, and they look to keep growing 

Loughborough University has been involved as a key partner in the GDIH since its inception. As well as this MSc, we are actively engaged in GDIH research. Loughborough London leads the GDIH AT2030 project, ‘Para Sport Against Stigma’, which is building on lessons learned from the London 2012 Paralympic Games, working across three African Countries: Malawi, Ghana and Zambia. It is a £1.89m collaborative project between Loughborough University, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the University of Malawi. 


To find out more information about the MSc Design, Disability and Innovation programme, please visit the Global Disability Innovation Hub website.

You can read more about the Para Sport Against Stigma project on our website here. You can also find out more about the GDIH AT2030 project here.

Find out more about the our partners, Global Disability Innovation Hub, here.

This Week at Loughborough | 01 February

This Week at Loughborough | 01 February

February 1, 2021 Jess East

EY & You: Spotlight on Wellbeing Week

1 – 5 February, 6 – 7.30pm, Online

Join EY for daily webinars across the week, each focussed on a different topic related to wellbeing.

During each event, you’ll hear from EY people, take part in interactive sessions and have the opportunity to win prizes!

They also have some incredible speakers including Anthony Joshua, Joe Wicks and Michelle Visage. Take a look at Careers Online for more details.

Happy Mondays: Crochet your own scarf (workshop)

1 February, 7pm, Online

Chilly during this winter? Wrap up warm and cosy with your very own handmade scarf! In this workshop, you will learn to crochet a scarf that can be worn throughout winter. Suitable for beginners.

This online workshop will be led by Jean Cameron, a second year Textiles student who enjoys building on her making skills by knitting and crocheting.

The workshop will take place via Microsoft teams. Details on how to join the session will be sent via email to everyone who books a place.

More information can be found on the event page.

Keep Calm: Virtual Zumba

1 February, 7 – 7.45pm, Online

Our friends at MyLifestyle offer everyone at Loughborough Uni the opportunity to get fit, stay healthy, play sport and be active. Take a break and shake off your stresses with this fun and energetic dance fitness class.

More information can be found on the event page.

Sports Technology Entrepreneurship Day

3 February, 9.30am – 1pm, Online

Working on sports tech products? Want to learn how fellow founders are bringing cutting edge technology to market? Join us for insightful presentations from established founders and exciting newcomers in the world of sports tech.

Hosted by Loughborough University’s business incubator, LU Inc., this online meet up brings together sports technology innovators and sports performance, accelerator finance and industry network specialists.

For more information and how to book go to the event page.

Keep Calm: Virtual Yoga

3 February, 2 – 3pm, Online

Join Yogi Laura for a Wednesday afternoon virtual Yoga session. Take a break studying and relax as you focus on your body movements and breathing.

More information can be found on the event page.

Open Bhangra Society Class

3 February, 7 – 8pm, Online

Join the Bhangra Society for a free dance class open to all Loughborough staff, students, members and non members.

The class will be this Wednesday at 7pm on Microsoft Teams.

Visit the society’s Facebook page for more information.

Talk Sport Student Conference 2021

4 February, 12 – 4.45pm, Online

This event will appeal to students from any degree subject and year group who are interested in working in the sports industry – as a sports specialist, or within the business side of sport.

Featuring speakers from adidas, Man City FC, Swim England, BBC Sport, FA Wales and many more!

Take a look at the Talk Sport website to see the full programme and to book your space.

LGBT+ Re-Meet and Greet

5 February, 6-.30 – 7pm, Online

We’re launching this with a Re-Meet & Greet, where you will find out what the Association is up to, how it functions, and most importantly, what we have planned for you during LGBT+ History Month!

More information can be found on the event page.

Got something for next week? Email digital@lboro.ac.uk

How Writing Workshops Have Lifted Lockdown

How Writing Workshops Have Lifted Lockdown

February 1, 2021 Centre for Mathematical Cognition
A top down view of a person using a laptop with a cat next to them

Written by Beth Woolacott. Beth is a third-year PhD student at the CMC at Loughborough University. Her research focuses on textbook design. If you are interested in this post and would like to get in touch, please email her directly at B.Woollacott@lboro.ac.uk

What is a writing workshop?

It was November 2019 when fellow PhD student, Theresa Wege, recommended Barbara Sarnecka’s book The Writing Workshop. I was initially dubious – at the time, I did not see writing as one of the biggest challenges of my PhD, and I could not imagine how a book could teach me more than the feedback from my supervisors and other mentors. But, fast-forward two weeks, and I was telling everyone to get a copy: Sarnecka’s book was (and still is) the best self-help book that I have read during my PhD.

Sarnecka’s book is an incredibly honest and eye-opening read into academic writing. I was so enthused that by the 5th of December, we had launched our own writing workshop. We meet weekly, for one hour, and the structure follows Sarnecka’s recommendation. We spend the first 15 minutes individually reporting both the struggles and successes of our week’s writing. This has become an integral factor in building our writing community, normalising failure, and sharing struggles that otherwise might provoke feelings of embarrassment or shame. This aspect of the workshop became even more important during the Covid-19 pandemic. This community certainly developed into an important support network for me during those initial weeks of UK Lockdown.

In the next fifteen minutes, we discuss an article, report, or blog post about academic writing. We started with posts from Sarnecka’s blog or book then moved on to other writing-related skills, such as data visualisation or journal articles reviews. The most important part of this discussion is the conversation it provokes; members do not need to have read the articles to join in with the conversation. The workshop is not meant to add another task onto everyone’s already overflowing to-do lists.

In the spirit of tackling to-do lists, the final half an hour is dedicated to writing so that we all sit and write together in an encouraging silence. Of course, everyone can stay and write for longer but an hour workshop is minimal enough to feel like an acceptable use of time in a busy day of meetings.

Our collective wisdom: what have we learned so far?

In a recent meeting, we discussed the writing advice we find most helpful. The following is a summary of that advice.

  • “Start with your passion!” − a great reminder that our projects (hopefully) inspired us at some point; writing down why a project is interesting and important can be a great starting point when motivation is low.
  • Lack of productivity does not equal failure − during this year, everyone experienced their first pandemic, and most of us agreed that it made writing hard. But even in ‘normal’ circumstances, everyone can be unproductive at times. That doesn’t make us lazy and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up.
  • “Just write!” Some of us find value in writing down rough thoughts and ideas so there is something on the page. Then, when the time comes to write-up, we have a starting point.
  • Papers don’t have to be written in the order they are presented. Some members write the results first and find it helps to structure their argument. Others suggested saving the nitty-gritty bits for ‘good concentration days’ and writing the easier bits on more difficult days.
  • Avoid passive voice! We agree with Sarnecka that using active voice makes writing a lot clearer for the reader and limits the need for complicated words (such as nominalisations).
  • Think clearly ⇔ write clearly. Writing can be challenging because it requires us to organise our thoughts and ensure there are no gaps in our argument. Sometimes, the difficulty is not necessarily the writing, it is ensuring that our arguments are coherent and logical. Writing can improve arguments by highlighting gaps or inconsistencies that need more work. The very act of formulating thoughts on paper will help the thinking process. So, not only does coherent thinking lead to more coherent writing, trying to write clearly should help strengthen arguments.
  • Limit connectives between sentences. Not only does this reduce sentence length and word counts but it encourages us to think about how sentences connect. Making the argument clearer, so that sentences follow on from each other, can make words like “however” or “indeed” redundant.
  • Early feedback is important; feedback on outlines and rough drafts can prevent us from spending hours writing unnecessary details, which will later be culled. It is easy to become emotionally attached to work, so early feedback is easier to accept if it doesn’t mean deleting a favourite sentence or rewriting an entire section. Viewing feedback as constructive, rather than insulting, can be difficult, but it is important to remember and adopt this mindset.
  • Finally, writing does get easier and you do get better – through practice, reflection, and discussion, a lot of us commented that writing feels easier than it used to and our writing is clearer and more coherent.

To finish, I’d like to share some reflections from the workshop members on the writing workshop’s first year. Most members agreed that the workshops have engendered a sense of community: not only is there an encouraging atmosphere, but we can benefit from the spectrum of experiences in the department (from PhD students to experienced academics). We all share ideas, tips, books, and advice. But, importantly, the discussions encourage all experience-levels to progress and improve their writing.

For some, the supportive environment, and honest reflections of others, has helped address feelings of imposter syndrome. “I couldn’t do much writing this week” is met with encouragement and support. Even the more experienced academics have admitted that they struggle with motivation and inspiration sometimes. Importantly, by sharing our failures and difficulties, the community can recommend strategies to overcome these barriers.

I have thoroughly enjoyed our first year in the writing workshop and I look forward to continuing it into the new academic year. I believe that the support, commitment, and humility of all the members has been its secret to success.

References of materials discussed this year

Ahmad, A. S. (2020, March 26). Why you should ignore all that Coronavirus- inspired productivity pressure. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from www.chronicle.com/article/why-you-should-ignore-all- that-coronavirus-inspired-productivity-pressure/

Guinness, H. (2020, April 07). How to edit your own writing. The New York Times. Retrieved from www.nytimes.com/2020/04/07/smarter-living/how-to-edit-your-own-writing.html

Hotaling, S. (2020). Simple rules for concise scientific writing. Limnology and Oceanography Letters, 5, 379-83.

Sarnecka, B. W. (2019). The writing workshop: Write more, write better, be happier in academia. (n.p.): Author.

Sarnecka, B. W. Sarnecka Lab Blog. Retrieved from https://sarneckala b.blogspot.com/

Wagenmakers, E. J. (2009). Teaching graduate students how to write clearly. APS Observer, 22(4), 1-7.

Research Spotlight: IMCI

Research Spotlight: IMCI

January 28, 2021 Ella Cusack

Welcome to our research spotlight! In this blog, we will be focussing on our interdisciplinary project entitled Overcoming Stigma through Paralympic Sport.

This research project is led by the Institute for Media and Creative Industries together with the Institute for Design Innovation and the Institute for Sport Business as part of a £1.8million project which will build upon lessons learned from the London 2012 Paralympic Games and be conducted over a four years (2020 – 2024).

This unique research project looks at how representation, education and communication in Paralympic sport can break down barriers to stigma, supporting access and adoption of assistive technology. This project adopts a four-pillar approach focussing on education, athlete development Paralympic broadcasting and cross-cutting research covering activities in Ghana, Malawi, and Zambia. This project aims to increase assistive technology adoption across Africa and hopes to enhance opportunities, education, and communication of Paralympic values and Paralympic sport.

The stigma around disability is thought to lead to both exclusion and poor standards of living for disabled people. The lack of education surrounding disability and impairment consequently creates a barrier to assistive technology adoption. This research project will tackle stigma and discrimination by educating and increasing the understanding of the Paralympic Values and Paralympic sport across Africa, to increase assistive technology adoption.

Loughborough University London is leading this international, interdisciplinary and impactful 4-year project in collaboration with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the University of Malawi.

To find out more about this project, please visit our website.


You can find information regarding the research opportunities at Loughborough University London on our website.

To find out more about our seven institutes, please visit our website.

Image credit: Amos Gumulira / Agitos Foundation.

Adopting a new way of thinking for 2021

Adopting a new way of thinking for 2021

January 28, 2021 Sadie Gration

For many of us, January can feel like a challenging time of year – payday can feel so far away, the weather outside is cold and dark, and with the added impact of being in a national lockdown, our mental health is also significantly affected.

In this blog post, the University’s Chaplain for Brahma Kumaris and Sikh communities, and Positive Thinking Course facilitator Natalie Steel explains how we can change the way we think to feel more positive about ourselves and our lives.

Positive thinking is about having a good look at yourself, because the most important person in your life is YOU.

Let us use our mind and thoughts in a positive way; we have thousands of thoughts arising in the mind every day. If you were to consider your mind to be your best friend, how would you treat it?  

Sometimes we try to suppress or battle with our thoughts. However, if we cultivate a friendship with our mind, then it will co-operate with us and create thoughts that are positive and beneficial. We can do this through developing positive self-talk, and learn to love, accept and appreciate our mind, and ourselves.   

How we think impacts the way we feel, our words and our behaviour. The first step is to become more aware of what is going on in our own minds.

We can change the way we think and how we are triggered by external factors such as people, possessions and circumstances.

For example, I may say: “It’s raining today, I feel miserable.”

I am actually feeling miserable due to the thoughts I am creating about the weather. Instead, let’s change it to: “It’s raining, so let me look at changing my plans today – no problem.”

I am not generating a negative thought and therefore there’s no low feeling. We need to be cautious because if I do not change my pattern of thinking, I will start to develop a habit of blaming external factors for the way I am feeling. This will block me in looking at myself and taking responsibility for my own thoughts, words and actions. 

Thoughts are like seeds and will grow in my mind – are you planting seeds of positivity or seeds of negativity?

There are four types of thoughts: ordinary, waste, negative and positive. Thoughts are energy. Using positive thoughts will affect your mind, your body, your relationships and the atmosphere around you.

Positive thoughts create good energy and uplift yourself and others around you. Positive thoughts give rise to feeling motivated, enthusiastic and will renew your energy levels too.

Take another example. You might live with someone who is quite messy and often think or say to yourself “Why can’t they just put things back in the right place?”.

If you say this with irritation or anger and follow it with more comments – you not only upset yourself, but others around you too. You may find what you’re looking for but in the process, you have distressed yourself and others which may require an apology later on. Often, feelings of guilt come from our own negative reaction to a situation.

Negativity has no place in my mind – keep having this determined thought. Replace anger with peace.

I am peaceful. I am calm. I am relaxed.

I keep bringing these thoughts into my mind. Thoughts create feelings. I start to feel good because I am generating good thoughts. 

We can change the way we think by a technique known as SOS – Stand back, Observe, Steer:  

  1. Stand back – Create a space for yourself. Stand back from your mind and from the influence of your thoughts.  
  2. Observe – Without judgement, watch and see how you are thinking. Watch your attitude, your perception, and your beliefs.  
  3.  Steer – Gently, not with force, direct your thoughts in a positive way. Create thoughts that will bring benefit to yourself and others.  

When I implement this, I become emotionally free as I realise ‘my happiness’ is up to me to create from within. I start to manage my mind and the level of happiness I would like in my life. I am no longer waiting for others to make me feel good (otherwise, I could be waiting a long time!).

I have a choice about how I think – so today I choose to observe my mind and be more self-aware. I am a positive person, I can change.

I encourage you to change your own thoughts to enable you to think, feel and behave more positively to yourself and to those around you. 

“Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”  – Frank Outlaw 

Why you should sign up to the Monday Mentoring Programme?

January 27, 2021 Ella Cusack

Do you want to learn more about the Monday Mentoring programme? In this blog, current student Maria discusses her experience of the programme so far.


When I started Monday Mentoring in October, I didn’t know what I was expecting from myself, let alone from the sessions. I lacked excitement in my current role and any sense of direction in terms of what my goals were. Lost as I were, my answer to “What are you looking to achieve from the Mentoring Programme?” was plainly: “a friend”. Weeks have gone by and my mentor-slash-now-friend has helped me put my priorities in order and… wait for it… secure my dream job! Now that I got your attention, let me tell you more about Monday Mentoring. And why you should care about it.

What is Monday Mentoring?

Monday Mentoring is a new project initiated by the Future Space team whereby students are allocated to mentoring groups. There are about 2-3 mentees per mentor, who is usually an experienced professional willing to lend a helping hand to lost students like my old self. Mentoring sessions take place every Monday for one hour for six consecutive weeks. The sessions are quite relaxed and we are generally talking about our situation, concerns, and aspirations, while getting to know the people in our groups as well. Considering the social deprivation that we have all suffered from this year, simply talking to someone for one full hour is rewarding in itself.

However, mentoring goes deeper in the sense that we aim to set short- and long-term goals, share experiences and advice that might help others, and it is a great opportunity for mutual learning and development. One thing I particularly enjoyed was being able to see the progress fellow mentees have made throughout the programme. By the end of the six weeks, we all got a much better understanding of what we need to do to achieve our goals and slowly get to that state where we can say ‘I’ve made it!’.

Can I say ‘I’ve made it’ now?

Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, I’m only at the beginning of the journey. But am I in a much better position than I was pre-mentoring? Definitely yes! Not only has the programme helped me clear my mind and establish my goals, but it has importantly encouraged me to act on the now, rather than wait for ‘the right moment’. After deciding what my professional dreams were, I immediate took action and, as a result, I managed to get a job offer in a role that makes me very excited. My mentor, Sam Murphy, supported me throughout the application process and he even took time off his day to listen to my final interview presentation. When I finally got the offer, he sounded as excited about it as I was which leads me to believe that it has been a project we worked on together, as a team. I am very grateful to have had Sam by my side not only as a mentor, but as a friend.

Anyway, enough sentimentalisms for now, I do hope that I got you curious about the Monday Mentoring Programme. If so, I urge you to sign up to the second semester intake of mentees. It is entirely free and you can only gain from it.

You can sign up for the Monday Mentoring programme for February 2021 here.


Thank you to Maria for taking the time to write this blog and share her experience of the Monday Mentoring programme.

Reflecting on our PhD Community

Reflecting on our PhD Community

January 25, 2021 Ella Cusack

Loughborough University London’s prestigious PhD community are rapidly becoming trailblazers in their respective sectors. Despite the challenges faced in 2020, our students have continued to provide thought provoking-ideas and creative pieces of work. In this blog, we are sharing are some of our students recent publishing success, findings and awards gained in 2020.


Anna Ferello

Institute for Sport Business

Anna received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Portland, Oregon, in Psychology and Spanish. She then went on to study Sport and Exercise Psychology at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. At Ball State Anna assisted Dr Lindsey Blom with research projects in Positive Youth Development and Sport for Development and Peace, which ultimately inspired her to continue doing research in these domains.

Anna is currently a PhD researcher studying Sport for Development and Peace in the Institute for Sport Business. Anna has recently been published, with the following articles:

  • Sport for social change: An action-oriented peace education curriculum. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology.

Auri Evokari

Institute for Design Innovation

Auri is a Doctoral Researcher with the Institute for Design Innovation. After working in Entrepreneurship Support in both her home country of Finland and in Southern Africa, she is driven to enable early-stage technology start-up entrepreneurship through her research.

Auri is the recipient of a grant for full-time studies from the Finnish Foundation for Economic Education and has also recently received and additional travel grant from Finland.

Britta Boyer

Institute for Design Innovation

Britta holds an MA in Sustainable Design from University of Brighton. Britta’s MA produced a body of work which explored the intersections of design and geographical sciences through qualitative ethnographic research and visual methods. This challenged design into new ways and looked into both western and non-western-centric viewpoints.

Britta recently co authored a two new publishing’s:

  • “Pivot 2020: Designing a World of Many Centers. Britta’s section focussed on the initiatives and socio-technical tools for the pluriverse. Britta’s participatory action research facilitates storytelling through an intimate entanglement making this a very engaging read.
  • ‘Breathful’ design in breathless times. Strategic Design Research Journal. 2021.

Britta has also recently became a recipient of the Design Research Society Bursary Scheme.

Hussa Khalid Al Khalifia

Institute for Sport Business

Hussa is a Doctoral Researcher within our Institute for Sport Business. Hussa has already made ground-breaking achievements in her home country Bahrain and has even helped establish the Bahrain National football team and women’s league.

Since then, Hussa was appointed as the first woman to hold a seat on the board of the Union of Arab Football Associations and the first woman to be elected to the Bahrain Football Association Board of Directors. Hussa is also currently on the Board of National Olympic Committee

Hussa K. Al Khalifa recently co authored: The soft power of Arab women’s football: changing perceptions and building legitimacy through social media, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics.

Ian Hill

Institute for International Management

Ian studies within the Institute for International Management and his research is concerned with the contradictions managers face in regard to the work organisation of software development. His research looks at the qualitative comparison between tech co-ops and more traditionally owned tech organisation, using participant observation and semi structured interviews as methods. Ian is interested in concepts such as hierarchy, control, autonomy and empowerment. He is looking to explain variations between co-ops and non co-ops in relation to the aforementioned concepts.

Ian recently published a book review which was added to The Industrial and Labor Relations Review. The book is entitled ‘Coerced: Work Under the Threat of Punishment‘, by Erin Hatton. This peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary research advances new theories, presents novel empirical work, and informs organizational and public policy on the world of work and employment.

Ian has also been awarded a Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA), demonstrating a personal and institutional commitment to professionalism in learning and teaching in higher education.

Sui Liu

Institute for Digital Technologies

Before studying Digital Creative Media MA, Sui gathered work experience at a TV Station. Since joining Loughborough London, Sui has been awarded the Delegates’ Choice award of the Poster Competition in 2019 Loughborough University Annual Research Conference and the Delegates’ Choice award of the 3 Minute Theses Competition in 2020 Loughborough University Summer Showcase exampling her consistent creativity skills.


You can find out more about our Doctoral Researchers on our website.

You can find out more about our PhD research opportunities here. If you are interested in applying for our PhD opportunities, you can visit the ‘How to apply‘ page on our website.

What are you having?

What are you having?

January 25, 2021 David Wilson

It’s the question we ask, almost without thinking, when someone shares the exciting news that they’re expecting a baby. But why do we ask? And is it a good question?

Why do we want to know the sex of the baby?

You could certainly argue that we ask because it’s one of the few things we can know about a brand new human.  So much is yet to be discovered, and will unveil itself slowly over years to come.  But does the sex matter?

It certainly used to.  While progress has been made towards gender equality we still live in a patriarchal society where men have more status and power than women.  In this patriarchal tradition a boy was seen as a blessing to a family, someone who will continue the family line.  A girl, well, an expense, better luck next time. 

Jen Brister presenting her TED talk

Comedian Jen Brister, in her 2019 TED Talk, discusses a situation in which a woman bursts with excitement about how much better it is to have boys, in front of her own daughter. These attitudes are deep rooted and have not yet left us.

But what’s the harm?

The latest pregnancy craze to sweep the world is the “Gender Reveal” party.  At these parties the expectant parents reveal the sex of their baby to their family and friends often by revealing a blue or pink cake, or setting off blue or pink fireworks or glitter bombs.  Some parents find out the sex themselves this way, the information having been provided by the doctor to the baker.

A few of these parties have drawn media attention for extreme results such as starting huge wildfires in California, Florida and Arizona, leading to deaths and vast destruction of property.  But while these examples are eye-catching they can also serve to distract from the real harm of this trend: reinforcing old fashioned ideas about sex and gender being binary (having one of two values) and, more damagingly, that our sex is our defining feature. An out-dated worldview where every boy is Action Man and a future CEO, and every girl a princess and future secretary. 

Pink and blue cakes are often the tips of very large stereotype icebergs.  Blue means sports gear or cars, and pink means dresses or ballet shoes.  Before the baby is born we’re starting to limit how we perceive them, and the interests we will expect them to follow.  These stereotypes are a big part of what maintains the patriarchal structure by separating men and women and telling us they’re fundamentally different.  Boys are strong and born to lead.  Girls are delicate, and born to please. 

In the BBC Documentary “No more boys and girls” an experiment showed how easily we fall into treating babies differently based on their perceived gender.  Over time this cumulative behaviour fundamentally defines a child’s sense of who they are and what we expect of them.

Baby Edward is dressed in so called girls clothes

Before the baby is even born a lot of decisions will be based on their sex (i.e. their genitals).  The colour the nursery will be painted, the clothes and toys friends and family will buy.  The strict gendering of items aimed at children has led to campaigns such as Let Toys Be Toys which promotes the simple idea of making all toys available to all children.

Ros Ball and James Miller documented the ways in which the world treated their son and daughter differently from their first days on Twitter and in their book The Gender Agenda, so struck were they about the cummulative power all these tiny messages had over their children.

8 year old Daisy Edmonds explains to her mum what is wrong with the gendered clothes they find in Tesco

Supermarkets and clothing brands have been widely criticised for producing sexist clothes saying things like boys have “big ideas” and girls have “big smiles”.  Even 8 year old Daisy Edmonds can see this trend is ridiculous and diminishes her autonomy and her potential.

The satirical “Man Who Has It All” exposes how ridiculous gender stereotyping is by applying the messages usually targetted at women to men instead. Statements and assumptions we’re used to, and so blind to, are brought into stark clarity.

The genitals, and thus the sex, of a baby tell us little if anything about the person, and as Arwa Mahdawi writes in the Guardian “throwing a party to tell the world what kind of genitals your kid has is a deeply weird thing to do”. If we don’t believe in the stereotypes then why do the genitals (i.e. the sex) matter any more than blood type or hair colour?

What if we’re wrong?

We should also consider that the guess we make about genitals could be entirely wrong.  Between 1 and 2 percent of people are intersex. People who are intersex are born with bodies which cannot be readily categorised as male or female.   The existence of intersex people alone tells us that sex and gender are not binary, i.e. that there are more than 2 options, and this has been backed up by science for years.  A blurry ultrasound image can easily miss subtle differences and a sex may be wrongly assumed based on an overly-simplistic “penis or not” view of sex.

Even if the baby appears to have the expected physiology for a boy or girl they may not identify that way when they begin to form and understand their gender identity.  Being pushed into unnecessary and rigid stereotypes can make life even more difficult for people who are transgender, those whose gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth.

But I want to show an interest!

It’s normal to want to take an interest when someone we know is pregnant. It’s great! It’s an exciting thing and we want to share in that excitement and maybe help and support that person.

Thankfully there are some great suggestions out there for things to say or ask that don’t involve genitals.  Kelly Holmes suggests 5 questions such as “What do you need help with” and “Can I bring you a meal when the baby’s born?”.  While Vivian Owen’s suggestions include “What can I take off your plate?” and “Can I babysit for you?”.  Being a parent is hard work. These questions might be just what your friend wants to hear.

And remember if you want to talk about someone’s baby without centering the sex you can use gender-neutral language:

“I can’t wait to meet them!”
“They’re going to be so loved!”
“What’s their due date?”

Further reading

If you’d like to learn more about gender stereotyping, we recommend the following accessible resources, as well as those linked in the article.

Cover image of the Gender Agenda book

The Gender Agenda by
Ros Ball and James Millar

Ros Ball and James Millar were struck by the difference in the way society treated their son and daughter and how from their earliest days their children were pushed and moulded in different directions by forces all around them.  This funny and accessible book documents their observations.

Review in New Statesman
Buy from Waterstones


The Gendered Brain by Gina Rippon

In this popular science book Gina Rippon explains in simple language the history of our attempts to justify sexist ideas by finding differences in the brains of men and women, in much the same way as we tried to prove the superiority of white people,  and takes us through the latest science which is proving that a brain is a brain.

Review in Nature
Buy from Waterstones

Cover of The Gendered Brain book
Cover of the How Not To Be A Boy book

How Not To Be A Boy by Robert Webb

In his characteristically funny autobiography, comedian Robert Webb considers the ways in which expectations of masculinity and manhood plagued him from school sports to the low expectations we have of fathers and how these attitudes harm all of us, whatever our gender.

Review in The Guardian
Robert Webb in conversation on the book
Buy from Waterstones

Cover photo by freestocks on Unsplash

This Week at Loughborough | 25 January

January 25, 2021 Alex Stephens

Happy Mondays: Decorate Your Own Tote Bag

25 January, 7pm, Online

Show off your artistic side and decorate your very own tote bag!

With the powers of fabric paint, stencils and creativity, decorate your bag however you please and end up with a final product that is both useful and stylish!

This workshop will take place online via Microsoft teams. Details on how to join the session will be sent via email to everyone who books. More information can be found on the event page.

MyLifestyle Presents Virtual Zumba

25 January, 7 – 7.45pm, Online

Zumba is described as pretty much the most awesome workout ever. Dance to great music, with great people, and burn a ton of calories without even realizing it.

More information can be found on the MyLifestyle Facebook page.

Book Club: Jodi Picoult – Small Great Things

26 January, 12.30 – 1.30pm, Online

Join LU Arts’ regular Book Club for an online discussion of Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things.

The best books make you see differently. This is one of them. The eye-opening novel from Jodi Picoult, with the biggest of themes: birth, death, and responsibility.

More information can be found on the event page.

Virtual Staying Focussed Meditation

26th January, 1 – 1.30pm, Online

Take a 15 minute break and join Natalie at LSU’s virtual staying focused meditation. Natalie will guide you through this meditation aimed at helping you relax while increasing your focus. 

More information can be found on the event page.

Holocaust Memorial Day

Holocaust Memorial Day title - picture of the fountain and Hazlerigg at Night lit up with purple lights
27 January, Various Times, Online

This year, expect compelling and thought-provoking lectures, creative and collaborative workshops, as well as a memorial service to remember those who were killed. All of the events are open to staff and students at the University, and members of the general public are also welcome to attend the sessions which will take place via MS Teams.

The full programme is as follows:

Energy Retrofit: BERG Seminar 3

27 January, 2 – 3pm, Online

Energy retrofit is the theme for the third BERG (Building Energy Research Group) Seminar of the academic year 2020/2021.

Retrofitting existing buildings to reduce energy demand is one of the biggest challenges faced by the UK in seeking to meet greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. In this seminar, we bring together a range of perspectives on this complex issue.

Booking information is available on the event page.

Time, Disaster and Decision-making: IAS Time Theme Workshop

27 January, 2 – 5pm, Online

This workshop is a virtual forum bringing three IAS Visiting Fellows into a ‘trialogue’ on the role that time plays in the modern ‘risk society’. Both disasters and the response to them unfold in time, and the speed (or, in other words, the shortening of time) with which the response can be formulated and implemented can make a critical difference.

Booking information is available on the event page.

Plagiarism, Essay Mills and Contract Cheating: A Panel Discussion

27 January, 6 – 7pm, Online

Our LSU Welfare and Diversity Executive Officer Alex, will be leading this virtual panel discussion on Plagiarism, Essay Mills and Contract Cheating. Join in to learn more about these issues facing students during exam and assessment periods. 

More information can be found on the event page.

MyLifestyle Presents Virtual Yoga

28 January, 5 – 6pm, Online

Need a break from revision? Join amazing instructor Elaine for a virtual yoga session, a perfect way to relax during lockdown!

More information can be found on the MyLifestyle Facebook page.

Virtual Yoga

30 January, 2 – 3pm, Online

Join Yogi Laura for a Saturday afternoon virtual Yoga session. Take a break studying and relax as you focus on your body movements and breathing. 

Trust us, you’ll feel better for doing it!

More information is available on the event page.

Self-care Sundays: The Art of Journaling

31 January, 4 – 5pm, Online

Delve into journaling as a form of creative expression.

Student Yasmin Nwofor will help you explore the various ways you can journal as well as giving useful journaling prompts to kick-start your practice.

This event will be live streamed to the LU Arts Facebook page. More information can be found on the event page.

Got something for next week? Email digital@lboro.ac.uk

Getting ready for the Collaborative Project 2021

Getting ready for the Collaborative Project 2021

January 22, 2021 Ella Cusack

In this blog, we will take you through the important next steps for students who will be undertaking the Collaborative Project in Semester 2.

What is the Collaborative Project?

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.

The goal of this module is for you to learn about collaboration, innovation and reflective practise while providing an experience of being able work on a live project with an external organisation. It is challenging but can be very rewarding!

To help provide a flavour, here’s a video from a previous CP alongside some further thoughts and tips from students on last year’s CP here.  Additionally, if you were unable to attend the ‘Welcome to Collaborate’ event on 1st December 2020, please find a recording from the event here.

What are my next steps?

The Collaborative Project briefs are now ready and available for you to view and submit your preference here. Please take time to read through all the brief/s that are available to you in your Institute, before making a selection before the deadline of 31st January 5pm UTC.

Project allocations are made by our automated system and we have limited capacity for each project. While the system will try to best satisfy all preferences as best as possible, we cannot guarantee your first choice. Your project allocation will be confirmed before your first CP session with your academic Project Lead.  Please note, no further information is available at this stage on the briefs and as such LU LDN staff or Partner Organisations are unable to take questions to this end before the start of the module.

Once you have made your brief selection preferences, you will also be randomly allocated into teams. Just like in the working world, this will enable you to work with new people with diverse backgrounds. In this context you will learn about team-building and how to work in collaborative innovation teams. While your project work is very practical and ‘hands on’, you will also lean about theories of innovation and team working. 

For many of you, working in such project teams and with an external organisation may be a new experience. We encourage you to enter this module with an open mind, ready to apply yourself in new domains and environments to support your learning and personal development and ultimately as many students from previous years have found, your employability.  Indeed, your experience from the CP can provide you with a unique selling point as you take your next step after LU. LDN, so we encourage you to make the most out of this opportunity.

Finally, our academic Module Lead Dr Thor Roser, will be hosting an Introduction to Collaborative Project session on 10th February in advance of your first class session with your personal academic Project Lead on 17th February, who will then continue lead a virtual classroom session each Wednesday at the same time for the rest of the semester.

Please note, in accordance with UK Government Covid-19 guidelines, all sessions will be hosted online until further notice and irrespective of future changes, there will be no requirement to enter premises of external Partner Organisations to complete this module. If this guidance changes we will notify you. 

In summary…

Please find below a summary of important actions and items below:

ItemDate
Review & Select brief preference31st January 5pm UTC
Introduction to Collaborative Project10th February (time available on timetable soon)
First class session with academic Project Lead17th February (time available before session)

We look forward to welcoming you onto Collaborative Project 2021 soon! 


To find out more about the Collaborative Project module, please visit our website.

Why do we need graphic design?

Why do we need graphic design?

January 22, 2021 LU Arts

By Sofiia Suvorova

Hi all! My name is Sofiia and I’m a first year Visual Communication & Illustration student. I’m quite passionate about everything culture and graphics – related and enjoy broadening my knowledge in these areas.  Recently, my course’s lectures and reading have contributed a lot into changing my views on Graphic Design, its professional perspectives and possibilities. After researching into the topic further, I came up with interesting conclusions that I’d like to share with you!

To understand Graphic Design deeper, I researched the phenomena of Communications itself, as visual communication is a subdivision, a form of it. So this feature talks about historical background of Visual Communication, highlights key events of its evolution, and underlines its importance in the modern world.

So, to start, lets define what Communication is. Communication is deeply rooted into humans’ nature. From Latin communicate, means “to share”.  As social species, we stick to groups, exchange information, share our skills to survive. “Communication is the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium”( Oxford languages dictionary). Yes, to understand each other we gest, speak and write using a language . Words and images is what Graphic Design is about. Graphic Design is a merge of Illustration, Photography, Typography and Iconography and can also be a synonym to the term Visual Language.

To gain today’s form and meaning, Graphic Design came through many stages of development. Starting with the invention of writing and first cave drawings, ending with “The Digital Revolution” (Meggs, 1998). An American graphic designer, professor Phillip B. Meggs said: “Often new developments are shaped by technology”, which is evidently true. The key historical events that were focal points of Graphic Design’s evolution were the invention of Alphabets, birth of printing techniques, invention of photography and computer technologies. 

Nowadays, we’re excessively surrounded by visuals. Graphics seems to have taken over the world. ( Silka P, 2016 ). Advertisements, logos, patterns etc are everywhere.

But why? What caused such an active progression? As mentioned above, the rapid growth of technology was a key influence on evolution of Graphics. The global digitalization made all information move to digital format. Books, movies, games, newspapers, banks, galleries, museums – all in your computer. Almost everything can be done remotely through the internet. Therefore, graphic images and typography are applied to give instructions, to advertise, to make something look appealing, to communicate a certain idea etc.

Graphic images carry a function of decoration. They add some identity to a place and enhance the beauty of it. Imagine a café without any images on its walls. It might feel empty and the general design of the café would seem unfinished.

Technology has increased the pace of life, so that time has become the primary value of a 21st century human being. Graphic Design makes the communications more effective by compressing and conceptualizing information. It saves our time and makes the world function effectively. For example, when you’re buying a book, a prompt gaze at a cover gives you an overall impression of it, and briefly introduces you to a narrative, so that you can make your decision quickly. A tube transportation map shows us where we are and where to go next to arrive at the point we need. Red colour informs us about danger or prohibition of something, or simply says that the door is locked.

Graphic Design also plays an important role in the urban design, or what we call architecture, landscape architecture, civil engineering and city planning. (Harland, 2015) Have you ever reflected on how you are oriented in an environment? Now, with all the urban upgrades we do it automatically, as we’re used to specific graphic signs that direct us through any known and unknown place. They have become an organic part of an urban landscape and we can’t imagine our life without them. If you’re on a vacation trip, or in any new place you’ve never previously been before, you automatically rely on direction signs, street titles and numbers. Imagine if one day all the graphic signs disappear. There’d be no indication of a place, no behavioural instructions, no transports schemes and timetables!

Can you see Loughborough University without its logotype? No purple hoodies, no AU form, no reusable cups, no Learn and library websites’ interfaces! Many things would lose their identity and power. The absence of graphic signs would cause much confusion and the surroundings would seem dull and faceless.

Wherever you look, you’ll see an advert, a packaging or a brand. Graphic design is everywhere, and according to what is said above, I dare to say that the 21st century human being wouldn’t survive without it.

References:

Robert George Harland (2015) Graphic objects and their contribution to the inage of the city, Journal of Urban Design.
[Accessed : 07/12/20]

Meggs, Phillip B. (1998). A History of Graphic Design. 3d ed. USA.

Widewalls, (2016) How Do We Define Visual Language?
[Accessed: 08/12/20 ]


Hey, I’m Sofiia Suvorova . As you’ve just found out, I’m an international student. My home town is Kiev which is the capital of Ukraine. It’s quite exotic being Ukrainian in the UK, so I’m used to being bombarded with questions about what Ukraine is like. In brief, it’s a beautiful country with a great human potential, but it’s having rough times now. It’s my second year living in England and I’m absolutely in love with this country. I study graphic design and illustration and am passionate about literature , psychology and philosophy, that helps me to inform my art. I also enjoy meeting new people and discover the diversity of their views and talents!

Empathy and Schadenfreude in Sports: A fan's perspective

Empathy and Schadenfreude in Sports: A fan's perspective

January 22, 2021 Ella Cusack

In this blog, we share an article written by Peter Sear PhD. Peter is currently studying a PhD on Empathic Leadership in Sport Organisations, within our Institute for Sport Business. This article has been published by Psychology Today.


When it comes to sport on TV, what’s the next best thing to sharing in the experience of your own team’s victory? Whatever your sport, you probably prefer to watch your own team rather than any other. You may sit there on the edge of your sofa, with every cell in your body cheering them on to win. But do you ever tune in to watch a team you dislike hoping you’ll get to see them lose? Maybe your team’s biggest rival?

Schadenfreude, the pleasure derived in another’s misfortune, has been described as both the ultimate failure of empathy and empathy’s shadow, yet it actually relies on empathy.

Empathy does not insist on pity or a compassionate response. When we witness misfortune, we wince with pain before we laugh; because we became the other in the moment. Whilst being the other, we feel the pain, then rationalise to understand that, all considered, we are glad the other is experiencing it for real.

Although neuroscientists often refer to schadenfreude as an extremely complicated emotion, the process essentially involves the activation of the reward centre of our brain. Schadenfreude looks like pure joy as well as feeling like it. Context can exacerbate this. If the failure of another team increases the chances of success for your own team, your joy is enhanced.

You can read the full article here.


You can find out more about Peter and the research he is currently undertaking for his PhD, here.

To find out more about the Institute for Sport Business, please visit our website.

Incorporating mindfulness into your day

Incorporating mindfulness into your day

January 21, 2021 Sophie Dinnie
Second Year Psychology with Criminology student, Lauren Pearson, shares her student friendly approach to mindfulness.
Qualitative Research in Sport Management

Qualitative Research in Sport Management

January 21, 2021 Ella Cusack

In this blog, meet our three highly experienced and sagacious professors within the Institute for Sport Business who have developed a book analysing quantitative research methods in sports management, from analysing data to using digital tools and paradigms.

This book examines the reflective and interrogative processes required for developing effective qualitative research questions and includes a deeper discussion of ontology and epistemology in the light of today’s rapidly changing society. It takes the reader step-by-step through essential and emerging qualitative methods, from actor network theory and ethnography to computer-assisted data analysis and sampling typologies. Every chapter includes examples of real qualitative research, including shorter “research briefs” and extended case studies, reflecting the exciting qualitative research that is currently occurring in sport business and management, and highlighting the links between research and sport management practice.  

This is essential reading for courses in sport management, sport business, sport policy, sport marketing, sport media, and communications. It provides students, researchers, and practitioners with the knowledge and skills to undertake qualitative research while deepening their understanding of how the social world can be perceived and interpreted through a particular theoretical lens.

Meet the team

James Skinner

James Skinner is Associate Dean of Teaching and a Professor of Sport Business at Loughborough University London. James has published numerous books and journal articles on research methods and teaches research method courses to postgraduate students across the globe.

Allan Edwards

Allan Edwards has held numerous academic appointments within Australia and internationally. His most recent position before his retirement was as Reader in Sport Business at Loughborough University London. Allan has a passion for qualitative research, and this is reflected by his extensive use of qualitative methods in his research.

Aaron C.T. Smith

Aaron C.T. Smith is Professor of Sport Business at Loughborough University London. Aaron has published extensively in qualitative research methods and conducted research employing qualitative methodologies with organisations across the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, North America, and the Middle East.


To read more about their new book, please visit our website.

You can also find out more about our Institute for Sport Business on our website.

How to deal with cancelled exams and learning disruptions

How to deal with cancelled exams and learning disruptions

January 20, 2021 Guest Blogger

With so much uncertainty surrounding exams and assessments this summer, we know how difficult it must be to plan ahead to University. This unknown can throw us off track a little and our thoughts may naturally turn to the worst case scenario.

This time last year, some of our current fresher year students were faced with the exact same problems of lockdown, Centre Assessed Grades and a whole lot of disruption. A few of them who are now happily placed at Loughborough wanted to share their experiences with you, to help reassure you that no matter what obstacles are thrown at us next, things will work out well in the end. Let us start looking to the best case scenario – University is said to be one of the greatest times of your life, and you have all that just around the corner to look forward to. Hang in there and stay positive!

Emilia – International Business

Emilia

When I first found out that exams had been cancelled it was a very strange feeling. I suddenly had all this time on my hands which was normally filled up with revision. A hard thought for me to process was that I was no longer in control of my grades and had to put all my trust in my teachers. Though this made me very anxious at the time I had to think confidently.

I thought about all the hard work I had shown throughout my time at sixth form and how this had reflected in my mock grades and my UCAS predicted grades. So, when it came to results day I had to think positively and believe that my teachers had helped me get the grades I needed to get into Loughborough.

My best advice for current Year 13’s would be to try your best not to worry and now you don’t have exams spend your time doing stuff you enjoy that you may not have been able to do previously due to exams.

Ellie-Marie – Sport Science, Coaching and Physical Education

Ellie-Marie

I can vividly remember the moment I found out my A-level exams were going to be cancelled. I had just got home from college, unaware that it was going to be my last day there as a student. I felt that we were being refused the opportunity to show our true potential, to show the effect of hours upon hours of revision and hard work, but then centre assessed grades were mentioned.

I hadn’t performed too badly in my mocks, but I knew that those grades would not get me into Loughborough University, or my insurance choice. I took 2 A-levels and a 90-credit Diploma, meaning that I could work out the grade of my diploma as it was 100% coursework based. But I couldn’t say the same for my A-level subjects. My in-class assessments varied drastically, all the way from a D to an A*, so I had no idea how my teachers would classify me and my ability. My success was no longer in my hands, but at the hands of my teachers – and the government. I remember seeing social media messages and rumours about how the area you live in and the past success of your school could affect your grades, a ‘postcode lottery’. As I went to a college, rather than a sixth form, in an area classified as ‘deprived’, I really was preparing for the worst on results day.

Results day was one of the best yet most stressful days of my life. UCAS crashed, my results arrived late by email and I even had to wait till the next day to confirm that I had been accepted into Loughborough, as I had not received my official grade or documentation from my diploma course (as they were being sent out by post instead). I already met my offer with my initial grades, but after receiving my centre assessed grades, they were even higher! It wasn’t until I received that famous golden ticket through my door that it hit me .. I was going to be going to Loughborough University!

Lilly – Sport and Exercise Science

Lilly

I remember the day that it was announced on the news that exams where cancelled. And I can honestly say that I think I felt every emotion possible within those first 5 minutes of the announcement. At first I felt relief as there had been speculation for some time about whether exams would be cancelled. I then felt elated that I wouldn’t have to endure a stressful exam period. But then I began to cry knowing that I had put two years’ worth of hard work into what felt like nothing at that point. It was quite overwhelming, so if you are feeling this way please don’t worry you are not alone.

When it came to my A levels being centre assessed I did feel slightly anxious. In one subject I had only just began to start producing work at an A grade which I required to get into Loughborough (my first choice), it was notable that my teacher was on the fence what grade to ultimately give me and this made me anxious. In another subject I had been producing work of an A grade since the start of the course but had flunked my mock exam, my teacher had reassured me that all evidence of my work would be considered but self-doubt definitely kicked in in regard to whether I had done enough. And in my final A level I had proved my capabilities over and over again so realistically I had nothing to worry about and I had no doubt my teachers would give me the grade I deserved. However, I feared that the standardisation process by the exam boards would lower my grade.

In the time between the announcement and results day I was lucky enough to speak to Loughborough on two occasions, they were excellent at reassuring me and answering any questions I had about results day and joining the Loughborough community.

Five nerve racking months later I found out that I got into Loughborough! It didn’t quite sink in at first and I also got the grades I had hoped for which even exceeded the grades I required for my course.

Based upon my own experiences I have prepared some advice that I hope can help guide you through the months until you start university.

Firstly, you must think of the positives! Exams are very stressful. With them cancelled that is a big weight of your shoulders.

Have a little celebration! You may not know the outcome of your results now or what university you will be off to but remember all the effort you put into your studies. Give yourself that reward for the work you put in.
Think of a plan! You might feel like with exams cancelled that your future is out of your control. But by coming up with a plan A B and C you will feel like you are the one in control. Make sure you are comfortable with your first and insurance choice. You guys are lucky in the sense that you may not have responded to your offers yet, therefore spend some time to rationally evaluate your capabilities and what you were mostly likely to achieve had you taken the exam. This will help to ensure that you meet the entry requirements on results day and avoid disappointment. However, don’t let self-doubt get in the way of your goals, if you have been dreaming of a university, then go for it!

Eddie – Product Design and Technology

Eddie

There were mixed reactions at my sixth form college when we were told that our 2020 A-level exams were going to be cancelled, but like most people, I was mainly relieved. Remote working had worked well at my college, but I still wasn’t looking forward to having to prepare for my exams during lockdown, especially since we wouldn’t be able to have any in-person lessons.

A lot of us were worried because we hadn’t achieved very good grades in our mock exams, and we were concerned that the college would just give us our mock results as our centre-assessed grades. However, this isn’t something that I would suggest worrying about because, like most schools and colleges, my college took all of our work into account and used it to give us the grades they thought that we would be capable of achieving in a final A-level exam.

On results day, I decided to look at my exam results before looking at my offers from universities. I would not recommend doing this. As you can probably remember, the 2020 A-level exam results were adjusted in a way that caused lots of controversy. Although I was happy with some of my results, I was extremely disappointed with the one I cared most about (Design & Technology). I found this very frustrating, because I knew from conversations with my teacher and the amount of effort that I had put in that I deserved a higher grade than this.

I received an email from my college telling me that I could contact the college’s data controller, who could tell me my centre-assessed grades. I am very happy that I did this. It turned out that the college had submitted a grade three levels higher than the one that I had been awarded- it had just been adjusted. If the government had gone ahead with the adjusted grades and I hadn’t asked to see this information, I never would have known what grade my teachers had submitted for me.

When I checked UCAS, I noticed that I had been given an offer from Loughborough University (my first choice), even though I had missed the entry requirements by one grade! I wish I had checked this first, because then I would not have been so bothered by the grades that I had been awarded.

Luckily for me, the adjusted grades were never used and I’m very happy with my A-level results. I’m now studying Design & Technology at Loughborough University, and I’m having a great time. So even though results day didn’t go exactly how I was expecting it to, things have worked out fantastically.

Jemima – English with Digital Humanities

Jemima holding her 'Golden Ticket'

Having my Post-16 education finish on a random day in March was not what I expected for my final year in sixth form. I was very much prepared for taking my exams in a big hall and putting in my all for that last push but that is not what happened at all.

With the announcement of my A-Levels being cancelled, I was filled with anxiety which I believe is a similar feeling for this year’s cohort as well. Grades were a big uncertainty that were not discussed at that point so naturally many students were worried about uni places. I will say that universities did a great job in communicating with their prospective students in how they were handling the situation and made clear the measures taken to make sure everyone gets a fair chance.

Like everyone, results day was a mixed bag, I was downgraded in one of my subjects which meant that I didn’t meet the terms of my conditional offer for Loughborough.

Thankfully, I secured a place here and couldn’t be happier however I know this was not the case for many who had to retake exams or take a gap year after the U-turn.

My advice to prospective students who have been impacted by the pandemic is to take it easy. Though this is a time of great uncertainty the constant worrying will only impact you negatively. Try to not get too stressed out by it all and take it in good stead.

UK Leaping into the Artificial Intelligence Frontier

UK Leaping into the Artificial Intelligence Frontier

January 20, 2021 Ella Cusack

In this blog, Loughborough University London graduate Tomhas discusses the decision for the UK to increase its spending on cyber security defence and the use of Artificial Intelligence. Tomhas studied within the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance and graduated in 2019.


Despite news cycles being dominated by Covid-19 and Brexit, the UK Government’s delayed ‘Integrated Review’ of the country’s foreign, security and defence policies have already made one major headline: the decision to substantially increase UK defence spending by £16 billion.

Part of that increase will boost the technological resilience of the UK’s post-Brexit defence, security and foreign policies. In addition to the introduction of the RAF’s Space Command, expanded research into energy weapons, and further development of cyber security capabilities, the Ministry of Defence will become the home of a department dedicated to Artificial Intelligence (AI). The focus of this institute will be the research and application of AI into Defence and Security purposes. It points to how the UK expects its security and diplomacy to have to increasingly face an AI and cyber-orientated frontier. 

While we should not start worrying about jack-booted death machines conquering the UK, we are reaching a time when AI will unleash global as well as local transformations in not only defence and security affairs, but in everything else from foreign to social policy. The AI dimension to the Integrated Review therefore warrants careful reading because of what it could mean for the UK’s security at home and abroad.

AI, The Future in the Present

While AI presents many exciting opportunities, a central part of any Integrated Review is to assess the risks and the risks from AI go beyond anything any traditional military and security assessments grapple with. As a relatively new development, the uncertainty and potential it introduces have not been fully researched or understood. Currently AI consists of algorithms that work to lessen the need for direct human interaction, automation being the key element in tasks such as gathering data and organising mass information and intelligence.

Recent innovations in AI mean it will soon play an intricate role in daily life, with the potential that eventually it will take over entire occupations and replace whole workforces. Dr Aziz, a professor, author at the New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, has set out the notion of an entirely new social class defined by the fact that they have been replaced by machines. On the one hand this development can create anxiety and fear. On the other it offers the possibility of rapid progress, such as by enhancing the way society works, such as automatically providing legal aid for refugees. Automation provides individual and society the chance to grow in other fields and issues that require attention.

Despite these innovations, the UK MoD’s new AI department will be exploring what remains a largely unknown field. The only agreed assessment, as AI expert Eleizer Yudkowsky has made clear, is that it is too early to state we understand AI. That is a neat enough summary of a development which could hypothetically change not only the UK’s security and defence but regulate, as Yuval Harari argues, our very notions of choice and evolve the very way the mind works.

AI On the Front Line

Giving some focus to AI is also part of  the ‘Global Britain’ initiative, which seeks to ensure that the UK remains a significant global player. Large states such as the US, China, Russia and the EU have begun exploring the new military capabilities of AI. Russia’s Kalashnikov arms manufacturer in particular has stated they are developing the technology for ‘self-learning’ weapons. The UK will need to utilise AI similarly to enhance defence capability, preparing for an increasingly technologically dominated battlefield.

In order to ensure the UK is ready, a number of actions must be undertaken both internally and externally. Government policy makers and senior decision-makers should have the relevant training regarding innovative technology and be proficient in AI literature. A number of traditional values within the military and foreign office will be challenged and will require adapting to new norms. Cooperation with experts within the AI community is critical for successful integration and risk-averse assessments, enabling joint missions between military cohorts and with UK allies in NATO.

AI, however, will not just be applied to hard power. AI has potential when it comes to soft power. It means that countries will deploy AI to achieve diplomatic influence (e.g. social media) through to conducting cyber-attacks through ‘weaponised malware’ . The UK’s GCHQ, which has long played a leading if hidden role in UK security, will play an even bigger role in the UK’s AI efforts at global influence as well as security and defence.

Negotiating AI?

The potential for AI to upend global defence and security arrangements means there will be growing pressure for some form of global agreements to manage this change. Without this, the destructive use of AI could run rampant globally. At the moment, multilateral entities such as the United Nations have yet to put in place regulations and parameters for states to agree over the implementation and usage of AI technologies, in particular over weapons development.

Nevertheless, even with some regulations in place, the UK will need to accept the wider potential threat to global stability that this technology poses. As the AI and cyber realms evolve they will grow to be on a par with nuclear deterrence and biological warfare. This is because AI has the potential to inflict massive damage on everything from a single individual to a whole state and region.  

The UK, of course, is not alone in adapting to the challenges of AI. The EU has invested in cyber-resilience and UNESCO has drawn up a statement on the ethos of AI. The UK needs to assist in seeking a unified and strong agreement to prevent escalation of AI involvement in warfare.

At the same time, the UK looks set to demonstrate in its Integrated Review an awareness that the threat from AI needs financial investment to ensure it is a viable contender in the Cyber-Arms race and  that diplomatic efforts will be needed to limit the potential for AI-enhanced conflicts.

AI, the Final Frontier

The UK’s Integrated Review is one of leading attempts by a country to grapple with a global trend of countries expanding their capabilities and presence in the field of AI. The creation of a department of AI is therefore one step in a long process of better understanding AI. A lot more focus on national and international agreements will be required, particularly if there is to be a wider demystifying of AI to better understand the risks it poses. UK policy makers have made a start, but the department for AI will need to be developed further in order to lay the foundation of an AI-oriented infrastructure at both home and abroad.


Tomhas Hardy graduated with an MSc in Security, Peace-building and Diplomacy in 2019 from Loughborough University London. Tom has previously worked at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House and currently works for the Ministry of Justice.

Reflection on Semester 1: Haihan's story

Reflection on Semester 1: Haihan's story

January 19, 2021 Ella Cusack

In this blog, current MSc Sport Technologies and Analytics student, Haihan, shares their reflections on their time at Loughborough University London so far.


This week I have submitted my research & insight report on UEFA Champions League reform, marking the end of semester 1 of my 1-year MSc Sport Technologies and Analytics at Loughborough University London.

I have received grades of all assignments beside this report and I am very happy with all of the grades I have received. I have also gained experience in using Excel, SPSS, Tableau and Python for sport analytics projects.

Reflecting my experience in the last 4 months, I think my top 3 learning points would be:

1. Engage with the virtual learning environment 

I am interacting more during lectures as I begin to feel more confident typing questions and comments online instead of raising hands as I would in a physical lecture theatre (I am afraid that my question will waste people’s time). I actually feel I know more about my current cohort online, compared to my classmates in the undergraduate programme. 

2. Data is not the answer to everything

Interpretation of data can vary significantly from one’s point of view. I learnt more about the importance in asking what is behind the data. How is data collected, cleaned, analysed and what is its context. Critical thinking, holistic perspective and qualitative analysis are essential to complement quantitative analysis.

3. Learn more, know less

Although I already graduated with a BSc Sport Management, I have learnt way more knowledge on the industry of sport, latest trends and the drive behind analytics. Every single week I feel I touch upon another field of sport industry like analytics, fan engagement, match day experience, athlete high performance, machine learning, SPSS, Tableau, Python, etc. My perception of current understanding of the world versus the total amount of knowledge of the world is diminishing. And I am happy about it because it is more important to know someone will always be more of an expert than you on something. Important to discover and listen, but also maintain a critical world view.


Thank you to Haihan for taking the time to share some reflections from Semester 1.

If you would like to find out more about our MSc Sport Analytics and Technologies programme, please visit our website.

How to prepare for a university interview

January 18, 2021 Guest Blogger

Hi, I’m Olivia and I’m currently a finalist studying towards an MEng in Aeronautical Engineering at Loughborough University.

When I applied for Loughborough, I was invited to attend an interview – this was something which, at the time, seemed quite a daunting prospect. In hindsight, I definitely was too worried – the interview is nothing to worry about so long as you prepare well!

Hi everyone – that’s me!

My Experience

The interview which I attended at Loughborough was relatively informal. The day consisted of a tour of the department, a Q&A with current students and a short interview with a member of staff – typically a lecturer. There was also an optional tour of one of the campus halls of residence which I also attended.

The Loughborough campus

The interview itself was more of an informal chat about my personal statement and motivation of wanting to study engineering. I had anticipated technical questions which I wouldn’t be able to answer – this was not the case, they were more interested in my experiences and motivations. I was presented with a simple situation which required a little bit of thinking but the problem had no right or wrong answers and the lecturer was just trying to understand my thought process. But remember – not all interviews are the same so be sure to check your itinerary and if you have any questions get in contact with admissions and they will provide further details!

Being a representative for the department – I know that (at least within the department of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering) the interview days have been altered and become less formal with interviews but all interviews are different and it’s good practice to prepare for a formal interview just in case!

How to prepare

  1. Anticipate potential questions and have some topics ready to talk about
  2. Know your personal statement and CV inside out (but it’s okay and good to talk about other things too!)
  3. Practice some answers – get your friends, teachers, parents/guardians to ask you example questions or even record yourself and watch it back! The more you practice the more comfortable you will be
  4. Check the dress code and make sure you have some appropriate clothes – prep these the night before so you aren’t rushing around! If no dress code is provided it is better to dress smart to be safe and come across professional. Make sure your footwear is appropriate in case there is a lot of walking involved on the day (i.e. tours)
  5. With the global pandemic causing interviews to be online it is a good idea to check your internet connection and make sure you are comfortable

On the day

  1. Make sure you arrive at campus in plenty of time and know where to go! Campuses can be quite large but there are always plenty of staff and students around to help. Planning your journey and familiarising yourself with the campus map will help
  2. Take time to think and make sure you understand the question before you start to answer
  3. It’s okay to ask for the question to be repeated or for it to be reworded if you don’t understand
  4. Remember to remain professional throughout the day, even during the breaks!
  5. Go with some questions ready to ask staff or students – there are no stupid questions! Don’t be afraid to ask about university life as well as your course

Just remember to keep calm, prepare and enjoy the day! Interview days are as much a chance for you to get to know the university as they are for the university to get to know you!

Design Innovation Academics Launch Climate Action Heroes Project

Design Innovation Academics Launch Climate Action Heroes Project

January 18, 2021 Ella Cusack

The ‘Climate Action Heroes’ project links climate action with economic regeneration. It aims to empower young people to imagine and create desirable futures for themselves and their community as they progress into adulthood. The project also feeds into CUK’s strategy for influencing the London 2021 Mayoral elections’ stand on climate action and economic regeneration with a focus on lower income groups.

One of the main initiatives of this project is engaging over 120 young people of different abilities and from various socio-economic, ethnic backgrounds to envision and plan for their future, as well as resourcing them for climate action and regeneration. It will be a key initiative that builds on existing work within Loughborough University London’s (LUL) ‘Widening Participation’ plans, enhancing place-based relationship between the university and the local community.

The project aims to develop young people’s ‘creative leadership’ capacity by boosting skills which are less attended through the school curriculum. It focuses on aligning their personal aspirations with sustainability values, empowering them to envision and create policies, enterprise and environmental championship in their community. Through project-making, participants will exchange information, approaches, experiences, methodologies and techniques from their own discipline and learn from participants from other disciplinary backgrounds, and identify synergies to develop potential collaborations with others interested in developing community leaders for the future. Focussing on aligning their personal aspirations with sustainability values, empowering them to envision and create policies, enterprise and environmental championship in their community.

The ‘Community Action Heroes’ toolkit, comprises of a set of activities, digital games and supporting resources. This ‘package’ will be publicly accessible to download online. Over the past 2 months three workshops have been held (via Zoom) looking at the briefing process, model review and prototype review. This ensures all participants are fully equipped to produce a impressive body of work and enable thought provoking ideas seamlessly.

If you’re passionate about climate change, economic regeneration or enhancing your research & development leadership skills. Click here to get involved and potentially make an impacting change to the world as we know it!


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

Top Tips for Taking Online Exams

Top Tips for Taking Online Exams

January 18, 2021 Alex Stephens

No one would think we would miss sitting in a freezing cold Tennis Centre, writing at 100mph during an exam and having to wait 10 minutes to go to the toilet but, taking exams in our own homes poses new challenges. I sat my final year exams in June 2020 in my student room in Loughborough not really understanding how to go about taking the most important exams of my life in a completely new environment.

So to save you the stress I thought I’d share the lessons I learnt to help you out in this exam season.

1. Set up your own exam space

Now I understand that not everyone is blessed enough to have their own room with a desk in it. But it is important to try and find a quiet place in your house that you can settle down and do your exam. Maybe use the kitchen table and kick out your siblings for a couple of hours. Use your parent’s work from home space for the exam.

Make sure you let everyone in your house know that you have an exam and ask them to keep the noise down. If you can’t find a quiet space in your house, I recommend putting on a pair of headphones. This leads me to my next tip…

2. As tempting as it is don’t listen to music

I know I just said wear headphones but don’t be playing any music during the exam. Personally, I like listening to music when I am revising but when it comes to writing I really struggle to concentrate. You don’t want the academic marking your answers to be reading Taylor Swift lyrics in the middle of your politics essay.

If you really think you would benefit from listening to some music make it an instrumental, it doesn’t have to be classical music, there are lots of lo-fi study playlists around.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NOSDKb0HlU

3. Have your favourite drink and snack to hand

Being in your house means there is a whole host of distractions. Taking a quick trip to the kitchen to make a cup of tea could end up taking 30 minutes out of your exam time.

So before you start make yourself your favourite (non-alcoholic) drink and have a little snack on the side. I would recommend a satsuma or a cereal bar.

4. Turn off your phone!

More distractions. Do not give yourself the opportunity to spend time doomscrolling on Twitter or to check the course chat to see if anyone else is having a meltdown.

Just for two or three hours turn it off, put it in a draw at the other side of the house and focus. It will still be there when you finish.

5. Arrange to speak to a friend or coursemate after the exam

You know how it goes after an exam, everyone stands outside the Tennis Centre and discussed what they put for each question and figuring out if they need to start making plans to come back for the Special Assessment Period in September.

Now you might not get the same answers as your 8 year old brother but that is probably a good thing. So if you want some time to vent about a question or just find out how others found it set up a short call with some course mates. Just 10/15 minutes and check in on each other. This tip honestly saved me. After my first exam, I spent days stressing that I had done it all wrong but after talking to a few course mates and figuring out they got the same I felt so much better.

6. Be kind to yourself

It can be so essay to stress out during exams and especially when you aren’t in a controlled environment. Remember everyone in your year is in the same boat and are probably also feeling anxious. Take care of yourself during this really stressful time. Take some time away from revising to go for a walk or listen to a podcast or cook yourself your favourite meal. Look after your body and mind so you are ready to attack the exam!

For more information about 2020/21 Semester 1 exams please visit the student handbook.

This Week at Loughborough | 18 January

This Week at Loughborough | 18 January

January 18, 2021 Alex Stephens

Understanding Business Finances

20 January, 5.30 – 7pm, Online

This workshop will look at helping you to create financial forecasts.

Understanding financial statements and records will allow you to analyse the success of your business, use the statements to convince others such as investors that your business is profitable and worth supporting. 

Keep Calm

Alex your Welfare & Diversity Executive Officer and Ana your Education Executive Officer have organised a range of virtual events and advice to help you Keep Calm during this unusual exam and assessment period.

MyLifestyle presents Virtual Zumba

18 January, 7 – 7.45pm, Online

Lockdown won’t stop us dancing! Virtual Zumba is back with MyLifestyle

Visit their social media pages to access the link

Happy Mondays: Scribble and Focus Workshop

18 January, 7pm, Online

Discover how to combine drawing, mark-making and mindfulness techniques.

Artist Grace Stones will show you how you can combine drawing, mark making and mindfulness techniques yourself. This will channel feelings, bringing in positive ones and accepting negative ones. Grace will guide you through the session, exploring new and exciting mark-making techniques.

Booking information for this event is available on the event page.

MyLifestyle presents Virtual Yoga

21 January, 5 – 6pm, Online

Join MyLifestyle’s amazing instructor Elaine for a virtual yoga session, a perfect way to relax during lockdown! So grab a spare space at home and come along to this free, virtual session!

Visit the event page to access the event.

Virtual Positive Thinking Workshop

22 January, 1 – 1.30pm, Online

Join our wonderful host Natalie for a lunchtime Positive Thinking Workshop. Discover how the art and practice of positive thinking can help you through your exams and assessments and even lead to a happier and more balanced life!

Visit the event page for more information.

Virtual Yoga

24 January, 2 – 3pm, Online

Join Yogi Laura for a Sunday afternoon virtual Yoga session. Take a break studying and relax as you focus on your body movements and breathing. 

Visit the event page for more information.

Got something for next week email digital@lboro.ac.uk

IT Services: How can we help you?

IT Services: How can we help you?

January 17, 2021 Ella Cusack

Welcome to the Student Support Services spotlight series! In this series, we will introduce you to all our of Student Support Services and let you know how we can offer you support during your studies at Loughborough University London.

In the final blog of this series, meet our IT Services team and find out how we can help you.


Meet the IT Services Team

The London IT Services team is a small team made up of the following people, Faysal Chowdhury, Dipesh Dhimar & Sylvia Easy-Hemmings, who all aim to provide you with a 1-2-1 personal service. We always stride to provide you with what you need, how you need it and when you need it where possible. 

How can we help you?

As a student, you can book to borrow IT equipment such as MacBooks, Laptops, Cameras and cables. All equipment are supplied with the relevant peripherals such as chargers. For a full list of available IT equipment please visit lboro.london/equipment.

The university’s IT webpages, which can be found here, has very useful resources, including how-to guides (how to set up your email, connect to printers, add print credit and), demonstrations and tutorial videos, downloadable university software, amongst many other resources.

We all still remember what it is like to be a university student and aim to make things a smooth as possible for you when engaging with us.

How can you contact us?

The physical London IT Services Desk is located on the second floor of the London campus. Please note during the current state of the pandemic we are only operating an online service: London-IT@lboro.ac.uk

If you do need to speak to a member of staff from the IT Service desk, please contact the Central IT Services Team between Monday – Friday 0900 – 1700 on  (01509) 222333.


This blog is part of the Student Support Services spotlight series. To read other blogs in this series, please visit the blog home page.

To find out more about the London IT services, visit our website.

Future Space: How can we help you?

Future Space: How can we help you?

January 16, 2021 Ella Cusack

Welcome to the Student Support Services spotlight series! In this series, we will introduce you to all our of Student Support Services and let you know how we can offer you support during your studies at Loughborough University London.

In this blog, meet our Future Space team and find out how we can support your employability and skill development.


Hello, my name is Grace Baird and I work in the Future Space team at Loughborough University London. My role is to ensure our Digital Skills programme runs effectively whilst supporting participating students. The programme gives an opportunity for our students to gain skills to support their employability and take on short work insight projects with real companies.  As a former Loughborough student, I’ve written this blog to let you all know how to get the best out of the Future Space offer and your time at Loughborough.

What is Future Space?

Future Space exists to support you to connect to your future.  We can help you with your goals, your career and your ideas.  We can help you reflect on your skills, set goals and access new experiences and opportunities that will enhance your CV, entrepreneurial abilities, and career prospects alongside your academic studies.

What Organisations Do We Work With?

  • Chelsea FC
  • Sport England
  • BT
  • Ticketmaster
  • West Ham United Foundation

…and many more.

What Sort of Events / Activities Do We Offer You?

The Future Space Team hosts a wide range of events and activities focusing on a range of topics including:

  • Growing your Network
  • Gaining Experience
  • Developing New Skills
  • Receiving Advice on Starting your Own Business
  • Career Planning and Support

The Future Space activities are split into three categories:

  • Reflection and Action
    • Examples:  Personal Best London, Careers Events, Mentoring Programme, Guest Lectures, Alumni Panels​
  • Skills
    • Examples: Workshops, Additional Programmes and Training​
  • Experience
    •  Examples: Hacks, Digital Skills Work Insight Projects, Collaborate, Volunteering, Part-time Work, Student Ambassador Programme, Post Study Work Opportunities

How Do I Get Involved?

The great news is – you already are.  In completing your registration, you will have filled in our Personal Best London questionnaire.  This will help us to make recommendations for you on activities to get involved with this year.  We will e-mail you with these in the coming weeks and connect you to relevant learning and development opportunities.

The Future Space Team will also be hosting a range of Induction Events including our online ‘Future Space Welcome Panel’ on Friday 22nd January 2021 (10:00-11:30 / 14:00 -15:30 UK Time). The full schedule for Future Space induction activities can be viewed here. These are all held online and sign up is required. Once you have signed up, the team will share joining instructions with you via your @student.lboro.ac.uk email address.

Other upcoming opportunities include:

  • Monday Mentoring – need help setting goals?  Need more help sticking to them?  Our industry mentors are here to help.
  • Digital Skills Work Insight Projects – The Digital Skills programme is a two-part program which gives you the opportunity to attend workshops specifically designed to help you develop your digital skills (e.g., blogging, project management, UX Design) and you can also put your skills into practice and complete a 30hr virtual project with a London SME.
  • Collaborative Project – A feature of many of our programmes, this module offers you the chance to grow your network and make industry connections as part of a group of students to address and develop solutions for a real business problem provided by one of our partners
  • Venture Crawl – On 10th March we are hosting an online exploration of the urban entrepreneurial eco-system on our doorstep in London
  • Careers Insight Event – on 17th March we are hosting a careers event on the Future of Work
  • 1-2-1 Careers Appointments – Our careers consultants offer 1-2-1 career appointments to support our students and recent graduates (e.g., CV advice and interview guidance)
  • Thinking of starting a business or consultancy? Our LEN team can help to spark your ideas and fan your flames of inspiration.  You can sign up for the LEN newsletter here.

Due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, we are currently running all of our activities online.

Where can you find the Future Space Team?

We are on the web here – we love to hear from our students – You can reach out to us via e-mail futurespace@lboro.ac.uk and see our full range of activities and resources on our LEARN module.


This blog is part of the Student Support Services spotlight series. To read other blogs in this series, please visit the blog home page.

To find out more about Future Space, you can email futurespace@lboro.ac.uk.

Welfare: How can we help you?

Welfare: How can we help you?

January 15, 2021 Ella Cusack

Welcome to the Student Support Services spotlight series! In this series, we will introduce you to all our of Student Support Services and let you know how we can offer you support during your studies at Loughborough University London.

In the first blog, meet our Student Services team and find out all the ways they are here to support you.


The Welfare Team

Hi, we are Olly and Fran and we are here to support you throughout your time here at Loughborough University London. Whether you need help in understanding your options for difficulties you might be facing with your University work or you need someone to be there to hear any external situations that have caused you concern, we want to be there for you.

How can we help you?

The most important thing to us is you and your mental health; if you’re struggling in any way, let us know as soon as you’re able to and we’ll see what we can do to help.

Have a look at our Welfare page on Learn, where you can see much more information around what we can support you with, like extensions, for example.

How can you contact us?

You can email us on our email London-Welfare@Lboro.ac.uk, where we can either answer any questions you might have electronically or arrange a private meeting (via phone, video call or face to face on campus).

We are situated on 4th floor so please feel free to pop by the student service desk and ask for us if you need to. Although we cannot guarantee we’ll always be free when this happens, we’ll make sure to get in touch with you as quickly as we can.

Thank you for your time and we look forward to seeing you around the campus!

For more information about student support and services, have a look here.


This blog is part of the Student Support Services spotlight series. To read other blogs in this series, please visit the blog home page.

To get in contact with the Welfare team, you can email London-Welfare@Lboro.ac.uk.

#LboroAppliedAI Seminars Semester 2, 2021

January 15, 2021 Cristian Vaccari

We are continuing our series of #LboroAppliedAI online sessions this Semester! The series is organized by Dr Lise Jaillant and Dr Valerie Pinfield and sponsored by the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture.

The objective is to bring together colleagues and PGRs who are interested in Artificial Intelligence and its applications in a wide range of fields.

You can find the recordings of the Semester 1 sessions here (Lboro log in necessary).

To register, please contact l.jaillant@lboro.ac.uk

Thurs 14th Jan 1pm:

Varuna da Silva, Institute for Digital Technologies, LU London

Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning: Challenges and Real world Applications

A fundamental goal of AI is to develop intelligent agents. Multi-agent learning involves developing decision making algorithms for autonomous agents in environments where multiple intelligent entities interact with each other. This talk will present key developments in the area of multi-agent policy learning: namely Multi-agent reinforcement learning and multi-agent imitation learning, which are emerging as key techniques to address the problem of multi agent policy learning. The talk will relate to emerging applications of multi-agent policy learning such as driverless vehicle control, sports analytics, urban planning and autonomous generation of video game content. A significant part of the talk will discuss recent attempts at addressing key challenges relate to multi-agent policy learning, such as non-stationarity, communication, selective attention and curriculum learning. The talk will conclude with a discussion on challenges to move theoretical results in the real world applications where agents are required to learn from limited experience, and engineering efforts that are required to do so.

Click here for the recording of the talk (Lboro log in necessary).

Thurs 25th Feb 1pm

Saul Albert, Communication and Media, School of Social Sciences and Humanities

Three meeting points between AI and Conversation Analysis 

I’ll outline three projects that study different configurations of the relationship between AI and CA: using AI as a tool for doing CA, using CA as a means of improving AI, and exploring the reflexive relationships between AI-based voice interfaces and everyday interactions in a naturalistic setting.

Bio: Saul is a lecturer in social sciences (social psychology) in the communication and media group at Loughborough University. His research explores human interaction in all its forms, including empirical work on how politicians shake handshow couples dancehow people drawevaluate art, and how we deal with miscommunication in interaction. He is currently leading a British Academy-funded project studying how disabled people and their personal assistants work with AI-based virtual assistants during everyday domestic routines.

Thurs 4th March 4pm:

Andrew Morris and Ruth Welsh, Design School

Connected and autonomous vehicles

Through Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Vehicles will soon start to make decisions (1) without the need for drivers; or (2) on behalf of drivers. There are obvious potential benefits for smart and safe mobility by taking the human out of the loop and relying on the vehicle technology to negotiate a safe, efficient, and reliable path through traffic.

However, to achieve these potential benefits, substantial human factors challenges need to be addressed, and confidence in the capability of AI needs to be developed amongst a potentially sceptical public. Some of these challenges include:

  • The issue of trust and reliance in the vehicle when it is fully autonomous
  • Reliability on the vehicles to perform as necessary in safety-critical situations
  • Misuse or over-reliance on the systems
  • Negative impacts of drivers disengaging from the task e.g., consequences for situational awareness, fatigue, driver comfort.

Therefore, there is a need to understand driver/operator requirements when the role shifts from active vehicle control to passive monitoring of the system automated through AI. 

This presentation will examine some of these human factors challenges and will provide some results from trials of a prototype Autonomous ‘Pod’ that was conducted at QEOP during 2020.

Thurs 25th March 4pm:

Zhiqiang Niu, School of Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering

AI techniques for design of low carbon energy systems

One of the practical steps to reducing global carbon emission is the wide application of renewable energy devices owing to their high efficiency and green energy conversion. These include fuel cells, for example, where a fuel source (e.g. hydrogen) undergoes electrochemical reaction to produce electricity, and produces a waste product (e.g. water). Many such energy devices incorporate porous materials which contribute to their effective operation in a number of ways, including providing pathways for gas fuel, liquid waste product, electronic conduction and catalyst sites for electrochemical reaction. Mathematical methods such as computational modelling and recent popular artificial intelligence techniques can help to understand the physical dynamics in these porous structures and to achieve the best designs for their operation in energy systems.

In this talk, we will review the evolution of these mathematical approaches and their typical applications in modelling various porous energy materials and devices. We will particularly highlight the successful application of several deep learning methods more familiar in image analysis applications (e.g. generative adversarial networks GANs– and convolutional neural networks CNNs). GANs may be familiar as the means of producing deep-fake images. CNNs are popular in image classification and feature extraction. These can be used to generate candidate material structures, to identify the structure that leads to optimum performance in the energy system. The target for AI in these systems is to achieve autonomous optimisation of structures, operating conditions of the component materials and even the manufacturing process used to produce them.

Thurs 8th July (time tbc)

Dongda Zhang, University of Manchester

Abstract to follow.

Placements and career progression while studying a Creative degree

Placements and career progression while studying a Creative degree

January 15, 2021 Guest Blogger

It’s one of the biggest and most fundamental questions for students, ‘what am I going to do when I graduate?’ For some this is easy, they’ve had an idea for a long time about what they want to do and it’s that idea which has guided their decisions up until that point. From subjects at school, to degree choice or even which institution they want to study at.

But for others this is more difficult. What if you don’t know what career you want and instead concentrate simply on what you enjoy? This isn’t bad, in fact it’s fantastic! As it ensures you’ll enjoy your studies, are more likely to achieve a good grade and appreciate the university experience. But as time goes on and you edge closer to graduation, you need to start thinking about an answer, and going on placement is a great place to start.

Insert Emma Lawrence, a Graphic, Communication and Illustration student at Loughborough who’s currently working for the Met Office. We’ve managed to sit her down and ask her all about her placement, how she got to this point and what the future holds for a career in the Creative Industries.

Loughborough: So Emma, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Firstly, how did you end up studying at Loughborough – what drew you to the University?

Emma: The course at Loughborough instantly stood out to me due to how broad and flexible it seemed. At the time of applying, I was very unsure on specifically what area of design I wanted to go into, therefore a course where I could try lots of new things was key for me. It was clear from the outset, that I would be able to try animation, photography, branding, editorial design, illustration and so much more at Loughborough (and boy was I right)! I also got such a good community feeling whilst walking around campus on the open day; I instantly felt at home. The number of societies, sports clubs and volunteering opportunities at Loughborough was also a big attraction, as I like to be on the go 24/7 (chilling out is not something I am very good at)!

Loughborough: When it was time to start looking for placements, how did you choose yours and what help was available from your Department and the wider University?

Emma: Towards the start of second year, we had various lectures covering top tips on where to find placements, financially the loans/costs involved and do’s and don’ts of Creative CVs and portfolios. We also had the option to watch the previous cohort’s placement presentations, whereby they had to present how their placement year had gone, including images of their work. It was going to these presentations that gave me the drive to get myself a placement. I could instantly see the value that the students had gained from their year out in industry. The Careers Network looked over my CV, covering letter and portfolio as well as giving me vital advice on how to nail applications.

Regular emails also kept us up to date on any placement opportunities that the University was aware of. My placement journey was a long one (27 applications, several interviews/assessment centres and many setbacks) but the support from the careers network at Loughborough, as well as my grit and determination, is why I am where I am today; loving every second of my year at the Met Office.

I am just over 4 months into my Design and Content placement and I’m part of the Content Team, which is full of designers, presenters, animators and video producers. My role has been very varied…it is so much more than just designing weather symbols like you might think! I have had the opportunity to input fresh ideas to a wide range of projects, such as working on the campaign to promote the new Met Office book ‘Very British Weather’, to working on an infographic to advise scientists on how best to present climate information to the public.

Loughborough: Wow that sounds really engaging! I thought the Met Office just made mostly inaccurate rain forecasts.

Emma: Haha, no there’s actually a lot more to it than that. I know this sounds cliché but there really has been no ‘typical day’ as such; it is so varied! One day I could be working on the latest Christmas campaign, the next I could be working on a re-vamped identity to promote our ‘live’ show.

I do have 2 meetings which occur every single day, one being at 9am where we all go round and list off the jobs that we will be working on for the day. This gives the Design Manager the opportunity to see what everyone has on, so he can delegate new jobs accordingly. It’s a nice start to your day and is a great chance to ask any questions, should I have any. I also have a regular meeting at 10am known as the ‘Daily Editorial’. This is where we act a bit like a Newsroom (as my manager likes to call it). We hear a brief summary of the weather forecast from the experts and then work out what the story is and how we will tell it consistently over social media for that day.

Loughborough: And what have been the main benefits? Are you picking up any new skills or getting the chance to apply what you’ve learned in lectures to the real world?

Emma: Well, my animation skills are rapidly advancing and this is one of the skills that I wanted to develop during my placement year, as I think motion skills are becoming increasingly important to any designer’s toolkit. Whilst my design skills are developing naturally through using Adobe software daily, a lot of the skills I feel I am advancing in are those vital to any working environment! These involve leadership, communication, time management skills and so much more. I love feeling like my ideas are valued and that no question that I ask, is a stupid one.

Despite working from home (and not in the glorious building in Exeter), the team have welcomed me with open arms. The way I have integrated smoothly into the team, even though I have only met them once in person, is a huge benefit as I already sense that I am making connections that will stay with me throughout my career. Networking is something that I am getting better at; for me this involved remembering that everyone, no matter what job title or background, is a human and that it only takes 2 minutes to message someone. Ask yourself, what’s the worst thing that could happen? It’s only that they won’t reply, but most do. My advice is to build up connections naturally by being friendly, approachable and useful, and don’t be afraid of reaching out to find new contacts!

In addition, I get to stimulate my academic as well as my creative side. As someone who did Maths and Geography A-Level, I love having the opportunity to design things about something that is really interesting (well to me anyway). I have always had it in my nature to help people and it is important for me to use my creativity to do this wherever I can. I find it rewarding knowing that the communications we put out as a team on social media every day, help keep the public up to date with the latest weather forecast to ultimately keep people safe, especially in times of severe weather.

Loughborough: Have there been any highlights or something you’ve been particularly proud of during your time at the Met Office?

Emma: One thing that stands out is my feature on Agorapulse which is a social media management software tool. My line manager, Ross Middleham signposted me towards Jennifer Watson, a Social Media Manager there, so I dropped her a message as she is also an incredible meteorologist who has previously worked for the Weather Channel in America. I asked a few questions and she instantly engaged and showed interest in hearing about how we deal with weather here in the UK. Ross and I then set up an initial meeting with Jennifer and since then, the relationship has grown with Jennifer featuring on our podcast, joining our team for a brainstorm on re-launching our ‘live’ show and Ross and I have even featured on Agorapulse’s live show to talk about all things TikTok!

It was an incredible experience and a true highlight of my placement so far. I got such a buzz from going live and answering questions on the spot (even if inside I was incredibly nervous)!

Loughborough: And finally, what would you say to someone considering studying a Creative course with a placement year?

Emma: Go for it! I can’t express how much value I am gaining from my placement year and not just in my design skills…in all the other skills (leadership, time-management, communication) that are vital in any job you go for. My advice would be to have the grit and determination to keep applying for placements, as believe me it is a long haul, especially balancing applications and interviews alongside your degree, but it is so worth it.

What have we got to lose: Coming to terms with bisexuality

What have we got to lose: Coming to terms with bisexuality

January 14, 2021 Anonymous

I’m a white man in my thirties, married, with two brilliant kids. I married my childhood sweetheart and lived a typical straight life. 18 months ago, my wife helped me come to terms with something I had repressed all of my life. I’m not straight at all. I am bisexual.

As a child, I was never a typical boy. I made friendships with and played mainly with girls. I rode horses. Lord, I listened to the Spice Girls (though I do like to point out that the Spice Girls were pretty universal in the 90s!). I still don’t even know the rules of football now. I was bullied. A lot. I was called “gay”, “girl” and persecuted for being different. I knew I wasn’t either of those things, but I also knew I didn’t fit the mould.

I remember having girlfriends from being very young and, despite becoming painfully shy during my early teens (those who did not know me back then will balk at that assertion, I’m sure, but it is true!), still had them as I grew up – far more so than many “straight” lads had. As a kid, I got on with girls because, emotionally, I could relate to them. Despite an emotionally distant father and an emotionally manipulative mother, I maintained my ability to relate to others, not suppress my own emotions, and to enjoy my own interests despite how others treated me. As I progressed through my teens, however, I began to develop coping strategies that led me to augment my own perception of myself.

Bisexuality was not considered a “thing” during my school years in the 90s. The world was becoming more accepting of LGBT+, but people were still only stereotyped into two camps, leaving me as an outsider inside my own head. At 16 I fell in love with a girl, and the rest is history. I couldn’t entertain the thought at the time, but I could have fallen in love with a boy. When my wife and I finally talked about this stuff candidly within a climate of “what have we got to lose”, I was terrified. I had rejected the idea of bisexuality decades ago, but here I was having my thoughts and feelings reflected back to me by the person I love most in this world, and realising the truth. Admitting the truth. In my thirties, married, raising children, and building a solid career. The world I knew, the person I thought I was – that I had invented to protect and conceal the real, weird, vulnerable me – was shattering. I was so lucky to have the amazing wife I do who was honest about how it impacted her and supported me through my own thoughts and feelings too.

Of course, “what have we got to lose” is a great way to liberate your honest streak. It was, however, a fallacy. In reality, there was everything to lose. Neither of us really knew how to navigate this revelation. What do you do with such a life-changing discovery, yet know you won’t “do” anything at all with it? I struggle with the term “bisexual” a little, I think because it contains the word “sex” – “straight” and “gay” orientations/identities do not (though I am, of course, aware that “homosexual” and “heterosexual” do, but they are not terms used frequently in common conversation – and I am personally aware that this can evoke a response that implies a world revolving around sex. I had no desire to change my marriage or lifestyle, but then I hit the wall of “Well, what do I do with this? Why have I even bothered talking about this when I’m married and don’t wish to change this?”. It took some tearful and wonderfully reassuring conversations with my wife, colleagues and friends that listened to me and understood, to be able to realise this was about identity, not sex.

My original thought was to write this blog to reflect on what it is like to come-out later in life than many others do. As an aside, I’m not a fan of the term “coming-out”. It feels like a confession, and my own perception of confessions are that they are typically an admission of something negative to someone in a position of trust. Sharing your identity with someone, anyone, should not be confession. Luckily, society appears to be moving towards not assuming an individual’s identity and just accepting who they are. We’re not there by a long shot, but that is my perception.

Moving back to the subject, I knew that my wife was hugely supportive of LGBT+ and particularly believed that you can “fall in love with anyone”. This was a solid foundation for the two of us to discuss the depths of my identity. But it was not easy. I felt a tremendous amount of guilt for having not acknowledged and reconciled this part of myself in such a way that meant I had concealed a whole part of myself from my wife. It took time and therapy for the two of us to begin to understand each other and ourselves again. I cannot over-state the benefit of both couples and individual therapy throughout this period. Telling friends was equally daunting. They doubtless encountered similar feelings of not knowing a significant part of who I was. I was particularly afraid of telling some of my male friends; I’ve always had quite a flirtatious and banterous relationship with male friends in my adult life, and I was now adamant that they would now see me in a different light and that part of the friendship would die. I needn’t have worried. I was accepted, and I felt so much closer to these friends. However, due to other experiences in my life, I have a tendency to tell myself any perceived issues (a late WhatsApp response, a dismissive email, a throwaway comment said in haste or preoccupation) are because someone has an issue with me. Something I’ve said, something I’ve done or haven’t done… something I am. The reason I’m mentioning this is that many of us do this, and the vast majority of the time we are wrong. People rarely judge us as harshly as we judge ourselves. If you learn to accept yourself and love yourself, you will realise that, generally, people love you because of everything you are, not despite some of the things you are. This subtle difference in language has enormous connotations emotionally.

I have finally started to feel congruent. It has taken months of acceptance, therapy and honesty to be able to reasonably casually and confidently drop into an appropriate conversation that I am, in fact, bisexual. I recently shared my “Spotify Unwrapped” playlist with a close friend as a way of poking fun at my taste in music. He laughed, and called it my “gaylist”, and we laughed together. I did not feel offended or persecuted by this comment – I loved it. I was able to embrace that comment as being a bit part of my identity, and that I was accepted and loved because of it, not just despite it. A tiny, insignificant action with an enormous impact. I have also just found the courage to tell someone I consider a close (male) friend that I have witnessed using homophobic language. I knew he was not homophobic, but he has never been in an environment where his language has been challenged – but perhaps I’ll save the detail of that story for another post. The journey is not over – breaking down the defence mechanisms I have built up over a lifetime to be able to survive a world I didn’t fit into is a long and arduous process. I’m not always happy, and I’m not always kind to myself. But I am beginning to realise that I have sought out and surrounded myself with the very best of people that have always known – if not always seen – the real me. And the love that those people have for the real me keeps me going on that journey, holding my head high as I go.

Coming soon...Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight 2021

Coming soon...Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight 2021

January 14, 2021 Dr Katryna Kalawsky

Written by Dr Katryna Kalawsky

It’s currently my first week back at work after the festive period and although things are still very challenging for many of us (to put it mildly) because of Covid-19 and the latest lockdown, I thought I’d take some time out to write a short blog post about something that I hope many of our Doctoral Researchers will find helpful…the Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight 2021!

For those of you who joined Loughborough University post March 2020, you may not be aware that last year I organised the University’s first Doctoral Wellbeing Week. It was the Doctoral College’s largest event ever (over 40 sessions!) and was so much fun to pull together! I was certainly out of my comfort zone organising something so big but the input from so many colleagues from across the institution coupled with the encouraging feedback received from Doctoral Researchers and those on the front-line of their support made it all totally worth it. It’s definitely a huge highlight of my time in the Doctoral College so far and something I’ll always look back fondly on.

Understandably, given everything that occurred in the months after last year’s Wellbeing Week (we actually first went into lockdown the week after the event was run!) I didn’t think it would be feasible to organise another week this year; those who contributed previously are working their socks off juggling many competing demands and of course there’s the obvious issue of finances…BUT I am absolutely delighted to share that not even a global pandemic can stop us from doing our best to offer something…and that something isn’t just a Wellbeing Week, it’s going to be a Wellbeing FORTNIGHT!

DISCLAIMER: Wellbeing is important 24/7, 365 days a week. The Wellbeing Fortnight won’t address all challenges faced but hopefully it will increase awareness of various support services available and equip Doctoral Researchers with information and skills that they can apply throughout their doctorates and beyond.

Although I’ve only had a few weeks to get the ball rolling and plans are still in their infancy, I am so excited to tell you that the Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight is taking shape beautifully all thanks to numerous colleagues internal and external to Loughborough who have offered their time and expertise. Put simply, the Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight will be another huge collective effort and I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of those who have been in touch.

Something I have been mindful of is managing expectations, especially after last year. Whilst I would love to accommodate all the suggestions I have received since the first Wellbeing Week of what to include in the programme, the content this year is totally dependent on what colleagues are able to offer. That said, having seen what has been offered I don’t think anyone will be disappointed! It’s looking awesome!

Today I sent a brief event update to the Doctoral College Sub-Committee to keep them in the loop with the plans. This included how I went about seeking contributions (e.g. writing a press release, targeting staff and researchers with expertise/interest in wellbeing, putting out a call of interest in the Doctoral College Bulletin and Doctoral Alumni newsletter) and sharing the format of the sessions. For the latter point, although there’s no denying that being together in person is beneficial to wellbeing, it just isn’t safe at the moment. For that reason, all of the sessions during the Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight will be held online (something that may prove more inclusive to those unable to visit either campus) and I plan to ask facilitators if they would be happy for content to be recorded (as appropriate – some topics aren’t suitable to be recorded) so they can be made available afterwards.

Now, some of you reading this blog may be wondering when the programme will be made available. The short answer is…”I don’t know…but soon!” I’m aiming for early-mid February and there’s still lots to do. I’m currently liaising will all those who have expressed interest in contributing to work out the most convenient time and date for them to deliver something. I’ll then be working with Marketing and Advancement to create the digital assets (including the event timetable) that will feature on the event webpages and other promotional information. Once all that is complete, bookings will be created on the Developmental Portal and I’ll be scheduling lots of Tweets from @LboroDocCollege (#LboroDRWellbeing)!

So, stay tuned for more information soon and get excited! I think you might be able to tell that I am! Whoop!

Katryna 😊

The Library Services Spotlight: How can we help you?

The Library Services Spotlight: How can we help you?

January 14, 2021 Ella Cusack

Welcome to the Student Support Services spotlight series! In this series, we will introduce you to all our of Student Support Services and let you know how we can offer you support during your studies at Loughborough University London. In this blog, meet our Librarian and the Library resources available to our students.


The London Library service is run by Laura Newman, the Librarian – you should be meeting Laura as part of your induction process. Laura is available by email (L.Newman@lboro.ac.uk), phone (02038051353) or by appointment on Microsoft Teams until we resume in-person fully.

Laura can help you with accessing appropriate resources, undertaking research, evaluating information to pick the best sources, and referencing. If you would like support with any of this, then please do get in touch with Laura.

The majority of Library resources are available online through the library catalogue – this is basically a search engine: vufind.lboro.ac.uk. You can find ebooks, journals, journal articles, newspapers and much more on this. It’s important that for all of your assignments you use good quality and relevant information as evidence to support your arguments, and to make sure you get high marks – finding information through the Library is a good place to start. As well as the catalogue, it’s a good idea to look at the subject guides to find the resources most suited to your particular course: https://www.lboro.ac.uk/library/subject-guides/.

The physical library space is currently open on the London campus on the second floor, but the enquiry desk has currently moved online. You can borrow books using your student ID card on the self-issue machine in the Library. All books can be returned to the book drop box on the ground floor in main reception. If you have any issues or need assistance with anything, please email London-library@lboro.ac.uk.


This blog is part of the Student Support Services spotlight series. To read other blogs in this series, please visit the blog home page.

To contact the Library, please email london-library@lboro.ac.uk.

Keeping Calm During Exams: Reflections and signposting from your Welfare and Diversity Executive Officer

Keeping Calm During Exams: Reflections and signposting from your Welfare and Diversity Executive Officer

January 14, 2021 LU Comms
Alex Marlowe, Welfare and Diversity Executive Officer 2020/21

Exams are never the easiest things at the best of times. Exams in the middle of an international pandemic well… that’s even less easy!

In fact, for some, it will be a lot harder. For me, it’s helpful to confront a difficulty head-on. Put a name to it, put your finger on it, and don’t beat around the bush with yourself. If we know it’s going to be harder, what can we do to help manage it?

Yes, there are things we can do to help ourselves, and we have the benefit of hindsight too, allowing us to understand what our lockdown coping and support mechanisms are, and what are not.

But also, the University and Loughborough Students’ Union (LSU) are doing the absolute best they can for students given the circumstances. We have processes, protections and support in place that you can take advantage of, which can hopefully make things a little less difficult. 

If you’ve made it this far, perhaps I can make it worth your time by sharing two key things that I know and believe can really help you to keep calm this exam and deadline season.

  1. Know what your coping mechanisms are, and who your support network is.

This is perhaps the most important thing I can share or reiterate. There is plenty of support offered to you, but also know that you are the expert in your own health and wellbeing. You’ve had the benefit of living with yourself all of your life and you will know what helps you chill out and focus best.

For me, if I know I have to focus on work or a project I set myself clear parameters and limit screen-time. Time limits and no phone-checking allows me to become even vaguely excited by the intellectual stimulation of information which I may otherwise find boring. Your parameters may be different, but the point is to take time to consciously recognise what you need to focus on and try your best to implement it.

Easier said than done, of course, but it’s important to also be kind to yourself. Reward yourself at the end of a stint by taking some time to make yourself a tasty lunch, play a video game in the evening, do some exercise, have a video call with your friends or spend some time catching up on messages. Whether it’s been a ‘productive day’ (whatever that means!) or not, you’re never going to be in any mood to revise and prepare for exams if you aren’t treating yourself right. No guilt should be attached for rewarding yourself, no matter the output of your work stint.

2. Know that Loughborough University and LSU have your back

In addition to the incredibly powerful effect you can have on your mental health and wellbeing by establishing and deploying your coping mechanisms and support networks, you have a University and Students’ Union which sincerely tries its best to support and provide for you.

This includes specific mental health support, non-judgmental advice, and places to find community. Below is a list of some of the processes and support services here at Loughborough (be ready, it’s quite a lot!).

Processes:

  • Mitigating Circumstances (MC) – For circumstances that are out of your control and may adversely affect your studies or performance, you can ensure this is taken into account by submitting a Mitigating Circumstances claim. LSU Advice can provide you with non-judgmental advice in constructing your claim, and you’ll apply via your Student Portal.
    • NOTE – it is recognised that it may not be possible for you to submit supporting evidence, so if that’s the case, please do still submit your claim without evidence.
  • No Detriment PositionLoughborough University is committed to ensuring the outcomes for you are collectively no worse than the outcomes of the previous three cohorts of the appropriate year group.
  • Reassessments – You are allowed more attempts at assessments or modules if you fail, or with a valid mitigating circumstances claim. The following is Loughborough’s policy on reassessments:
    • A Resit is typically when a student fails their first attempt and retakes a module or assessment with capped marks (unless Part A or F). Resits are second attempts which means they are the final chances if there are no valid Mitigating Circumstances claims. This term also applies where a student has not passed the Part so retakes an assessment even when they have credit in the module.
    • Repeat First Attempt is when a student gets another first chance (with uncapped marks) following a valid Mitigating Circumstances claim.
    • Repeat Second Attempt is when a student gets another second chance at a resit following a valid Mitigating Circumstances claim. Repeat second attempts have capped marks (unless Part A or F) and are last chances if there are no further Mitigating Circumstances.
  • Academic Appeals – if you would like to appeal your mark, you can do so on multiple grounds. There is a lot on this subject, so read here for more and know you can always go to LSU Advice for guidance and support on constructing your appeal. 

Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Services:

  • Mental Wellbeing team – This is made up of three amazing teams who can provide you with support. By filling out the referral form here, you will be matched to one of the following:
    • Mental Health Support team – this team provides support, advice and information for students struggling with mental health difficulties.
    • Wellbeing Advisers – someone based in your academic School who can offer you advice and support with your stress, low mood, anxiety and other difficulties.
    • Counselling – a chance to talk and reflect with professionals removed from the situation. This team can help you find understanding and new perspectives with issues.
  • Disability Office – The amazing Disability Support Team can provide advice, support and guidance to students living with disabilities on any number of matters. You can reach out to them for an appointment or ask a question by emailing disability@lboro.ac.uk or calling 01509 222770.

Additional Support Services:

  • Nightline – the out-of-hours support service run by Loughborough students, for Loughborough students. This amazing bunch of volunteers are operating remotely during Covid-19, and you can reach out to their instant messenger service from 8pm-2am on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • Centre for Faith and Spirituality ­– I’ve worked with a number of people from here, and they are always there to provide a listening ear, support and guidance. Not just on spiritual or religious matters too; as a person not of a particular faith or religion, it has never been on the cards to talk about when I have reached out to them for support.
  • Community and Hall Wardens – each Hall has a warden and sub-warden team who are there to support and look out for you. For students living in town and the wider community, you have a team of community wardens there to support and look out for you too!
  • LSU, yes all of it! – A shameless plug, but the Students’ Union is a place where you can gain a tremendous amount of support and guidance. Our sections, the people, the students who keep it running – it is a place you can find your community or have help finding your place. I am always so heartened to see our student-led sections finding ways to connect with people in this pandemic. In this time, don’t hesitate to reach out to these groups. It may be a busy month but we’re all going through very similar experiences, even with our many differences.
    • From 18 January – 3 February, our annual Keep Calm Campaign is running – featuring useful information, motivation and a whole host of virtual events. Keep an eye out in your emails and on social media for more updates!

If you are in a crisis and need support urgently, please use one of the following:

  • Call your GP, visit A&E, call 111 or, if it is a life-threatening emergency, call 999.
  • Samaritans – Provides confidential support, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
    T: 116 123
  • Turning Point – 24-hour support service for urgent mental health support.
    T: 0808 800 3302

If you’ve made it this far, well done! If you’ve skimmed some of the info and have looked at the bottom to see if I have any other interesting things to say, well done too.

But seriously, the list of support I have provided isn’t even entirely comprehensive, and even then, there is still a lot in place for you from the options I presented.

Even if you don’t think you need something now, maybe save the URL of this blog; it has some handy information formatted in a hopefully helpful way. And there may be a time that you need to use it.

For now, whoever is reading this, if you want to chat about anything related to your welfare, diversity, health and wellbeing, please just drop me an email at welfareeo@lsu.co.uk.

Part of my job is to provide a non-judgmental, confidential listening ear, and have the ability to chat you through any of your options for support. That personal touch is sometimes really helpful, and I am always happy and willing to schedule in a chat.

Take care, keep calm and good luck with your revision and exams.

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