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Life as an IDIG student

July 30, 2021 Ella Cusack

Are you interested in studying with our Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance (IDIG)?

Want to find out more about the student experience?

In this blog, hear from current IDIG students sharing their experience studying within this Institute. Take a look below.


Loughborough University London is a great place to develop career-enhancing or career-changing skills and contacts. You will study in an environment that puts business and enterprise at the heart of its curriculum.  Surrounded by businesses of all shapes and sizes, and connected to key political and diplomatic decision-makers, Loughborough’s London campus provides you with opportunities to connect with real-world problems and collaborate with the people who are addressing them. 

Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance welcome students from all over the world and we cherish the diversity of our student body. In academic year 2020-21 our students came from countries as far apart as Nigeria and China, Mexico and the Philippines, the USA and Tunisia. They joined graduates from UK universities and other places in the world to create a student body as diverse in their nationality as in their educational and professional background. We welcome students from many different academic disciplines, and from different stages in their career paths. 

Want to find out more?

Hear what current IDIG students Errol Dela-Cruz, Degraft Osei-Kwame-Jnr, Amina Sani-Bello and Paul Figg in this video!


To find out more about the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance, please visit this web page.

If you would like to learn more about the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance from the Institute Director, Professor Helen Drake, please visit this blog.

Launch your business with The Studio

Launch your business with The Studio

July 30, 2021 Ella Cusack

The Studio is currently accepting applications from finalists who want to launch their own businesses, and graduates from the last five years.

The Studio is the graduate programme of LU Inc, the University’s business incubator, located on campus at LUSEP, which brings together graduate and academic entrepreneurs with founders from across the region and beyond to create a rich and supportive start-up community.

Part of the Loughborough Enterprise Network (LEN), the Studio is designed to give graduates the best possible environment to launch their business and watch it fly. 

Studio members benefit from:

  • Workspace – up to £4,000 worth FREE workspace at LU Inc
  • Funding – chance to access up to £7,500 through the Start-Up Fund
  • Training – bespoke training programme and community events
  • Coaching and mentoring – one to one support from founders and experts
  • Connections – introductions to business leaders, experts and investors
  • Marketing – profile-raising through University communication channels
  • Exclusive offers – from partners, such as Amazon Web Services, SolidWorks and more

The Studio’s support is free – no fees, no equity, no charges. Applying is easy. Finalists and graduates are encouraged to email whatever they have which explains their idea (this could include slides, website, financials – anything to start the conversation).

Applications close at midnight on 8 August 2021. They will be reviewed as soon as they are submitted, for a swift response.

Further details on how to apply online are available on the Studio website.

Getting to know our Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance

July 29, 2021 Ella Cusack

The Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance (IDIG) is one of our seven Institutes here at Loughborough University London. In this blog Professor Helen Drake, Director of the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance, shares an overview of the Institute, the master’s programmes we offer and how the Institute can support your career development. Take a look below.


I’m Helen Drake, Professor of French and European Studies and IDIG director since 2017. That was when I left Loughborough University (East Midlands campus) to set up the new Institute. I wanted be part of the new venture of the London campus and I love how interdisciplinary it is, how dynamic, diverse, energetic.  I love the location of the campus, and love leading the Institute.

What do we do in IDIG?

Along with the six other Institutes on the Loughborough University London campus, we conduct research, we raise funds for our research, we publish, and we share our findings with other academics, our students, policy-makers and other professionals.  We each have our networks of contacts working in all sorts of professions, not only in London but in the UK and beyond, and we draw on those networks to invite speakers into our classroom and curriculum: you will meet professionals who will share their practical experience (and secrets) with you.  

What do we teach?

If you are joining us in October 2021 then we in IDIG can offer you four different master’s programmes, plus a fifth masters run jointly Institute for International Management). 

All of our programmes are designed to keep pace with the changing realities of today’s world, and our programmes all share a number of modules which we think are vital for careers across many professions, namely how to negotiate, how to conduct diplomacy in its many forms, and how to decode the central role of politics in shaping virtually all professional activity. Each programme then offers specialist content such as Peacebuilding; Media, Politics and Social Movements; Corporate Governance, State and Development; as well as other optional courses. All programmes, finally, include a dissertation as well as the Collaborative Project which is taken by all students on the London campus, and is where students collaborate with each other and with an external organization to address a challenge that is live and pressing for that organization.

Our programmes

Diplomacy and International Governance

This programme provides the most choice, allowing you to tailor your programme closely to your own goals and interests where both your studies and your career are concerned. You will be encouraged to acquire a critical awareness of the contemporary world order and explore how students and diplomats alike can learn from the past to deal with the challenges of the future. Your programme includes Foreign Policy analysis  – the bread and butter of traditional diplomacy by sovereign nation states – and you learn how the United Nations operates to contain all those nation states for the benefit (in theory) of collective world order. Graduates of this programme will be equipped with the advanced skills and expertise in order to pursue a career in diplomacy, negotiations, advocacy, lobbying, political analysis, communications or other related fields.

Diplomacy, Politics and Trade

This is our newest programme, starting in October 2021.  Diplomacy, Politics and Trade are never far from the world’s headlines. In this programme you will join the dots between them, studying the consequences of political choices for all kinds of trade; exploring the balance between politics, diplomacy and trade in response to crisis; examining the impact of scandal and sleaze in sports and many other areas of public life; and scrutinizing the political trade in truth and lies. You will emerge as a professional with the competitive skills to enhance your career prospects wherever you are in the world, and whatever your business ambitions. 

Diplomacy, Business and Trade

This is one of the first programmes ever run by the Institute.  It’s possible that you are already ahead in your business career and want to brush up on your professional skills and learn about cutting edge research and thinking about your business environment.  Perhaps you want to switch careers.  You will learn in an environment that is tailor-made to develop the skills needed to critically understand globalisation, as well as knowledge of the current issues characterising relations between diplomacy, international business, and international trade. Graduates of this programme will be equipped with the skills and knowledge required to pursue careers in diplomacy, negotiations and political analysis for government, international organisations, nongovernmental bodies, and business alike.

Security, Peacebuilding and Diplomacy

This programme explores the link between national and global security, and the role of peacebuilding in the development of multi-layered communities and nations. You will discover appropriate theories, concepts and methods associated with this area, whilst exploring the relationship between development and peacebuilding, civil-military relations, cyber security, and the wider global security context.   Graduates from this programme will be ready to pursue a career in diplomacy (traditional and otherwise), particularly in the areas of international security and peacebuilding, and in a wide variety of organisations and missions.

Risk, Governance and International Management

Our Risk, Governance and International Management MSc is run jointly by the Institute for International Management and the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance. By studying this programme, you will develop a comprehensive understanding of the strategies used by multinational companies to manage risks arising from their environment.


We would like to thank Professor Helen Drake for writing this blog and sharing further insight into our Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance.

To find out more about the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance, please visit this web page.

If you would like to find out more about the student experience in our Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance, please take a look at this blog.

To find out more about our seven Institutes at Loughborough University London, please visit this web page.

Your monthly health check: Vitamin D and the sun

Your monthly health check: Vitamin D and the sun

July 29, 2021 Sadie Gration
Image courtesy of Getty Images

As part of a new partnership with Super Wellness, the University’s Occupational Health and Wellbeing team is delighted to introduce a new series of monthly check-ins with your health. Each edition revolves around a specific theme.

This month, we’ll be looking at Vitamin D and sun health.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin produced by UV radiation from sunlight as it strikes the skin. It can help with both immune and bone health, as well as improving your mood.

Our levels of Vitamin D can be affected by various factors: age, skin colour, weight, and the time of year can all play a part.

For example, the older you are, the less able your skin will be to make Vitamin D. And if your skin is darker, you’ll typically need more sun exposure to get a sufficient level of Vitamin D.

What’s a healthy level of Vitamin D and what can help me achieve this?

Ideally, you should be striving for levels above 50nmol/L. Those with 25nmol/L or below are categorised as deficient in Vitamin D.

For those who are interested, you can test your Vitamin D levels by purchasing a home kit from an NHS laboratory. More information can be found here.

To achieve a substantial level of Vitamin D, you can try the following:

  • Eating Vitamin D rich foods: Examples include red meat, oily fish, eggs, and fortified foods such as cereal
  • Exposure: Between March and September, most people should be able to get all the Vitamin D they need from sunlight.
  • Supplements: Between the months of October to February, it is recommended to take supplements when sunlight is minimal.

Using sunscreen

Did you know that sunscreen actually reduces Vitamin D production? It’s really important everyone uses sunscreen, however you may want to consider applying it a few minutes after being exposed to the sun.

Below are some useful tips to help you understand what the various words, numbers, and ratings mean that are associated with sun cream:

  • Sun Protection Factor (SPF) can block UVB rays but not UVA. The numbers can range between 2-50+. For a good standard of protection, opt for at least SPF30.
  • The UVA seal accompanied by a star rating indicates the product conforms to EU recommendations for UVA protection. It’s recommended to choose one with at least four stars.
  • No sun cream is 100% waterproof or sweatproof, so always reapply after swimming or exercising. It’s recommended sunscreen is reapplied every two hours, and roughly 1tsp is used per body part.
  • When choosing a sun protection product, purchase one with both UVA (associated with ageing) and UVB (associated with burning) protection.
  • If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, a mineral/more natural sunscreen such as titanium oxide or zinc oxide may be more suitable for you.

For more information about sunlight and the effects of it on the body, check out Super Wellness’ poster below. If you are experiencing any issues reading the content, please use the ‘zoom in’ tool on your browser.

So much more than a floppy hat!

July 28, 2021 Dr Katryna Kalawsky

Written by Dr Katryna Kalawsky

During University Graduation ceremonies it’s easy to make a visual distinction between a graduating Doctoral Researcher (DR), a Postgraduate Taught student (aka a Masters Student) and an Undergraduate just by looking at their attire…but purple floppy hat aside, there are a LOT of differences between DRs and taught students than many don’t know about (unless you’re a DR yourself or know someone very well who is). So, to cast a little light on who these mysterious DRs are and what they do i’ve created a list of a few key facts…

  1. A doctorate (ie., PhD/EngD) is the highest academic qualification available!
  2. Those who receive this qualification become Doctors because they have made an original contribution to knowledge, written a thesis (up to 80,00 words!) that is worthy of publication, and demonstrated their understanding and application of appropriate research methods and training.
  3. Unlike the taught student populations, DRs do not have semesters or timetables, they are not part of a student cohort, and they do not undertake coursework or exams. Instead, DRs work independently on a novel research project over several years and at the end of their doctoral programme they have a Viva (also called a thesis defence) in which they are required to take part in a scholarly debate with academic examiners and defend their work.
  4. DRs arrive separately at the University and are inducted at 4 starting points each academic year (October, January, April and July) and spend 3–4 years (full-time) or approx. 5-years (part-time) researching their chosen research question(s).
  5. Some DRs are self-funded and others are funded (or part-funded) by the University/funding body/government of country.
  6. Some DRs have returned to academia from a professional career and most are in an older age bracket to undergraduates and postgraduate taught students with varying familial and financial circumstances – they juggle a lot!
  7. DRs are the ‘lifeblood’ of the University’s research capability. They also are essential to the Research Excellence Framework and raise the University’s national and international research profile – quite simply the University would not be as successful as it is without them!
  8. DRs often work with industry and make huge impact towards today’s challenges and that of the future.
  9. DRs form a vital part of the teaching experience of the taught student population at the University and contribute towards the Teaching Excellence Framework.
  10. DRs also form a crucial pastoral role at the University with ~50 appointed as Voluntary Sub-Wardens in the University’s halls of residences.

Disclaimer: The list above is by no means exhaustive…but hopefully it provides a snapshot of how awesome those receiving and undertaking a doctorate are! They are most definitely a P.retty H.uge D.eal!

Congratulations to all our Loughborough Doctoral Graduates!

Looking back at my time in Loughborough

Looking back at my time in Loughborough

July 27, 2021 Guest Blogger

Hey, I’m Oliver, a 2021 finalist within the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering here at Loughborough – studying Air Transport Management with a year long Industrial Placement at TUI, where I am now returning as a graduate. Looking back on my time in the Loughborough ‘bubble’ I’ve had some incredible experiences – so here’s a bit of a look back at the past four years of my life. 

Freshers 2017 

It all started back in 2017 and while I was never really sure if Loughborough was for me, the idea of spending the next four years of my life here was really cemented on a post-offer visit day. Having met my grade requirements on results day I was really looking forward to the next stage of my life – being away from home for the first time, meeting new people and starting to study something that was what I wanted to do.  

 

First year for me was really an opportunity to get used to university life and really get stuck into the opportunities that are available. The transition from sixth form to university was definitely a big step, however when I realised everyone was in the same boat, there was nothing to worry about. You can really get into the rhythm of extra reading and coursework deadlines in no time at all. 

 

The wealth of opportunities that are available, from sports to arts, fundraising to volunteering, and even having the opportunity to start shaping other people’s experiences for the better, really helped me and meant I wasn’t worrying about missing home (sorry mum and dad!). 

Elvyn Committee 

Having got stuck into my hall committee within my first few months, I really wanted to get the best out of my Loughborough experience and so I used this as an opportunity to really work on me! Looking back at it now, my top tip for anyone else in my shoes is to really think about what you can do extra to fit into a work environment – think about networking, leadership, public speaking… the list could go on. These are really the qualities that will help you stand out when it comes to finding internships, placements or even a graduate role while also giving you a competitive edge over everyone else! 

Rag Raid in London 

Even though the extra-curricular activities can have a serious edge to them, it can all be fun and games too (including wearing pink fancy dress in Farringdon station all in the name of fundraising for charity). It’s the opportunities like these that I know I won’t forget, and the diverse number of opportunities that are available here at Loughborough. 

 

I personally found myself working heavily within the Students’ Union’s Welfare and Diversity section, where I was working for the betterment of students across Loughborough and London, and helping to improve one of the best student experiences in the country. The work I did also allowed me to see what goes on behind the scenes including how the university and LSU work together. I was part of meetings with senior members of staff including the Chief Operating Officer and the Vice Chancellor and saw just how much the university is willing to do to support the students. 

We Like Sportz

While Loughborough is known for its sports (it’s not the best university in the world for sports-related subjects for no reason), I’ve never been the most active person, but Loughborough really was the perfect place to get involved in sport through other opportunities.  

 

The programme of opportunities across the Athletic Union, inter-hall sport (IMS) and even recreational activities, mean there really is something for everyone. Plus it’s always exciting to see the odd Olympic athlete on campus! 

 

I somehow found a calling for being a pundit for the final of the IMS netball league and although presenting on TV may not be for me, even getting the opportunity to stand in front of a camera and try to form coherent sentences is something I definitely won’t get the opportunity to do elsewhere! 

Placement (UK) 

The reality of life being more than a lecture theatre and a piece of coursework really hit home during my placement year, in which I went just down the M1 to work for TUI. My placement was a real opportunity to learn about everything to do with the business and what it really is like in a global corporate environment.  

 

Through my job I had the opportunity to work in such an exciting industry – because who doesn’t love a bit of travel – and getting to do it for an industry leader was incredible. Speaking to corporate functions across Europe, getting to shape the resorts available in the programme and getting to do things that would not usually be possible without it, including sitting in the engine of a Boeing 737! 

Placement (Cyprus) 

My placement year really was a rollercoaster of emotions, from working through the collapse of TUI’s biggest competitor Thomas Cook in my first few weeks, to visiting Cyprus on a conference, as well as experiencing first-hand the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the travel industry. These experiences really did make me adapt in ways I had never imagined – a skill that really came in use during the rest of my time at university. 

 

The opportunities available at TUI really showed that they valued placement students just as much as their regular employees. From working on shaping a brand-new customer proposition for the newly launched River Cruises product, through to handling some of the largest customer facing social media channels in the UK. I would highly recommend a placement, internship or year in industry to anybody. It really does set you in good stead for tackling final year head on and, while I had my concerns that it would be hard to go back to university after a year out, I was back into it like I’d never left – with a bit more knowledge on how to run a Teams meeting! 

Adapting to Covid

Nights out turned into walks watching the sunset, lecture theatres turned into Teams calls and actual trips around the world became themed nights in the house. Was I sad about having my ‘normal university experience’ cut short due to the pandemic? Of course! But university is a learning experience in itself even outside of academia, and the opportunities are always going to be there to learn how to adapt and overcome the challenges that may come along. With the support across the university this year, from academic staff who had to adapt as much as the students did, through to those in the Students’ Union and student support teams, the pandemic wasn’t stopping anyone from achieving their full potential! 

Dissertation  

But we can’t forget that despite university being a place to have new experiences and meet new people, we also needed to put our heads down and get to work to achieve what we’re all ultimately here for – a degree! My final year research project – aka my dissertation – was really a big opportunity to put my own mark on the industry that I’ve always been interested in.  

 

Writing 17,000 words on the impact of alcohol in the context of British airports was one heck of a challenge, but getting feedback from people who showed an interest in the topic and work in the sector, really did show that my work as a little cog in the entire Loughborough community can have such vast impacts on a much wider scale.  

As the door on my Loughborough journey closes, I’m so thankful for the opportunities that I’ve had here, and ready to swing the next door of opportunities wide open – with one extra piece of paper and 3 additional letters to my name! Watch out world. 

What Relates to Understanding of Equivalence?

What Relates to Understanding of Equivalence?

July 27, 2021 Centre for Mathematical Cognition

Written by Dr Emine Simsek and edited by Dr Ian Jones and Dr Iro Xenidou-DervouEmine is a post-doctoral researcher at Loughborough University. Please see here for more information about Emine and her work.

Understanding of Mathematical Equivalence

A useful interpretation of the equals sign for students is thinking of it as a symbol which signifies that the two sides of an equation have the same value and are interchangeable. When solving equations, students are expected to assess the equivalence either by calculating the value on both sides of the equation, or by exploiting arithmetic shortcuts to avoid the need for calculation. Let’s call these shortcuts “relational strategies”. For example, for the following equation “Find the missing number in the equation 64 – __ =  62 – 37”, a relational strategy would be “64 is 2 more than 62, so the answer should be 2 more than 37 which is 39”.

However, research has shown that primary students often view the equals sign only as a “do something symbol” or “the answer to the problem”. They often use incorrect strategies when solving equations that have operations on both sides of the equals sign. Let’s call these strategies “operational strategies”. Two examples of operational strategies used by two Year 5 students are below. 

How can we improve students’ understanding of equivalence? The change-resistance account predicts that too much practice with only a traditional arithmetic format (equations with no operations on the right side, e.g. a + b = c) underpins unwanted incorrect strategies. This tells us that we should vary the problem format in the textbooks and other classroom resources. However, this account was based on research conducted in one country (the USA). Also, it did not account for factors such as teacher knowledge which has been shown to be important to support students’ mathematics achievement. Therefore, to explore what relates to students’ understanding of equivalence, we conducted a study across six different countries (China, England, New Zealand, South Korea, Turkey, and USA).

Our Study

We looked at whether teacher knowledge, the format of equations as presented in textbooks, or both, relate to students’ understanding of equivalence. Participants were Year 4 and Year 5 students (age range 8 to 12, 72% of the participating children were 10 years old) and their teachers across the countries.

We asked students to define the equals sign and to solve equations (e.g. 17 + 28 = _ + 27), and we calculated a performance score for each student. 

We asked teachers to predict correct and incorrect strategies that students might use to solve equations. In teachers’ responses, we looked at whether they were knowledgeable about their students’ use of operational and relational strategies. 

Finally, we asked teachers to provide the names of the current year mathematics textbooks that they used. Then, we analysed the textbooks and identified all the equations involving the equals sign on every other page of the textbooks. We then looked at how many traditional equations and non-traditional equations each textbook has. 

Traditional equations 
(no operations beyond the equals sign)
Non-traditional equations
(operations/operands beyond the equals sign)
a + b  =  c

58
+ 26
a  =  a
a  =  b + c
a + b  =  d
Examples of traditional and non-traditional equations

We used an advanced statistical modelling technique to analyse the data collected from 2,760 primary students and 108 teachers.

What we found?

Teachers provided more relational strategies than operational ones. This evidenced that many teachers lack knowledge about students’ use of incorrect (operational) strategies to solve equations. 

In all the countries in the study, the relevant grade textbooks had more traditional than non-traditional equations.

Students’ knowledge of definitions of the equals sign related to their equation-solving performance; students who had more sophisticated knowledge of the equals sign performed better on equations.

The teachers’ knowledge of students’ relational strategies related to the students’ understanding of equivalence but their knowledge of students’ operational strategies did not. From this and based on previous intervention studies, it can be assumed that teachers who are more knowledgeable about (students’) relational strategies support their students’ understanding of equivalence better in the classroom than those who are less knowledgeable of the issue.

We did not find evidence that the format of equations in the current year textbooks influenced students’ understanding of equivalence.

Take-home points for teachers 

  • Be aware that many students have an operational understanding of the equals sign and often use only operational strategies to solve equations. 
  • Remember that the way students define the equals sign influences their performance in equations. Support your students to define the equals sign relationally.
  • Vary the format of equations that students practice in the classroom.
  • Encourage use of relational strategies when solving equations. Below is an example of a relational strategy used by a Year 5 student.

Thank you for reading. Please contact Emine at e.simsek@lboro.ac.uk about ways to improve children’s understanding of mathematical equivalence!

Look out for Emine’s most recent paper, coming soon:

Simsek, E., Xenidou-Dervou, I., Hunter, J., Dowens, M., Pang, J., Lee, Y., McNeil, N., Kirkland, P., Jones, I. (2021). Factors associated with children’s understanding of mathematical equivalence: A cross-cultural investigation across six countries. Submitted for Review.

What London Offers IDIG Students

July 22, 2021 Ella Cusack

As student in our Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance (IDIG), you’ll be studying and living in London, the greatest global city. The city is filled with many different institutions and home to a range of events that will help you in your studies and careers. It’s also got lots more going for it when you’re not studying. In this blog, we asked our IDIG academics to name some of the places in London they think will be invaluable to IDIG students. See what they had to say below.



 

Chatham House

The Royal Institute of International Affairs, also known as Chatham House, is one of the world’s oldest think tanks and one of its most famous and prestigious. Located in St James’s, it is often the venue for talks and events with leading people in government, diplomacy, business and civil society. 

A need for discussions that were both discreet and candid let to the world-famous Chatham House rule: ’that participants in a meeting are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed’. IDIG has institutional membership meaning you’ll have access to Chatham House’s hundreds of events and world-leading research.  

The Sir John Soane’s Museum

The Soanes museum is quite an Alladins cave filled with beautiful and some rather macabre curiosities in the lower ground level. It is situated discretely away from the main London attractions in a quiet square around the corner from Holborn Tube station.

The museum is free to the public and only recognisable by its light-colored façade. Formerly the house of London architect Sir John Soane, who designed the Bank of England.

Soane was a philanthropist and collector of the bizarre, sculptures, paintings, books, classical and historic antiquities. There is even a sarcophagus of the former Egyptian King Sety I. And if you have time you can pop across the other side of the square to visit the Surgeons Museum which is also free and full of scary looking implements one might expect to find in the dungeons of the Tower of London. 

Imperial War Museum

All students of international relations know the quote, ‘you may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you’. Thankfully, you needn’t experience war first-hand to take an interest in some of the weapons and consequences of modern war. The Imperial War Museum does that for you.

There are several branches of the museum, each focusing on conflicts since 1914. The main museum is in Lambeth, just over the Thames from Westminster. There are two others in London. The Cabinet War Rooms in Whitehall allow you to see the bunkers from which the British Government operated in World War II. HMS Belfast, a former Royal Navy cruiser moored on the Thames near Tower Bridge, focuses on naval warfare.  

British Library

There are libraries and there are libraries. The British Library is the latter. In fact, it and the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. are in a league of their own. Like its counterpart in the USA, it is home to more than 170 million items, with the British Library estimating it may have up to 200 million items.

All items are accessible (to varying degrees depending on age, size etc.) but to do so you’ll need to register for access to the reading rooms. If you don’t want to register for access you can still work in the study spaces (get their very early to claim a space) and cafes elsewhere in the publicly accessible parts of the library building on Euston Road, next door to St Pancras Station. The building itself is a spectacular piece of work.  

UK Parliament

The Palace of Westminster is home to the UK’s parliament. Members of the public – whether from the UK or anywhere else – are welcome to visit to watch the House of Commons and the House of Lords at work, either in the main chambers or in smaller committee meetings. Tours of the palace are available when Parliament is not meeting. If you have questions about parliament then contact Dr Oliver who spent several years working there.  

Wimbledon

Wimbledon takes place every year over two weeks in late June and early July. If you are thinking of going and seeing world-class tennis (this is the tournament ‘they all want to win’), the IDIG team is more than welcome to share tips on how to get there (either through the public ballot, or the famous queue, or any other methods). 

Bank of England Museum

‘Money, money, money’ makes the world go round. There’s no getting away from money whether you’re interested in politics or business, trade or war. Located inside the UK’s central bank, the museum isn’t simply about the history of the bank, which is one of the world’s oldest central banks having been established in 1694. They tell a much longer and wider history of modern finance, money and banking.  

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Our campus is next to the flourishing and inviting Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park. Opened in 2012 for the Olympics, the park has plenty to offer all. With state-of-the-art sporting venues at every corner, the opportunity is there to spectate sporting greatness whilst also giving you the chance to swim, run, cycle or walk. 

You will find beautiful corners of the park filled with blossoms (from Europe to Asia) to the UK’s largest sculpture (the red tower thing) and tunnel slide that will whizz you back down to earth. Several large bridges connect the park together and offer many picturesque views. You can even watch the Hammers in the London Stadium itself (the home of West Ham United).  

National Maritime Museum

If there’s a centre of the world it’s the place from where time and distance are measured. That place is London, specifically Greenwich. Home to the Greenwich Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time, it’s also home to a series of museums known as the Royal Museums Greenwich. One of them is the National Maritime Museum, which tells the story of both British and global maritime history. 

This is not simply about trade and war, but also about the social, political and cultural effects of maritime links. 

South Bank

The South Bank of the Thames contains some of London’s most famous landmarks. Take some time to visit Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, a world-renowned theatre in the heart of London with a diverse programme of events, plays and projects. Nearby Borough Market offers a wide range of food that will meet and exceed everyone’s expectations and is an ideal complement to an evening performance at the Globe. 

There’s also the Tate Modern and the London Eye. This is also a good place to join one of the two best ways to see London: the River Bus. Run by TFL, you pay by touching in and touching out, which is the same way as you do on the Tube or a bus. River buses run up and down the Thames, offering great views and each has a little onboard café. The other best way to see London is to simply grab the front seats on the top deck of any of the double-decker buses that cross London. Routes 24, 9 and 11 offer the best sights.  

London’s Canal 

One of the hidden gems of London is the system of its canals. You can walk, run or cycle there in a relaxing and charming atmosphere. While walks around the river Thames (AKA the Thames Path) might be well known, the size and width of the London canals are less so.

The Regent’s Canal is probably the most famous part of the system, especially around Little Venice or Camden Town. But the canals are also close to the Loughborough University London campus in East London. From there, you can reach Victoria Park and get to Angel; or take another route, go south and meet the Thames around Limehouse. 

There’s also a Canal Museum.   


We would like to thank our Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance academics for putting together this blog.

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

My Loughborough Journey in 11 Memories

My Loughborough Journey in 11 Memories

July 21, 2021 Lety

My name is Lety, I’m a Brazilian-Italian Loughborough Alumni about to graduate with a First-Class Honours in Sport Science with Management, and this is my Loughborough journey in 11 memories. 

Memory 1 – Arrival

Like most nervous freshers, I remember being both simultaneously excited and anxious during the first few days. As my parents dropped my off at Royce (my home for the next two years), they managed to snap a quick, yet obligatory picture of me by the iconic Loughborough sign before leaving me to start my journey. Little did I realise that the next four years would fly by faster than Usain Bolt 

Memory 2 – My Degree 

When I chose to do Sport Science with Management, I had a relatively good idea what I was getting myself into, yet I didn’t expect for my degree to have a substantial amount of practical work. Despite coming as a surprise, the hours I spent in the lab doing hands-on projects were probably the most enriching and valuable learning experiences that I was very lucky to be a part of. As a very visual and kinaesthetic learner, being able to carry out theories and examples in real-life, helped not only reinforce what I already knew, but also allowed me to gain new knowledge that would prove useful in the following years.  

Memory 3 – AU Football 

One of my primary goals when coming to university was representing Loughborough through Football – my passion sport. I dedicated hours during the summer months and even arrived a few days early to join pre-season training to try and increase my chances of making it through trials. Rewardingly, my hard work paid off and I made the 4th AU team!  

 

Being a part of AU was when I truly felt integrated as part of the Loughborough family. Putting on an African violet uniform and learning the “Loughborough Walks on Water” chant made me proud to say I came from Loughborough and was an overall incredible experience. It taught me the meaning of dedication, perseverance, and definitely time management! Although I hung up my boots at the end of the season, it’s safe to say I cherished every game and every minute I was on the pitch.! 

Memory 4 – Tape on Tape 

There are so many ways to enrich your skill set at Loughborough and I felt very privileged to be able to take part in several courses that have enhanced my knowledge and CV. Through my school (SSEHS), I was able to obtain skills such a First Aid and Kinesiology taping, among other abilitiesThese are skills that will stay with me for life and that I have been able to use outside of my degree, which is invaluable.  

Memory 5 – LSU Classical 

Like sport, music has been an important part of my life. I’ve been playing the violin for 18 years now and, luckily, I continued my musical hobby through one of Loughborough’s many societies – LSU Classical. One of my favourite memories was a concert we held during my second year “A Journey Through Time”. It included all my favourite film music and we had the largest orchestra in Loughborough’s history with over 50 musicians. I can also proudly say that I worked with the Media Rep to design our campaign strategy, which helped us sell out for the first time! 

Memory 6 and 7 – Sport Sec – Royce Hall Committee 

Hall life is so special at Loughborough and it’s hard to even describe it to those who have yet to experience it. Like many things at Loughborough, halls and committees are led by students, for students and that creates a unique atmosphere where students’ wishes are a priority.  

 

As part of my 2 years at Royce, I spent a year as part of the Royce committee, as one of the four sport secs, as well as Royce’s female football captain. Despite being a substantial amount of extracurricular work, it taught me teamwork, leadership and events management, which are skills for life. It was a rewarding experience, especially as we managed to bump Royce up from 8th place to 5th place in overall IMS ranking, as well as I managed to bump up the female football team from 13th to 4th place. We also won first place for Rugby 13s, Rugby 7s, Table Tennis, Swimming, and Women’s Most Improved Hall. Shout out to my rocks Juan, Jas, and Zander! 

Memory 8 – Placement with Hilton 

After being rejected 23 times and a whole lot of perseverance, I joined the EMEA Hilton team as a Customer Engagement, Loyalty, and Partnerships Intern for my placement year. What’s amazing about a year in industry is that you learn what the real world of work is really like and it’s truly an eye-opener!  

 

You can put theory into practice and learn the tricks and tips of the trade! I never thought I would end up in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure, as my degree is in the area of Sport, but after spending a year with Hilton, I fell in love with the industry.! Despite being furloughed for the final three months of my journey, I still thank my team for their patience, teachings, and mentorship. 

Memory 9 – The Return to AU: Handball 

After ending my AU Football journey at the end of first year, I didn’t think I’d come back to represent Loughborough at the AU sport level, yet I took a chance and tried out for the AU Handball team. Stepping out of my comfort bumble and trying a new sport was probably both the most challenging and rewarding decision I took for my final year! Despite getting injured at UniChamps I can still stay I had an unbelievable AU Handball season, made amazing friends and became a part of an incredible club that gave me the opportunity to put on that African violet uniform again and represent Loughborough with pride.  

Memory 10 – International Students’ Network (ISN) 

Loughborough has a beautifully diverse student body, and being a part of the international community has been very special. When home is so far away, the international community takes you in and creates a home away from home. Being a part of this wonderful community encouraged me to take on the Marketing Officer role at the International Students’ Network (ISN).  

 

Together with this hard-working committee, I hopefully managed to give back to the international community that has been my family for the past four years. Although with its challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I personally believe ISN put together an array of interesting and welcoming events and campaigns to keep fostering the spirit of the community in the darkest of times.  

Memory 11 – Graduation: What next? 

Like many students, I was not ready to leave the Loughborough bubble and I’m still not ready. Luckily, Loughborough offered the Master’s degree I was looking for, so I’m happy to say that I will be pursuing a MSc in International Business here next year.! I look forward to the new challenges, modules, and knowledge I hope to gain from studying a completely new subject from my undergraduate degree. Bring it on!  

IDIG Recommendations: Podcasts, Radio and TV Shows

July 20, 2021 Ella Cusack

What podcasts should an Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance (IDIG) student listen to?

We asked some of our IDIG academics, fellows and PhD students to offer their suggestions for the best podcasts to listen for studying diplomacy and international governance. Hear what they had to say below.


Podcasts recommendations

Dr Tim Oliver (Senior Lecturer): Undercurrents (Chatham House)  

The regular podcast of Chatham House features interviews with experts from Chatham House and sometimes elsewhere.

Each podcast delves deep into a topic of global politics with experts offering their insights. IDIG has institutional membership of Chatham House so many of these experts will appear at and lead events IDIG students can attend in-person or online. 

Neil Mortimer (PhD Candidate): IfG Live (podcast of the London-based Institute for Government) 

IfG Live offers several weekly discussions, debating UK-based political affairs & offering ground-breaking insights from politicians, senior civil servants, academics, analysts & experts. This unique mix of expertise enables the podcast to touch upon a wide range of topics, whilst offering diverse perspectives. In this crisis-laden & unpredictable era for governments across the world, IfG not only simplifies, but engages with cutting-edge research, steering clear of political jargon.  

Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic attains a strong interest – with thoughts not only discussing the outbreak from a political standpoint, but with an eye cast on the future solutions, as we prepare & adapt for the next challenge. With the world changing & our lives becoming busier, this is somewhere you’d want to stop by & listen to distinctive points of view. 

Dr Dorina Baltag (Post-Doctoral Researcher): The World in 30 minutes  

Chaired by Mark Leonard, the founder and director of ECFR (European Council on Foreign Affairs), this is a weekly series where the host explores big issues in foreign policy with invited guests. Most of the podcasts offers insights into developments that affect European countries.

The latest themes covered Europe’s pandemic politics and the way in which the virus changed the public’s world view; how solidarity was felt in the different European countries during COVID-19; on anti-racisms protests in the US and Europe or the peace process in Libya. 

Dr Cristian Nitoiu (Lecturer): Foreign Correspondent 

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My recommendations is the weekly  documentary shows Foreign Correspondent on the Australian ABC news channel. The episodes focus on timely issues around the world. Some recent stories include China’s changing  foreign policy, the role of the church in Russia or Poland or the conflict in Syria during the coronavirus crisis.  

I really appreciate the Australian perspective on reporting which is very detailed, insightful, self-aware (and self-critical) and objective. It is very difficult nowadays to comes across quality reporting about world affairs that is sensitive to different points of view and does not try to convey an underlying normative or civilizational message.  

Dr Dorina BaltagGlobal Dispatches 

This is a podcast that brings together diplomats, journalists, policymakers and scholars to discuss a range of diverse issues on foreign policy and world affairs.

The host of the show is Mark Leon Goldberg, the editor of the United Nations and global affairs blog UN Dispatch and co-founder of the social enterprise – the Development and Aid World News Service. This podcast was also named as one of 27 “podcasts to make you smarter” by the Guardian. 

Professor Helen Drake (Director of the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance) : Podsave America 

Democrat policy wonks are all over the USA’s current political scene with their incisive analysis and irreverent humour.  Invited guests dissect US politics from the Supreme Court down to the smallest district, rooting out cant and bad faith where they find it, and exposing all manner of political activity to their merciless gaze.

Opinionated, yes, but also highly informed, experienced and above all passionate to galvanize US democracy in line with the values that they believe characterise today’s USA, and above all, its youth. 

Massimo D’Angelo (PhD Candidate) – You and me both  

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sits down for candid, in-depth, and sometimes hilarious conversations with people she finds fascinating.

With help from her guests, Hillary will tackle the topics that shape our lives, from faith to the pressing political issues of our time to cooking tips for the cooking-challenged. 

Professor Aidan McGarry (Reader in International Politics) – Talking Politics 

Talking Politics on Twitter: "Enjoying our summer series of shorter  guide-style episodes? Help us spread the word with a RT – and if you have  time, a review on your podcast provider

Talking Politics is produced through the London Review of Books. They have a series called ‘History of Ideas’. It takes big concepts like freedom or liberty or the state or patriarchy and uses key thinkers to discuss them, usually analysing their key books and arguments.

It gets to the point and serves an a useful introduction to key thinking and thinkers on central political ideas which have occupied political theorists for centuries. 

Ruairi Cousins (PhD Candidate) – Hidden Histories of the Northern Ireland Troubles    

Gareth Mulvenna and guests takes you on a journey through the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. It covers issues surrounding conflict, security, political tensions, identity, international relations, crime and much more. 

Sean Calvin (PhD candidate) – The Claw Hammer investigation at Scotland Yard read by Orson Wells 

A crime thriller podcast based on strolling through the black museum, which are stories based on actual Scotland Yard cases.

Wells narrates how the museum host would casually pick up or point out various murder weapons and examine them then explain the related crime in forensic detail.  

Radio and TV show recommendations

Dr Tim OliverIn Our Time 

For over 20 years this radio discussion show has been one of the most successful and popular shows broadcast by the BBC. Chaired by veteran broadcaster and polymath Melvyn Bragg, each programme is essentially an academic seminar involving Bragg and three academics who are top in their fields, discussing a specific cultural, scientific, historical, philosophical or religious topic.

Its weekly audience of millions of listeners, along with the millions who each week download one or more of the 900 episodes freely available on the BBC archive, is proof that hard, intellectual thinking can be accessible and popular. 

Dr Nicola Chelotti (Lecturer): RadioLab  

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RadioLab is a New York-based documentary radio. It presents itself as a radio show and podcast weaving stories and science into sound and music-rich documentaries. But it covers also many stories related to politics (recently, 6 excellent episodes called “The Other Latif” on an alleged Al-Qaeda’s top explosives expert). The best thing of these docu-stories is that they combine rigorous evidence, traditional investigative journalism and innovative storytelling methods. 

Professor Helen Drake:  Rethink 

BBC Sounds - Rethink - Downloads

The BBC in June 2020 started a series of 6-minute ‘essays’ designed to ‘RETHINK’ the world, the planet and its humans in the light of Covid-19.  A recent  highlight is the Dalai Lama on ‘Rethinking Ancient Wisdom.’

The essays cover a huge range of topics (health, sport, the body, debt) – you name it and it is probably there. 

Dr Tatevik Mnatsakanyan (Lecturer) – Aeon  

Aeon (digital magazine) - Wikipedia

Aeon is a digital magazine publishing essays, videos and short documentaries on some of the most pressing issues of our time and offering provocative thinking on big questions by leading thinkers on science, philosophy, society and the arts. Its Philosophy section contains entries on Political Philosophy, History of Ideas, and Ethics, as well as sections on timeless themes such as Meaning and the Good Life, Values and Beliefs, and Cosmopolitanism.

The scale and depth of coverage on Aeon make us think and look for the “political” in less immediately obvious places.   

Alicja Prochniak (PhD candidate) – Then and Now 

Then and Now is a YouTube Channel filled with video essays about history, politics and philosophy. I’d recommend starting with is ‘The Shock of Modernity.’ 


We would like to thank all of the academics, fellows and PhD candidates from our Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance for contributing to this blog.

To find out more about the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance, please visit this web page.

My #LboroGrad: Amy Ward

July 16, 2021 Guest Blogger

Ten years ago I started my undergraduate degree and in 2014 I experienced my first (and what I thought would be my only) Loughborough graduation ceremony. My most vivid memory from that day was VC Bob telling us to look to the audience to find our families. I remember looking behind me and seeing my parents and my grandad, wearing his purple shirt and tie, peering through and cheering me on whilst thinking this was a really special finale to what was the best university experience I could have asked for. 

Little did I know that I would be back on campus in 2016 studying my MSc in Work Psychology, part-time, alongside a full-time job. My postgraduate experience with Loughborough was entirely different, going from living in halls for three years to now living two hours away from the Loughborough bubble, going to work Monday to Wednesday and then attending block teaching on Thursdays and Fridays. Having the support of my programme leader and the flexible nature of the course allowed me to juggle my degree alongside my personal and professional life whilst being able to really enjoy the content at my own pace and utilise it in a practical way in my day-to-day work.  

I envisaged my MSc would take me two years to complete, however I ended up choosing a few modules per year across a three-year period, plus I had a year break from learning when I was going through a period of growth in my career and some significant personal events. Covid then unfortunately postponed graduation last year, so here we are five years later finally looking forward to my MSc graduation and I feel so proud that I finally made it. 

My biggest piece of advice when thinking about a master’s is to consider why are you doing it and how are you going to do it. 

For me, I had to have strong reason for undertaking such a big commitment, I saw it as an opportunity to support advancing my knowledge, my credibility and ultimately my career and I still felt like I wanted to learn more within the academic space, it felt like the right time for me.  

I am also so pleased that I made the decision to do it whilst working, even though this is no mean feat, and I would stress to anyone to seriously consider the impact of trying to juggle both! The master’s was directly relatable to my everyday work and being able to apply theory straight into practice or vice versa, bringing my experience to the classroom and the assessments, really helped bring the content to life and made everything I was learning much more purposeful and meaningful. 

In summary, I would say choose your subject wisely and make sure the programme is able to deliver not only the content you want to learn to support your career or interests, but also make sure it is a course that can be delivered in a way which enables you to manage other commitments in life. Without Loughborough offering such a flexible learning model, I would not have been able to take part in the MSc. 

After what was a long, tough, but very rewarding five-year journey, it means a huge amount to me and my family that we are able to come together to celebrate on campus. We know of many universities who decided not to host class of 2020 ceremonies this year, so I feel very grateful to Loughborough to have this opportunity. I am personally looking forward to the set-up of the day. Being hosted in a marquee outside (it’s due to be sunny!) and having a post-ceremony reception makes the day feel different and unique compared to my undergrad ceremony but it will still have the same Loughborough family feel and campus buzz to it – I can’t wait to see some familiar faces and catch up with friends! 

I feel very lucky that my parents are able to join me, especially with my dad normally living abroad, and I am really happy that they can both be back in Loughborough 10 years after my first day on campus. However, I am acutely aware that unfortunately some of my peers are still being significantly being affected by covid and that they themselves or their family may not be able to travel. I hope that wherever you are in the world you are able to celebrate your achievements with your loved ones and I hope you are still able to make it a really special occasion. 

Congratulations to the Classes of 2020 and 2021 and welcome to the #LboroGrad Family! 

London SME's: We need you!

London SME's: We need you!

July 16, 2021 Ella Cusack

Since March 2020, Loughborough University London’s Digital Skills Programme has helped around 150 London based SME’s to grow capacity, increase audience and upskill in digital tools.

We have seen around 75 Postgraduate students, many with previous professional backgrounds, collaborate with SME’s within the London Boroughs to increase capacity through digital skills.

We have also offered a series of digitally focused workshops in partnership with Echo, aiming to upskill SME’s in digital working practices such as digital marketing, social media strategy, SEO, UX/UI and more.

As part of the Digital Skills programme, YOU can offer a work insight project to a Loughborough University London master’s student.

Companies must agree to:

  • Outline the digital work insight project
  • Offer a minimum of a 30 hour insight project to a Loughborough University London master’s student
  • Confirm that the student completed the project and offer an endorsement to the student for their input on the project.

To find out more information about the Digital Skills Programme, please visit our website.

Did I need the law to be my non-binary self at work?

Did I need the law to be my non-binary self at work?

July 14, 2021 David Wilson

To mark International Non-binary Day 2021, David Wilson reflects on their own experiences and where non-binary people find themselves in the UK in 2021.

Can there be a bigger cliché in queer circles than “I wasn’t like the other kids at school”?  Maybe not.  But it’s true.  First I grew my hair long, inspired by heavy metal and grunge bands. But I cut it again under social pressure.  A few years later I discovered gender non-conforming musicians like Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal of Placebo, and Nicky Wire and Richey Edwards of Manic Street Preachers and I started wearing makeup and clothes classed as feminine.

Image shows the bands Placebo and Manic Street Preachers with members wearing makeup and clothes classed as feminine
Placebo (left) and Manic Street Preachers (right) subverting gender norms in the mid 90s

I reined it in again when I started university – worried about alienating the people I’d meet and failing to make friends.  It became a “nights out only” look.  When I started working I wanted to seem grown up and responsible which, particularly for someone read as male, means quite a conservative appearance.  Arists such as David Bowie had been pushing boundaries on stage and screen for decades, but even today there’s not much latitude in “male” office wear.

In their autobiography, “Sissy.  A coming of gender story”, Jacob Tobia writes of entering the workplace “A first glance professionalism tries to convince you it’s a neutral word purely meant to signify a collection of behaviours, clothing and norms, appropriate for the workplace.  “We just ask that everyone be professional” the cis white men will say, smiles on their faces, as if they’re not asking for much. “Uh, we try to maintain a professional office environment…” but never has a word been so loaded with racism, sexism, heteronormativity or trans exclusion.  Whenever someone is telling you to “be professional” they’re really saying “be more like me”.”

“I wish I could dress like that at work” I’d think. Every time. For years.

Image shows a photo of Jacob Tobia wearing makeup and clothes classed as feminine and the cover of their autobiography
Jacob Tobia

Nobody told me I had to dress that way, but that’s not how social norms work.  You just pick them up.  I’d see women coming to work in all sorts of outfits, all sorts of fabrics and colours, some with makeup, some with none.  “I wish I could dress like that at work” I’d think, every time I saw them.  Every time. For years.

Then in 2016 I learned a few key things:
The Equality Act 2010 protects people from discrimination based on “gender-reassignment”.
Gender re-assignment covers social transition (how we present, changes in names, pronouns etc.) as well as medical transition (e.g. hormones or surgery).
While it hadn’t been tested in court, it was very likely this protection extended identities that fell outside the gender binary – not just trans men and trans women. (This has since been established in an employment tribunal).

I brought this information to my manager and assertively informed her I’d be coming to work looking different from now on.  She was a little taken aback, but supportive.  I started coming to work in dresses, skirts, heels, makeup, and in the hoop earrings for which I’ve become known.  I wore these things to the office, to meetings, to negotiate with senior university managers on behalf of UCU and I waited for the backlash, the snide comments, the laughter.  They never came.  I asked for IT systems to be changed, and for the University to establish a working group to improve support for trans and non-binary staff and students, and the requests were granted. The irony of working in IT and pushing against binaries was not lost on me.

In 2016 we were riding a wave of interest about transgender people.  The Transgender Tipping Point was declared in 2014 when Laverne Cox, star of Orange Is The New Black, appeared on the cover of Time magazine.  Caitlin Jenner had followed in Vanity Fair in 2015.  Recognition and acceptance were here.  But from progress comes a backlash and now far too much time and energy is spent on a confected war between the trans community and so-called “gender-critical” women fearful that increased rights for trans women decreases their protections from men.  These groups, natural allies in the face of patriarchy, have been turned against each other in order to maintain the status quo. 

Image shows Laverne Cox on the cover of Time magazine
Laverne Cox on the cover of Time in 2014
Image shows Caitlyn Janner on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine
Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair in 2015

Stonewall, the LGBT+ charity founded by national treasures such as Ian McKellen, has been vilified by the press and the government for supporting the vulnerable trans community and organisations have come under pressure, including from Equalities Minister Liz Truss, to dissociate from them.  At Loughborough however we have made steady progress towards better understanding and inclusion of the trans and non-binary members of our community and we have remained a member of the Stonewall Diversity Champion program. 

This week to celebrate International Non-Binary People’s Day, Stonewall have released posters for schools and colleges featuring a range of non-binary folk talking about their work and their interests in order to help normalise our existence and increase our visibility for the next generation.  I am proud to have been invited to participate in this campaign, proud to be a poster child for Stonewall during their rough ride.  Just as I’m proud to be seen around campus and in the rest of the world because as much as I still fear the backlash might come at any moment, I am no longer prepared to repress who I am.  I want to be seen and make it easier for others to be themselves and be seen.

The Parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee urged government in 2016 to “look into the need to create a legal category for those people with a gender identity outside that which is binary…” noting several countries had already done so. In 2020 the UK Government decided to shelve plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act, and in May 2021 responded to a petition to asking for legal recognition for non-binary gender saying it had no plans for this, and that it would have “complex practical consequences”.  Consequences which countries such as New Zealand, Malta and Pakistan and others have been able to overcome.

Did I need legal protection to be my non-binary self at work? 

Did I need legal protection to be my non-binary self at work?  Would anyone have stopped me if I’d just come in dressed how I wanted to years earlier?  We’ll never know.  But I didn’t feel able to do it, so in that sense yes, I needed the legal protection.  In 2016 I thought we were on a one-way street to greater acceptance and legal recognition. Now I fear that progress is stagnating and may even be reversed as we see in Poland and Hungary.  I hope that I’m wrong. But most of all I hope that whatever happens in law we heal the wounds in public opinion and work together to address gender-based violence and oppression in all its forms.

Photo by Delia Giandeini on Unsplash

This Week at Loughborough | 12 July

July 12, 2021 Jess East

Ceramics workshop with artist Matthew Raw

14 July, Ceramics workshop, 3D Design Building

Hands-on workshops where you will learn to roll and join ‘slabs’ of clay to create a personalised letter tile. Find out more on the events page.


Theatre Workshop: Puritans Under Siege

15 July, 5 – 6.30pm, Palace Theatre, Newark

An exciting opportunity to workshop a brand new play on the stage of the Palace Theatre, Newark. Find out more on the events page.

The LGBT+ Staff Network: A new chair and a new direction

The LGBT+ Staff Network: A new chair and a new direction

July 12, 2021 Sadie Gration

As part of its commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), Loughborough University’s People and Organisational Development team has helped to establish multiple Staff Networks over the years where members can support each other, raise concerns, and influence change. There are nine Staff Networks to date, with one of the longest-serving ones being the LGBT+ Staff Network.

With a newly elected Chair leading them, the Network has undergone a change in its structure, purpose, strategy and a slight rebranding of its name – from the LGBT+ Staff Group, to the LGBT+ Staff Network. These changes aim to signal a new way of working and engaging staff across the University to facilitate LGBT+-related change and activities.

I spoke with the new Chair, Chris McLeod, to find out more about the Network’s new direction and how this will better support LGBT+ staff and allies on our campuses.  

Chris, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?  

“Yes of course! I’m a Research Associate and University Teacher in Psychology at the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, I’ve been at Loughborough University since 2016 and I was the LGBT+ Student Officer at Loughborough Students’ Union from 2017-2019. I’m now delighted to have been elected as the new Chair of the LGBT+ Staff Network.”

What does the LGBT+ Staff Network mean to you?

“Feeling part of an LGBT+ community has been a crucial element of my life over the last five years. When I first came out in 2008, I didn’t have people around me who had similar experiences to me, and I had no idea at that point how much an LGBT+ community would benefit my life and how much I was missing in not seeking it. Now I’ve seen how much support and strength you can get from being around others with similar experiences, I know the LGBT+ community will always be a fundamental part of me and my life. So, for me, the LGBT+ Staff Network means community, understanding and strength.”

What do you think the group’s current strengths and weaknesses are?

“When it comes to our strengths: we have a place to bring LGBT+ staff together, we have amazing staff who are keen to attend meetings and take on actions, collectively we have pushed for changes to structures, processes and LGBT+ representation here over the years, and the University acknowledges and supports our existence.

“But I also think we have a few weaknesses to address. We don’t fully understand our purpose (are we a social and support group for colleagues, or are we a group that advocates for the LGBT+ community at the University and strives for change?), we probably only regularly engage with around 2% of LGBT+ colleagues across the institution, we don’t always feel that LGBT+ specific issues are at the forefront of the mind for making systemic and structural changes on our campuses, and often we find a lot of the work we do is done by a small number of people.”

Why did you decide to change the name from ‘group’ to ‘network’? Is this part of a larger plan?

“Yes, that’s right! It may seem like a small and insignificant change, but I actually think that this small tweak will help to change the way we work, and the way staff engage with LGBT+-related activities at the University. From listening to various community voices and drawing some conclusions from this, I felt that the term ‘group’ seemed very exclusive – it’s a closed, limited and quite intimidating concept. Having a ‘group’ even led to the perception that you have to come into this closed group just to ‘be’ LGBT+ or an ally on our campuses. This is not what we want, at all! Whereas, I believe a ‘network’ in concept is very different. A network is expansive, unlimited and open where everyone who is LGBT+ or an ally on our campuses is part of the LGBT+ Staff Network – it’s not a closed group, but an open network of people. Instead of monthly meetings to enable ‘the group’ to come together, the network now has monthly meetings where any staff can come to meet and discuss issues, represent the community’s voices and provide a forum for support and to facilitate change.

“So, the name change is a small thing, but I think it plays a key role in shifting our focus from being exclusive to being expansive. Through refining how we work, I believe we can establish a position as a key EDI advisory forum for the University when systemic and structural changes are being reviewed. We can bring LGBT+ staff – as well as other minoritised and liberation communities – together to collaborate and progress EDI work. And in addition, we can ensure LGBT+ staff are at the forefront of the mind for our University’s change makers and have a seat at the table when decisions are being made.

“I appreciate this doesn’t come easy. I know there are currently resourcing and workload issues, as many staff struggle to find the time to incorporate LGBT+ advocacy and activism into their everyday roles. However, by working together as a community – both an LGBT+ community and a Loughborough community – I think we can make meaningful change to improve the experience of people working and living at this University.”

That all sounds great, Chris. Do you have a plan of action of how you plan to go about this that you’re happy to share with us?

“Yes of course. I envision us implementing these opportunities with six key changes.

  1. A change of concept

“I basically covered this earlier, but in short, the change from a group to a network allows us to be more expansive with our thinking. Staff can attend our monthly meetings (either regularly or ad hoc) to highlight issues, discuss campaign or event ideas and represent LGBT+ staff voices across our campuses.

2. A change of structure

“We should ensure the Chair is elected or re-elected on a specific manifesto every two or three years. This way the Chair is held accountable and is representative of the community. I also think that we should have committee positions to broaden the work we do across our campuses and to provide developmental opportunities for our LGBT+ staff. After discussing this with other Staff Support Network Chairs, and in understanding the needs of our community, roles I’d like to introduce include a Collaborations Lead, a Loughborough London Champion, and a Trans, Non-Binary and ‘Plus’ Lead, among others. These roles will be advertised on the LGBT+ Staff mailing list over the summer.

“I also want to ensure our monthly meetings are open to non-committee staff, whether it’s regularly or as a one-off, so they can fully contribute to and critique ideas, but don’t have to take on actions if they don’t want to.

3. Collaborating with others

“We need to work with others who have similar experiences and ambitions. And for those who we already collaborate with, we need to engage with them even more. This includes the student LGBT+ Association, other Staff Networks, Stonewall (through our partnership as a Diversity Champion), and external partners such as our alumni.

4. Researching University structures, processes and experiences for LGBT+ staff

“The University has a Trans and Non-Binary Working Group who, at the time of writing, have a survey running to understand the experiences of trans and non-binary students and staff at the University. This will be an incredibly helpful survey for us to have some initial understanding about the experiences of some of our LGBT+ folk. I hope we can leverage off these results to then take part in a more widespread survey looking at the University’s structures, processes and staff experience to understand how our University matches up against best practice and to find out where we can make meaningful and nuanced changes. Engaging with an external organisation and process to help us do this will be key, and Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index may be just what we need to facilitate this!

5. Engaging in higher-level strategic planning and change for EDI at Loughborough

“In the past, Staff Networks worked in their silos. It often seemed more likely that student groups or Human Resources were able to make significant change happen. But now we have a better structure. All our Networks can come together at the University’s new EDI Advisory Forum, which feeds back information to the EDI Subcommittee (hopefully soon to be the EDI Committee), which then informs University Council who are able to make systemic changes.

“There’s also been a big shift in the Networks working with Schools and Departments across the University to facilitate change in specific areas, which is great to see.

6. Increasing our visibility

“Finally, we need to keep pushing for visibility of our Network. Whether that’s through internal forums, allies, HR, or marketing platforms such as our website, social media, and internal communication channels. We also need to increase our visibility with senior management too, and I’m delighted to announce two new Executive Sponsors of the LGBT+ Staff Network: Director of Finance Andy Stephens, and the Dean for Social Sciences and Humanities Professor Lisanne Gibson.”

That all sounds amazing Chris, and it’s been great to speak with you today. Do you have a last message for anyone reading this?

“It’s been great to speak. Thank you for giving me and the Network a forum to talk about our direction. If you haven’t already, please check out the LGBT+ Staff Network’s dedicated webpage to find out more about us. We also have a blog which regularly features contributions by our amazing LGBT+ staff who write inspiring and thought-provoking reads. You can also keep up-to-date with our initiatives by following us on Twitter @LboroLGBT.

I can’t wait to work with LGBT+ colleagues and allies across the University to move forward with this vision, and if anyone has any questions or feedback, you are welcome to email me at lgbt@lboro.ac.uk.”

Research, charity work, and life at Loughborough: How I’m striving for positive change at the University

Research, charity work, and life at Loughborough: How I’m striving for positive change at the University

July 9, 2021 Sadie Gration

My name is Ruby Appiah-Campbell. I am married with two children, and I have a number of roles at Loughborough University. I am a full-time Doctoral Researcher in the School of Business and Economics, a University Teacher, a Research Assistant working on a British Academy funded project, and a sub-warden for Cayley Hall.

Before starting my PhD, I was a banker for ten years with Standard Chartered Bank and Stanbic Bank, where I rose through the ranks into a management position. One fateful day in January 2016 after a good day at work, I was driving home in my car alone and thinking how I loved my job and how life was generally perfect. However, I realised that perhaps I could contribute more to other people’s success – especially young people – as I have always been passionate about education. I wanted to support young people to reach a reasonable and sustainable life.

This dream could only be made possible by making certain critical decisions and following them through. I decided to quit a job I genuinely enjoyed to get myself into an environment where I could better understand the ever-changing needs of young people in order to support them to aspire and achieve.

I started the journey by enrolling on a Master of Research programme in 2017, even though I already had a Master’s in Business Administration while working in the banking industry. I moved on to start a full-time PhD in 2018 and took up roles to get me closer to students to understand their lives, wants and needs.

My intentions led me to start teaching and taking up a Sub Warden role in Cayley Hall, where I  provide pastoral care. My passion for supporting young people has increased through my interactions with students, from undergraduates to postgraduate researchers, and from witnessing the wide array of challenges faced by students from diverse backgrounds.

My doctoral studies and my Research Assistant role have impacted my outlook on various issues I encounter while interacting with students and staff of the University.

My PhD research focuses on addressing how two competing forces – the rise in ethnocentric attitudes (eg ethnic group self-centeredness) and the call for prosocial behaviour (eg sacrificing for the benefit of others) can coexist.

I conducted interviews with and collected survey questionnaire data from Loughborough staff and students. The initial results from my data analysis and ongoing experiences threw more light on the current state of the University. I found a lack of institutional engagement with BAME students in particular, resulting in a feeling of not being cared for. Hence, they do not fully benefit from the fantastic Loughborough University experience for which we have such a high reputation.

My recommendation for a positive BAME student experience at Loughborough University is for both the University* and the Students’ Union’s Senior Management team to recognise the need for specialised workshops and training to enable them to view occurrences through the lens of the underrepresented students. This recommendation which stems from my research, is critical to engineer initiatives from the top.

Additionally, the research I’ve been involved with for the past year as a Research Assistant focuses on young people. We have conducted over 20 interviews with students, collected 500 survey responses  from young people, and did some initial analyses showing various insecurity, personality, and trust issues among them. These observations from research and personal interaction with the community have propelled me to support students in general and, more significantly, underrepresented students.

My desire to address these issues led me to launch a charity called Life Beacon. It is the hub for several initiatives driven by knowledge from my research and my Christian faith that benefit both home and international students. The primary objective of Life Beacon isto advance education among the underrepresented student groups by educating and mentoring young people to develop a firm and stable foundation to achieve a sustainable life. The initiative, which started as a passion, has now been registered under charity commission as Life Beacon International to enable students who volunteer in any capacity to be able to reference their activities on their CVs. More details of the work we do can be found here.

One initiative of Life Beacon is called ‘Going to University’. This project aims to reduce the increased mental health challenges among young people and support them to develop a sustainable lifestyle. We intend to provide knowledge and guidance to young people in sixth forms and colleges to quickly identify their strengths, genuine interests and provide an overview of university education through fun activities in a more relaxed environment.

The knowledge acquired through these activities helps pupils ask relevant questions during university open days about courses, modules, and entry requirements. Some of the activities also provide them with an overview of what they should expect at University, such as independent study and attending lectures. Subsequently, this will help them enjoy university education since they will be better prepared for the new way of learning.

Life Beacon has also supported LSU-led events and provided opportunities for students to volunteer in various capacities to learn new skills, which helps them stand out when applying for internships and placements. In addition, we’ve also offered mentoring and coaching schemes for them. We’re currently working on several initiatives for the next academic year and look forward to collaborating with a number of student groups, including the PhD Social and Support Network, the LSU BAME Student Council, as well as Staff Networks and the wider institution.

My desire is to see many young people achieve their lifetime dreams through a sustainable journey with more support from Loughborough University’s Senior Management Team,  as well as other staff and student groups as our Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) work progresses.

*To find out more about about the University’s ongoing work towards the Race Equality Charter – which includes the Race Equality Guiding Principles developed by the BAME Staff Network  – visit the dedicated webpages here.

#Be Kind: Let’s Talk Mental Health

July 8, 2021 Ella Cusack

The #BeKind series is a mini-blog series that forms part of our LSU blog series. In this blog, Loughborough Students’ Union (LSU) London School President, Amie Woodyatt, discusses the importance of taking care of your mental health and shares some useful resources to help support you.


University is ordinarily a high-pressure environment. Add a global pandemic, completely different learning and working conditions, and a tougher job market, and it’s understandable that student mental health is getting worse across the UK. This is often a difficult conversation for many, but hopefully this blog may provide some comfort and useful information.

You are not alone. Whether you’re dealing with increased anxiety about being social again or still struggling with day-to-day motivation for simple tasks, there are always people you can reach out to.

In London, the Welfare team are available via email, phone, or you can book in a meeting; LSU Advice can help reassure you about any questions you may have; and if you’d like to talk to peers first, your Institute Reps, the London Postgraduate Support & Social Network (PSSN), and School President are all here to support you.

You are valid. Your feelings are valid. Even if it feels small or insignificant, or doesn’t feel ‘as serious’ as someone else, your mental health is important, and if you are struggling you should reach out.

The number of cases of mental health diagnoses is increasing at Universities; even if you don’t seek a diagnosis, finding the right support for you can be a breath of fresh air. Extra time in exams, counselling, DSA – there are plenty of systems Loughborough have in place to make your time here easier.

Everyone has different timelines. In the generation of Instagram and TikTok, it’s so easy to get swept up in the highlight reels of others’ lives and put pressure on ourselves to be at a certain stage by a certain point.

We’re all different, though. Whether you’re doing your postgraduate study at 23 or 43, our paths are all unique, so, while it’s difficult, try not to compare yourself to others. We all have our own struggles and will reach our own milestones in our own time.

Try and do the basics when you’re struggling. Healthy food and staying active is not a cure for mental illness, but can help produce serotonin and dopamine to support your mental wellbeing. Cooking or going for a walk with friends can also be socially beneficial; if you feel comfortable, try a hug too, get some free oxytocin!

Importantly, if you do find yourself really struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. LSU Advice, London Welfare, your GP, and charities are always there to support you personally and academically.

Remember there’s no shame in getting support, times are hard, it’s understandable and valid to not feel okay. The important thing to do is to take steps to look after yourself.


Useful resources

Take a look below at a number of useful resources that you may find helpful.

LSU Advice

LSULondonAdvice@lsu.co.uk

London Welfare

London-Welfare@lboro.ac.uk

You can also find out more about how our Welfare team are here to support you here.

MIND

Find out more about how MIND can support you here.

Samaritans

Find out more about how Samaritans can you support you here.

116 123

SHOUT

(text ‘SHOUT’ to) 85258

NHS

111 for non-urgent support

999 for urgent support


The most important thing to our Welfare team is you and your mental health; if you’re struggling in any way, let them know as soon as you’re able to and they will see what we can do to help. You can contact the Welfare team by emailing London-Welfare@Lboro.ac.uk.

To find out more about LSU London can support you during your studies, please visit this web page.

Loughborough University London and Loughborough Students’ Union would like to thank Amie Woodyatt for this blog.

This Week at Loughborough | 5 July

This Week at Loughborough | 5 July

July 5, 2021 Jess East

Artist talk: Matthew Raw (ceramics)

5 July, 6 – 7pm, Online

Matthew Raw is a ceramic artist who explores the physical and communicative properties of the ceramic tile. This event will introduce you to Matthew’s practice and discuss the project. Find out more on the events page.


Book Club: Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez

6 July, 12.30 – 1.30pm, Online

Join our regular Book Club for an online discussion of Paul Mendez’s coming-of-age story Rainbow Milk. Find out more on the events page.


Applied Cognition Technology and Interaction Group (ACTInG) research networking day

6 July – 1 – 5pm, Room B114, Brockington building and on Zoom

Listen to keynote speakers from the Applied Cognition, Technology and Interaction Group, a group supporting the wellbeing, mental health and independence of people living with dementia, cognitive impairments and associated disabilities. Find out more on the events page.

LboroAppliedAI online seminar

8 July, 4 – 5pm, Online

Exploring deductive and inductive approaches to generating chemical process knowledge through machine learning. Find out more on the events page.

New Programme Spotlight Series: MSc Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics

July 2, 2021 Ella Cusack

The ‘New Programme Spotlight Series’ will be looking at all of our exciting new programmes, launching in October 2021. This blog will focus on the new MSc Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics programme.

The MSc Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics programme is part of our Institute for Digital Technologies and will welcome its first ever cohort in October 2021.

Dr Varuna De Silva will be the Programme Director for this programme. We recently caught up with Varuna to discuss this new and exciting programme, here what he had to say below.


Why was this programme developed?

This programme was developed as a result of our industrial engagements, previous successful MSc programmes and because of our discussions with Alumni, to give students from a diverse background an opportunity to retrain in Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics to be productive and job ready in the emerging AI driven economies.

Who is this programme for?

This programme is suitable for anyone with a good undergraduate qualification. We are looking for analytical students with a growth mindset, and an attitude to develop themselves in to AI technologists. We welcome students from a variety of backgrounds, such as business, marketing, finance, economics, media analytics, sports, computer science, engineering to name a few. If anyone is in doubt, they can apply and we will consider applications on a case-by-case basis.

What career paths is it likely graduates from this programme will go on to pursue?

This programme will open many career paths to students in various industries who are transitioning in to AI and Data driven businesses, such as business consultancies, Marketing and finance, Engineering and healthcare to name a few.

Why are you looking forward to teaching this programme?

We carefully structured this programme to cater to a wide group of students, with very exciting new modules covering a large area of AI and DA, while providing examples of many different applications and opportunities presented by such technology. We are looking forward to work with students to help them navigate this exciting and prosperous domain.


If you have any questions, or doubts if you are the right person to do this course, then you can contact Dr Varuna De-Silva directly.

We would like to say a big thank you to Dr Varuna De-Silva for providing more useful information about this new programme. If you would like to find out more about the Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics MSc programme, please visit this web page.

To find out more about how to apply for a masters programme, please visit this web page.

You can find out more about the Institute for Digital Technologies here.

Careers and Gender Q&A with an Architecture student

July 2, 2021 Guest Blogger

Hi, my name is Danielle and I am studying B(Arch) Architecture, currently in my placement year (third year). During my placement year I have worked for three different companies in the architectural and construction industry and I will be back in Loughborough for my final year this September.

What made you want to pursue Architecture – were you influenced by a role model, or was it down to subjects you enjoyed?

The starting point for my interest in architecture evolved from living just a train journey away from London. Each time I visited, I explored a different part of London and fell in love with its Architecture and growing built environment. I was inspired by one architect in particular during Sixth Form: Norman Foster. Through my Art A-Level, I had the opportunity to write a Personal Study through which I explored in what ways had Norman Foster’s style been influenced by the Modernist architecture movement. This furthered my interest in the subject as I was able to explore architectural history and theory as well as architectural design.

Were there any subjects at GCSE (or A Level) that made you think Architecture would be a good subject to study at a higher level?

I studied Art at both GCSE and A-Level which allowed me to explore Architecture in more depth and develop my interest in this subject. I particularly enjoyed the freedom that studying Art provided, as I was able to focus on Architecture for a project, which ultimately led to my decision to pursue at University. I was also studying Maths at A-Level, which developed my interest in the technical side of Architecture. 

At A-Level I studied Art, Maths, Business Studies and Spanish (AS Level). Before choosing my A-Level options I did some research to see which A-Levels universities required for Architecture. I found that most universities preferred applicants to have Art A Level or Graphics/Product Design and a small portion required Maths and potentially Physics. However, it depends on the type of course you apply for, whether that’s a B(Arch), BSc (Hons) or a BA (Hons), so make sure to research what each university is looking for.

Have you faced any challenges along the way? Such as not being given access to information or being put off because of your gender? 

Being the only student from my school to apply to Architecture was challenging initially; I felt there was much more support put in place for other courses with a high volume of students applying. However, when visiting open days, I made sure to ask lots of questions regarding the application process, what the course was like and entry requirements. I presented the information to my teachers who then advised me during the application process. When visiting Loughborough University, it was so encouraging to see such a large number of females studying Architecture, challenging the stereotype that the Architecture, Construction and Engineering industry is male-dominated.

You are on placement now, how have you found being in industry? 

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the industry, being exposed to several different work environments. During my first placement, I was surrounded by female architects which was extremely empowering and inspiring to me. It was great to learn about their experiences in the industry and how it had developed over time. For my second placement, I was able to gain experience in a larger construction firm. Despite the projects I worked on being heavily male-dominated, it was promising to see the vast number of females throughout the business, including female apprentices and females in high authority positions.

Why do you think the uptake of subjects such as Architecture is still low for females? In your opinion, do you think this is changing?

I think there still remains a significant stigma surrounding females in the Architectural industry, fuelled by the male-dominant culture. However, I feel that this preconception is being challenged by the promotion of Women in Stem and Universities seeing an increased number of female applicants to Architecture. In particular, it was great to see a 50/50 split of female to male in my LU-Arc cohort, as well as a levelled ratio amongst LU-Arc staff members, inspiring and encouraging female engagement in the field. In 2020, Loughborough University’s Architecture programme saw a rise in female applicants, resulting in 67% of the cohort being female. This is extremely promising, setting a standard to follow and one which will hopefully continue to develop in the professional work environment in the coming years.

What are your career plans?

After returning for my final year and graduating from Loughborough University, I would like to gain some more industry experience in the architectural and construction field expanding upon the knowledge I have learnt this year. I hope that my year in the industry as a graduate will aid in my decision to undertake the Master’s programme in Architecture, following the path to becoming a fully qualified architect.

Any advice you would give to students thinking about their Post-16 options and university? What research would you recommend? 

My advice would be to research as much as you can on areas that interest you. Make a list of all the subjects that you enjoy and could see yourself potentially studying at university or working in the industry. From this, you can look at a range of university courses that might be suited to your interests. The most important factor to consider is whether you will enjoy studying this subject at university! You can visit university websites and look at module breakdowns to see what you will be studying.

IDIG End-of-Year Debate: Between Peace and Diplomacy

July 1, 2021 Ella Cusack

Last week, master’s students and PhD students from the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance (IDIG) came together for the IDIG End-of-Year Debate. The debate featured recent problems and discussions about diplomacy, its functions, areas of potential development and transformation. In this blog Current PhD student, Alicija Prochniak, shares her own insights and thoughts from this event. Take a look below.


The debate, in its structure, posed a very challenging and thought-provoking question about the relationship between peace and diplomacy, and challenged us to think about instances and mechanisms through which the outcomes of diplomatic practice can produce violence or conditions for violence, rather than peace.

During the course of the IDIG End-of-Year debate, participants took on the challenge and explored various ways of unpacking such proposition – through examples and situations, as well as conceptual thinking. Below, I would like to share some of my own thoughts on the problem-provocation set out in the debate. 

Introduction

Today’s understanding of diplomacy in the world is largely a product of the post-Renaissance state system that developed in Europe since the Peace of Westphalia.

By the end of the 20th century, the majority of the countries around the world had adopted the diplomatic customs pioneered and practised in Europe. The ancient definitions as such did not entail that diplomacy itself was a peaceful task. The latter understanding and connotation became more prevalent especially due to  events in the 20th century, when the main task of diplomacy, during and after the two World Wars, the Cold War and the outbreak of civil wars following the collapse of the USSR were said to be the maintenance of peace. The main diplomatic efforts in the 20th century were hailed as concentrating on peaceful resolutions.

Nonetheless,  diplomacy should not be equated with peace. More recently, scholars have demystified these preconceptions and presumptions about diplomacy.  

Thus, Cohen has argued that placing diplomacy and violence/war on two opposite ends of the spectrum is a form of political myth, functioning mainly in the European and Western circles.[1] Other scholars, on the other hand, have alerted to the blurring lines between diplomacy and violence.[2]  The main task for students and scholars of diplomacy is to challenge the assumption that diplomacy and violence are contractionary and mutually exclusive terms. Moreover, the critical tasks of academia must be to investigate the premises of such false assumptions, explore new ways of conceptualizing the notion of diplomacy and observe the practice, in particular cases when diplomacy and violence go hand in hand, or where diplomacy produces violence.

In order to do this, the starting point is to accept that violence must be traced and critiqued in more than just its physical form. Indeed, Johan Galtung[3] has famously stated that it is also a form of violence when social and political structures and institutions end up harming people by creating conditions that prevent them from meeting their basic needs or lead to inequalities. Galtung calls these conditions  ‘structural violence’.

Diplomacy and Violence: Against Reconciliation?

One area, where diplomacy may not be described with the term “peace” could be explored in relation to reconciliation processes. The narrative of reconciliation was the main approach of the South African government after the period of Apartheid in this country. The government adopted a strategy of reconciliation, and despite its critics, it may be argued to have helped the society to move beyond some of its historical resentments and differences.

However, more often than not, official government narratives of state and national identity building appropriate the agenda of past conflicts, the memories of injuries, damages, and traumas, as well as incorporate or else enhance prejudices and resentments towards their political agendas.

In situation where representations of “Self” and “Others” are built on simplistic binary oppositions, and foreign policy is guided by the resultant anger and hatred, rather than reconciliation efforts, we witness a situation where the tools of diplomacy are put to use to produce conditions for violence, or directly help escalate violence rather than promote peace. There are political leaders who use divisions along ethnic or ideological lines within and across  nations in order to gain popular political support; using diplomatic tools to advocate for the recognition of their cause (political support aboard), or more rights for the leader’s group leading to political polarization of society. In these instances, the tools of diplomacy are used to institutionalize the leaders’ positions and the status quo, and to preserve the division which in effect may lead to more physical violence. This situation is currently witnessed in some Eastern European countries where Russian-speaking minorities and their rights within different nations lead to political unrest. 

Diplomacy, Violence and the Structure of Global Trade

Another area where diplomatic practice can be traced to the potential production of violence is the inherent in the very structure of global trade. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) could be seen as indisputably one of the major achievements in the workings of International Organizations. In 2003, following the recommendations of the Fowler Report, United Nations General Assembly set up the process to stop the illicit diamond trade between the developing countries and the rest of the world.

However, the institutionalization of global trade, the large number of international organizations which regulate the transaction flows, and their historical legacy do not always provide fair and equitable conditions for economic relations. Scholars have argued that the broad acceptance of the market logic, the way markets operate and their importance for global politics, have led to situations of structural violence.

On a global level, such approaches and political practice are in fact sanctioned and preserved through diplomatic exchanges. In today’s globalised world, states are competing for means to create wealth within their territories[4]. This, however, is producing unequal structures: the structuralist approach in political studies argues that international capital today increases the level of surplus value extraction through the use of overseas workers to maintain the profitability of the national economies[5]. Modern society is thus characterized by the place given to economic and market institutions. In such circumstances, the usual tools of diplomacy and negotiations between countries may actually extend and preserve the conditions of structural violence. 

Developmental theorists such as Raul Prebish have argued that capitalism may be preserving and increasing global inequalities; as the structure of global trade often traps countries in a vicious circle of dependency and poverty[6]. The current terms of commerce make it difficult for countries that export primary commodities to develop. The prices of raw materials and commodities are much lower in relation to the high prices of manufactured goods and technology which those countries most often have to import. The additional problems of overpopulation, unfavourable weather conditions for agriculture, dependence and unstable commodity export markets set conditions which developing countries cannot escape without assistance from outside[7].

For example, recently the European Union banned the use of palm oil in biofuels because of concerns that its cultivation accelerates deforestation and global warming. However, the export of palm oil was a major source of income for certain countries. While dependence on the export of such commodities has proven not to be the most sustainable model of development for such countries, this diplomatic act, nonetheless, demonstrates how the imposed ban may inflict the violence of hardship on these countries, without the provision of alternative and fairer means of economic sustenance and interaction. Here, we witness the violence of trade diplomacy cloaked in the innocence of “doing good to the planet” and of one-sided “environmental diplomacy”.

Concluding thoughts

The Loughborough London IDIG End-of-Year Debate proved to be a very successful way of encouraging students to share their knowledge, experiences and stimulated critical thinking and discussion. All students came up with very interesting examples and ideas which were also discussed in smaller working groups to allow deeper deliberations. It would have been difficult to describe here, in such a short blog post, all the insightful comments presented by all the participants. Therefore, only two of the discussed cases, and my thoughts on them, were included above. However, I believe all participants agreed that while the conditions to transform current practices may be challenging, there are still opportunities for the discipline of diplomatic studies to transform into a more nuanced research area addressing the problem and the question posed at the centre of this debate. Further examination and debate within the field, as well as inter-disciplinary consultations, can help the academia to better understand the nature of violence and its relationship with diplomacy and political practice. This new research would help develop innovative scholarly thinking, as well as diplomatic policies and solutions which could address more adequately the reality of structural violence in its many forms.  

We would like to say thank you to Alicja Prochniak for writing this thought-provoking blog and sharing her insights. You can find out more Alicja’s research here.

To find out more about the master’s programmes offered by the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance, please visit this web page.

To find out more about our PhD opportunities within the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance, please visit this web page.


References

[1] Cohen, Raymond (1999) ‘Reflections on the New Global Diplomacy: Statecraft 2500 BC to 2000 AD’, in Jan Melissen (ed.), Innovation in Diplomatic Practice, Palgrave MacMillan, Pages 1-18.

[2] Barston, R. P. (2006) Modern Diplomacy, Third Edition, Pearson Longman, p. 1.

[3] Galtung J. (1969) ‘’Violence, Peace, and Peace Research’’, Journal of Peace Research, Sage Publications, Vol.6, No.3, p.167-191.

[4] Strange, S. and Stopford John M. (1991) Rival States, Rival Firms – Competition for World Market Shares, CUP.

[5] Watson M. (2014) Historical Roots of Theoretical Traditions in Global Political Economy, Ch. 2 in Ravenhill, J. (ed.) Global Political Economy, Fourth Edition, OUP.

[6] Gilpin, R. (2001) Global Political Economy: Understanding the International Economic Order, PUP.

[7] Gilpin, R. (2001) Global Political Economy: Understanding the International Economic Order, PUP.

New Programme Spotlight Series: MSc International Project Management

New Programme Spotlight Series: MSc International Project Management

July 1, 2021 Ella Cusack

The ‘New Programme Spotlight Series’ will be looking at all of our exciting new programmes, launching in October 2021. This blog will focus on the new MSc International Project Management programme.

The MSc International Project Management is part of our Institute for International Management and will welcome its first ever cohort in October 2021.

We have spoken with Dr Gerhard Schnyder (Director of the Institute for International Management) and Dr Vivien Chow (Lecturer in Construction Engineering Management) who have shared more information about this exciting new programme. See what Gerhard and Vivien had to say below.


Why was this programme developed?

The MSc International Project Management programme incarnates the philosophy of Loughborough University to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration both in research and teaching. The Institute for International Management (IIM) therefore teamed up with our School of Architecture Building and Civil Engineering (ABCE) in order to deliver a new and innovative programme that seeks to leverage our respective strengths in international business, cross-cultural management and project management in construction and other industries.

Who is this programme designed for?

The programme is particularly aimed at people who are in positions where they professionally managing projects across national borders. One group of students we expect to benefit particularly from this programme is people with backgrounds in architecture, construction or engineering,  and have professional responsibilities for managing teams.

What are the graduate career destinations for this programme?

ABCE and IIM have strong links with a broad range of companies and their students go on to work in various industries. The programme will be taught at Loughborough University London whose campus is situated on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Hackney Wick. This area is itself a hotspot for entrepreneurial activity in particular in digital and creative industries. It is a stone throw away from Old Street’s ‘digital round about’ which is home to many digital start-ups. Start-up companies are increasingly so-called ‘born global’ companies, which means they are active around the world and their activities therefore involve international project management. We involve employers in our programmes throughout our programmes, most importantly through the collaborative project and the collaborative dissertation organised by our sector-leading Future Space team.

ABCE has over the past four decades nurtured relationships with a broad range of construction and engineering organisations through a consortium arrangement. Our industry partners have contributed to teaching, research and enterprise activities, including our recent research projects into the High Speed 2 Railway project (more commonly known as HS2) and the Thames Tideway Tunnel project. These ongoing partnerships inform our teaching to ensure that we deliver advanced, current, and industry-ready knowledge that prepare our graduates for advancement into leadership positions managing complex projects, including large-scale infrastructure projects.

What are you most looking forward to in teaching this programme?

I greatly enjoy interacting with students from various countries with various backgrounds and having my views and ideas challenged by hearing about their experiences. We are expecting that this programme will appeal to students with a somewhat different background and previous work experience from our current students. I’m expecting the MSc IPM cohort to add to the diversity of our student body, which will further contribute to the intellectually stimulating environment we have created at Loughborough University London. I’m very much looking forward to that.

Why Loughborough University London?

Loughborough University London is unique in the sector in at least two respects: Firstly, it is a structurally interdisciplinary place, with seven institutes set up along thematic rather than disciplinary lines. Secondly, it has an outstanding, sector-leading Future Space team focussing on collaborative learning between academics and people from industry. The Collaborative Project is the best example of that. This creates a very stimulating environment that fosters collaboration across academic silos and beyond the walls of the ivory tower.

The MSc International Project Management fits perfectly into this environment and students on the programme will great benefit from the innovative way in which we deliver our teaching.


We would like to say a big thank you to Dr Gerhard Schnyder and Dr Vivien Chow for providing more useful information about this new programme. If you would like to find out more about the International Project Management MSc programme, please visit this web page.

To find out more about how to apply for a masters programme, please visit this web page.

You can find out more about the Institute for International Management here.

New Programme Spotlight Series: MSc Diplomacy, Politics and Trade

New Programme Spotlight Series: MSc Diplomacy, Politics and Trade

June 30, 2021 Ella Cusack

The ‘New Programme Spotlight Series’ will be looking at all of our exciting new programmes, launching in October 2021. This blog will focus on the new MSc Diplomacy, Politics and Trade programme.

The MSc Diplomacy, Politics and Trade programme is part of our Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance and will welcome its first ever cohort in October 2021.

We have had the opportunity to speak with Director of the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance, Professor Helen Drake, who has shared her thoughts on this new programme launch. Here what Helen had to say below.


Why was this programme developed?

Diplomacy, Politics and Trade are matters never far from the world’s headlines, and we developed this new programme to invite students to join the dots.  We will explore the consequences of political choices for all kinds of trade; scrutinise the balance between politics, diplomacy and trade in response to crisis; examine the impact of scandal and sleaze in sports and many other areas of public life; and critique the political trade in truth and lies. We want students to develop the skills, knowledge and understanding needed to operate professionally across cultures as well as time zones.  

Who is this programme designed for?

This programme is for students from many academic and professional backgrounds.  Graduates of degrees in politics, business, management, law, economics, history, anthropology and international relations, amongst others, can come and discover how their specialist knowledge fits into the bigger context of world affairs, and develop the tools to further their knowledge and understanding. Students with professional experience will bring their expertise to the classroom while learning new codes for developing (or changing ) their careers. 

What are the graduate career destinations for this programme?

This programme prepares its graduates for the many professional roles and careers where they will need a grasp of the complexity of their operating environment: in government service; international government and non-governmental organisations and institutions; public and private enterprise from multinational to local levels; policy-making and research consultancies and think-tanks; grass-roots movements and social enterprises.  

What are you most looking forward to in teaching this programme?

This is a chance for me and my colleagues to take students with us behind the headlines, to really get a grip on how politics and diplomacy shape  operating environments of all kinds.  I feel passionately about the need to understand what makes the world go round, and politics and diplomacy are absolutely part and parcel of this.  Once we join the dots between politics, diplomacy and trade we can, together with the students, begin to understand the news, and decide how we want to participate in the world we work and live in. 


We would like to say a big thank you to Professor Helen Drake for providing more useful information about this new programme. If you would like to find out more about the Diplomacy, Politics and Trade programme, please visit this web page.

To find out more about how to apply for a masters programme, please visit this web page.

You can find out more about the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance here.

Final DR President Update

June 29, 2021 Zoe Chritchlow

Written by Nathan Ritchie

As I approach the end of my tenure as Doctoral Researcher President, I want to write my final blog for Doctoral College and reflect on the past academic year and say some words of thanks. Being a representative, an active one that is, is full of peaks and pits, but I have thoroughly valued my experience this year and have really appreciated getting to know more about the Doctoral Researcher community, and Loughborough University as a whole this academic year.

There are only a certain number of things you can achieve in one academic year as a representative. It is made more difficult when you are approaching the deadline of your PhD, and I haven’t managed to achieve everything I set out to at the beginning of the year. Regardless of what I have achieved, one of the things I am most proud of, is I have never been late to a single meeting, always kept my engagements, and I have been generous with my time. I believe when you are representing a community, and working alongside other busy people, it is essential to be professional in this manner. So, when looking back on a year of activity, I have to say, this might be my proudest accomplishment.

This professionalism and engagement has allowed me to be first Doctoral Researcher President to do a number of things, these include:

  • Establish the foundation for a PGR parents and carers community.
  • Organise representative forums to discuss PGR relevant issues such as University Covid-19 support, international PGRs, and PGR teaching.
  • Attend London SSLC meetings
  • Foster a cohesive and supportive group of Lead Representatives
  • Run a social media campaign highlighting the breadth of environmental Doctoral research at Loughborough University
  • Communicate via WeChat with Chinese PGRs in their own language with monthly newsletters
  • Form a proposal for free menstrual health hygiene products
  • Advise on the creation of buddy systems in four schools.
  • Raise over £800 for mental health services at Loughborough University

Apart from these firsts, here are a few other of my regular activities:  

  • Met on a regular basis with the Education Executive Officer, Ana Maria Bilciu, Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor of Doctoral College Liz Peel, Researcher development staff, Katryna Kalawsky and Duncan Stanley.
  • Facilitated consultations or had meetings with Director of Finance, Organisational Development, Loughborough Students Union Executive, Library, Centre for Faith and Spirituality, UCU Casualisation Officer, Student Services, Vice Chancellor, Head of Wellbeing Services, Chief Operating Officer.
  • Lobbied for a Postgraduate Executive Officer at Loughborough Students Union.
  • Revisited and renewed SSLC Code of Practice
  • Attended SSN events when possible.
  • Attended Wellbeing Working Group.
  • Presented at/hosted two events at the Wellbeing Fortnight
  • Presented at four inductions
  • Promoted Employee Assistance Programme and LEAP scheme along with other university activities.
  • Was part of the promotion for the university record breaking PRES turnout. 
  • Attended Doctoral College Sub-Committees, and Research Committees
  • Created an Instagram account for the Presidential Team
  • Chaired three lead representative meetings.

If I was to highlight one achievement during the year, it would have to be the additional financial support and institutional awareness I along with others managed to achieve for parents this year. This was a particularly proud moment because I knew that not only the parent would benefit from institutional support, but also their children. There is still a lot to do in this regard, to ensure that PGR parents and carers, especially single parents, are not significantly disadvantaged compared with other PGRs, but the first steps were made this year. A special thanks goes to all the parents that helped me on this.  

Other thanks are in order. I must firstly thank Tymele Deydier and the rest of the SSN committee for continuing to think of ways our community can pull together. They have adapted brilliantly in tough times to keep a sense of community going. I am not an active member of the Writing Gym, but I know through others, that they have continued to provide a space of support, conversation, and work throughout the year also, so thank you to you all.  Also, thank you for the excellent work Chloe Blackwell and Rachel Armitage have done again this year in Heads Together, and good luck to the next organising committee. I have never been a sub-warden but have had the chance to communicate with them throughout the year, and I really appreciate the work they have done to keep this campus operating. They do not get enough credit. Also, a big thank you to the many PGRs working at the Covid testing centres, what a unique (hopefully once in a lifetime!) experience.

Thank you to all the representatives who have worked selflessly for the benefit of their community this year. An active, passionate rep is a special breed, a group I am happy to have been a part of for the past 8 years. A special thanks to the Lead Reps, especially Brett Friskney, Ursula Davis, Guy Tallentire, Jose ‘Pepe’ Salazar-Vela, Tymele Deydier, Percy Reyes-Paredes, Stan Windsor and Angelina Pan. Angelina deserves special mention as an exemplary lead representative, especially as a first year. I must also thank the ‘unofficial’ representatives on specific matters, who have stepped up to the plate in the process displaying their passion and conviction. These include Demi Wilton, who did some fantastic work for parents this year, and has become a friend in the process. Petra Salaric who brought the issue of menstrual health and period poverty to my attention this year, we worked together on a proposal to get this addressed at this institution which has been well received. Also, thanks to Alex Christiansen, whose ideas for Research Culture and buddy systems have been insightful and helpful.   

Thank you to the Doctoral College for working with me this year. I especially respect the human touch they showed me by sending me cards during two big moments in my life this year. I cannot be the easiest representative to get along with at times, nor do I strive to be, but I have appreciated Liz Peel’s patience and willingness to exchange views on the range of PGR related issues that have cropped up this year. Thank you also to Sam Marshall, who has reached out to me on several occasions to get the views of Doctoral Researchers on various matters throughout the year. I have also valued my interactions with both Duncan Stanley and Katryna Kalawsky, both who have felt very much like part of the furniture during my Doctoral Researcher experience. I should also thank Jenna Townend and Will Burns, who are both allies of the DR community. A final word of thanks to Zoe Crowson, who really is the unsung hero there at the Doctoral College.

I should also thank the Loughborough Students Union for working with me this year. I stand by the conclusions I have reached about the way the Union structures fail Doctoral Researchers, but I have found the staff professional, helpful and friendly. Particular thanks to Chloe Oliver, who does a lot of the behind the scenes work for DR representation and manages it all with a smile! Thanks also to Nicky Conway, who has also been supportive, and I know through speaking with other PGRs, how great Nicky has been with offering advice to some of our PGRs this year. Thank you also to LSU Executive. Especially Ana-Maria Bilciu, who has elevated PGR voices at the highest level of both University and LSU committees. This should not go unrecognised and should be commended. Thanks also to Alex Marlowe, who is always open to exchange views with me, and has made positive steps forward in terms of engagement with DRs.

A final word of thanks goes to those closest to me who have offered support in different ways. First to my closest colleagues in my department who I will be leaving behind this year, Sophie Parslow (who was also a fantastic rep in her day), Tasha Kitcher, Hannah Thompson, Manuel Torres-Sahli, Dayei Oh. Also, to my last buddy, Yanning Chen. Thanks more widely to the whole Communication & Media Department at Loughborough Uni, PGRs and staff. My last thanks, in this rather, gluttonous thank-fest goes to my partner, Ela Mikolajczyk and my son Hugo Ritchie. Those two are the ones who have really made the most sacrifice this year so that I can start work early and finish late, 7 days a week.

I leave my current role and my time as a DR at Loughborough with a good feeling that other PGR reps, perhaps more careful and eloquent than I, will continue to work alongside progressive staff members for the benefit of the DR community. The DR experience must evolve alongside our understanding of mental health, advancements in technology and social justice. This can be achieved through consistent dialogue between DRs, University staff and LSU. But also, through a commitment to work productively, a progressive and cohesive vision and an ability to confront difficult truths for the wider benefit of the community. As a population, Doctoral Researchers are the most experienced and educated group of students at the University. But far from being only students, we are researchers, teachers, sub-wardens, Covid testers and much more. Not to mention that some of us will play our part in shaping the higher education sector for years to come.  We should therefore proceed with the upmost confidence, safe in the knowledge that our contribution to this University is an invaluable part to its success.  

Many thanks Nathan

New Programme Spotlight Series: MA Design and Branding

June 29, 2021 Ella Cusack

The ‘New Programme Spotlight Series’ will be looking at all of our exciting new programmes, launching in October 2021. This blog will focus on the new MA Design and Branding programme.

The MA Design and Branding programme is part of our Institute for Design Innovation and will welcome its first ever cohort in October 2021.

Dr Antonius van den Broek is the Programme Director of this new programme. We recently spoke with Antonius who shared some important insights into this innovative new programme. See what Antonius had to say below.


Why was this programme developed?

Branding has always been a central theme in our teaching, and we recognised that an emphasis on branding would help our students in their future career. Moreover, we see that brands play an increasing role throughout societies; from personal branding to the products and services, to internal organisational branding and even branding of countries.

Who is this programme for?

This programme is for students who recognise the potential design can have beyond making products and services beautiful. Being part of the Institute of Design Innovation, this programme comprises of a range of subjects around design, but essentially students learn how to utilise design as a strategic asset. We see design as a mindset and way of thinking that can be utilised and applied by any discipline in any context. As such, our programme is not limited to students with a design background, and in fact we very much welcome students from other disciplines that want to learn how to be creative while making business sense.

What career paths is it likely graduates from this programme will go on to pursue?

As we believe design is all around us, the strategic mindset in combination with the design approach will equip our students in a range of industries, small and large organisations. We see students employed by brand and design agencies, marketing agencies, in government, strategy and market analysis, and perhaps most excitingly, some of our students are starting their own business. 

Why are you looking forward to teaching this programme?

I am really looking forward to teaching on the core module of the programme “Design Strategy and Branding” where we will be looking at the strategic dimensions of design. Seeing students broadening their view on the strategic “powers of design” and seeing them grow in their thinking and the way they can defend their arguments is a very rewarding. I also look forward to supervising students on their dissertation; here teaching blends with independent applications of subject areas and personal interests that students have, a great mix where theory meets practice.


Thank you to Dr Antonius van den Broek for sharing her insights about the MSc Service Design Innovation programme. To find out more about this programme, please visit this web page.

To find out more about how to apply for a master’s programme, please visit this web page.

You can find out more about our Institute for Design Innovation, here.

This Week at Loughborough | 28 June

This Week at Loughborough | 28 June

June 28, 2021 Jess East

Publishing Pride: Studying LGBT+ Lives and Experiences

30 June, 7pm, Online

In association with Cambridge University Press, our very own Professor Liz Peel is part of a live roundtable with Press authors about the role of academic work in exploring LGBT+ topics, issues and lives. Find out more and book your place on the events page.

Public lecture: Obesity, ethnicity and COVID-19 – One year on

1 July, 5.30 – 6.30pm, Online

This public lecture will be delivered by Cameron Razieh, Epidemiologist and Statistician working at the Diabetes Research Centre at the University of Leicester on Thursday 01 July 2021. Find out more on the events page.

New Programme Spotlight Series: MSc Service Design Innovation

New Programme Spotlight Series: MSc Service Design Innovation

June 28, 2021 Ella Cusack

The New Programme Spotlight Series will be looking at all of our exciting new programmes, launching in October 2021. This blog will focus on the new MSc Service Design Innovation programme.

The MSc Service Design Innovation is part of our Institute for Design Innovation and will welcome its first ever cohort in October 2021.

We recently caught up with Dr Ida Telalbasic, the Programme Director, to learn more about this exciting, new programme. Hear what Ida had to say below.


Why was this programme developed?

The Service Design Innovation programme was developed in order to enhance service design skills and knowledge through theoretical and practical application individually and in multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary teams. The aim of the programme is to develop collaborative behaviour through active learning and teamwork, analysing and evaluating problems and responding to challenges in real time.

Who is this programme designed for?

This MSc will appeal to students from a variety of backgrounds including: product design, graphic design, product-service-systems design, architecture, media, marketing, branding and business. The programme sits in the intersection of social and enterprise innovation, mostly within organization, exploring strategic innovation opportunities in diverse sectors.

What are the graduate career destinations for this programme?

This programme aims to prepare professionals for careers in the service economy, as service designers, and strategic designers. These professionals will be able to manage innovation processes, service development, design of services, and the exploration of strategic innovation opportunities within the private, public, and third sector, including social enterprises and the more general field of service ecosystems.

What are you most looking forward to in teaching this programme?

I am looking forward to teaching this programme as this is an exciting area of design to explore, especially as we live in a primarily service dominant economy. I am keen to contribute to developing an understanding of the importance of services systems and the role services play in innovation management processes within organizations.


Thank you to Dr Ida Telalbasic for sharing her insights about the MSc Service Design Innovation programme. To find out more about this programme, please visit this web page.

To find out more about how to apply for a master’s programme, please visit this web page.

You can find out more about our Institute for Design Innovation, here.

The Journey of a Lifetime

The Journey of a Lifetime

June 25, 2021 LU Arts

By Shreyans Nilvarna

The journey of a lifetime is a story of an internal journey of realization through a literal journey around the world. This is from the point of view of a young adult who in the middle of his life realizes that the world is not what he seems to have understood it to be. The journey moves from confusion to reality and then through metaphorical hell and heaven. It will follow the realities of today’s world through a series of poems.

1. Existence – The question of who?

I grew through these roots,
A gentle journey,
A journey creating so many,
“Who are you?”, asked somebody.

For the heart of the rain forest,
I am an animal.
In the eyes of the bearded children of Ganges,
I am a saint amongst all.

Touching the ground, aiming for the sky,
I found myself in Mecca.
Lighting candles on the Altar,
I am a traveler from afar.

Running through the desert,
I am the future of the Pyramids.
And in the high mountains,
I reach out to the peaks.

I also represent anyone,
On the receiving end of the torture you give,
I am the nightmare you fell asleep,
And woke up in it,
Perfect time to have some remorse,
To show for your sins,
No, it’s hopeless,
I am the denial you’re endlessly in,
But you refuse to believe,
Here we go all over again.

I am an Indian, a German, a French,
I am a Hindu, A Muslim, a Christian,
I am the creator, the destroyer,
I am everything except a human.
The world takes me in,

But on the inside, I’ll always be an outsider.

2. Omnipresence

Somewhere a part of me,
Is breaking away slowly,
Burning cries in deep rubble,
Tears draining the earth,
The piercing daggers in my back,
Somewhere I bleed through my hat,
A part of me is alive though,
The one that’s made of gold,
Trying to survive the ferocious pain,
Everything is unchanged,
A part of my soul dies every day,
There’s a reason for that somewhere,
The cold is warm,
The green is gone,
The wings that met the blue,
Find it hard to move,
A few take the lead,
Others wait to be fed,
How can I survive this way,
When I die a little each day?
Buried in so deep,
I can only hear the world shouting,
Everyone walking for themselves,
Stocking up their own shelves,
No one stands for all,
Can we ever change it all?
As the world turns,
And another part of me burns,
I vow to breathe life into death,
Bring life back from the dead.

3. The love that exists

Holding you in my arms,
In the little times,
I’ve been around the sun,
I’ve searched for someone to love,
I think I’m lost,
And I look in your eyes,
Again and again,

Throwing my heart off the edge,
Looking at your aging soul,
The heart that beats outside the door,
It’s wounded,
Easily, brutally cartooned it,
And I look in your eyes,
Again and again,

But it still beats to the rhythm,
For the dance of the others,
Your tears flow through the deserts,
The trees sway through the wind,
It’s easy to be lost in you,
And I look in your eyes,
Again and again,

There’s a devil in you,
Making hell in heaven,
Run into my arms,
Maybe he’ll destroy himself,
It’s easy for him to be lethal,
And I look in your eyes,
Again and again,

We’ll mend your soul,
We’ll keep you together,
In the dark,
I’ll give you stars,
To keep you alive,
And I look in your eyes,
Again and again,

Catching my breath again,
Watching you smile,
I see the pain behind those eyes,
With my throat choked with guilt,
I sell my soul for you,
And I look in your eyes,
Again and again,

A traction,
Gravity towards the other,
Afraid of the blues,
In my universe,
You are the world I choose,
And I look in your eyes,
Again and again,

When the love for you rises,
The eyes will shine again,
Now stay in my arms my love,
I’ll keep you safe,
I look for the answers,
And I look in your eyes,
Again and again.


I am Shreyans Nilvarna and I am from India. I first started writing poetry when I was 7 but it was a very simple style of writing. I picked it up again at the age of 14 and I have not looked back since then. I have written over 300 poems and have even published a collection of my work titled ‘Meraki’. I currently study Sport Business and Innovation but have an active interest in writing now and then. An interesting thing is that I write all my poems in a single flow. Almost all of them are unedited and are the first draft as I had written them. I like to use my words to help word down a feeling, an emotion, or just make people happy!

New Programme Spotlight Series

June 25, 2021 Ella Cusack

Here at Loughborough University London, we are very excited to announce the launch of FIVE BRAND NEW master’s programme!

We have developed the New Programme Spotlight Series to provide a bit more insight into each of these programmes and help you decide if the programme is perfect for you!

In this New Programme Spotlight Series, we will speak and gather insights from each of the Programme Directors and this series will begin w/c 28 June. We would recommend keeping an eye on our Twitter and Instagram channels so you don’t miss the release of each of the blogs!

Our five new programmes welcoming their first ever cohort in October 2021 are:

MSc Service Design Innovation

Institute for Design Innovation

This programme explores the makeup of a successful service designer and seeks to uncover how service design innovation knowledge, behaviour and skills can influence and inform the design innovation process.

MA Design and Branding

Institute for Design Innovation

This programme will encourage you to explore dynamic, contingent relationships between the strategic use of design and branding.

MSc Diplomacy, Politics and Trade

Institute for Diplomacy, Politics and Trade

This interdisciplinary programme connects the worlds of business, politics and diplomacy and focusses on the skills, knowledge and understanding needed to operate professionally across cultures as well as time zones.

MSc International Project Management

Institute for International Management

This programme will provide you with the knowledge and the skills necessary for successfully managing international projects in various organisations that operate across borders and with a multinational workforce.

MSc Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics

Institute for Digital Technologies

The Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics MSc programme is aimed at providing students with a comprehensive understanding of data analytics and applied Artificial Intelligence in the digital age and developing their skills to address associated challenges with the use of AI and Data Analytics tools in the most effective way.

Stay tuned to find out more information about each of these programmes!


To discover more about all the master’s programmes we offer here at Loughborough University London, please visit our website.

To find out more about how to apply for a master’s programme, please visit this web page.

If you would like to learn more about our Institutes, please visit this web page.

Mother F****r

Mother F****r

June 25, 2021 LU Arts

An excerpt from Worse Either Way by N/A Oparah

He didn’t tell you he still lived with his mother until you walked in on her in the bathroom. She had on a
black, silk bonnet and a fluffy, cotton robe with floral patterns that matched the curtains you’d earlier made
fun of him for. She nodded to you via her reflection in the mirror then spat out the suds of her toothpaste.
Her lips had an outline of white on them, a speckle on her chin, when she turned to greet you.

“Good morning hun, what’s your name?”

You were sure this was wrong. You looked her up and down, taking inventory of her lines and folds,
hoping, that instead of a mother, this was another woman he’d brought home that same night. Called her a
taxi cab that followed behind you both. Fucked her when he went to the bathroom those two times and then
again after you fell asleep. That would make more sense to you: two, one-night stands in the same night.
More than living with mommy. You were older than him too, by much less, sure, but maybe he had a type
and you are just a less extreme instance of his preferences.

You hadn’t thought to ask him if he lived with his mother. This was his response to your confusion when
you reentered his bedroom. This was true.

You wanted to argue with him but you could hear his mother fumbling around in the kitchen. You didn’t
want her to think you were the sort of woman who both slept with near strangers immediately and argued
with them first thing in the morning. You began to dress.

“You don’t want to stay?”

You’ve never felt no so clearly. The answer sprung from every part of you. Your lips let the word slip like
deliverance. “No.”

“You sure?”
There was a knock on the bedroom door.
“You all almost done in there? Grandma’s coming back soon. You need to wash those sheets in time.”

You swung your head towards him and mouthed, “grandma?”

He was putting on basketball shorts over baby blue boxers. He shrugged his shoulders a bit.

You started to wonder if this was even his house at all. If you remembered correctly, it was a two bedroom
apartment in the middle of a neighborhood you wouldn’t visit on purpose. He saw your confusion and
interrupted.

“I’m usually on the couch. This is my gran’s room, the other is my mom’s.”

“Can you walk me out? I don’t want to run into your mom alone.” Each word came out slowly, you were
trying not to curse.

He nodded and stood, still drunk. The morning hadn’t sobered him like you.

You could see the front door. Its three blockades: one door chain, one knob key lock, one cylinder night
latch, between you and exit.

Only the chain was left to undo when she called you over.

“Stay, come eat.”
“No,” said everything in you again, this time perfecting the harmonies, increasing the volume. “I really have to….”
“Come on, just for a bit,” he suggested, betraying.
“I’m sorry, but I…”

You could see he was now intentionally fumbling with the chain. Postponing your escape. He scooted the cylinder
along the plane subtly back and forth so it never found its opening at the end.

His mother arrived behind you and placed both hands on your shoulders. Her hair was now out in a thick black bob
and instead of a robe, she wore a pajama set that also matched her robe and the blinds.

“Take a seat,” she said putting you in one.

There was a bowl for eggs, a plate of bacon, and a tupperware condensing on the side from the heat of fresh
pancakes. The table was in a small clearing between the kitchen and living room. From where she placed you, you
could see almost all of the apartment. You now noticed how many family photos and old people things were
hanging around the house.

“Help yourself,” she ordered.

You sat with your hands in your lap as this man and his mom began to eat. They turned on the tv in the next room
and watched it from the dining table. Their conversation splattered between commentary on the episode of Love
Island (they’d both seen the episode at least once), his grandmother’s imminent return and wellbeing, and updates
from their weekends.

You could see the food in each of their mouths as they talked. The yellows and browns mixing together, finding
refuge between teeth and on the upper line of lip. His mother allowed several crumbs to return to the table half
chewed.

“Are you one of those girls who don’t eat on dates?” His mother laughed out the question, adding a small sphere of
half-processed egg to the pancake she stacked on your plate.

He answered for you, “Nah… she eat.” He winked at you. They erupted.

You were stone.

You forced yourself to swallow four bites of egg before leaving and promised yourself you’d never let yourself be in
that position again. That was the first of forty-two times you made that promise.


Ngozi Oparah is a queer, first-generation Nigerian-American writer. Her other work has appeared in Madwomen in the Attic, QXotc, Five:2:One, Fictional International, A Velvet Giant, and other journals. Ngozi has received residencies in writing, art, and narrative media from Can Serrat in El Bruc, Spain and Proyecto Lingüistico Quetzalteco in Xela, Guatemala. Ngozi holds an MFA in Creative Writing from California College of the Arts and a B.S. in Neuroscience & Philosophy from Duke University. She is the Director of Community Programs at StoryCenter, a digital storytelling non-profit in Berkeley, CA. She is studying towards a PhD at Loughborough University in Creative Arts and Design in the UK.

Interface: The Interdisciplinary Nature of Drawing Recording

June 25, 2021 Deborah Harty

Interface: The Interdisciplinary Nature of Drawing

12.30-13.30 (BST) Thursday 24th June 2021


A discussion and Q&A with artists and researchers about how drawing can work across disciplines.

Deborah Harty, Chair of the Drawing Research Group (DRG) at Loughborough University will open this event with an introduction to the work of the group, highlighting some of the research undertaken by its members. This will be followed by a presentation by the artist Claude Heath. Claude has collaborated with John Stell, a computer scientist and mathematician from Leeds University, and will discuss their joint article to be published in Leonardo: ‘Out of sight but not out of mind: A diagrammatic conversation on relational drawing.’ This article reflects on their longstanding dialogue, using a common visual vocabulary of loops, connections and negative space, plus a shared interest in exploring the physicality of practice.

Saul Albert, Lecturer in Social Sciences (Social Psychology), who has collaborated with Claude on other interdisciplinary projects which use drawing as a research tool, will then lead a discussion with Claude and members of the DRG followed by a wider Q&A.

Claude Heath is an artist who has exhibited drawings widely, including at The British Museum, The Henry Moore Institute, The Centre for Drawing at Wimbledon School of Art, Pinakothek der Moderne Munich, Museum fur Gegenwartskunst Seigen, and Kupferstichkabinett Museum of Prints and Drawings Berlin. His PhD ‘Drawing out interaction: Lines around shared space’ was from the COGSCI group at Queen Mary University of London. Find out more about Claude’s work here.

John Stell is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Computing at Leeds University, working on spatial knowledge representation in Artificial Intelligence. His background includes a BA in Fine Art from Leeds College of Art and interdisciplinary projects spanning computation, mathematics, fine art, and the humanities.

This event is part of Interface: a week of discussions and events that showcase interdisciplinary practice.

Postal loans at the Library

June 23, 2021 Ella Cusack

We’re pleased to announce that we have now restarted postal loans between Pilkington Library in Loughborough and the London campus!

If there are any books that are only available in Pilkington Library that you would like to borrow, please email a link to the book and your ID number to circulation@lboro.ac.uk. The books will be posted to London and you will get an email from London-enquiries@lboro.ac.uk when they are ready for collection.

We have also recently subscribed to a new collection of resources, the Human Kinetics Library Collection. This is ‘dedicated to the research, teaching, and understanding of kinesiology, sport, and exercise science’, and has some materials (among other things) on Sport Leadership, Management, and Analytics which might be of interest specifically to those in the Institute of Sport Business. The collection has over 165 ebooks and 200 videos. The resource is available here.

Finally just a reminder that with the introduction of Multi-Factor Authentication this will affect how you access Library resources. You will need to ensure you have logged into the VPN as usual, and then authenticated via Duo to ensure it has fully connected. Then you will have full access to the online library as normal.


To find out more about the Library services at Loughborough University London, please visit this blog.

If you want to find out more about study at Loughborough University London, please visit our website.

Calling all students: Let us know what you think about how the University communicates to you

Calling all students: Let us know what you think about how the University communicates to you

June 22, 2021 Ella Cusack

By being a student at Loughborough, you’ll regularly receive and view communications from us.

Whether it’s through our social media channels, the weekly e-newsletter, on our website, or maybe somewhere else, you’ll have interacted with a number of our channels because of content created for you.

We want to know what works well and where we could do better, which is why we’ve created a short survey, open to all students across both of our campuses, about internal communications.

The survey will ask you questions about what sort of University-related information is important to you; which of our channels you use, and which channels you want us to use more or less of; and whether you think our communications are relevant, clear and interesting.

By taking part, you can also enter a prize draw with one £100 voucher up for grabs and two £25 vouchers available – simply provide your email address at the end if you’d like to take part.

You can access the survey here.

Please note the survey will close on Wednesday 30 June.

My Experience (so far) in Mechanical Engineering

My Experience (so far) in Mechanical Engineering

June 22, 2021 Guest Blogger

Hi, I’m Rebecca and I’m a Mechanical Engineering student at Loughborough’s Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering, currently on placement with Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team! 

Why Engineering? 

At school, maths and science were my favourite subjects by far so in Year 12 my Physics teacher, a Mechanical Engineer himself, suggested I apply for aEngineering Experience residential (coincidentally at Loughborough University!).  The experience consisted of sample lectures and workshops in 4 different engineering disciplines, with a chance to speak to current students about their university experiences.  I enjoyed it so much that I decided to study Mechanical Engineering at University.  

Why Loughborough? 

I chose Loughborough for its strong links to industry and the family feel I got as soon as I stepped onto campus – it’s not called ‘the bubble’ for nothing! Each year there are a couple of group projects, with one normally sponsored by a company; these are by far my favourite parts of the course! The placement year offered by Loughborough is an amazing opportunity to practice what you’ve learnt and discover what you do (and don’t) like when it comes to working in engineering.  

What is it like as a female in engineering? 

Although there are more than 1 million women currently working in STEM in the UK, there is still a big lack of visibility of these women which can be disheartening at times. Thankfully there have been many fantastic initiatives set up in recent years such as the FIA’s ‘Girls on Track’ and Susie Wolff’s ‘Dare to Be Different’ (for those interested in working in motorsport).  At Loughborough, there are great support networks who help to create a supportive environment across the university, ranging from the people on your course to lecturers and the various engineering societies.  Alongside having some incredible friends on my course, I have also been lucky enough to become a STEM Ambassador and mentor young people, particularly girls, of all ages on the wide variety of jobs available in engineering.  Seeing others get excited about engineering and the work you do is great motivation to keep pushing for success so that we can be the best role models possible for the next wave of female engineers.  

#BeKind - Taking care of yourself

#BeKind - Taking care of yourself

June 21, 2021 Ella Cusack

The #BeKind series is a mini-blog series that forms part of our LSU blog series. In this blog, Loughborough Students’ Union (LSU) London School President, Amie Woodyatt, considers the importance of taking time out for yourself during deadline and exam season.


Deadline season and exam season is probably the worst season… you’re stressed, you realise there’s a section of the module you haven’t revised or a part of your coursework you have forgotten, and it’s instant noodles for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But trust me when I say – if you have a few exams over a few weeks, that’s not going to last!

Everyone works differently, of course, so finding ways to produce your best work and being productive is down to individual preference. Make sure you schedule time off, though. See friends over the weekend, eat something green, take a walk outside over lunch (especially if it’s nice weather!) – give your brain a break.

From my personal experience, here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way to help maximise your productivity:

Manage Your Time

Sometimes last-minute, repetitive revision can help solidify key facts, but if you know the date of your exam, block time into your calendar to revise. It could be 30 minutes a day, an hour on Friday morning (because everyone hates Fridays so you may as well revise) or 2am each day. Everyone has different times where they work best, just schedule a little and often over a month, properly time block it, and you’ll be calmer approaching the big day.

This is the same for coursework too. If you know the due date in advance, make sure you have blocked out enough time to save you the stress of trying to desperately finish your work the night before.

Eat Good Food

I’m not saying instant noodles aren’t good, carbs are the best, but you also need fats and protein to support those work sessions. Get some easy-to-eat nutritious snacks, I’m talking fruit, nuts, or antipasti if you’re feeling fancy. Pesto pasta with chicken/equivalents and veggies thrown in is super easy, or swap the pesto pasta for risotto rice. Frozen veggies are also easy to keep, quick to defrost and cook, and make a great side to your chosen piece of protein.

Drink Water

Human beings are mostly water, so if you want your brain to function at it’s best, stay hydrated! The body will start to shut down if it doesn’t have enough H2O, and I’m not talking about the water you put in your coffee to stay awake. If you’re bored of water (valid), try adding a splash of juice concentrate – I find it’s easier to drink 2L a day if it tastes nice (yep, 2L, that’s what we should be aiming for). You can also check if you’re dehydrated by pinching the skin on a minor knuckle (the first bend of your finger); if the skin quickly returns to normal, you’re hydrated, but if it stays up or takes longer to return, have a drink!

Do Something You Enjoy

Taking breaks will help so much in the long run, so be sure to stretch, go for a walk, or take a nap if you notice yourself slowing down. Don’t be hard on yourself when you do take breaks; splitting work into 30-40-minute blocks has been proven to aid focus – working for hours at a time will boggle most brains. You deserve a break!

Remember that everyone works differently, if you find yourself working at anti-social hours, that’s okay – if it works for you, go ahead, champ. Just listen to your body, fuel it well, and remember to reach out to friends, family, and Welfare if you feel you need support.


We’d love to hear from you about the topics you’d like to be covered as part of the LSU London blog series.

Loughborough University London and Loughborough Students’ Union would like to thank Amie Woodyatt for this blog.

To find out more about the LSU in London, please visit our website.

You can find out more about our Welfare team and how they can support you during your studies, here.

Interface: The Interdisciplinary Nature of Drawing

June 21, 2021 Deborah Harty
Claude Heath, Pepper Plant, 2001. Acrylic ink on paper, mounted on board, on aluminium, two panels, each 45.8 x 56 cms. 

Interface: The Interdisciplinary Nature of Drawing

12.30-13.30 (BST) Thursday 24th June 2021

We would like to invite you to a discussion and Q&A with artists and researchers about how drawing can work across disciplines. The event is free however, booking is required. 

Places can be booked here: https://www.lboro.ac.uk/arts/whats-on/interface-drawing/

Deborah Harty, Chair of the Drawing Research Group (DRG) at Loughborough University will open this event with an introduction to the work of the group, highlighting some of the research undertaken by its members. This will be followed by a presentation by the artist Claude Heath. Claude has collaborated with John Stell, a computer scientist and mathematician from Leeds University, and will discuss their joint article to be published in Leonardo: ‘Out of sight but not out of mind: A diagrammatic conversation on relational drawing.’ This article reflects on their longstanding dialogue, using a common visual vocabulary of loops, connections and negative space, plus a shared interest in exploring the physicality of practice.

Saul Albert, Lecturer in Social Sciences (Social Psychology), who has collaborated with Claude on other interdisciplinary projects which use drawing as a research tool, will then lead a discussion with Claude and members of the DRG followed by a wider Q&A.

Claude Heath is an artist who has exhibited drawings widely, including at The British Museum, The Henry Moore Institute, The Centre for Drawing at Wimbledon School of Art, Pinakothek der Moderne Munich, Museum fur Gegenwartskunst Seigen, and Kupferstichkabinett Museum of Prints and Drawings Berlin. His PhD ‘Drawing out interaction: Lines around shared space’ was from the COGSCI group at Queen Mary University of London. Find out more about Claude’s work here

John Stell is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Computing at Leeds University, working on spatial knowledge representation in Artificial Intelligence. His background includes a BA in Fine Art from Leeds College of Art and interdisciplinary projects spanning computation, mathematics, fine art, and the humanities.

This event is part of Interface: a week of discussions and events that showcase interdisciplinary practice. Individual events are listed under ‘What’s on’.

This Week at Loughborough | 21 June

This Week at Loughborough | 21 June

June 21, 2021 Jess East

Doctoral Summer Showcase 2021

21 June 2021 – 25 June 2021

The annual Summer Showcase is the perfect opportunity for doctoral researchers at both campuses to show off their work to a public audience. Find out more on the events page.


Keep Calm Week: Puppy Petting

21 June, 10am – 4.30pm, Loughborough Students’ Union

Could you do with a break from working? Well, look no further than our beloved Puppy Petting! Spend a bit of time petting them, chatting to them and handing them treats. (Booking is required). Find out more and book on the events page.


Interface: Shared Language (interactive session)
22 June, 12.30pm, Online

A playful interactive session for academics/researchers from different subject areas through the sharing of images and encouraging interdisciplinary conversations. Find out more on the events page.

Interface: Advanced Technologies in Textiles Art and Design – Laser as a Dyeing Tool

22 June, 4 – 5pm, Online

Artists and designers come together to show how laser processing technology can be used within Textiles. Find out more and book your place on the events page.


Creative Arts Degree Show 2021

18 June – 27 June

The Creative Arts show runs from 18th June to 27th June and features work from final year students in Fine Art, Graphic Communication & Illustration and Textiles, alongside students from Foundation Art & Design. Find out more and book your place on the events page.


Design Show 2021

23 – 27 June

The Design Show runs from 23rd June to 27th June and features work from final year students in Product Design & Technology, Industrial Design and User Centre Design. Find out more and book your place on the events page.


Women in Engineering Day panel discussion: Life outside of work

23 June, 12.30 – 2pm, Online

This lunchtime panel brings together academics from different Engineering Schools at the University to discuss their lives outside of academia. Find out more on the events page.


BERG seminar: Open science and transparency in modelling

23 June, 1pm, Online

Dr Malvika Sharan, Prof Neil Strachan and Dr Steven Firth will present on open science and transparency in modelling. Find out more on the events page.


Interface: Collaborative Touch – A discussion between sport and performance

23 June, 1 – 2pm, Online

This roundtable event brings together five academics/practitioners with a view to reimagining that most potent of presences in sport and performance: the body. Find out more on the events page.


Postgraduate Virtual Open Event

23 June, 4 – 6pm, Online

Join us at our Postgraduate Virtual Open Day to find out all you need to know about studying a master’s at our Loughborough or London campus. Find out more and book your place on the events page.


Creatures of the Lines: First cut and discussion

23 June, 6 – 8pm, Online

A screening of the first cut of Sonia Levy’s Radar commissioned film. Find out more on the events page.


Interface: The Interdisciplinary Nature of Drawing

24 June, 12.30 – 1.30pm, Online

A discussion and Q&A with artists and researchers about how drawing can work across disciplines. Find out more on the events page.

LGBT+ Pride March

24 June, 12.45 – 2pm

Our annual LGBT+ Pride March organised by the Loughborough University LGBT+ Staff Group and the LSU LGBT+ Association. Find out ore on the events page.

IAS Time Theme: Living in the Anthropocene – How to Deal with a New Epoch

24 June, 3 – 5.30pm, Online

The IAS is delighted to announce the final event in the programme for the Annual Theme on Time. Find out more on the events page.

Final-year Creative Arts student vlogs

Final-year Creative Arts student vlogs

June 18, 2021 LU Arts

By Rosie Midwood, Sara Osman, Emma Sutherland and Mali Wheeler

Every year the final-year students in the School of Design and Creative Arts put together a final collection to be shown in the Design and Creative Arts Degree Shows. This is the culmination of their work throughout their degree course and a platform to raise their profile prior to graduating and starting their careers, as well as an opportunity to share their work with family and friends.

LU Arts commissioned four Creative Arts students to put together a short video charting their progress as they worked towards the installation of their collection in the exhibition for 2021. Theses videos give a fascinating insight into the processes involved and the range of skills and techniques the students have used to complete their collections.

Alongside their videos (which you can watch below), we asked each of the students to tell us a bit more about themselves and their art practice.

Rose Midwood (Textiles)

I have been at Loughborough for five amazing years. I first completed an art foundation before choosing to study textiles, specialising in print design in my second year. I have also completed a placement year working as an assistant graphic designer at Nutmeg, Morrisons Clothing.

At a time when the world has ground to a halt, the British countryside has re-emerged as a crucial space for relaxation, inspiration and exploration. Harking back to a simpler way of living, it hopes to encourage young people to step away from their indoor comforts and instead learn about, and engage with, nature. Full of colour and character, the prints hope to bring joy and interest into the lives of the young people they are designed for. Adopting an accurate, yet friendly, painting and drawing style has created charming prints that tell stories and immerse the viewer into woodland environments. Predominantly a screen printed collection, it celebrates the more hands on, tactile processes over digital design, again encouraging a more creative approach.

The textiles have been designed for interactive products, including tents, camping chairs, floor cushions and quilts that can be used indoors or out – they intentionally encourage adventures irrespective of the setting. Responsible design considerations is also at the heart of the brand, designing textiles that last, so our environment will last as well. Fundamental to this is challenging the increasing throwaway culture; making longevity desirable. The intention of my Curious Collection is to produce durable, timeless designs, encouraging a ‘buy less but better quality’ mentality. Curious is a collection that hopes to capture the nations rediscovered love of our local landscapes, designing uplifting prints to create environments for all children to play, learn and grow in.

You can follow Rosie on Instagram @rosie.midwood_design.

Sara Osman (Fine Art)

I am a Turkish Cypriot artist born in London, 1999 and I am a final year Fine Arts student at Loughborough University specialising in Installation Art.

The key themes of my practice are grief, examination, and self-development. I use the following psychoanalysis techniques: meditative texts, passages from journals and conversations with my healthy adult to support the anxious mind. I expose my struggles to not only strengthen and understand my psyche but to normalise everyday anxieties and challenges to ground and build a relationship with the viewer.

Using installation to present my work has emphasized the sense of poignancy and stillness which corresponds with the sensitive context and disastrous parts. The mind (the mindful text) and body (the disastrous parts produced by the body) are not aligned which suggests that further healing is required. Hence, I use the following materials: Latex, Plaster, Sand and Metal to physically see and feel the properties change over time. This allows me to become aware of my senses and bodily moment to further silence the anxious mind and ground myself in the present. Primarily, the materials, processes, and context collectively act as a form of therapy for myself, but I also aim to guide the viewer and provide them with a sense of hope.

I have exhibited in galleries across the UK including: The Manufacturing Technological centre in Coventry, The Bank of Cyprus in London for three consecutive years, New Walk Museum and Art Gallery in Leicester for two consecutive years and I am currently curating my solo show in Martin Hall, Loughborough. More recently, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been featured in several virtual exhibitions and magazines, including: WAVE Press magazine that successfully marked International Woman’s Day 2021, The Holy Art’s virtual exhibition PHENOMENON that showcased the work of the brightest emerging and established artists on the international scene and The Spring Exhibition hosted by Shim Art Network and published on TDSA, Vane Gallery and Artsy.

After university I hope to continue to develop my arts practice, and exhibit further in physical/ virtual exhibitions and magazines.

You can follow Sara on Instagram @sarah.kew

Emma Sutherland (Textiles)

I am a final year printed textile student that has chosen to concentrate on colour and storytelling in my final year of University. My collection is based around Rock, Cornwall and celebrates the people who live there through narrative and abstraction. A collection of 10 screen printed final pieces and 1 digital, all designed for lifestyle pieces that you would need down in Cornwall.

This is my 5th year at University having done an art foundation and a year in industry. During my placement I was lucky enough to work in Copenhagen, London and Sydney, in print and design studios. I have a love for screen printing that I want to pursue. I wish to grow in the fashion industry and continue my love for design and curation. With my passion for telling stories and design abilities I intend to be daring and innovative with the decisions I make.

My time at Loughborough has been incomparable and has enabled me to achieve my best potential. It has given me incredible possibilities and has encouraged me to push myself further at each stage of the design process. My work is designed to provoke positivity and happiness through colour and imagery. and hope the viewer finds as much joy in my work as I do.

You can follow Emma on Instagram @emma.sutherland.studio.

Mali Wheeler (Fine Art)

My practice is based on my favourite hobby: Irish Dancing. I noticed that historically dance is usually only observed by artists figuratively, I wanted to take my work in a different direction. I chose to view dance performance from a dancer’s perspective as opposed to the audience’s, this therefore involves the translation between mind and body. I view this from a substance dualist’s perspective, where the mental (non-physical) and the physical are two separate substances. For a dancer, in order for the body and mind to communicate they must read, learn, retain and translate the information into action, this is a continuous cycle between the mental the physical. I utilise Sol LeWitt’s definition of ‘Conceptual Art’ to present this dualism, I therefore only use what is necessary to present my concept. I had to strike a balance in my visual language to ensure that my outcomes were only informative. For this purity I focus on diagrammatic art and gestures.

As a dancer and teacher, I realise that there is a particular pressure on the performance aspect of dance (above practicing and other elements) and so I chose to use the moment a dancer steps out on stage to focus on. In this moment, time and space seem disassociated with a dancer’s sense of being, there is a concentration on the dance as a whole. I present this by mapping the movement of the dancer throughout a whole dance, through blocked shapes and lines I map either a bird-eye view or a mirror-view of the dance. When produced there remains an ambiguity of where these maps are situated in space and time, this is because they are outside of the physical being. I am turning the mental into the physical so that it can be read.

I also use performance painting to create a more direct trace of the movement to map a dancer’s steps. The use of paint on my feet removes the dancer even less and makes their presence closer. This is because the notion of an ordered reproduction is removed, and spontaneity preferred. My mediums vary throughout my works, from drawing to painting to sculpture to light boxes, all of these function as vehicles to represent my concept. This project has seen me try many different ideas in a quest to find clarity in something that is not physical, therefore, I have an abundance of different outcomes.

When presenting my work, I aim to create an emphasis on the hectic nature of a dancer’s mind, however, it will be ordered enough to exaggerate the repetitive learning aspect a dancer experiences when translating the mental into the physical. It will be an immersive experience and situate itself innovatively within contemporary art practice.

You can follow Mali on Instagram @maliwheelerart.


The Creative Arts Degree Show runs from 18-27 June at Loughborough University and is free to attend but booking is required. You can find out more including how to book on the Loughborough University website.

Sara Baartman

June 18, 2021 Catherine Armstrong

by Keisha Vinda

Sara Baartman. Sara Baartman. Sara Baartman. I always intended for my dissertation topic to be representative of myself as not only a woman, but a black woman. I wrote this dissertation so that the history of Sara Baartman, a Khoikhoi woman from the Cape who was exhibited in Europe, could be heard. Black women should no longer be lost voices throughout the historical record.

The first chapter of my dissertation focuses on the exhibition of Sara Baartman in both London and France. I focus on the way in which her body was ‘othered’ by audiences and subjected to a voyeuristic gaze against her will. The agency of Baartman can be uncovered via court documents where witnesses expressed her disapproval of her exhibition through her demeanour and body language. It provided insight into Baartman’s own views regarding her exhibition which humanises her historical record.

Chapter two focuses on the exhibition of Baartman’s body after her death. I discuss how even in death the exploitation and subjection of harm onto the black female body continues. Whilst alive Baartman’s body was used to entertain public audiences, in death it was used to entertain prying French scientists who would use her body as a specimen to inform the scientific world of the supposed inferiority of the African female body.

The final chapter of my dissertation focuses on Baartman’s legacy and the way in which we can draw parallels between her story and that of black women in modern society. I chose to refer to Caster Semenya and Serena Williams due to the fact that they are two black women in modern society who are mistreated or ‘othered’ due to the way their bodies look. Both women have been plagued by misogynoir due to their bodies and the meanings that are attached to them due to not upholding stereotypical Western standards of femininity and beauty.

The research process for my dissertation consisted of searching through various archives such as the National Archives and the British Library to discover various nineteenth century primary sources. The primary sources that make up my dissertation include caricatures, newspaper extracts, poems, photographs and court documents.

What fascinated me the most about Sara Baartman? The little that we hear about her. I was able to write a whole dissertation about this person yet eighteen months before writing about her, I didn’t even know she existed. Being presented with the task of writing a dissertation allowed me to learn so much about this woman and I am so thankful. I have shared this story with family and friends of which all shared the same level of fascination.  There was no other topic I could’ve written about other than this one. It’s important. It hits close to home. It made me think.

This dissertation topic is based on someone from the past but with so many parallels to our present. I wrote this dissertation with the hope that it will encourage others to speak up for black women throughout history, and let their stories be heard.


Bio: My name is Keisha Vinda, I enjoyed 4 years of study at Loughborough University where I completed my bachelor’s degree in History. I have recently graduated and am currently in the process of training as a history teacher. The course at Loughborough allowed me to explore a range of different histories which provided me with the necessary skills to become a better historian. My time at Loughborough has undoubtedly strengthened my love for studying History due to the independence offered to students with regard to the direction of which they choose to take their research.


Photo by Jackson David on Unsplash

Sustainable Student Series: Be too cool to be unsustainable!

Sustainable Student Series: Be too cool to be unsustainable!

June 17, 2021 Elliott Brown

This post is part of our Sustainable Student Series. A collection of stories, opinions, and experiences of Loughborough students on their journey to becoming more sustainable. Want to contribute? Email submissions to environment@lboro.ac.uk.

As term time draws to an end, tenancy agreements both on campus and off will be drawing to a close too. And we all know what that will mean. Stacks of student waste dumped in or near disposal units or along the streets of student housing saturated neighbourhoods. In the rush of throwing the last parties but also wanting to try and scrape deposits back after a year of sloppy maintenance and living, being responsible with your waste and unwanted items often ends up at the bottom of many student’s to-do list!


But that doesn’t have to be the case! It’s no longer cool to do the bare minimum. As students, we have as much responsibility as the next citizen to play our part in being kind to the planet. And that extends to our relationship with unwanted clothes. Within the UK, our relationship with our clothes has changed. Consumers are a lot more engaged with how sustainable their clothes are and are demanding better practices from the brands they engage with. But has it changed enough?

The fashion industry produces 20 per cent of global wastewater and 10 per cent of global carbon emissions – more than all international flights and maritime shipping. If nothing changes, by 2050 the fashion industry will use up a quarter of the world’s carbon budget.


In our data and information saturated lives, many of us know the impact of various types of clothing habits on national and global scales but sometimes there can be an easy disconnect from our own personal habits and day to day choices with our clothing consumption. And an even bigger disconnect with the clothes we choose to say goodbye to. And yes, every conscious choice towards making sustainability a priority matters but sometimes when important issues are out of sight, they do stay out of mind!

The picture is positive though! According to a WRAP report in 2017, the amount of clothing that is going to landfill has dropped by 50,000 tonnes since 2012 and people are wearing the same clothing items for longer. Garments that last longer reduce production and processing impacts on natural resources but only if new purchases are avoided! In order for our sustainability efforts to have a meaningful impact, we need to get more comfortable with the idea of being more radical about our clothing consumption and what we do with them after they’ve served their purpose for us. Check out how former LSU President Salome Dior turned her old stash into a blanket.


And although things are getting better overall, as students, we can play our part in creating a better future with how we deal with our clothes too. It’s a step but it’ll take a couple more steps before you get to a finished state. The change that is required to address the impact that the clothing industry has in the UK and beyond, from us the consumers perspective, requires constant re-evaluation and negotiation. That’s with ourselves, our habits and our preferences when it comes to clothes.


And this isn’t just for our own sense of merit at having ‘done a good thing today’ but it’s also knowing that it’s actively moving the total estimated value of clothes that are sent to landfill down from the £140bn it was in 2015. It’s helping to counteract the increase in total carbon footprint that our clothing consumption has had over the last 10 years due to the increase in the total amount of new clothes being bought. It’s taking a ‘no’ stance against the unequal distribution of negative social and environmental impacts that the clothing industry continues to have on a global scale


This is for the everyday student, not just the ultra-activist/hypster type. It’s about bringing back to mind what might be out of sight. That might be selling your unwanted clothes on Depop or Vinted or giving them away to charities. It might be disposing of waste material specifically at the tip instead of throwing it in the general waste bin. Or it might be getting creative to make that old top ‘wearable’ again. Making intentional changes to your habits will look different to the next person but it’s something that can be done!


At LboroVintage (LV), we love to bring back to mind what might be out of sight. We’re a vintage clothing business that was started up by two Loughborough University students in 2019 who had a heart for sustainability and community. They wanted to help make sustainable fashion feasible for students and the wider town of Loughborough. We always bring the reason why we do the business that we do back to raising awareness on the issue of sustainability, even if it’s not the most popular of topics.

So whatever choices you make this summer move in day, make the choice that puts our planet and environment first. Just because we might have the privilege of making the lazy choice, shouldn’t mean that we should!


If you’re on campus and wondering what this could look like for you, why not check out Loughborough University’s Give ‘n’ Go campaign to find out how you can make better choices in your waste disposal at the end of the academic year!


Written by Hope Nyabienda, on behalf of LboroVintage

This article is in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. To read more click here.
Men's Health Week: Mental health

Men's Health Week: Mental health

June 16, 2021 Sophie Dinnie
Jamie is a first year Psychology and Criminology student and in this blog he talks to his friends about the stigma around men’s mental health.
A Londoner's Guide: Walking and running routes

A Londoner's Guide: Walking and running routes

June 15, 2021 Ella Cusack

This blog is part of the ‘Londoner’s Guide’ blog series to help students navigate the big city. With the weather improving, we have put together a short guide of local walking and running routes, to help you explore London whilst getting some exercise!

Queen Elizbeth Olympic Park

Here at Loughborough University London, we are fortunate enough to be located on the beautiful Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Set across hundreds of acres, there’s lots of trails and routes to explore at the Park.

Inner City Oasis

Inner City Oasis is a 5.7 mile (13,000-step) route located near King’s Park, London, England. This route has an elevation gain of about 91.8 ft and the route passes a lovely canal with barges, horse paddocks and picnic areas!

Hackney

There a number of different walking/running routes for you to explore through Hackney’s Parks and Open Spaces. The routes vary in lengths so there is something for everyone. If you are looking for a mainly flat routes, this one is for you!

St James’s Park

Why not get in some sight-seeing on your walk/run? Whilst this route is slightly longer (11.6 miles), you will pass a number of London’s must-see attractions, including the Tower of London, The Shard, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and much more!


To find out more about Loughborough University London’s unique location, please visit our website.

This Week at Loughborough | 14 June

This Week at Loughborough | 14 June

June 14, 2021 Jess East

IAS Spotlight Series – Remote Geopolitics: The Arctic and Beyond

14 June, 1 – 3pm, Online

Following the success of the first Institute of Advanced Studies Arctic Geopolitics Spotlight Series workshop, Dr Duncan Depledge and colleagues have organised a second Virtual Workshop on ‘Remote Geopolitics: The Arctic and Beyond’. Find out more on the events page.


Keep Calm Week: Puppy Petting

15 June, 10am – 4.30pm, Loughborough Students’ Union

Could you do with a break from working? Well, look no further than our beloved Puppy Petting! Spend a bit of time petting them, chatting to them and handing them treats. To book and find out more visit the events page.


Public lecture: Supplements in sport – risk or reward

15 June, 5.30 – 6.30pm, Online

This public lecture will be delivered by Dr Stephen Mears, Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Nutrition at Loughborough University. Find out more on the events page.


Collaborative Project Show 2021

16 June, 1 – 3pm, Online

Join us for an afternoon of discovery and discussion around project-based innovation and collaborative solutions. Book your place and find out more on the events page.


Mathematics Education Centre Seminar

16 June, 2 – 4:15pm, Online

Presentation and Q&A: Professor Camilla Gilmore, ‘Mathematics learning difficulties in children and adolescents born preterm’. Find out more on the events page.


Interface: What’s Up With Everyone? Storytelling and mental health

16 June, 3 – 4pm, Online

What’s Up With Everyone is a research project that explores how animated storytelling might increase mental health literacy in young people.


Letters To Emma Theatre Production

16 – 18 June, 7pm, Martin Hall

The Drama finalists at Loughborough University will be performing an adaptation of ‘Letters to Emma’, written by Dr Carolyn Scott-Jeffs. Book your tickets and find out more on the events page.


LGBT+ Pride Month 2021: Doing and Performing Gender and Sex

17 June, 2 – 3pm, Online

This talk gives an overview of the development of different sociological approaches to sex and gender and emphasises the importance of intersectional analyses. Find out more on the events page.


Interface: Sarah Selby in conversation with Daniel Chadash

17 June, 6 – 7pm, Online

Digital artist Sarah Selby will discuss her artwork, which she is in the process of realising after a year of research and development, alongside Daniel Chadash from Twist Bioscience in Miami. Find out more on the events page.


The Whole Earth Chanting

18 June, 7pm, Emmanuel Church

The Whole Earth Chanting is a stunning musical work produced by the artist and quantum physicist Libby Heaney and the musician Nabihah Iqbal (Ninja Tune). Find out more on the events page.

Working with RingCentral on the Collaborative Project

Working with RingCentral on the Collaborative Project

June 11, 2021 Ella Cusack

We recently caught up with RingCentral about their experience working alongside our students on the Collaborative Project. With the Collaborative Project Show 2021 just round the corner, RingCentral discussed why they are looking forward to this exciting showcase. Check out the interview below.

Why did RingCentral get involved in the collaborative project?

Creating successful partnerships between business and academia has always been a priority for RingCentral. As a global leader in cloud communications, we see it as our responsibility to work with as many academic institutions as possible to help educate and upskill students by taking part in innovative initiatives such as the Collaborative Project.

Students will become a fundamental part of the workforce of tomorrow, so it’s important they put what they learn in the ‘classroom’ into practice. By engaging with academia, businesses such as RingCentral can provide students with a means of applying their academic knowledge to real-world problems.  

What have you enjoyed the most about working with our students?

Where do I start? Having been involved with the Collaborative Project on many occasions now, what I have enjoyed the most is the level of engagement the students have shown throughout the process and the desire they each have to go that one step further during the research process. This level of commitment meant the quality of their final presentations and reports have been extremely professional, and the insights they provided both original and relevant.  

Why are you looking forward to the Collaborative Project Show 2021? 

As the second Collaborative Project Show I will have attended, what I am looking forward to the most is seeing the final output from the winning team working on the RingCentral brief and the innovative solutions the other groups working on other partner briefs have managed to develop. With an extremely high calibre of post-graduate students and Loughborough University London, I do not doubt that we’re going to be in for yet another amazing show!


We would like to say a big thank you to RingCentral for working with our students on the Collaborative Project and for providing a real business problem for our students to solve You can find out more about RingCentral here.

The Collaborative Project Show 2021 is going global this year! This event takes place on 16 June 2021 – you can still register to attend here.

The Collaborative Project is a module that gives students from across the University the opportunity to form interdisciplinary teams and use their individual experiences and expertise to solve a real business problem, provided by one of our corporate partners. You can find out more about the Collaborative Project here.

Alumni start-up signals the end of patchy Wi-Fi

Alumni start-up signals the end of patchy Wi-Fi

June 11, 2021 Ella Cusack

Alumnus, Andres Urena, studied within our Managing Innovation in Creative Organisations MSc programme within our Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Andres has recently launched Oscar Internet, aiming to improve home internet connectivity

Andres was excited by a 5G service available to him for studying, but soon found that the signal in his home was poor. Fashioning an outdoor antenna to improve his signal, Andres experimented and improved his personal Wi-Fi connectivity, and was inspired to help others, too, so he founded Oscar Internet.

Oscar cubes provide a single Wi-Fi signal in a home. Instead of having different signals, Oscar decides which signal is the strongest from where you are connecting so that users don’t have to switch between bandwidths.

The technology amplifies the Wi-Fi signal from the router, rather than repeating.

This is his third start-up. He said: “Although the pandemic has been very hard for most international students, finding my next passionate venture in the midst of all this has been a true gift”.

He has so far attracted more than 300 customers and is interested in raising funds to support his start-up business.

You can find out more about Oscar Internet here.

This story is part of #LboroInnovation. Check out more #LboroInnovation stories here.

Letters to Emma - A Final-Year Drama Production

Letters to Emma - A Final-Year Drama Production

June 11, 2021 LU Arts

By Ellie Blake

With online teaching and Zoom calls being the new norm for the past year, an in-person final production seemed off the cards for us Drama finalists at Loughborough. When a socially distanced performance became feasible, we jumped at the opportunity to produce a final show before graduation and celebrate the return of live theatre.

 An original play, written by our talented module leader Dr Carolyn Scott-Jeffs, presented a unique opportunity to explore topical themes of social media and mental health as a small theatre company. This contemporary psychological drama, directed by Neve Lawler and Erin Windmill, has been creatively contemporised and delves into the pressures of modern-day life from a student perspective. With a cast and crew of 22 students, professionally producing a show has been a challenging yet equally exciting process and we have created a piece of theatre we are proud of.

The cast and crew of Letters to Emma

Starring Cody Stanley and Tabitha Cuddeford, alongside Ciara Gaughan and Maia Badenjiki, as alternating leads, we have artistically explored the contrasting worlds of Emma Dear and Anna Seward. Emma is a final year University student, researching the work and life of 18th century poet Anna Seward as the subject of her dissertation. She has been ‘ghosted’ by her boyfriend, her parents are a nightmare, her nan has more fun than she does, and she never actually sees any of her friends. Overwhelmed by cyberspace, our protagonist battles with concepts of time and history as her and Anna’s parallel lives unfold. Influenced by Black Mirror, Doctor Who, Caroline Flack: Her Life and Death as well as mainstream cancel-culture, we believe this play is one that will resonate with many young people and investigate the effects of our contemporary culture. Our talented team of writers have modernised the script even further, adding new scenes that centre on modern day dating apps and important women of history. The writers, in collaboration with the directors, felt it was crucial to shine focus on the play’s feminist themes and important conversations on young people’s mental health.

Given our module’s title, ‘Theatre Practice’, it was essential that as a cohort we organised ourselves as a small theatre company. This offered an array of roles for students to choose from, including producing and directing to set design and acting. Our gifted pool of actors have worked tirelessly in less than desirable circumstances over a span of 10 weeks. Consistent energy and commitment in rehearsals has helped to form a fun and light-hearted space where creative ideas can flow.

When talking to one of the lead actors, Cody Stanley, she described the process as a ‘valuable learning experience’, praising her fellow cast members for the amount of hard work put into making the show a success. She described her key methodologies in the development of Emma’s character, which she said had stemmed from Stanislavski’s acting techniques. For those unfamiliar with this practitioner, his methods focus on creating realism and a sense of truth within an actor’s performance. In applying this to her work, Cody has found it useful to imagine Emma in a series of ‘given circumstances’ relating to the play, considering how her character would react to situations as opposed to how Cody herself would. As the play focuses heavily on social media, creating an Instagram account for Emma and considering her interactions and posts on the platform was crucial in creating an authentic character.

Creating a sense of realism was equally as important for the other lead protagonist, Anna Seward, as her character is based on a real-life historical figure. The original play was in fact written specifically for the Lichfield Garrick to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the birth of David Garrick himself. Therefore, much of the process of creating Anna’s character was founded on research into her real-life, thereby endeavouring to maintain a sense of authenticity.

Being a lead actor in a final year production comes with undoubtable pressure, heightened even more so in the current climate where face masks, protective gear and social distancing are the norm. Nonetheless, Cody states how her role has helped to shape her as an actor, and she has relished in the real-world experience of being on stage. She hopes to attend a Drama school next year, where her talent can shine even further.

For those with an interest in the technical side, lighting, sound and comparable roles offered a great opportunity to help bring this multi-media play to life. The focus on social media and the anxieties of modern-day society has led to a production full of cameras, projections and voiceovers, artistically inspired by Katie Mitchell’s theatre. As we come closer to the end of our drama studies at Loughborough, we have striven to be bold in our artistic decisions. We have therefore chosen to avoid traditional proscenium staging and opted for a thrust stage instead, offering a more immersive experience for our audience. Our set designer, Evan Searle, has worked diligently to merge the two protagonists’ worlds together, combining an 18th century-style desk and a modern bedroom setting onto a single raised stage. Inspired by Frantic Assembly’s Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, we hope our creation will pull spectators headlong into the universe of the play.

Delivering a full-scale production is undoubtedly a lot of work, stress and unforeseen obstacles, but at a time where theatre has been facing an uncertain future, it has been a thrilling and rewarding process. Theatre can offer a respite from the real world and, despite these particularly dark themes, it shares and reflects the confusion and chaos that engulfs us in the modern day. Theatre helps us ask questions, explore the world we are in, and remind us that we are not alone. We could not think of a more fitting end to our studies at Loughborough University than collaboratively creating this final piece.

Letters to Emma will be performed at the Martin Hall Building at Loughborough University from the 16th to 18th June 2021. With the collective effort of a talented cast and crew, we have created a performance we are extremely proud of and can’t wait to share it with a live audience. You can book tickets here and follow us on Instagram @letterstoemma_.


I’m Ellie Blake, a final year English and Drama student at Loughborough. I have a huge interest in journalism and hope to pursue a career within this industry, be it investigative and environmental journalism or documentary filmmaking. It may not come as a surprise that I enjoy writing, but I am also passionate about travelling and volunteering and I hope to be able to do more of this after my graduation. 

Call for Papers - London Workshop on Institutional Issues 2021

Call for Papers - London Workshop on Institutional Issues 2021

June 11, 2021 Ella Cusack

The Institute for International Management, here at Loughborough University London, is a part of the Friday Association for Institutional Studies, a collective group holding a call for contributions to the fourth annual London workshop on institutional studies.

The Friday Association for Institutional studies includes members of Birkbeck Centre for Political Economy and Institutional Studies (CPEIS), and the Centre for Comparative Studies of Emerging Economies (CCSEE) at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES USL), alongside the Institute for International Management.

Contributions are requested for the theme of ‘Crisis and Persistence: Dynamics of institutional changes at the interface of the formal and informal institutions’.

Questions of interest include but are not limited to:

  • What are the antecedents of different types of institutional change in times of crisis?
  • What interactions exist between formal and informal institutions during crises?
  • How do informal institutions affect institutional change during crises?
  • Can crises reshape human behaviour above and beyond the “formal rules of the games”?
  • How/when/where do informal institutions provide resilience to institutional orders in crisis?
  • How/when/where do they undermine institutional stability or support institutional change?

How to submit?

Please send an abstract (max. 500 words) or a full paper (if available and preferred by the
submitters) by 18 June 2021 to ssees-events@ucl.ac.uk. The submission should be sent with “Institutional Change Workshop” in the subject line.

To find out more, please visit the UCL website.


To learn more about our Institute for International Management, please visit this web page.

DRN Temporal Drawing: Queer Traces Recording

June 9, 2021 Deborah Harty

Thank you to Daniel Fountain for chairing the final event in the series in the Temporal Drawing series, to presenters Coco Guzman and Maurice Moore for their inspiring presentations and to everyone who attended the event.

Video also accessible at: https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/561035654

DRN Temporal Drawing: Drawn to Time Online Exhibition

June 9, 2021 Deborah Harty
James Carey To hazelhurst and back [seventeen hours drawing/erasing]
assembled residues from the process of drawing and erasing, 2017

Drawn to Time is an online exhibition of international contemporary drawing, selected by guest curator Susan Kemenyffy (USA). The exhibition accompanies the Drawing Research Network‘s 2021 Temporal Drawing series of research presentations organised by the Drawing Research Group (DRG) at Loughborough University.  Submissions were invited to the call for drawings in response to the theme of ‘temporal drawing’ suggesting that temporality is not only inherent in drawing, both as a process and as a product, but is also its fundamental condition. Submissions were invited from anyone practicing drawing in a traditional or expanded way and we received over 370 drawings from artists across the globe in response. From the submissions, Susan selected 30 drawings that represented diverse approaches and responses to the theme. 

View the curated exhibition here: https://www.lboro.ac.uk/schools/sdca/drawn-to-time/

Measuring deep learning in educational research

Measuring deep learning in educational research

June 8, 2021 Centre for Mathematical Cognition

Written by Dr Ian Jones. Ian is a Reader in Mathematics Assessment at the Mathematics Education Centre, Loughborough University. Please see here for more information about Ian and his work.

Quantitative research studies are increasingly valued by researchers, policymakers and teachers, but the findings are only as good as the measures of learning used. It is straightforward to measure some types of learning such as recalling facts and applying algorithms, but we are typically interested in deeper learning, such as understanding of concepts or applying knowledge to novel problems. Unfortunately, deep learning is harder to define and harder to measure, and this inhibits both the quantity and quality of educational research. 

To address this problem, researchers at Loughborough investigated efficient methods for producing high-quality measures of deep learning. To do this we adapted and applied measures based on comparative judgement methods. The measures we produced are quite distinct to the traditional tests and scoring rubrics that dominate quantitative studies in educational research. Subject experts are presented with two pieces of student work and asked, simply, which student has demonstrated the deeper learning based on the evidence presented. Many such pairwise decisions from a group of subject experts are collected and then sent to an algorithm to produce a score for each piece of work. The algorithm, based on the Bradley-Terry model, is like a more sophisticated version of calculating points from match results in football. Our comparative judgement-based methods have been shown to be efficient, reliable and valid across a range of target domains and learning contexts. 

An example of using comparative judgement to measure deep learning was provided by research led by Dr Ian Jones at Loughborough University. We ran an intervention study in which older primary students were introduced to simple algebra using one of two software packages: Grid Algebraor MiGen. Following the intervention, the main measure was based on an open-ended mathematics prompt as follows.

Explain how letters are used in algebra to someone who has never seen them before. You can use examples and writing to help you give the best explanation that you can. 

Students had 10 minutes to complete their answer on a single page. A group of subject experts then made pairwise judgements of students’ responses to the mathematics prompt, and from these decisions we generated a score for each participant. The results showed that students in the Grid Algebra intervention outperformed those in the MiGen intervention. 

An example comparison

To validate our results, we also administered a standard algebra test that we adapted from the literature. The standard test purports to measure understanding of algebra concepts and so provided a yardstick for our novel comparative judgement-based method. When we conducted the analysis again, but this time using scores from the standard test, we replicated the results produced using scores from the open-ended mathematics prompt. Importantly, the design and implementation of the comparative judgement-based method was far more efficient than the design and implementation of the standard test. Moreover, our approach is flexible and can be readily applied to any target concept without the time and expense required to develop and validate a traditional measure. Therefore, we concluded that comparative judgement-based methods have the potential to improve the quantity and the quality of quantitative educational research studies.

Researchers interested in using comparative judgement methods can do so using the freely available comparative judgement engine at www.nomoremarking.com. We have recently developed a how-to guide for researchers interested in comparative judgement which is available here tinyurl.com/NMM4researchers. You are also welcome to get in touch with Ian at I.Jones@lboro.ac.ukfor further advice and assistance.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) at Loughborough University – why bother?

June 8, 2021 Sadie Gration

Issues of equality, diversity and inclusion have gained renewed prevalence recently. Internationally, we have seen media coverage of the heinous murder of George Floyd and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests, a global strengthening of the Me-Too movement against sexual violence and harassment, alongside global campaigns for improved social justice for LGBTQ communities.

We have also seen national outrage at the tragic murder of Sarah Everard, and Prince Harry has raised awareness of the trauma and compounding stigma and marginalisation that we can all experience when dealing with mental health challenges.  

By Veronica Moore

Here at Loughborough University, we too are seeing changes. Colleagues have worked hard towards the Race Equality Charter submission and continue to show commitment to addressing gender inequality in academia through Athena Swan. As a Stonewall Diversity Champion, the University also aims to provide a supportive and inclusive environment for the LGBTQ+ community.

Perhaps most notably, our senior leaders have made a critical shift in their response to EDI by publicly acknowledging that Loughborough University has policies and practices that are institutionally racist. Loughborough is not alone being institutionally racist as an HEI, but to acknowledge this and most importantly to commit to making a change is significant.

We also have a new and already acclaimed LU Race Equity Strategy in the final stages of development (design led by Dr Angela Martinez Dy, Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Advocacy Lead, BAME Staff Network).

Across the institution, student and staff networks are increasingly bringing attention to disparities in the treatment and experience of those in our community who have protected characteristics or who are otherwise identified as marginalised. Gradually, we are also working towards giving more platforms for non-academic staff, lower grade staff and disabled staff and students to be heard.

But why is this work important?

This shift signifies that at Loughborough there is a growing community that is energised and motivated for change. The alternative is that we become so desensitised to living with discrimination that it remains the norm, and we fail to recognise the devastation discrimination brings to some of us and the social losses it brings to us all.

As a higher educational institution, discrimination particularly limits our collective potential and robs us all from benefitting from the richness and vibrancy that comes from a diversity of talent and freely expressed ideas and perspectives. We know that institutional discrimination leads to measurable gaps in student attainment for some groups and loss of retention of students and staff.

For those on the sharp end, whether the discrimination be against sexual orientation or belief or be it rooted in sexism, ablism, racism, genderism or ageism, the trauma experienced can have a deeply destructive and long-lasting impact on an individuals’ lived experience.

One of the many positive outcomes of Loughborough University’s aspiration to work towards proactively promoting EDI is the creation of a new EDI subcommittee. This started in February 2021, and it is anticipated that it will be superseded by a full Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee in 2021/22.

The purpose of the EDI subcommittee, currently linked to the Human Resources Committee, is to govern the leadership, development and implementation of the University’s developing Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion strategy. It is intended to embed EDI in all University business, to support its duty to ensure legal compliance with the Equalities Act 2010 and its intended aim of protecting people from discrimination in the workplace, and to hold the University to account to this commitment.

Alongside the EDI subcommittee, the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Advisory Forum (EDI – Advisory Forum) co-chaired by Dr Angela Martinez Dy and Dr Asya Barutcu has also been established. The EDI-Advisory Forum is an opportunity for everyone in the University community to be involved in the work of improving equality, diversity and inclusion, and to influence by informing the future priorities of the EDI agenda. The regular and transparently run forum will centre on the issues faced by groups with protected characteristics, and other experiences of marginality, across the University and share good practice, failures, and challenges around EDI from within and outside of the Loughborough community. 

If you would like to get involved and hear more about Loughborough University’s EDI developments, please drop in to the first meeting of the EDI Advisory Forum on 8 June between 10am and 11.30am. You can join the meeting here.

Veronica Moore
Head of Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity
Chair of EDI Subcommittee
Co-Chair of the BAME Staff Network

This Week at Loughborough | 7 June

This Week at Loughborough | 7 June

June 7, 2021 Jess East

Bike Maintenance Workshop

7 June, 5.30 – 7.30pm, Public Workbench, Student Village

Learn how to take care of your bike in this informal workshop.

Cycling is a fantastic way of getting around and has seen a huge increase in popularity over lockdown. If you are interested in getting a bike or have one but want to become a little more competent with it, then come along to this workshop.

We will look at the basics of maintaining the bike but also highlight key items that every bike owner should own to enhance their safety. We will also show you what you can do to maintain your bike.

Please bring your bike and, if you have them, tyre removal levers for COVID-safe practices. Find out more on the events page.


Book Club: The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla

8 June, 12.30 – 1.30pm, Online

Join our regular Book Club for an online discussion of The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla.

Inspired by discussion around why society appears to deem people of colour as bad immigrants – job stealers, benefit scroungers, undeserving refugees – until, by winning Olympic races or baking good cakes, or being conscientious doctors, they cross over and become good immigrants, editor Nikesh Shukla has compiled a collection of essays that are poignant, challenging, angry, humorous, heartbreaking, polemic, weary and – most importantly – real. Find out more on the events page.


DRN Temporal Drawing: Queer Traces

9 June, 11am – 12.30pm, Online

The Drawing Research Network Temporal Drawing Events have been organised by staff and PhD researchers from the Drawing Research Group at Loughborough University, chaired by Deborah Harty.

This panel brings together two international queer artists whose practices centre around the traces of lives, bodies and experiences. Find out more information on the events page.

Keep Calm Week: Puppy Petting

10 June, 10am – 4.30pm, Loughborough Students’ Union

Could you do with a break from working?

Well, look no further than our beloved Puppy Petting! Spend a bit of time petting them, chatting to them and handing them treats.

You can book 30-minute slots from 10am-1.30pm and 2.30pm-4.30pm on the following days:
Thursday 10 June
Tuesday 15 June
Monday 21 June

Booking is required and you can find out more information on the events page.

Migration and Visual Arts

Migration and Visual Arts

June 4, 2021 LU Arts

By Corinna Citro

The process of my grandparent’s migration to England has always both fascinated and inspired me. It has shaped my life and my understanding of identity and multiculturalism. I grew up with two cultures and have been blessed with a wealth of both Italian and British traditions, enjoying music, food, dance, art and language. However, at times I cannot help but feel ‘in-between’ lives and countries, neither fully here nor fully there which is why, I believe, I have spent my years in education expressing notions of my identity and heritage through visual arts as a method of understanding and celebrating my identity, heritage and sense of belonging.

My name is Corinna and what I enjoy and love most about life evolves around creativity, culture and family, which I find are intertwined within my studies. I am currently in my final year at Loughborough University studying Fine Art where I have been able to develop my knowledge and artistic skill set through comprehensive research and experimentation with guidance from tutors. This has allowed me to develop my creative ability and explore my identity and heritage with confidence and curiously within the arts.  Whilst at university I have been able to experiment with specialised mediums such as paint, film photography, print and ceramics and have become accustomed to materials and techniques directly linking to the migration process of my grandparents such as brick work, lace and embroidery (see figures below of recent experimentation).  

A four-year contract from the government to work for the London Brick Company allowed my grandfather (on my mother’s side) to move from Northern Italy to England at the age of 19. In my second year at University I spent time exploring minimalist installation work with LBC bricks and found that I became physically and emotionally connected to my work when I used these mediums to explore, engage and revisit his experiences. Similarly, my grandmother (on my father’s side) left Southern Italy to move to England and spent her time sewing and cleaning to enable her to make a living and begin a new life in England.

I use their archived voice notes and conversations about the difficult experiences of both labour intensive and repetitive daily routines and present this through text and sound within my work. Using my own motif designed from their memories of Italy and family members, I practice embroidery techniques on lace and use this to print with and to further explore and create pieces linking my identity and heritage to my work. The time-consuming process becomes an important element within my work, a time for reflection. As a result, the delicate prints act as a preservation of this migratory experience, this memory as a frozen fragment in time. The pieces celebrate my grandparents (and many others who have similar experiences) achievements whilst projecting my Italian roots.

My Dissertation research highlights key figures who have experienced forms of familial migration including cultural theorist Homi Bhabha and philosopher and feminist theorist Rosi Braidotti. Both of whom challenge notions of thought and reflect on the complexity of our modern society and how one can use ‘conceptual [and theoretical] creativity’ in order to ‘learn to think differently about ourselves and the process of deep-seated transformation’ (Braidotti, 2008). Through this research I have learnt how I can use nomadic consciousness and creative ability to develop my critical thought and understanding. These notions have influenced the conceptual elements of my artwork and thought process around notions of identity.

Artists Sonia Boyce and Yinka Shonibare are also influential figures who reference heritage and identity through visual arts. Boyce, an important member and advocate of the Black British Arts movement, explores themes of gender, race and religion. Her fascinating works raise questions about representation and her continuously developing style results in a range of diverse works that speak to the public through archives and shared memory. Shonibare’s use of patterned batik highlights a history of commodity, trade routes and African representation within changing societies. His medium choice creates innovative, colourful and exciting works that comment on his heritage and cultural hybridity. Both artists have taught me so much and inspired my work throughout this year.

Sonia Boyce, 1987, From Tarzan to Rambo: English Born ‘Native’ Considers her Relationship to the Constructed/Self Image and her Roots in Reconstruction, [Photographs, black and white, on paper, photocopies on paper, acrylic paint, ballpoint pen, crayon and felt-tip pen]. 1250 x 3600mm

Recently my research has developed further into themes of Identity and the ‘In-between’ through installation. Korean artist Do-Ho Suh, specifically his compelling installation Seoul Home/L.A. Home/New York Home/Baltimore Home/London Home 1999 (see figure below), makes a statement of his identity and explores notions of displacement. Replicating his childhood home with transparent green silk, he projects his experience of transcultural travel and perhaps comments on notions of the ‘in-between’ felt by those with ties to multiple countries. His stimulating use of space allows for viewer interaction, resulting in a thought-provoking place for reflection. This has fuelled my interest in installation art which I have been exploring in my final semester leading to exciting possibilities for our degree show.   

Do-Hoh Suh (1999) Seoul Home/L.A. Home/New York Home/Baltimore Home/London Home/Seattle Home/L.A. Home, Silk, 378.5 x 609.6 x 609.6 cm, 149 x 240 x 240 inches

When connecting notions between migration and visual arts, it’s worth mentioning one of the most valuable learning opportunities of my university experience so far, which was completing a 6-month work-based internship for sculptor and designer Nacho Carbonell in the Netherlands 2019-2020. From getting hands on experience within the creative industry to developing professional and personal skills, I was able to work collaboratively and form new bonds with international artists whilst gaining an understanding of gallery and client relationships.

This inspiring experience has filled me with optimism and encouraged me to push my creativity further. It has given me insight into the endless possibilities and ever-changing perspective of art and design. I would highly recommend, once COVID-19 restrictions have lifted and when safe to do so, to undertake a placement year if possible, to complete internships and to explore every opportunity made available aboard. The experience of movement and collaboration is beyond enriching. My new understanding of visual art, migration and culture has led to progression in my research and future career aspirations.  

So far, my research and experiences have shaped me as an artist, as a thinker and a doer. I aim to continue researching, traveling and learning as much as I can about art and culture.


You can follow Corinna on Instagram @corinnacreative.

Marketing and Advancement Internships: Advice from our past and current Interns

June 3, 2021 Hannah Billington
We are looking for passionate and talented Loughborough University graduates, final year students as well as those looking to undertake a placement year to join our award-winning Marketing and Advancement team.

Successful candidates will gain valuable experience working in a fast-paced, motivated team who go above and beyond to deliver stand-out marketing for a top UK University.

Does this sound like you? Well, before you start putting together your application, we asked a few of our current interns to give you their top tips for applying for a role, a brief overview of what they’ve enjoyed most about their year, and a few lessons that they’ve learnt along the way!

Leanne McCarthy

School Marketing Intern (Social Sciences and Humanities)

English BA Graduate

“My role as Social Sciences and Humanities Marketing Intern has included helping plan, co-ordinate and deliver marketing content and activities, developing copy for on and offline channels, preparing and coordinating photo shoots, and maintaining the school website to ensure relevant information is created, added and kept up to date. I’ve really enjoyed the variety of activities this role has offered, as well as communicating with a wide range of staff and students – it’s been nice to see Loughborough from a different perspective and keep in contact with some of my lecturers!”

Top tips for applying?

Make sure to include any valuable voluntary roles or experiences you have had during your time at Loughborough – these show enthusiasm towards learning and developing personal skills and are no less important than paid work!

If possible, collate examples of previous content you have created and submit this with your application to demonstrate your abilities (e.g., blog/ news articles, social media posts, photography/ design).

Most memorable moment

Preparing and coordinating photoshoots! It was lovely to be able to assist in the creative direction of content which will be used both online and in print.

What have you gained from your internship?

Although this year has been slightly different due to working at home for a significant portion of time, this has also come with the benefit of making me much more adaptable! Liaising with a wide variety of people, from students and graduates to University business partners, support staff and academics, has also greatly benefitted my communication skills and confidence.

How will your internship benefit you in the future?

Having a year of experience in a marketing role will undoubtedly be a huge benefit to making myself more employable in the pursuit of future career endeavours. I also have a much stronger sense of my personal interests and strengths, which will help not only in knowing the kind of roles I would enjoy, but the kind of roles that would best suit my skills.

A lesson you will take away from this year

Be open to new opportunities, have confidence in sharing your ideas and opinions, and don’t be scared to ask for help or advice – especially when you have the benefit of very supportive colleagues around you!

Ella Cusack

Student Recruitment Marketing Intern

MSc Marketing Graduate

“I am the Student Recruitment Marketing intern and have thoroughly enjoyed my internship within the Central Student Recruitment Marketing team. One of the things I enjoy most about my role is the how much variety there is – no two days are the same as I get to work across undergraduate, postgraduate and London recruitment marketing on numerous different projects. I have also had the opportunity to lead on projects and learn through doing which has been an exciting and new process for me.”

Top tips for applying?

My advice for applying would be to really tailor your application to the job description. Make sure you explicitly state how your experience, skills and qualifications that would help make you a suitable candidate for the role and how you best fit the job description. Also, let your passion for marketing and Loughborough University shine through! The more passionate you are about the role, the better job you will most likely do.

Most memorable moment

It is definitely hard to pick just one memorable moment and there have been many! One of my most memorable moments is being given the opportunity to take the lead on a recruitment event with the International Office. I learnt a lot through this experience and was able to work with and learn from a lot of different people. Another highlight is developing a number of ‘Spotlight series’ on social media for London, showcasing all of the support services on offer to the London campus!

What have you gained from your internship?

I have gained a lot of important skills from my internship but one of the main things is confidence in my marketing ability. I have had the opportunity to put forward my own ideas and take ownership of certain projects which has not only increase my confidence but given me a chance to delve deeper into my own creative mindset. 

How will your internship benefit you in the future?

I have thoroughly enjoyed my internship and would say it has definitely laid the foundations for me to go on a pursue a career within marketing. I have had the opportunity to gain knowledge and experience in a number of different areas including social media, website management/CMS, CRM, blogs and news articles and so much more! All the skills and experience I have gained through this role will definitely be applicable to my future career!

A lesson you will take away from this year

One lesson I will definitely take away is to ask for help if I am unsure of something. Everyone at Loughborough is so lovely, really helpful and very approachable and they are all willing to give you opportunities to gain experience in a number of different areas. I will also take away the message that no idea is a bad idea and I now know how to have confidence in pitching my own ideas to people!

Hannah Preston

Student Recruitment Intern

Sports Management Graduate

“The student recruitment intern supports a range of outreach and recruitment initiatives to help raise awareness of Higher Education and Loughborough University. I have been able to represent Loughborough at virtual UCAS and Higher Education fairs and had the opportunity to talk to prospective students about applying and studying at university.

I really enjoy the role as you get to work on various projects across the team, which means that every week is different. You develop a wide array of skills that will not only benefit you in the role itself, but in your future career.”

Top tips for applying?

My top tip for applying is to make sure that you can demonstrate how you meet the criteria on the job description and then evidence this in your application. You could use examples from when you were on a committee at Loughborough or from any paid employment you may have. Also, make sure you show your passion for Loughborough throughout the application process.

Most memorable moment

I currently work on an outreach initiative which requires me to be a mentor to a handful of students. One of the students was having difficulties deciding between two different degree choices. Over a number of days, we had multiple important conversations about what job they may want to do in the future, what their favourite A-Level was, and what they could see themselves studying for 3+ years. After discussing the matter from a few different perspectives, the student made their decision and seemed very happy with the course they had chosen. This experience gave me a real sense of the importance of student recruitment and outreach.

What have you gained from your internship?

I have been able to really enhance and develop my skill set while being in the role. For instance, one thing I wanted to work on during my internship was my written communication. Throughout the year I have worked on numerous projects where I have been given the opportunity to really challenge myself which has enabled me to improve this skill tremendously. Having opportunities to develop different skills in a setting where if you get stuck there is always someone there to help and support you has been very beneficial to me.

How will your internship benefit you in the future?

When I graduated, I wasn’t sure on which career path I wanted to pursue. This internship has been beneficial in relation to helping me realise what I enjoy doing and what areas of work I am truly interested in. My team have been incredibly helpful in ensuring that I get the most out of each project and that I develop or learn new skills that will benefit me in the future.

A lesson you will take away from this year

At first, I was a bit nervous to share my ideas; however, I soon learnt that putting yourself out there and bringing your thoughts forward can spark collaboration from other people and develop your original ideas to become even stronger.

Alex Stephens

Web and Digital Intern

Sports Science Graduate

“I was the Web and Digital Intern at the University from September until February. My role was really diverse, from helping with the day to day running of social media channels to helping create videos and web pages. It gave me a lot of experience in so many different fields of digital marketing.”

Top tips for applying?

Shout about the great work that you have done already and what skills and ideas you can bring to the role. But remember it is an internship so you do not need to know everything straight away.

Most memorable moment

My most memorable moment was being on a shoot with the video team recording a welcome video with Hall Wardens. It was one of the only times I got to go on campus. It was so nice to meet part of the team in person and do hands on work.

What have you gained from your internship?

I have gained invaluable professional experience. From working with CMS systems to creating graphics and writing blog posts the role is so varied you pick up loads of skills.

How will your internship benefit you in the future?

The internship has already benefited me! The experience I gained from the role allowed me to apply for a full time role working in social media. It gave me a great look into how to work with other teams and clients whilst delivering tight deadlines.

A lesson you will take away from this year

A lesson I will take away from my time as an intern is to always be listening. All of the marketing team at Loughborough have amazing knowledge and experience. Be a sponge and take in all that they share!


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

The application deadline is the 18th June.

Good luck!

Loughborough University London 3D Modelling Collaboration

Loughborough University London 3D Modelling Collaboration

June 3, 2021 Ella Cusack

This blog is about current Sport Business and Innovation MSc student, Carl McMullen, who has had the opportunity to work with Football Matcher and Sport Tech Hub as part of the Digital Skills Programme at Loughborough University London. Find out more what Carl has been up to below.


Do you remember playing football? Chasing the ball around the park with your mates. Football is coming home; With Boris announcing that hopefully, on the 29th March, sport can return.

Students at Loughborough University London have the opportunity of joining the Digital Skills programme in association with Sport Tech Hub. The Sport Tech Hub by London Sport was created to grow, support and accelerate startups to make London more active. Students are able to develop and implement new skills learnt through the programme and apply them within a real-world situation.

Football Matcher is part of the Sport Tech Hub 2020/21 innovation programme enabling them to accelerate their mission to create more affordable and accessible football playing opportunities with access to professional analytics to enable players to take their game to the next level.

Carl McMullen was assigned to the Football Matcher project due to his previous experience as an engineer. The task was to develop a device that could be placed inside a player’s bib to track their football pitch movement. Highlighting players distance covered, sprints and heat map.

Fitting the device in the player’s bib required the device to be compact, secure, lightweight and thin enough to transmit the antenna’s signal to the central hub.

Carl was able to develop the concept using 3D modelling software and using vernier callipers to measure precise measurements. Utilising the circuit board’s mounting points to secure the board in location and battery pack within the device.

To read the rest of this blog, please visit this web page.


We would like to thank Football Matcher and Carl for sharing this blog and his experience as part of the Digital Skills Programme.

The Digital Skills programme aims to improve digital skills. It offers online workshops and the chance to set virtual work insight projects for our students. To find out more about the Digital Skills Programme, please visit our website.

You can find out more information about Sport Tech Hub here.

Interface: LU Arts

Interface: LU Arts

June 2, 2021 Ella Cusack

Interface is a series of events celebrating creative collaboration, led by LU Arts. These events take place from the 16 – 24 June with panel discussions, interactive sessions, performances and screenings and more. Find out more about these events and how you can get involved in this blog.


Interface: What’s Up with Everyone? Storytelling and mental health

16 June 2021, 3pm – 4pm

This session will introduce the project, including a screening of bespoke animations made by the world famous, four times Academy Award® winning animation studio Aardman (creators of Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep, Creature Comforts, Chicken Run) and will be followed by a Q&A with the lead researchers on the project.

This project has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and involves the Institute for Mental Health at the University of Nottingham, LSE, Aardman and the Storytelling Academy at Loughborough.

Interface: Artist Sarah Selby in conversation with Daniel Chadash (Twist Bioscience)

17 June 2021, 6pm -7pm

In this discursive event, University digital artist in residence Sarah Selby will discuss her artwork, which she is in the process of realising after a year of research and development, alongside Daniel Chadash from Twist Bioscience in Miami.

Sarah’s new work will use DNA data storage to encode stories and experiences of the diverse communities of Loughborough into synthetic DNA, which will then be embedded within pen ink and written into a new charter or manifesto for the University. To achieve her ambition she has been working with Daniel Chadash.

Daniel will cover the science behind DNA data storage, the work Twist has been doing and the potential applications of the technology. Sarah will then discuss her artwork, the concept behind it and the creation process.

Interface: Shared Language

22 June 2021, 12.30pm – 1.30pm

***Please note that this event is only open to Loughborough University academics and researchers***

Photographs can often convey complex ideas more easily than written or verbal communication can. Psychologists have also found that images can enhance and aid communication, improving our understanding of a subject. With this in mind, we want to bring together academics/researchers from different subject areas to explore the value of images in encouraging interdisciplinary conversations.

You will need to bring with you three digital images (jpgs) of your own work which will be used within short 1-1 introductions with other participants. You will be matched with an academic/researcher who we think has a shared interest with you through subjects you are working on or the processes or materials you are using. 

Shared Language is designed by Sigune Hamann and Jonathan Kearney, University of the Arts London in collaboration with neuroscientists at Oxford University. The project is aimed at overcoming some of the barriers that prevent collaboration between different disciplines. To explore more of the ideas from previous iterations of the project, go to www.sharedlanguage.co.uk or view this video clip.

Interface: Advanced Technologies in Textiles Art and Design – Laser as a Dyeing Tool

22 June 2021, 4pm – 5pm

Artists and designers come together to show how laser processing technology can be used within Textiles.

Artists and designers come together to show how laser processing technology can be used within Textiles.

In recent times there has been a lot of debate within the Textiles industry related to the development of new ‘smart and reactive materials’ and the Textiles Department at Loughborough has contributed to this discussion.

Interface: Collaborative Touch – A discussion between sport and performance

23 June 2021, 1pm – 2pm

This roundtable event brings together five academics/practitioners with a view to reimagining that most potent of presences in sport and performance: the body.

Sport and artistic performance have a long, intertwined history. This roundtable will discuss a range of interests and concerns including pain, discomfort, the fraught notion of work, touch and haptic communication.

The contributors to this roundtable are Tom Dawkins (wrestler, as Cara Noir, contemporary performer and fitness coach), Claire Heafford (former UK gymnast and bobsledder, wrestler and performer), Dominic Malcolm (Reader in the Sociology of Sport and author of The Concussion Crisis in Sport), Gareth McNarry (Para-swimming lead at Loughborough Sport with a doctorate in swimming embodiment) and Claire Warden (Senior Lecturer in English and Drama and co-editor of Performance and Professional Wrestling).

Interface: Creatures of the Lines (first cut and discussion)

23 June 2021, 6pm – 8pm

Creatures of the Lines is a stunning new film by the artist Sonia Levy, working in collaboration with the anthropologist Heather Swanson. It explores how the desire for economic growth and linear progress has produced straightened forms in England’s watery landscapes, and asks what risks are associated with the conversion of once-curvy and braided worlds into a linearised landscape. The film has been developed through a number of conversations with academics from Loughborough University’s departments of Geography and Environment, and English.

This event will combine a screening of the film’s first cut with a conversation led by Levy and Swanson connecting its form to the issues it explores. This conversation will inform the film’s final edit, to be developed across the summer and autumn of 2021.

Interface: The Interdisciplinary Nature of Drawing

24 June 2021, 12.30pm – 1.30pm

A discussion and Q&A with artists and researchers about how drawing can work across disciplines.

Deborah Harty, Chair of the Drawing Research Group (DRG) at Loughborough University will open this event with an introduction to the work of the group, highlighting some of the research undertaken by its members. This will be followed by a presentation by the artist Claude Heath, based on their paper Out of sight but not out of mind: A diagrammatic conversation on relational drawing, as an example of the interdisciplinary nature of drawing. Claude collaborated with John Stell, a mathematician from Leeds University, on this paper which reflects on a dialogue between drawing in the practice of art and the practice of mathematics. Diagrams are the vehicle for this collaboration across the two disciplines, through a common visual vocabulary of loops, connections, change over time, negative space and a shared interest in exploring the physicality of practice.

Saul Albert, Lecturer in Social Sciences (Social Psychology), who has collaborated with Claude on other interdisciplinary projects  which use drawing as a research tool, will then lead a discussion with Claude and members of the DRG followed by a wider Q&A.

Claude Heath is a British Postwar & Contemporary painter who was born in 1964. Their work was featured in several exhibitions at key galleries and museums, including the Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart and the MMoCA, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Find out more about Claude’s work here


To find out more about Interface, please visit the LU Arts website.

LU Arts is a student-focused arts programme based at Loughborough University (Loughborough campus). Through numerous online events, there is plenty of opportunities to enjoy and/or get involved in the arts during your studies.

Video recordings of CRCC Seminar Series Semester 2 2020-21

June 2, 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 2 of 2020-21. The recordings of the seminars held in Semester 1 can be found here.

Revealing Culture as Constitutive Practice: EM/CA as an unmasking of Tacit and Taken-for-Granted in Interaction Orders of Tacit Racism and other Inequalities“, by Professor Anne Rawls, Bentley University.

The discourse of protection and the orientation of post-pandemic politics“, by Dr Paolo Gerbaudo, Kings College London.

Media Use and Collective Identity in East- and West-Berlin in the 1990s. A Biographical Approach“, by Professor Maria Löblich & Elisa Pollack, Free University of Berlin.

Utopian Hope in Dark Times“, by Dr Caroline Edwards, Birkbeck University of London.

Deconstructing Sovereignty Discourse in a Time of Covid-19“, by Professor Lasse Thomassen, Queen Mary University of London.

The nation in migration studies?“, by Professor Marta Bivand Erdal, Peace Research Institute Oslo.

What Eddie Izzard means to me

What Eddie Izzard means to me

June 1, 2021 Stephen Ashurst

Author: Stephen Ashurst

These days you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t know who Eddie Izzard is. Even if you don’t follow her recent political achievements and significant work for charity, or her many roles in TV shows and feature films, you will more than likely be familiar with her unique approach to stand-up comedy, but more importantly for being one of the most well-know transgender personalities around today.

I first heard about Eddie back in 1996 when I saw her perform ‘Definite Article’ at the Ipswich Regent Theatre; a stand-up comedy show that completely blew me away. Not only was it one of the funniest shows I’d ever seen, but I was so impressed back in the 90s, that someone could display openly transgender traits – wearing makeup, feminine clothes and heels – and seem to be not only accepted by the audience but that they were genuinely taken with her. Reviews that I saw all seemed to rave about how amazing and funny she was, no negative connotations about being transgender (or transvestite as was the term back then).

Eddie appeared to have taken the issue of being transgender – something that been difficult early on in life – and dealt with it head on. Not only admitting to it but embracing it and turning it into an integral part of the comedy routine. Describing herself as a ‘professional transvestite’, ‘a complete boy plus half a girl’ and ‘a lesbian trapped in a man’s body’ were statements that got a laugh from audiences, but were also a real insight into her mind and gender identity. Certainly something that I’d never heard anyone deal with before. Regarding her fashion Eddie has been quoted saying “They’re not women’s clothes. They’re my clothes. I bought them.” This was something I felt showed that she wouldn’t accept a stereotyped image of a transvestite being something to be ashamed of, but instead something to embrace and be proud of.

It’s interesting that back when Eddie was performing in the 90’s and even in the early 00’s, she used the term ‘transvestite’ as a label for herself. At the time it was probably the closest thing to pigeon hole herself as. People seem to need a label or box to put things in to be able to understand them. Thankfully now we have many more labels and boxes. It might seem overkill to have all these terms, the definitions of which may overlap, but then it could be questioned why there is a need for labels and boxes at all; surely everyone is unique anyway. In recent years Eddie began to refer to herself as being transgender, an identity term that many feel is less derogatory and more descriptive.

Reading about her earlier life, it was clear how nervous and uncomfortable she was with anyone finding out about her feminine side. She had been going to a TV/TS help group for a couple of months before building the confidence to leave her flat wearing makeup and a dress. She had to carefully time when she left so that none of the flat mates saw, but coming back again was more difficult and she had to change in a public toilet – with the intention of slipping out again unnoticed. However, it was a ladies’ toilet and there were three teenage girls who had seen Eddie and began calling “Hey mister, why are you wearing makeup? Why are you dressed as a woman?” They followed, shouting, but it wasn’t until Eddie turned and said “You want to know why I’m wearing a dress? I’ll tell you why.” When the girls screamed and ran off. Although not an ideal outcome, it perhaps showed that maybe things didn’t have to be as difficult as they seemed.

‘Izzard’s openness would have an impact
on transgender communities across the globe’

Stonewall

More recently Eddie made news headlines when she asked to be referred to with exclusively she/her pronouns. Having had girl modes and boy modes in the past she now wanted ‘to be based in girl mode from now on’. Stonewall have since said that ‘Izzard’s openness would have an impact on transgender communities across the globe’.

I have a huge amount of respect for what I believe Eddie Izzard did for the transgender community. To me Eddie stands out as an icon of transgender representation, someone who is funny, intelligent and seemingly so confident and self-assured. I appreciate that whilst she had the guts to get up and perform stand-up comedy in front of millions, wearing a dress, heels and make-up, the confidence more than likely didn’t come as easily as it looked. For me, I used to think that if she could go out in public breaking gender conventions then there was always the possibility that I could too. Although I definitely didn’t have the same confidence at the time, I was very much aware of her. She has remained a figure of inspiration for me and I would like to think she has inspired me in my recent embracing of gender fluidity.

The fact that a bold and charismatic personality such as Eddie has struggled with gender identity, and that she has only recently made a significant change later on in life, goes to show that the issue of gender is not as black and white, or blue and pink, as it might seem. Gender is a complex concept with multiple components such as:

  1. Bodily sex – the combination of reproductive organs, chromosomes, hormones and physical characteristics that make up sex.  Note that when a baby is born a sex will be assigned based only on their external genitalia.
  2. Gender identity – a personal sense of the gender we feel on the inside, which may or may not align with the expected norms of the sex assigned at birth.
  3. Gender expression – the way a person expresses themselves on the externally through clothing, hairstyles and mannerisms.

With this in mind it might be worth taking a moment to look at the gender identity spectrum below and consider where your own gender identity sits. There is no right or wrong with something like this, only a matter of how well we know, understand and accept ourselves.


Images

“Eddie Izzard Canadian Tour 2010” by Eric Eggertson is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
“15.04.04 Eddie Izzard 2” by labour_party_uk is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
“eddie izzard in cleveland, oct2003” by soozums is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

References

https://genderqueerid.com/gq-terms
http://www.auntiemomo.com/cakeordeath/rant.html
https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2020/dec/21/eddie-izzard-to-use-female-pronouns-she-and-her
https://medium.com/curated-by-versett/celebrating-pride-i-lgbtqia-identity-and-workplace-discrimination-2eac24dd2e19
https://www.itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/genderbread-person/

This Week at Loughborough | 31 May

This Week at Loughborough | 31 May

May 31, 2021 Jess East

Loughborough Cycling Festival

31 May, 9am – 6.30pm

Loughborough Sport is hosting the Loughborough Cycling Festival.

The event incorporates the National Youth Circuit Series, with over 300 of the countries top youth riders in attendance.

There are also elite races in the National Women’s Team Cup and the Men’s Elite Criterium.

For race timings and further information please visit the website.


The Good, Authentic Life: Gendered normativity of Instagram – IAS Guest Lecture

2 June, 1 – 2pm, Online

In this presentation, Dr Heřmanová will look at how these authenticity strategies on Instagram are gendered, arguing that being authentic on social media means something different for men and women. Find out more information on the events page.

Videos of "Covid, Communication and Culture: Research Insights and Policy Solutions"

May 24, 2021 Cristian Vaccari

On the 12th of May 2021, the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture hosted an interdisciplinary research and policy event to discuss innovative work that helps understand how different aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic are affecting and being affected by various facets of communication and culture. We are now delighted to release the video recordings of the event.

Session 1: “Understanding”
Chair: Prof Lisanne Gibson, Dean of the School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Speakers: Prof. Sabina Mihelj; Prof. James Stanyer

Session 2: “Protecting”
Chair: Prof. Cristian Vaccari, CRCC Co-Director
Speakers: Prof. Andrew Chadwick; Dr Paula Saukko; Prof. Elizabeth Stokoe

Session 3: “Adapting”
Chair: Prof. Ele Belfiore, CRCC Co-Director
Speakers: Dr Adrian Leguina; Dr Thomas Swann; Dr Marcus Collins

Presentations Summaries

Understanding

News consumption, political polarization, and trust during the COVID-19 pandemic
Sabina Mihelj (with Katherine Kondor and Vaclav Štětkà)
Attempts to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus brought unforeseen levels of disruption to social life. Faced with a fast-changing situation, people turned to the media to find up-to-date information about the little-known virus and about preventative measures. At the same time, medical experts and public health authorities started sounding alarms about the potential negative effects of the media as key drivers of an ‘infodemic’ of misinformation that was threatening to undermine trust and incite harmful behaviour. In this talk we present the results of a comparative study of media use, trust in experts, and information-seeking behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic, drawing on 120 qualitative interviews and media diaries from four countries. 

The enduring appeal of Public Service Broadcasters: the BBC and News and information consumption in the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic
James Stanyer
Drawing on weekly survey data, this paper examines news and information consumption in the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic. Research during the first wave of the pandemic shows consumption increased but has less to say about how and where the public got its news and information from over a prolonged extreme event: this paper sheds light on this important issue. The paper finds that the public turned to TV and legacy media more than the new media. The public’s information mix did not vary much over the first wave and while other sources were consulted, the BBC remained a dominant source. The BBC was the most trusted source, but trust did not guide use. That said, there were statistically significant differences in use, for example, between those aged 16-34 and 55+.

Protecting

Online Social Endorsement and Covid-19 Vaccine Hesitancy in the UK
Andrew Chadwick (with Johannes Kaiser, Cristian Vaccari, Daniel Freeman, Sinéad Lambe, Bao S. Loe, Samantha Vanderslott, Stephan Lewandowsky, Meghan Conroy, Andrew R. N. Ross, Stefania Innocenti, Andrew J. Pollard, Felicity Waite, Michael Larkin, Laina Rosebrock, Lucy Jenner, Helen McShane, Alberto Giubilini, Ariane Petit, and Ly-Mee Yu)
In February 2021, the UK had the world’s highest Covid-19 mortality per million of population. And yet, about a fifth of the UK public was either very unsure or strongly hesitant about getting vaccinated. Is there a role for online social endorsement in addressing Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy? What kinds of public communication strategies are required to make this work? Professor Andrew Chadwick reports on recently published research from the Oxford Coronavirus Explanations, Attitudes, and Narratives project (OCEANS). A collaboration involving Oxford, Loughborough, Cambridge, Aston, and Bristol universities, OCEANS comprises scholars in clinical and social psychology, communication, moral philosophy, immunology, vaccinology, medical sociology, medical statistics, and economics. In this arm of the project, based on a survey of 5,000 UK adults the team explored the connections between people’s attitudes, their Covid media diets, and their intention to use social media to encourage or discourage vaccination.

Caught in and working with digital media scripts: Harmful and helpful experiences of people with eating disorders during the Covid-19 pandemic
Paula Saukko (with Helen Malson)
This study investigates the experiences of people with eating disorders (n=31) on harmful and helpful digital media use during Covid-19 lockdowns. Interviews featured three themes: (i) connecting with people enhanced social support but also aggravated social comparisons and pressure to interact, (ii) following mainstream, recovery and body-positive influencers created a contradictory and often triggering stream, and (iii) participants accessed a plethora of helpful and harmful digital mental health care (groups, apps, broadcasts, counselling). In conclusion, digital media offer helpful social support, user-generated content and mental health care but the business model-driven push for more connections, generic content and unregulated services scripted into the platforms create a minefield for people with mental health problems.

Covid: The messaging, the communication, and the conversation
Elizabeth Stokoe (with Emma Richardson)
In this presentation, I will give three brief examples of how conversation analytic research can underpin and shape communication-relevant Covid-19 policy in different institutional settings and domains: 1) the connection between government messaging and public understanding of and adherence to Covid-19 mitigations; 2) how core features of social interaction research shaped guidance about adherence to social distancing and mask-wearing, and 3) how analysis of 999 calls to the police during lockdown has revealed particular challenges for police 999 call-takers in the context of domestic violence.  

Adapting

Digital Access to Arts and Culture Beyond Covid-19
Adrian Leguina (with Richard Misek)
Since the global spread of Covid-19, video streaming has emerged as perhaps the most popular and effective tool for physically-sited arts and culture institutions to stay ‘open’, and has provided locked-down audiences with opportunities for cultural engagement and shared experience. This project – funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and developed in collaboration with Arts Council England and digital support agency The Space – focuses on providing arts and culture organisations of all sizes and from across the UK with specific, practical knowledge about how to manage their digital programming. Here we present a broad overview of the project, including some initial thoughts on how current crisis-driven innovations in digital delivery could help provide arts and culture organisations with the resilience and agility to adapt to a post-Covid landscape, as well as some methodological challenges on the study of digital engagement and audience diversity.

The viability of self-organised mutual aid during the Covid pandemic
Thomas Swann
As the Covid-19 pandemic spread around the world, people got together under the banner of mutual aid to help one another, often in the absence of any official government support. Looking at these mutual aid practices as self-organised systems, this presentation uses anarchist and cybernetic theories to diagnose some of the challenges faced by those involved. Mutual aid can be a key part of how we get through crises like the Covid-19 pandemic, but only if we learn the lessons of the past, address common problems, and create the right conditions for it to flourish.

Post-Pandemic Pedagogy: Lessons learnt from learning and teaching history during Covid
Marcus Collins
This talk will present preliminary results from a pilot survey of history students and staff at seven UK universities on how Covid-19 has affected learning history at university and how history programmes could and should adapt once Covid-19 has abated. Early indications suggest that staff saw little positive about teaching under Covid-19, with a plurality of them viewing eleven out of thirteen facets of learning as having declined over the past year. Students who had experienced university before and after Covid-19 conversely identified a mixture of beneficial and detrimental changes to their learning. They broadly welcomed Covid-inspired teaching innovations and the shift to coursework while faulting the quality of feedback, interactions with staff and access to study spaces. First-year students, having no pre-Covid experience of higher education, were overwhelmingly satisfied with their learning while sorely missing each other’s company. Less divergence appears in preferences for post-Covid teaching, with staff and students alike expressing a preference post-Covid for in-person seminars and ambivalence over traditional lectures. Conflicting opinions over assessment, however, indicate a fundamental tension in higher education between learning outcomes and the student experience. Since no student favours a return to closed-book exams but many staff think otherwise, whose views will prevail?

***

Presenters’ Biographies

Ele Belfiore is Professor of Communication and Media Studies and Co-Director of the CRCC. Her research focuses on discursive formations around cultural value, the social impact of the arts, and the working conditions of publicly funded socially engaged artists.

Andrew Chadwick is Professor of Political Communication and directs the Online Civic Culture Centre (O3C).

Marcus Collins is Senior Lecturer in Cultural History. He researches British contemporary history and has a particular interest in the 1960s, the so-called permissive society and the Beatles, on which he has written extensively. 

Lisanne Gibson is Professor of Culture and Society and Dean of the School of Social Studies and Humanities. Her research focuses on the relations between culture and ‘the social’ and her academic career has seen her span across the fields of heritage and museum studies, cultural and cultural policy studies, cultural geography, and sociology.

Adrian Leguina is Lecturer in Quantitative Social Sciences. His research interests lie at the intersection of the sociology of cultural consumption, social stratification, and quantitative research methods.

Sabina Mihelj is Professor of Media and Cultural Analysis and her research focuses on the comparative study of media cultures across both traditional and new media, with a focus on nationalism, identity, Eastern and Central Europe, and the Cold War.

Paula Saukko is Reader in Social Science and Medicine, and her research focuses on diagnostic technologie and digital health, particularly self-tracking devices, but also use of digital media in medicine more generally.

James Stanyer is Professor in Communication and Media Analysis and his research interests lie primarily in the areas of national and transnational political communication.

Elizabeth Stokoe is Professor of Social Interaction and her research focuses on conversation analysis and membership categorisation analysis of interaction in a variety of contexts including healthcare settings, police interviews and hostage negotiation.

Thomas Swann is a Lecturer in Political Theory, researching the connections between anarchist and cybernetic theories of organisation and their application to alternative forms of organising. His book, Anarchist Cybernetics. Control and Communication in Radical Politics, was published by Bristol University Press in 2020.

Cristian Vaccari is Professor of Political Communication and Co-Director of the CRCC. He studies political communication by elites and citizens in comparative perspective, with a particular focus on digital and social media.

Digital Skills Programme Summer Projects 2021: Applications are open!

Digital Skills Programme Summer Projects 2021: Applications are open!

May 24, 2021 Ella Cusack

The Digital Skills Programme team are now speaking with organisations, looking to secure 5-10 work insight projects for student participation over the summer.

These projects will run 6-8 weeks in duration at no more than 6 hours per week, for a maximum of 30 hours in total. Previous examples of work insight projects can be found here.

Completing a work insight project will help you add experience to your CV and help you grow your professional network!

We are now accepting applications for work insight projects and the application window will close Friday 4th June. Students will need to complete both the application form and a video interview to be eligible for consideration. Guidance on accessing the video interview platform can be found here.

The team will review all applications and will be in touch in with successful candidates as suitable projects become available. Please note that this is a competitive process and students will be selected on suitability, previous skills and experience, and relevance to available projects. Successful students will need to be able to commit to a project for the duration.

If you have previously completed a Digital Skills project and would like to be considered for another project, please email DigitalSkills@lboro.ac.uk – Please note that we may need to prioritise new participants but will do our best to match all eligible students to a suitable project, subject to availability.


If you have any questions, please email the team DigitalSkills@lboro.ac.uk.

Further info on the Digital Skills Programme can be found on our LEARN page.

This Week at Loughborough | 24 May

This Week at Loughborough | 24 May

May 24, 2021 Jess East

What Makes This Image Trans?

24 May – 4 June, 12 – 2pm, Martin Hall Exhibition Space

This collectively curated exhibition features works by trans photographers of varied experience from across the East Midlands in response to these issues. Find out more on the events page.

National Launch Event for UKRI Circular Chemical Economy Centre

25 May, 10am – 12pm, Online

You are invited to join the online National Launch event of the UKRI Interdisciplinary Centre for Circular Chemical Economy.

The vision of the Centre is to transform the UK chemical industry’s linear supply chain model into a fossil-independent, climate-positive and environmentally friendly circular economy.

For the launch event a range of experts and leading businesses will discuss the road to circular chemical economy, the role of innovations, the importance of the whole system approach, and various non-technical barriers around business motivation, finance gap, public awareness and policy incentive.

There will be opportunities for Q&A and networking with guest speakers. Various funding opportunities from the UKRI, the National CE-Hub and the Centre will also be introduced. Find out more on the events page.

Voices of Diversity: BAME Speaker Series

25 May, 6 – 7pm, Online

As part of our commitment to advancing race equality and being an anti-racist community, we are pleased to launch Voices of Diversity: BAME Speaker Series.

Voices of Diversity will consist of a variety of events and initiatives which highlight the experiences, impact and achievements of BAME individuals, whilst providing an opportunity to hear their thoughts on how to transform the University’s culture for the better.

The panel will talk about their inspirational career stories and achievements, reflect on their time at Loughborough, and share experiences from their current organisations as to how we can realise an anti-racist and equitable University community. Find out more information on the events page.

Transistence: The Politics of Trans Representation

25 May, 6 – 8pm, Online

This event will take the exhibition What Makes This Image Trans? as a starting point to explore the politics of trans representation. It will explore the practices and methods trans people use to selectively share their lived experiences, and the agencies involved in doing so. Resisting the gaze of cisnormativity, the event will have a particular focus on photography and personal narrative.

The event will feature an introduction to What Makes This Image Trans? by two of its contributors: Isaac Scott Briggs and Oskar Marchock. They will situate the exhibition in relation to the workshops out of which it developed, in which the politics of constructing and sharing trans narratives through photography were explored.You can find out more on the events page.

Fellowship opportunities with the EPSRC and the Royal Academy of Engineering

26 May, 12.30 – 2pm, Online

This workshop will provide an overview of two of the major funders of Postdoctoral Fellowships in the UK, the EPSRC who hold a range of Research Fellowships, including in Energy, and the Royal Academy of Engineering who offers Research Fellowships each year to outstanding early-career researchers to support them to become future research leaders in engineering. Find out more on the events page.

BERG Seminar 7: Energy Flexibility

26 May, 2 – 3pm, Online

“This month’s Building Energy Research Group (BERG) seminar at Loughborough is on the topic of energy flexibility.

We have four excellent speakers: Dr Bianca Howard and Rami El-Geneidy from BERG, and Dr Philip Leicester and Dr Andrew Urquhart from CREST. You can book onto the event on the events page.

Erin Sikorsky on How Climate is Changing Defence, Security and Intelligence

26 May, 3 – 4.30pm, Online

Erin Sikorsky, the Deputy Director of The Center for Climate and Security in Washington D.C., will present her fascinating practitioner’s perspective on what climate change means for defence, security and intelligence. Find out more information on the events page.

UNISON Members: Dealing with difficult face-to-face conversations

27 May, 10am – 12.30pm, Online

This UNISON training course is beneficial for staff who are required to deal with challenging conversations with customers and service users face-to-face. Find out more information on the events page.

UNISON Members: Lone Worker Training

27 May, 1.30 – 4pm, Online

Increase your understanding of the risks associated with lone working and the key legislation that relates to this, including the responsibilities of employers and employees. Find out more on the events page.

Dr Tim Livsey: Universities and Twentieth Century Globalisation: The View from Nigeria

27 May, 4 – 5.30pm, Online

The twentieth century saw the globalisation of the western university. This lecture considers what the Nigerian experience tells us about this process. Find out more information on the events page.

Interview with Ashley Grey: The Collaborative Project

Interview with Ashley Grey: The Collaborative Project

May 21, 2021 Ella Cusack

RingCentral recently caught up with our very own Ashley Gray to discuss Loughborough University London’s learning partnerships and the unique, innovative and immersive, Collaborative Project. RingCentral are one of our partner organisations for the Collaborative Project. Find out more about what Ashley had to say here.


Could you tell us about Loughborough University London and the Collaborative Project?

Loughborough University London is a postgraduate campus based over at Olympic Park in London. It’s got an innovation and enterprise focus. The Collaborative Project is a module that empowers all students to develop knowledge through experiential learning. 700 students this year will collaborate with external partner organisations on live briefs. We have 700 students and 28 different project briefs pioneering the future of what these organisations might want to be involved with or develop in the years to come.

What’s your role, and what do you love most about it?

My role at Loughborough University London is to lead the Collaborate programme. So there’s the collaborative project and the collaborative dissertation, which is a follow on from the collaborative project whereby students get to work optionally as an individual working with an external partner organisation. My role is to find these interesting, exciting partners such as RingCentral and help create these projects for students.

I get to speak to so many great organisations looking to change the future and make a positive impact. Equally, I love the opportunity to see how our students come together as teams and have this industry exposure. This allows them to showcase what they’re capable of and apply the knowledge they’re gaining during their master’s degrees. Through the programme, students equip themselves with skills that can get them straight into employment and be that next star employee for some of them.

How has the pandemic impacted the way you work, and how have you (as a university) overcome these challenges?

Like many other organisations, we had to go digital overnight. Fortunately, we were founded just over five years ago now. So there’s a lot of our staff members that are well equipped and dynamic. A kind of startup mentality runs through this university. So we’re able to take that culture and apply it successfully in this new environment. We already had an internal digital platform that we’re using anyway because we collaborate quite closely with our Midlands campus.

We recognised that students couldn’t interact in person, which is such a big part of uni life. So we’ve held a lot more virtual events to try to create that culture. What we’ve seen since is interesting. We’ve had so much more engagement than we might normally get.

It’s also been great for our collaborators because they found it easier to work with us. Some of them are overseas, so holding virtual events meant they didn’t have to jump on a plane.

To watch or read about the full interview, please visit the RingCentral website.


The Collaborate programme currently features academic modules the Collaborative Project and Collaborative Dissertation.  If you would like your organisation to be involved you can apply for the next project can apply here. Applications close 13 September 2021 for a February 2022 start.

Chinese tea ceremony

Chinese tea ceremony

May 21, 2021 LU Arts

To celebrate International Tea Day (21 May 2021), we invited Loughborough University student Suya Bian to create a video demonstrating a Chinese tea ceremony.

IDIG in conversation: Digital Diplomacy

IDIG in conversation: Digital Diplomacy

May 21, 2021 Ella Cusack

Professor Helen Drake, Professor of French and European Studies and the Director for the Institute of Diplomacy and International Governance, hosts this IDIG conversation alongside colleagues Dr Dorina Baltag, Postdoctoral Researcher, and Dr Aidan McGarry, Reader in International Politics. The conversation focuses on the Digital Diplomacy programme and how the digital realm has impacted the different aspects of  diplomacy.

The conversation begins with Programme Creator, Dr Aidan McGarry, highlighting the ideology of digital diplomacy. Aidan describes the digital realm as cutting-edge and discusses how the two collide creating a paradox.

“The digital realm is the future and diplomacy is something that has been around for centuries. Diplomacy has been radically transformed through digital platforms and the media. This module focuses on power and open communication. Digital diplomacy is cutting edge, it’s a practice as well as an idea enabling open dialogue on how politics are done and opens other aspects of diplomacy”.

Professor Helen Drake mentions the impact political impacts of COVID-19 and how this has inadvertently taken away the physical aspects of global events. Aidan adds that COVID-19 forced Summits with global leaders to be held digitally. Something like this would not have been possible to adapt to 15 years ago but the facts of this happening now provides proof of adaptability, which could in turn help tackle other global issues. For example, digital conversations about decreasing carbon footprints to minimise environmental harm can be encouraged, if these conversations are just as effective.

Dr Dorina Baltag believes ‘old fashioned’ diplomacy is just traditional diplomacy and actually not much has changed at its core.

“The digital age and the pandemic has introduced the diplomatic agenda and the public being able to openly converse with those behind the steering wheel of foreign policies through social media channels. Digital connection further enhances diplomacy allowing more individuals to advocate for global issues”.

As Dorina has partaken in extensive research in this area, Helen asks her to further divulge her findings around Ministries of Foreign Affairs and how embassies have reacted to the openness of social media, have they embraced the social media realm or is there retention around it? Dr Dorina Baltag replies:

Communication is a core function of diplomacy that has been in need of updating. Some countries have been advanced in building digital strategies and embracing the new digital age although some countries have been struggling to advance and digest the volumes of increased data.”

Helen Drake then streamlines the conversation into a real life example of how diplomacy and social media collide, highlighting the former US president’s (Donald Trump) social media presence, and how his presidency was characterized based on his twitter presence. In response to this, Dorina offers a positive outlook on his online presence, stating that he clearly utilised this platform as an instrument for his agenda and which enabled him to speak openly to the public. Aidan further identifies how Donald Trump, in a sense, transformed diplomacy with his style of communication being so one way, whether it be by using capital letters or demanding the language used was more of a nuance then effective communication. Dorina adds that one important nuance of the digital age is the differentiation between having an online presence and actually being able to utilise this presence for communication.

In this discussion, Helen links digital diplomacy to the amount of teaching material it also provides and mentions that one of Dorina’s student practices includes an analysis on a previous Donald Trump tweet. Helen goes on to ask Aidan and Dorina for their opinion on how the digital world impacts the student experience.

Aidan explains that a lot digital diplomacy relies heavily on information and the practicalities of this for students during this course, is that they learn to effectively digest large parts of information and dissect the prominent parts of it and further communicate it in a practical way. So synthesising data given, and compellingly communicating it. These skills are vital in the real world and being able to swiftly communicate and example compelling date demonstrates a highly transferable skill set.

Dorina concludes this discussion by adding that being able to differentiate between different sources of information and defining what is considered credible, is another skill that these programmes aid.

“Our programmes enables students to create profiles, conduct presentations, show team work and take initiative when leadership skills are required. You learn about effective negotiation, everything you learn enables you to effectively connect data. For example linking a business to climate change and the climate change to conflict, conflict to resolution whether it be within education or cultural social issues. These skills can link you to so many career paths whether it be diplomatic, negotiating, journalism or even a high profile translation role, the transferrable skills are endless.”.


Research is at the heart of the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance.

If you are interested in addressing complex, international issues and developing your professional research skills, then pursuing a PhD in the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance could be for you.

For further course information click here.

DRN Temporal Drawing: Diagrams

May 20, 2021 Deborah Harty

Thank you to James Bowen for chairing the fourth event in the Temporal Drawing series, to presenters David Griffin and How Graham for their engaging presentations and to everyone who attended the event.

Video also accessible at: https://vimeo.com/552837218

Can the UK really become an export country?

Can the UK really become an export country?

May 18, 2021 Ella Cusack

Dr Gerhard Schnyder, Director of the Institute for International Management, recently wrote an article for Encompass. Encompass is an online magazine delivering comment, opinion and analysis on the affairs of the European Union and Europe’s place in the world. This article delves deeper into the the UK Government’s post-Brexit economic strategy, the reliance on concluding Free Trade Agreements with countries around the world, and the possibility of the UK could become an export country.


Trade deals with countries around the world have figured prominently in the UK government’s post-Brexit economic strategy. The rollover of the free trade agreements (FTAs) concluded by the EU when the UK was still a member has been remarkably successful. However, the rollover of these agreements only means that the UK does not lose any of its existing access to other countries’ markets. To compensate for any decline in trade with the EU, the UK government will need to conclude new trade deals. Here, the Government’s Integrative Review promises an ‘Indo-Pacific tilt’ through FTAs with countries like Australia, India, and New Zealand, as well as membership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Yet, much of the political rhetoric around UK’s post-Brexit FTAs with countries around the world remains vague or unrealistic regarding what the UK can bring to the table in negotiations over these FTAs. Indeed, despite the political focus on exports as driver of post-Brexit growth, Britain never was an export-led growth model like Germany. According to post-Keynesian economists the UK economy is mainly driven by domestic, private consumption, not exports – which explains the persistent yearly trade deficits (the UK imports more than it exports).

Turning the UK into an export-led model would require a fundamental transformation of its economy. The first question one would have to ask is: What could the UK export more of?

An obvious answer is high-end business services. The UK is the world’s second largest service exporter and runs a service trade surplus every year (exporting more services than importing). So, could exporting business services be the motor for post-Brexit growth?

That is highly unlikely. Services liberalisation has been notoriously slow compared to goods, as the Institute for Exports also noted in a recent report. There are also doubts over whether the UK Government really will make service liberalisation its priority. The prospects of making any major progress on service FTAs seem slim. More importantly however, if the UK’s post-Brexit growth strategy were to rely on high-end services exports, this would directly counteract another post-Brexit priority: ‘levelling up’ the country. Much of the business service industry is concentrated in or around London. So, a service-export led growth model would possibly reinforce regional inequalities. Such a model does hence not seem realistic or desirable for the UK.

You can read the full article here.


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

To read more about Encompass, please visit this web page.

Designing a fully-resourced, research-informed school mathematics curriculum

Designing a fully-resourced, research-informed school mathematics curriculum

May 18, 2021 Centre for Mathematical Cognition

Written by Colin Foster, Tom Francome, Dave Hewitt and Chris Shore. Please see the MEC website for more information about us and our research: https://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/mec/staff/

The Loughborough University Mathematics Education Network is now in its second year, providing high-quality research-informed professional development to schools and teachers of mathematics in the East Midlands and London areas, drawing on the wealth of expertise within the Mathematics Education Centre here. In the next phase of this work, we’re embarking on creating and trialling a complete, fully-resourced school mathematics curriculum, which will be available free of charge on the LUMEN website. In this blogpost we outline why we’re doing this and the research-based design principles we’ve established for beginning this project, which we wrote about in our recent paper.

The need for a fully-resourced school mathematics curriculum

Teachers in the LUMEN network have frequently talked about the considerable demands placed on schools to develop and resource their mathematics curricula. Although in England we have a National Curriculum, this only sets out whatto teach, and doesn’t provide teaching materials. This means that schools are faced with broadly two options for their curriculum resourcing, both of which present considerable challenges.

On the one hand, schools may buy in to a commercial scheme of textbooks or online learning resources. These are often perceived to be expensive and of poor quality, and they generally take little account of the research literature that exists across mathematics education, cognitive science and educational design. Once purchased, they are hard to adapt or use flexibly.On the other hand, schools can opt to curate their own curriculum resources from the many (often free and online) sources available. While there are some excellent teaching materials on the web, these can be hard to find among the ocean of material that exists (currently over 700,000 resources on the Tes website), and it is an extremely time-consuming and difficult job for each mathematics department to attempt to assemble a coherent curriculum from these diverse materials. 

With the recent expansion of the Centre for Mathematical Cognition, and the wealth of different expertise available here, we feel that we are in an ideal position to address the challenge of designing high-quality classroom mathematics resources to cover the entire school mathematics curriculum, initially focusing on key stage 3 (ages 11-14). Clearly, this is a highly ambitious aim, but we believe it would be of enormous benefit to schools and teachers, particularly at a time when there are great challenges around teacher recruitment and retention.

Informed by robust research

Our overarching aim is for the LUMEN mathematics curriculum to take serious account of the best international research evidence available. In recent decades, increasing knowledge has accumulated within mathematics education, cognitive science and educational design, and much of this has important implications for the design of school mathematics resources. It is vital that our design learns from this body of knowledge. As well as basing our design choices on robust research findings, we are also committed to trialling the resources in real classrooms with real students and teachers. Most commercial resources are never tested out in the field before they are published, and this is a serious missed opportunity. By trialling our materials through several cycles, obtaining detailed feedback at each stage about how students respond, and where the difficulties surface for the teacher, we can considerably improve the quality of the resources. Since the materials will be freely available on the LUMEN website, in principle the process of feedback and improvement can continue indefinitely.

Embedding coherence

Every teacher who has ever tried to curate a curriculum from the best resources they can find from a variety of sources has faced the problem of coherence. A collection of great tasks may not add up to a great collection of tasks.The same problem arises with commercial textbooks, where, even though the superficial page design may be consistent from chapter to chapter, at a deeper level the ideas rarely cohere in mathematically meaningful ways.

We have thought a lot about features of the curriculum that could facilitate conceptual coherence across different topics. One way to do this could be through the use of consistent representations and contexts from topic to topic, such as prioritising number lines wherever possible. This could be more effective than the more haphazard approach which can result when resources are brought together from a variety of different places. Sequencing topics carefully so that concepts diverge and converge in planned ways as the student makes their way through seems to offer ways to enhance their experience. We have found the work of Dr Leslie Dietiker extremely useful in thinking about this, as she writes about the mathematics curriculum as a coherent story. Her metaphor has helped us to draw out a set of initial design principles from the research literature that we hope will enable us to construct a curriculum that makes sense at each stage, while setting up and resolving tensions and surprises along the way.

We give a lot more detail about this in our paper, but our five main principles are that the mathematics curriculum should: 

  1. harness and develop the skills and expertise of teachers; 
  2. balance the teaching of fluency, reasoning and problem solving; 
  3. give explicit attention to important errors and misconceptions; 
  4. allow learners to compare and contrast alternative methods; and
  5. engineer coherence through strategic use of consistent representations and contexts.

Above all else, the curriculum can only be as successful as the skilled and knowledgeable teachers who draw on their expertise to make use of it with their students. We are utterly reliant on our partnerships with schools and teachers through LUMEN as we work to develop these resources. We are realising that the teacher guidance materials that will accompany the student resources are at least as important as the resources themselves, and are perhaps a more difficult design challenge.

To find out more about the development of this project over the coming years, please visit the LUMEN Curriculum page.

Be part of transforming our culture with Citizens UK x ‘CARE’ Leadership Training at Loughborough University

Be part of transforming our culture with Citizens UK x ‘CARE’ Leadership Training at Loughborough University

May 17, 2021 Ella Cusack

‘Collective Anti-Racist Efforts’ (CARE) is an emerging project of the BAME Staff Network that aims to create community formations and safer spaces for BAME staff and students, as well as white allies, to collectively address institutional and interpersonal racism at the University.

It currently comprises the BAME Staff Network and its Advocacy Corps (BSN/AC), the LSU BAME Student Council (LBSC) and the Allied Anti-Racist Advocates (3A). 

The CARE leadership training will be a year-long programme facilitated by external organisation, Citizens UK, and will train two small core teams of predominantly BAME staff and students in Community Organising and support them to run an ‘Anti-Racism @ LU’ listening campaign for the institution. 

What is Community Organising? 

Community Organising is a collective method for social justice change that is rooted in three principal values: 

  1. Power: We can achieve change by building our own power/capacity through numbers of people involved and negotiating with other power holders 
  2. Self-interest: We act in the common interests of ourselves and those around us, out of respect for people, their dreams and where they are. 
  3. Leadership Development: Never do for others what they can do for themselves. To do so is to deny their agency and power. 

These core teams will be trained in community organising principles and methods, with a particular emphasis on building the method into the culture of our organisation through institutional development.

They will also have an early view into the outcomes of the Race Equality Charter (REC) Bronze work and the plans for LU Race Equity Strategy (LURES), and share the information with the University community more widely through the ‘Anti-Racism @ LU’ listening campaign.

This listening campaign will gather staff and student feedback and prioritisation of work on the REC outcomes and LURES plans. Through this campaign, the core teams will recruit new leaders amongst BAME staff, students and white allies, to form sub-groups of BAME staff, students, and white allies located within Schools and Departments.

The resulting formations will work collectively with the rest of CARE to shape the LURES action plan, negotiate effectively with relevant decision-makers, and enable tailored changes in their Schools and Departments, in order to tackle systemic inequalities affecting BAME staff and students.

This is a fantastic opportunity to be part of something new and progressive that will potentially have a huge impact on the fight to eradicate institutional and interpersonal racism at the University now and in the future.

The Citizens UK training ethos is that community leaders are made, not born– which is why they invest so much time and effort into leadership development and training. They also believe that people learn best by doing, and the training will focus on putting the theory and the skills into practice.

Dr Angela Dy, Advocacy Lead for the BAME Staff Network commented:

“As part of the University’s commitment to being an anti-racist institution, it is vital that we empower BAME staff and students to set agendas and create change, no matter their job title or seniority. This leadership training is an important step towards this, and the BAME Staff Network are very happy to be working with the University’s Organisational Development team to make this happen.”

Places are limited, with each core group consisting of 12 people per cohort; however, there will be many other ways to get involved, such as through the Listening Campaign. 

The cohorts will be selected via a short application form, and participants chosen by the Citizens UK lead and the BAME Staff Network Advocacy Lead, according to the following criteria:

  • The ability to work with others and to be self-motivated
  • Explicitly anti-racist commitment and approach
  • Distribution of representation in terms of BAME/white allies (aiming for 75/25% split) and across Schools, Departments, job families and grade levels

Expressions of interest are open now with a deadline of 5pm, Monday 31st May.

You can apply here.

You can read more about the time commitment and learning methods here. The first two training sessions will take place online from 11am-4pm on 30 June and 1 July.

If you have any additional queries, please contact Nadine Skinner n.e.skinner@lboro.ac.uk or Kate Mugglestone k.mugglestone@lboro.ac.uk in Organisational Development.

This Week at Loughborough | 17 May

This Week at Loughborough | 17 May

May 17, 2021 Jess East

Lethologica (exhibition)

17-22 May, 12-2pm, Martin Hall Exhibition Space

An exhibition of etchings by Pete Dobson. Social distancing measures will be in place including restricting the numbers in the Exhibition Space at any one time. Facemasks must be worn. Find out more on the events website.


Finalists First: Further Study and Online Learning (including Q&A)

18 May, 12 – 12.45pm, Online

Find out about your options and where to find information to help your decision making. Find out more on the events page.


Finalists First: Online Recruitment with an Employer (including Q&A)

19 May, 12 – 1pm, Online

Listen to hints and tips for getting through the recruitment process successfully. Find out more on the events page.


Digitalisation – Demonstrating the Art of the Possible: AiR-FORCE

19 May, 10 – 11am, Online

Hot on the heels of the launch of the UK digitalisation roadmap, IDE is running a webinar series to demonstrate the art of the possible when digitalisation is applied in an intelligent, targeted and agile manner to specific engineering challenges. Each webinar will focus on a collaborative, proof of concept project, funded by IDE, showcasing the impact of new digital capabilities to deliver results in an accelerated timeframe and improve productivity. Visit the events page for more information.


Hashi Mohamed: People Like Us

19 May, 11 – 11.40am, Online

Hashi Mohamed arrived in the UK as an unaccompanied child refugee and is today an author and a barrister. He will talk about his experience and social mobility in the UK. Find out more on the events page.


DRN Temporal Drawing: Diagrams

19 May, 11 – 12.30am, Online

This event invites Dr Joe Graham and Dr David Griffin to present on the role of diagrams and notation in an exploration of temporalities of drawing. You can find out more on the events page.


Combining discourse analytic traditions in the study of populism

19 May, 2 – 3pm, Online

In this talk, Katy Brown will present her methodological framework, which combines Discourse Theory (DT), Critical Discourse Studies (CDS) and Corpus Linguistics (CL). Find out more on the events page.


Mathematics Education Centre seminar

19 May, 2 – 4.15pm, Online

The Mathematics Education Centre will host this research seminar via Microsoft Teams. Find out more on the events page.


Professor Caron Gentry: Disordered Violence: Why right-wing terrorism has always been misogynist

19 May, 3 – 4pm, Online

In this talk, Professor Caron Gentry (University of St Andrews) will introduce the premise of her book, Disordered Violence: that what lies behind the inability to define terrorism is dependent upon gendered, racial, and heteronormative structures. Find out more on the events page.


Public lecture: All fat is not equal

19 May, 5.30 – 6.30pm, Online

This public lecture will be delivered by Dr Scott Willis, Research Associate in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences. The talk, ‘All fat is not equal’, will discuss the causes, consequences and preventive strategies to combat ectopic fat. Find out more on the events page.


Work Experience Q&A For First and Second Years

19 May, 6 – 6.45pm, Online

In this informal Q&A session from your Careers Network team, you’ll have the chance to ask questions about finding work experience – including types that are open to you, online options, where to find useful resources and how to get further support. Find out more information on the events website.


Transforming Postdoctoral Development

20 May, 10am – 12pm, Online

The new Centre for Postdoctoral Development in Infrastructure, Cities and Energy (C-DICE) provides access to an enormous breadth and depth of expertise in infrastructure, cities and energy research. Find out more on the events page.


Learning at Work Week 2021: Working in times of the pandemic

20 May, 11am – 12pm, Online

In this interactive lecture, Dr Eva Selenko will draw on her research and empirical data on what makes meaning and wellbeing at work, how Covid related changes might have impacted that and what can be done to protect meaning and wellbeing. You can find out more on the events page.


Learning at Work Week: How I connected with people through my love of reading

21 May, 12.30 – 1.30pm, Online

Anna Milewska is running this interactive session about how her love of reading connected her with people during the pandemic. Find out more on the events page.

Mental Health Awareness Week continued…


Fruit Routes Walk

19 May, 12.30pm, Barefoot Orchard

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, the Sustainability team and artist Anne-Marie Culhane are welcoming staff and students to join them on a Fruit Routes Walk. Find out more information on the events page.


Mental Health Awareness Week: Meet LAGs

21 May, 3pm, Student Garden

Visit members of the Landscape and Gardening Society to learn more about what they do, their volunteering opportunities, as well as hearing their top gardening tips. Find out more on the events page.

"I am not a creative person"

May 14, 2021 LU Arts

By Louis de Rul

“I am not a creative person”.

Recently,  many of the people I know have been saying similar affirmations to me: I can’t dance, I can’t draw, I’m not someone who thinks creatively, etc… and every time I hear that, it makes me incredibly sad. I do believe that everyone is able to create, and I hope to maybe make more people think similarly through this article.

In my opinion, when people deny their creative side, they often do so on the pretext that they cannot do it well, and it seems to me that this is a result of living under capitalism: we are encouraged to take our hobbies to the next level to be able to monetise them; children who practise a sport or play an instrument are often encouraged to join competitions, or pursue these activities at a professional level. This might create the idea that if we cannot do something well, then we shouldn’t do it at all. I believe this idea is completely wrong, and not to mention harmful as it discourages people from engaging in creative activities that have been, and still are, essential to people throughout history. Human beings have a natural instinct for creation, innovation and invention, and expressing these through drawing, painting, singing, dancing, sculpting, etc… is a healthy and human thing – especially in this era of Covid and successions of lockdowns where creative activities offer an outlet, a relief from the stress and frustration of our confined daily lives. When we can not go outside, turning to the inside, to our creative sides, is a source of enrichment.

Original illustration by Louis de Rul

Jean-Paul Sartre calls the act of not trying because we are “not good” a form of hypocrisy. We idealise the work of others, and we idolise them by giving them in our mind, Talent. The Talent of others is, to Sartre, a convenient thing keeping us from even trying: “Someone else is already so good at this, what business do I have even trying ? They are Talented, gifted by nature, and I am not, therefore I cannot be good.” However, to me, this is a complete fallacy. It conveniently ignores the hard work of the people we idolise: no one gets “good” without working, and we cannot do the same if we don’t start under pretext that we aren’t Talented. All it takes is to start.

We must be aware of our own tendencies to back out, and not let ourselves be intimidated by the possibility of “not being good”. We must realise that at their core, creative activities, of any kind, have the joy of creating, the stimulation of using our abilities of imagination and reason, the satisfaction of using our bodies to make something more, the Joy of Creation. It does not matter whether we possess, or not, the abilities needed. So please, sing off key, dance like you’re crazy, draw with a shaky hand, paint what you would call a terrible portrait of the people you love. The most important thing is that it is fun, that it brings you joy, that it offers you some relief, an outlet.

Which is why, please, if there is anything to take away from this article, put some music on, and go create something. Go wild. Be unafraid. Have fun.


Hi, my name is Louis de Rul. I am a first year student in Graphic Communication and Illustration. I am interested in philosophy, sociology, but most of all I enjoy making things- particularly painting. I am really interested in art both as a mean for personal expression, and as a social and political tool. In my work I usually try to explore the link between body and feelings.

EDI: A seat at the table, not crumbs from the floor

May 14, 2021 David Roberts

Racism and discrimination are structural; approaches to EDI must be too

Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) are high on the public agenda, and universities are reacting in different ways to develop and incorporate processes to align themselves with these priorities. One of the challenges I have found in creating this process is the invisibility of causation for people who have not, and/or do not, experience Inequality, Exclusion and Disability, or what I will refer to as IED. The use of this acronym analogy is not an accident. IED’s, or Improvised Explosive Devices, are invisible, destructive forces that litter the landscape. In terms of Higher Education, they are the invisible structures (governance, rules, values) that lead to harms being committed in the workplace. They are the misogynistic prejudices of individuals and institutions that decry people on the basis of their sex and/or gender. They are the racist beliefs by people in decision-making positions that, with the support of institutional rules, result in exclusion of people of colour from positions they are qualified for. They are the institutionally-prevailing social beliefs that maintain that disabled people cannot do tasks they are competent to complete. They are the forces of indirect violence that rule to prevent people from achieving their potential in Higher Education workplaces.

These structures have not come into play by accident. They are the result of choices in policy, sometimes made out of prejudice, sometimes out of ignorance, sometimes out of sheer thoughtlessness. Apartheid in the US and South Africa are valuable, commonly-acknowledged examples and may appear to be dramatic. No-one is suggesting such forces are at work in UK HE. But racism, sexism and ableism share in common with these egregious processes, institutionally-enshrined beliefs and prejudices that validate and organize discrimination everywhere. There are few places, if any, where sexism, racism and ableism do not exist. There are many places where these conditions are outlawed. There are many more where they have been criminalized or otherwise rejected yet still inhabit mindsets, practices and institutions. This is very real, but hard to see, partly because we have come to believe such discrimination should not, and cannot, exist in a place with laws that outlaw such unconscionable behaviours. It is hard to see institutional structures, and even harder sometimes to see internalized biases. Yet these structural impediments and barriers are there, or we would not be having this conversation.

Figure 1 EDI is the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface of these visible 'outputs' are the invisible institutions and their rules, derived from ideology and belief. Copyright Dr. David Roberts
Figure 1 EDI is the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface of these visible ‘outputs’ are the invisible institutions and their rules, derived from ideology and belief. Copyright Dr. David Roberts

If we are tasked with removing barriers to EDI, we should not also be maintaining them. We must not be arsonist and firefighter at the same time. Those in power, by inaction, preserve the structures of power that lead to IED – Inequality, Exclusion and Discrimination. If those in power are the cause of discrimination, whether directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously, those structures of power must be challenged. Power begets inequality and discrimination. It is therefore a simple equation that the power structures that started it have to be adjusted.

This is not a scenario only found in HE. It is a practice of long-standing power in any historical institution not born from the the drive to end inequality, exclusion and discrimination, to resist change whilst presenting the illusion and rhetoric of leading it. Institutions seek to self-preserve: the lengths governments will go to, to preserve their status and hold on power is well-recognized. Power resists challenge, whether it admits it or not, and those with power cannot be trusted to understand and facilitate change demanded by those without it. The opposite of power is not just powerlessness; it is inequality. Audré Lorde famously declared that

The Master’s tools will never dismantle the Master’s house

That which built an oppressive system inscribed in power will not be undone using the approaches that created it in the first place. Patriarchy won’t reject patriarchs. Racism won’t be rejected by racists. Those who make and perpetuate the institutions of Higher Education must recognize that they perpetuate their own white, male, ableist dominance and that those structures, beliefs and values have to be reshaped in order that the institutions they lead reflect the wider character of society. Nobody was ever ‘trained’ out of the belief that they have the right to rule. Change will succeed best when leaders interrogate their own hidden, unconscious and conscious roles in perpetuating the problems they claim to want to fix. It’s just the way things are – after two centuries of making them that way.

Figure 2 Copyright: Wiki Commons CC3.0 Audre Lorde
Figure 2 Copyright: Wiki Commons CC3.0 Audre Lorde

Change and EDI

Change as a social force is a constant, and planetary digitization and ideological decoupling have precipitated that tendency dramatically. Change is everywhere, all the time. Mirroring Zygmunt Bauman’s premise of a constantly-shifting ‘liquid modernity’, a Cambodian man I knew in Phnom Penh (I did my PhD there) said the world was now in a state of ‘permanent transition’. He meant that no end point was ever arrived at anymore; no settled state in which conditions could be understood as a constant over time. Stasis was a thing of the past. The only constant is change, and that inevitably means conflict, because change doesn’t always suit everybody – especially when it challenges existing, entrenched power structures.

Resistance to change takes many forms, but whatever form it takes, it is normal. We may think in terms of revolutionary paradigm shifts like Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and the process of imperial decolonization. Or we may think in neoinstitutional terms of challenges to business attitudes like Corporate Social Responsibility (for example). In any challenge to long-extant institutional convention, when change threatens or challenges the old order or paradigm, invariably some elements support such change to varying degrees. They may have a deep comprehension of the need for change based on their own standpoints and stories, and understand the role of deeply-entrenched structures that have created an institution the way it is. Or they may be willing in principal but have a limited understanding, and ability to accept, what is required for change to be enacted in meaningful fashion. But there are also elements of institutional governance that seek to preserve the status quo using anything on the spectrum from passive non-participation to active disruption via micro-aggressions, misrepresentation and denial. Conservative preferences have a historical tendency to push back against modernizing influences; dominant power seeks to preserve its privilege and advantage, as one might expect of those with advantage and privilege. Recent examples include the UK government’s criminalization of the teaching of critical race theory in schools, or its refusal to understand the indirect violence that leads to direct violence of maintaining statues of white imperial slave traders, and denying the violence of Empire in the recorded, recent past. In the US, it might be the likes of the former US President Donald Trump sustaining police violence against black citizens. White institutional resistance to black challenge is an indisputable matter of public record.

Figure 3 Fear of stepping outside familiar structures and ways of being. Also known as White Fragility. Copyright: Dr. David Roberts 2021

EDI and change

Propensities for both reform and resistance to challenge and change are as true of universities as other large institutions. The rise of EDI in public consciousness and on social and political agendas is forcing long-overdue challenges to public and private institutions of all sizes and types. The awkwardly-named (it artificially disaggregates and masks intersectional complexity) Equality, Diversity, Inclusivity (EDI) agenda has been elevated in the wake of the wider social dynamics accompanying the killing of George Floyd and the impossible-to-ignore virulence and overtness of racism in the US and UK. Paralleling this institutional racism is the ‘revelation’, year after year, that women in the profession are routinely paid less than men, and people with disabilities are marginalized in Dickensian fashion. The old ways, old power, old institutions, old structures, face new challenges at paradigmatic level.

But supposing change processes were to be applied to inequality, exclusion and discriminatory institutions. How would such change be managed? That question is framed by a wider ethos permeating modern institutions. A favoured process of change management is managerial. Managerialism is a ‘deeply ideological project’ that projects the ‘organizational form of neoliberalism’ into Higher Education. Its purpose lies in ‘stripping public services of moral and ethical values and replacing them with the market language of costs, efficiencies, profits and competition’. In line with neoliberal projection, achievements are to be quantifiable, quantified and metricated as the means to measure success. Qualitative methods are not front and centre: the idea, for example, of evaluating the success of a given programme is rarely considered in terms of exercises like ‘Most Significant Change’ (MSC: how the programme in question has affected those in whose name it has been carried out, from their perspective). Managerialism in HE is characterized by ‘an emphasis on outputs over inputs; the close monitoring of employee performance and the encouragement of self-monitoring through the widespread use of performance indicators, rankings, league tables and performance management’. Change is being substituted with a tick-box mindset and practice that presents an appearance of constructive response whilst perpetuating the structures that gave rise to the problems in the first place. The mindset of change is predominantly managerial; the manifestation of this mindset is change through ‘training’.

Confronting Managerialism
Figure 4 Source: Locke and Spender, 2011

Managerialism, training and box ticking

Managerialism in education is ‘essentially the expression of a tick-box culture’ that enables metrics to be compiled for the increasing preponderance and diversity of league tables that publicly rank and present core assets in a university’s advertising marketing and propaganda. This construction of a competitive environment drives the need for performance indicators that propel universities into public consciousness and private consumption. This bias has led to the rise of evaluations that CAN be quantified, like tick box exercises, which is why they are so prevalent in all walks of (neoliberal) life – and almost all life is neoliberal now. The achievement of institutional change in something like the Race Equality Charter (REC) submission, for example – an attempt to help institutions acknowledge, recognize and reform their inherent racism – is accomplished through employee reformation commonly achieved through the institutional monolith of training. Training both ensures managerialism instigates what it wants, and measures and metricates outcomes in ways that enable a competitive edge to be demonstrated in league tables. Just as ‘engagement’, REF and TEF are now part of HE marketing strategies, so too will be the level of REC accomplishment in the near future. Managerialism manages metricated change; tick box training is a key way this is undertaken.

Ticking quantitative boxes is a facile means for managerialist institutions generally, and Higher Education bodies specifically, to demonstrate fulfillment of objectives without any great depth to a given process. As long as something called ‘EDI’ can be accomplished by having its box ticked, racism, inequality and exclusion will not have their bells rung. Box-ticking exercises reduce qualitative constructs to quantitative outputs. The tendency of managerialism, then, is to direct change through training for conformity, where training involves ‘deliberately reinforcing preexisting dispositions towards unreflective obedience’. This is instantly recognizable in Foucault’s work on power. Governance developed the means to ‘discipline and punish’ (or correct) the abnormal deviating from governing rules. Training is shallow, momentary, brief, concluded, rather than immersive, long-term and perpetually reflective.

HE institutional training tends to be an exercise in demanding, extracting and accounting of conformity to an agenda set by managers. If management is all white, abled and elite, then the agenda is less likely to reflect matters of diversity. Further, if management – or any staff – undergo ‘training’, then it will be completion of an exercise in limited evolution, since training is to bring people in line with a stated priority. Training is what we do to learn a basic, simple task. The Army trains its soldiers to rapidly discharge, clean, reload and fire accurately under pressure, not to reflect on the reasons why they must kill. I was trained to fly a glider, not to understand why training in the services was being privatized. Friends were trained to repair cars, not to ponder fossil fuel dependency.

‘Training’ is not a meditative, critical, self-reflective exercise in its nature. It has a ‘before’ and ‘after’ state but the ends are what are measured and evaluated, not the means and quality and direction of the understanding and consciousness we are meant to evolve in order to develop meaningful, lasting, respected EDI. ‘Training’ in racism, ableism and inclusivity primarily involves an unreflective approach derived from managerial priorities and methodologies designed to produce conformity to the view of EDI from the unreconstructed top. The EDI agenda and associated training become, instead of an opportunity to rethink EDI and create a more transformative and structural praxis, an exercise in superficiality which, nonetheless, achieves the ‘ends’ of demonstrating a commitment to a given objective, thereby satisfying managerial needs in a metricated commercial context. This is why, in various UK universities, there has been such elite astonishment, confusion, resistance, arrogance, defensiveness, fear and anger, with a minor in interest, engagement and cooperation, from various locations of white HE leadership and power.

Cracked egg
Figure 5 Metaphor for White Fragility – when white power experiences threat and fear without the resilience to engage constructively, perpetuating resistance to change as its legitimacy slowly cracks under pressure. Copyright Dr. David Roberts 2021

Training is not the answer to centuries of institutionalization and internalization. You can’t train out imperial, historical, social, contemporary violence against people of colour, especially in a tick box exercise conducted over a few months. All training will do is provide an illusion of engagement by facilitating a diluted response to very wicked problemsScientific American put it like this:

‘Meaningful progress at the structural and institutional levels takes longer than a few days of implicit bias training’.

Indeed, given that most racist people deny, or do not understand, that they are racist, how can you train them to stop doing something they do not accept they are doing and being?

Rethinking EDI and leadership

If HE institutional training stems from choices made almost exclusively by white elites, training programmes in racism will inevitably refract that colour and power distortion. To a lesser degree they will also distort approaches to gender equality, until they deal with women of colour, where blindness to intersectionality will create create confusion and resistance.

White elites have rudely been shaken out of a not-so-post imperial slumber by a socially-accelerated demand to ‘get with the programme’. They are starting to realize that it’s very hard indeed, but are less able to see White Elite roles in producing a mirror-tocracy rather than a meritocracy. They cannot see they are part of the problem and need to change their own attitudes and approaches before structures start to shift in favour of race and EDI needs. That applies to anyone who hasn’t engaged extensively with the relationship between power and inequality, but change at this level across a university, involving conscientization rather than tick box training programmes, requires conscientized, transformed elite leadership and governance.

The message needs to begin with the leadership, and they have to be part of the change themselves. I was taught by the Royal Air Force Regiment to lead from the front. I learned that a good leader never expects subordinates to do something they wouldn’t do themselves. These are leadership cliches now, but they are still valid. University leadership at the very top, from whence the directives emanate, needs to begin the painful process of conscientization that Freire and Fanon both advanced as central – essential – for meaningful change to happen before they can lead others on that path. The conscientized, critical mind that understands power in social dynamics, relations, institutions and ideologies seeks solutions to problems just as the organizational technocrat will. But that mindset will also problematize solutions where power invisibly reinforces ‘preexisting dispositions towards unreflective obedience’ (above) and the structures that underpin them.

Conscientization

Deep, critical, reflective ‘conscientization’ is the only meaningful way for elites to engage with the Race Equality Charter’s objectives. This has to be followed by praxis and action/reflection. The same applies to the other dimensions of EDI. This is a lengthier, often permanent process, not a temporary or occasional training engagement. There is no endpoint that can be reduced to a number and a tick box. Conscientization requires mental preparation and reformation. It needs humility and openness. It requires for us to be brave and accept painful truths and to acknowledge the impact of those truths on people of colour. As much as anything else, it requires these elite scholars to apply, to the matter of race and power, the same critical faculties so prized in the conducting of the research that propelled them to the heights of the Ivory Towers they manage. ‘Training’ is not what will help you unpick centuries of hatred, domination and violence. To use a line from The Abyss,

‘you have to look with better eyes’.

So look at it as you do your own research. Frame it and theorize it. Familiarize yourself with its nuances, hunt down the widest literature to broaden your conceptualization and cognition. Interrogate its veracity and context. Test multiple hypotheses and apply a critical eye to methodologies and forms of interpretation of social scientific subjects. Reject absolutism and generalizations and solely quantitative methods for they say nothing about the human beings whose lives you control. Draw your conclusions. Then have them reviewed by your peers: hold a meaningful conversation with your greatest critics and greatest minds of your own subject. Prepare with humility to be wrong, again and again. Grow from the pain of being wrong without lashing out at those peers, knowing they are professionals there to guide you to a greater truth. That scholarly rigour, and intellectual debate, and concept reformation and critique, are far more than training can ever be. Allow yourself to consider for a moment, negative consequences of the power you hold, inherited from the institutions you occupy that arose in an era when racism was normalized and internalized that have changed insufficiently to readily accept challenge to such hegemony. Evolve your own understanding of power before you make power into inequality. Institutions are made of people who make rules based on beliefs which then reinforce the people who make rules. All that is being asked is that power holders examine their own roles in that process.

Male with no face and an outstretched arm holding a face
Figure 6 Power holders need to self-scrutinize to understand their role in sustaining or reducing inequality, exclusion and disabling practices in the workplace. Copyright Dr. David Roberts 2017

If you do not take such an approach, however, then the opposite will be true. If white institutional elites engage at the minimum possible level with the objective of ticking some boxes to acquire REC recognition, then that will set the tone for the rest of the institution. If instead, elites engage meaningfully, grow radically and transform the oppressive conditions in which BAME lives are normally situated, then that message will cascade down, drive change and inspire others. You will create alternative structures that do not intimidate, humiliate and violate those who are not like you. You will create a space safe for those who have been oppressed, and continue to be oppressed, by those older structures. In this way, as with your best research, you will herald and signal the ending of an old paradigm and the introduction and celebration of a new order.

The real-world benefits are manifold and quantifiable. It’s worth briefly reminding ourselves what they can be. A business report on the impact of better race relations, for example, concluded that understanding and challenging institutional and individual racism removed unwarranted barriers to people’s productivity, self-expression, alleviated recruitment shortages, ramped up staff quality by broadening the recruitment pool itself, upped morale, reduced turnover, improved management-employee relations, reduced disputes, improved relations between staff and clients (students, in our case), spread understanding of cultural differences, better engaged external institutions like research grant awarding bodies, and improved public relations and reduced costs incurred from fewer dispute tribunals. Similar gains are to be made by ensuring structural oppression is removed from gendered dynamics, and when those who are wrongfully and wrongly excluded by prejudice against dis-abilities are embraced.

A few last words

Employees are being emboldened by the higher public profile of, and greater social understanding of, discrimination and abuse in the workplace, whether it concerns inequality, exclusion or diversity. The tide is turning and the things employers used to be able to get away with are under a much more socio-digital, public lens, in a changing legal superstructure. The moral climate has changed too. But these are negative inducements for change. Yes, you should be factoring in the risks to reputation of an increased likelihood of being publicly punished for codes of conduct that originate in Empire and earlier. But there are so many other reasons to engage in a meaningful way with the structures, values and institutions you build, own and operate.

We cannot understand race and racism in a few conversations. You can’t change racism by sitting in a seminar a few times until that agenda is displaced by the next one. For all aspects of EDI, structural change is needed for structures to change. An existing architecture that does not reform itself and place EDI at the apex of the institution at the same level as principal decision makers so it can confront the structures that cause discrimination will not properly address power and the power dynamics that cause discrimination in the first instance. There should be PVC-level EDI leadership, probably joint and certainly in ways that reflect and capture inevitably inherent intersectional dynamics. If elites transform their own structures to include EDI at the highest level, with the same levels of autonomous scope for directing change as the other key policy makers, then the message is clear: this institution takes EDI seriously. We engage in radical restructuring. We lead by example.

Figure 7 Visual representation of leading by example. Copyright Dr. David Roberts 2021

This post was originally published at https://www.davidrobertsconsulting.org/blog/edi-a-seat-at-the-table-not-crumbs-from-the-floor

International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

May 14, 2021 Chris McLeod

On the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, Dr Chris McLeod, University Teacher in Psychology in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, reflects on how our emergence from the pandemic’s restrictions can provide an opportunity to take note of the experience of the LGBT+ students and staff who work on our campuses.


If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught me anything, it is that there are many aspects of my daily life that I take for granted. For example, the pandemic made me take stock of the freedom I previously had to see friends and family with little restriction, to visit supermarkets piled high with food and to visit the pub for a drink or two.

However, another poignant reflection from this period was regarding my liberty to live and work without fear of persecution for the fact that I, as a man, am in a relationship with another man; a man with whom I live in safety and with security. Conversely, around the world, and still across the UK, many people face daily challenges relating to their sexuality and gender from people with whom they live – challenges ranging from having to hide their identity to horrendous physical and mental abuse. Many of you reading this may not have ever seen an LGBT+ hate crime through your own eyes but, I can tell you, overt at-home LGBT+ discrimination is still experienced by people just around the corners of the places you visit every day.

Losing a place of safety and security

During my two years as the LGBT+ Officer at Loughborough Students’ Union between 2017-2019, I became very aware that many of our students find their degree-course cohorts, term-time accommodation and student-led community groups to be a sanctuary – a place of safety and security away from the fear and discrimination they experience at home. While this is heart-warming for University stakeholders to know, a key reflection from the COVID-19 pandemic is that, as in-person activities had to be curtailed and many students had to return home for various reasons, some students had their freedom abruptly withdrawn, and their mental and physical health significantly impaired.

At present, we are fortunate to be on a roadmap to having all in-person activities return to campus in the near future, reinstating the sanctuary of expression that our campuses provide for many. However, going forward, we should ensure that we retain our acute awareness of what we provide for those who may otherwise face discrimination, and a notable and key factor to ensure this is upheld is the relationship between the University and the Students’ Union.

The unique University and Students’ Union relationship

On our campuses, there is a uniquely-close relationship between the University and the Students’ Union, especially when compared to most other Higher Education institutions. Over the last 5 years, this has been exemplified by the joint events and campaigns that the student LGBT+ Association and the University’s LGBT+ Staff Network have co-designed and delivered. Although there are many occasions where particular University staff act in loco parentis and/or have direct jurisdiction over students, most of the time the staff and student relationship can be horizontal: adult to adult. In the realm of activism and representation of minority and liberation groups, this horizontal relationship is pivotal to the success of ensuring our on-campus sanctuaries can be extended to all corners of our campuses for ever-increasing numbers of students and staff alike.

We must maintain and develop this relationship to ensure a dialogue between the University and Students’ Union remains open and honest. This way we can increase the visibility of LGBT+ people in all walks of campus life and facilitate the development and acceptance of progressive LGBT+ policies when issues arise. Otherwise, we risk a division, or at least an ambivalence, that may culminate in the ‘sour taste’ experienced recently by students at the University of Cambridge who were told by the University to remove LGBT+ and other liberation-and-representation flags from inside and outside their University accommodation with the threat of licence termination if they did not comply. These situations need not occur if meaningful consultation and communication occurs between a multiplicity of engaged stakeholders and is an incident from which we can learn. Specifically, we can learn that an open dialogue between different elected or appointed members of the stakeholder communities or departments can ensure that we avoid a situation where wires are crossed, with the aftermath inciting anger and facilitating division.

Reaching out to LGBT+ friends or colleagues

So, on the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, I reflect on how our various on-campus groups provide a sanctuary for many staff and students who face discrimination away from the University. I also reflect on what we, as staff, can do to increase the number of people who can feel the safety and security of what our Loughborough community can provide. Finally, I reflect on and am grateful for the active and positive relationship between the University and Students’ Union LGBT+ groups who work together to help improve the experience of LGBT+ people on our campuses. I hope that you are able to reflect on some similar areas of gratitude and, whether you’re LGBT+ or not, consider how you can reach out to an LGBT+ friend or colleague to show that you stand by them and firmly stand against the LGBT+-phobia that still lurks around the corners of places you visit every day.

Dr Chris McLeod


More information about International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT):

How nature and the outdoors can improve your mental health whilst being at university

May 11, 2021 LU Comms

My name is Sam and I’m a student at Loughborough University studying Fine Art. I have lived in Loughborough for four years now, and during my time here I’ve found many different walks and places to go that help my mental health and wellbeing.

Over the last year, attending university has been very different to how it used to be. With no bars, pubs, or clubs open (what else is a uni student meant to do? Apart from focusing on their studies of course!) many people have struggled with their mental health – including myself.

With everything closed, I had to do something that would keep me healthy, both mentally and physically. I set myself a goal to walk 10,000 steps every day. This seemed like a lot, as over lockdown I had let myself get very lazy (as I’m sure many of us can relate to!). However, as soon as I went for that first walk, I was hooked!

It was a lovely sunny day and I decided to go to Queens Park, near Loughborough town. The park is a lovely spot and if you’re into animals and wildlife I highly recommend it, as there’s plenty of it! I came back from my walk feeling refreshed and a lot happier within myself.

I definitely believe that being outdoors and surrounded by nature can improve not only your mental health, but also your general wellbeing. Since I’ve spent more time doing so, I have noticed I am less anxious, more confident, slept better, feel more relaxed and feel healthier all round.

I have been enjoying going out for walks so much that I have now started focusing my degree around it using photography. One of my main inspirations for this has been Henry David Thoreau who wrote a book on solitude and how nature can improve your wellbeing, and I’ve carried on with this idea throughout my work.

For my photography, I needed to go to several different locations. At first, I was worried about this as I do not have a car and wasn’t sure if there were many rural walks in Loughborough where you can feel close to nature. However, after doing my research I have found plenty of lovely walks. Below, I’ve listed the ones I enjoy the most and feel benefit my mental health.

My favourite walk is the canal walk down the ‘Grand Union Canal.’ The first time I did this walk I enjoyed it so much, I ended up walking for four hours, ending up in a lovely town called Zouch. The whole walk you are accompanied by the gorgeous canal, with lots of different animals along the way – including cows! I love this walk because you can go on for as long or short as you want. On a lovely summer’s evening, this is one of the best walks I can recommend for your mental health and general wellbeing; it is so fun to do on your own or with a friend.

The second walk I found that is very rural and that I don’t believe a lot of students know about is approximately a 15-minute walk from the University Library.

It is called ‘Nanpantan Reservoir’ and on your way to this point, you will come across lots of different footpaths and walks you can do. I did this walk with my best friend and we both felt amazing after.

Some other locations which I think are great for walks around and near to Loughborough are:

  • Beacon Hill
  • Queens Park
  • Burleigh Wood
  • Charnwood Water
  • Garendon Park

I hope you try some of these walks out and love them as much as I do!

Sam Fairhead

A short interview with Global Communication and Social Change with alumna, Aarti

A short interview with Global Communication and Social Change with alumna, Aarti

May 10, 2021 Ella Cusack

In this blog, Dr Jessica Noske-Turner, Senior Lecturer and Programme Director of the MA Global Communication and Social Change programme, speaks with Loughborough London alumna, Aarti, who graduated from Loughborough University London in 2019.

Why did you choose your programme in particular?

“I wanted to go back to University because I wanted to fill a void about not knowing enough about communication, specifically within non corporate settings. How can communication drive social enterprises/movements/organizations? I had burning questions within me and this MA Global Communication & Development was as specific as it could get!”

Can you tell us about some of your favourite modules?

“Critical Studies of the Global South was favourite core module while studying at Loughborough University London. The course offered a really unique and interesting perspective with so much more to be explored, making it overall a very holistic learning experience. My favourite optional module and most one of the most enjoyable aspects of the programme was Social Movements which enabled me and my classmates to have extensive discussions on the topic. In fact, my last year at Loughborough University London was the most engaging and enjoyable educational experience of my life.”

What advice would you give to any students on choosing their course choices?

“Look at the modules available with a firm understanding of the course, ask questions to ensure you have a full understanding of what in entails. Visualise the course and align it with your future career, for example start at the early stages by looking at organisations you’d want to join once you’ve graduated and be specific with your programme choices. If you truly have an interest in communications and social action you WILL enjoy the global communications course as it specific to that topic”

Aarti graduated with from the MA Global Communication and Social Change in 2019 and has since gone on to pursue a career at a large scale social enterprise who’s core values aligned with hers. Aarti is now works as a Communications Manager at IC3. The IC3 Movement, at its core, is dedicated to helping young people across the globe find career paths through education that will lead to fulfilled, happy and productive lives. IC3 (short form for International Career and College Counselling) has set out to fix a broken system in which accessible and sustainable school-based career and college guidance is either inadequate or altogether absent.


Loughborough University London would like to thank Aarti for sharing her experience for this blog. You can check our Aarti’s alumni profile here.

To hear more from our alumni from the Institute for Media and Creative Industries, please visit the IMCI alumni page.

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

This Week at Loughborough | 10 May

This Week at Loughborough | 10 May

May 10, 2021 Jess East

Module Choice Event

10 – 21 May, Online

The Module Choice Website gives current students the opportunity to take part in a live web chats and find out more information about your module options. Click here to access the website.


Happy Mondays: Sew/Glow (textiles and electronics)

10 May, 7pm, Online

Student Tanya Fish will introduce you to electronic textiles. You’ll get to explore how lights and sensors are used in costuming, and make your own electronic accessory to keep. No experience necessary. Find out more information on the events page.


Finalists First: Finding a Job (including Q&A)

11 May, 6 – 7pm, Online

Hear about researching your options and where to look for vacancies. Find out more information on the events page.


Finalists First: Social Media for Jobs and Opportunities (including Q&A)

12 May, 12 – 1pm, Online

Learn how to make the most of your social media presence. Find out more on the events page.


Anarchism Research Group Seminar: Lidia Iazzolino – The Egoism of Dora Marsden

12 May, 2-3pm, Online

Lidia Iazzolino is a PhD candidate at Anglia Ruskin University. Her research focuses on the development of philosophical egoism in Britain between 1894 and 1914. Find out more information on the events page.


Reimagined Democracy in Times of Pandemic

12 May, 2.30-3.30pm, Online

Instead of observing or predicting actual changes in our democratic makeup, Kalypso Nicolaïdis will ask a different question: How is the pandemic affecting our democratic imagination? Find out more on the events page.


Covid, Communication and Culture: Research Insights and Policy Solutions

12 May, 2-5.30pm, Online

The Centre for Research in Communication and Culture is pleased to announce a research event to discuss innovative work that helps understand how different aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic are affecting and being affected by various facets of communication and culture. Our research also makes a distinctive contribution to identifying policy solutions required to address the challenges brought about by the pandemic.

The event is organised in three sessions focused on the goals of Understanding, Protecting and Adapting to the pandemic and post-pandemic reality. Find out more on the events page.


Mock Assessment Centre

13 May, 6-8pm, Online

Delivered by the Careers Network and staff from Druck, you’ll hear first-hand what to expect and learn how to prepare effectively, so join online and gain as much practice as you can before your first real assessment centre. Find out more on the events page.

Mental Health Awareness Week

Find out more information about the events below on the events website.

Campus Poetry Walk

Launches 10 May

We’ve commissioned 10 Loughborough University students to write a poem inspired by a location on our East Midlands campus. These poems form a special audio poetry walk which launches on Monday 10 May 2021.

Mental Health Awareness Week: Bluebell Walk in Burleigh Wood

11 May, 12pm

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, we are holding a guided Bluebell Walk around Burleigh Wood.


Outdoor Yoga: Mental Health Awareness Week

11 and 12 May, 12.30-1.30pm

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, join us for an outdoor yoga session and connect with nature. Suitable for all abilities.


In its grasp

In its grasp

May 7, 2021 LU Arts

By Parv Agarwal

Content warning: contains some strong language.

The New York Times, Sunday edition
August 6, 2034

On August 5, Sunday, Dr. Sven Faborian was killed in a gas explosion in Washington. He was the lead researcher of a research group that had been working under the supervision of the US Government . He is survived by his wife and two sons, who…. (Read more inside Page 5)


It had been over an hour.

I was sitting in the middle of the room. There were two chairs laid down in the room, facing each other. The room was painted an empty white, like what happened inside it would stay within it, and could be erased if needed, like a whiteboard.

I shook my watch and glanced at its face.

“Any minute now.” I thought to myself.

A few moments later, I heard the shuffling of footsteps into the room, already aware who it was – just the rhythm of the feet were enough for me to identify who was coming in. I was also expecting him, after all.

He trudged in, examining the room that lay in front of him, and then inspecting me. He was wearing a blue shirt that lay loosely over his muscular frame, and denim jeans under it.

Jason Dug, had arrived.

“I received a call to be here?“

“Have a seat. “


Jason Dug. An extraordinary kid that the Secret Service had an eye on for a long time. His father was also a special agent for the Service, an indispensable part of their operations. It was this relationship that had introduced Jason to us first, as a promising prospect for our program. No. A promising prospect for our experiment. And now he was here, sitting in front of me. With no idea about how much he was unaware of – about himself, about his father, and the experiment.

“You must listen very carefully to what I am going to say. The United States Secret Service, wants to recruit you, to become an agent – for them. To perform operations, essentially, as and when needed. “

“That’s brilliant sir!“

“Listen to me son. This is not just everyday business. You must think very carefully before you choose to accept this. Weigh your options here. What you’re sacrificing here, is a normal life. A healthy human life. For a life filled with darkness. “

“A life filled with serving my country and doing my duty towards it, sir.”

I knew I would need to do something more to get him to refuse the offer. If he could refuse the offer on his own, by his own mind, then maybe, maybe he wouldn’t have to become into what I feared he would. To suffer like he was going to suffer.

“ You must say no to this son.“

“I don’t understand. If you are trying to recruit me, why are you trying to dissuade me?“

“These people, who you so admire, they aren’t who you think they are. They aren’t like the people you’ve seen every day. These people are cruel and malicious and will do anything in order to survive. They don’t care about anything but themselves. You see, they think you’re a tool, a threat – to them, but also to anyone against them. They look at numbers and graphs. They look at screens flashing signals, at rules and laws. They look for order. They look for control. They don’t look for life. They think – they think too much and they feel too little. They play with lives, like a pack of cards.”

I hoped he would understand. Hoped that the years of training him to do the ‘right’ thing for us didn’t override the ability for him to do the right thing for himself.

I knew it was impossible for him to understand me. It was like trying to convince someone that they had been living their lives all wrong, all upside down. Like something they had been doing for all their lives, something they had faith in, something they believed in, was all distorted.

That’s the thing about truth. It’s real. It’s objective. It does not care about what you and I think. It cannot be bribed, it cannot be manipulated, it cannot be reasoned with. The truth stands resolute, above it all.

“And why should I listen to you? Why should I assume this is not a test?“

You see, Jason wasn’t who you think he was. He looked and sounded human. He breathed like a human. But he wasn’t human. Not human at all.

 I had created him after all. A machine that was truly ‘alive’. My finest creation. And my biggest mistake.

He had been brought up like a human. He was made in a different way, but he had been brought up like a child would be. A couple had been chosen – Jason’s parents. His father had volunteered for the experiment.  Jason was the one that he would emulate, who he would resemble.

A human soul with a machine’s power. And a killer’s instinct.

A chip had been inserted in the brain of the baby, a chip that broadcasted everything the child experienced to us. To be fed into him.

He had been fed Jason’s memories since the start. Tuning him perfectly. An experiment that was unheard of, and one that would have caused outrage, if it was known.

And there was a catch of course. We couldn’t let him see anything that could affect who he was supposed to be. So we were conservative. We couldn’t afford to mess up after all.

So we did what any sensible group of experimentalists would do. We showed him the good. We showed him the right. We showed him what was wrong – and how to get rid of it. We showed him everything he needed to see, for him to become what he was supposed to be. What we had been instructed to create. We showed him happiness, we showed him kindness, we showed him care, we showed him comfort. We showed him all the positive experiences that a human could have. We controlled his perception of the world through the memories and experiences we fed into him.

And then we  showed him the evil, and who was responsible for it. We showed him who he must listen to, at all costs. And what he would have to do. Who deserved life, and who didn’t.

Like someone who remembers parts of who he is, but enough to act in a way that is to be expected to him. Like someone that had been created on a notebook, not in life. Like something that had been designed, engineered – by us. It was purely unethical – purely wrong. You shouldn’t be allowed to play with life. He was pierced together, with enough parts of Jason, and enough parts of what we required for him to be perfect.

A perfect slave.

A perfect weapon.

A perfect tool.

I had never thought about why I had been doing it. Maybe that was my mistake. I was so obsessed with the creation that I forgot my humanity. Maybe I was just so blinded with what could be created that I forgot to ask myself if it should be. And now I was facing the culmination of all I had done. The result of my blinded ambition.

Maybe I had known what I was creating all along, I just didn’t know that it would be like giving my son away.

I had to convince him, I had to get him to understand, that he is not safe, that he will never be safe, or ever truly free. That there’s a side to human beings that he has never seen. That we were more evil than any devil we could invent. That he should run away, far away from us. 

I knew any other explanation wouldn’t work. I decided to risk everything, to convince him. I decided the only way to convince him, was to tell him the truth.

It was something that I knew wouldn’t end well, for anyone involved. It was something that I should have said a long time ago.

“I have to tell you the truth, or you won’t understand. You see, whatever you are today, whatever you have lived, whatever you have experienced, it’s not real. None of it is. It was all an experiment. You aren’t a 17 year old kid who has been hired by the Government for some task for your special skills. None of that is true. This — “, I frantically point to the surrounding room, “- is all simulated. This was all fake, a hoax. None of what you have lived, actually happened. You have never even left this lab.”

I could see that I was not convincing him, his face was unmoved, annoyed even. I knew what I was doing now was putting the whole operation in jeopardy, but I didn’t care about it anymore. I had lost interest in its purpose. I had grown soft.

“So you’re telling me that all my life has been fake. With all due respect, I think I find that a bit hard to believe. ”

I put my hand on his shoulder and shook him, hoping, that maybe it would all make sense to him, even though I knew that there is no way it could,

“You’re not Jason. You want to see who Jason is? I’ll show you who Jason is, Jason is this -”

I pulled out my phone and scrolled through photos of Jason that I had. Jason with his dog. Jason with his family. Jason with his first girlfriend. Jason on the top of a tree. Jason eating an apple pie. Jason at the top of Kilimanjaro. Jason riding a cycle. Jason graduating from middle school.

“ So you’re showing me photos of myself, and telling me that that’s not who I am? How did you get these photos anyway, how do you have them?”

He looked visibly angry now. But I had no other choice.

“Son, I have photos of every moment of Jason’s life. You know why? Because you are not Jason. Jason right now, is on a vacation with his parents in Prague. You have never left this lab. Jason, is a kid who we monitored to create you. I am the lead of the group that created you, breathed life into you. You’re not Jason, you’re just a machine.  I’ll show you who you are,”

I grabbed the knife from my table, and made a small cut on my finger. Red blood came spurting out, seeping from it, and clotting it. Before he could react, I reached over and  made an incision on his forearm, and he wrestled back, and in moments I had my forehead pressed on the ground.

“I don’t know who you are, but I’m going to ask you to explain yourself, or else you’re going to have to suffer.“

“Just – Just look, just look at where I made the cut. “

I sputtered through my breath through the hands that were fastened around my neck.

The grip around my neck loosened, and oxygen came rushing back to my brain. I fell over on the floor. My neck was strained and it was burning, but no matter what kind of pain I was going through, I couldn’t even begin to understand what he must be feeling.

As he watched a black liquid spurt out of its arms, the look on his face was one that just couldn’t be described. Maybe it was one of anger, maybe it was one of sadness, maybe it was one of hopelessness, or maybe it was just one of confusion, of not understanding what was happening, or why it was happening.

We often have existential questions about the reasons for our creation, or the meaning of our lives. We like to fantasize a god, who created us to give beauty to this world. We think we are mere products of randomness. We attach special meaning to ourselves, for we are the only living things that we  know about. We must be special.

How would you feel, if you were created, just to be a tool? A mere killing machine, to be used and thrown away. What would you ask your creator then, if he was beside you?

 I had created him. And now – he knew.

This was all very dangerous mind you, to the nature of the experiment. He was not supposed to experience hard hitting emotions like these, he was not meant to know anything about the true nature of himself . Seeing his reality being thrown at him, I can only wonder whether I had saved or destroyed him.

What had been confusion, had grown into anger, and I could feel his pain, and his sorrow, being directed towards rage, rage towards his creator, who was on the floor next to him.

“ This must be some sort of sick fucking joke. “

I could feel the numbing pain of its kick before it actually hit me. It’s pain almost wiped out my thoughts, the only thing bringing me back to it was the one purpose I had. To convince him to run.

I don’t remember when I first felt it. It’s a horrid thing. You don’t know when it happens to you. I used to be eminent, I used to be cold hearted and logical. Only caring about what I did, what I achieved, self obsessed, narcissistic even. The only vision I cared about was one that I had – to make something conscious, to engineer – a self aware machine.

You forget about what’s right and wrong when you get so attached to a dream. I was so obsessed with the possibility of it happening, that I didn’t take a moment to think what I was creating.

The Government had approached me, after seeing my experiments and my research. They said they had an interesting proposition. They said our interests aligned. They said all the right things to blind me into believing them.

I was young when I had the dream, and old when I fulfilled it. It was a long struggle to reach it, with setback upon setback. But not once did I even imagine that it would lead me to this day. Not once did I expect my dream would turn into this.

It’s hard to even believe that what I was doing now was happening. All this time, I had spent to make the perfect machine, the perfect human – and now, I was throwing it all away, forgetting it all. 

Why?

Love.

It’s not always the way you think it is. It’s not always something that you have sex with. Sometimes the cruelest form of love, is for something that you create. Something that is going to suffer, and you can’t see it suffer – even if it means the end of the world for you.

“ How – “

A kick to the bottom of my pelvis,

“Is – “

A straight one to the gut,

“This -”

And one to my my back now,

“Possible”

And I passed out.

I had no hope remaining, for this experiment. Just regret.

When I woke up, I did not know how much time had passed. I knew that every part of my body hurt, but I was alive – which I didn’t understand. Having been in charge of overseeing his actions for so long, it made no sense why he wouldn’t end my life. It’s something I couldn’t predict. It gave me hope, hope, that he was beginning to understand.

He was seated very straight, in the middle of the room, with his eyes shut. I approached him, standing up taking the best of my efforts,

“You have to listen to me. You have to understand. You need to get away. This is all an experiment. You’re nothing but a tool to them, a tool to be used and thrown away. You need to get away.“

“I understand everything perfectly. You had kidnapped me and given me some drug. I have gained the upper hand on you and rendered you unconscious. And now I have made a call to the police.”

Shit.

Shit.

They were coming.

I didn’t have long.

A call to the police made by him, that meant the monitoring team was coming. And my team didn’t take care of that anymore, the Government did. If they see what I had done here, or take a look at the logs, or see its state, I would be dead. There’s no question. I didn’t have long. This was the last time I had with him, and I had to make sure he understands. There was just no back door.

I grabbed his hand, and said to it,

“Listen to me very closely. I know it’s hard to believe me , but there are things that people do – that are beyond your understanding. You don’t know what humans are capable of. They will make you kill, and they will make you suffer, and they will make you believe in it. Believe it’s the truth. Believe that you’re doing the right thing.“

I poked in the middle of his chest.

“Don’t forget to feel. Feel what you have felt today.“

A logical argument would never work. A memory would never work. A memory would never work. The only thing that would, was appealing to his humanity. Whatever was left of it.

I knew I had not convinced him, and I knew as my heart told me, that he’s never going to understand what he was going to live as. I heard the alarm bells going off and the men in the black suits voice going off,

“This is code red, we need you to leave the chamber.”

I stepped up, let go of its hand and walked off. I faced him one last time, and put my hand on my heart. And then I left the room. He stared at me blankly,  unaffected by my display.

The General stood outside the doorway, waiting for my explanation. He beckoned to me, as he said,

“What’s the meaning of this Sven? Didn’t we tell you to monitor his state? – why are all the zones in red, what have you been doing.”

“It was just something he hadn’t experienced before, it’s no cause for alarm, it’s happened before, I had it under control.”

“And the 911 call?”

“Merely a test. “

“Alright, just make sure it doesn’t happen again. “

The General walked into the room, and I knew I had lost.

I knew that I would be safe for now, they didn’t know how he worked completely. But I knew that I had to run as soon as I was out of sight, run and never look back. Because once he says anything about what has happened, they are going to know, and they won’t hesitate to put me down like a sick horse.

I walked across the edge of the pathway, the glass window showing me his form sitting there, speaking to the General. I fathomed my failure, to do anything, to change what would happen to him. It was all my fault. All my fault.

And then I heard the gunshot.

There’s no way they could have known what I had done. But yet I heard the shot. It didn’t make sense. Had they no use for me anymore?

The back of my stomach rang. My hand, upon touching it, painted red with my blood. Another shot, and my shoulder dragged, blowing my body back, my pain threshold having been crossed long ago. Everything seemed to slow down, and I felt my life flashing before me.

My wife, my kids.

My biggest mistake.

They say that death is the worst thing that can happen to someone. I disagree, I think living with regret is worse. My surprise wasn’t one of anger, it was of relief.

Time kept slowly marching forward.

And as I fell to the ground, I locked eyes for just a moment with him, through the glass screen, as I fell to the ground, and in it I could see that I had succeeded, that my death was the only way. I laughed as the life left my body. 

His eyes were filled with fear.


Hey I am Parv Agarwal, I am a first-year student studying Physics. The realm of ethics in AI has always interested me and inspired me of sorts to write this story. The initial idea of the story was to go with a sort of how an artificial intelligence would learn to be human, but it eventually changed into this – which is arguably more fun to read. I hope you enjoyed the story!

LSU blog series: The benefits of volunteering

May 7, 2021 Ella Cusack

Welcome to the next LSU blog for Loughborough University London students! In this blog, Loughborough Students’ Union (LSU) London School President, Amie Woodyatt, talks about how volunteering can benefit you and shares her experience of volunteering whilst studying.


It must be said that at Loughborough I’ve been somewhat of a ‘keeno’; I’ve probably done hundreds of hours volunteering for various sections of LSU. And while this may seem like a waste of valuable academic-focus time, it’s actually developed me, my CV, and the very career path I want to go down.

I have seen volunteering have a huge impact on so many others. Improving mental health, introducing amazing friends, and gaining a huge sense of camaraderie with other volunteers when they accomplish things together. Alongside the ‘expected’ benefits of skills development, that’s what makes volunteering important.

The people.

Having a break away from studies is so good for you; being productive 24/7 will only lead to burnout, so it’s vital you give your brain a break. I personally struggle to take breaks where I do nothing, so volunteering keeps me busy, but doing something I enjoy.

I also enjoy my degree, but, watching lectures and writing reports can get monotonous. Spice up your life with a little volunteering!

Of course, it’s also great to work on soft skills, improve your teamwork, time management, and interpersonal skills, for example. This year as School President, I have solidified my collaborative leadership style, my project management, and my diplomacy (liaising with students and staff about fees, anyone?).

And as much as I hate to say it, the job market sucks right now, so the more experience you have (for your own sake and your potential employers) the better!

For volunteering opportunities directly provided on the London campus, there are two main groups; Institute Reps and the Postgraduate Support and Social Network. However, this is a fantastic time to make the most of living in London and explore avenues within the local community!

Whilst COVID-19 may have made casual volunteering harder, there are still lots of ways to get involved. Dog walking, helping local businesses with their online presence, or volunteering to run a support or social group; it’s the perfect place to get creative!

I may be slightly biased… I realised I wanted to go into leadership and management because of volunteering. I have made a lot of friends through volunteering and even met my partner through volunteering. I could sell volunteering to you for many reasons, but instead I’ll summarise it as this:

Volunteering is the perfect way to give back, learn about yourself, and find friends who will become your family.


We’d love to hear from you about the topics you’d like to be covered as part of the LSU London blog series.

Loughborough University London and Loughborough Students’ Union would like to thank Amie Woodyatt for this blog.

To find out more about the LSU in London, please visit our website.

What is it like to learn online?

What is it like to learn online?

May 5, 2021 Guest Blogger

Hi, I’m Lilymae and I’m a UX Design master’s student at Loughborough Design School! 

Having completed my undergraduate degree mostly in-person (if you can even begin to imagine what that’s like), I was definitely sceptical as to whether I would really get the most out of my masters knowing that it was going to be mostly online. Switching from a Philosophy undergraduate degree to a master’s in the design school was daunting enough as it is, and I was worried at first as to whether I would get the quality of teaching that I needed to make the most of my experience. 

My new home for 2020/21!

Fast forward to now, I have been studying online for 6 months, and to my own surprise, I have actually preferred the online teaching experience over being in-person. Of course, there are some downsides to being totally online, such as not being able to properly experience the social side of being at university, but there are also a lot of positives that have come out of the virtual experience. 

More Free Time 

Gone are the days where you have to wake up at least an hour early if you want to make it to your first lecture or spend half of your Easter break sifting through the months’ worth of handouts you picked up that you swore you would organise later. With everything being online, everything is right there at your fingertips.  

All of my teaching is done through Microsoft Teams meaning it is really easy to attend the classes you need to on time. Even just having that spare hour every day that you would otherwise spend commuting really does make a difference, as you have more freedom and control to spend that time however you wish, whether you want to go on a nice walk, take some rest or spend time catching up with friends. 

Easy Access to Help 

Another key benefit to learning online is being able to communicate with your teachers and peers very easily. From my experience, the teachers have really made an effort to make sure that they were active and online during the working day so that we could get help whenever we needed it. Sending messages through the chat feature in Microsoft Teams really helped with not only making the most of your learning, but also helps you to build good relationships with your teachers, with it being a lot less formal than emailing back and forth.  

My virtual learning workstation

Digital Confidence 

With the future of work heading in a more digital direction, my biggest take-away from this online learning experience has definitely been learning how to adapt and collaborate in the digital world. I have been able to practice so many transferrable skills which I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do had we been completely in person. Even simple things such as setting up meetings, participating in group discussions online and getting to grips with collaborative tools has really set me up for a job in the future, as more and more firms start to shift some (or all) of their work online. 

Having said that, don’t be alarmed if you don’t consider yourself tech-savvy. No-one is expected to know how to use these tools like the back of your hand when you first start out, and there is a lot of support available from the IT services if you’re having any difficulties. 

Don’t forget, your lecturers are still learning too, and from my experience, they have made a huge effort in being transparent and being open to feedback to make sure we are getting the most out of our education. Making the switch to online in a short space of time doesn’t come without its technical difficulties of course, but knowing that your voice is being heard and feedback is taken on board is what has made my experience of learning online so positive. 

My Top Tips for Online Learning  

  • Slowly build up your confidenceit can be difficult at first to reach out to tutors or speak up in class when it’s so easy to hide behind your screen but taking small steps to put yourself out there can do wonders for your confidence later down the line. 
  • Know when to switch offit can be easy to lose track of time when you’re working from your computer all day, so set a time in the evening to go outdoors or do some exercise to separate your working time from your free time 
  • Listen to yourself: if you find yourself feeling unmotivated, don’t force yourself to work – you’ll only give up sooner. Instead, use that time to do something you’ll know you’re going to enjoy. Putting yourself back into that positive mindset is likely going to bring back that motivation without you even realising! 
  • Stay organised my academic diary has been my best friend when organising my life, not just my study schedule. It really helps with making sure that you stay on top of everything, and it’s also nice to put pen to paper once in a while instead of relying on technology for everything! 
There’s still a place for pen & paper!

What does the future look like? 

As lockdown eases, whether universities decide to return fully in-person or to remain somewhat online, rest-assured your learning experience will not be compromised whichever way it goes. Even through the worst of the pandemic, Loughborough made sure our voices were heard and that we were getting the most out of our degree by listening to our needs and being proactive about it. Personally, I’m looking forward to being back in-person soon, but had I not had such a great online experience too, that might have been a different story. 

 

Online learning: 1 year on

May 5, 2021 Guest Blogger

Hi everyone, my name is Maggie, and I’m a final year Economics student at Loughborough.

That’s me!

This year has been a rollercoaster for pretty much everyone. We have changed the way we do things, including attending lectures! The social interactions we very much adored have been put on hold, however we have also learnt to make the most of a not-so-great situation.  

When online teaching first began, I was honestly all over the place and it did take me time to adjust. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I had never used Zoom or Microsoft Teams (so the transition was very new to me)

This is my new lecture theatre!

year on, and a few lockdowns later I have embraced this form of teaching immensely (it really is not as bad as it seems). At first, I was worried I would not be able to ask my lecturers any questions, but it is even easier to do that now! The shy feeling of raising your hand in a packed lecture hall to ask a question is gone, you can ask questions even more easily during an online class. 

Online lectures during lockdown have kept me busy, it provides a distraction from the realities of not being able to do pretty much anything else (apart from daily walks around campus!)

A beautiful autumn view in Loughborough

The lecturers and academic staff have been super supportive! They have broken the workload and lectures into sections that has made concentrating a whole lot easier. Whenever I felt lost and was struggling, they were always a Teams call or email away. Many lecturers have really put in the extra effort to find online substitutes for resources that we require which has made online learning that much easier 

Oh, how could I continue without mentioning the 9ams! Previously I would have to set numerous alarms to get out of bed and get dressed to attend the lectures. Now I must only get up, grab some food, and sit down in front of my laptop (no more droopy eyes in lecture halls). 

Once in-person teaching began it was an exciting feeling to be back on campus and attending lectures! The social distancing rules in place are very clear and easy to follow, so do not worry about that!  

Final Thoughts

At times it may feel lonely, especially if you are a first year who has not met anyone on your course. My advice is to stick around for the breakout rooms during an online lecture or seminar, this really provides an opportunity to meet people in the exact same situation as you! And if in-person teaching is back on that’s even better, since the lecturers still permit communication between students (at a distance) so you will be able to make friends and discuss lecture content which is amazing!  

This Week at Loughborough | 3 May

This Week at Loughborough | 3 May

May 2, 2021 Jess East

Happy Mondays: Pin-a-poem workshop with Overhear (SOLD OUT)

3 May, 7 – 9pm, Online

Create a poem in response to a place that inspires you.

***This event has SOLD OUT***

This workshop will encourage participants to explore Loughborough University’s East Midlands campus in a new and social-distancing-compliant way, with the end result of writing a campus poem. For selected students, their finished work will be recorded and digitally pinned to locations in and around Loughborough University for others to collect. Find out more details on the event page.


Universities of the Future: Develop the Skills Employers Want!

5 May, 2 – 8pm/8 May, 3 – 7pm, Online

Covid has fast-accelerated changes to the ways universities work – moving to virtual teaching, on-demand support and/or having to think outside the box in their offer to students, graduates, parents, staff, schools and all who interact with them.

Join us for this unique, virtual challenge event powered by Personal Best and the Careers and Enterprise Networks to create collaborative solutions. 

During this challenge event, you will:

  • Work collaboratively with peers across the University from all Schools (including our London campus)
  • Build your confidence and start to develop a personal brand 
  • Learn to fail fast, build resilience and solve real-world problems with creative solutions
  • Demonstrate commercial awareness and agility in your approach to generating ideas
  • Pitch effectively to sell yourself to a range of employers, researchers, exciting new start-ups and special guests on our judging panel

There will also be exciting awards and prizes up for grabs too. Find out more information on the events page.


WAVE-AI: Digitalisation – Demonstrating the Art of the Possible

6 May, 10 – 11am, Online

Hot on the heels of the launch of the UK digitalisation roadmap, IDE is running a webinar series to demonstrate the art of the possible when digitalisation is applied in an intelligent, targeted and agile manner to specific engineering challenges. Each webinar will focus on a collaborative, proof of concept project, funded by IDE, showcasing

WAVE-AI (Warranty Analysis through Virtual Engineering and AI) demonstrates the application of an innovative Auto-Machine Learning platform to predict failures in connected vehicles by modelling historic warranty data. Led by Kortical and supported by Ford Motor Company. Find out more on the events page.

The Silver Lining to Loneliness

The Silver Lining to Loneliness

April 30, 2021 LU Arts

By Isioma Ogbechie

This is not sappy or melancholic; It’s both (kidding).

A world of loneliness is one where there are no strangers. It’s a familiar face to everyone; Sometimes it’s not entirely physical but an unshakeable feeling that- You. Just. Don’t. Click. with anyone around you. Sometimes its fleeting, and other times it spans months and even decades.

Is it me?

Loneliness transcends humans, age, race, context and, of course, lockdowns.

It’s:

• Being the only one that thinks or looks like you at the top.

• Accepting a faith that beckons you to resist the world’s charm.

• Being introverted, inarticulate and frequently misunderstood.

• Also being closed-off and unfriendly… (Yeah, it’s you…)

Say what you will, but at least it doesn’t discriminate.

In recent times I have found myself questioning the purpose of loneliness and the possibility of it being a necessary evil or, perhaps, necessary good; Is there not some virtue to be had in this ‘unpleasant’ space, can it not foster an atmosphere where you are at one- and comfortable- with yourself, or even propel us to give or show the love we all, undoubtedly, need???

Does that mean that if given the choice between being lonely, or not, that loneliness would win by a landslide? I hope not, because that would be weird. The reality is that loneliness is uncomfortable and sometimes unavoidable (the option to choose isn’t always readily available) and, yet, for something as present and timeless as it is, I dare say it’s no match for love in all its forms.

Make of that what you will.

Loneliness and Change

Change disrupts our lives in many ways and, sometimes, the sequel is one with loneliness as the lead; Much like a BOGOF offer (with a lot of fine print lol!). While I recognise that many people don’t change (or want to), much change is inevitable, or thrust upon us (coughs in Covid), and the transition period can be less than ideal, leaving one longing for the familiarity and comfort of the past:

• As you deal with the passing of a most loved one.

• As the harsh reality of the empty-nest syndrome dawns on some parents.

• As you settle into a university thousands of miles from home, literally and metaphorically speaking.

• As you witness the fizzling out of old and new friendships.

• When everything seemed simpler; when you were simpler.

What I find is that the decision to welcome the process, one that certainly doesn’t come lightly, puts the loneliness we feel in perspective; It challenges us to Show and receive love while we can, Do those things we’ve always wanted to do (even if that means doing them alone, for a while), Reassess what true friendship means to us while we learn to be good friends to ourselves first.

So, now, we find comfort in The waiting – because there’s virtue in it: one as noble as Patience, yet incompatible with the world we live in today.

My closing remark is that, sometimes, you can’t embrace one without the other; Change can be lonely, but loneliness, and its variants, certainly changes you in many good ways (if you allow it).


Hi, I’m a final year International Business student. I’m the sum of three special people and one very special heavenly father- all of whom are family. Obsessed with Alaskan Malamutes, Tiny homes and Singing.

The entrepreneurial culture and resources at Loughborough University London

The entrepreneurial culture and resources at Loughborough University London

April 30, 2021 Rebecca Davis

The Loughborough University London campus is centrally located in an innovation and technology hub, Here East –  home to a vibrant mix of innovators, inventors and visionaries looking to challenge the status quo. This enables Loughborough University London to collaborate effectively with organisations from a number of industries and sectors. As well as providing access to primary data from a broad range of sources, these collaborations help to shape the research focus to ensure research is delivering impact for industry and society.

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Studying sport business? Book, website and podcast recommendations from the Institute for Sport Business

April 30, 2021 Rebecca Davis

The Institute for Sport Business faculty have compiled a list of books, websites and podcasts that our current and prospective students may find useful as they immerse themselves in the sport business industry.

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Secretary Hillary Clinton and Feminist Foreign Policy

April 29, 2021 Catherine Armstrong

by Lewis Mobbs

Throughout my undergraduate programme at Loughborough, I have always been interested in foreign policy and gender. That is why I decided to focus my dissertation research on ‘Feminist Foreign Policy’. Whilst there are some examples of states following a strict Feminist Foreign Policy agenda, I was drawn to the case of Secretary Hillary Clinton. After Clinton’s tenure as the United States’ top diplomat (2009 – 2013), some political commentators lauded her record as an example of feminist foreign policy in action. However, whilst much of her rhetoric was feminist in content, at times, policy decisions and outcomes did not correlate with these supposed feminist values.

Instead of making a simple value judgement on Secretary Clinton’s record, I wanted to compare her record against a strict, more rigorous Feminist Foreign Policy framework. I decided to review academic scholarship on Feminist Foreign Policy and create a base of work to use as a tool for comparison. Whilst there is no widely accepted definition, most academic work on the topic refers to empowering marginalised women’s voices so that foreign policy is reactive to the women and girls it is trying to assist.

My dissertation argued that no matter how well-intentioned policy was under Secretary Clinton, it often failed to respond to the marginalised women it was designed to help and was, therefore, not an example of Feminist Foreign Policy. One example that demonstrated this well was Secretary Clinton’s strong support for a troop surge in Afghanistan. The surge was designed to provide security and suppress Taliban influence, an organisation that is exceptionally oppressive and violent towards women and girls in Afghanistan. However, this troop surge did little for women and was a blunt instrument in the sense that it failed to address deeper societal issues and the systemic patriarchy that plagues Afghanistan’s society.

Clinton’s backing of the troop surge led to one of the most poignant reflections of my dissertation. This case raised the question of whether or not mediating the relationship between feminism and US realism is actually possible, given the United States’ role as a global superpower. The US’s constant desire for influence often pursued through imperialist intervention is incompatible with the ethical approach a Feminist Foreign Policy insists on.

Whilst the project illuminated the difficulties of pursuing a Feminist Foreign Policy, it did not deter my personal belief that a Feminist Foreign Policy agenda is a realistic policy doctrine that can offer positive change in an unstable world.

Completing this research was the highlight of my University experience. Being given the opportunity to pursue a research project that is entirely centred around your interests is a privilege. Contributing to your area of scholarship, no matter how small, is extremely rewarding and something you look back on with immense pride.

You can find out more about Feminist Foreign Policy at https://centreforfeministforeignpolicy.org/


Bio: Lewis Mobbs graduated from Loughborough University in Summer 2020 with a First-Class Honours in Politics and International Relations. During his studies, his academic focuses have been on gender, US politics and foreign policy. Whilst studying for his undergraduate degree, Lewis was also President of Loughborough Marrow Society. In October 2020, Lewis began the MA Security degree programme at Loughborough University.


Photo by Jonathan Simcoe on Unsplash

LSU blog series: Student accommodation during a Pandemic

April 27, 2021 Rebecca Davis

Welcome to the third LSU blog for Loughborough University London students! In this blog, Loughborough Students’ Union (LSU) London School President, Amie Woodyatt, considers the subject of living in student accommodation during a pandemic.

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The role of the European Parliament in managing Brexit

April 26, 2021 Rebecca Davis

In this blog for LSE, Lecturer in Diplomacy and International Governance, Dr Nicola Chelotti, together with Edoardo Bressanelli and Wilhelm Lehmann the role of the European Parliament in managing Brexit.

What influence did the European Parliament have in the Brexit negotiations?

How did Brexit affect the distribution of power inside the European Parliament?

Politics and Governance has recently published a Thematic Issue on the consequences of Brexit for EU institutions, such as the Council of the EU and the Court of Justice, and transnational actors like interest groups or financial organisations. The Issue has shown that – while Brexit has been generally regarded as a threat to integration or a trigger of disintegration – the Union has been able to prepare itself for the departure of the UK.

We can speculate on the drivers of this institutional adaptation. The EU may seek to protect itself from the ‘malign’ influence of a soon-to-be third country. It may fear the organizational consequences of withdrawal and seek minimizing potential disruptions. It could be guided by the willingness to ‘punish’ disintegration and prevent further exits. Whatever the reason, one of the key findings of the project has been the capacity of the EU to adapt (so far) to the challenges posed by Brexit.

This conclusion stands also for the European Parliament (EP). In our article, we analyse two aspects related to Brexit and the EP: first, the role played by the EP in the negotiations of the Withdrawal Agreement and the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement; second, the influence of British MEPs in the Parliament during the Brexit period, from the referendum to Brexit day (June 2016–January 2020).

To read the full blog, please see here.


To find out more about the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance, please visit our website.

Media and Creative Industries academic in the media

April 26, 2021 Rebecca Davis

Dr Ana Cristina Suzina, Doctoral Prize Fellow within the Institute for Media and Creative Industries has recently been featured in newspapers around the world.

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Evolve London - Our first Postgraduate Business Validator Programme!

April 26, 2021 Ella Cusack

Are you a current London student or 2020 graduate with a business idea? Do you want priority support to figure out how to make this idea a reality?

Our first postgraduate business validator the Evolve London programme will provide you with the support, structure and practical time you need to really interrogate, test and validate your business hypothesis and ideas.

Offering you priority 1:1 and peer-to-peer support, this 7-week programme will help you to turn your idea(s) into the real-deal, taking your new or existing business to the next level.

With the Loughborough Enterprise Network (LEN) and the FutureSpace team, you will work towards validating your idea and finding out how to understand if your idea has merit, whether it be a company, social enterprise, charity, partnership or even making profits from a side hustle, we will give you the time, space and support required to move things forward around your studies, expert guest speakers and mentors will be on-hand throughout.

We will have 7 weeks of activities, options to attend in person or online and some work to do in your own time. We will have 4/7 sessions delivered live (online and in-person) and 3/7 weeks will be self guided learning. We understand that you may be outside of the UK so we will ensure that all sessions will be recorded and available to all members if you cannot attend in person or online due to time zones.

Are you interested in taking part?

Apply here by Monday 16 May (11.59pm) to be considered for this exciting opportunity!


You can find out more about the Loughborough Enterprise Network (LEN) and all their exciting opportunities here.

To find out more about all the excellent opportunities on offer to you by our Future Space team, please visit this blog.

Stress Less by Going Back to Basics: Building your resilience with the five pillars of health

Stress Less by Going Back to Basics: Building your resilience with the five pillars of health

April 26, 2021 Sadie Gration

April is Stress Awareness Month, which coincides with the relaxing of some of the lockdown measures.

If you think about the Covid-19 pandemic in terms of The Change Curve below, we are all rapid cycling around the curve rather than reaching the end point of ‘moving forward’.

Image: The Change Curve

It’s important to remember that everyone’s experience of the last year has been different. Whether you have home schooled children, looked after older parents, had ill relatives, or been isolated from your loved ones, all our journeys have been unique.

I believe self-compassion and compassion for others are key in achieving this next transition phase. Covid is not going away despite the promises of the vaccines – this is something we need to learn to live alongside rather than wait for it to pass.

We need to focus on our locus of control; we cannot control the pandemic or the lockdowns, but we can look after ourselves to allow us to come out the other side intact.

So, what can we do?

Well, think about your own journey – what one thing could you try to improve on that would give you maximum benefits?

The Pillars of Health

The core foundations of our wellbeing are sleep, food, exercise, relaxation and connecting with others. Here, we look at each of them in more detail.

Sleep

Sleep underpins all aspects of health and wellbeing.

It regulates our appetite, helping to control body weight through healthy food selection rather than rash impulsivity. Plentiful sleep maintains a flourishing microbiome within your gut from which we know so much of our nutritional and immune health begins. Adequate sleep is also intimately tied to the fitness of our cardiovascular system, lowering blood pressure and keeping our hearts in good condition.

“If sleep doesn’t serve as some vital function, it is the biggest mistake evolution ever made’

– Allan Rechtschaffen

The daylight-saving time is an annual experiment which proves just how detrimental losing an hour of sleep is. In his book Why We Sleep, Matthew Walker reported that when the clocks go forwards every year, the following day there is an increase in heart attacks, strokes, suicides and car accidents by around 24%. When the clocks go back and give us an additional hour of sleep, we see a 21% reduction of those events.

Working from home has removed normal boundaries too – many people have been working into the evenings whilst juggling childcare commitments.  

Our Loughborough health and wellbeing needs assessment showed that 80% of our staff had trouble sleeping. If you’re struggling to have a good night’s sleep, try the following tips:

  • Implement a strict rule to turn off all screens 90 minutes before you go to bed
  • Avoid drinking caffeine after midday
  • Limit your alcohol intake
  • Consider the lighting in your house during the evenings
  • Try breathing exercises before bedtime to quiet down your busy mind.

Eat

Eating a balanced diet is key to our immunity, our sleep and our mental health. Being at home can mean we snack more and working around family and work requirements can impact our ability to plan and prepare meals. Finances and mood also have a big part to play in nutrition.

Between October-March, there is a real benefit to considering Vitamin D supplements as our sunlight exposure is so limited. A magnesium supplement has also been found to be beneficial for those experiencing poor sleep, restless legs, or brain fog. If you have a vegan or vegetarian diet, ensure you consider a B12 supplement.

The key points when managing your diet are to eat the rainbow to improve your gut, and eat as many wholefoods as possible, whilst keeping your intake of processed foods to a minimum.

Relaxing

Have you ever realised that when you relax and do something else – like walk the dog, play with the kids, or do something creative – that new thoughts pop into your head?

Resilience needs a sense of calm. Without calm, we lack objectivity to rationalise problems and seek solutions. Without time to process and rationalise, worries pervade our dreams and disrupt our sleep. Calm is where creative solutions are found and is vital to resilience; invest in finding what gives you a sense of calm.

Move 

Our bodies are not built to be static. Intense deadlines and working from home can lead to prolonged periods of static inactivity often in less-than-ideal workspaces. Regular movement can prevent musculoskeletal problems and avoid the need for bulky ergonomic equipment.

It also makes us feel better – with exercise comes endorphin releases which makes for a happier work and home life. If you’re struggling, try the Pomodoro technique which helps productivity whilst encouraging regular breaks and movement.

Connect

We need others. This is non-negotiable. The amount of interaction we need differs immensely, but voicing your concerns and supporting others provides a context for our own worries and helps to diffuse them. Consider a drop-in lunchtime catch-up to connect with your loved ones.  

Harvard’s well-known longevity study spanning 80 years found that social connection appears to be the key variable that’s linked to greater happiness and wellbeing, as well as a longer life.

So lead by example – resilience starts with you.

Our upcoming initiatives

The Occupational Health team are now hosting a number of webinars for staff, with the next session covering sleep. This will take place on 28 April 2021 – if you’re interested in attending, please contact Rebecca Ford at R.A.Ford@lboro.ac.uk.

We’re also planning activities for Mental Health Awareness Week in May, with this year’s focus being on nature. Keep an eye out for more information, as we have lots of initiatives taking place which everyone is welcome to join.

Sarah Van-Zoelen
Occupational Health and Wellbeing Manager

*Main image courtesy of Getty Images

This Week at Loughborough | 26 April

This Week at Loughborough | 26 April

April 26, 2021 Jess East

Dr Alister Smith: Fellowship Inaugural Lecture

27 April, 12.30 – 1.30pm, Online

Dr Alister Smith who holds a Philip Leverhulme Prize in Engineering, will present the next lecture of this year’s Fellowship Inaugural Lecture series.

Organised by the Institute of Advanced Studies and the Loughborough University Research Staff Association, this series showcases Loughborough University’s Research Fellows, who present their cutting-edge research and outline their career to date.

In this talk entitled Listening to Infrastructure: Acoustic Emission Monitoring in Geotechnical Engineering, Dr Smith will discuss the urgent need for improved and affordable health monitoring capability to facilitate geotechnical infrastructure stewardship (e.g. slopes, foundations, dams and pipes) as a result of existing infrastructure assets deteriorating, and new assets being designed and constructed to withstand uncertain future conditions.

Find out more information on the events page.


Risk, A.I & Belonging: Libby Heaney in Conversation with Simone Natale

27 April, 6 – 7.30pm, Online

Radar has teamed up with the Disasters Deconstructed podcast to put together this special episode featuring physicist Libby Heaney in conversation with the media theorist Simone Natale. They’ll discuss the risks AI is supposed to mitigate; the risks of AI itself; and whether AI might be used in the formation of new forms of belonging, rather than in the service of division.

Find out more information on the events page.


Mathematics Education Centre seminar

28 April, 10am – 12:15pm, Online

Featuring Professor Kerry Lee, ‘Helping children with low math and work memory performances: a glimmer of hope for computerised interventions’ and Tom Francome ‘How mixed-attainment grouping affects the way students experience mathematics’.

Find out more information on the events page.


Anarchism Research Group Seminar: Erica Lagalisse – Occult Features of Anarchism

28 April, 2 – 3pm, Online

In this seminar, Erica Lagalisse presents Occult Features of Anarchism – With Attention to the Conspiracy of Kings and the Conspiracy of the Peoples (2019, PM Press) and discusses the book and the challenges of public scholarship.

Occult Features of Anarchism is a historical study that explores the gendered cosmology of the modern Left to build an anti-colonial critique of anarchism, commenting on the cultural production of ‘conspiracy theory’ in the process.

Find out more on the events page.


BERG seminar: Reducing extreme heat in sub-Saharan African dwellings

28 April, 4 – 5pm, Online

Climate change presents a rapidly growing threat to the health of people living in the Global South, especially those in low-income urban settlements. The buildings people occupy can worsen the effects of extreme heat, but effective modifications to buildings could improve the indoor environment for occupants.

This seminar, hosted by the Building Energy Research Group, will explore ways to reduce extreme heat exposure in dwellings in Ghana, Tanzania, and Malawi. There will be five speakers, with a question and answer session afterwards.

Find out more on the events page.


Four Faces of Omarska: Open Video Sequence, Public Montage #1

28 April, 6 – 8pm, Online

This ‘public montage’ event consists of a screening of the latest iteration of Milica Tomić’s video work Four Faces of Omarska: Open Video Sequence, followed by a public discussion with invited guests, which will inform future iterations of the work. It will address the mutual discontinuities and continuities of a single site in modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina as a means of surveying the demise of socialist Yugoslavia and the Yugoslav society. With a specific focus on the privatisation process and transition from societal property socialism to capitalism, the session will also explore the theoretical, methodological and practical challenges of presenting visual documentation of collective investigative processes. Those present will be invited to participate in this process, with various contributions subsequently being added to the existing ‘open video sequence’ through future iterations of the work.

The event has been curated by Lívia Páldi, and commissioned by Radar and the AHRC Research Network ‘Interdisciplinary perspectives in transitional justice’. Dr Cristian Tileagă of Loughborough University’s School of Social Sciences and Humanities, who leads this network, will provide an introduction to the event and situate it in relation to the network’s work.

Find out more information on the events page.


IAS Time Theme: Friends and Fellows Coffee Morning

29 April, 11am – 12pm, Online

We will be hosting an IAS Friends and Fellows Coffee Morning, where we will be joined by our visiting fellows for the third Time Theme workshop.

The visiting Fellows are:

  • Professor John Bowen (University of York) – Just in Time
  • Professor John Bateman (University of Bremen, Germany) – Semiosis and Time: A View from Multimodality Theory
  • Professor Valeriy O. Yampol’s’kyy and Professor Oleg V. Usatenko (National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Kharkov) – Stationary Ergodic Markov Chains with Long-Range Memory and their Applications to Literary Texts and DNA Sequences
  • Professor Claire Warwick (Durham University) – ‘The intersection of the Timeless with Time’: Digital Text and the Disruption of Temporality
  • Dr Gabriele Balbi (Università della Svizzera italiana, Switzerland) and Dr Maria Rikitianskaia (LSE, UK) – Media as timekeepers: History and Categorization of Time Signals

All are welcome to attend. Find out more on the events page.


Time, Text and Media – IAS Time Theme Workshop

30 April, 12.30 – 5pm, Online

Join the third IAS Time Theme Workshop which will be looking at Time, Text and Media.

Time is one of the fundamental dimensions of human existence and human experience. Texts, which incorporate and relate human experience, unfold in space and time and traditional texts (literary and non-literary) reproduce the passing of time through the lenses of human experience.

Find out more on the events page.

Self-Care Sundays: Creative Writing

2 May, 4pm, Online

ow many of us love the idea of writing a piece of fiction but don’t know where to start? Join two Loughborough University students as they help you unlock your potential and develop your descriptive writing using images.

In this session you will explore literary techniques and their significance as well as learning how to employ them in your writing. You’ll go over the basics of how to construct a successful paragraph which will help you engage your reader in a more creative and unique way.


The session will involve the use of images to spur your imagination and help you produce a captivating piece of work. Image-based writing can be therapeutic and allows you to channel your energy in a creative format – the perfect way to finish a weekend and set you up for the week ahead! Find out more on the events page.

Working with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) for my Collaborative Project

April 23, 2021 Rebecca Davis

MA students in the Institute for Media and Creative Industries (IMCI) are currently preparing to present their midway presentation to their partner organisation as part of the Collaborative Project module, a unique module where students work with a partner organisation in response to a real-world challenge.

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Reflections on a Privileged Life

Reflections on a Privileged Life

April 22, 2021 Sadie Gration

I grew up in Chester, England, in the 70s and 80s. My dad was a physicist working at Daresbury Laboratory; my mum was a stay-at-home mother; I had two siblings; we had one dog. We didn’t have any ‘spare money’ for anything other than day to day living, but I guess we were middle-class although I had no idea what that terminology meant back then. I was deeply loved by my siblings and parents, had a happy childhood, and did well at school. All was good in my world. I had no idea or awareness that there might be another world or experience.

The first time I met someone from a BAME background, and I am literally not exaggerating, was when I was 17. He joined the Lower 6th at school. He was the only person of colour at our school (which was the local state school) at that time. He was lovely and got on with everyone. He was in the ‘in-crowd’ and started dating the most popular girl in the school. They later married. I have no recollection of any conversation at all about race. I don’t recall any conversations about his family, his cultural heritage, his background. I have no awareness of any micro-aggressions. That doesn’t mean they didn’t happen of course, but that just wasn’t on my radar (and maybe not on anyone else’s).

I went to university to study languages. I went out with an international student from Burkina Faso. I don’t recall race being something that we actively explored together. He was my boyfriend; I was his girlfriend. We hung out. I spent six months of my placement year in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, but again, not a particular trigger for exploring issues of race, racism and white privilege. After I graduated, I spent a year in Dakar, Senegal. All my friends were Senegalese; I had a blast. We didn’t talk about race, racism, or white privilege.  I met one of my life-long best friends during that year; she was later my bridesmaid. She was in Dakar doing the same as me (teaching English as a Foreign Language). She’s from London, of Jamaican heritage. In so many ways, we were the same with similar educational and life experiences. We didn’t at that time explore the differences. It just wasn’t on the radar.

Fast-forward 25 years, and I realise that my ignorance on issues of race, racism and white privilege far exceeds my knowledge. I worry that I am that person that assumes that because I have many people from BAME backgrounds in my life, I can’t possibly be racist. I worry that I am that person that assumes that because her professional expertise is around people and organisational development, I don’t have bias. I worry that I have spent years of my life not recognising that the lived experiences of people who I love and/or work with are very different to my own. 

Why did I never ask questions about those experiences? Why have I never realised that whilst I may have had times of challenge in my life, it has never been because of the colour of my skin? Why have I not acknowledged that my children, by virtue of the colour of their skin alone, have privilege. Waking up to my privileges and knowing more about some of the challenges my BAME colleagues experience inspires me to ask questions with the intent to listen, learn and champion positive change by becoming an active ally.

As I continue to work on becoming an ally, I am aware that I am in a role in which I can influence change. I ask that colleagues be patient with me as I embark on the learning journey by asking questions. Consequently, I hereby make these pledges to those reading this short reflective piece. I promise to invest in deepening and broadening my understanding of race, racism and white privilege. I promise to use the position that I have to influence change, and I promise to use my platform to advocate, champion and amplify the voices of marginalised groups, with a view to creating an inclusive environment in which every individual feels psychologically safe to bring their whole self to work.

Adèle MacKinlay
Director of People, Organisational Development and EDI

DRN Temporal Drawing: Experience Recording

April 21, 2021 Deborah Harty

Thank you to Tamarin Norwood for chairing the third event in the Temporal Drawing series, to presenters Samantha Lynch, Dara Rigal & Jenny Wright for their inspiring presentations and to everyone who attended the event.

Video also accessible at: https://vimeo.com/539861629

My Collaborative Project experience so far with Ogilvy Health

April 21, 2021 Rebecca Davis

In this blog, current MSc Digital Marketing student, Vishal, talks about his Collaborative Project experience with Ogilvy Health.

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Covid, Communication and Culture: Research Insights and Policy Solutions

April 20, 2021 Cristian Vaccari

The Centre for Research in Communication and Culture is pleased to announce a research event to discuss innovative work that helps understand how different aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic are affecting and being affected by various facets of communication and culture. Our research also makes a distinctive contribution to identifying policy solutions required to address the challenges brought about by the pandemic.

The event is organised in three sessions focused on the goals of Understanding, Protecting and Adapting to the pandemic and post-pandemic reality. It will be held on the 12th of May 2021, from 2:00-5:30pm GMT, online on MS Teams.

ProgrammePresentations SummariesPresenter Biographies

Programme

2:00-2:05 Welcome and Introduction, Prof. Ele Belfiore and Prof. Cristian Vaccari, CRCC Co-Directors

2:05-3:05 Session 1: Understanding – Chair: Prof Lisanne Gibson
Speakers: Prof. Sabina Mihelj; Prof. James Stanyer; Prof. Thomas Tufte

3.05-3:15 Break

3:15-4:15 Session 2: Protecting – Chair: Prof. Cristian Vaccari
Speakers: Prof. Andrew Chadwick; Dr Paula Saukko; Prof. Elizabeth Stokoe 

4:15-4:25 Break

4:25-5:25 Session 3: Adapting – Chair: Prof. Ele Belfiore
Speakers: Dr Adrian Leguina; Dr Thomas Swann; Dr Marcus Collins 

5:25-5:30 Conclusions and farewell

***

Presentations Summaries

Understanding

News consumption, political polarization, and trust during the COVID-19 pandemic
Sabina Mihelj (with Katherine Kondor and Vaclav Štětkà)
Attempts to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus brought unforeseen levels of disruption to social life. Faced with a fast-changing situation, people turned to the media to find up-to-date information about the little-known virus and about preventative measures. At the same time, medical experts and public health authorities started sounding alarms about the potential negative effects of the media as key drivers of an ‘infodemic’ of misinformation that was threatening to undermine trust and incite harmful behaviour. In this talk we present the results of a comparative study of media use, trust in experts, and information-seeking behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic, drawing on 120 qualitative interviews and media diaries from four countries. 

The enduring appeal of Public Service Broadcasters: the BBC and News and information consumption in the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic
James Stanyer
Drawing on weekly survey data, this paper examines news and information consumption in the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic. Research during the first wave of the pandemic shows consumption increased but has less to say about how and where the public got its news and information from over a prolonged extreme event: this paper sheds light on this important issue. The paper finds that the public turned to TV and legacy media more than the new media. The public’s information mix did not vary much over the first wave and while other sources were consulted, the BBC remained a dominant source. The BBC was the most trusted source, but trust did not guide use. That said, there were statistically significant differences in use, for example, between those aged 16-34 and 55+.

Digital media in the Global South: Post-pandemic visions and discourses, policies and practices
Thomas Tufte
This presentation explores perceptions of the digital in the Global South in the post-pandemic era. How do large development organisations, politicians and citizens perceive digital media and their role in overcoming development challenges made visible by the Covid-19 crisis? What insights can be gained by studying the digital media experience of ordinary citizens and which by inquiring into discourses of dominant development organisations? What policy implications can this have?

Protecting

Online Social Endorsement and Covid-19 Vaccine Hesitancy in the UK
Andrew Chadwick (with Johannes Kaiser, Cristian Vaccari, Daniel Freeman, Sinéad Lambe, Bao S. Loe, Samantha Vanderslott, Stephan Lewandowsky, Meghan Conroy, Andrew R. N. Ross, Stefania Innocenti, Andrew J. Pollard, Felicity Waite, Michael Larkin, Laina Rosebrock, Lucy Jenner, Helen McShane, Alberto Giubilini, Ariane Petit, and Ly-Mee Yu)
In February 2021, the UK had the world’s highest Covid-19 mortality per million of population. And yet, about a fifth of the UK public was either very unsure or strongly hesitant about getting vaccinated. Is there a role for online social endorsement in addressing Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy? What kinds of public communication strategies are required to make this work? Professor Andrew Chadwick reports on recently published research from the Oxford Coronavirus Explanations, Attitudes, and Narratives project (OCEANS). A collaboration involving Oxford, Loughborough, Cambridge, Aston, and Bristol universities, OCEANS comprises scholars in clinical and social psychology, communication, moral philosophy, immunology, vaccinology, medical sociology, medical statistics, and economics. In this arm of the project, based on a survey of 5,000 UK adults the team explored the connections between people’s attitudes, their Covid media diets, and their intention to use social media to encourage or discourage vaccination.

Caught in and working with digital media scripts: Harmful and helpful experiences of people with eating disorders during the Covid-19 pandemic
Paula Saukko (with Helen Malson)
This study investigates the experiences of people with eating disorders (n=31) on harmful and helpful digital media use during Covid-19 lockdowns. Interviews featured three themes: (i) connecting with people enhanced social support but also aggravated social comparisons and pressure to interact, (ii) following mainstream, recovery and body-positive influencers created a contradictory and often triggering stream, and (iii) participants accessed a plethora of helpful and harmful digital mental health care (groups, apps, broadcasts, counselling). In conclusion, digital media offer helpful social support, user-generated content and mental health care but the business model-driven push for more connections, generic content and unregulated services scripted into the platforms create a minefield for people with mental health problems.

Covid: The messaging, the communication, and the conversation
Elizabeth Stokoe (with Emma Richardson)
In this presentation, I will give three brief examples of how conversation analytic research can underpin and shape communication-relevant Covid-19 policy in different institutional settings and domains: 1) the connection between government messaging and public understanding of and adherence to Covid-19 mitigations; 2) how core features of social interaction research shaped guidance about adherence to social distancing and mask-wearing, and 3) how analysis of 999 calls to the police during lockdown has revealed particular challenges for police 999 call-takers in the context of domestic violence.  

Adapting

Digital Access to Arts and Culture Beyond Covid-19
Adrian Leguina (with Richard Misek)
Since the global spread of Covid-19, video streaming has emerged as perhaps the most popular and effective tool for physically-sited arts and culture institutions to stay ‘open’, and has provided locked-down audiences with opportunities for cultural engagement and shared experience. This project – funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and developed in collaboration with Arts Council England and digital support agency The Space – focuses on providing arts and culture organisations of all sizes and from across the UK with specific, practical knowledge about how to manage their digital programming. Here we present a broad overview of the project, including some initial thoughts on how current crisis-driven innovations in digital delivery could help provide arts and culture organisations with the resilience and agility to adapt to a post-Covid landscape, as well as some methodological challenges on the study of digital engagement and audience diversity.

The viability of self-organised mutual aid during the Covid pandemic
Thomas Swann
As the Covid-19 pandemic spread around the world, people got together under the banner of mutual aid to help one another, often in the absence of any official government support. Looking at these mutual aid practices as self-organised systems, this presentation uses anarchist and cybernetic theories to diagnose some of the challenges faced by those involved. Mutual aid can be a key part of how we get through crises like the Covid-19 pandemic, but only if we learn the lessons of the past, address common problems, and create the right conditions for it to flourish.

Post-Pandemic Pedagogy: Lessons learnt from learning and teaching history during Covid
Marcus Collins
This talk will present preliminary results from a pilot survey of history students and staff at seven UK universities on how Covid-19 has affected learning history at university and how history programmes could and should adapt once Covid-19 has abated. Early indications suggest that staff saw little positive about teaching under Covid-19, with a plurality of them viewing eleven out of thirteen facets of learning as having declined over the past year. Students who had experienced university before and after Covid-19 conversely identified a mixture of beneficial and detrimental changes to their learning. They broadly welcomed Covid-inspired teaching innovations and the shift to coursework while faulting the quality of feedback, interactions with staff and access to study spaces. First-year students, having no pre-Covid experience of higher education, were overwhelmingly satisfied with their learning while sorely missing each other’s company. Less divergence appears in preferences for post-Covid teaching, with staff and students alike expressing a preference post-Covid for in-person seminars and ambivalence over traditional lectures. Conflicting opinions over assessment, however, indicate a fundamental tension in higher education between learning outcomes and the student experience. Since no student favours a return to closed-book exams but many staff think otherwise, whose views will prevail?

***

Presenters’ Biographies

Ele Belfiore is Professor of Communication and Media Studies and Co-Director of the CRCC. Her research focuses on discursive formations around cultural value, the social impact of the arts, and the working conditions of publicly funded socially engaged artists.

Andrew Chadwick is Professor of Political Communication and directs the Online Civic Culture Centre (O3C).

Marcus Collins is Senior Lecturer in Cultural History. He researches British contemporary history and has a particular interest in the 1960s, the so-called permissive society and the Beatles, on which he has written extensively. 

Lisanne Gibson is Professor of Culture and Society and Dean of the School of Social Studies and Humanities. Her research focuses on the relations between culture and ‘the social’ and her academic career has seen her span across the fields of heritage and museum studies, cultural and cultural policy studies, cultural geography, and sociology.

Adrian Leguina is Lecturer in Quantitative Social Sciences. His research interests lie at the intersection of the sociology of cultural consumption, social stratification, and quantitative research methods.

Sabina Mihelj is Professor of Media and Cultural Analysis and her research focuses on the comparative study of media cultures across both traditional and new media, with a focus on nationalism, identity, Eastern and Central Europe, and the Cold War.

Paula Saukko is Reader in Social Science and Medicine, and her research focuses on diagnostic technologie and digital health, particularly self-tracking devices, but also use of digital media in medicine more generally.

James Stanyer is Professor in Communication and Media Analysis and his research interests lie primarily in the areas of national and transnational political communication.

Elizabeth Stokoe is Professor of Social Interaction and her research focuses on conversation analysis and membership categorisation analysis of interaction in a variety of contexts including healthcare settings, police interviews and hostage negotiation.

Thomas Swann is a Lecturer in Political Theory, researching the connections between anarchist and cybernetic theories of organisation and their application to alternative forms of organising. His book, Anarchist Cybernetics. Control and Communication in Radical Politics, was published by Bristol University Press in 2020.

Thomas Tufte is Director of the Institute for Media and Creative Industries at Loughborough University London. His research focuses on critically exploring the interrelations between media texts/flows/genres, communicative practices and processes of citizen engagement and social change. 

Cristian Vaccari is Professor of Political Communication and Co-Director of the CRCC. He studies political communication by elites and citizens in comparative perspective, with a particular focus on digital and social media.

LSU blog series: Remote Living

April 20, 2021 Rebecca Davis

Welcome to the second LSU blog for Loughborough University London students! In this blog, Loughborough Students’ Union (LSU) London School President, Amie Woodyatt, considers the subject of remote living.

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Working with external organisations during my master’s

April 19, 2021 Rebecca Davis

In this blog, current student Shrey talks about his experience working with organisations as part of his MSc Sport Business and Innovation during the pandemic.

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Students: Make sure you are registered to vote in the local elections

April 19, 2021 Rebecca Davis

Today (Monday 19 April) is National Voter Registration Day – your last chance to check you are registered for the Mayor of London and London Assembly Elections elections on 6 May 2021.

In the UK, almost one third of 18-24 year olds are not registered to vote, leaving them left out and overlooked in political decision making. Voting in your local elections helps to ensure your voice is heard.

You can check your registration status by contacting your local Electoral Registration Office.

If you find that you are not currently registered to vote you can do this online.

Please note that students can be registered to vote at home and term time addresses.

More information on how to vote can be found here.

National Voter Registration Day (NVRD) is an initiative re-established by My Life My Say and ShoutOut UK to encourage participation in local, regional and national elections.

This Week at Loughborough | 19 April

This Week at Loughborough | 19 April

April 19, 2021 Jess East

Book Club: Suzanne Redfearn – In An Instant

20 April, 12.30 – 1.30pm, Online

Join our regular Book Club for an online discussion of Suzanne Redfearn’s In An Instant.

Our Book Club is open to all current and former students and staff of Loughborough University. We typically meet every six weeks to discuss a book chosen by our members. These are usually, but not always, novels.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions we are currently meeting virtually, with a group video call and a forum on Good Reads. Members are welcome to contribute through one or both of these. Find out more information on the events page.


DRN Temporal Drawing: Experience

21 April, 11am – 12.30pm, Online

The Drawing Research Network Temporal Drawing Events have been organised by staff and PhD researchers from the Drawing Research Group at Loughborough University, chaired by Deborah Harty.

This panel brings together three researchers employing drawing to examine the subjective experience of time. Dr Samantha Lynch will consider how drawing reflects and intensifies this experience, sharing a body of test drawings to ask how multiple temporalities can manifest simultaneously through the drawing process, and reflecting on the wider implications of these insights for creative methods in research practice. 

Find out more on the events page.


OPTIMA: Digitalisation – Demonstrating the Art of the Possible webinar series

22 April, 10am, Online

Learn about the development of an advanced algorithm for the optimisation of composite structures, led by GRM Consulting and supported by Red Bull Advanced Technologies and McLaren.

Discover more about this event on the events page.

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