Skip to content Skip to navigation

Loughborough University Blogs Blog

Other Blogs

test

Incorporating mindfulness into your day

Incorporating mindfulness into your day

January 21, 2021 Sophie Dinnie
Second Year Psychology with Criminology student, Lauren Pearson, shares her student friendly approach to mindfulness.
Qualitative Research in Sport Management

Qualitative Research in Sport Management

January 21, 2021 Ella Cusack

In this blog, meet our three highly experienced and sagacious professors within the Institute for Sport Business who have developed a book analysing quantitative research methods in sports management, from analysing data to using digital tools and paradigms.

This book examines the reflective and interrogative processes required for developing effective qualitative research questions and includes a deeper discussion of ontology and epistemology in the light of today’s rapidly changing society. It takes the reader step-by-step through essential and emerging qualitative methods, from actor network theory and ethnography to computer-assisted data analysis and sampling typologies. Every chapter includes examples of real qualitative research, including shorter “research briefs” and extended case studies, reflecting the exciting qualitative research that is currently occurring in sport business and management, and highlighting the links between research and sport management practice.  

This is essential reading for courses in sport management, sport business, sport policy, sport marketing, sport media, and communications. It provides students, researchers, and practitioners with the knowledge and skills to undertake qualitative research while deepening their understanding of how the social world can be perceived and interpreted through a particular theoretical lens.

Meet the team

James Skinner

James Skinner is Associate Dean of Teaching and a Professor of Sport Business at Loughborough University London. James has published numerous books and journal articles on research methods and teaches research method courses to postgraduate students across the globe.

Allan Edwards

Allan Edwards has held numerous academic appointments within Australia and internationally. His most recent position before his retirement was as Reader in Sport Business at Loughborough University London. Allan has a passion for qualitative research, and this is reflected by his extensive use of qualitative methods in his research.

Aaron C.T. Smith

Aaron C.T. Smith is Professor of Sport Business at Loughborough University London. Aaron has published extensively in qualitative research methods and conducted research employing qualitative methodologies with organisations across the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, North America, and the Middle East.


To read more about their new book, please visit our website.

You can also find out more about our Institute for Sport Business on our website.

The shortcut to mathematics

The shortcut to mathematics

January 21, 2021 Centre for Mathematical Cognition

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

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

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

6+38-35

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

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

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

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

Thesis findings

BODMAS

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

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

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

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

The take-home messages for teachers

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

The take-home messages for researchers

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

Glossary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What makes education trials uninformative?

What makes education trials uninformative?

January 21, 2021 Centre for Mathematical Cognition
A pen resting on a sheet of paper with equations printed on it

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

What is an educational RCT?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In our paper we discuss three main hypotheses:

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

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

How Writing Workshops Have Lifted Lockdown

How Writing Workshops Have Lifted Lockdown

January 21, 2021 Centre for Mathematical Cognition
A top down view of a person using a laptop with a cat next to them

What is a writing workshop?

It was November 2019 when fellow PhD student, Theresa Wege, recommended Barbara Sarnecka’s book The Writing Workshop. I was initially dubious – at the time, I did not see writing as one of the biggest challenges of my PhD, and I could not imagine how a book could teach me more than the feedback from my supervisors and other mentors. But, fast-forward two weeks, and I was telling everyone to get a copy: Sarnecka’s book was (and still is) the best self-help book that I have read during my PhD.

Sarnecka’s book is an incredibly honest and eye-opening read into academic writing. I was so enthused that by the 5th of December, we had launched our own writing workshop. We meet weekly, for one hour, and the structure follows Sarnecka’s recommendation. We spend the first 15 minutes individually reporting both the struggles and successes of our week’s writing. This has become an integral factor in building our writing community, normalising failure, and sharing struggles that otherwise might provoke feelings of embarrassment or shame. This aspect of the workshop became even more important during the Covid-19 pandemic. This community certainly developed into an important support network for me during those initial weeks of UK Lockdown.

In the next fifteen minutes, we discuss an article, report, or blog post based on writing in academia. We started with posts from Sarnecka’s blog or book then moved on to other writing-related skills, such as data visualisation or journal articles reviews. The most important part of this discussion is the conversation it provokes; members do not need to have read the articles to join in with the conversation. The workshop is not meant to add another task onto everyone’s already overflowing to-do lists.

In the spirit of tackling to-do lists, the final half an hour is dedicated to writing so that we all sit and write together in an encouraging silence. Of course, everyone can stay and write for longer but an hour workshop is minimal enough to feel like an acceptable use of time in a busy day of meetings.

Our collective wisdom: what have we learned so far?

In a recent meeting, we discussed the writing advice we find most helpful. The following is a summary of that advice.

  • “Start with your passion!” − a great reminder that our projects (hopefully) inspired us at some point; writing down why a project is interesting and important can be a great starting point when motivation is low.
  • Lack of productivity does not equal failure − during this year, everyone experienced their first pandemic, and most of us agreed that it made writing hard. But even in ‘normal’ circumstances, everyone can be unproductive at times. That doesn’t make us lazy and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up.
  • “Just write!” Some of us find value in writing down rough thoughts and ideas so there is something on the page. Then, when the time comes to write-up, we have a starting point.
  • Papers don’t have to be written in the order they are presented. Some members write the results first and find it helps to structure their argument. Others suggested saving the nitty-gritty bits for ‘good concentration days’ and writing the easier bits on more difficult days.
  • Avoid passive voice! We agree with Sarnecka that using active voice makes writing a lot clearer for the reader and limits the need for complicated words (such as nominalisations).
  • Think clearly ⇔ write clearly. Writing can be challenging because it requires us to organise our thoughts and ensure there are no gaps in our argument. Sometimes, the difficulty is not necessarily the writing, it is ensuring that our arguments are coherent and logical. Writing can improve arguments by highlighting gaps or inconsistencies that need more work. The very act of formulating thoughts on paper will help the thinking process. So, not only does coherent thinking lead to more coherent writing, trying to write clearly should help strengthen arguments.
  • Limit connectives between sentences. Not only does this reduce sentence length and word counts but it encourages us to think about how sentences connect. Making the argument clearer, so that sentences follow on from each other, can make words like “however” or “indeed” redundant.
  • Early feedback is important; feedback on outlines and rough drafts can prevent us from spending hours writing unnecessary details, which will later be culled. It is easy to become emotionally attached to work, so early feedback is easier to accept if it doesn’t mean deleting a favourite sentence or rewriting an entire section. Viewing feedback as constructive, rather than insulting, can be difficult but it is important to remember and adopt this mindset.
  • Finally, writing does get easier and you do get better – through practice, reflection, and discussion, a lot of us commented that writing feels easier than it used to and our writing is clearer and more coherent.

To finish, I’d like to share some reflections from the workshop members on the writing workshop’s first year. Most members agreed that the workshops have engendered a sense of community: not only is there an encouraging atmosphere, but we can benefit from the spectrum of experiences in the department (from PhD students to experienced academics). We all share ideas, tips, books, and advice. But, importantly, the discussions encourage all experience-levels to progress and improve their writing.

For some, the supportive environment, and honest reflections of others, has helped address feelings of imposter syndrome. “I couldn’t do much writing this week” is met with encouragement and support. Even the more experienced academics have admitted that they struggle with motivation and inspiration sometimes. Importantly, by sharing our failures and difficulties, the community can recommend strategies to overcome these barriers.

I have thoroughly enjoyed our first year in the writing workshop and I look forward to continuing it into the new academic year. I believe that the support, commitment, and humility of all the members has been its secret to success.

References of materials discussed this year

Ahmad, A. S. (2020, March 26). Why you should ignore all that Coronavirus- inspired productivity pressure. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from www.chronicle.com/article/why-you-should-ignore-all- that-coronavirus-inspired-productivity-pressure/

Guinness, H. (2020, April 07). How to edit your own writing. The New York Times. Retrieved from www.nytimes.com/2020/04/07/smarter-living/how-to-edit-your-own-writing.html

Hotaling, S. (2020). Simple rules for concise scientific writing. Limnology and Oceanography Letters, 5, 379-83.

Sarnecka, B. W. (2019). The writing workshop: Write more, write better, be happier in academia. (n.p.): Author.

Sarnecka, B. W. Sarnecka Lab Blog. Retrieved from https://sarneckala b.blogspot.com/

Wagenmakers, E. J. (2009). Teaching graduate students how to write clearly. APS Observer, 22(4), 1-7.

How to deal with cancelled exams and learning disruptions

How to deal with cancelled exams and learning disruptions

January 20, 2021 Guest Blogger

With so much uncertainty surrounding exams and assessments this summer, we know how difficult it must be to plan ahead to University. This unknown can throw us off track a little and our thoughts may naturally turn to the worst case scenario.

This time last year, some of our current fresher year students were faced with the exact same problems of lockdown, Centre Assessed Grades and a whole lot of disruption. A few of them who are now happily placed at Loughborough wanted to share their experiences with you, to help reassure you that no matter what obstacles are thrown at us next, things will work out well in the end. Let us start looking to the best case scenario – University is said to be one of the greatest times of your life, and you have all that just around the corner to look forward to. Hang in there and stay positive!

Emilia – International Business

Emilia

When I first found out that exams had been cancelled it was a very strange feeling. I suddenly had all this time on my hands which was normally filled up with revision. A hard thought for me to process was that I was no longer in control of my grades and had to put all my trust in my teachers. Though this made me very anxious at the time I had to think confidently.

I thought about all the hard work I had shown throughout my time at sixth form and how this had reflected in my mock grades and my UCAS predicted grades. So, when it came to results day I had to think positively and believe that my teachers had helped me get the grades I needed to get into Loughborough.

My best advice for current Year 13’s would be to try your best not to worry and now you don’t have exams spend your time doing stuff you enjoy that you may not have been able to do previously due to exams.

Ellie-Marie – Sport Science, Coaching and Physical Education

Ellie-Marie

I can vividly remember the moment I found out my A-level exams were going to be cancelled. I had just got home from college, unaware that it was going to be my last day there as a student. I felt that we were being refused the opportunity to show our true potential, to show the effect of hours upon hours of revision and hard work, but then centre assessed grades were mentioned.

I hadn’t performed too badly in my mocks, but I knew that those grades would not get me into Loughborough University, or my insurance choice. I took 2 A-levels and a 90-credit Diploma, meaning that I could work out the grade of my diploma as it was 100% coursework based. But I couldn’t say the same for my A-level subjects. My in-class assessments varied drastically, all the way from a D to an A*, so I had no idea how my teachers would classify me and my ability. My success was no longer in my hands, but at the hands of my teachers – and the government. I remember seeing social media messages and rumours about how the area you live in and the past success of your school could affect your grades, a ‘postcode lottery’. As I went to a college, rather than a sixth form, in an area classified as ‘deprived’, I really was preparing for the worst on results day.

Results day was one of the best yet most stressful days of my life. UCAS crashed, my results arrived late by email and I even had to wait till the next day to confirm that I had been accepted into Loughborough, as I had not received my official grade or documentation from my diploma course (as they were being sent out by post instead). I already met my offer with my initial grades, but after receiving my centre assessed grades, they were even higher! It wasn’t until I received that famous golden ticket through my door that it hit me .. I was going to be going to Loughborough University!

Lilly – Sport and Exercise Science

Lilly

I remember the day that it was announced on the news that exams where cancelled. And I can honestly say that I think I felt every emotion possible within those first 5 minutes of the announcement. At first I felt relief as there had been speculation for some time about whether exams would be cancelled. I then felt elated that I wouldn’t have to endure a stressful exam period. But then I began to cry knowing that I had put two years’ worth of hard work into what felt like nothing at that point. It was quite overwhelming, so if you are feeling this way please don’t worry you are not alone.

When it came to my A levels being centre assessed I did feel slightly anxious. In one subject I had only just began to start producing work at an A grade which I required to get into Loughborough (my first choice), it was notable that my teacher was on the fence what grade to ultimately give me and this made me anxious. In another subject I had been producing work of an A grade since the start of the course but had flunked my mock exam, my teacher had reassured me that all evidence of my work would be considered but self-doubt definitely kicked in in regard to whether I had done enough. And in my final A level I had proved my capabilities over and over again so realistically I had nothing to worry about and I had no doubt my teachers would give me the grade I deserved. However, I feared that the standardisation process by the exam boards would lower my grade.

In the time between the announcement and results day I was lucky enough to speak to Loughborough on two occasions, they were excellent at reassuring me and answering any questions I had about results day and joining the Loughborough community.

Five nerve racking months later I found out that I got into Loughborough! It didn’t quite sink in at first and I also got the grades I had hoped for which even exceeded the grades I required for my course.

Based upon my own experiences I have prepared some advice that I hope can help guide you through the months until you start university.

Firstly, you must think of the positives! Exams are very stressful. With them cancelled that is a big weight of your shoulders.

Have a little celebration! You may not know the outcome of your results now or what university you will be off to but remember all the effort you put into your studies. Give yourself that reward for the work you put in.
Think of a plan! You might feel like with exams cancelled that your future is out of your control. But by coming up with a plan A B and C you will feel like you are the one in control. Make sure you are comfortable with your first and insurance choice. You guys are lucky in the sense that you may not have responded to your offers yet, therefore spend some time to rationally evaluate your capabilities and what you were mostly likely to achieve had you taken the exam. This will help to ensure that you meet the entry requirements on results day and avoid disappointment. However, don’t let self-doubt get in the way of your goals, if you have been dreaming of a university, then go for it!

Eddie – Product Design and Technology

Eddie

There were mixed reactions at my sixth form college when we were told that our 2020 A-level exams were going to be cancelled, but like most people, I was mainly relieved. Remote working had worked well at my college, but I still wasn’t looking forward to having to prepare for my exams during lockdown, especially since we wouldn’t be able to have any in-person lessons.

A lot of us were worried because we hadn’t achieved very good grades in our mock exams, and we were concerned that the college would just give us our mock results as our centre-assessed grades. However, this isn’t something that I would suggest worrying about because, like most schools and colleges, my college took all of our work into account and used it to give us the grades they thought that we would be capable of achieving in a final A-level exam.

On results day, I decided to look at my exam results before looking at my offers from universities. I would not recommend doing this. As you can probably remember, the 2020 A-level exam results were adjusted in a way that caused lots of controversy. Although I was happy with some of my results, I was extremely disappointed with the one I cared most about (Design & Technology). I found this very frustrating, because I knew from conversations with my teacher and the amount of effort that I had put in that I deserved a higher grade than this.

I received an email from my college telling me that I could contact the college’s data controller, who could tell me my centre-assessed grades. I am very happy that I did this. It turned out that the college had submitted a grade three levels higher than the one that I had been awarded- it had just been adjusted. If the government had gone ahead with the adjusted grades and I hadn’t asked to see this information, I never would have known what grade my teachers had submitted for me.

When I checked UCAS, I noticed that I had been given an offer from Loughborough University (my first choice), even though I had missed the entry requirements by one grade! I wish I had checked this first, because then I would not have been so bothered by the grades that I had been awarded.

Luckily for me, the adjusted grades were never used and I’m very happy with my A-level results. I’m now studying Design & Technology at Loughborough University, and I’m having a great time. So even though results day didn’t go exactly how I was expecting it to, things have worked out fantastically.

Jemima – English with Digital Humanities

Jemima holding her 'Golden Ticket'

Having my Post-16 education finish on a random day in March was not what I expected for my final year in sixth form. I was very much prepared for taking my exams in a big hall and putting in my all for that last push but that is not what happened at all.

With the announcement of my A-Levels being cancelled, I was filled with anxiety which I believe is a similar feeling for this year’s cohort as well. Grades were a big uncertainty that were not discussed at that point so naturally many students were worried about uni places. I will say that universities did a great job in communicating with their prospective students in how they were handling the situation and made clear the measures taken to make sure everyone gets a fair chance.

Like everyone, results day was a mixed bag, I was downgraded in one of my subjects which meant that I didn’t meet the terms of my conditional offer for Loughborough.

Thankfully, I secured a place here and couldn’t be happier however I know this was not the case for many who had to retake exams or take a gap year after the U-turn.

My advice to prospective students who have been impacted by the pandemic is to take it easy. Though this is a time of great uncertainty the constant worrying will only impact you negatively. Try to not get too stressed out by it all and take it in good stead.

UK Leaping into the Artificial Intelligence Frontier

UK Leaping into the Artificial Intelligence Frontier

January 20, 2021 Ella Cusack

In this blog, Loughborough University London graduate Tomhas discusses the decision for the UK to increase its spending on cyber security defence and the use of Artificial Intelligence. Tomhas studied within the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance and graduated in 2019.


Despite news cycles being dominated by Covid-19 and Brexit, the UK Government’s delayed ‘Integrated Review’ of the country’s foreign, security and defence policies have already made one major headline: the decision to substantially increase UK defence spending by £16 billion.

Part of that increase will boost the technological resilience of the UK’s post-Brexit defence, security and foreign policies. In addition to the introduction of the RAF’s Space Command, expanded research into energy weapons, and further development of cyber security capabilities, the Ministry of Defence will become the home of a department dedicated to Artificial Intelligence (AI). The focus of this institute will be the research and application of AI into Defence and Security purposes. It points to how the UK expects its security and diplomacy to have to increasingly face an AI and cyber-orientated frontier. 

While we should not start worrying about jack-booted death machines conquering the UK, we are reaching a time when AI will unleash global as well as local transformations in not only defence and security affairs, but in everything else from foreign to social policy. The AI dimension to the Integrated Review therefore warrants careful reading because of what it could mean for the UK’s security at home and abroad.

AI, The Future in the Present

While AI presents many exciting opportunities, a central part of any Integrated Review is to assess the risks and the risks from AI go beyond anything any traditional military and security assessments grapple with. As a relatively new development, the uncertainty and potential it introduces have not been fully researched or understood. Currently AI consists of algorithms that work to lessen the need for direct human interaction, automation being the key element in tasks such as gathering data and organising mass information and intelligence.

Recent innovations in AI mean it will soon play an intricate role in daily life, with the potential that eventually it will take over entire occupations and replace whole workforces. Dr Aziz, a professor, author at the New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, has set out the notion of an entirely new social class defined by the fact that they have been replaced by machines. On the one hand this development can create anxiety and fear. On the other it offers the possibility of rapid progress, such as by enhancing the way society works, such as automatically providing legal aid for refugees. Automation provides individual and society the chance to grow in other fields and issues that require attention.

Despite these innovations, the UK MoD’s new AI department will be exploring what remains a largely unknown field. The only agreed assessment, as AI expert Eleizer Yudkowsky has made clear, is that it is too early to state we understand AI. That is a neat enough summary of a development which could hypothetically change not only the UK’s security and defence but regulate, as Yuval Harari argues, our very notions of choice and evolve the very way the mind works.

AI On the Front Line

Giving some focus to AI is also part of  the ‘Global Britain’ initiative, which seeks to ensure that the UK remains a significant global player. Large states such as the US, China, Russia and the EU have begun exploring the new military capabilities of AI. Russia’s Kalashnikov arms manufacturer in particular has stated they are developing the technology for ‘self-learning’ weapons. The UK will need to utilise AI similarly to enhance defence capability, preparing for an increasingly technologically dominated battlefield.

In order to ensure the UK is ready, a number of actions must be undertaken both internally and externally. Government policy makers and senior decision-makers should have the relevant training regarding innovative technology and be proficient in AI literature. A number of traditional values within the military and foreign office will be challenged and will require adapting to new norms. Cooperation with experts within the AI community is critical for successful integration and risk-averse assessments, enabling joint missions between military cohorts and with UK allies in NATO.

AI, however, will not just be applied to hard power. AI has potential when it comes to soft power. It means that countries will deploy AI to achieve diplomatic influence (e.g. social media) through to conducting cyber-attacks through ‘weaponised malware’ . The UK’s GCHQ, which has long played a leading if hidden role in UK security, will play an even bigger role in the UK’s AI efforts at global influence as well as security and defence.

Negotiating AI?

The potential for AI to upend global defence and security arrangements means there will be growing pressure for some form of global agreements to manage this change. Without this, the destructive use of AI could run rampant globally. At the moment, multilateral entities such as the United Nations have yet to put in place regulations and parameters for states to agree over the implementation and usage of AI technologies, in particular over weapons development.

Nevertheless, even with some regulations in place, the UK will need to accept the wider potential threat to global stability that this technology poses. As the AI and cyber realms evolve they will grow to be on a par with nuclear deterrence and biological warfare. This is because AI has the potential to inflict massive damage on everything from a single individual to a whole state and region.  

The UK, of course, is not alone in adapting to the challenges of AI. The EU has invested in cyber-resilience and UNESCO has drawn up a statement on the ethos of AI. The UK needs to assist in seeking a unified and strong agreement to prevent escalation of AI involvement in warfare.

At the same time, the UK looks set to demonstrate in its Integrated Review an awareness that the threat from AI needs financial investment to ensure it is a viable contender in the Cyber-Arms race and  that diplomatic efforts will be needed to limit the potential for AI-enhanced conflicts.

AI, the Final Frontier

The UK’s Integrated Review is one of leading attempts by a country to grapple with a global trend of countries expanding their capabilities and presence in the field of AI. The creation of a department of AI is therefore one step in a long process of better understanding AI. A lot more focus on national and international agreements will be required, particularly if there is to be a wider demystifying of AI to better understand the risks it poses. UK policy makers have made a start, but the department for AI will need to be developed further in order to lay the foundation of an AI-oriented infrastructure at both home and abroad.


Tomhas Hardy graduated with an MSc in Security, Peace-building and Diplomacy in 2019 from Loughborough University London. Tom has previously worked at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House and currently works for the Ministry of Justice.

Reflection on Semester 1: Haihan's story

Reflection on Semester 1: Haihan's story

January 19, 2021 Ella Cusack

In this blog, current MSc Sport Technologies and Analytics student, Haihan, shares their reflections on their time at Loughborough University London so far.


This week I have submitted my research & insight report on UEFA Champions League reform, marking the end of semester 1 of my 1-year MSc Sport Technologies and Analytics at Loughborough University London.

I have received grades of all assignments beside this report and I am very happy with all of the grades I have received. I have also gained experience in using Excel, SPSS, Tableau and Python for sport analytics projects.

Reflecting my experience in the last 4 months, I think my top 3 learning points would be:

1. Engage with the virtual learning environment 

I am interacting more during lectures as I begin to feel more confident typing questions and comments online instead of raising hands as I would in a physical lecture theatre (I am afraid that my question will waste people’s time). I actually feel I know more about my current cohort online, compared to my classmates in the undergraduate programme. 

2. Data is not the answer to everything

Interpretation of data can vary significantly from one’s point of view. I learnt more about the importance in asking what is behind the data. How is data collected, cleaned, analysed and what is its context. Critical thinking, holistic perspective and qualitative analysis are essential to complement quantitative analysis.

3. Learn more, know less

Although I already graduated with a BSc Sport Management, I have learnt way more knowledge on the industry of sport, latest trends and the drive behind analytics. Every single week I feel I touch upon another field of sport industry like analytics, fan engagement, match day experience, athlete high performance, machine learning, SPSS, Tableau, Python, etc. My perception of current understanding of the world versus the total amount of knowledge of the world is diminishing. And I am happy about it because it is more important to know someone will always be more of an expert than you on something. Important to discover and listen, but also maintain a critical world view.


Thank you to Haihan for taking the time to share some reflections from Semester 1.

If you would like to find out more about our MSc Sport Analytics and Technologies programme, please visit our website.

How to prepare for a university interview

January 18, 2021 Guest Blogger

Hi, I’m Olivia and I’m currently a finalist studying towards an MEng in Aeronautical Engineering at Loughborough University.

When I applied for Loughborough, I was invited to attend an interview – this was something which, at the time, seemed quite a daunting prospect. In hindsight, I definitely was too worried – the interview is nothing to worry about so long as you prepare well!

Hi everyone – that’s me!

My Experience

The interview which I attended at Loughborough was relatively informal. The day consisted of a tour of the department, a Q&A with current students and a short interview with a member of staff – typically a lecturer. There was also an optional tour of one of the campus halls of residence which I also attended.

The Loughborough campus

The interview itself was more of an informal chat about my personal statement and motivation of wanting to study engineering. I had anticipated technical questions which I wouldn’t be able to answer – this was not the case, they were more interested in my experiences and motivations. I was presented with a simple situation which required a little bit of thinking but the problem had no right or wrong answers and the lecturer was just trying to understand my thought process. But remember – not all interviews are the same so be sure to check your itinerary and if you have any questions get in contact with admissions and they will provide further details!

Being a representative for the department – I know that (at least within the department of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering) the interview days have been altered and become less formal with interviews but all interviews are different and it’s good practice to prepare for a formal interview just in case!

How to prepare

  1. Anticipate potential questions and have some topics ready to talk about
  2. Know your personal statement and CV inside out (but it’s okay and good to talk about other things too!)
  3. Practice some answers – get your friends, teachers, parents/guardians to ask you example questions or even record yourself and watch it back! The more you practice the more comfortable you will be
  4. Check the dress code and make sure you have some appropriate clothes – prep these the night before so you aren’t rushing around! If no dress code is provided it is better to dress smart to be safe and come across professional. Make sure your footwear is appropriate in case there is a lot of walking involved on the day (i.e. tours)
  5. With the global pandemic causing interviews to be online it is a good idea to check your internet connection and make sure you are comfortable

On the day

  1. Make sure you arrive at campus in plenty of time and know where to go! Campuses can be quite large but there are always plenty of staff and students around to help. Planning your journey and familiarising yourself with the campus map will help
  2. Take time to think and make sure you understand the question before you start to answer
  3. It’s okay to ask for the question to be repeated or for it to be reworded if you don’t understand
  4. Remember to remain professional throughout the day, even during the breaks!
  5. Go with some questions ready to ask staff or students – there are no stupid questions! Don’t be afraid to ask about university life as well as your course

Just remember to keep calm, prepare and enjoy the day! Interview days are as much a chance for you to get to know the university as they are for the university to get to know you!

Design Innovation Academics Launch Climate Action Heroes Project

Design Innovation Academics Launch Climate Action Heroes Project

January 18, 2021 Ella Cusack

The ‘Climate Action Heroes’ project links climate action with economic regeneration. It aims to empower young people to imagine and create desirable futures for themselves and their community as they progress into adulthood. The project also feeds into CUK’s strategy for influencing the London 2021 Mayoral elections’ stand on climate action and economic regeneration with a focus on lower income groups.

One of the main initiatives of this project is engaging over 120 young people of different abilities and from various socio-economic, ethnic backgrounds to envision and plan for their future, as well as resourcing them for climate action and regeneration. It will be a key initiative that builds on existing work within Loughborough University London’s (LUL) ‘Widening Participation’ plans, enhancing place-based relationship between the university and the local community.

The project aims to develop young people’s ‘creative leadership’ capacity by boosting skills which are less attended through the school curriculum. It focuses on aligning their personal aspirations with sustainability values, empowering them to envision and create policies, enterprise and environmental championship in their community. Through project-making, participants will exchange information, approaches, experiences, methodologies and techniques from their own discipline and learn from participants from other disciplinary backgrounds, and identify synergies to develop potential collaborations with others interested in developing community leaders for the future. Focussing on aligning their personal aspirations with sustainability values, empowering them to envision and create policies, enterprise and environmental championship in their community.

The ‘Community Action Heroes’ toolkit, comprises of a set of activities, digital games and supporting resources. This ‘package’ will be publicly accessible to download online. Over the past 2 months three workshops have been held (via Zoom) looking at the briefing process, model review and prototype review. This ensures all participants are fully equipped to produce a impressive body of work and enable thought provoking ideas seamlessly.

If you’re passionate about climate change, economic regeneration or enhancing your research & development leadership skills. Click here to get involved and potentially make an impacting change to the world as we know it!


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

Top Tips for Taking Online Exams

Top Tips for Taking Online Exams

January 18, 2021 Alex Stephens

No one would think we would miss sitting in a freezing cold Tennis Centre, writing at 100mph during an exam and having to wait 10 minutes to go to the toilet but, taking exams in our own homes poses new challenges. I sat my final year exams in June 2020 in my student room in Loughborough not really understanding how to go about taking the most important exams of my life in a completely new environment.

So to save you the stress I thought I’d share the lessons I learnt to help you out in this exam season.

1. Set up your own exam space

Now I understand that not everyone is blessed enough to have their own room with a desk in it. But it is important to try and find a quiet place in your house that you can settle down and do your exam. Maybe use the kitchen table and kick out your siblings for a couple of hours. Use your parent’s work from home space for the exam.

Make sure you let everyone in your house know that you have an exam and ask them to keep the noise down. If you can’t find a quiet space in your house, I recommend putting on a pair of headphones. This leads me to my next tip…

2. As tempting as it is don’t listen to music

I know I just said wear headphones but don’t be playing any music during the exam. Personally, I like listening to music when I am revising but when it comes to writing I really struggle to concentrate. You don’t want the academic marking your answers to be reading Taylor Swift lyrics in the middle of your politics essay.

If you really think you would benefit from listening to some music make it an instrumental, it doesn’t have to be classical music, there are lots of lo-fi study playlists around.

3. Have your favourite drink and snack to hand

Being in your house means there is a whole host of distractions. Taking a quick trip to the kitchen to make a cup of tea could end up taking 30 minutes out of your exam time.

So before you start make yourself your favourite (non-alcoholic) drink and have a little snack on the side. I would recommend a satsuma or a cereal bar.

4. Turn off your phone!

More distractions. Do not give yourself the opportunity to spend time doomscrolling on Twitter or to check the course chat to see if anyone else is having a meltdown.

Just for two or three hours turn it off, put it in a draw at the other side of the house and focus. It will still be there when you finish.

5. Arrange to speak to a friend or coursemate after the exam

You know how it goes after an exam, everyone stands outside the Tennis Centre and discussed what they put for each question and figuring out if they need to start making plans to come back for the Special Assessment Period in September.

Now you might not get the same answers as your 8 year old brother but that is probably a good thing. So if you want some time to vent about a question or just find out how others found it set up a short call with some course mates. Just 10/15 minutes and check in on each other. This tip honestly saved me. After my first exam, I spent days stressing that I had done it all wrong but after talking to a few course mates and figuring out they got the same I felt so much better.

6. Be kind to yourself

It can be so essay to stress out during exams and especially when you aren’t in a controlled environment. Remember everyone in your year is in the same boat and are probably also feeling anxious. Take care of yourself during this really stressful time. Take some time away from revising to go for a walk or listen to a podcast or cook yourself your favourite meal. Look after your body and mind so you are ready to attack the exam!

For more information about 2020/21 Semester 1 exams please visit the student handbook.

This Week at Loughborough | 18 January

This Week at Loughborough | 18 January

January 18, 2021 Alex Stephens

Understanding Business Finances

20 January, 5.30 – 7pm, Online

This workshop will look at helping you to create financial forecasts.

Understanding financial statements and records will allow you to analyse the success of your business, use the statements to convince others such as investors that your business is profitable and worth supporting. 

Keep Calm

Alex your Welfare & Diversity Executive Officer and Ana your Education Executive Officer have organised a range of virtual events and advice to help you Keep Calm during this unusual exam and assessment period.

MyLifestyle presents Virtual Zumba

18 January, 7 – 7.45pm, Online

Lockdown won’t stop us dancing! Virtual Zumba is back with MyLifestyle

Visit their social media pages to access the link

Happy Mondays: Scribble and Focus Workshop

18 January, 7pm, Online

Discover how to combine drawing, mark-making and mindfulness techniques.

Artist Grace Stones will show you how you can combine drawing, mark making and mindfulness techniques yourself. This will channel feelings, bringing in positive ones and accepting negative ones. Grace will guide you through the session, exploring new and exciting mark-making techniques.

Booking information for this event is available on the event page.

MyLifestyle presents Virtual Yoga

21 January, 5 – 6pm, Online

Join MyLifestyle’s amazing instructor Elaine for a virtual yoga session, a perfect way to relax during lockdown! So grab a spare space at home and come along to this free, virtual session!

Visit the event page to access the event.

Virtual Positive Thinking Workshop

22 January, 1 – 1.30pm, Online

Join our wonderful host Natalie for a lunchtime Positive Thinking Workshop. Discover how the art and practice of positive thinking can help you through your exams and assessments and even lead to a happier and more balanced life!

Visit the event page for more information.

Virtual Yoga

24 January, 2 – 3pm, Online

Join Yogi Laura for a Sunday afternoon virtual Yoga session. Take a break studying and relax as you focus on your body movements and breathing. 

Visit the event page for more information.

Got something for next week email digital@lboro.ac.uk

IT Services: How can we help you?

IT Services: How can we help you?

January 17, 2021 Ella Cusack

Welcome to the Student Support Services spotlight series! In this series, we will introduce you to all our of Student Support Services and let you know how we can offer you support during your studies at Loughborough University London.

In the final blog of this series, meet our IT Services team and find out how we can help you.


Meet the IT Services Team

The London IT Services team is a small team made up of the following people, Faysal Chowdhury, Dipesh Dhimar & Sylvia Easy-Hemmings, who all aim to provide you with a 1-2-1 personal service. We always stride to provide you with what you need, how you need it and when you need it where possible. 

How can we help you?

As a student, you can book to borrow IT equipment such as MacBooks, Laptops, Cameras and cables. All equipment are supplied with the relevant peripherals such as chargers. For a full list of available IT equipment please visit lboro.london/equipment.

The university’s IT webpages, which can be found here, has very useful resources, including how-to guides (how to set up your email, connect to printers, add print credit and), demonstrations and tutorial videos, downloadable university software, amongst many other resources.

We all still remember what it is like to be a university student and aim to make things a smooth as possible for you when engaging with us.

How can you contact us?

The physical London IT Services Desk is located on the second floor of the London campus. Please note during the current state of the pandemic we are only operating an online service: London-IT@lboro.ac.uk

If you do need to speak to a member of staff from the IT Service desk, please contact the Central IT Services Team between Monday – Friday 0900 – 1700 on  (01509) 222333.


This blog is part of the Student Support Services spotlight series. To read other blogs in this series, please visit the blog home page.

To find out more about the London IT services, visit our website.

Future Space: How can we help you?

Future Space: How can we help you?

January 16, 2021 Ella Cusack

Welcome to the Student Support Services spotlight series! In this series, we will introduce you to all our of Student Support Services and let you know how we can offer you support during your studies at Loughborough University London.

In this blog, meet our Future Space team and find out how we can support your employability and skill development.


Hello, my name is Grace Baird and I work in the Future Space team at Loughborough University London. My role is to ensure our Digital Skills programme runs effectively whilst supporting participating students. The programme gives an opportunity for our students to gain skills to support their employability and take on short work insight projects with real companies.  As a former Loughborough student, I’ve written this blog to let you all know how to get the best out of the Future Space offer and your time at Loughborough.

What is Future Space?

Future Space exists to support you to connect to your future.  We can help you with your goals, your career and your ideas.  We can help you reflect on your skills, set goals and access new experiences and opportunities that will enhance your CV, entrepreneurial abilities, and career prospects alongside your academic studies.

What Organisations Do We Work With?

  • Chelsea FC
  • Sport England
  • BT
  • Ticketmaster
  • West Ham United Foundation

…and many more.

What Sort of Events / Activities Do We Offer You?

The Future Space Team hosts a wide range of events and activities focusing on a range of topics including:

  • Growing your Network
  • Gaining Experience
  • Developing New Skills
  • Receiving Advice on Starting your Own Business
  • Career Planning and Support

The Future Space activities are split into three categories:

  • Reflection and Action
    • Examples:  Personal Best London, Careers Events, Mentoring Programme, Guest Lectures, Alumni Panels​
  • Skills
    • Examples: Workshops, Additional Programmes and Training​
  • Experience
    •  Examples: Hacks, Digital Skills Work Insight Projects, Collaborate, Volunteering, Part-time Work, Student Ambassador Programme, Post Study Work Opportunities

How Do I Get Involved?

The great news is – you already are.  In completing your registration, you will have filled in our Personal Best London questionnaire.  This will help us to make recommendations for you on activities to get involved with this year.  We will e-mail you with these in the coming weeks and connect you to relevant learning and development opportunities.

The Future Space Team will also be hosting a range of Induction Events including our online ‘Future Space Welcome Panel’ on Friday 22nd January 2021 (10:00-11:30 / 14:00 -15:30 UK Time). The full schedule for Future Space induction activities can be viewed here. These are all held online and sign up is required. Once you have signed up, the team will share joining instructions with you via your @student.lboro.ac.uk email address.

Other upcoming opportunities include:

  • Monday Mentoring – need help setting goals?  Need more help sticking to them?  Our industry mentors are here to help.
  • Digital Skills Work Insight Projects – The Digital Skills programme is a two-part program which gives you the opportunity to attend workshops specifically designed to help you develop your digital skills (e.g., blogging, project management, UX Design) and you can also put your skills into practice and complete a 30hr virtual project with a London SME.
  • Collaborative Project – A feature of many of our programmes, this module offers you the chance to grow your network and make industry connections as part of a group of students to address and develop solutions for a real business problem provided by one of our partners
  • Venture Crawl – On 10th March we are hosting an online exploration of the urban entrepreneurial eco-system on our doorstep in London
  • Careers Insight Event – on 17th March we are hosting a careers event on the Future of Work
  • 1-2-1 Careers Appointments – Our careers consultants offer 1-2-1 career appointments to support our students and recent graduates (e.g., CV advice and interview guidance)
  • Thinking of starting a business or consultancy? Our LEN team can help to spark your ideas and fan your flames of inspiration.  You can sign up for the LEN newsletter here.

Due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, we are currently running all of our activities online.

Where can you find the Future Space Team?

We are on the web here – we love to hear from our students – You can reach out to us via e-mail futurespace@lboro.ac.uk and see our full range of activities and resources on our LEARN module.


This blog is part of the Student Support Services spotlight series. To read other blogs in this series, please visit the blog home page.

To find out more about Future Space, you can email futurespace@lboro.ac.uk.

Welfare: How can we help you?

Welfare: How can we help you?

January 15, 2021 Ella Cusack

Welcome to the Student Support Services spotlight series! In this series, we will introduce you to all our of Student Support Services and let you know how we can offer you support during your studies at Loughborough University London.

In the first blog, meet our Student Services team and find out all the ways they are here to support you.


The Welfare Team

Hi, we are Olly and Fran and we are here to support you throughout your time here at Loughborough University London. Whether you need help in understanding your options for difficulties you might be facing with your University work or you need someone to be there to hear any external situations that have caused you concern, we want to be there for you.

How can we help you?

The most important thing to us is you and your mental health; if you’re struggling in any way, let us know as soon as you’re able to and we’ll see what we can do to help.

Have a look at our Welfare page on Learn, where you can see much more information around what we can support you with, like extensions, for example.

How can you contact us?

You can email us on our email London-Welfare@Lboro.ac.uk, where we can either answer any questions you might have electronically or arrange a private meeting (via phone, video call or face to face on campus).

We are situated on 4th floor so please feel free to pop by the student service desk and ask for us if you need to. Although we cannot guarantee we’ll always be free when this happens, we’ll make sure to get in touch with you as quickly as we can.

Thank you for your time and we look forward to seeing you around the campus!

For more information about student support and services, have a look here.


This blog is part of the Student Support Services spotlight series. To read other blogs in this series, please visit the blog home page.

To get in contact with the Welfare team, you can email London-Welfare@Lboro.ac.uk.

#LboroAppliedAI Seminars Semester 2, 2021

January 15, 2021 Cristian Vaccari

We are continuing our series of #LboroAppliedAI online sessions this Semester! The series is organized by Dr Lise Jaillant and Dr Valerie Pinfield and sponsored by the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture.

The objective is to bring together colleagues and PGRs who are interested in Artificial Intelligence and its applications in a wide range of fields.

You can find the recordings of the Semester 1 sessions here (Lboro log in necessary).

To register, please contact l.jaillant@lboro.ac.uk

Thurs 14th Jan 1pm:

Varuna da Silva, Institute for Digital Technologies, LU London

Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning: Challenges and Real world Applications

A fundamental goal of AI is to develop intelligent agents. Multi-agent learning involves developing decision making algorithms for autonomous agents in environments where multiple intelligent entities interact with each other. This talk will present key developments in the area of multi-agent policy learning: namely Multi-agent reinforcement learning and multi-agent imitation learning, which are emerging as key techniques to address the problem of multi agent policy learning. The talk will relate to emerging applications of multi-agent policy learning such as driverless vehicle control, sports analytics, urban planning and autonomous generation of video game content. A significant part of the talk will discuss recent attempts at addressing key challenges relate to multi-agent policy learning, such as non-stationarity, communication, selective attention and curriculum learning. The talk will conclude with a discussion on challenges to move theoretical results in the real world applications where agents are required to learn from limited experience, and engineering efforts that are required to do so.

Click here for the recording of the talk (Lboro log in necessary).

Thurs 25th Feb 1pm

Saul Albert, Communication and Media, School of Social Sciences and Humanities

Three meeting points between AI and Conversation Analysis 

I’ll outline three projects that study different configurations of the relationship between AI and CA: using AI as a tool for doing CA, using CA as a means of improving AI, and exploring the reflexive relationships between AI-based voice interfaces and everyday interactions in a naturalistic setting.

Bio: Saul is a lecturer in social sciences (social psychology) in the communication and media group at Loughborough University. His research explores human interaction in all its forms, including empirical work on how politicians shake handshow couples dancehow people drawevaluate art, and how we deal with miscommunication in interaction. He is currently leading a British Academy-funded project studying how disabled people and their personal assistants work with AI-based virtual assistants during everyday domestic routines.

Thurs 4th March 4pm:

Andrew Morris and Ruth Welsh, Design School

Connected and autonomous vehicles

Through Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Vehicles will soon start to make decisions (1) without the need for drivers; or (2) on behalf of drivers. There are obvious potential benefits for smart and safe mobility by taking the human out of the loop and relying on the vehicle technology to negotiate a safe, efficient, and reliable path through traffic.

However, to achieve these potential benefits, substantial human factors challenges need to be addressed, and confidence in the capability of AI needs to be developed amongst a potentially sceptical public. Some of these challenges include:

  • The issue of trust and reliance in the vehicle when it is fully autonomous
  • Reliability on the vehicles to perform as necessary in safety-critical situations
  • Misuse or over-reliance on the systems
  • Negative impacts of drivers disengaging from the task e.g., consequences for situational awareness, fatigue, driver comfort.

Therefore, there is a need to understand driver/operator requirements when the role shifts from active vehicle control to passive monitoring of the system automated through AI. 

This presentation will examine some of these human factors challenges and will provide some results from trials of a prototype Autonomous ‘Pod’ that was conducted at QEOP during 2020.

Thurs 25th March 4pm:

Zhiqiang Niu, School of Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering

AI techniques for design of low carbon energy systems

One of the practical steps to reducing global carbon emission is the wide application of renewable energy devices owing to their high efficiency and green energy conversion. These include fuel cells, for example, where a fuel source (e.g. hydrogen) undergoes electrochemical reaction to produce electricity, and produces a waste product (e.g. water). Many such energy devices incorporate porous materials which contribute to their effective operation in a number of ways, including providing pathways for gas fuel, liquid waste product, electronic conduction and catalyst sites for electrochemical reaction. Mathematical methods such as computational modelling and recent popular artificial intelligence techniques can help to understand the physical dynamics in these porous structures and to achieve the best designs for their operation in energy systems.

In this talk, we will review the evolution of these mathematical approaches and their typical applications in modelling various porous energy materials and devices. We will particularly highlight the successful application of several deep learning methods more familiar in image analysis applications (e.g. generative adversarial networks GANs– and convolutional neural networks CNNs). GANs may be familiar as the means of producing deep-fake images. CNNs are popular in image classification and feature extraction. These can be used to generate candidate material structures, to identify the structure that leads to optimum performance in the energy system. The target for AI in these systems is to achieve autonomous optimisation of structures, operating conditions of the component materials and even the manufacturing process used to produce them.

Thurs 8th July (time tbc)

Dongda Zhang, University of Manchester

Abstract to follow.

Placements and career progression while studying a Creative degree

Placements and career progression while studying a Creative degree

January 15, 2021 Guest Blogger

It’s one of the biggest and most fundamental questions for students, ‘what am I going to do when I graduate?’ For some this is easy, they’ve had an idea for a long time about what they want to do and it’s that idea which has guided their decisions up until that point. From subjects at school, to degree choice or even which institution they want to study at.

But for others this is more difficult. What if you don’t know what career you want and instead concentrate simply on what you enjoy? This isn’t bad, in fact it’s fantastic! As it ensures you’ll enjoy your studies, are more likely to achieve a good grade and appreciate the university experience. But as time goes on and you edge closer to graduation, you need to start thinking about an answer, and going on placement is a great place to start.

Insert Emma Lawrence, a Graphic, Communication and Illustration student at Loughborough who’s currently working for the Met Office. We’ve managed to sit her down and ask her all about her placement, how she got to this point and what the future holds for a career in the Creative Industries.

Loughborough: So Emma, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Firstly, how did you end up studying at Loughborough – what drew you to the University?

Emma: The course at Loughborough instantly stood out to me due to how broad and flexible it seemed. At the time of applying, I was very unsure on specifically what area of design I wanted to go into, therefore a course where I could try lots of new things was key for me. It was clear from the outset, that I would be able to try animation, photography, branding, editorial design, illustration and so much more at Loughborough (and boy was I right)! I also got such a good community feeling whilst walking around campus on the open day; I instantly felt at home. The number of societies, sports clubs and volunteering opportunities at Loughborough was also a big attraction, as I like to be on the go 24/7 (chilling out is not something I am very good at)!

Loughborough: When it was time to start looking for placements, how did you choose yours and what help was available from your Department and the wider University?

Emma: Towards the start of second year, we had various lectures covering top tips on where to find placements, financially the loans/costs involved and do’s and don’ts of Creative CVs and portfolios. We also had the option to watch the previous cohort’s placement presentations, whereby they had to present how their placement year had gone, including images of their work. It was going to these presentations that gave me the drive to get myself a placement. I could instantly see the value that the students had gained from their year out in industry. The Careers Network looked over my CV, covering letter and portfolio as well as giving me vital advice on how to nail applications.

Regular emails also kept us up to date on any placement opportunities that the University was aware of. My placement journey was a long one (27 applications, several interviews/assessment centres and many setbacks) but the support from the careers network at Loughborough, as well as my grit and determination, is why I am where I am today; loving every second of my year at the Met Office.

I am just over 4 months into my Design and Content placement and I’m part of the Content Team, which is full of designers, presenters, animators and video producers. My role has been very varied…it is so much more than just designing weather symbols like you might think! I have had the opportunity to input fresh ideas to a wide range of projects, such as working on the campaign to promote the new Met Office book ‘Very British Weather’, to working on an infographic to advise scientists on how best to present climate information to the public.

Loughborough: Wow that sounds really engaging! I thought the Met Office just made mostly inaccurate rain forecasts.

Emma: Haha, no there’s actually a lot more to it than that. I know this sounds cliché but there really has been no ‘typical day’ as such; it is so varied! One day I could be working on the latest Christmas campaign, the next I could be working on a re-vamped identity to promote our ‘live’ show.

I do have 2 meetings which occur every single day, one being at 9am where we all go round and list off the jobs that we will be working on for the day. This gives the Design Manager the opportunity to see what everyone has on, so he can delegate new jobs accordingly. It’s a nice start to your day and is a great chance to ask any questions, should I have any. I also have a regular meeting at 10am known as the ‘Daily Editorial’. This is where we act a bit like a Newsroom (as my manager likes to call it). We hear a brief summary of the weather forecast from the experts and then work out what the story is and how we will tell it consistently over social media for that day.

Loughborough: And what have been the main benefits? Are you picking up any new skills or getting the chance to apply what you’ve learned in lectures to the real world?

Emma: Well, my animation skills are rapidly advancing and this is one of the skills that I wanted to develop during my placement year, as I think motion skills are becoming increasingly important to any designer’s toolkit. Whilst my design skills are developing naturally through using Adobe software daily, a lot of the skills I feel I am advancing in are those vital to any working environment! These involve leadership, communication, time management skills and so much more. I love feeling like my ideas are valued and that no question that I ask, is a stupid one.

Despite working from home (and not in the glorious building in Exeter), the team have welcomed me with open arms. The way I have integrated smoothly into the team, even though I have only met them once in person, is a huge benefit as I already sense that I am making connections that will stay with me throughout my career. Networking is something that I am getting better at; for me this involved remembering that everyone, no matter what job title or background, is a human and that it only takes 2 minutes to message someone. Ask yourself, what’s the worst thing that could happen? It’s only that they won’t reply, but most do. My advice is to build up connections naturally by being friendly, approachable and useful, and don’t be afraid of reaching out to find new contacts!

In addition, I get to stimulate my academic as well as my creative side. As someone who did Maths and Geography A-Level, I love having the opportunity to design things about something that is really interesting (well to me anyway). I have always had it in my nature to help people and it is important for me to use my creativity to do this wherever I can. I find it rewarding knowing that the communications we put out as a team on social media every day, help keep the public up to date with the latest weather forecast to ultimately keep people safe, especially in times of severe weather.

Loughborough: Have there been any highlights or something you’ve been particularly proud of during your time at the Met Office?

Emma: One thing that stands out is my feature on Agorapulse which is a social media management software tool. My line manager, Ross Middleham signposted me towards Jennifer Watson, a Social Media Manager there, so I dropped her a message as she is also an incredible meteorologist who has previously worked for the Weather Channel in America. I asked a few questions and she instantly engaged and showed interest in hearing about how we deal with weather here in the UK. Ross and I then set up an initial meeting with Jennifer and since then, the relationship has grown with Jennifer featuring on our podcast, joining our team for a brainstorm on re-launching our ‘live’ show and Ross and I have even featured on Agorapulse’s live show to talk about all things TikTok!

It was an incredible experience and a true highlight of my placement so far. I got such a buzz from going live and answering questions on the spot (even if inside I was incredibly nervous)!

Loughborough: And finally, what would you say to someone considering studying a Creative course with a placement year?

Emma: Go for it! I can’t express how much value I am gaining from my placement year and not just in my design skills…in all the other skills (leadership, time-management, communication) that are vital in any job you go for. My advice would be to have the grit and determination to keep applying for placements, as believe me it is a long haul, especially balancing applications and interviews alongside your degree, but it is so worth it.

What have we got to lose: Coming to terms with bisexuality

What have we got to lose: Coming to terms with bisexuality

January 14, 2021 Anonymous

I’m a white man in my thirties, married, with two brilliant kids. I married my childhood sweetheart and lived a typical straight life. 18 months ago, my wife helped me come to terms with something I had repressed all of my life. I’m not straight at all. I am bisexual.

As a child, I was never a typical boy. I made friendships with and played mainly with girls. I rode horses. Lord, I listened to the Spice Girls (though I do like to point out that the Spice Girls were pretty universal in the 90s!). I still don’t even know the rules of football now. I was bullied. A lot. I was called “gay”, “girl” and persecuted for being different. I knew I wasn’t either of those things, but I also knew I didn’t fit the mould.

I remember having girlfriends from being very young and, despite becoming painfully shy during my early teens (those who did not know me back then will balk at that assertion, I’m sure, but it is true!), still had them as I grew up – far more so than many “straight” lads had. As a kid, I got on with girls because, emotionally, I could relate to them. Despite an emotionally distant father and an emotionally manipulative mother, I maintained my ability to relate to others, not suppress my own emotions, and to enjoy my own interests despite how others treated me. As I progressed through my teens, however, I began to develop coping strategies that led me to augment my own perception of myself.

Bisexuality was not considered a “thing” during my school years in the 90s. The world was becoming more accepting of LGBT+, but people were still only stereotyped into two camps, leaving me as an outsider inside my own head. At 16 I fell in love with a girl, and the rest is history. I couldn’t entertain the thought at the time, but I could have fallen in love with a boy. When my wife and I finally talked about this stuff candidly within a climate of “what have we got to lose”, I was terrified. I had rejected the idea of bisexuality decades ago, but here I was having my thoughts and feelings reflected back to me by the person I love most in this world, and realising the truth. Admitting the truth. In my thirties, married, raising children, and building a solid career. The world I knew, the person I thought I was – that I had invented to protect and conceal the real, weird, vulnerable me – was shattering. I was so lucky to have the amazing wife I do who was honest about how it impacted her and supported me through my own thoughts and feelings too.

Of course, “what have we got to lose” is a great way to liberate your honest streak. It was, however, a fallacy. In reality, there was everything to lose. Neither of us really knew how to navigate this revelation. What do you do with such a life-changing discovery, yet know you won’t “do” anything at all with it? I struggle with the term “bisexual” a little, I think because it contains the word “sex” – “straight” and “gay” orientations/identities do not (though I am, of course, aware that “homosexual” and “heterosexual” do, but they are not terms used frequently in common conversation – and I am personally aware that this can evoke a response that implies a world revolving around sex. I had no desire to change my marriage or lifestyle, but then I hit the wall of “Well, what do I do with this? Why have I even bothered talking about this when I’m married and don’t wish to change this?”. It took some tearful and wonderfully reassuring conversations with my wife, colleagues and friends that listened to me and understood, to be able to realise this was about identity, not sex.

My original thought was to write this blog to reflect on what it is like to come-out later in life than many others do. As an aside, I’m not a fan of the term “coming-out”. It feels like a confession, and my own perception of confessions are that they are typically an admission of something negative to someone in a position of trust. Sharing your identity with someone, anyone, should not be confession. Luckily, society appears to be moving towards not assuming an individual’s identity and just accepting who they are. We’re not there by a long shot, but that is my perception.

Moving back to the subject, I knew that my wife was hugely supportive of LGBT+ and particularly believed that you can “fall in love with anyone”. This was a solid foundation for the two of us to discuss the depths of my identity. But it was not easy. I felt a tremendous amount of guilt for having not acknowledged and reconciled this part of myself in such a way that meant I had concealed a whole part of myself from my wife. It took time and therapy for the two of us to begin to understand each other and ourselves again. I cannot over-state the benefit of both couples and individual therapy throughout this period. Telling friends was equally daunting. They doubtless encountered similar feelings of not knowing a significant part of who I was. I was particularly afraid of telling some of my male friends; I’ve always had quite a flirtatious and banterous relationship with male friends in my adult life, and I was now adamant that they would now see me in a different light and that part of the friendship would die. I needn’t have worried. I was accepted, and I felt so much closer to these friends. However, due to other experiences in my life, I have a tendency to tell myself any perceived issues (a late WhatsApp response, a dismissive email, a throwaway comment said in haste or preoccupation) are because someone has an issue with me. Something I’ve said, something I’ve done or haven’t done… something I am. The reason I’m mentioning this is that many of us do this, and the vast majority of the time we are wrong. People rarely judge us as harshly as we judge ourselves. If you learn to accept yourself and love yourself, you will realise that, generally, people love you because of everything you are, not despite some of the things you are. This subtle difference in language has enormous connotations emotionally.

I have finally started to feel congruent. It has taken months of acceptance, therapy and honesty to be able to reasonably casually and confidently drop into an appropriate conversation that I am, in fact, bisexual. I recently shared my “Spotify Unwrapped” playlist with a close friend as a way of poking fun at my taste in music. He laughed, and called it my “gaylist”, and we laughed together. I did not feel offended or persecuted by this comment – I loved it. I was able to embrace that comment as being a bit part of my identity, and that I was accepted and loved because of it, not just despite it. A tiny, insignificant action with an enormous impact. I have also just found the courage to tell someone I consider a close (male) friend that I have witnessed using homophobic language. I knew he was not homophobic, but he has never been in an environment where his language has been challenged – but perhaps I’ll save the detail of that story for another post. The journey is not over – breaking down the defence mechanisms I have built up over a lifetime to be able to survive a world I didn’t fit into is a long and arduous process. I’m not always happy, and I’m not always kind to myself. But I am beginning to realise that I have sought out and surrounded myself with the very best of people that have always known – if not always seen – the real me. And the love that those people have for the real me keeps me going on that journey, holding my head high as I go.

Coming soon...Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight 2021

Coming soon...Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight 2021

January 14, 2021 Dr Katryna Kalawsky

Written by Dr Katryna Kalawsky

It’s currently my first week back at work after the festive period and although things are still very challenging for many of us (to put it mildly) because of Covid-19 and the latest lockdown, I thought I’d take some time out to write a short blog post about something that I hope many of our Doctoral Researchers will find helpful…the Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight 2021!

For those of you who joined Loughborough University post March 2020, you may not be aware that last year I organised the University’s first Doctoral Wellbeing Week. It was the Doctoral College’s largest event ever (over 40 sessions!) and was so much fun to pull together! I was certainly out of my comfort zone organising something so big but the input from so many colleagues from across the institution coupled with the encouraging feedback received from Doctoral Researchers and those on the front-line of their support made it all totally worth it. It’s definitely a huge highlight of my time in the Doctoral College so far and something I’ll always look back fondly on.

Understandably, given everything that occurred in the months after last year’s Wellbeing Week (we actually first went into lockdown the week after the event was run!) I didn’t think it would be feasible to organise another week this year; those who contributed previously are working their socks off juggling many competing demands and of course there’s the obvious issue of finances…BUT I am absolutely delighted to share that not even a global pandemic can stop us from doing our best to offer something…and that something isn’t just a Wellbeing Week, it’s going to be a Wellbeing FORTNIGHT!

DISCLAIMER: Wellbeing is important 24/7, 365 days a week. The Wellbeing Fortnight won’t address all challenges faced but hopefully it will increase awareness of various support services available and equip Doctoral Researchers with information and skills that they can apply throughout their doctorates and beyond.

Although I’ve only had a few weeks to get the ball rolling and plans are still in their infancy, I am so excited to tell you that the Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight is taking shape beautifully all thanks to numerous colleagues internal and external to Loughborough who have offered their time and expertise. Put simply, the Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight will be another huge collective effort and I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of those who have been in touch.

Something I have been mindful of is managing expectations, especially after last year. Whilst I would love to accommodate all the suggestions I have received since the first Wellbeing Week of what to include in the programme, the content this year is totally dependent on what colleagues are able to offer. That said, having seen what has been offered I don’t think anyone will be disappointed! It’s looking awesome!

Today I sent a brief event update to the Doctoral College Sub-Committee to keep them in the loop with the plans. This included how I went about seeking contributions (e.g. writing a press release, targeting staff and researchers with expertise/interest in wellbeing, putting out a call of interest in the Doctoral College Bulletin and Doctoral Alumni newsletter) and sharing the format of the sessions. For the latter point, although there’s no denying that being together in person is beneficial to wellbeing, it just isn’t safe at the moment. For that reason, all of the sessions during the Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight will be held online (something that may prove more inclusive to those unable to visit either campus) and I plan to ask facilitators if they would be happy for content to be recorded (as appropriate – some topics aren’t suitable to be recorded) so they can be made available afterwards.

Now, some of you reading this blog may be wondering when the programme will be made available. The short answer is…”I don’t know…but soon!” I’m aiming for early-mid February and there’s still lots to do. I’m currently liaising will all those who have expressed interest in contributing to work out the most convenient time and date for them to deliver something. I’ll then be working with Marketing and Advancement to create the digital assets (including the event timetable) that will feature on the event webpages and other promotional information. Once all that is complete, bookings will be created on the Developmental Portal and I’ll be scheduling lots of Tweets from @LboroDocCollege (#LboroDRWellbeing)!

So, stay tuned for more information soon and get excited! I think you might be able to tell that I am! Whoop!

Katryna 😊

The Library Services Spotlight: How can we help you?

The Library Services Spotlight: How can we help you?

January 14, 2021 Ella Cusack

Welcome to the Student Support Services spotlight series! In this series, we will introduce you to all our of Student Support Services and let you know how we can offer you support during your studies at Loughborough University London. In this blog, meet our Librarian and the Library resources available to our students.


The London Library service is run by Laura Newman, the Librarian – you should be meeting Laura as part of your induction process. Laura is available by email (L.Newman@lboro.ac.uk), phone (02038051353) or by appointment on Microsoft Teams until we resume in-person fully.

Laura can help you with accessing appropriate resources, undertaking research, evaluating information to pick the best sources, and referencing. If you would like support with any of this, then please do get in touch with Laura.

The majority of Library resources are available online through the library catalogue – this is basically a search engine: vufind.lboro.ac.uk. You can find ebooks, journals, journal articles, newspapers and much more on this. It’s important that for all of your assignments you use good quality and relevant information as evidence to support your arguments, and to make sure you get high marks – finding information through the Library is a good place to start. As well as the catalogue, it’s a good idea to look at the subject guides to find the resources most suited to your particular course: https://www.lboro.ac.uk/library/subject-guides/.

The physical library space is currently open on the London campus on the second floor, but the enquiry desk has currently moved online. You can borrow books using your student ID card on the self-issue machine in the Library. All books can be returned to the book drop box on the ground floor in main reception. If you have any issues or need assistance with anything, please email London-library@lboro.ac.uk.


This blog is part of the Student Support Services spotlight series. To read other blogs in this series, please visit the blog home page.

To contact the Library, please email london-library@lboro.ac.uk.

Keeping Calm During Exams: Reflections and signposting from your Welfare and Diversity Executive Officer

Keeping Calm During Exams: Reflections and signposting from your Welfare and Diversity Executive Officer

January 14, 2021 LU Comms
Alex Marlowe, Welfare and Diversity Executive Officer 2020/21

Exams are never the easiest things at the best of times. Exams in the middle of an international pandemic well… that’s even less easy!

In fact, for some, it will be a lot harder. For me, it’s helpful to confront a difficulty head-on. Put a name to it, put your finger on it, and don’t beat around the bush with yourself. If we know it’s going to be harder, what can we do to help manage it?

Yes, there are things we can do to help ourselves, and we have the benefit of hindsight too, allowing us to understand what our lockdown coping and support mechanisms are, and what are not.

But also, the University and Loughborough Students’ Union (LSU) are doing the absolute best they can for students given the circumstances. We have processes, protections and support in place that you can take advantage of, which can hopefully make things a little less difficult. 

If you’ve made it this far, perhaps I can make it worth your time by sharing two key things that I know and believe can really help you to keep calm this exam and deadline season.

  1. Know what your coping mechanisms are, and who your support network is.

This is perhaps the most important thing I can share or reiterate. There is plenty of support offered to you, but also know that you are the expert in your own health and wellbeing. You’ve had the benefit of living with yourself all of your life and you will know what helps you chill out and focus best.

For me, if I know I have to focus on work or a project I set myself clear parameters and limit screen-time. Time limits and no phone-checking allows me to become even vaguely excited by the intellectual stimulation of information which I may otherwise find boring. Your parameters may be different, but the point is to take time to consciously recognise what you need to focus on and try your best to implement it.

Easier said than done, of course, but it’s important to also be kind to yourself. Reward yourself at the end of a stint by taking some time to make yourself a tasty lunch, play a video game in the evening, do some exercise, have a video call with your friends or spend some time catching up on messages. Whether it’s been a ‘productive day’ (whatever that means!) or not, you’re never going to be in any mood to revise and prepare for exams if you aren’t treating yourself right. No guilt should be attached for rewarding yourself, no matter the output of your work stint.

2. Know that Loughborough University and LSU have your back

In addition to the incredibly powerful effect you can have on your mental health and wellbeing by establishing and deploying your coping mechanisms and support networks, you have a University and Students’ Union which sincerely tries its best to support and provide for you.

This includes specific mental health support, non-judgmental advice, and places to find community. Below is a list of some of the processes and support services here at Loughborough (be ready, it’s quite a lot!).

Processes:

  • Mitigating Circumstances (MC) – For circumstances that are out of your control and may adversely affect your studies or performance, you can ensure this is taken into account by submitting a Mitigating Circumstances claim. LSU Advice can provide you with non-judgmental advice in constructing your claim, and you’ll apply via your Student Portal.
    • NOTE – it is recognised that it may not be possible for you to submit supporting evidence, so if that’s the case, please do still submit your claim without evidence.
  • No Detriment PositionLoughborough University is committed to ensuring the outcomes for you are collectively no worse than the outcomes of the previous three cohorts of the appropriate year group.
  • Reassessments – You are allowed more attempts at assessments or modules if you fail, or with a valid mitigating circumstances claim. The following is Loughborough’s policy on reassessments:
    • A Resit is typically when a student fails their first attempt and retakes a module or assessment with capped marks (unless Part A or F). Resits are second attempts which means they are the final chances if there are no valid Mitigating Circumstances claims. This term also applies where a student has not passed the Part so retakes an assessment even when they have credit in the module.
    • Repeat First Attempt is when a student gets another first chance (with uncapped marks) following a valid Mitigating Circumstances claim.
    • Repeat Second Attempt is when a student gets another second chance at a resit following a valid Mitigating Circumstances claim. Repeat second attempts have capped marks (unless Part A or F) and are last chances if there are no further Mitigating Circumstances.
  • Academic Appeals – if you would like to appeal your mark, you can do so on multiple grounds. There is a lot on this subject, so read here for more and know you can always go to LSU Advice for guidance and support on constructing your appeal. 

Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Services:

  • Mental Wellbeing team – This is made up of three amazing teams who can provide you with support. By filling out the referral form here, you will be matched to one of the following:
    • Mental Health Support team – this team provides support, advice and information for students struggling with mental health difficulties.
    • Wellbeing Advisers – someone based in your academic School who can offer you advice and support with your stress, low mood, anxiety and other difficulties.
    • Counselling – a chance to talk and reflect with professionals removed from the situation. This team can help you find understanding and new perspectives with issues.
  • Disability Office – The amazing Disability Support Team can provide advice, support and guidance to students living with disabilities on any number of matters. You can reach out to them for an appointment or ask a question by emailing disability@lboro.ac.uk or calling 01509 222770.

Additional Support Services:

  • Nightline – the out-of-hours support service run by Loughborough students, for Loughborough students. This amazing bunch of volunteers are operating remotely during Covid-19, and you can reach out to their instant messenger service from 8pm-2am on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • Centre for Faith and Spirituality ­– I’ve worked with a number of people from here, and they are always there to provide a listening ear, support and guidance. Not just on spiritual or religious matters too; as a person not of a particular faith or religion, it has never been on the cards to talk about when I have reached out to them for support.
  • Community and Hall Wardens – each Hall has a warden and sub-warden team who are there to support and look out for you. For students living in town and the wider community, you have a team of community wardens there to support and look out for you too!
  • LSU, yes all of it! – A shameless plug, but the Students’ Union is a place where you can gain a tremendous amount of support and guidance. Our sections, the people, the students who keep it running – it is a place you can find your community or have help finding your place. I am always so heartened to see our student-led sections finding ways to connect with people in this pandemic. In this time, don’t hesitate to reach out to these groups. It may be a busy month but we’re all going through very similar experiences, even with our many differences.
    • From 18 January – 3 February, our annual Keep Calm Campaign is running – featuring useful information, motivation and a whole host of virtual events. Keep an eye out in your emails and on social media for more updates!

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

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

If you’ve made it this far, well done! If you’ve skimmed some of the info and have looked at the bottom to see if I have any other interesting things to say, well done too.

But seriously, the list of support I have provided isn’t even entirely comprehensive, and even then, there is still a lot in place for you from the options I presented.

Even if you don’t think you need something now, maybe save the URL of this blog; it has some handy information formatted in a hopefully helpful way. And there may be a time that you need to use it.

For now, whoever is reading this, if you want to chat about anything related to your welfare, diversity, health and wellbeing, please just drop me an email at welfareeo@lsu.co.uk.

Part of my job is to provide a non-judgmental, confidential listening ear, and have the ability to chat you through any of your options for support. That personal touch is sometimes really helpful, and I am always happy and willing to schedule in a chat.

Take care, keep calm and good luck with your revision and exams.

Student Services Spotlight: How can we help you?

Student Services Spotlight: How can we help you?

January 13, 2021 Ella Cusack

Welcome to the Student Support Services spotlight series! In this series, we will introduce you to all our of Student Support Services and let you know how we can offer you support during your studies at Loughborough University London. In the first blog, meet our Student Services team and find out all the ways they are here to support you.


The Student Services Team

A big, big hello from the Student Services team!

Let me introduce you to the two smiley faces you will see on the Student Services desk.

Meet Asia

Asia is our Senior Support Officer who is largely involved in attendance/engagement check-ins, registration, and graduation. Asia is also the student ambassador coordinator and is involved in the recruitment and training process.

Meet Tasmin

Tasmin joined us last year and is our Support Officer, the secretary for our student and staff liaison committee and module feedback coordinator.

We are your first point of contact for any queries, questions or concerns and If we are unable to answer it, we know where to direct you!

How can we help you?

  1. General queries and referrals
  2. Proof of Student Status letters
  3. Module change requests
  4. Timetabling
  5. Leave of absence
  6. Attendance
  7. MyLboro app

How can you contact us?

Telephone: 020 3805 1348

The telephones are open Monday, to Friday 9am – 5pm so whether you fancy a chat, have an urgent question or not sure who to contact, just give us a call

Email: london-enquiries@lboro.ac.uk

Alternatively, our inbox is always open and you can contact the London student services via email.

Find us: On the fourth floor

You can also find us on the fourth floor, just as you exit the lifts. You will often see us as you head to the quiet study area so make sure you pop by and say hello!

Currently, Student Services has moved remotely, however we are still here to support you, via telephone or email, Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm

The advice team

Our advice team is located at our Loughborough campus and are just a phone call away. Our advice team can support you with financial, housing and immigration and visa advice. Our Advice team can be contacted via advice@lboro.ac.uk.


This blog is part of the Student Support Services spotlight series. To read other blogs in this series, please visit the blog home page.

For student enquiries, please email london-enquiries@lboro.ac.uk.

Loughborough University London as part of The Southern Africa Innovation Programme

Loughborough University London as part of The Southern Africa Innovation Programme

January 13, 2021 Ella Cusack

For the past two years, Loughborough University London has delivered a training programme within the SAIS 2 (Southern Africa Innovation Support Program) in Pretoria, South Africa.

The aim of this project is to catalyse new businesses and foster the culture of local and regional entrepreneurship.

Meet the team

Professor Mikko Koria is the Director of the Institute for Design Innovation and the Associate Dean for Enterprise at Loughborough University London. 

Dr Ida Telalbasic is a Lecturer in the Institute for Design Innovation at Loughborough University London.

Dr Roy Meriton is a Lecturer in the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

The team is joined by colleagues from other UK universities including Dr Seun Kolade, and Dr Karim Ahmed, who have developed a toolkit (*) to serve as the basis for evaluating impact.

The Data Collection & Analytics Framework was delivered across five days to 12 participating project coordinators, who will transfer the gained knowledge to their project partners in their local communities in the five participating countries: Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia.

To read more about Loughborough University London’s work on this project, visit out website.


*The toolkit is available to download via the news article.

You can find out more about The Southern Africa Innovation Support (SAIS) Program here.

Find out more information about the Institute for Design Innovation and the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship on our website.

Personal Statement Top Tips

January 12, 2021 Guest Blogger

Hi, my name’s Elle and I’m a final year student at Loughborough studying Sport Science with Management.

When you start your higher education journey you will need to write a personal statement as part of your UCAS application when applying to universities. This is very important as it’s one of the few chances you get to let institutions know who you are besides your grades, so here are some top tips to help you write the perfect personal statement! 

That’s me!

Research the subject you want to study 

It can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to your personal statement. I would recommend using university prospectuses and online resources to research the subject you want to study. From this think about what skills admissions tutors might look foin relation to the course and think about how you can demonstrate that you have those skills. It might be useful to create a mind map or a plan to help keep track and formulate ideas.  

Make sure you demonstrate PASSION for the subject throughout 

Your personal statement gives you the perfect opportunity to demonstrate to admissions that you have drive and enthusiasm for that subject. It is likely that the admissions tutor that is reading your personal statement teaches in that subject area, therefore you must show to them that you have passion and motivation to study and achieve in that subject. A good way to demonstrate this is to explain your reasoning for wanting to study that subject.  

DO NOT just list the skills you have 

Whilst it is important to include the skills you have in your personal statement such as leadership or communication. What is more important is that you explain how you have acquired these skills. For example, it may be that through your role as head girl or head boy, you developed your verbal communication skills as you had to deliver speeches to the whole school in assemblies.  

Provide lots of examples to support the points you are making  

Think about how your current studies have given you skills to support you through university. Part time employment and voluntary work can also highlight additional skills. If you have any related work experience, this is something you definitely want to be including. Additionally, if you have undertaken any further reading in that subject area this is something you can include as it can demonstrate your commitment to the subject. However, make sure the literature is from a reliable source/ author and relevant to what you want to study.   

Detail extracurricular activities  

If you take part in in any extra-curricular activities, for instance playing a musical instrument or in a sports team this is something you can include to highlight to admissions tutors the type of person you are. HOWEVER, do not put too much emphasis on this part of the statement. This should be a very small element of your personal statement. Areas such as why you want to study that subject, the skills you have and any work experience/voluntary work should be your main focal point and weighted more heavily.  

Don’t copy sentences or paragraphs from other personal statements you may have read 

Personal statements are checked by UCAS for plagiarism, therefore if you are found to have copied sentences from other personal statements or from websites, this could put your application to universities at jeopardy.  

Check for spelling and grammar mistakes  

You want to make a good impression on the admissions tutors, therefore read through your work to ensure it is free from any spelling and grammar errors. Perhaps, ask a parent, friend, or teacher to also read it through to double check it. 

In addition to this, make sure you use language you are familiar with so do not use a thesaurus to change every other wordYou have a limited word count, so it is better to cut the extravagant language and keep things simple. Make every word count! 

Last piece of advice…  

Remember you only have 47 lines to write your personal statement, so make sure it is direct and to the point. You are not going to write the perfect personal statement first time round; it will take a few drafts until you are completely happy with it, so stick at it! Use the opportunity to showcase all the hard work you have been putting in and trust the process. 

What’s next? .. GET STARTED!  

Good Luck! 

Drawbridge - Press Release of an exciting new DRN

January 12, 2021 Russell Marshall
Franka Flötgen

By: Anne-May Tabb – AnneMay.Tabb@cit.ie


Drawbridge is a new drawing research network based at CIT Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork, in Ireland. Drawbridge aims to provide opportunities for researchers, students, and artists to collaborate, exchange and disseminate ideas around drawing practice in its widest possible interpretation. Drawbridge plans to engage with diverse approaches from within the arts, incorporating disciplines such as performance, installation, film, and the written word, through a series of interdisciplinary projects and collaborations that will have an impact across the institute/university and beyond. Incorporating both theory and practice, Drawbridge is focused above all on promoting the capability of drawing to give form to thought, and on initiating and collaborating in research activities both nationally and internationally.

Drawbridge has already pursued collaborations that have included the departments of Architecture and Arts in Health and Education within CIT/MTU and we intend to expand our activities to develop collaborations with colleagues in such disciplines as science, technology, and music. Within the Crawford, Drawbridge is focused on developing existing and future drawing workshops and projects with the aim of exploring and consolidating current drawing practice. A shared interest in the experiential and phenomenological nature of drawing was the original impetus for the establishment of Drawbridge by Crawford lecturers Dr Helen Farrell and Dr Lucy Dawe-Lane. With the imminent foundation of Munster Technological University (MTU), Drawbridge is well placed to make an active contribution to the future research profile of the new university.

Drawbridge is grateful for the support of Crawford Head of College Catherine Fehily, CIT Teaching and Learning Unit (TLU), CIT Research Office, CIT Arts Office and CIT Faculty of Business and Humanities.

For more information contact
Anne-May Tabb
Drawbridge Research Assistant
AnneMay.Tabb@cit.ie

This Week at Loughborough | 11 January

This Week at Loughborough | 11 January

January 11, 2021 Alex Stephens

Coping with Stress During Exams and Deadlines

12 January, 10am, Online

The Student Wellbeing Service is offering an informal, friendly online workshop looking at stress and how to manage it more effectively in the run-up to exams and coursework deadlines.

The team will cover what stress is and how to develop some positive coping strategies. There will also be the opportunity for group discussion and questions but for those who may find this difficult, there is no pressure to speak; it’s okay to sit, watch and listen with your camera off. 

To book your place please register online on the event page.

Mathematics Education Centre Seminar

13 January, 2 – 4.15pm, Online

Two hour sessions from academics within in the field.

The first 40 minute presentation and 20 minute Q&A from Dr. Silke Goebel of the University of York discussing Writing numbers and reading digit strings – fundamentals of arithmetic development in primary school.

Followed by Loughborough University’s Mr Muhammod Turk’s presentation and Q&A discussing Epistemological and Professional Identity Development in Undergraduate Engineering Learners.

More information about both presentations and how to book onto the event can be found on the event page.

(In)Appropriating Alice: The Contemporary Sexualisation of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland

13 January, 4 – 5pm, Online

All are warmly invited to our last English Research Seminar of the semester, which in Week 12 showcases new work from our Contemporary Literature research group.

Please join Drs Anne Marie Beller and Claire O’Callaghan as they discuss contemporary reworkings of Alice in Wonderland, including Katie Roiphe’s Still She Haunts Me (2001) as well as transmedia representations in contemporary art and videogames.

To book onto this event please contact Dr Barbara Cooke (b.cooke@lboro.ac.uk).

PhD SSN presents The Doorstep Series TV and Film Industry

13 January, 6.30pm, Online

The Academic Development Team, part of the PhD SSN, bring you the next instalment of the Door Step Series, helping you get your foot in the door of the best industries around.

We present an independent company, The Three Wise Monkeys TV and film production team of Patricia Rybarczyk and Sacha Bennett, alongside Sophie Morgan, a wildlife documentary producer and tech diver. Between them, they have covered blue-chip wildlife documentaries, feature films with top movie stars as well as shorts, communicating important social issues.

The event can be accessed through the Microsoft Teams link.

Coping with Stress During Exams and Deadlines

14 January, 2pm, Online

The Student Wellbeing Service is offering an informal, friendly online workshop looking at stress and how to manage it more effectively in the run-up to exams and coursework deadlines.

The team will cover what stress is and how to develop some positive coping strategies. There will also be the opportunity for group discussion and questions but for those who may find this difficult, there is no pressure to speak; it’s okay to sit, watch and listen with your camera off. 

To book your place please register online on the event page.

Self-Care Sundays: Dance Class

17 January, 4 – 5pm, Online

Take part in a dance class from the comfort of your own home!

Join local dancer and teacher Anna Heery for a ballet barre class followed by some choreography. This workshop is designed to allow students (and others) to partake in a dance class with limited space and is suitable for all levels and experience. It’s a great way to stretch, get your body moving and make you feel good at the end of the weekend.

Anna trained as a dancer at London Studio Centre, specialising in Classical Ballet. She has toured the UK with various ballet companies, performing both modern and classical works and now teaches dance freelance to adults.

Find out more information and register for the event on the event page.

Hadiza's experience: studying during a pandemic

Hadiza's experience: studying during a pandemic

January 8, 2021 Ella Cusack

We asked some of our new students about their time at Loughborough University London – Here is what current student Hadiza, had to say about her experience so far.

Why did you choose to study at Loughborough University London?

I had a cousin studied at the Loughborough University East midlands campus. She was always so positive about her experience and had this drive and confidence that I had always admired. At the time, I was studying elsewhere but she would brag about Loughborough! So, one day I sat her down and asked her ‘what is it that you love about this university so much?’. She said it wasn’t about the University as such, but more so the confidence the University had instilled in her, that she could do anything she wanted to career wise.

Through the different services offered by Loughborough University, she was able to utilise the career advise and additional activities/events – all of which added to her confidence. She was one of the reasons I applied here. Having said that, the high credibility of the institution always stood out to me too – as an Institution, Loughborough University is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the UK.

Tell us more about you experience here so far.

I’m loving it – it is indescribable! Initially, I was worried I may not get the full student experience due to COVID-19. However, after arriving here in London, I was quite surprised! From the start, as soon as you arrive, there are effective protection measures in place and social distancing measures set up. From the receptionist, to the highly rated Professor’s, everyone here has really made it such a beautiful and safe experience.

How did you find the move to London?

First of all being nervous is ok – you’re likely to be nervous if your travelling from far away as you don’t know what to expect. However, let me tell you, it will surprise you!

Don’t be scared because everything here has been set-up for you and everyone is excited for you to be here at Loughborough University London. It’s ok to be scared, but get on that plane and once you arrive I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised with the service and support available to students.

In regard to your education, as long as you’ve chosen what interests you and you are ready to study, then you have absolutely nothing to worried about! You are about to attend one of the best universities in the UK – in fact, in the world!

What has been you experience so far with our academic and support staff?

The staff here at Loughborough University London all love to help students in all aspects – they all have a lot of time for you. They take the safety precautions and social distancing measures very seriously, so everyone on campus feels safe. It is a very flexible environment but it is clear that the staff are here to guide you on your career journey and are always happy to answer any additional questions.

What does the #LboroFamily mean to you?

The #LboroFamily to me is, a dynamic and warm concept. Especially as an international student, one of your first concerns are whether you will feel included – for me personally, I’ve never felt so welcome in an institution before! Loughborough University London basically hugged me from the airport! Not physically of course, but from all of the surrounding systems and services put in place, my transition to the University was always smooth and welcoming . You never feel excluded in any way – everyone in the #LboroFamily are always there to offer support and to be there for you. The #LboroFamily actually feels like a family and I’ve never once felt that my voice isn’t heard – I’ve never doubted my decision to become a student at this institution.

And finally, what would you say to someone who is considering studying at Loughborough University?

I would recommend coming to Loughborough University London because of the student experience – whoever you are, wherever you are from Loughborough University is the best! All the services and facilities here are set up purely to benefit you as a student. All students deserve to go to an institution where they are put first like you are here, hence why I think you should all definitely come here!


Hadiza is from Nigeria and studies our International Management MSc programme.

We would like to thank Hadiza for taking the time to answer our questions.

To find out more about Hadiza’s and some of our other students’ experiences so far – take a look at our recent video on YouTube or Youku.

How to study during a pandemic

January 8, 2021 Guest Blogger

Hello! My name is Nyasha and I am currently a second-year student at Loughborough University studying History and Politics. 

Recently, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time studying. With assessments fast approaching, good study habits have become more and more relevant for me (as I am sure they have for you too!) This will be my second round of exams under lockdown restrictions, and whist studying during a pandemic certainly requires some adjustment, it is still very possible! From my experience, I’ll be giving 5 tips to consider when studying during these unprecedented times. 

Hi everyone – that’s me!

Get into a daily routine 

Studying during a pandemic can mean lots of work away from school, which includes set timetables and breaktimes. That’s why creating a routine for yourself is really important! Setting a schedule for each day will not only help you feel in control, but also gives you direction for the day so you can focus on what you need to accomplish. 

There are also things to consider like family commitments such as helping around the house, exercise, walking the dogs or preparing meals. I found that creating a schedule allowed me to plan my study sessions whilst also making time for my responsibilities at home and social time.  

Me and a friend enjoying a walk

In addition, it helps to try to maintain a consistent time of waking up and going to bed each day. I suggest setting an alarm the night before as it could make all the difference! 

Identify what needs to be done 

With many different topics to study, it can sometimes feel like you have a million things to do, which can be quite overwhelming. I have found that writing a list of the tasks I need to complete makes things so much easier, and often, I quickly find that it doesn’quite add up to a million 

I like to start off my mornings by writing my main tasks for the day, which are usually the topics I would like to cover or any written work I might need to complete. You might want to think about what your goals are for each subject and then break those down into smaller tasks you can complete each day. Identifying which tasks need to be completed will help make your studying more focused and can also help you feel more in control by allowing you to focus on one item at a time.  

Prioritise your study time to help you achieve goals

Manage your study space 

I found studying remotely took quite a bit of adjustment, as I didn’t have access to many of the study spaces we had available at university such as the library or computer labs.  

Where you study at home depends on a lot of things, and everyone has different areas where they feel productive or have access to. So, there aren’t hard and fast rules about exactly where you should study, but there are a few important things to consider.  For example, it is important to make sure wherever you are working is tidy and organised to improve focus and reduce stress. Before you study, you can take a few minutes to clear your space and set up your workplace for the day. This can include laying out things like your notebooks, textbooks, stationery and removing any distractions.  

Try to work in a space where you can sit up straight. This means you should avoid working from places like your bed (and let’s be honest, working from bed is not a great idea!)  

My very own miniature library

Study (remotely) with friends 

If you’re anything like me, studying with a friend right by your side isn’t always very productive because you end up talking to your friend instead of studying! However, during lockdown, forming a study group can be helpful and a great way to motivate you to keep studying.  

In the current climate of social distancing, life can sometimes feel a little lonely but one of the advantages of technology is you can still work together remotelyMy friend and I like to keep an online document open where we can log what we have each studied on a specific day. This helps us keep each other accountable and motivates us to work that little bit harder. You can also go through practice essay questions or solve problems together over a video call. 

Take breaks 

It is important to take breaks along the way and not overwork yourself. This will give you time to relax and refresh your mind which helps with overall productivity when you do return to study!  

You can also take longer time outside of your study sessions to do things you enjoy. I love baking, so after a hard day of work I usually take time to bake with one of my flatmates (or siblings when I am at home) or go for a walk outside. During these times, you need to give yourself little rewards to keep your motivation high, so think about any hobbies or activities you like, and make sure to continue doing them during this pandemic! 

There’s always time for cake!

Final Thoughts 

Don’t forget that these are particularly challenging times, and you’re doing a great job already by continuing to adapt and study to the best of your ability! Whilst it is important to work hard, make sure you don’t forget to be kind to yourself and acknowledge your small achievements each day. Keep doing that and you will do great! 

Get to know our alumni: Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Get to know our alumni: Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

January 7, 2021 Ella Cusack

The Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship recently held their first alumni event on 9 December 2020. The event offered current students the opportunity to ask questions and seek advice from an panel made up of recent Loughborough London graduates.

Our alumni panel was made up of four recent graduates – not all of the alumni who attended this event studied within the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship during their time at Loughborough University London, however, many had developed strong links with the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, having previously attended Institute events.

Meet the alumni panel

Retno Lestair Ningsih

Retno, a Chevening scholar, graduated from Loughborough University London in 2019. She studied within the Institute for Digital Technologies, however she also undertook some modules with the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“What I enjoyed the most about my course is the combination of Internet Technology subjects with business, management, and entrepreneurship. As someone with traditional media background, studying this programme was an eye opener and prepared me for the current digitalisation in the media industry.”

Since graduating from Loughborough University London, Retno has become the founder and CEO of her own business.

Montez Blair

Montez graduated from Loughborough University London in 2017 and studied our MSc Entrepreneurship, Finance and Innovation programme.

“Loughborough University London has an endless amount of connections that should be leveraged, and being in London only allows for further growth of network. Everyone wants to be in London and eventually travels to London because it is one of the capitals of the world. Take advantage!”

Montez currently works as a Business Development consultant for Oracle, ranked 9th amongst all global technology companies by The Fortune.

Benjamin Ndubsuisi

Benjamin studied our MSc Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management and graduated from Loughborough University London in 2016. Benjamin is from Nigeria but has chosen to stay in the UK since graduating.

“I had a very positive and exciting time at Loughborough University London and would definitely recommend this university for you! If you’re looking for a worthwhile and impact experience, come to Loughborough University London.”

Benjamin currently works for BT, one of the UK’s most established and innovative companies.

Olivia Bi

Olivia graduated from our MSc Entrepreneurhsip, Finance and Innovation programme in 2018.

“Loughborough University London has given me the opportunity to learn and understand more about innovation and entrepreneurship. I have also had the chance to speak face-to-face with many entrepreneurs through class and and other activities. I really value these opportunities to learn about innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Since graduating from Loughborough University London, Olivia now works at Billion Store Project in Shanghai, China, helping freelance illustrators in brand their work.


You can find out more about the Institute for Entrepreneurship Alumni panel event here.

To read more about our alumni, you can visit the alumni page on our website. You can find out more about our Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation on our website.

Mary Seacole and Victorian attitudes to race

January 7, 2021 Catherine Armstrong

by Anna Anastassiou

In an essay for my ‘Victorian Values’ history module, I took it upon myself to explore what the life of Mary Seacole (1805–1881) reveals about Victorian attitudes to race. With an aim to understand the prejudices she faced as a Jamaican nurse – primarily known for helping British troops during the Crimean War (1853-56) – I could additionally analyse the roots, continuity and change of opinions of race held by the British at the time.

My interest in this topic began in studying Victorian Britain as a whole; as I undertook most of my education in Greece, my knowledge of other countries’ history was limited, which is why I am now so fascinated by different cultures. Simultaneously, I chose Mary Seacole as my influential figure because I was placed in the ‘Seacole House’ in secondary school and realised I knew very little about her.  Racial views are crucial today, and I wanted to explore their roots in British society and their emergence into our culture, which is why the university certainly believed it to be an important topic within the module.

Although Seacole was a unique woman and is not representative of Victorian opinions towards all Jamaicans or Africans, I argue that there were three phases to people’s attitudes towards her.

  • Before Seacole had established her reputation as a hero, Victorians were generally discriminatory towards her. For example, both the War Office and Florence Nightingale initially refused her request to join the nurses travelling to Crimea, leading her to travel alone and set up the British Hotel independently to support soldiers.
  • Following this and her work at the battles at Redan, Chernaya and Sevastpol, she began to gain respect. Seacole was awarded medals internationally and even gained financial support from senior military officers. and royalty such as the Prince of Wales. In turn, civilians became increasingly tolerant of her following the publication of her autobiography in 1857.
  • Surprisingly though, after Seacole’s death and the death of her supporters, she was largely forgotten and replaced in public memory with figures such as Florence Nightingale, who seemed a better candidate to represent British values in nurses, until the 20th century when Seacole again gained recognition.

Since I measured attitudes to race largely by individuals’ opinions, my evidence came not only from secondary sources, but also largely from primary ones. For example, in the essay I analysed the competing publications of contemporaries John Stuart Mill and Thomas Carlyle; where Carlyle prioritised the British economy over any moral implications for non-whites, Mill argued that Carlyle had done “the true work of the devil” in assuming black inferiority and in dehumanizing victims of imperial expansion. In this module I was also taught to navigate new archives (such as Victorian newspapers) which helped me identify public opinion at the time. As for secondary sources, from various modules I have learned to research, distinguish, and critically discuss articles, which I applied to my work as well.

Overall, the research that I undertook for this essay taught me the origins of racism (though this was not a term used at the time) and the gradual process of its evolution; over the Victorian period, racist attitudes became progressively fewer, but engrained prejudices continued to taint society. Seacole had to work much harder than any white person to gain respect, which I realise continues to apply to today’s society as well. Racial tensions are constantly debated and disputed, which is why figures such as Mary Seacole can still be used to raise awareness of injustice.

Bibliography:

  • Carlyle, Thomas, ‘Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question’, Fraser’s Magazine for Town and Country (London, Vol. XL., February 1849).
  •   Kinser, B. E., ‘FEARFUL SYMMETRY: HYPOCRISY AND BIGOTRY IN THOMAS CARLYLE’S “OCCASIONAL DISCOURSE[S] ON THE NEGRO QUESTION”’, Studies in the Literary Imagination, 45(1), 2012, pp. 42, https://search.proquest.com/docview/1435825308?accountid=12152 (accessed 20/12/2019).

Bio: As a History student at Loughborough University, I have had the opportunity to grow into an independent and confident historian, whilst also being given the chance to expand my knowledge into other topics. From my accompanying modules in International Relations, Politics, Business and Sociology, I have strengthened my range of skills. I have enjoyed learning about new cultures and how external factors, such as politics, have influenced them over time. Throughout my journey, I have realised that my passion lies in many forms of research, its contribution to business and making a difference to today’s society.


Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash

Komal's experience: studying during a pandemic

Komal's experience: studying during a pandemic

January 6, 2021 Ella Cusack

We asked some of our new students about their time at Loughborough University London so far – find out more about experience current student, Komal, in this blog.

Why did you choose to study at Loughborough University London?

I’d attended and a seminar and there was a lecturer who convinced my whole family Loughborough University was the best option. At the time I was into cricket, so I was really interested in sports – however I was unsuccessful in my undergraduate degree application. It then became a personal challenge that I wanted to attend Loughborough University for my masters!  Loughborough University stood out to me due to its ranking and work in sport – I actually didn’t know you could study sport until I got to the UK and as sports has always been a passion of mine, I was set on Loughborough University. I was so happy when I first joined the #LboroFamily– I had accomplished my personal challenge.

How have you found studying on the Loughborough University London campus in Semester 1?

It is not crowded as a central London university. The local places are secluded – not in a bad way, just in a way where you can maintain social distancing, such as in the many parks around campus. The tourist-attracting Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the facilities from the 2012 Olympics are perfect for social distancing measures as there is so much space! Even the Westfield shopping mall has numerous social distancing measures in place – I don’t worry that Stratford will be overcrowded!

How do you feel about your decision to study with us and what advice would you give to our January starters?

I feel like it is the best decision I have made – I’ve met so many new people, even during lockdown. I’ve had so many networking opportunities, in the short 2 months I’ve been here and I’ve connected with at least 10 companies already. I have even gained an internship from the Digital Skills programme. I have learnt that so much can come from you just meeting and networking with people – you can create opportunities for yourself one step at a time. You need to put yourself out there to create these opportunities for yourself.

Would you recommend in-person attendance for the Semester 2?

Definitely. If you’re having doubts, I would definitely recommend registering for in-person attendance for Semester 2. You can ask questions there and then and I feel you get a better idea of your thoughts and questions when you speak in person, rather than writing them down. Also being in the lecture enables thought provoking conversations with peers. It is just a better way to network with people, not just professionally but also socially. I have also had the opportunity to make new friends in-person.

Tell us more about your experience as an international student.

I think choosing to study abroad for the first time, I have had real exposure to what the world is actually like and how people work. I feel like there is so many opportunities that I didn’t even know existed – you learn about new departments and new career areas to explore. Before I came to the UK, I didn’t know I could study sport – I originally came to study management. As a kid I always had a passion for sport, so the realisation that I can pursue my interest as a career has opened new doors and a whole new world.

What do you enjoy most about your course?

I feel like my course (MSc Sport Business and Innovation) gives a good taste of everything that is available within the Sport Business field. For example, in sport, you have sport analytics, sport business and also sport innovation – studying this programme is a great opportunity to fine-tune what suits you best. It is all about finding something that you relate to and finding the career path that is right for you.

What do you like most about Loughborough University London?

The #LboroFamily – I count this as the staff, students and even the people in the local community. I feel like you meet so many people from so many different nationalities and backgrounds and they are all just here to share ideas and get to know you. It feels like a warm hug! Even the staff here are kind of like students as well, they still want to learn – they want to learn from you. It’s a great environment for open conversation and discussing things you love.

What activities do you like to do outside of your studies?

The Olympic Park is a huge space that is great for running. There is also outdoor table tennis and other sporting facilities – you have got a lot of local amenities. My favourite place is the Canalside – which is right next to the University so you can explore, meet new people and go for food and drinks. You get to see so many new things and I feel like every time I walk around Stratford I see something new.

Do you feel your studies have been impacted by COVID?

I feel like now is the best time to study, so you are prepared for the environment after COVID and all the new opportunities that may arise. If you are cautious and follow the safety measures put in place to protect you, you will feel safe. I still feel safe and secure in the campus buildings due to particular safety measures that have been put in place by the University.


Komal is a current Student Ambassador and she studies our MSc Sport Business and Innovation.

You can meet our other Student Ambassadors here.

If you would like to find out more about some of our other students experience of studying at Loughborough University London during the pandemic, you can read about Shrey’s experience, here.

How to get the most out of a Virtual Open Day

January 6, 2021 Guest Blogger

My name is Shannon and I am a student studying an English degree at Loughborough. I am currently on my Placement year as an Erasmus student in Salerno, Italy. Choosing a University can be daunting but hopefully my top tips will point you in the right direction!  Continue reading

10 top tips for impressing on an interview with a portfolio

January 5, 2021 Guest Blogger

I’m Lewis, a second-year student studying BSc Product Design & Technology here at Loughborough University. Continue reading

Where Should I go, and What Should I Study?

Where Should I go, and What Should I Study?

January 4, 2021 Guest Blogger

Hello, my name is Leah and I’m in my final year of studying Sport and Exercise Psychology at Loughborough University. Continue reading

Overcoming the First Term Worries

Overcoming the First Term Worries

January 2, 2021 Ella Cusack

In this blog, current student, Ellie, discusses how she overcame some of first term worries in her first few months studying here at Loughborough University London.


I am a full time masters student at Loughborough University London studying Design Innovation Management and I have just completed my first semester. This means I have completed a third of my master’s degree… madness! The time has flown by and when I think about the thoughts and worries I had when I first started, it now seems silly to me that I even gave them the headspace.

When I first starting, there were a few things that worried me; How will I make friends during a pandemic? What if I cannot keep up with the pace of the work? What will working in London be like? Now that I am settled, I hope to be able to ease the minds of prospective students that may have the same worries and let you know how Loughborough London can help.

First, how will I make friends during a pandemic?

Making new friends is always a daunting prospect especially when seeking to connect with people in an unfamiliar environment. This is made a lot harder when everyone is wearing masks and you are unable to show them your smile or interact with theirs. The first thing I did to make this easier, was to get involved with the different networking events and talks being offered by Loughborough London during the first few weeks. These events gave me the opportunity to connect with like-minded people either online or in a safe space on campus. Following these events I have been able to connect with people, have a socially distanced lunches and have people I could rely on whilst on and off campus.

What if I cannot keep up with the pace of work?

I knew before starting that a master’s course was going to be a very different pace of work to what I was used to from my undergraduate degree. On top of this, I had a summer off to relax and forget what work felt like! Consequently, when I sat in my first lecture I was prepared to be thrown straight in the deep end and to feel behind from day one. In this first lecture, they spoke about how the module was going to be assessed – a 3000 word essay. During my undergraduate degree I had little to no experience writing essays and so I instantly felt the pressure. However, the lecturer directed us to Learn (the university portal) which had numerous different online and live sessions helping people to plan, structure and write essays. These sessions boosted my confidence and within 4 weeks I had written my first assignment and enjoyed the process of doing so.

What will working in London be like?

Having done my undergraduate degree up in the midlands I was used to the surrounding area being of little interest to the students. Coming to study in London is completely different and I wasn’t sure what to expect or how to make the most of it. On my first day I was given a tour of the campus by a Student Ambassador who also gave recommendations of places to eat and things to see in the local area. These suggestions continue to be my go-to when meeting up with friends and taking a break from work. This is another prime example of how Loughborough London helps students settle in. The team of Student Ambassadors are always there to help students feel comfortable and give you advice based on the experience they have had.

To conclude, my one piece of advice for anyone planning to start at Loughborough London, who may also have these worries, is to get involved. Whether that’s being proactive in joining networking events or seeking help about assignments, just do it and Loughborough will always be there to support you along the way.


To find out more about Ellie and to meet our current Student Ambassadors, please visit our website.

Important announcement: online study options available for master's students in January 2021

Important announcement: online study options available for master's students in January 2021

December 22, 2020 Rebecca Davis

On 19 December 2020, the British government announced tougher COVID restrictions for London and the surrounding areas.  It is important to note that education remains exempt from the new restrictions and the national situation will be reviewed again on 30 December 2020.  However, Loughborough University is fully aware that you are due to join us in person from January 2021, you are making your travel plans during the next 2-3 weeks, and you require clarity regarding the study situation in the UK.

Loughborough University confirms the following for students who are currently studying online, or who intend to begin their studies in January 2021, on a master’s programme at our London campus:

  • Loughborough University London campus will allow studies to be undertaken IN-PERSON or ONLINE between January 2021 and June 2021 (situation from June 2021 onwards to be reviewed).

Please note: our Loughborough campus programmes remain IN-PERSON teaching but we will review in the first week of January 2021 whether an ONLINE study option may be offered between January 2021 and June 2021

To confirm, all master’s students who are due to arrive at our London campus in January 2021 now have the choice to study in-person or online (a final decision regarding possible online options at the Loughborough campus will be made first week January 2021).  The University continues to be of the view that in-person study offers the best possible education.  However, we also understand that you may have concerns about travelling to the UK at the current time and Loughborough is renowned for our student experience: we want you to be fully reassured which is why we are making online study provision available, should you wish to take this option.  The tuition fee will remain the same, whether you study in-person or online.

If you do choose to study online from January 2021 onwards, you are welcome to join us in-person at any date between January and June 2021.  If you do undertake your studies online during this time period, and hold a Student/Tier 4 visa, UK Government guidelines require you to take up your place in person at the University as soon as circumstances allow.

Loughborough University has implemented a range of measures to enable campus-based teaching and learning to continue in a safe way across both campuses. Student safety remains our number one priority and we are confident our safety measures have been effective in keeping students safe whilst enabling high quality teaching and learning to continue. 

Today is the last working day at Loughborough University before the Christmas holidays begin here in the UK.  The University will open again from Monday 4 January 2021.  We will send further information during the first week in January regarding online master’s programme options and the registration process. For more information about travelling to the UK and preparing for the start of term, please visit our Before you Arrive webpages.

It has been a challenging year for all of us – we look forward to a fresh start and bright futures for all of us in 2021. 

Merry Christmas to you from all at Loughborough University.

Shrey’s experience: studying during a pandemic

Shrey’s experience: studying during a pandemic

December 22, 2020 Rebecca Davis

We asked some of our new students about their time at Loughborough University London so far – take a look at what Shrey, an MSc Sports Business and Innovation student, had to say.

Continue reading
Will virtual learning be missed in 2021?

Will virtual learning be missed in 2021?

December 21, 2020 Ella Cusack

In this blog, current Student Ambassador, Maria, shares her experience of adapting to a new virtual environment and format of teaching, in what has been a challenging year for everyone.


I think it would be fair to say 2020 has been very different for nearly every student in the world. The final year of my undergraduate studies at Loughborough University (East midlands campus) and the start of my master’s at Loughborough University London was definitely not the way I had pictured it in my head, with graduation being postponed and still being yet to meet some of master’s cohort.

However, it is definitely not all doom and gloom. Whilst having to adapt to a new and very virtual environment was difficult at first, I can proudly say that I have learnt a lot this year through a very different style of learning.

In 2020, I have developed a lot as a person and I was confidently able to be a full-time student, and a tennis coach, and a digital marketer, and a student ambassador, whilst continuing to be a daughter, a sister and a friend. I have also discovered that virtual learning does in fact have its benefits. For example, as students, we know that every opportunity to save time and money is a blessing and virtual learning resulted in less time spent commuting to campus and less money spent on food and drinks.

However, learning virtually does come with difficulties too. Virtual learning has led to fewer interactions and team projects with my peers, which made learning less of a social affair. Communication with peers and academics has been very different and something everyone has had to adapt to. Love it or hate it, MS Teams has made teaching possible this year.

Whilst I am looking forward to becoming more sociable again, I must say that I will miss 23-hour open book exams and virtual check-ins to lectures from the comfort of my bed! However, returning to in-person lectures does not mean I will completely abandon all my interests. Instead, it will test my time management and organisational skills to take part in activities outside of my studies, as I have done this past year.

In conclusion, 2020 has not been the way I or anyone else had pictured it but that definitely doesn’t make it all doom and gloom. Personally, it has allowed for many moments for self-reflection, which paved the path to self-re-discovery and fulfilment. Virtual learning enabled me to act on new interests, test and fail and then try again. However, I also think it would be fair to say we are all looking forward to uninstalling Microsoft Teams and getting back to in-person teaching in the new year!


To find out more about Maria and to meet our current Student Ambassadors, please visit our website.

International alumni: a Chinese graduate in the UK

International alumni: a Chinese graduate in the UK

December 21, 2020 Ella Cusack

In the blog, alumna Karen, shares her experience as an international student studying in the UK and how the skills learnt studying in another country have enhanced her career.

Karen studied at Loughborough University in London from September 2015 to December 2016 and graduated with an MA in Media and Creative Industries. However, Karen now has a successful career in journalism.


I remember when I first arrived at Loughborough University in London I could smell new carpets and see glossy reflections on the recently polished glass walls. An ambitious roadmap of the city’s emerging hub could be seen in the ongoing construction work in Here East, east London where the campus was located. We were its very first students in the very first year and everything was so shiny and new. 

I felt the same as I was beginning a fresh start to my life as well, after waving goodbye to Hunan, my hometown in south-central China and Beijing, the capital city and heart of the country. I felt the need to embrace different cultures and see the other side of the world and luckily, a scholarship brought me to study in the UK.

It’s certainly not easy to settle down in a strange country. For me, the mission of “try to act like a Londoner” was initially full of awkward moments, like the hesitation when a supermarket cashier gratefully said “cheers” when I had only ever used it for toasting before.

But observing the way I should react and adapt to everything around me was a learning curve. And London, the kaleidoscope of tradition and innovation, continued to serve me up with new adventures. 

With previous experience in Chinese newsrooms and a passion for media, I chose to study the programme of media and creative industries, which was combined with both theoretical discussion and practical knowledge, ranging from in-depth topics like the power dynamics behind the media landscape to the copyright debates over the Happy Birthday song. Our professors, with extensive research and industrial experience from South Korea to Latin America, taught us to “think critically and think globally”.

You can read the full article here.


You can find out more about our alumni and Karen Liu on the alumni page on our website.

Reflecting on 'A Day in the Life of a Doctoral Researcher' 2020

Reflecting on 'A Day in the Life of a Doctoral Researcher' 2020

December 18, 2020 Dr Katryna Kalawsky

Written by Dr Katryna Kalawsky

It’s just over a month ago since I facilitated the Doctoral College’s annual ‘A Day in the Life of a Doctoral Researcher’ and usually after any event or workshop that i’ve organised, I like to take a step back and reflect so I can feed-forward onto the next. But rather than just typing up notes and saving on my laptop for personal reference, I thought i’d try something new and take the opportunity to write a short blog to share with you why the event was run and how it went…so here goes!

Well, it all began back in 2015 (I actually can’t believe i’m typing that! Time has passed so quickly!) when I was discussing with colleagues, during a Graduate School (as it was known back then) monthly team meeting, the different challenges that doctoral researchers can face with respect to being aware of and accessing appropriate support. More specifically, it was acknowledged that the doctoral journey is not always well understood by those who support/represent doctoral researchers in terms of knowing the key differences between the structure/nature of taught and research programmes and also the different challenges that each student cohort can face. Now, I must be clear that this acknowledgement was in no way meant to be a criticism of colleagues – it’s actually completely understandable because let’s face it, unless you’ve undertaken a doctorate before, you’ll never fully know what’s involved. But that said, no two doctorates are the same so even if you have conducted a doctorate before it’s impossible to know exactly what it’s like for someone else!

So, rather than just accepting that a knowledge-gap existed and was to be expected, we wanted to take a pro-active approach to help our colleagues from across the University and within LSU to better understand common issues that can occur during a doctorate and so came the idea (credit must go to Dr Kathryn North – Head of Researcher Development for this) for me to organise ‘A Day in the Life of a Doctoral Researcher’; a half-day event to demystify the doctoral experience so that those supporting/representing students can consider ways in which to make their provision more inclusive and tailored (where appropriate) for doctoral researchers.

On 16th November we ran our 6th ‘A Day in the Life of a Doctoral Researcher’ but unlike prior years, this year it was run entirely online and the content needed to be adapted slightly to cater for this (i’ve provided the programme below). Attendance at the event was great (we had just under 40 people signed up!) and so was engagement – even though it’s sometimes difficult to gauge online, it was clear that those at the event had a genuine interest and desire to know more about doctoral researchers and how they can enhance their provision to better support.

For me, the highlight of the event, as is the case each year, were the talks from three current doctoral researchers. I am so grateful to Chloe Blackwell, Fiona Meeks and Chidinma Okorie who agreed to take time out of their busy schedules to share candid accounts of their doctoral experiences as well as other commitments (academic and personal) that they have alongside conducting research.

In terms of attendee feedback, to try to gage how effective the event was, they were asked the following two questions: “How will you THINK differently as a consequence of attending?” and “What will you DO differently as a consequence of attending?”. Here are some of the responses:

“I will ensure I consider the whole DR experience, not just the academic element as everything is very interlinked.”

“I think this was helpful to remind me of the diversity of experience, regardless of the level of study.”

“The event has really encouraged me to draw on the knowledge and experience of as many researchers and colleagues as possible when considering the DR experience as it is so varied.”

“I think I will continue to be proactive in my engagement with the DR community, develop new relationships and connections, and advocate for them just as much as I would any other student or community.”

“Will look to better outline the range of support services available to DRs as this is particularly important as I learned from the session.”

“Be aware of the different, multiple issues going on for DRs as opposed to UG and PGT students.”

Overall, especially given the feedback, the event was received very well and achieved its aim. However, I am keen to touch base with attendees in a few months time to find out how their practice has indeed changed as a consequence of the event.

In terms of future plans, ‘A Day in the Life of a Doctoral Researcher’ will continue to run again on an annual basis and there may be scope to provide an online ‘on demand’ session to allow new members of staff to access shortly after they join the University. Also, i’m excited to tell you that during January 2021 I will be running a bespoke version of ‘A Day in the Life of a Doctoral Researcher’ to colleagues in the Marketing & Advancement Professional Service.

Doctoral Researcher Presidential Team monthly blog update (December 2020)

December 18, 2020 Dr Katryna Kalawsky

Hello everyone!

This is my second blog summarising our monthly activities. Sorry we missed you last month, but hey at least we got one out before Xmas! On that note, I want to wish you all a great Xmas vacation. Whether you are staying at home in Loughborough or spending Christmas with family, we all deserve a break from our research and time to reset before we embark on a new year. I don’t wish to jinx it! But hopefully 2021 will be at least more predictable and safer for us all.

The past month and a half or so have been a combination of developing pre-existing goals and identifying and formulating new ones as the Presidential Team now has a great team of Lead Representatives to feedback to us some really important issues from each school.  I will now briefly summarise my activities – the reason for this, is to provide some transparency of activities, so if you do have any questions about the below, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at Drpresidentialteam@lboro.ac.uk

Lead Representative Committee meeting

The first lead rep meeting of the year took place on the 9th December. It was scheduled for two hours and still we did not manage to get all the topics on the agenda! I am really pleased to see how active and engaged the reps are this academic year and it feels like we have a real supportive team ethic that will ultimately help with representation of our Doctoral Researchers. We hold the lead rep meeting to share good practice between lead representatives, identify and discuss collective issues and to relay this information onto the appropriate members of staff. We were able to identify some collective aims that we could work together on to help our doctoral researchers. Putting on more career’s events both in the school and the university was identified as something that was desirable. We also created a working group to discuss PGR relations with supervisors. There was also a lengthy discussion around how to help first years integrate into our school communities. I want to thank all the Lead Representatives for all their input and for their energised engagement so far this year.

Meeting with Welfare and Diversity Postgraduate Officer

On the 4th December, I met with Hannah Smith, the new Welfare and Diversity Postgraduate Officer along with W&D Executive Officer, Alex Marlowe and PhD Support and Social Network Chair Tymele Deydier. To provide some background.  The W&D Exec officer Alex Marlowe established a new postgraduate position at the Loughborough Student Union called Welfare and Diversity Postgraduate Officer. This is a really welcome appointment and adds to Postgraduate representation at the LSU. The Presidential Team are situated in the Education wing of LSU, so it is awesome to have a position in Welfare and Diversity wing also. The meeting was held to establish how best to use this role and for what purposes the SSN and The Presidential Team would find it useful. Many ideas were discussed including developing a Postgrad LSU booklet, holding panels with minority DRs to better understand the needs across our community and working together on issues regarding mental health.

Meeting with SSN Academic Development Co-ordinator

This year the SSN committee expanded to include several new roles. One that was established was the Academic Development Co-ordinator. Melissa Schiele took the role on and has already held a really successful careers event with James Colgate, the Chief Operating Officer at F1 Williams with over 40 attendees! There is also a reading group in January where the book ‘Find your why’ will be discussed. I met with Melissa, former DR president Tom Baker and SSN Vice Chair, Tasha Kitcher to discuss ways in which we can collaborate this year. It was brilliant to hear all the ideas for events in semester two and I am very much looking forward to getting involved and contributing to the feeling of Research Culture across the University. A big congratulations to Melissa to a successful beginning to the role and a thank you to PhD SSN for creating such a key role for our community.  

A Day in the Life of a Doctoral Researcher

I was pleased to be invited to attend the 6th ‘A Day in the Life of a Doctoral Researcher’ organised by the Doctoral College. This event brings together staff from the University and at Loughborough Students Union and the aim is to spread awareness of our Doctoral Researchers i.e., what different challenges do PhD’s encounter, how can services be adjusted to suit DRs. The event consisted of talks from Doctoral College staff, Doctoral Researcher Development Officer, Dr Katryna Kalawsky, Head of Researcher Development, Dr Kathryn North, Senior Assistant Registrar, Dr Sam Marshall and Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor, Professor Liz Peel. We then heard from three of our PGRs, Chidinma Okorie, Chloe Blackwell and Fiona Meeks who discussed both their own experiences and more widely about what PhD life entails. We also had the opportunity to discuss with staff in breakout rooms about their perceptions of what a PhD is. I really enjoyed the event which is an important annual fixture in the calendar for spreading awareness of our DR community.

Other meetings

On the 25th November I arranged a ‘Meet the Presidential Team’ event where Callie and I set out our vision of representation for this academic year with all representatives. At the forefront of our thinking is developing a team ethic so that we have a dynamic and supportive collective of representatives that will voice the viewpoints of our DRs. I attended the second Research Committee of the year on the 24th November where all Associate Deans of Research meet with the Pro Vice-Chancellor of Research, Professor Steve Rothberg to discuss various research related developments. The first Presidential Team meeting with Liz Peel was held the next day. I also attended the Executive Officer Accountability Forum on the 2nd December, in this event, we were able to ask questions of the Exec to hold them to account for their manifesto commitments. Of course, we have kept up with our regular meetings with Education Exec Ana-Maria Bilciu and worked together recently on revising the PGR Staff-Student Liaison Committee.

Many thanks to everyone who has worked alongside Callie and I for the past couple months. It has been an adventure establishing myself in the role and I can’t wait to carry it on in 2021! Speak then!

Call for papers for an edited collection on ‘Cultures of Authenticity’

December 18, 2020 Cristian Vaccari

Following the successful webinar series, hosted by Loughborough University this autumn, we are now seeking contribution for an edited collection on the topic of ‘authenticity’

Editors: Marie Heřmanová, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Michael Skey and Thomas Thurnell-Read, Loughborough University, UK

A widespread fascination with the authentic is said to have emerged as a response to the processes of homogenisation, rationalisation and standardisation at the heart of modernity. The concept of authenticity arose historically at a time of rapid social change and has again come to the fore where social, political, cultural and technological upheavals give rise to feelings of distrust, detachment and alienation against which supposedly authentic people, places and things are sought out for their reassuring certainty and value. Yet, there are huge contradictions and inequalities in who can make claim to authenticity and its construction and communication invariably involves competing narratives and oppositional assertions about what is authentic and how and why the authentic gains its value.

Thus, while the concept of authenticity has a long history, in recent years it has emerged as a prominent theme in many of the most pressing debates about contemporary communication and culture. In political communication there are ongoing concerns about misinformation and fake news, while the success of populist parties is often tied to their claims to be a more authentic representative of ‘the people’ than a detached and dispassionate elite. Similarly, the increasingly fractious debates around migration that are taking place across the globe often centre on the desire to protect ‘authentic’ national cultures from globalising forces and the perceived threat of ‘other’ people, products, ideas and images. In the area of culture, economy and policy, copyright, privacy and authorship remain central issues for the major media industries, while for smaller-scale content and craft producers, authenticity may operate as a key selling point and a marker of cultural distinction for both producers and consumers. Likewise, many parts of the tourism and heritage industries see the provision of authentic experiences as their raison d’etre, offering re(creations) of the past and access to ‘real’ cultural communities and traditions.

Although interest in, and research about, authenticity is growing apace, there are few, if any, publications exploring the concept from a range of disciplinary perspectives. This edited collection will address this lacuna, bring together both established scholars and early career researchers from across the social sciences and humanities and address the following key questions;

Why are debates around authenticity growing at this time?

Who does authenticity matter to and why?

How do different disciplines and subject areas approach the concept?

What are the main similarities and differences in the way that authenticity is conceptualised across the social sciences and humanities?

We therefore invite book chapter proposals from any disciplinary background for this edited collection on ‘Cultures of Authenticity’. We are interested in a broad range of chapters exploring authenticity and proposals addressing authenticity in relation to, but not limited to, the following themes:

  • Authenticity, politics and political communication
  • Consumption and the use of authenticity in branding and marketing
  • Authenticity, the internet and the rise of social media
  • Authenticity in subcultures, fan cultures and celebrity culture
  • Authenticity in tourism, heritage and memorialisation
  • Authenticity, literature and authorship
  • Authenticity in sports, lifestyle and leisure pursuits and practices

Proposals should be between 500-750 words and sent to Michael Skey (m.skey@lboro.ac.uk) by 18th January 2021.

Proposed timescale for delivery: first draft of chapter to be submitted by June 2021, comments from editors, August 2021, final draft of chapters to be submitted by November 2021, publication in early 2022.

A proposal has been submitted to Emerald Publishers and we expect a contract to be issued in the new year.

Authors wishing to discuss chapter ideas prior to the abstract submission are welcome to contact the editors via email.

2020: #LboroFamily Round-Up: Our Alumni!

December 17, 2020 Alex Stephens
This year has been unprecedented and alumni across the globe have made incredible contributions to their communities. We have seen lots of successes for the #LboroFamily in 2020. Here are some of our best bits!
Life as MSc Digital Marketing student: Vishal’s experience

Life as MSc Digital Marketing student: Vishal’s experience

December 16, 2020 Loughborough University London

In this blog, Digital Marketing MSc student and student ambassador, Vishal, will share his experience studying at Loughborough University London so far.


For me, studying at Loughborough University London has been an eye-opening experience. As a post-graduate only campus, a typical week at Loughborough London can be a hectic one.

From balancing work-life whilst maintaining a social life, the student body encourages each other to be adventurous, risk-taking, and determined individuals. Our learning and teaching styles are made up lectures and tutorials. Lectures tend to be more theoretical in nature, while tutorials are practical and engaging.

As a MSc Digital Marketing student, I have gained a detailed understanding of digital technology and the concepts of contemporary digital marketing practises. From engaging with industry practitioners and world-class researchers, to discovering the latest digital trends, my goal is to obtain insight into consumer digital footprints, to solve critical problems associated with digital marketing in the global market.

The best part of this programme at Loughborough University London is the focus on fewer exams and more coursework. My personal highlight was the ‘Strategic Marketing Management’ coursework. I had to choose a brand and carry out a market assessment. I then had to plan for a strategic extension of the particular brand to a new product, targeting a regional market of my choice. After thorough market research, I designed a ‘smart’ face mask for the Chinese market.

Whilst most students on this course are recent graduates, some have been working in the field for years. For instance, during the Induction week, I met a 32-year-old man that got married three days before and a 42-year-old that completed his undergraduate degree twenty years ago. It was lovely to hear and share stories from our personal lives, making the environment feel highly inclusive and professional.

Sports is also huge at Loughborough University London, which is another thing I love. As an Arsenal fan, on the weekends I will crack open a cold one with the boys at the nearby pub! I can take a 20-minute tube ride to Central or meet up with friends at the Canalside, right behind our campus. Here, you can find an array of restaurants and bars, with many of the bars and restaurants offering student discounts!

Overall, living in London has been wonderful so far and I am excited to see what happens in the future. For those joining Loughborough, my advice would be to go out, make new friends and explore what London has to offer! Trust me, you will not regret it.


To find out more about Vishal and to meet our current Student Ambassadors, please visit our website.

The Macron Doctrine: Repackaging Old French Ideas Or A New Direction For Europe (And The World)?

The Macron Doctrine: Repackaging Old French Ideas Or A New Direction For Europe (And The World)?

December 15, 2020 Loughborough University London

Professor Helen Drake, Director of the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance, together with Sophie Meunier, a Senior Research Scholar at Princeton University, have published an article discussing the Macron Doctrine and how conversations have shifted.


Though the Macron Doctrine may look like old French wine in new bottles, the young French president is all about shifting the conversation.

“We need two strong guiding principles: to get back on track with useful international cooperation that prevents war and addresses our current challenges; and to build a much stronger Europe, the voice, strength and principles of which can carry weight in this reformed framework.”

With these words, included in a long interview of the French President published in November 2020 in Le Grand Continent, Emmanuel Macron laid out his foreign policy doctrine. This was not the first time he had done so, but it was the lengthiest exposition to date, and the most comprehensive. Here the French president was attempting to put France back at the centre of world affairs, not only as a matter of national prestige, but above all fuelled by a fervour for nothing less than rescuing humanity from itself, and the planet from its humans (in that order).

The Macron doctrine is articulated around two central ideas. The first is that the liberal international order is living through a major historical juncture and needs to be replaced with new forms of multilateral cooperation. In short, Macron claims, it is time to substitute the post-war ‘Washington consensus’ with something new, namely the ‘Paris consensus’ launched by this very interview. Why is that? There are a whole host of factors. Demographic and economic forces have shrunk the relative weight of advanced industrialized democracies, challenging Western hegemony.

The resurgence of Russia and the rapid growth of China are posing an existential challenge to the stability and desirability of liberal democracy. The United States, the historical pillar of the liberal international order, has disengaged from the multilateral governance of global issues such as climate change, and in some cases is even actively sabotaging traditional alliances and multilateralism, such as NATO and the WTO. The 2020 US election of Joe Biden might well repair traditional alliances and smooth transatlantic relations, but in Macron’s mind, Europe can no longer count on the US as a steady, like-minded partner.


You can read the full article here.

Professor Helen Drake is also the lead editor and co-author of chapters 1, 2 and 12 for the sixth edition of Developments in French Politics. You can find out more about the new book here.

To find out more about Professor Helen Drake and her research, please visit our website.

Disability, Me, and the Inclusivity Group

Disability, Me, and the Inclusivity Group

December 15, 2020 Sophie Dinnie
Chair of the Inclusivity Group and Postgraduate Administrator, Emma Nadin, shares her experiences as part of the University’s campaign to raise awareness for UK Disability History Month.
This Week at Loughborough | 14 December

This Week at Loughborough | 14 December

December 14, 2020 Alex Stephens

DH@Lboro Talk: The role of maps in the Digital Humanities

14 December, 4 – 5pm, Online

Join Prof Heike Jöns (SSH)’s talk at the invitation of the DH@Lboro group. Professor Jöns’ talk will look at the role of maps in digital humanities.

The objective of DH@Lboro is to celebrate Digital Humanities and encourage interdisciplinary dialogue across various departments and Schools at Loughborough.

For booking information visit the event page.

University Choir: Handel’s Messiah

14 December, 7pm, Online

Join Loughborough University Choir as we enjoy Handel’s Messiah in a new way suited to these difficult times.

The University Choir will launch the premiere of their new video ‘And the Glory of the Lord’ with choir members singing this chorus together from our own homes via the magic of technology. For other choruses, they will be singing along to carefully selected great choir performances from pre-COVID days. The soloists have recorded their parts in advance to be played as part of the event.

Find out how to join the event on the event page.

Creative Readings: Language, Dialect and Translation

16 December, 4 – 5pm, Online

In the final English Research Seminar of the winter term, we are joined by R. M. Francis, Anne-Marie Beller and Kerry Featherstone to discuss the role of dialect and language in creative work.

Dr R. M. Francis is an author and poet who also teaches Creative Writing at the University of Wolverhampton. He has published in many genres and explores the use of Black Country dialect in works such as the novel Bella and his new poetry collection, Subsidence. Rob will be reading from both works as he reflects on his creative process.

Dr Anne-Marie Beller and Dr Kerry Featherstone both work in English at Loughborough: Dr Beller as a specialist in Victorian Literature and Dr Featherstone as a poet and Creative Writing lecturer. Together, they are working on a translation of Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s The Pastor of Marston, which has never yet been published in English.

Join them to hear from their work in progress by visiting the event page.

Resource Radicals: From Petro-Nationalism to Post-Extractivism in Ecuador – Book discussion

16 December, 5 – 6.30pm, Online

In 2007, the Left came to power in Ecuador. In the years that followed, the “twenty-first-century socialist” government and a coalition of grassroots activists came to blows over the extraction of natural resources. Each side declared the other a perversion of leftism and the principles of socioeconomic equality, popular empowerment, and anti-imperialism.

In her book, Resource Radicals, Thea Riofrancos unpacks the conflict between these two leftisms: on the one hand, the administration’s resource nationalism and focus on economic development; and on the other, the anti-extractivism of grassroots activists who condemned the government’s disregard for nature and indigenous communities.

This event is hosted by the Populism Research Group at Loughborough University. Find out more about the event and booking information on the event page.

Book Club: Frederick Douglass – Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

15 December, 12.30 – 1.30pm, Online

Join LU Arts’ regular Book Club for an online discussion of Frederick Douglass’ first autobiography.

Former slave, impassioned abolitionist, brilliant writer, newspaper editor and eloquent orator whose speeches fired the abolitionist cause, Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) led an astounding life. Physical abuse, deprivation and tragedy plagued his early years, yet through sheer force of character he was able to overcome these obstacles to become a leading spokesman for his people.

The Book Club is open to all current and former students and staff of Loughborough University. They typically meet every six weeks to discuss a book chosen by our members. These are usually, but not always, novels.

To find out how to get involved with the book club visit the event page.

Loughborough Festivities

19 December – 3 January, Online and In person

Join us this festive season for some fun activities and challenges that you can either do out and about or from the comfort of your student accommodation. From baking and crafts to working out and enjoying freshly prepared meals everyday, there’s no need to worry about finding something to do this holiday period.

Find out what is going on during the festive period on the campaign website.

Meet Sakinah: An Inspiring Success scholar

Meet Sakinah: An Inspiring Success scholar

December 13, 2020 Loughborough University London

Sakinah is one of our 2020 Inspiring Success scholars and in this short blog, she will share her experience studying at Loughborough University London so far.


Meet Sakinah

My name is Sakinah Sutherland-Jones, I am 23 and a swim teacher from Hackney.  I attended Clapton Girls’ Academy school and sixth form, then went on to achieve a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in International Politics. I have a keen interest in sports and politics.

After graduating from my previous university, I continued to work part-time and was unsure about my career plans. I actively applied for jobs; however, the limitations were the job sector was saturated with graduates looking for work. When I decided to pursue a master’s degree, Loughborough University London was one of the few universities which offered the course I wanted to study. The university campus is close to home and local, which, is a bonus.

So far, my best university experiences have been meeting my course mates from around the world and becoming an Institute Rep.

After graduating, I hope to work for a charitable or Non-Governmental Organisation.

I would recommend studying at Loughborough University London as the university offers a lot of opportunities. Networking and career advice seem to be at the heart of the university. I now feel more confident that after graduating, I will successfully secure a job of my interest,  and that I will have the necessary skills and expertise to fulfil my role.”


What is Inspiring Success?

The Inspiring Success programme, was first introduced in 2015 to help local unemployed and underemployed graduates from Hackney, Newham, Waltham Forest and Tower Hamlets progress into graduate-level employment.

Over 100 local people have benefited from the support and graduates have gone on to work for companies such as INGGlobal Disability Innovation Hub and Hackney Council.

The first stage of the Inspiring Success programme consists of evening workshops designed to enable graduates to reflect on their experience, plan their next career steps, and build their network. The second stage offers attendees the opportunity to apply for a 100% tuition fee scholarship to study one of the innovative postgraduate programmes offered at our London campus.


For more information about the Inspiring Success programme please visit our website.

How to draw a portrait

How to draw a portrait

December 11, 2020 LU Arts

By Alexandra Mitrutoiu

Hi! I’m Alexandra and I’m a 3rd year Fine Art student who likes making video tutorials and vlogs as a hobby.  

In this tutorial, I will show you a different approach to drawing portraits. The video is comprised of two exercises: one in establishing face proportions, and one in determining the values of the image which will later help in shading the portrait. Finally, these two exercises come together in one final work, where I demonstrate how I draw a well-structured portrait. The video is full of tips and tricks for anyone just staring, or for amateurs who want to take their art to a new level. 

If you enjoyed this video and found it helpful, I have a YouTube channel of my own, where I post similar content.


My name is Alexandra Mitrutoiu and I’m a Part C Fine Art student from Bucharest, Romania. Like many people in my position, I don’t remember a time I wasn’t into art. Drawing and painting have always been an intrinsic part of my life, and so at age 14 I decided to pursue an Art Degree. I started training in an artist’s studio at age 15, where I was taught the basics of academic drawing and painting in long, strenuous hours of still-life compositions and portraits.  

However, in my first two years at Loughborough Fine Art I discovered a whole range of techniques that I enjoyed, such as printmaking, mixed-media collage, digital art, and embroidery. 

After a year-long placement as Artist in Residence at MTC Coventry, I’ve narrowed them down to embroidery and digital art (graphic design and digital illustration). My current art practice consists of fabric arts, which I create in an unlikely combination of digital illustration and Jacquard Loom weaving. I am hoping to create a quilt or a tapestry for my Degree Show exhibition tackling the themes of isolation (the literal lockdown-type of isolation), domesticity, and women’s work through the diary-like depiction of every-day experiences in the format of embroidery. 

If you’re wondering where drawing and portraits fit in my life right now… Well, I still enjoy doing those, just in my own time. And so, I started creating a series of tutorials that I posted on my Patreon or my YouTube.  

Throughout the first lockdown I devoted time and effort to improving my digital illustration and graphic design, by taking on freelance jobs, doing online courses, and developing my personal projects. I grew my Instagram over the five months of quarantine to create a platform for my art.  

Because of this experience and my placement job which consisted of doing graphic design work for MTC, I decided to pursue digital media after graduation. My main plan is to do an MA in either Graphic Design or Digital Media studies and work in creative marketing after University. I slowly want to build my way up to an art directing position. Anything that has to do with content creation in the creative sector is right for me.  

If you want to see more of my art, you can check it out here: www.instagram.com/alexandramitrutoiu

London crowned best city in the world

London crowned best city in the world

December 11, 2020 Loughborough University London

London crowned best city in the world described as the “capital of all capitals” London has been ranked as the best city in the world for a sixth year in a row by bestcities.org!

The ranking scores the world’s best cities based on six metrics: place, product, programming, people, prosperity, and promotion. London ranked 1st for promotion, and 2nd for the product and programming categories. Promotion includes a city’s ability to tell its story (and help others do the same) depends on how it incentivizes and rewards sharing of experiences by locals and visitors. This ranking bases a city’s promotion performance based on the number of stories, references and recommendations shared online about that city. The product ranking explores the “hardware” of a city, studying a city’s key institutions and infrastructure, including attractions, museums and airport connectivity. The programming category measures the experiential pillars of a great visit: culture, food, shopping and nightlife.

As a city rich in history, an innovator of the arts, culture and fashion world not to mention its economic impact globally, it is no surprise that London is consistently ranked number one. London’s cultural dynamism makes it among the world’s most international cities, offering something for everyone. With over 2,000 years of history the city is filled with iconic building and landmarks, maybe more so than any city in the world. London invites you to explore the historical and modern culture free of charge, from free museums to art exhibitions and breath-taking sights you can truly witness a masterpiece without needing to spend a penny.

Aside from the iconic buildings and innovative architecture, London is equally as rich in greenery. Over 8 million trees, 300,000 gardens and hectares of parks and green space bloom across the city. London technically is ‘green enough’ to fall under the UN’s definition of a national park – in fact the National Park City Foundation confirmed London as the world’s first National Park City in 2019. This initiative aims to see more than 50% of London consisting of purely green spaces by 2050.

Greenwich Park, London

London is spellbindingly beautiful, whatever the season, whether the city is covered in brown autumn leaves or sweltering hot the architectural and natural combinations intertwined in the city aesthetics make it a beautiful all year round. Some say the views of London have inspired some of the world’s greatest literature from its renowned residence such as Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde.

Inspiring to aspire, a city filled with endless opportunities, driving innovation and simultaneously highlighting the importance of nature and biodiversity, London truly is one of the best cities in the world.


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

Introducing our new Student Ambassadors

Introducing our new Student Ambassadors

December 10, 2020 Loughborough University London

We’ve recently welcomed our new cohort of students for the 2020-21 academic year, including 15 new Student Ambassadors. Take a look below to hear what our current student ambassadors had to say about their Loughborough University London experience so far and their advice for prospective students:

Andrew

From: the UK

Studying: MSc Risk, Governance & International Management

“Loughborough University is a long standing and prestigious institution with significant global recognition and was a large reason as to why I wanted to attend this university. Visiting the London campus and seeing the facilities and study space available truly put things into practice for me and moving back to London, the city I was born and raised in, made the idea of studying at Loughborough University London a great proposition for me. I love the scope for debate underpinned by quality teaching within my course and at the University. Studying does not feel as rigid and we are regularly encouraged to share our ideas and discuss amongst our classes. Having a range of students from different backgrounds within a variety of opinions truly makes such discussion interesting to see things from different perspectives.”

Ashwin

From: India

Studying: MSc Design Innovation Management

“The course has helped me acquire some practical and innovative business acumen required for excelling in a global company. The strategies and techniques taught in class would surely help me in a business or firm which delivers innovative, functional, and aesthetic solutions for problems and difficulties of people around the world.

The diversity in the students attending the course helps you learn different views and aspects of a topic. Professors and Lecturers from the course are very enthusiastic about what they teach and try to make the classes as interactive and engaging as possible. The block method of teaching also lets you fully immerse in a subject and understand it better.”

Ellie

From: the UK

Studying: MSc Design Innovation Management

“When looking at the different opportunities to further my study, I was drawn to Design Innovation Management because of the Collaborative Project which provides the chance to work with businesses. This would allow me to gain real life project experience as well as develop my network when looking for graduate opportunities. I think the part of the course I enjoy the most is being able to work with people from different backgrounds to my own – there are students from different cultures and educational fields which has given rise to interesting conversations and has opened my mind to other ways of thinking and working.”

Errol

From: The Phillipines

Studying: MSc Security, Peace-building and Diplomacy

“I chose to study at Loughborough University London because it offers a perfect course related to my advocacy of promoting sustainable peace. Aside from that, the roster of world class and top calibre professors is very impressive. The campus location is also amazing. For an international student like me, it is very thrilling to live and study in the UK, more so in London.

The diversity in class is what I enjoy most. Since our classrooms are considered melting pots for cultures around the world – since the students are from different parts of the globe. Not only that, it creates an atmosphere of learning in the global perspective whilst at the same time cultures international understanding.”

Fibi

From: the UK

Studying: MSc Digital Creative Media

“What I enjoy the most about my course is learning new things from different courses every day. For instance, I am now learning coding though I do not have a programming background. I saw it as a real challenge at first, but then I started to adapt to it and work on my assignment bit by bit. I love this feeling of looking back at how far I have come and how much I have learned from the beginning. Besides accumulating knowledge from the courses, meeting and communicating with classmates, lecturers, alumni who have related experiences gives me different perspectives on digital media industry. I do hope that I will reach my future career goals with the help of my master’s degree as a whole.”

Johannes

From: Germany

Studying: MSc Sport Analytics and Technologies

“I love the diversity of students and academics at the University. I have met some amazing fellow students who are passionate about their chosen subject. The academics come from a diverse background with a real passion for the subject they’re teaching. I also love that I can take a stroll in the huge Olympic park or walk along the wonderful canal down the road from the University to relax or have lunch. Some modules had several fantastic guest lecturers talk to us. Some of the guest lecturers have been Loughborough alumni that were working within sports, we also got a talk from the head of research and innovation of a big football club and many more outstanding individuals that have enhanced my learning experience.”

Jokotola

From: Nigeria

Studying: MSc International Management

“What I enjoy most about my course is how the teachers are very invested in seeing you succeed. I also appreciate the new topics I learn about from the business management world. A module I’m taking at the moment is called managing sustainability which is one of my favourites so far. There is so much business can do to make both their customers and employees happy. It’s a great course! Loughborough University London has created such a warm and safe environment for all students especially for international students. I’m glad I’m here!”

Komal

From: India

Studying: MSc Sport Business and Innovation

“I’ve always wanted to study at Loughborough, for its world-class sports programmes and faculty and the diversity of the students that come to the University.

My advice to any students looking to study at Loughborough University London is be ready to learn and embrace the culture, knowledge, and enthusiasm of the Loughborough family. The experience is irreplaceable and goes too quickly so just enjoy it!”

Lauren

From: the UK

Studying: MSc Sport Business and Innovation

“I am really enjoying getting the opportunity to learn from industry experts, who often deliver guest lectures. This provides a great insight and also a fantastic opportunity to network. It is also great studying as part of such a diverse cohort. Within discussions we have such a broad range of different lived experiences that the conversation is always rich, and the differing opinions and approaches challenges us to learn beyond our comfort zones.”

Maria

From: Romania

Studying: MSc Digital Marketing

“I chose to study at Loughborough University London because I was impressed by the high academic standard of the University from my undergraduate studies. I was also attracted to the master’s programme offered on the London campus which I believe will give me an edge in the competitive job market, as well as the diversity of topics covered and its practical focus on the business world. The programme gives me exposure to a variety of issues and challenges that digital marketers face, and we are encouraged to find solutions using both theory and our own reflective thinking.”

Mario

From: Panama

Studying: MSc Sport Business and Innovation

“Studying sports means also passion, emotion, culture those aspects during classes and activities create an immersive experience in theoretical and practical methodology. I really like the connection of Loughborough with stakeholders/industry. In the first month I easily connected with more than 10 start-ups during classes and Future Space activities. The learning content is not just classes, exist a world of activities organized by Future Space (you need to know about them), Loughborough Enterprise Network also has entrepreneurship workshops, seminars. If you need to improve your academic English and writing skills the University also provides workshops for these. It just amazing all the knowledge that you can access through Loughborough University London….. and of course classmates it’s fantastic how much you can learn by making friends.”

Oluwatosin

From: the UK

Studying: MA Media and Creative Industries

“The structure of the degree programmes at Loughborough University London in particular motivates me as I find it to be not only inspiring but also very suited to my aspirations for studying at postgraduate level. Loughborough University is ranked in the top 10 in University league tables and and having studied at the Loughborough campus I figured I’d get the same quality teaching here in London site as well.”

Robert

From: the UK

Studying: MSc Sports Business and Leadership

“The thing I enjoy most about my course is the opportunity to meet like-minded, yet diverse people, and make the most of the discussions and conversations that arise as a result. Furthermore, hearing from such a wide range of sports leaders, each with their own set of stories and careers path, acts as inspiration for us as students as we begin to think about our future beyond studies.”

Shreyans

From: India

Studying: MSc Sport Business and Innovation

“The location of the campus in Here East creates a sense of professionalism which is needed for a master’s course. All the professors are really supportive and friendly which gives you a comfort zone to explore your thoughts and ideas about the sports industry. The most interesting aspect is the association of each concept with the practical world. We learn things by applying concepts in the real world through case studies and group work. Our modules allow us to create a holistic understanding of the sports industry, and this has given me a clarity on what I might want to pick as a prospective career choice in the future in the sports industry. A master’s degree is a good opportunity to fine tune and build on your existence knowledge while you network and explore all the possible career paths.”

Vishal

From: the UK

Studying: MSc Digital Marketing

“London is a great place to be, especially for university students. Speaking from an international student perspective, adapting to a new country is never easy. But trust me, overcoming the anxiety of new climates, cultures and traditions is a life experience. As I sit in Unite Stratford One and write this message, I have a special request for those deciding to join Loughborough University London – just go out, make new friends and explore what London has to offer! Trust me, you will not regret it. In fact, you will feel more confident, strong and on your journey to living a better life. Last but not least, as a university student do not forget – keep a BUDGET. If not, say bye-bye to your bank account!”


To find out more about our Student Ambassadors, please visit our website.

Reflections on Racism and the Race Equality Charter

December 10, 2020 Richard Taylor

I chair the University’s Race Equality Action Group that co-ordinates the University’s intention to submit for a Bronze award in the Race Equality Charter (REC). The Race Equality Charter is not a solution or remedy to issues of racism, and it most certainly isn’t a badge that makes us immune from racism at Loughborough. Instead the REC is a practical approach that requires an institution to acknowledge and confront racism in a structured way. To obtain Bronze, we must produce an honest and thorough analysis of our current position on race equality, develop medium term measurable and realistic goals to improve, and deploy an action plan to reach them. Importantly though, the REC requires us to position as actively anti-racist in what we do as an institution. You can read further about the REC and the work underway here.

To help us improve our understanding of race and racism, and engage with the REC, the Vice Chancellor, Deputy Vice Chancellor, myself, Director of Finance and the three Pro Vice Chancellors have undertaken bespoke training. This included extensive reading material and was facilitated by AdvanceHE. The training covered, inter alia, racism, race equality, microaggressions, white fragility, white privilege and unconscious bias. We also spent time discussing, and being challenged on, the outcomes of the staff and student survey on race equality that many colleagues contributed to over the summer.

At times extremely challenging, this training has made it very clear to us, if we did need it confirmed, that we have a lot to learn, and a lot to achieve in order to accomplish our institutional goals around race equality. As leaders, we recognise we need to take clear ownership, whilst acknowledging we most certainly don’t have all the answers. On this point however I am hugely grateful to my colleagues and students from Black and Minority Ethnic* groups who are helping us navigate and understand the issues. We will share more on our reflections on this training in a video that will be available shortly.

Last month, Universities UK published the outcome of its working group on racial harassment in higher education. The report provides a clear framework through which to assess the scale and scope of existing activity, as well as identify areas where we do not currently have activity.  There are 11 recommendations in the report and we have commenced an audit around where we currently stand in relation to them. I think we are in a reasonable place on a number of the recommendations, partly because of our preparations for REC (for example, Recommendation 8 asks us to have an online reporting tool for racist incidents. Ours was launched in September and can be found here). Some require more work (for example recommendation 5 asks us to develop training for staff and students on racism, racial harassment and microaggressions. Since this summer, new students complete such training as part of their induction. But more is needed and planned). Some recommendations map onto current gaps in our approach that will require significant shift, (for example recommendation 9 asks us to collect data on complaints (which we do to some degree) and discuss with partners, our Students’ Union and campus unions (which we don’t currently do)).

The racist murder of George Floyd in May brought additional focus to our work on race quality. I spoke to Black colleagues and students in the days following the murder, in part to offer my unconditional support, and heard first hand not just the enormous and totemic impact it had had, but how issues of racial injustice manifested in daily life. I want to reproduce here the words the Vice Chancellor used following the murder to acknowledge our own responsibilities and shortcomings  –

I know with regret from listening to Black students and staff that racism does manifest here. We must not let it pass unchallenged. I take personal responsibility for leading work that positions the University as anti-racist.

To my white colleagues and students I say: this is an endeavour that we must all support. We must be pro-active in standing against racism and champion the values of equality, diversity and plurality.

To my Black colleagues and students I say: [our institution is] imperfect and must do better. Thank you for your guidance and advice. We welcome any help that you are able to offer to us. You all have my best wishes, particularly at this difficult time.

We understand that more work needs to be done. Some of the individual outcomes from REC are modest – I realise that – but collectively they are tangible and if achieved would constitute progress. Progress is not the same as perfection. In working hard for the former, we must never claim the latter.

* I’ve used this term because it is the one selected for use by the University’s BME staff group

Julius Malema and the Economic Freedom Fighters

December 10, 2020 Catherine Armstrong

by Matthew Pascal

After enjoying a module on populism in the first semester of my final year, I decided that it would be the focus of my dissertation. During this module taught by Giorgos Katsambekis, I developed an understanding of the academic debate surrounding the various theoretical frameworks of populism, and particularly enjoyed applying these theories in the analysis of left-wing populist actors, such as Pablo Iglesias Turrión. ‘Populist’ is a term often used pejoratively in contemporary media. However, through this module I gained a more nuanced, theoretical understanding of the subject and enjoyed seeing how, when applied correctly, populism can be such a powerful political tool.

Although we analysed a range of case studies during this module, these were largely limited to Latin America, Europe and the United States, without much consideration of Asian and African case studies. Therefore, with this interest in left-wing populism and eagerness to expand my understanding of populism to case studies from other regions, I decided that my dissertation would be a fantastic opportunity to analyse the South African Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and their leader Julius Malema. 

Having an already sound theoretical understanding of the topic allowed me to devote extra attention to the analysis of my case study. Therefore, the bulk of my time was spent researching and analysing speeches, campaign videos, interviews, press releases and a variety of other elements of Julius Malema and the EFF’s politics. Had I not had such a strong grasp of this theory from the populism module I had studied previously, I would certainly not have been able to conduct such a thorough analysis, which was vital in forming a clear and admissible judgement. I also had a prior political interest in Julius Malema and the EFF, which made the research and analysis an enjoyable process.

In short, I found that Julius Malema and the EFF are stylistically populist. Given the inclusionary nature of their populism, I concluded that, despite some legitimate reasons for concern, they have a mostly corrective impact on democracy in South Africa and are in many ways similar to the left-wing populism of Latin America found in the late 1990s and early 21st century.

I then began to analyse the other aspects of Malema and the EFF’s politics – such as race and class – and discuss how the racialised nature of capitalism and, therefore, inequality in South Africa underpins the way in which both racial politics and left-wing class based politics play a significant role in Malema and the EFF’s populism.   


Bio: I have just graduated with First Class Honours in Politics and International Relations, after also completing an Erasmus+ year in Bremen, Germany. I am from Leeds, however, I will be shortly moving to London to start a new job in the Department of Health and Social Care in Westminster as part of the Civil Service Fast Stream. I am passionate about both politics and sport. Most of my free time is spent either watching or playing sport; however, I also enjoy reading and travelling, which I try to do as much as possible, as well as building and selling handmade furniture.


Image: Photo by KYLE CUT MEDIA on Unsplash

Recollections of a racial past in a racist present

December 7, 2020 David Roberts

NB: I have used racially derogatory terms throughout this piece in an uncensored fashion in order to paint a picture of racism for those who have never felt its tongue and temper, and to better critique and convey their vitriol.

Foreword

I need you to understand two things when you read this note. First, this is probably going to hurt you. Not as much as it hurt me and the uncounted others who continue to experience a similar existence under the yoke of routine and random racist oppression, but nonetheless those of you willing to listen and hear and disassemble your fear will face multiple emotional cuts and bruises. You built an Empire based on domination of black by white. What you are facing now is the whiplash of time. But believe me, we of colour faced the ‘lash in many different forms.

Racism isn’t a thing of the past. The past resides in the present. Racism is normal, routine, alive, constant, present, always ugly whether subtle or brutal. It was encouraging today to read the statement from Universities UK acknowledging the omnipresence of racial harassment. It was painful that only racial harassment was acknowledged, as if somehow there was only harassment, rather than repudiation, hatred, loathing, disgust, denial, discrimination, punching, kicking, enslaving, exclusion and so many other shades of violence. Black people say it still affects them daily, white people and institutions deny it, as they did the first times around. The past is alive in the present.

I use imagery to convey complex meaning more clearly using the brain’s natural visual processing capacity when I teach. I created this to convey how the past can exist in the present: the old photograph matching with the modern setting.

Copyright Dr. David Roberts 2020

The second thing you must recognize, acknowledge and understand is that racism is structural. There is no such thing as a ‘one-off’ or ‘isolated’ racial ‘incident’ like harassment. Individual racist acts of all kinds come from wider beliefs fed by Fascist, racist ideologies that prevail without necessarily always appearing to do so. They fester in beliefs about white superiority inherited from imperial domination handed down through myths of benign intervention, creating institutions of discrimination underpinned by social and educational curricula of exclusion and denial. If you cannot hear this, if it is not acknowledged, nothing will change – for why would you seek to change something you did not think was broken? Paulo Freire said the only people who can change the actions of the oppressors are the oppressed, because the oppressors do not realize their role in oppressing. I know/hope that isn’t true, but so far, despite oppressed people telling their oppressors what is happening, there has been too little meaningful change where I am.

This is my story. You may not view it as porn for titillation, only to dismiss my experiences as one-offs. They were not. They were organized through the underlying learned and propagandized racist beliefs on the part of white imperial Britons about people of colour. You may instead open your minds to understand that heinous as it is, racism is alive and kicking in the UK now, and must inevitably be so at this institution, like many others, because too little has been done to end it. Three scholar-activists recently wrote this telling line and it should be heard clearly amongst this particular academic community and its broader compatriots: ‘Engaging with its past requires white academia to recognize how the university continues to serve as an arm of the state, perpetuating and hardening borders that facilitate access, circulation and value of white knowledge at the expense of non-white people and our knowledge’. Racism doesn’t go away on its own, not individual not group, not institutionalized and internalized ideology without active intervention. It doesn’t even go away when civil wars are declared. It only goes away when ideas and beliefs are not just challenged but publicly reviled, repudiated and rejected, and not just in rhetoric but in living, active, honest institutional acknowledgement followed by reform at all levels, in all places.

Denial ain’ jus’ a river in Egypt

I was razed (think about it) in the North of England in the 1960’s. I’d never known another place and had a white mother and a white father and believed I was white in a bright, white world. But my parents had lied to me about who I was. I was part-adopted, the truth of who I was, and am, buried in the shame of the poor, young, white-trash girl knocked up by a foreigner she met once or twice, and whom I met never. That truth was further masked by the fat white drunk who saved her fallen ‘honour’ by marrying the woman with the dark-skinned bastard child. That was me. That was how the world represented me to myself.

The ‘tolerance’ for which my social, cultural, legal and political homeland is famously known was nowhere to be seen. Mostly back then, instead of tolerance, it was the rhetoric and racist distaste of a nation whose own identity had run aground on the shores of post-War hypocrisy. After all, the country that claimed to fight for freedom from Nazi oppression could hardly perpetuate such dominion over its imperial minions. Global times were changing; local attitudes were not. British society could still Lord it over the Niggers at home, if they couldn’t do it abroad as much anymore. They could still reinforce their own diminishing self-respect for their sceptered isle as their place under a foreign sun receded before their Empire-moistened eyes.

I was a very happy kid, for a while, before school, before the institutions of nations and the white determination of who I was and who I could be meant I would not be. In school, in 1960’s and 1970’s England, I discovered that I wasn’t white: my parents’ lies had created an optical illusion. I was described variously as ‘olive-skinned’ (my aunt); ‘dark’ (neighbours), and a ’filthy fucking Paki’ (one of my teachers, and thereafter, most of the kids at school). It was shortened to a slightly more civil ‘Paki’ or ‘Paki bastard’ most of the time. Along with these epithets came the usual suspects and targets of white English derision: ‘nigger’, ‘Yid’; ‘Jew-boy’; and the eminently kinder ‘wog’ and ‘blackie’. There were other terms of white endearment but these are the ones that stuck, and which percolate still in my mind, because that kind of violence never disappears completely. Whoever said ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me’ wasn’t routinely, daily denigrated for his ethnic identity by young and old alike, year after year. I had no idea I wasn’t the only one that suffered at white hands because I was the only non-white and the Internet hadn’t been invented. Awareness of direct and indirect forms of violence came later.

Enoch Powell, who divided England and aggravated racism in the infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in 1968 He declared open season on people of colour because he represented the government and had said we were the cause of race problems in the UK.

Copyright Wiki Commons CC3.0/Allan Warren

Racism was my norm, and it was structural. Racism as it applied to me was never a ‘one-off’, the product of an aberrant individual or group. Like sexism, racism in my childhood, and now, is the product of values and beliefs that rest on the notion of white supremacy and black inferiority. Racist events were, and are, never just events. They are processes and they were, and are, normal. When the British state refuses to consider how big fat statues valorizing and honouring imperial warlords might endorse racial loathing, they reinforce and represent older values about the correctness of white racial domination. One act of racism is never just that. It is the outcome of decades and centuries of state-sanctioned oppression in foreign lands ‘of which we know little’, then transported and represented to the white homeland. Racism is structural, meaning inequality not caused by individual ‘failings’ and ‘weaknesses’ but by organized sets of rules coming from institutions like the government, the legislature, the business sector, the banks. It’s the inequality ramped up by the laws that say the truth of England’s history cannot be repeated in school, lest it upset white people. That’s structural inequality: laws embedded as norms that mirror and reproduce values. Those values are formalized, authorized, instituted and communicated through the Foucauldian networks of state power than dictate how social life should be directed and disciplined. Racism never resided solely in metropolitan halls of power, or it would never have reached me and the millions of others who have experienced it. The hundreds of millions of individual acts of racism are funneled from state to people through nodes of governance that direct violence and control against the lesser peoples. They are the council officers who discriminate in housing allocation and applications. They are the police stations that turn away black complaints against white people. They are the hospitals that prioritize beds for white folk, the state-licensed pubs that refuse to serve ‘blacks, Irish and dogs’, the prisons with a disproportionate black population, the bus depots that segregate black from white. These individual racial energies come from ideological belief directed by institutions against individuals: young brown kids in schools, in this instance.

Racial resistance was illegitimate and even nonsensical in my world, in England, because England ‘tolerated’ colour so how could there be a problem? I only later realized that tolerance amounts to a kinder and gentler racism that sanctioned our presence only on condition of prescribed behaviours that didn’t offend Whitey. I was so proud when I came to the realization on my own that I didn’t want to be tolerated. I came to understand that I wanted and deserved to be accepted and respected, and there were no grounds on Earth on which another human being who differed in the colour of his skin should not be. I knew this because I knew I had done nothing wrong other than offend cowardly bigots who could only ever attack me with the permission and authority of social and state sanction. That consciousness came much later, and with no thanks to my academic schooling. Quite the reverse. It was pounded into me, literally, that racial oppression was officially sanctioned.

State racial oppression. The Confederacy Flag, symbolic of historical and ongoing organized racism in the US and the locus of a mythologized secession that would reintroduce racial segregation in the South.

Copyright Wiki Commons Public Domain

Amidst that space of oppression were a few boys who didn’t persecute me. They saw the funny, happy kid who loved planes, dinosaurs, his bicycle and reading comics. They were my friends, and because of that they were also demonized by other white boys: epithets like ‘paki lover’ and ‘nigger nancy’ were further sanctioned by teachers though their lack of interest in challenging this racism, and by some who were overtly racist themselves. The historian who thought Empire was essential, I recall, to control the ‘breeding of blacks’ and keep them in their place, under imperial heel. But there was one teacher who saw what was happening. In my despair, I had announced I was joining the Fascist British National Party, a racist band of ignorami and simpletons steeped in hatred but increasingly popular as ‘waves’ of foreigners arrived in England from decolonizing shores. All the teachers knew; I was a laughingstock because the BNP would not welcome someone my colour into their ranks. Of all those teachers who could have intervened to help a confused, brutalized, hurting little lad, the one who did was ‘Raz’ Berry. He was tiny and bespectacled and taught German. Unlike the other teachers, he’d fought Naziism (it was only 30 years after the Second World War), and he’d penetrated the Nazi military regime as a Royal Marine Commando explosives saboteur. He was the kind of man they make movies about, except he didn’t look tough or masculine or otherwise soldierly. He looked ordinary, bespectacled. When he took me aside to talk gently and kindly to me about my ‘choice’, he didn’t talk about the war. He talked about how if I joined the BNP, I would be told to harm black people the way I was being hurt. He understood I was desperate to escape the hateful verbal abuse, the beatings and the hospitalizations, the boys who spat on me all the way home, the teachers who perpetuated it. He located my empathy and my interior courage. And my sanity; in many ways, my short-lived move towards the BNP was a function of my mind’s descent into a bizarre realm where I would join white oppressors as a child of colour and hurt my brothers and sisters. Racial violence takes many shapes.

In all of this, my identity had become socially edited. In nation-states, we experience identity in legal form, represented in our passports. That identity gives us sanction and legitimacy as citizens. I had a British passport, but that permission to exist as a member of a white tribe in a triangular island was denied by most others I came into contact with. No-one believed I was British because of my appearance, and because of the then relative rarity of darkness in the north of England in the 1960’s and 1970’s. I wasn’t allowed to be British by society at large. The Monarch was their Queen, not mine, they told me. I should go back to where I came from (London, as it happened), a refrain echoed fully half a century later by the most powerful idiot in the world, of four of his own American Senate members.

Institutional racism

That social editing took its toll. I was unsure of who I was and could be. The State seemed to say one thing, even welcoming my later application to become a Royal Air Force pilot. The citizens I would then defend as an RAF officer, objected.  Perhaps the RAF remembered that its greatest battle was won in the summer of 1940 with foreigners, from Eastern Europe, the Caribbean and elsewhere around the Empire and beyond, fighting Aryan Supremacy. But I was left with a yearning to belong, and nowhere to belong to. Whites wouldn’t have me and I had no idea of where my heritage lay. Except that it lay, of course, in England. Right here. I just didn’t have white permission, and to challenge it meant to be beaten. Until I joined the Air Cadets, a youth body that funneled recruitment into the RAF and gave kids like me opportunities they could barely imagine. Across the whole country, British (almost exclusively male) youth was released each weekend from ‘the surly bonds of Earth’ in small, old training aircraft flown by the men that beat the Nazis. The pilots we flew with had fought against catastrophic odds in the Battle of Britain, or led daring raids at night into enemy territory in the imperial world war that pummeled the world and its people for six devastating years. They never bragged. They never recounted. They never spoke of it unless we badgered them for information, like inspired kids do. They were ordinary men like my German schoolteacher who had not wanted to fight or kill but were forced to by circumstances, and they had defied desperate odds that would otherwise have seen the world even more racist than it is now. They were all lily-white, and in the five years I was there, at Woodvale, I recall not one racist remark coming my way. I was treated the same as the other (white) cadet organizers. The RAF pilots taught me to fly, and far more: Immelmann Turns, barrel rolls, spin recovery, dead-stick landings, run-in and breaks, stall turns and at no point in my life had I ever felt, and been, safer. I flew with gods and there was no racism. No-one would attack me. Racism began to seem so arbitrary: safe in one place, persecuted six miles away. It was my racial oasis and my second, countervailing, influence. Racism wasn’t compulsory.

The cadet organizers, with me third from right, and The Boss – the one who a dace later wrote the reference that got me into university.

Copyright Dr. David Roberts 2020

I was part of something much bigger that didn’t hate me. I belonged. I was accepted. I was learning things I wanted to learn, enjoying experiences I could never otherwise have had, earning social spurs like (youth) military rank. I went on outdoor activities with the Air Cadets around the country, and met more boys like me, with whom racism was never discussed because we didn’t know it as racism. We knew it as life. We were so ignorant. We had no idea of the American Civil Rights Movement with its range of resistances and challenges to racism, from the peace of Dr. King to the violence of the Black Panthers. We were unconscious of the paradox of the inferno of Viet Nam, where a demonized Asian nation was pointing out to the black American enlisted men fighting them that they weren’t the ones calling then ‘Nigger’. Viet Nam was a racial catalyst that spurred radical challenge and some degree of change in the ‘greatest’ democracy in the world which really ought to have known better after its slavery-based civil war. But even with that pendulum swinging, the idea that I should challenge how I was treated never arose, even in rare conversations with other boys of colour from Air Cadet squadrons in other parts of the country.

Nor did that unfamiliar and much-welcomed sense of belonging stop my internalization of racial self-loathing. The psychological damage had been done over nearly two decades of abuse enacted and endorsed by individuals, institutions and nations that couldn’t  ‘be reasoned with, or bargained with, that didn’t feel pity of remorse or fear, and which absolutely will not stop’, like the Terminator. No matter what evidence was presented, arguments made, compassion requested, guilt-reminded, the British government, and so many public institutions like universities and schools that extend their power and ideology, did not stop defending, and perpetuating, racism in so many different ways. The lessons learned of beliefs enshrined in dated notions of racial supremacy founded in Empires, reproduced in media and diluted, distorted history and reenacted by men, and women, and child practitioners created, then dictated, then maintained the nonsense that there was only one colour to be in England. I had come to believe, in White England, that I was wrong to be of colour. To understand how my cognitive functions descended to such a state of delusion is to recognize and acknowledge the power of white institutions to perpetuate an historical imperial position within a contemporary national geography. Again, the past in the present, but denied by its architects and projectionists. Are you clear which era I am referring to?

Nor did my time and space – that strange, unfamiliar, safe space – with the Air Cadets save me from school. I left at 16 to escape the racial violence and the stupefying effect of teachers that said I was too stupid to sit my O-levels. So I didn’t get A-levels, and then couldn’t go to University. Isn’t that something? I was physically and verbally beaten at school by kids who should have been excoriated by the teachers whose job it was to get me to university, but because the institution was racist, I wasn’t protected and didn’t go to University. It’s OK, Vice-Chancellor. I’m not an imposter writing this blog as a Senior Lecturer in International Relations with a PhD in international peacebuilding and postcolonial studies who also happens to be in the 2% of UK academics holding the title of Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a mark of my dedication to improving teaching. I went to night school when I was 23 and excelled in my weakest subject, and I went to Polytechnic when I was 26 and then stayed to do my PhD in Cambodia with the United Nations peacekeepers. I had an excellent record until this University stopped my research in Somaliland and any other place judged ‘dodgy’ by the Foreign Office, those descendants, and ascendants, of white Empire. White power crippled my career development in one fell swoop because it privileged and relied on White Northern institutional judgement of Black Southern capacity.

But long before that came to pass, the reference that got me in, without any A-levels, came from one of the RAF pilots of my teenage years (‘The Boss’ in the pic above). An old white bloke in a state institution told another old white bloke in a public institution I was good for it, and did it with genuine care and affection that humbles me even now, 30 years later. I kept his letter of recommendation. I was, he declared, an ‘indefatigably keen young man’). Both white men empowered me in ways I had never been empowered before and their unconditional support paved the way for me to change my life after a decade of drunken drifting resulting from nearly two decades of racial abuse. It is clear that institutions and race are complex. Just because we might reasonably claim an institution is racist, it does not mean all the people in it are too. Institutional racism has never meant, to me, that everything about a given institution is racist. It rarely is unless it’s the KKK or the BNP. It means an institution’s structures – the values-derived rules that implement its purpose for existence – are routinely founded in, and may often project, racist assumptions and policies, knowingly or unknowingly. In that sense, it is no different from the sexism that characterizes most large institutions today, and why would it be? Sexism and racism are elements on the intersectional periodic table.

I made this to render visible and obvious the transmission of the daily from the ideological, to dispel the ‘go-to’ defence of white fragility and racism that it’s all just one-off events that can be explained by something other than a pandemic of institutionalized racism.

Copyright Dr. David Roberts 2020

I didn’t comprehend most of this, consciously, intellectually, but it had scored my malleable mind and character like a bradawl scores soft, unfinished wood. Higher Education led me to understand racism in Galtungian terms. That is, racism is formed from beliefs (racial superiority and hatred), takes life through rules (Apartheid, segregation, exclusion, discrimination) and manifests in physical (police shootings), emotional (fear of random but structured attacks), social (Ku Klux Klan, White Lives Matter) and psychological (self-loathing, self-esteem) manner. I learned from reading books and journals, and listening to video and audio accounts from survivors of Empire. I learned from watching Apartheid in the US and South Africa in film and documentaries. I learned from thinking and talking and thinking in conversation with activists and human rights workers and people’s everyday lives from Asia and the Middle East. I learned from prison notes written by General Vo Nguyen Giap during his incarceration at French imperial hands that ‘unwinnable’ wars, like against both France and the US –  are won by creating extra-elite institutions and practices. I am still listening to all these voices, because racism disguises, morphs and renews itself, especially as it is exposed and challenged, as it is being right now. I study the critical race theory that has been banned by the British Tory government from British schools’ attempt to end racism. My understanding of racism in all its nuance and cruelty won’t end until racism ends and I have to keep working at it. Simple ‘training’ events make little or no difference because training is what the army does to enforce and reinforce simple routines. There is no interrogation of underlying values, beliefs and institutions in training. It just creates an impression of anti-racist endeavour, ticks boxes, maintains the structures. There is little of what the Brazilian pedagogue Paulo Freire called ‘conscientization’: becoming conscious of and comprehending the structures of power that create the abuse under investigation. Unless it comes from people of colour.

It should by now, five decades after I darkened the north of England solely by my physical presence, be unimaginable that the UK government should perpetuate racism in 2020. The UK has legislated against racism – normally first denying legislation is necessary, of course. Anti-racism is nothing if not an uphill battle against State denial. Yet the British government seems utterly unable to learn from the past and is thus doomed to repeat it. It has this month, in an act of bureaucratic oppression that would have made Stalin blush, amidst Black History ‘Moment’, criminalized the teaching of narratives of imperial white oppression in schools. ‘We do not want teachers to teach their white pupils about white privilege and inherited racial guilt’, Kemi Badenoch declared. What a contrast with how Germany dealt with its racial history after the Second World War. Whites could breathe a sigh of relief, because the pro-racist policy couldn’t be racist because it was announced and defended by a British parliamentarian of colour – and a woman at that – so it must be OK. For all the farcical nature of this latest form of racial censorship, she might as well have said she wanted Britain to carry on up the Khyber. But this is how institutions are racist, here and now, in the England that claims not to be institutionally racist, and where university Vice-Chancellors declare their own institutions to be racism-free zones, or fail to engage seriously with attempts at reform. They receive clear messages from the ideological centre: we will not tolerate resistance to white dominance.

I palled in that moment. I sank. I snapped a little more. And I remembered. I remembered what it was like when nobody in the UK had to come to terms with racism, when nobody had to acknowledge that the state of race relations in the UK remained based on the racial dominance facilitated by that ghastly word, ‘tolerance’. Those who can choose to tolerate are those that are authorized by their own identity and the State that accords that identity to grant permissions, and hold sway over your life. We may remain in thrall and anger to that dominance. If you step out of line – if you are an ‘Uppity Nigger’ – the weight of the state and society comes crashing down on you in ways it does not for white people. I should not be surprised. We are for now ruled by a Tory government. Conservatism stands commonly for the preservation of past elite power and values, and adherence to myths of history that it sells successfully to a population dumbed down by state school curricula controlled to produce primarily worker drones to serve the economy that keeps elites in power. Critical thought and challenge is in the process of being eradicated by the same parliamentarians who wish to eradicate their own racist past and present.

Conservatism continues publicly and rhetorically to persuade an insecure population confronted with socio-racial change that their citizens adhere to some generalizable ‘values’ that mirror a mythical England coloured brilliant white, populated by Knights and Saints slaying dragons and Moors. Its boorish public school leadership inevitably, consciously, imports the violent institutional racism of Trump’s culture wars, designed to shut down discussion of structural inequality and the institutions that shape and perpetuate racism. A racist constellation of forces has convened and conspired to resist challenges to white supremacy, the rules they dictate and the institutions that enforce them. There is a sickening sense of the past in the present once more, an indirect, murmured echo of the Rivers of Blood ‘ethos’ that reinforces the artificial, socially-construed and -constructed divide between black and white people that is the stuff of neo-imperial fantasy. Racial ideology in the UK remains anchored to an imperial past denied in the present that perpetuates the tens of thousands of ‘one-off’ racist events dismissed as anything other than what they are – a racial pandemic. Do you really think there was that much resistance to the colour Black entering the Monarchy’s bloodline if there wasn’t something much, much deeper going on? The House of Windsor has already been ‘diluted’ by its Mediterranean-Germanic heritage, an extant racial hotch-potch of inbreeding that locked up and hid Royal cousins Katherine and Nerissa Bowes-Lyon, two tragic biological consequences of its elitist and overly-narrow gene-pool. It cannot possibly be further ‘polluted’ by a woman of colour. Imperial British society roared its resistance, and so did its representative media.

Last words

The British government’s frankly predictable statement rejecting the teaching of challenges to white sensibilities, expressed with no sense of the surreal amidst public celebration of Black History Month/Moment, sends a message. It says that the key institutions of State are disingenuously racist – now, as they were when I was a kid. Black children will be exposed to new and old racisms that carry a new legitimacy afforded by the State’s refusal to recognize the range of beliefs that underpin and reify racism in white power elites like the UK and US. When I was a kid, the State, in Foucauldian fashion, projected its ‘tolerance’ of black into schools, hospitals and other recipients of white power and cultural legitimacy. The State is doing it again. History is repeating itself, in slightly different form, with a little more nuance and a lot more disingenuity. The State has taken action to suppress historical truth because it challenges the preferred sense of self Britain has evolved of itself and this will not do. This institutionally racist process, here and alive in 2020, will send a message that white is right and will not tolerate objection – there’s the ‘T’-word again. The racist messages of the past are projected once more, in myriad old and new forms. The presence of imperial statues and the arguments by almost exclusively white people that they should be preserved because ‘that’s part of Britain’s history’ without interrogating what that means, or what it might feel like to people of colour. The beliefs held by people who still think Empire was a ‘Good Thing’ that helped the savages evolve from their primitive cave lives. People unable to get beyond their White Fragility. Laws concerning US schooling that forbid the teaching of the genocide conducted against Native Americans. Policies that make black people more vulnerable than their white brothers and sisters to Covid-19. Actions that enslave people of colour to a lower order by marginalizing their education and their voting rights. Racism persists now, institutionally, nationally, as it did back then, when I came to know it as a youngster. It couldn’t be that extensive if it weren’t organized by institutions acting on ideology. Yet White America (sorry, Eminem) and White England, and white Vice Chancellors say institutional racism doesn’t exist. Denial doesn’t just foreclose truth. Truth is the recoil of denial but consequence is the bullet that flies. Denial sanctions more racism. Denial ain’ jus’ a river in Egypt.

The move towards ending racism in Universities is a Good Thing. But I am attuned to its structural, white determinism, as are many people of colour in HE. The initiative came from hegemonically-white structures of governance, through Advance HE and the Race Equality Charter, that serve institutionally-white agendas.[1] In Foucauldian fashion, government directed the production of more white structures of governance for Universities, perpetuating white priorities and beliefs about racism, including for some the deadly belief that racism is not structural but sporadic, and therefore explicable in ways that don’t confront and challenge white power structures and racist ideologies and bodies. This is racist in itself. And the process of various Midlands HE bodies acquiring REC accreditation, without which their public credentials, reputation and recruitment may be shamed and harmed, is often directed by a group of white men and women who dictate the anti-racist processes the institution should adopt, and then formed the groups of people of colour that would help them implement their ‘vision’, after they had decided what that vision would entail. This is ‘whiteness as moral authority entrusted to correct the unequal representation of ‘minorities’. This isn’t inclusivity. This is judicious maneuvering: naive or ignorant at best, manipulative or Machiavellian at worst.

The present agenda of anti-racism in HE has been both tolerated and refuted by a primarily white State that has just now criminalized, like a childish Trumpian tinpot dictator, the teaching of the truth of Empire and racism, lest White Fragility and the status quo be upset. ‘Whiteness’, said three scholar-activists, ‘may ambush anti-racist intentions and interventions’. There is little doubt that the present HE anti-racist agenda has been mobilized by the almost exclusively white quasi-governmental leadership of AdvanceHE. And white-dominated University leadership agendas are focused on how to get RECognition on the co-opted backs of people of colour so the (White) institution benefits. Yet those institutions are too often not concerned with what it takes to end racism, the stated objective of the REC Charter. There is an embarrassing absence of self-consciousness in this process; white leadership blunders around with little sense of how they have become part of the problem, not the solution. HEI leaders seem largely to be trying to direct not how racism in the workplaces they are responsible for shall be ended, but how they shall get REC accreditation with the minimum fuss, and minimum disruption to racist structures.

I have spent nearly 50 years enduring, fighting, surviving racism. It is a draining experience, the more so now that it is being reviewed and revived by society and state, because both fight to preserve it unconsciously and consciously, passively and belligerently. Those in power and those with fragility remain without conscientization and I am tired, after half a century, of trying to get white people to recognize that racism is part of their identity, their heritage, their institution and, behind all of that, their internalized beliefs. I am worn down by seeing effort after effort get rolled back one way or another. This fight is for another generation. I wish them better luck than I have had.


[1] Dar, S., Rodriguez, J. K. (2019) ‘White Governance and Whitely Governmentalities: Organizing White Power in UK Universities’, paper presented at the European Group for Organization Studies Conference, Edinburgh, 4 July.

This Week at Loughborough | 7 December

This Week at Loughborough | 7 December

December 7, 2020 Alex Stephens

Speech Bubble

7 December, 7.30pm, Online

Join us for an evening of performance poetry showcasing the spoken word talent on campus.

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

Although this is a free event which is open to students, staff and members of the public, booking is essential. The event will take place via Zoom and the login details will be sent to everyone who books. Booking information can be found on the event page.

Great Power Competition in the Anthropocene Artic

8 – 9 December, 1 – 3pm, Online

As part of Loughborough University’s Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) Spotlight Series, colleagues are organising a Virtual Workshop on ‘Great Power Competition in the Anthropocene Arctic’.

The workshop, which will take place over two days (from 1pm-3pm each afternoon) using Zoom, will bring together a group of distinguished and early career scholars, as well as practitioners, to consider what great power competition looks like in the Anthropocene Arctic. Specifically, the workshop will explore and develop new concepts and approaches for improving understanding of how the Anthropocene interacts with inter-state rivalry.

Find out more information about the events and booking information on the event page.

LSU Christian Union: Christmas Carol Service

8 December, 7pm, Online

It’s festive season, which means it’s time for the annual CU Carol Service, in collaboration with LSU Sing, LSU Classical and LSU RockSoc! Join live for fantastic carols, readings and a talk on the true meaning of Christmas – and, for the first time ever, you can join from the comfort of your own sofa.

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

Disabilities and Academia: Discussion Panel

8 December, 7 – 8pm, Online

As part of Disability History Month, LSU Disability Support Network is putting on a discussion panel surrounding all things disabilities and academia.

As part of the event, we will be inviting self-identifying disabled academics to discuss stereotypes, barriers, strategies, accessibility and advice in relation to academia.

Booking information is available on the event page.

Mathematics Education Centre Seminar

9 December, 2 – 4.15pm, Online

The seminar will consist of two presentations and a Q&A session.

Dr Ian Jones, ‘Measuring fuzzy constructs using comparative judgement’, (Loughborough University)

In this talk they will present alternative methods based on comparative judgement (CJ) that have been developed at Loughborough over recent years. First they will explain what CJ methods are and how they work, then they will present evidence for the efficiency, validity and reliabiltiy of CJ methods for measuring fuzzy constructs. 

Assistant Professor Amy Napoli, ‘Numeracy at Home: A Pilot Intervention for Parents of Preschoolers’, (University of Nebraska–Lincoln)

Early interventions that target parent-child numeracy practices may be an effective way to promote early numeracy skills in young children. The aim of this study was to pilot a home numeracy environment (HNE) intervention with parents of preschool-aged children (M age = 3.90 years).

Visit the event website for further details.

Research Seminar: Saptadeepa Banerjee – Reading Bakunin in anarchist history

9 December, 3 – 4pm, Online

Mikhail Bakunin has largely been understood as a reckless rebel, a ‘stormy petrel’, whose supposed inadequacies and inconsistencies as a revolutionary have often overshadowed his contribution towards the development of anarchist theory and the international anarchist movement.

This seminar seeks to engage with the possibilities of making constructive assessments of Bakunin as an anarchist thinker whose ideas influenced later anarchists and helped shape the ideological basis of the two currents of anarchism – anarcho-communism and anarcho-syndicalism – to a great extent.

Booking information is available on the event page.

Exploring career pathways in Medical Physics

9 December, 2.30 – 4.30pm, Online

Are you studying physics but don’t know what you want to do next? Are you interested in Medical Physics but not sure what it means as a career?

The IOP Medical Physics Group is providing an opportunity to Explore Career Pathways in Medical Physics through two remote afternoon sessions, find out more and book online.

LEN Workshop: Types of Business Funding

10 December, 5.30 – 7pm, Online

This workshop will cover the types of funding that new business owners can consider tapping into when looking to kickstart their business. The focus of this workshop is on start-ups looking to explore the options available to them when raising money for their business and getting their ideas off the ground. It will also give a very brief insight into the world of investment and how to become investor-ready.

Booking information is available on the event page.

Disability Awareness Workshop

10 December, 7 – 8pm, Online

As part of Disability History Month, LSU Disability Support Network is putting on a Disability Awareness workshop session.

Booking informational can be found on the event page.

Sequential and socio-historical contexts in Talk-in-Interaction

11 December, 4 – 5pm, Online

A talk delivered by Professor Kevin Whitehead as part of the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture (CRCC) seminar series.

In this presentation, Whitehead draws on recordings of calls to South African “talk radio” shows to take up the question of whether and how claims regarding the relevance of particular socio-historical contexts can be grounded in evidence of participants’ orientations to them in unfolding sequences of action-in-interaction.

Specifically, he examines how racial self-categorization by participants at particular places within sequences can expose their orientations to aspects of the social organization of race relating to South Africa’s apartheid history and/or post-apartheid present.

Visit the event website for further details.

Self-Care Sundays: Salt Dough Modelling

13 December, 4 – 5pm, Online

Create your own salt dough models to decorate and enjoy.

Artist Grace Stones will show you how to create fun shapes out of salt dough to decorate and use within your home! Throughout this live workshop you will be asked to use different mindfulness techniques, to create unique and personal pieces.

Booking information is available on the event page.

Introducing your Lead Representatives!

December 3, 2020 Dr Katryna Kalawsky

Written by Nathan Richie (Doctoral Researcher Co-President)

Unlike in previous academic years, our representatives may not be as physically visible around campus. Many are working remotely, but still helping and representing their community from afar. In response to this challenge, the Presidential Team want to make our Lead Representatives as visible online as possible. One way this can be achieved is through a short blog post in which each representative introduces themselves.

Before that, I want to quickly describe why our Lead Representatives are so essential to our community and their roles and responsibilities. The Lead Representative is the most senior rep in your school. They are responsible for overseeing a team of reps in their school and ensuring each rep feels comfortable and equipped to represent their community. Lead Representatives are also often the first point of contact for Director of Doctoral Programmes when they want to consult with doctoral researchers (DRs). Lead reps are also required to attend Lead Representative Committee meetings three times a year. In these meetings Lead Reps will summarise the positive changes in their school and the key concerns of DRs.

This year, the Presidential Team will work closer than ever before with our Lead Reps. We want to make sure we are a close unit, and we are able to rely on each other for advice and guidance. We think this will be the best way to guarantee that our Lead Reps are informed and can represent their community to the best of their ability.

So without further delay! Here is our wonderful Lead Representative Team for this academic year!

Ursula Davis (School of Business and Economics)

I’m Ursula and the Lead Representative for the School of Business and Economics. I became a DR rep after having been a DR in the Business School for a couple of years and being dissatisfied with current representation. As a rep, I am passionate about raising key issues experienced by myself and my colleagues. So much so that I applied for the position of SBE Lead Rep 20/21. I have at my core, the best interests of my DR colleagues, and I have made every effort to ensure they know I am here to listen, and to speak on their behalf to improve the DR experience. Now more than ever it is important that individual DRs know they are part of a community of supportive DR colleagues, I hope to provide strong, fair and proactive representation to my DR community.

Angelina Pan (School of Design & Creative Arts)

I was awarded an MA in Graphic Design and Visualisation at Loughborough University back in 2018. And currently in my first year as a doctoral researcher, based at the School of Design and Creative Arts. The area that I am researching on, is about the multilinguistic landscape from a graphic design perspective, which contributes to sustainable urbanisation. As an international student myself, I would like to create a connection to promote a sense of belonging for all doctoral researcher, during this long journey of doctoral research. Working closely with the school staffs, representatives, student union officers and researchers, we would very much like to hear your opinions to improve the academic experience. Just remember, I will always be here if you want to chat!

Tymele Deydier (School of Aeronautical, Automotive and Chemical Engineering)

Hi everyone! I’m Tymele, the Lead Rep for the School of Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering (AACME) and I’m a final year PhD Student from Chemical Engineering. I’m passionate about all things sustainability and health related and love spending time exercising, reading and listening to podcasts.  

I’m really looking forward to working with the DR Reps from my school and collaborating with all the Lead Rep to improve DRs experience at Loughborough and make sure that our concerns are listened to. I think it’s important to mention that communication should work both ways: we, as representatives, should keep you posted about any decisions being made higher up, but we can only properly represent you and create change if you provide us with your feedback, own experiences as well as any sort of constructive criticism for us, and the university, to do better. So, don’t be shy and come chat to us if you have any questions, concerns or uncertainties.

Guy Tallentire (School of Social Sciences and Humanities)

Hi everyone – my name is Guy Tallentire and I’m the new Lead Doctoral Researcher Representative for the School of Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH), taking over from the ever-dependable Nathan Ritchie (DR Co-President). This will be my third year representing my fellow DRs, having been a unit representative for Geography and Environment, where I am based, during the last two years.

By trade I am a glacial geomorphologist, interested in how glaciers and ice sheets sculpt our landscapes; grinding down rock on the Earth’s surface and moving these materials from one location to another – this has its perks, as I have been lucky enough to visit some pretty cool (yes, that is a bad pun) places during my studies. I am now in the third year of a 3.5 year NERC/UKRI funded PhD where I’m studying sediment plumes in the Norwegian Arctic (Svalbard) using satellite imagery and by collecting field data – sadly I wasn’t able to go this year due to COVID-19, but recently I received some funding which means I will be able to get out into the field next summer, all being well (fingers crossed!)

Thoughts on the year ahead: as part of my application to become Lead Rep I mentioned that communication between staff and DRs at the school level is something that I think could be improved, be this through a monthly newsletter or email sent by the School’s Senior Management Team (e.g. Dean, Associate Dean for Research). SSH is also quite a disparate school, with multiple themes of study amongst our five units. This means there are great opportunities for interdisciplinary research, but means there also some challenges. Along with the rep team and the staff on our SSLC it would be good to plan a way to harness these opportunities and improve the research culture amongst DRs across the school.

Peter Wang (School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences)

I am Xinpu Wang, and you can call me Peter. I did my master’s degree at The University of Edinburgh in 2012. After five years of teaching at Beijing Normal University, I started my PhD in October of 2018 at Loughborough. My research focuses on sports sociology, especially applying globalisation and globalisation theories looking at the transnational football fandom. Since April 2019, I started the Rep role in SSEHS and went on serving the DR community as a lead Rep this year. I am happy to build a bridge between DRs and our school, to deliver students’ voice, and to make efforts building our DRs community with respect and support to each other. While the COVID-19 brings us a huge challenge to be socially active and connected, we keep searching multiple and the best ways to keep everyone engaged and supportive of one another. Working alongside with Loughborough Student Union and Doctoral College, we dedicate to give support as much as possible to all DRs.

Erica Fletcher (Loughborough London)

My name is Erica Fletcher, and I am a second-year PhD student in the Institute for Media and Creative Industries, researching performed poetry communities. I have been in the role of Lead Rep of Loughborough London (LUL) since January. It has been great working with the other Reps from London and from other Schools to help provide the best experience as possible for all students and researchers. Even though times have been difficult for many this year I think we have still achieved some great things and I look forward to seeing what the new London Reps achieve when they take on their roles in January.  

Brett Friskney (Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering)

I am a third year DR in the Wolfson School, working in the Dynamics Research Group on vibration, lubrication and failure behaviour in high-performance gear transmission systems. I graduated from the Mechanical Engineering course here in 2018, so I’m pretty much part of the furniture! Away from campus, I love hockey, cricket, cooking and my two greyhounds.

This is my second year as Lead Rep in the Wolfson School. We are a diverse and multi-disciplinary department covering everything from control systems to renewable energy to biomimicry. Following the most recent PRES and Research Culture report, this year I am keen on building on a framework we started to develop last year for bringing our research community together and better understanding our needs. Being spread out across West Park, this is a challenge! I am also excited about playing our part in the fantastic work the Presidents’ Team and Doctoral College are doing towards DR mental health, by growing researcher-led peer support in our school. Here’s to a challenging but rewarding year ahead!

Percy Reyes (School of Science)

PhD Candidate in Computer Science (Cryptography) at Loughborough University. Master (with Distinction) in Advanced Computer Science at Loughborough University, England, UK (2018-2019). I won the MSc project prize with the highest mark. Bachelor (with Distinction) in Systems Engineering at National University of Trujillo, Peru (2003-2007). I am a Senior Microsoft SQL Server Database Administrator (DBA) with over 15+ years of extensive experience managing critical database servers.

Besides my passion for database query processing and distributed database systems, I am mad keen on cryptography, algorithmic cryptanalysis, number theory, and algebraic aspects of cryptography. Nowadays, cryptography is the most important subject I am really interested in and what I am going to be working on for years to come. I am doing research on cryptographic Boolean functions to work out solutions to make Boolean function properties resistant to attacks.

Particularly, I am most comfortable in environments where things are constantly changing and evolving, and also personal freedom and achievement are emphasised. Likewise, my approach to work and life is driven by advancement, curiosity and solutions since I am an optimistic thinker who constantly adapts to new expectations. Thinking big, going global, questioning, and being open to change are part of my personality.

Jose Salazar-Vela (School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering)

Hi, I’m Jose Salazar-Vela, but most of the people call me Pepe. I am a PhD student at the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering. My research focuses on Social Value and Digitalised Construction. I’m starting my third year, and besides my role as PGR, I’m also chairing the HUB Committee of my school.

I love rock and blues music, mostly from the 70s. In my free time, I play guitar and bass, play video games, play chess and read (I don’t have a lot of free time, by the way). In my first year, I joined the Fencing Sports Group; it was my first time to practise this sport, and I’m looking to come back next year.

Race, racism & white privilege - Why it matters

December 2, 2020 Sophie Kanabar

COVID19 has really made us all stop and think about the inequalities in the world. I could tell you numerous facts and figures, but these are readily available with the click of a button. What I would really like to tell you about is how it hammered home to me personally the truth of systematic racism and inequalities in the world today.

The death of George Floyd impacted me so much that for the first time in fifty years I sought the support of a counsellor. The death of another human being was traumatizing enough, but what affected me more was the look on the face of Derek Chauvin, the police officer; it was his total disregard for another human being. I have seen this look before – on the murderer of a close and dear relative, a look which then haunted me for some time. I remember the same disregard whilst we sat in a five-week murder trial, although not motivated wholly by race but by greed to sustain a drug addiction; nonetheless, there was an element of racism present. The murderer had the very same look to that I saw on Chauvin’s face. This is the look I have seen in many micro-aggressions where race is a contributor – even if in different facets, and to varying extremes.

George Floyd’s death brought out an outpour of emotions, protests, discussions and the understanding of history and white privilege. However, I felt we had gone backwards and forwards at the same time, as what I next saw was many people and organisations showing their support for the Black Lives Matter Movement by increasing their voices around diversity: Was it a sudden need to show they were not racist?

What astonishes me is when white people begin the journey of introspection, it is only then the start of understanding white privilege. As a person of colour, although I was aware of this term, I too have had to educate myself about its full meaning and scope. What was startling to me was that after recognising one’s racial privilege, remarkably, the focus remained on the white person’s understanding; their uncomfortable truths and how it impacted them. I was surprised by the inability to reach out to those of us that had faced racism in its ugliest form. Not at any stage did they think to ask ‘how are you and how has this affected you?’
While this was not the case for everyone, as there were some true allies, I had to ask many of my white colleagues and friends if it had occurred to them how it felt to be judged, to consistently be the under-dog because of your name, the colour of your skin, how you speak and where you come from – even if you were born in the UK. The everyday micro-aggressions we deal with, day in, day out, have been disregarded for too long. They are challenges we face in every aspect of life, and have been exaggerated more by the COVID pandemic.

Let me give you an example: I run or walk in the park every day, totally aware of the 2 -metre rule. Why is it that I am expected to move out of the way for my white counterparts? Why is it that when I, a person of colour, or someone wearing a burka, is in a queue or complaining at a supermarket, it feels easier to disregard us, as compared to that of our white counterparts? That same ‘look’ reappears; I see the raised eyebrows, as if my feelings do not matter. I am made to feel that I am ‘causing a problem’ – or that I am a problem.

We all have some degree of unconscious preconceived notions. However, people in power are only just beginning to understand their biases and privileges. Consequently, in terms of racial awareness and understanding, we have some way to go.

So: is the outpour we have seen this year a knee jerk reaction, or is this truly the start of systematic change?

I ask myself this question every day and hope it is the latter, but I have been around too long and the cynic in me surfaces. I reflect upon the professions, organisations, and the people I have met during my thirty-five-year career and know life is still tricky for a person of colour. We are tough, bright, and resilient and yet still must work twice as hard to prove ourselves in the world of work.

Nevertheless, I want to end on a positive. My key observation is that we are making progress, slow but definite progress. I see and feel a change in the attitudes of people: managers, colleagues and unquestionably, the next generation. I pray every day that it lasts.

My personal guiding principle that focuses on equality is the following: Imagine that you have a family or siblings, one child or sibling is white, one is black and one is of an another ethnic background. Would you want any of them to be limited in their experiences, future, and prospects?

Please let us not just tick a box but make lasting change.

We are not the other, we are one.

Covid-19 and the Loughborough University London experience

Covid-19 and the Loughborough University London experience

December 2, 2020 Rebecca Davis

We spoke to a few of our current students about their time so far, studying at Loughborough University London during the pandemic. Hear what they had to say:

For the latest coronavirus updates from the University, please visit the website.

CODED CONSCIOUSNESS: TURNING A.I. INTO ART

CODED CONSCIOUSNESS: TURNING A.I. INTO ART

November 30, 2020 LU Arts

By Anna-Rose Wain

What comes to mind when you think of artificial intelligence? Perhaps Arnold Schwarzenegger wearing his 80s style sunglasses with the collar of his leather jacket up. Or maybe even a robo-dog with cameras in its eyes doing back flips. Terminator and robo-dogs do make claims to visions of a dystopian future, however, the world of computer intelligence is actually a lot closer to today’s reality than you think. During the first lockdown, there were days when I wouldn’t interact with anyone but my Amazon Echo – an example of A.I – which really got me thinking not only about my dependency on tech, but the distinction between human and computer. Consciousness is regarded as the crux of this discussion, being viewed as the ineffable differentiation between sapiens and bot. As all of my interactions became mediated through Zoom, Facebook Messenger and Netflix Party, it raised the question as to how my ‘consciousness’ or even identity was being translated into data. Was it possible that an algorithm could replicate human identity? Without access to my usual ceramic materials, I found myself fascinated by so-called net.art, especially Shu Lea Cheang’s Brandon(1998) and www.rtmark.com(1998). This is the process I began my experimentation with last semester and has even carried out into my visual enquiries in my final year of studying Fine Art here at Loughborough University.

I-am-analogue.com is a piece of internet art, I coded using HTML and CSS, which allows the viewer to ‘talk’ to a series of ‘people’ created using chatbot technology. Unfortunately, it’s been taken down as it was too expensive for me to keep up but I wanted to share my ideas with you. The concept came from some research I did on the Turing test – a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour indistinguishable to a human. Following this, I became interested in attempting to replicate human emotion and communication in a series of chatbots, therefore creating the illusion that these were real, conscious beings. This was when I came across ELIZA; a computer-based algorithm designed by Joseph Weizenbaum in 1966 to stand in as a Rogerian psychotherapist. ‘She’ was the first programme to appear to have passed the Turing Test as ‘clients’ reported that it felt as if they were talking to a human therapist through an online interface instead of a computer. Trying it myself, it became clear that the programme was very inept and shows how early Natural Language Processing (NLP) worked. However, creating my own chatbot would accentuate the same critique of intimacy in the online world.

Programming was something completely new to me, but I knew it was the only way to fully realise my ideas, so I pushed through the YouTube tutorials to create the site. Playing on crude stereotypes, I created brief character profiles to give the visitor an insight into what to expect. Maria, Dan, Paddy, Isaac and Grace are all fictional profiles of individuals who you may recognise from your life; Maria, the driven business intern, Dan, the ‘lads man’ and Paddy, the Irish catholic priest who’s a closeted gay man. Each character profile highlights the brash categorising that A.I performs when recreating human psychology and personality, therefore revealing profiling within contemporary algorithms. Every narrative comes with what appears to be a photographic portrait but is actually a deceptively accurate image lifted from a clever site called thispersondoesnotexist.com which generates artificial faces using GAN (Generative adversarial network) technology (give it a go, it’s really fun and kind of creepy!). I deliberately kept these brief as I wanted the personas to reveal themselves through real-time speech in the ‘Live Chat Boxes’.

Now this is where it gets really interesting (and tricky) – using a software called Robot.me, I programmed each character to respond to certain predicted phrases with set expressions. Here, the artist (me, the human) intervenes in an algorithmic process giving it human based intelligence then letting it run on its own. Naturally, this became complicated quickly! There was no way I could predict every possible human response and I think my friends grew tired of me getting them to talk to my digital creatures. However, I decided to embrace the technologies intervention, allowing for gaps to be filled in by the algorithm. The outcomes were absurd and amusing to say the least. Although the characters were comically realistic at times, it slowly becomes obvious they’re not real. Their artificial nature is revealed through repetition and the more human element shown in the spelling mistakes.

Starting with small talk, the bot occasionally interrupts the flow of natural conversation with a disturbingly personal and sometimes existential proposition such as ‘Does anyone actually care about you?’ or ‘I’ve been watching you through your camera for a while now’. This forced familiarity provides an uncanny perspective of online relationships/friendships in the digital age. Additionally, I embedded advertisements to create a break in the illusion of intimacy. You don’t have to be a mad conspiracy theorist with a tin foil hat to know that data collection and privacy are hot topics at the moment – this references the deceptive use of artificial intelligence, as has been seen with Siri, Alexa and ‘Hey Google’, to harvest information used for behaviour prediction and therefore advertising. A.I devices such as these may have made our lives infinitely more

convenient and seemingly connected but they have also dissolved the privacy and confidentiality of personal information. Through this feature, I wanted to expose corporate ulteriority and show that as A.I becomes increasingly integrated in our lives, we must approach it with caution, aware of its capacity to feed surveillance capitalism.

A serious problem I encountered post-production was translating into a displayable format for a gallery space. The question arose as to whether this was necessary. The crux of the project rested on its online existence as a critique of the communication on the internet. But, if it wasn’t in a gallery did this mean it wasn’t art? When researching the history of net.art it became clear that the early movement defined itself as existing apart from the instutionalised art world, existing in cyberspace where it would be seen by a global audience for free. Yes, I could create QR codes or place a computer monitor in a white cube environment, but wouldn’t this take away from the uncanny intimacy created through viewing net.art on the laptop in your bedroom? I decided that the context of a global pandemic produced the perfect context for this sort of work to thrive, hence, I’ve kept it online alone. By using chatbot/A.I. technology in a humorous way, I hope it proves that computer learning really does have a place within the contemporary art scene for playful exploration and critique.

This project exists to hint at the complexity of consciousness through emotionally engaged conversations, show technologies’ inability to quantify and reproduce human psychology in an algorithm.

A.I is a fascinating field of learning which doesn’t just offer post-apocalyptic cyborg visions but real solutions to real problems – we just have to keep drawing the line between a computer serving a human and a human serving a computer.


Hi, my name is Anna-Rose Wain but most people call me Anna. I’m currently in my final year working towards a BFA in Fine Art. My practice is currently centred around New Media, particularly focussing on A.I. from an existential standpoint. Pushing the limits of what ‘art’ is, I use absurd algorithms to replicate human behaviour, identity and psychology in a playful way. These humorous visual experiments with artificial reality invite the viewer into a critique of modern technology through real-time participation. A major part of my creative process is reading lots which is why I enjoy writing so much! You can check out my work by following my Instagram page at “anna_rosew_art” and even have a cheeky read of my blog at https://what-do-you-think.blog/.

This Week at Loughborough | 30 November

This Week at Loughborough | 30 November

November 30, 2020 Alex Stephens

Happy Mondays: Make your own Christmas decorations

A snowflake made out of paper on a table next to a 3D Christmas tree made out of paper
30 November, 7 – 9pm, Online

Get creative and learn how to make simple but effective decorations to brighten up your room.

Is it ever too early to start thinking about Christmas? Join Grace Stones for this online workshop to make baubles and decorations. Let’s get into the Christmas spirit and get crafty!

Find out more information on the event page.

Populist De-Identification: #FeelingTheBern in the Age of #BlackLivesMatter

2 December, 2 – 3pm, Online

Hosted by the Populism Research Group Laura Grattan argues that “open-source” populism will fail to achieve economic or racial justice, so long as they retain the material and affective attachments to whiteness that have characterized populist moments across the ideological spectrum.

Booking information is available on the event page.

English Research Seminar: Postgraduate Showcase

2 December, 4 – 5pm, Online

Join two current PhD students in the English subject area present their work. We will be hearing from:

Demi Wilton, who will be speaking on representations of climate-related displacement in contemporary Australian First Nations fiction and Aaron Eames, whose talk is entitled ‘Oscar Wilde, A Spirit of Some Importance’.

Each paper will last for around 20 minutes, with 20 minutes for questions. Aaron and Demi are producing fantastic work and would welcome your support, questions and feedback.

Booking information is available at the event page.

An Introduction to Intellectual Property

3 December, 6 – 7pm, Online

This session will cover Intellectual Property (IP) and the different types of IP protection available. We will also discuss how IP can impact your business and how you can use it to create value and protect your company assets for commercial benefit and growth.

Booking information is available on the event page.

Santander Corporate and Investment Banking – Internship and Graduate Scheme Q&A

3 December 6 – 7pm, Online

This event will offer an insight into the internship and graduate opportunities at Santander within their Corporate and Investment Banking division.

The talk aims to introduce the industry of investment banking, provide an overview of the schemes on offer at Santander and give valuable hints and tips for application processes and assessment centres.

Booking information can be found via the Careers Network.

The BBC: Imperfect Beauty

An old Roberts dark red leather radio with country names on the top
4 December, 1 – 2pm, Online

A talk delivered by Professor Jean Seaton as part of the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture (CRCC) seminar series.

The BBC faces epic challenges in international markets in the battle against misinformation highlighted by Covid.

Visit the event page for more information.

Got something for next week? Email digital@lboro.co.uk

The Poster Project led by LU Arts

The Poster Project led by LU Arts

November 27, 2020 Loughborough University London

LU Arts is encouraging the Loughborough University and the Loughborough University London community to campaign for a better world by designing your own political posters.

What is the Poster Project?

The Poster Project is a unique webpage where you can upload your own poster designs on issues and topics that matter to you. The political poster has been a powerful campaigning tool in protests throughout history; an effective communication tool using bold design and imaginative wordplay to make their message heard. In this current period of uncertainty, LU Arts wanted to offer our talented Loughborough University London students and staff the opportunity to design posters that will make visible the issues that concern them.

Students are also encouraged to browse and download the published posters to display on windows, noticeboards or bedroom walls. LU Arts will present a selection of the posters on bus shelters, digital screens and noticeboards so that the campus becomes a canvas for the campaign and the issues that students want to shout about.

LU Arts will present a selection of the posters on bus shelters, digital screens and noticeboards so that the campus becomes a canvas for the campaign and the issues that students want to shout about. There are a number of suggested themes for your poster including climate change, Black Lives Matter, mental health and LGBT, but you do not need to be limited to these.

LU Arts is looking for posters to provoke, to challenge and to be passionate but the submitted posters will be moderated to ensure that they are not abusive or defamatory. There are a series of prizes on offer for students for the best posters, which will be judged by Nick Slater, Director of LU Arts and Simon Downs, Lecturer in Graphic Communication.

You don’t need to be a Fine Art or Graphics student to enter; we are looking for innovative ideas and messages that communicate your issue, so don’t worry if you are not the best artist in the world. Many of the posters that have been used in campaigns across the world have not been done by artists but people who want others to hear their message.

How do I submit my poster?

Poster designs can be uploaded to the dedicated webpage where anyone can browse, download and print the posters to put up in windows and on noticeboards.

What are the prizes?

  • 1st Prize: £250
  • 2nd Prize: £150
  • 3rd Prize: £100
  • Special Prize: £50 for the poster that is downloaded the most

When is the deadline?

Upload your poster by the 18 December 2020 to qualify.

Need some inspiration?

For inspiration on political posters, here are some articles on the subject:

  • The Limit – The Political Poster Guity Novin
  • Posters in Social Protests Buzzfeed
  • Some Of The Most Powerful Protest Posters From History Frieze
  • The Defiant Art of the Protest Poster

For more information, please visit the LU Arts website.

Top tips for students arriving to campus in January

Top tips for students arriving to campus in January

November 26, 2020 Loughborough University London

Whether your arriving to the UK for the first time or are just about to start your educational journey at Loughborough University London, here are some top tips to get you settled in comfortably and efficiently.

Surroundings

You may or may not be familiar with the local area, so our first piece of advice would be to familiarise yourself with your local surroundings, such as exploring all the local transport links. Hackney Wick overground and Stratford underground are within walking distance of our campus, so whether you need to venture to the west side of London or to the west-end in central London we are perfectly located in an area with excellent public transport links. You can even use a rentable electric scooter to get across from our campus to your chosen train station if you don’t feel like walking!

Westfield Stratford City Shopping Centre, Canalside and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park are within 2-10 minutes walking distance from our campus. You are spoilt for choice in terms of catering and activities so do take advantage of your outstanding surroundings! (Interested in finding out more about the local area? More information can be found via our Londoners Guide to Stratford blog).

Organisation

Once familiar with your local surroundings, you could start to look at your journey to and from our campus. Have you found the most convenient and cost-effective route to undergo your studies? City mapper is a good app for aiding this (more information is available in our Londoner’s Guide: The Top 10 apps blog).

Now you’ve established your familiarisation with the local area, its time to think about what you’ll need while your out and about. As a modern facility most things you’ll need can be find on campus but you’d still want to come prepared. Essential items would consist of a notebook/pen for note taking, a charger/battery bank for your devices and of course your student ID card. It’s essential you have your student ID card with you at all times of attendance on campus for access and printing purposes.

Explore

Loughborough University London stands at the forefront of ground-breaking research, innovations and have an impressive array of industry network connections. In addition to your studies, look at what Loughborough University London can do to enhance your personal development; whether it be taking advice from our career consultants, taking part in one of our many entrepreneurial courses (free of charge) or attending a network based event to gain exposure. We have lots of extra-curricular activities on offer and our friendly team are always keen to get to know new students and see how we can enhance personal experiences. – For more information before you arrive, please visit our website.


For more information before you arrive, please visit our website.

The power of imagery: How multimedia learning can help students with dyslexia

The power of imagery: How multimedia learning can help students with dyslexia

November 26, 2020 Sadie Gration

In this blog post, Dr David Roberts from the School of Business and Economics shares an insight into his research on multimedia learning and the benefits it offers to students with dyslexia.

In a world where we find ourselves continuously overloaded with information – and where up to 10% of the global population is believed to be dyslexic – Dr Roberts explains how spoken and written words are not enough for us to understand and engage with what we are being taught.

My journey in dyslexic learning processes began with a video. I was giving a TEDx talk here at Loughborough University on the importance of multimedia approaches to teaching and learning – using imagery and text so that what we deliver matches the way the brain receives information. After the presentation, a dyslexic member of the audience intercepted me. She was a student here, and she told me she had never seen anything like the presentation I had just done. It used high quality images combined with limited text.

She elaborated on how the images had impacted her ability to stay tuned to the slides and then recall what I had said around each image. She told me she could remember my spoken words, and the meaning of the images, with clarity and ease. She also said that some of the images had moved her emotionally, saying that an emotional connection was partly responsible for her attention, engagement, interest and recall. Mainly, though, she said in orthodox lectures text made content disengaging, was hard to read and impossible to keep up with. So I started a new research project, aimed at determining scientifically whether imagery and text were better for dyslexic learners than slides loaded with text. Let’s start with what we know about dyslexia.

Dyslexia is ‘a specific learning difficulty that mainly affects the development of literacy and language-related skills… characterised by difficulties with phonological processing, rapid naming, working memory, [and] processing speed’ (British Dyslexia Association).

Because of this – especially regarding working memory – dyslexic students can find teaching in universities a great challenge. They may be overwhelmed by PowerPoint slides laden with words and devoid of alternate, parallel media like static and moving imagery, and all this delivered at speed.

Multimedia learning and cognitive overload

Dyslexic learners are actually not alone: neurotypical students are also affected by what scientists call ‘cognitive overload’. This is a state of mind caused by a failure – a refusal – to teach in ways that reflect how the brain works biologically. We also know it as ‘Death by PowerPoint’.

All human beings process knowledge using imagery and text because the brain is a ‘dual processing’ tool. We know this from 60 years of multimedia learning (MML) research into the cognitive sciences. Our brains have an audio-textual channel, and a visual channel. Using only audio-textual – spoken and written words – is wasting half the brain, according to scientists at MIT.

This is so important for dyslexic learners because using imagery will reduce cognitive overload and enhance working memory capacity – you don’t get overloaded so quickly or easily. Or sometimes at all. This is stuff we know, but universities have largely ignored it.

Text-dominated, large group lectures continue to rule the way universities teach. And it shouldn’t – not with what we know. We know other things about dyslexic learning. We know that some dyslexic people ‘will typically learn much better [when] supported by scene-based examples or depictions’ (Eide and Eide 2011: 127; Coppin 2009). Using images with text is likely to support both neurotypical and neurodiverse engagement, with a greater impact for dyslexic learners. This convergence between the two literatures (dyslexia and MML) should guide new ways of teaching and learning with dyslexic students, as long as they work, so we created a scientific experiment to test the impact of multimedia learning on dyslexic learners.

An experiment

Briefly (since it’s outlined in greater depth elsewhere), we combined longitudinal randomised control group testing with focus groups. In the first instance, using an online research tool we created specifically for this purpose based on dyslexic learner input, two groups were exposed to the same recorded 10-minute lecture content on global warming (an area students across many disciplines are probably conscious of and can relate to).

One lecture was delivered using slides with text, the other using slides with imagery and limited text. Both had the same audio recording of my voice. Students then completed an online questionnaire that asked for their verdicts on the slides (not on the text, not on the images). The questions concerned student engagement with academic content in lectures. They appear across the bottom of the graph below. The yellow bars represent the experiment group exposed to slides with images and text. Blue shows the control group exposed to slides with text only. For most of the experiment, the blue was too low to register.

The data was clear to see: of those exposed to standard slides, no one considered them helpful in understanding and engaging. On the contrary, all the dyslexic students exposed to large high-quality images found them to be valuable in engaging them and helping them understand the subject.

These findings were expanded upon in the focus groups. I’ve divided the commentary into categories, the first of which is impact.

Paula said she could still see images in lectures a year after being exposed to them:

Lewis declared:

He then added:

The students were making powerful connections with the images that sparked their mental engagement and triggered their interest. Synapses were firing.

A second category of dyslexic learner responses to MML methods is effect – what’s happening for and to you when you see slides with images and text? They quickly recognised elements of active learning at work, because they were consciously and unconsciously interrogating the slides for meaning, unlike passive experiences where the slide simply sits and is read.

The image below made dyslexic students ask themselves why there was blood on a diamond, since both elements seem antithetical. They connected this question with existing knowledge and built upon it as I talked about the paradox of capitalism and human rights. The subject could equally have been about how capitalism manipulates millions to spend billions on completely unnecessary diamond wedding rings (since nothing says “I love you” like a superficial and overvalued rock clawed from the guts of the earth by African slave labour!).

This level of engagement prompted Leona to say:

I’ll finish this post with a final quote from an undergraduate student:

Multimedia learning lectures get a round of applause. In others, people clap, but that’s more because they’re finished.”

All images © Dr David Roberts.

From 18 November – 20 December, Loughborough University and Loughborough Students’ Union is supporting Disability History Month. Throughout the month, there will be a range of support, resources and online events for staff and students. More information can be found on the dedicated webpage.

The two sides of Black Friday

The two sides of Black Friday

November 26, 2020 Jonathan Seaton

2020 will go down in history as the ‘push me-pull you’ year with broad well-being of the economy at loggerheads with the well-being of its people.

On-off and stop-go, many UK businesses such as pubs, sports institutions, hairdressers and beauty salons as well as consumers have been confused, frustrated and intimidated by this up and down rollercoaster ride.  A situation magnified by a Prime Minister torn between the radical ‘open-up’ philosophy of some rebellious Tory MPs and the ‘lock-down to save lives’ scientific consensus.

A two faced animal!

For those who take Black Friday seriously it will also be a very unusual two-faced animal this year.

  • Unusual? People consuming in exile; with no queues, no crowds, no physical contact at all, just a few clicks on the computer for your spending fix! The Covid-19 lockdown means businesses have evolved in an enormous structural shift which now makes it easier to shop, purchase and get your items delivered to your door.
  • Two faced? There is an upside and a downside to Black Friday – indeed with all consumer decisions – under the shadow of Covid-19 and our new economic reality.

Downside

Online retail’s success was gained at the cost of serious hardship for bricks and mortar outlets. Also given past experience, consumers – with already eye watering private debt and the threat poor job security – may be ripped off by spending on apparently normal everyday rather than reduced prices.

Apart from personal or micro level issues – you might actually need that new washing machine – our wanton lust for goods and services, or over consumption as economists call it, is destroying the environment we live in. In this period of pain, suffering and death should we be spending so frivolously?

Pouring more expenditure onto the fire of record levels of personal debt for goods we don’t really need seems crazy, if you have increased personal job risk from Brexit and have been severely impacted by the Covid-19 slump then ‘spend spend spend’ is not for you.

Upside: It’s the economy stupid…

So, is not buying the answer? No, simply stated if we don’t buy things then the economy dives, markets collapse which pushes people out of work – the Chancellor quoted that due to Covid-19 we are likely to see an additional one million unemployed next year.

If we don’t engage with events like Black Friday then many more people will lose jobs and as we have seen major companies and many small firms face ruin while others – say national supermarket retailers or online outlets – benefit at their expense.

The intelligent economics based voter!

In the round, every economic transaction can be thought of as a vote – a vote for a product or brand, a vote for jobs a vote for the environment or a vote for your financial ruin! Those who can afford it should perhaps go ahead and enjoy the spending spree, and if you want certain products or brands to continue then vote with your wallet! It’s worth following the guidelines set out by Which.

You could also consider buying locally if at all viable – many supported the food and drink sector, perhaps delay consumption to help later after the vaccine role-out when there is more economic certainty.

Think before you buy anything…

1. Can you really afford it – is it something necessary?

2. Consider the length of time you will use it, given the price and perhaps negative impact it may make.

3. On the flip side – is this an important brand, shop, product, niche area you think needs desperate support given lockdown/Tier restrictions. It will likely only survive if people like you continue to support it.

4. Consider products/services environmentally beneficial for the future, solar panels, electric cars, more energy efficient white goods/electronics. They could save you money in the long run!

In this two-faced world try to make the best-informed decisions – for our jobs, for our future every economic purchase or vote counts.

This Blog post was written by Dr Jon Seaton, who is a Reader in Business Economics and part of the Economics academic group at Loughborough University School of Business and Economics.

Interested in studying economics at Loughborough? Find our more here.

A Londoner’s guide: to Christmas

A Londoner’s guide: to Christmas

November 25, 2020 Loughborough University London

Christmas Day is celebrated in the United Kingdom on 25 December. It traditionally celebrates the Christian religion, although Christmas in the UK is a staple of English culture, which is normally celebrated by all cultures residing here. As an integrated part of the culture Christmas Day is also a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed with additional days off to enjoy the festive season.

Decorations

The streets of London truly light up in the build up to Christmas, with 1000’s of LED lights and festive décor, make sure you check out some of the most popular and unique light displays in the capital.

1) Oxford Circus

This year, the area will be lit with 27 LED ‘light curtains’ which will be draped down the length of the street and made up of a total of 222,000 lights. The installations will work in unison to showcase a poem dedicated to the city of London.

2) Carnaby St.

The street will be bathed in pink neon light from a series of lightboxes running the length of the thoroughfare. Each box will have a positive word inside, to pay tribute to the strength, courage and kindness of Londoners during this difficult year.

3) Christmas at Kew

Discover a glittering tunnel of bells, giant illuminated seed heads and majestic trees wrapped in light on your way to the treetop waterfall, where beams of light interplay in a breath-taking dance of lights.

Cuisine

Everyone in the UK looks forward to Christmas for many reasons, but one of the things we get very excited about is the thought of all the delicious food we can eat together (without judgement)! The main Christmas meal is usually eaten at lunchtime or early afternoon on Christmas Day followed by an afternoon of exchanging gifts and happy memories. The meal is traditionally Turkey, roasted vegetables accompanied by trimmings and gravy. However, we do have specialties that emerge every year leading up to the Christmas season;

1) Mince Pies

I know what you’re thinking – but no, it is not a pie full of minced meat! Mince pies are tiny pies that are filled with fruits such as raisins, cranberries, and sultanas, as well as chopped nuts and spices such as cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg. Once they are baked, they are dusted with a little icing sugar and ready to eat – perfect with a cup of tea or a glass of wine, and a nice finish to a delicious Christmas dinner.

2) Pigs in blankets

Again, not as bad is it sounds. Pigs in blankets are another quintessentially British part of Christmas dinner! These are small sausages that are wrapped in bacon, and often surround the turkey when it is served.

3) Christmas Pudding/Cake

Christmas pudding is a dessert that is made from dried fruit and is normally served with brandy butter. It is also tradition to soak the cake with brandy and set it alight before serving. Similar to Christmas pudding, Christmas cake is made with rich, moist currants, sultanas (golden raisins) and raisins which have been soaked in rum. If a Christmas cake is covered in icing, it is quite common for it to be decorated.


From London Christmas markets and Christmas shopping in London, to ice-skating rinks and Christmas events, there are so many magical things to do in London at Christmas. Make sure you get involved in the festivities and celebrate!

Personal reflections on “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race”

November 24, 2020 Miranda Routledge

I’ve recently read “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race” by Reni Eddo-Lodge. Reading it has compelled me to write about my reaction to the book, the issues it raises and the self-reflection it has led to. I probably started the book in a different place to where I finished it, and I openly acknowledge that I am only just starting my journey from being (comfortably and quietly) not-racist to becoming anti-racist.

Before I continue with this piece, I have to say that I am pushing myself out of my comfort zone to write it. In all honesty, I have put off writing it because I am scared of saying the wrong thing or using the wrong language or upsetting someone with my views or clumsily expressed comments. But, if I let those fears hold me back, then I really haven’t moved very far from where I started. So, I am going to write it anyway. And I’m not saying that because I want a pat on the back for pushing myself, this is not about me. I wanted to admit that I have found it a difficult topic to write on because racism and anti-racism isn’t something we talk about openly.

One of the things that I worried about is the language I should use to describe people from different ethnic groups, recognising of course that any aggregate term hides a multitude of granular views and experiences. Reni Eddo-Lodge uses people of colour in her book and so I will do the same.

Is the book a balanced view from every perspective, exploring counter arguments to the issues it puts forward? Well I don’t think it is – and I’ll admit that as I started to read it, my initial reaction was “well what about the other side of the argument”? And then I realised what I meant was “I’m sure there were reasons behind the behaviours of those white people”. And as I read on, I quashed those thoughts because they were the exact white reaction that Reni Eddo-Lodge talks about – a tendency to push things under the carpet and quietly pretend they aren’t happening. And so, it is absolutely appropriate that this book is written from a perspective that doesn’t look for the reasons why white people/white created systems behave in the way they do – in ways that disadvantage people of colour. The book is unapologetically not about excusing or explaining white behaviour and reading it made me listen to what was being said and it made me ashamed that these experiences have fallen on seemingly deaf ears for so long. This book is the most immersive thing I have read or encountered about what it feels like to be a person of colour. In fact, as I read it, it dawned on me that I have never had an honest conversation with a person of colour about their day-to-day experiences – I am/have been far too white British to approach such an uncomfortable subject.

Reni Eddo-Lodge describes white people as emotionally disconnecting when a person of colour describes their experience. She describes us as defensive and bewildered when someone talks about an experience different to our own. She says “You can see their eyes shut down and harden. It’s like treacle is poured into their ears, blocking up their ear canals. It’s like they can no longer hear us.” Her conclusion is that this “stems from living a life oblivious to the fact that their skin colour is the norm”. She tells us that the “positive affirmations of whiteness are so widespread that the average white person doesn’t even notice them.” Surely the most heart-breaking image in the book is Reni’s account of her 4-year old self asking her mother when she will grow up to be white.

Did I see myself, or the things that I say, reflected in her somewhat scathing account of how white people approach issues of racism? Yes, I did. Did it make me feel uncomfortable? Yes, it did. Do I think that the author would consider me a bad person? No, I don’t. But what she has made me realise is that I have never had to actively think about my colour before I decide how to act, the decisions I make or the things I do. So unless I consciously think about, and find out about, how it feels to have an opposite experience, how am I ever going to recognise how I can change the things that have such a negative impact on the lived experiences of people of colour?

Stephen Lawrence was murdered in 1993 – I was 19. I remember it being a “bad thing” but I didn’t feel like it had anything to do with me. It was something that “happened over there”, it was tragically sad but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I sort of understood what was being said about institutional racism, but I felt it wasn’t part of my world or my responsibility. It wasn’t that I didn’t care – like most, I was shocked and saddened (he was the same age as me so I related on that level) but I didn’t understand the enormity of it beyond one family’s tragedy. Roll forward 27 years and I look at my 13 year old daughter’s reaction to the murder of George Floyd. She is 6 years younger than I was when Stephen Lawrence was killed but she is angry, she is outraged, and she is prepared to be public with her views. She has put herself out there on social media, criticising people who mounted White Lives Matter or All Lives Matter campaigns in response to Black Lives Matter. It drives her crazy that people try to dumb down or counteract the Black Lives Matter movement – the point is that a black person’s life didn’t seemed to matter at the hands of white police brutality. At first, the “comfortable, white, don’t rock the boat” me was thinking “be careful, don’t put yourself out there, you’re too young to cope with the backlash you might get from disagreeing with people”. Then I read Reni Eddo-Lodge’s powerful book and now I am deeply proud of my daughter’s willingness to speak out and be anti-racist rather than just “not racist”.

I’ll give another example of the difference between me and my daughter on the issue of race and racism. We both love to watch EastEnders and there was recently a story line where Keegan, a black young adult, is repeatedly stopped by police and questioned. The story line reaches a pitch where Keegan is wrongly accused of assaulting a police officer. Coincidentally his white uncle in law (Jack) is a senior police officer and eventually secures a copy of the video footage that will clear Keegan’s name. He gives a copy to Keegan and asks him to keep it to himself, assures him that the evidence will clear his name, the issue will go away quietly. That’s ok right? Jack did the right thing (under the radar) so he gets to a) feel good about himself and b) keep his job. But that’s not enough for Keegan – he wants to tell the world about the injustice he has suffered and posts the footage on social media. As Keegan goes to press send, the white middle-aged me sitting comfortably in her own skin (pun intended) on the sofa is screaming, “don’t do it, keep the peace, don’t get Jack sacked – he (Jack) did the right thing, you (Keegan) should be thanking him, you shouldn’t be risking Jack’s job”. Meanwhile my daughter is 100% delighted that he posts the footage – “it needs to be out there, people need to know about the injustice” she says, “so what if a white guy loses his job, he should have spoken out for Keegan, not just given him the video footage”. So, BAM it hits me – right there I am that person that Reni Eddo-Lodge talks about in her book. The one that doesn’t call out the systemic problems. The one that simply hides behind personal outrage that other people are treated badly but doesn’t confront the perpetrators. The one who shuts her eyes and fills her ears with treacle. The one who experiences the whole thing through the eyes of the white police officer rather than the wronged black young man. Looking back just a few months, I can’t believe in that scenario my inclination was to create white Jack as the hero. Sure, he did a bit of the right thing but not enough. I am ashamed of that now. I genuinely don’t think I would have felt like that if I had read “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race” first.

The book talks about how the various systems in our society are not equal and how they systemically favour white people – as a white person I didn’t see this until it was pointed out to me, and now I need to think differently because me being not racist in the corner won’t be enough to change things. The NHS, the Police, education, housing associations, bus companies, are some of examples in the book where a systemic and cultural bias which favours white people has embedded inequality and unfairness into our organisations and the fabric of our society in ways that I suspect are invisible to many of us.

So, I think that people with the privilege of not having to think about the colour of their skin should read this book. But that’s not enough, we can’t just nod sagely and say how terrible it must be to be a person of colour in this unfair world. We should go much further and commit to what we are going to change as a result. For me it starts like this:

  • We need to be far more conscious of, and honest about, the experience of people of colour being pushed down the agenda, dismissed or simply not thought about.
  • We, particularly those of us in positions of influence or power, need to stop and think about what our decisions might mean for people who have a different lived experience to us by virtue of skin colour. And more than this, we shouldn’t assume that we know how to do this without properly speaking to people of colour about what our decisions mean to and for them.
  • We need to acknowledge that, when we sit in a meeting and are faced with a sea of white faces, we are not hearing all voices. If we do not hear and listen to all voices, we will miss out on valuable insights, information and knowledge. A room full of white people will not make the best decisions. All white meetings are far too common an occurrence and this needs to be acknowledged and changed. We need to do much more to genuinely and authentically bring people of colour into the conversation and into the room so that a broader range of contributions is allowed to feed into decisions.

So, I commit to open my eyes, to clear my ear canals of treacle and to hear what people of colour are saying. I accept that at times it could be uncomfortable, that I might not like some of what I see or hear or know how to respond to it. But I will really try not to push this down or be defensive to protect myself from the experiences of others.

 Miranda Routledge, Director of Planning

This Week at Loughborough | 23 November

This Week at Loughborough | 23 November

November 23, 2020 Alex Stephens

Mock Assessment Centre

24 November, 6 – 7.45pm, Online

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

  • Practise group exercises element of an assessment centre with the Careers Network and real recruiters
  • Hear some top tips
  • Gain feedback from employers

This workshop is for students from all years in all Departments. Visit Careers Online to book a place.

Disabilities and Relationships: discussion panel

24 November, 6 – 7pm, Online

As part of Disability History Month, LSU Disability Support Network is collaborating with LSU Consent and Sexual Health to put on a discussion panel surrounding all things relating to disabilities and relationships.

Booking information can be found on the event page.

Virtual International Study Exchanges Fair 2020

25 November, 1 – 3pm, Online

We are pleased to announce that Loughborough University is holding a virtual International Study Exchanges Fair which is aimed at providing you with information and advice about the opportunities available to you if you would like to undertake a study exchange in the academic year 2021/22.

You will have the opportunity to put your questions to the central Exchanges Team and in Schools/Departments across the University. We can also put you in touch with students who have recently returned from their European and international study exchanges so that you ask them directly about their experiences.

Booking information is available on the event page.

IDIG/POLIS research symposium

25 November, 2 – 3.30pm, Online

The Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance (IDIG) and Politics and International Studies (POLIS) are holding a series of joint symposia this year to exchange ideas and develop our research. 

There will be two speakers, one from IDIG, Dr An Jacobs, and one from POLIS, Dr Giulia Piccolino who will have 40 mins each to present their papers and field some questions. This is an internal Loughborough University event and we would very much welcome our PhD students to attend.

Booking information is available on the event page.

BERG seminar: Ventilation, health, and COVID-19

25 November, 2 – 3pm, Online

If you are interested in the link between COVID-19 and ventilation of buildings, then please join us for the BERG Seminar.

There will be three presentations and a discussion session on the theme of ‘Ventilation, health, and COVID-19’. All are welcome.

Speakers:

  • Lauren Ferguson (London-Loughborough Centre for Doctoral Training – UCL)
  • Dr Chris Iddon (CIBSE Natural Ventilation Group Chair)
  • Professor Malcolm Cook (BERG – Loughborough University)

Find out more information and how to book on the event page.

Public lecture: How do we physiologically respond to stress and is this bad for our health?

25 November, 5.30pm, Online

Dr Nicola Paine will present ‘How do we physiologically respond to stress – and is this bad for our health?’

Stress is something that can affect us all at various times within daily life. Dr Paine will talk about the potential effects of stress on human health and how our health behaviours can affect how our bodies physically respond to stress.

Booking information can be found on the event page.

IAS Residential Fellow Lecture: Dr Lenka Vráblíková

26 November, 11.30am – 12.30pm, Online

Othering Mushrooms: Migratism and its racist entanglements in the Brexit campaign

Deploying the ambivalence of mushrooms in the cultural imagination as an analytical lens, and drawing from Sara Ahmed’s (2010) theorization of ‘othering’ as an embodied process, the presentation examines the Brexit campaign’s migratism and its racist entanglements. Vráblíková argues that research on how forests, mushrooms and their foragers have figured in the formation of white heteropatriarchy is vital for contesting the re-emergence of the right-wing populism that, in Europe, is exemplified by events such as Brexit.

Booking information can be found on the event page.

Disability Research at Loughborough

26 November, 1 – 4.30pm, Online

Doctoral researchers Amber Guest, Kim Hutton, Simon Briley, Lesley Sharpe, Chloe Blackwell, Eva Rodgers, Victor Jeganathan and Tigmanshu Bhatnagar will give thought-provoking and inspiring talks on the day.

The talks will explore a wide variety of topics including families raising children with autism, breaking down exclusion barriers, physical activity in a secure psychiatric hospital, mental health of truckers, and shoulder pain in wheelchair athletes

Booking information is available on the event page.

#LboroAppliedAI talk: Social Media and AI

26 November, 4 – 6pm, Online

In this talk Dr Martin Sykora will focus on social media research and the role AI plays in such research and across social media platforms in general. They argue for the need of well-informed interdisciplinary and more holistic approaches to tackling challenging social media research questions.

Social media has been playing an increasingly active role in shaping society, politics, and economics – which has yet to be fully understood while analysing and understanding the unprecedented volume of unstructured, context-poor big data has proven to be challenging.

To book onto the event visit the event page.

The Practicalities: Naming and Registration

26 November, 5.30 – 7pm, Online

This workshop will take you through some important steps to finding the right name for you business and helping you to understand the types of legal entites ready for when you want to register your company.

Naming your business is an important step to building a sustainable and successful business. Attend this workshop to build your knowledge and take home some practical steps you can take to find the perfect name for you!

Booking information is available on the event page.

We are Maia: virtual launch event

27 November, 12.30 – 2pm, Online

Maia is the Loughborough University Women’s Network, uniting women staff and Doctoral Researchers, including trans women and non-binary people comfortable in a female-centred community.

This virtual launch event will be an opportunity to learn more about the work undertaken by Maia so far, our vision and also our strategic priorities for the next 12 months. 

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

An Hour (performance and workshop)

27 November, 12.45 – 2.15pm, Online

Join Radar for an online performance commissioned to mark the launch of the Institute of Advanced Studies’ 2020/21 Time Programme.

The work consists of performers attempting to silently count seconds for an hour, saying only each (supposed) minute out loud. The audience, gathered in the same Zoom call, watches and listens to their attempts. In this, An Hour explores the concept of time as duration, and how we might experience time passing when we give ourselves over to it.

Booking information is available on the event page.

IAS Time Theme Launch

27 November, 2.30 – 5pm, Online

The IAS Time Theme is launching with an event looking at Spacetime and Chronotope – How Disciplines Conceptualise Time. A Trialogue, a virtual forum bringing three IAS Visiting Fellows into a ‘trialogue’ on how we conceptualise, and use, time.

The Fellows joining for the event are:

  • Professor Laurence Eaves, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Nottingham
  • Professor Meghan Sullivan, Department of Philosophy and Director of the Institute for Advanced Study, University of Notre Dame
  • Dr Jutta Vinzent, Department of Art History, University of Birmingham and University of Erfurt 

Visit the event page for further information.

Self-Care Sundays: Yoga class

29 November, 4 – 5pm, Online

In this Sunday session we can begin to learn the tools to manage stress and anxiety, and simply take some much needed time out.

This 60 minute Yoga class will introduce you to breathing techniques and ways of moving that will calm the body and mind. We’ll be slowing it down, moving in ways that feel good and serve us well.

Includes a compassionate relaxation/meditation at the end of the class, leaving you feeling restored and revitalised for the week ahead.

Suitable for ALL levels and bodies. Booking information is available on the event page.

Got something for next week? Let us know at digital@lboro.ac.uk

Disability History Month: Support for students

Disability History Month: Support for students

November 23, 2020 Sophie Dinnie
In this blog Helen Shaw, Disability Access and Learning Manager within the Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity (SWAI) team, discusses the support available to students.
The Political Poster

The Political Poster

November 20, 2020 LU Arts

To coincide with the launch of our Poster Project webpage, we asked members of staff at Loughborough University to tell us about their favourite political posters and what it is they like about them.

The political poster has been a powerful campaign tool in protests throughout history. They have been an effective communication tool, using bold design and imaginative wordplay to make their message heard.

Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge  poster by El Lissitzky,1919
Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge (El Lissitzky, 1919)
David Bell, LU Arts & Radar Producer

In the early days of the Soviet Union so much seemed possible. An emerging artistic avant-garde was central to this, and saw itself as a key architect of the new world. This poster by El Lissitzky is typical of that. It’s actually a piece of wartime propaganda, depicting the Bolsheviks defeating the anti-revolutionary ‘white’ movement, but its marriage of revolutionary form and content promises so much more. Sadly, revolutionary artists soon found themselves out of favour and as the Soviet Union degenerated into Stalinist repression it adopted increasingly conservative visual forms.

Hope poster of Barack Obama by Sheperd Fairey, 2008
Hope (Shepard Fairey, 2008)
Mary Brewer, Senior Lecturer in English and American Studies

I’ve chosen this poster because it really did give me and many others hope that America was finally becoming a more racially just society.

Labour Party campaign poster from 2001
Hope (Labour Party, 2001)
Mary Brewer, Senior Lecturer in English and American Studies

It’s side-splittingly funny!

It’s us who’ll be discovering the new worlds (c.1960)
Ksenia Chmutina, Senior Lecturer in Sustainable and Resilient Urbanism

I generally find Soviet space race posters fascinating. This particular one says ‘It’s us who will be discovering the new worlds’. I love the aspirational idea of the youth that will build the future. I think we see this now – the current leadership is pretty useless, so it’s up to young people to resist (and they are resisting).

Knowledge To Everyone Soviet Union poster (c.1970s)
Knowledge To Everyone (c.1970s)
Ksenia Chmutina, Senior Lecturer in Sustainable and Resilient Urbanism

One of my favourite posters, highlighting the importance of knowledge and learning for everyone. For all its faults, Soviet Union provided a very high quality education and many have been encouraged to take evening classes and so on. To me, education is so important – I wish our education were more liberating though.

Down with Kitchen Slavery! (1931)
Ksenia Chmutina, Senior Lecturer in Sustainable and Resilient Urbanism

I love the style of this poster, and I love the message (‘Done with kitchen slavery. Give us new reality’). When I moved to the UK, I found it shocking that so many women did not work because of the childcare. When I grew up, I never realised that women don’t have to go to work – and of course there are pros and cons to that, but to me the fact that my mother was working (and still is) was formative. She could work because there was a social network in place – and all the education was free; I can’t quite imagine it any other way.

Power & Equality: Power to the People poster by Shepard Fairey c.2015
Angela Martinez Dy, Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship: Power & Equality: Power to the People (Shepard Fairey, c.2015)

I like it because it reflects the Black Power Movement, is based on Dr Angela Davis’s radical image celebrating the beauty of Black people and the Black Panthers, whose work although controversial was nonetheless powerful and inspiring to anti-racist activism worldwide.

Getting Away With It (Anonymous, 2014)
Ruth Kinna, Professor of Political Theory

This poster is one of a series that appeared on bus shelters in London in 2015. They were intended as counter-propaganda and the design, palette and fonts replicated Metropolitan Police posters which highlighted the value and success of London policing. The series attracted a lot of public interest, with articles in VICE and the New Statesman.

The campaign highlighted issues of police racism as well as violence. The messages chime loudly with recent Black Lives Matter campaigns in the US and Europe. For me it’s a perfect example of subvertising: the critique is instantly decipherable and it draws attention to a systemic problem of injustice. It also brilliantly highlights the Met’s own political communications strategy and its privileged access to public space. In this sense, it draws attention to the highly contentious and deeply politicised nature of public information messaging.

Vote As If… (Anonymous, c.2016)
Catherine Rees, Programme Director: Drama

I like it because it not only reminds people to vote but also that a vote should be used for social change, not self interest.

To-Day Unemployed (Labour Party, 1923)
Jon Walker, Director of Enterprise Development

I has this poster on my office wall in the Rutland Building for many years. I was leading fundraising for the University, often engaging with people of very great wealth and status. This poster helped to keep me grounded and to remember that great wealth often comes at a great cost to other people. The poster reminds me of the tendency of economic systems to exploit workers; of the destitution rife before the welfare state was introduced by the Labour Party; and why we have to keep fighting every day for a fairer country – a country that works for the many and not the few.

Gender Subversion Kit (Crimethinc/Jacinta Bunnell & Irit Reinheimer 2004)
David Wilson, Software Engineer

This poster lays out so clearly the violence that gendered expectations do to children of all genders by attempting to limit their experiences and self-expression. Life is short, too short to put ourselves in boxes and say “that’s not for me because I have these genitals”. I like that it ends with a positive message about working together to deconstruct the patriarchal and capitalist systems that push them on us.

This is Nazi Brutality (Ben Shahn/United States Office of War Information, 1942)
Dominic Wring, Professor of Political Communication

A World War Two classic by Ben Shahn, which has tragic resonance with events relating to the Abu Ghraib scandal 60 years later.


LU Arts is encouraging the University community to campaign for a better world by designing their own political posters. The Poster Project is a unique webpage where you can upload your own poster designs on issues and topics that matter to you. Students are also encouraged to browse and download the published posters to display on windows, noticeboards or bedroom walls.  There are a series of cash prizes on offer (up to £250) for the best posters (competition deadline 18 December 2020).

Returning to halls - Blog by Lizzy Watts

November 20, 2020 Guest Blogger

Thinking about your accommodation for second year can be quite intimidating, especially because the time when you need to start thinking about it seems to come around so quickly!

Why I chose to return to halls

Initially, I found it a bit stressful when all my friends were organising houses together and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to move out of halls or not. It is a big decision, but the Accommodation team have loads of resources to help you make the best decision, whether that be moving back into halls or living in  town.

lizzy watts

The location of halls was obviously very convenient, being just five minutes away from lectures and only 10 minutes from the Library. It helped motivate me to work and by staying in a catered hall, I really liked being fed everyday!

I’m also someone who likes to meet lots of new people, so the big community feel of a hall worked really well for me.

I didn’t feel as though I had a group of people that I felt I knew well enough to make the decision to move in with them. Moving into a house felt like a big step, and I wasn’t too sure I wanted to deal with landlords, separate insurance or utility bills just yet.

For a few weeks I felt like I should want to get a house, to get the ‘proper student experience’, but I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – there is no one correct way to experience university.

You know yourself what’s best for you and what will make you happy, so don’t let the idea that you should live in town in second year pressure you if you think staying in halls again would be a better decision!

So with my decision made, I checked the accommodation website to see how to apply. Applications opened on 1st  December, but I still had until 11th  February to make an application (it’s the same  this year too!) and it wasn’t first come first served, so there was no rush.

The application process

The process was very simple – you use the same portal as when choosing halls in first year, outline your preferences of hall and room and put down anyone you’d like to live with. One of my friends also wanted to live in halls again, so we decided to live together.

She was questioning whether to do a placement given the global situation, and knew that it would be easier to be released from a halls contract than one in town, so decided halls was the best option. We applied to the same hall  we were in in first year because we felt settled there and knew priority was given to returning students.

Now we’re in second year and we’re very happy with our decision, we’re well fed and looked after too by the catering staff and warden team.

Plans for final year

I’m now looking to sign a house contract in town for my final year as there’s a group of us with similar living expectations. We found a house through the University’s accommodation website, where you’ll find a list of approved landlords and properties.

We’ve been reassured by the Accommodation team that there is no rush to sign as there is more than enough student accommodation in town, and no matter how many freebies you get waved in your face, it’s better to wait and make sure you’re making the right decision than rush and regret it! We’ve also decided to affiliate with our hall in final year, so we can stay involved in hall activities.

All In all, I’m very happy with my decision to stay in halls for second year, as it was definitely the right decision for me. Equally, I have friends living in town who are loving it. It’s a matter of personal preference, and the Accommodation team are just an email away if you ever want to chat about your options or get a query answered. Alternatively, you can check out the website.

My final piece of advice would be don’t rush! Everyone’s in the same boat, and there’s loads of support to help you make the right decision.

Reflecting on the Loughborough 2020 PhD Awards

November 19, 2020 Dr Katryna Kalawsky

Written by Thomas Baker and Rieman Rudra

Hello everyone!

Your former Presidential Team of 2019-2020 here!

We celebrated the awards in August though it is high time we did full justice to all the wonderful individuals and teams who were nominated for them! We had 146 individuals or groups of individuals who were nominated which is truly incredible and shows just how many there are doing fantastic work supporting us all, we are immensely grateful for you all.

Skip to the end for the full table of all nominees if you wish!

All the best for your futures,

Tom and Rieman

Queries: Thomas Baker (t.e.baker@lboro.ac.uk) and Rieman Rudra (r.rudra@lboro.ac.uk)

A reason for nominating individuals was requested (and preferred) as it strengthens credibility for the award. Recently this text was shared with the nominees, and only if the nominator had given approval for this, no names were given. A reminder as to the criteria for each of the awards:

Awards for Academic Excellence

Contribution to Knowledge – Presented by Professor Liz Peel

This award is to be given to a doctoral researcher who has made significant/creative contributions through sharing their research within the University. Examples include: annual School conferences, Summer showcases, Café Academique, Loughborough University’s Research Conference, other internally based events, activities, and student-led seminars.

Contribution to Field – Presented by Dr Duncan Stanley

This award is to be given to a doctoral researcher who has made significant contributions to their field of study. Examples include: publishing articles, journal papers, conference papers, conference presentations, artistic presentations, or any other field-appropriate format.

PhD Teaching Excellence – Presented by Dr Jessica Noske-Turner

This award is to be given to a doctoral researcher who has demonstrated innovative and impactful teaching capability in any capacity. They would have taught or trained others, with some examples including: running seminars/labs for UG/PGT students, giving lecturers to UG/PGT students, or running trainings for fellow doctoral researchers. This is not necessarily related to their research – if it is, please refer to other awards that are more complementary of that.

Awards for Community Engagement

Contribution to Doctoral Researcher Community – Presented by Zoe Crowson

This award is to be given to a doctoral researcher who is particularly active outside of their research-centred activities. Their contribution would have specifically been most impactful within the doctoral researcher community at Loughborough University. They would have, for example, volunteered their time through organising/running campaigns, events, or activities at Departmental/School level. 

Contribution to the Wider Community – Presented by Dr Kathryn North

This award is to be given to a doctoral researcher who is particularly active outside of their research-centred activities. Their contribution would have specifically been most impactful within the doctoral researcher community at Loughborough University. They would have, for example, volunteered their time through organising/running campaigns, events, or activities at Departmental/School level. 

Sub-Warden of the Year – Presented by Dr Katryna Kalawsky

This award is to be given to a doctoral researcher who has taken up the role of Sub-Warden in a University Hall of residence, in addition to their already-existing research-specific activities. In this role, they would have enhanced quality of life for students within their Hall and shared their knowledge within the Warden/Sub-Warden community.

Statement of the Year – Presented by Dr Jill Thurman

This award is to be given to a doctoral researcher that has taken the time to voice their opinion on a certain matter or subject. They would have approached an interesting yet challenging topic and would have done so either through a blog entry, podcast, vlog or any other mean of communication. Some the topics could be: climate change, mental health, LGBTQI+ rights, oceanic plastic, Black Lives Matter.

Awards Open to Staff Members

Contribution to Student Development – Presented by Monia Del Pinto

This award is to be given to a member of staff who has enhanced doctoral researchers’ personal and professional growth. For example, they would have provided workshops or training within Schools or at a University level, such as research assistants, technicians, or academic/non-academic staff.

Supervisory Team of the Year – Presented by Hugh Tawell

This award is to be given to a supervisory team that has worked collaboratively for positive research results and/or dissemination. Members of this supervisory team should demonstrate strong attention to student wellbeing and personal growth.

Team of the Year – Presented by Leah Henrickson

This award is to be given to students and/or staff who have collaborated well to plan a successful event, series of events, or other endeavour – this would have had a positive impact on the students’ experience and/or wellbeing. In your nomination, make sure you underline the impact that this team has had within the community they represent, and how their event has stood out for you.

Unsung Hero dedicated to Peter Beaman-Tony Tian

This award is to be given to a staff member who has positively contributed to the social and/or research experience of doctoral researchers. This person is the one in the background making magic happen, often not being the face of the contribution. This person could be someone that works tirelessly through their admin work, IT support, lab maintenance, and so on. Ultimately, this person would have stood out for you through their positive impact on your own experience.

This award is dedicated to an in honour of the University’s unsung hero, Peter Beaman, who sadly passed in 2019. Peter worked in the Social Sciences School for over 20 years as a psychology technician. He was also an assistant chaplain and an equalities champion for both students and staff at the university. Recognised for his tireless support for the PGR community, Peter won the Unsung Hero award in 2018.  He was always available to help, no task too big or small, and was a mentor and advisor to PGRs for many years. His understated and everyday efforts in supporting colleagues and students sums up the spirit of this very special award. 

Doctoral Representative and Lead Representative of the Year – Presented by Ana-Maria Bilciu

This award was originally part of the Loughborough Academic Awards (LAAs) this year to better reflect the representative structure as part of the LSU, and in line with the undergraduate structure. No formal award ceremony was possible for these awards due to COVID, though we were going to celebrate them again here anyway. Thank you, Doctoral Representatives!

The Big One

Overall Impact – Presented by Professor Steve Rothberg

This award is to be given to a doctoral researcher who has demonstrated academic excellence as well as strong community involvement. This person is well-rounded and could easily conquer the world if they were not so darn nice. This is the individual that you are most grateful for within the doctoral researcher community!

In the table below (in no particularly order) is a full list of every individual/group who were nominated for each category to ensure that everyone is recognised, regardless of the end outcome this year. Extra congratulations to the award winners who are in bold!

What it feels like for a boy... (well this boy anyway)

What it feels like for a boy... (well this boy anyway)

November 19, 2020 Stephen Ashurst

Author: Stephen Ashurst

I’ve wanted to write something like this for ages and this week being Transgender Awareness Week it seemed as good a time as any. Whether it will be seen as a useful insight that could be helpful to someone in a similar situation, or perhaps just a cathartic, self-gratifying brain dump for me, I don’t know. Hopefully it can be both.

I love the way that society seems now to have embraced the LGBT+ community and culture, so that it’s almost fashionable to be a part of this. I would like to believe it is an openness to every person’s unique qualities and a willingness to be open to other ideas. Hopefully it is, rather than a fad that will soon pass.

By the way, the photo used in this post is a stock image photograph and not actually me when I was little, although it does represent how I felt on the inside when I was that age.

Transvestites in the 80s

I grew up in the 80s, which is to some a cultural peak in music and film. However, one of my key memories of this decade was of making me brutally aware of how society felt about the idea of being transgender. Of course at the time the only reference I was aware of was through derogatory words like ‘transvestite’ or ‘tranny’. I remember shows like Kenny Everett doing his ‘All done in the best possible taste’ sketch, where he wore a glamorous dress, fishnet tights, makeup and of course a full beard. It was seen as hilarious that a man should be dressed so overtly as a woman. Obviously there was no subtlety to this approach and there was no intention to do anything but make people laugh, but the problem was that it worked. I remember also a key scene in the film ‘Crocodile Dundee’ where Paul Hogan grabbed a person by the groin then alerted the whole room to the fact that there was ‘a bloke dressed like a Sheila’. Again this was done to great humorous effect at the time. Indeed I remember laughing along with this at the time. But also felt quite sad inside that this was how things were.

I also remember back then, hearing someone close to me pose the rhetorical question “why should transvestites get to dress like women, when they don’t have to go through the agony of childbirth?” At the time it seemed like a clear statement that showed me that anything like this was wrong. I didn’t understand it at the time (I was probably about 8 or 9) but that moment really hurt me. But I buried any thoughts of wanting to be feminine deep within and never spoke of it to anyone until recently. Looking back I don’t blame them – I’m sure it was indicative of the way of thinking back then. Obviously now I understand things better and whilst it is true men may never fully appreciate the agony of childbirth, that shouldn’t be a factor in determining who you are inside or how you then dress on the outside.

The inner weirdo at school

I got by OK at school. There were the occasional fights and being bullied in the early years of high school but nothing out of the ordinary (as far as I was aware). But it was a time when I really became aware of the differences between girls and boys (beyond the obvious) and this was when things became confusing and frustrating. As I hit puberty I started to recognise attractions for the opposite sex, the way I’m sure a lot of people did. But I was also aware of a longing to be feminine, to look and dress how the girls did. I was never particularly interested in football or competitive sports, I often found I had more in common with the girls in the class than the boys. Also, at that time I never really developed a particularly masculine figure – which I was secretly pleased about because I hated the idea of being physically big and hairy – but it meant that to some extent I felt that life was teasing me, saying ‘you have an almost feminine body, you could almost be a girl’. Obviously back then in the late 80s / early 90s, that kind of thinking wouldn’t have gone down well with the other kids at school, so I never shared my thoughts on this with anyone, let alone contemplate doing anything about it. As usual I pushed it to the back of my mind and told myself that it was wrong to think that way and that I should stop. I hoped my feelings would change but of course they never did.

As I grew up I continued to feel the same way, I learned more about the world and with the advent of the internet, social media and then working at a University, I learnt about the LGB movement which eventually included the initial ‘T’ and I began to feel there was something important here that if I dared to let myself accept it, just might have a place for me.

Of course there are aspects of this that could make up any number of blog posts, each focusing on a different element. But after some careful consideration the one I thought was most important to identify was the moment of realisation and understanding at a young age that for me went on set my expectations for a large part of my life. I don’t believe there is a requirement for this to be identified and labelled at a young age, and equally no obligation to feel the same way forever. But I do believe there’s room to let people express themselves in a masculine, feminine or non-binary way, without fear of being made to feel stupid or somehow inferior to others.

So what next?

I feel there is still a long way to go with all aspects of LGBT+, but from my perspective this is particularly so for the trans community. I personally feel that because it can be such a visual exposition to openly show you are transgender, not just through words (although telling people is tricky enough) but to express your femininity by going out dressed in a feminine way. It’s such a terrifying leap that you find you’ve prejudged yourself as being guilty of some heinous crime before you even step out the door. So you’re almost waiting for a hail of abuse and laughter from people you’ve never met, or even worse – from people you know and care about. I would like to point out that so far I have not had to deal with any negative or abusive behaviour. So my fears are largely based on my own prejudices of how I perceived society’s attitude towards transgender community back in the 80s and 90s.

Despite my fears and reservations, I feel encouraged by the fact that there are wonderful people out there, who make up the front line for the transgender community, people like Eddie Izzard. This is someone I have an enormous amount of respect for. Obviously there’s all the work he’s done for charity, but the fact that he is openly trans and people love him, shows me that it’s possible be trans and live a happy life. I know it wasn’t an easy journey for him, but he is now a public trans figure in society. I love a response he gave when someone asked why he was wearing women’s clothes, to which he correctly replied: “They’re not women’s clothes, they’re my clothes. I bought them.

I think this goes to show that society’s view on being transgender – as open and accepting as it is already – can only be made more normal, if more trans people are seen in society and very importantly – not seen as objects of ridicule. So I almost feel it’s my duty to be more visible and be seen. But I’m not ready for that just yet, although who knows, maybe I will be tomorrow.


Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

This Week at Loughborough | 16 November

This Week at Loughborough | 16 November

November 16, 2020 Alex Stephens

Global Entrepreneurship Week: Power of Three Competition

16 – 22 November, Online Submission

Loughborough Enterprise Network is delighted to offer you the chance to be crowned their Pitching champion of the year through our power of three competition. This competition is an opportunity for you to put your pitching in to practice in a practical and competitive way whilst earning valuable experience.

‘The Power of Three’ has been proven to be a more effective and more memorable way of delivering any form of key message or key argument and, for that reason, we’d love to encourage you to practice your ‘Power of Three’ in our new and exciting quick-fire Pitching Competition. Articulate your idea in 3 memorable sections (highlighting the most important information) in 3 minutes maximum. 

Find out more about the competition and how to submit your video on the event page.

Women in Sport Week

16 – 20 November, Online

Run by Girls PROgress their Women in Sport week includes events, videos and workouts across the week courtesy of Women’s Network and multiple partners that are supporting the event.

Find out what is on by visiting their Facebook page.

Happy Mondays: Drawing Workshop

A range of drawing instruments including chalkstones, string, and brushes laid out on a black floor.
16 November, 7 – 9pm, Online

Explore the possibilities of creativity and drawing. Using charcoal, pencils, natural chalk stones, string and found objects, in this workshop you will learn to explore and express a piece of text, through the medium of drawing.

This workshop aims to be expansive and creative, encouraging you to think outside of the box and create new ways of thinking, through art. The piece of text that we will be responding to will be sent to you by email in advance of the workshop.

This event is part of Happy Mondays – your weekly creative fix in partnership with LSU. Happy Mondays events are for Loughborough University students only.

Booking information is available on the event page.

Mock Assessment Centre

17 November, 6 – 7.45pm, Online

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

Visit Careers Online to book a place.  

LEN Global Entrepreneurship Week Special Edition: Sustainable time management with Circl-ed

17 November, 6.30 – 8pm, Online

Join fellow Loughborough Business Circl-ed for a hands-on experiential workshop to change your time management in a way that suits your goals and well-being.

This 90-minute long workshop gives you a chance to evaluate your average week and think about small and sustainable changes to optimise your time management from a student perspective. The focus will lie on action rather than theory and learning from each other (peer-peer). We will talk about the concept of flow and identify the activities that give us the most energy and satisfaction. The workshop will be led by Kathrin Burdenski, founder of Circl-ed, psychologist and LEN entrepreneur.

Booking information can be found on the event page.

Making Sense of Business Banking with Santander

Santander logo. Phone touching against a contactless pay tab.
18 November, 1 – 2.30pm, Online

Come and learn why it’s important to have a relationship with a bank as a founder. Cultivating strong relationships helps to increase your start-up’s chances of success. In particular, a strong banking relationship can be a crucial component in your startup’s success journey.

To demystify the process of securing the right banking relationship we are really excited to announce that we have Robert Simmonds from Santander coming in to run a workshop. Shedding light and details about how and why you should build a relationship with a bank as a founder and helping you to make sense of business banking – even providing you with some top tips along the way! 

All founders need to be smart about managing their money, professionally and personally so book now to increase your knowledge. 

Booking information can be found on the event page.

Centre for Security Studies Seminar

Two people stood outside a car on a dessert track
18 November, 2 – 3pm, Online

Professor Morten Bøås will speak about ‘The EU, migration management and state fragility in Niger: How unintended consequences can undermine fine-tuned domestic elite political compromises’ in this seminar series run by Security Studies.

This presentation will critically examine the EU’s crisis response towards the Sahel with a particular focus on Niger and the city of Agadez, arguing that while EU’s approach may have reduced the number of migrants passing through Agadez, it could also come to undermine a number of local compromises that so far have helped Niger display higher resilience towards the crises that are quickly destabilising neighbouring Burkina Faso and Mali.

Exploring career pathways in Medical Physics

18 November, 2.30 – 4.30pm, Online

Are you studying physics but don’t know what you want to do next? Are you interested in Medical Physics but not sure what it means as a career? The IOP Medical Physics Group is providing an opportunity to Explore Career Pathways in Medical Physics through two remote afternoon sessions.

Find out more and book online.

Thoughts Thinking Thoughts

18 November, 7 – 8.30pm, Online

An online talk and discussion presented by Radar with Theo Reeves-Evison, exploring how artists have engaged with the shift towards economic thinking in ecology.

This event will consider this shift towards economic thinking in ecology, and explore a variety of art practices that critically rework such initiatives from within.

Booking information can be found on the event page.

A Slice of Market Pie: Your Guide to Market Research

19 November, 6.30 – 8pm, Online

In this session, Sophie and her guests provide you with everything you need to know about Market Research. In this session, we explore how to identify your slice of the market, begin identifying your target audience and building customer profiles, as well as considering how to effectively analyse your competitors.

Booking information can be found on the event page.

Journalists’ roles and the Ultra-Right: The case of Italy

20 November, 1 – 2pm, Online

A talk delivered by Professor Cinzia Padovani as part of the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture (CRCC) seminar series.

In this presentation, Professor Cinzia Padovani develops a typology of journalist positions and applies this typology to a case study of journalist roles vis à vis the ultra-right in Italy. The empirical contribution, based upon data from semi-structured interviews with 23 professionals, highlights the emergence of various roles: from the ‘monitorial’, to the ‘public journalist’, to the ‘derisive’ role.

The study opens up an original arena of inquiry beyond the Italian case. Given the rise of the ultra-right in various contexts, the research will be of interest to academics and journalists alike, since the topic of when and how to cover ultra-right actors is a pressing, practical problem.

Getting your Business Online

Starting 20 November, Online

Join the LEN team for an 8-week online course on ‘Getting Your Business Online’. Each weekly email will cover one area of online business, and suggest activities to guide your journey.

This online course will take you through 8 – weeks of practical content which will help you…

  • Develop an idea into a business with an online presence
  • Take an established business to the next level online
  • Advance a project
  • Learn new entrepreneurial skills

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

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

22 November, 4 – 5pm, Online

Wanting to bake something cosy and comforting? Or maybe you’re ready to get started on some holiday baking?

Well, we have the perfect bake for you! Join us for an oatmeal raisin cookie bake along, an easy go-to cookie that will get you feeling warm cosy, and ready for the holiday season.

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

Download the recipe, which includes all of the ingredients you will need from the event page on the LU Arts website.

Got something for next weeks This Week At Loughborough? Email digital@lboro.ac.uk

The Liberation of American Women in the 1920s

November 15, 2020 Catherine Armstrong

by Jade Caublot

As part of my American Century coursework I chose to answer the question “to what extent was the 1920s an era of liberation for American women?”. I argued that the era only saw the partial liberation of a small portion of American women as the majority remained oppressed by sexism and racism. My argument was mostly based around the experience of 3 different groups of American women- Caucasian, African American, and Hispanic women.

This era is often positively represented as the ‘Roaring Twenties’ characterised partly by its progressiveness regarding women’s rights. However, this portrayal fails to acknowledge how the momentum of the feminist movement was limited as a result of persistent racism, and conservative political views. During the lectures I learned that the 1920s was a much divided decade which helped me formulate my argument and structure my research.

Initially, I identified the major events, political organisations and representation of women at the time. I also chose to define ‘liberation’ as sexual, economic and political freedoms, and to analyse the extent to which African-American, Caucasian and Hispanic women experienced these during the 1920s. In order to support my argument I made use of various journal articles- some highlighted the progression of the feminist movement, whilst others explained the social and cultural barriers that restricted change.

On one hand, my essay explored the ways in which the 1920s did witness some liberation for American women. This was firstly achieved through the form of legislation- most notably the 19th Amendment which enabled women to vote. In addition, during this period, the Harlem Renaissance gave some African American women the platforms to express their daily struggles with both sexism and racism.

However, ultimately, I argued that the era gave American women limited liberation as many political groups focussed on ending sex discrimination in laws but ignored the ways in which class and race could also impact women’s freedoms. As a result, the women that benefitted the most from this era were white, middle-class women who lived in urban areas.

The basis of my essay was that women experienced this era very differently to one another as they had varied levels of freedom to begin with. Hispanic women remained constrained as they were in charge of maintaining the Hispanic culture within their communities and were therefore shamed for embracing Americanise modernity and the sexual and economic freedom it entailed. Moreover, most African American women faced occupational segregation which limited them to the domestic, low paying jobs, the exceptions being the few Harlem Renaissance artists.

I really enjoyed researching this topic as it gave me an insight into the reality of first wave feminism. It enabled me to gain a better understanding of the delicate task of fighting for women’s rights in a country with a pronounced North-South divide of wealth and political views, and its impact on women’s opportunities. The experience of Hispanic women was especially interesting to study as it illustrated how national social change can create tensions within minority groups.


Bio: My name is Jade Caublot. I’m French but moved abroad to Perth (Australia) when I was 7 which is where I learned to speak English and then relocated to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) two years later. I spent 9 years living there before moving to Loughborough in 2018 to start university. I’m a third year Politics and International Relations student and I’m about to start my placement as an English Language Assistant in Spain. I will also be completing a TEFL certified course at the International University of Catalonia.


Photo by Kevin Lanceplaine on Unsplash

An Introduction to the Future Space Team

An Introduction to the Future Space Team

November 13, 2020 Loughborough University London

Hello! I’m Ben Cole, Head of Strategic Projects and Future Space at Loughborough University London. Future Space was designed to support our student community, and support the innovators and inventors of the future (YOU).

Our goal is to connect you to your future, help you with your goals, your career, and your entrepreneurial ideas while simultaneously reflecting on your individual skills. Our team will help you set goals and access new experiences by offering you a broad range of exciting opportunities.

We have previously partnered with some of the largest organisations in the UK such as BT Sport, Octagon and Santander – just to name a few. We provide work insight projects, Collaborative Projects and post study work opportunities as well as being mentors/ friends providing thought provoking conversations and endless support! Our mission is to encourage entrepreneurship, innovation, inventions and collaborations within our broadly talented and skilled student community. The Future Space team has 11 member – meet the team:

Careers

Boost your career experience with our dynamic duo, the Careers Consultants. Our highly experienced careers consultants offer 1-2-1’s, workshops, virtual assessment centres, CV advice, mock interviews and skills sessions.

Nadine Lewis – Nadine has worked in careers related roles for the past ten years. She was a Careers Consultant at the University of East London and The University of Law where she supported undergraduates and postgraduates from Business, Law, Health, Sport and Bioscience programmes.

Laura Hooke – Specializing in psychometric assessment for career planning and in job selection, Laura is a professionally qualified career consultant with over 30 years of experience of working with university students, graduates, adults and school leavers.

Enterprise

Meet our two tycoons – Our Student Enterprise Adviser and Entrepreneur in Residence. Our student and graduate enterprise team support students, doctoral researchers, and graduates to build their entrepreneurial skills (and businesses) by offering 1-2-1 appointments, peer to peer idea development sessions, funding, workshops, inspiring talks, business advice and skills sessions.

Hayley Jones – Having previously worked in the banking industry, Hayley has proved herself advocate of innovation, enterprise and start-ups, and being able to influence enterprise is her passion. Hayley has widely supported the development of start-up businesses and enterprise in Higher Education for the past three years.

Sal Malik – Dr Salman Malik (is an ex-scientist, an advisory board member and multi award-winning entrepreneur. Following his PhD at University College London (UCL), he solely founded a biotech startup and was also awarded a prestigious Enterprise Fellowship from The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE).

Partnerships

Competition makes us faster – collaboration makes us better! Our partnerships team supporting Collaborate activities, guest lectures, Collaborative Doctoral Training Centres, dissertation partnerships and post study opportunities.

Ashley Gray – Ashley manages operations on the Collaborative Project, a pioneering inter-disciplinary master’s module where students work collaboratively on a project set by organisations. Working alongside colleagues within the Stakeholder Management and Employability Team, Ashley creatively enables enterprise collaboration in the student setting.

Benjamin Dobie – With over 15 years’ experience in competitive collaborative public funding competitions, and having acquired over €250m in grant funding, Ben links organisations with the strategic path of growth for both campuses.

A connected campus

Working to create a connected campus, locally, nationally and internationally, the pair below are at the forefront of creating these links. They provide major interdisciplinary research project work and manage work with local schools and colleges.

Jennie Wong – With over 10 years of experience conceptualising and managing global disability sport and education programmes, Jennie recently joined the Future Space Team to manage the Global Disability Innovation Hub‘s project – Overcoming Stigma though Paralympic Sport. Prior to joining us, Jennie led the education team at the International Paralympic Committee for the past 6 years where she built the foundation for I’mPOSSIBLE – the Paralympic Movement’s school-based education programme.

China Anya – China works with in with local schools to inform students about all of the different areas associated with university life and hosts activities throughout the year inviting students to join us on campus and to try subjects first hand through a range of exciting workshops, activities and lectures.

Stakeholder Engagement and Employability

Dan and Grace collectively complete all of our data work, co-ordinate projects, our LEARN presence and marketing our activities to the student network while supporting projects, workshops and researchers.

Dan Robinson – Dan is an integral part of the team and is responsible for the coordination, delivery and development of our Future Space – with a focus on support systems, operational logistics and team strategy.

Grace Baird – Grace works as the Digital Skills Project Assistant at Loughborough University London ensuring the project runs effectively whilst supporting students and organisations. To find out more about the Future Space team and their activities, please visit our website.


To find out more about the Future Space team and their activities, please visit our website.

Colombia through Cesar's camera

Colombia through Cesar's camera

November 13, 2020 LU Arts

By Cesar Moreno Huerta

I had the opportunity to travel around Colombia for a year visiting multiples cities and places around the whole country. From when I got on the plane, I knew I had one year to backpack and see every corner of the country. I didn’t want to miss anything. From the northernmost point of South America, Punta Gallina, up to almost the southernmost point of Colombia, the region of El Llano adjacent to the Amazons.

From all those spectacular locations, I was taking photos of the culture, the most exciting areas, the landscape, every small detail which defines the exact Colombia culture, and their people. In this article, I want to share three of the most significant places for me. It was tough because I have content (video and photographs) to bother for many hours, but I chose the ones who touch my heart in a specific way. The most exciting part for me when I was in Colombia was to see that it is extraordinary in terms of geography. One can be in a tropical area, in the Caribbean with 40 degrees, or located in very high mountains with snow and 2 degrees, or the middle of the jungle in the Amazons at 20 degrees and heavy raining. Everything in the same pack, Colombia. I still remember the slogan of the embassy where I got my visa; “the risk is to fall in love”. Now, I can say I fell in love.

La Guajira

Here, I’m going to show you a small series of pictures of very different areas and with different photographic techniques.  First, a beautiful place in the north of Colombia called La Guajira. This area is seen as very magical and extremely rural. The site is inhabited by indigenous people, called Wayuu o Guajiros, who are the owners of the region. Yes, the owners, not Colombia, unofficially. The government does not allow anyone to buy or sell that part of the land. It belongs to the indigenous people forever. In their territory, there are three natural parks and five indigenous towns. They also have their own language, the Wayú idiom. However, this has caused the region to be tremendously poor, most people do not have access to basic needs, there are hardly any roads, and they survive thanks to selling craft products to tourists. One of the saddest or maybe best things, depending on your perspective and goals of the trip, is that in the northern areas there is no electricity and almost no phone signal, thus, people have electric generators that turn on for a few hours. Perfect for disconnecting from the world, hard to survive every day. The indigenous are entirely out of the world. The photographs I took during that trip, which you can see below, have a journalism angle. Most of it was shot with a 35mm in order to capture the essence of the place.

A beach bar with the poster of a Caribbean politician from the last elections, December 2019 (Riohacha, Colombia)
People enjoying the Riohacha beach while having a few beers, December 2019. (Riohacha, Colombia)
Tourists strolling in the Taroa Dunes to see the sunset. (Dunas de Taroa, Colombia)
Dog in the middle of Taroa Dunes. (Dunas de Taroa, Colombia)
Father with his daughter, born a few months before, enjoying in the Riohacha beach. They are local. December 2019 (Riohacha, Colombia)
Nevado del Ruiz

The second area I want to show it is the opposite of La Guajira.  The volcano of Nevado del Ruiz. It is situated in one of the biggest mountains of Colombia at 5,321 meters between two departments (Caldas and Tolima), and it is still active. From time to time, authorities have to cancel tours because it is hazardous. I remember when I was approaching the mountain, I was thinking about which photographic style I should take for the trip, but as soon as I saw the volcano, everything was obvious. It must be panoramic to capture the full beauty of the place in high resolution, it has to be in panoramic unifying multiple photographs. Most of the pictures you can see below are the result of fifteen to twenty images all at once.  I love how one can see the beauty and speciality of the place; it looks like Mars to me. Sadly, this place is also in high risk due to climate change. Experts from the region are raising their voices to alert the government. They said there are tremendous changes in the temperatures, an incredible decrease in the snowfall from previous years and how nature and flora are disappearing.

Nevado del Ruiz, also known as a Mesa del Herveo, on the top right of the image (the grey mountain). August 2019 (Caldas/Tolima, Colombia)
At the highest point of Nevado del Ruiz, 5.311 meters. August 2019 (Caldas/Tolima, Colombia)
At the highest point of Nevado del Ruiz, 5.311 meters. August 2019 (Caldas/Tolima, Colombia)
At the highest point of Nevado del Ruiz, 5.311 meters. August 2019 (Caldas/Tolima, Colombia)
At the highest point of Nevado del Ruiz, 5.311 meters. August 2019 (Caldas/Tolima, Colombia)
Tourists at the highest point of Nevado del Ruiz, 5.311 meters, enjoying the views. August 2019 (Caldas/Tolima, Colombia)
Salamina

The last reportage is from a lovely, quiet and tiny town called Salamina. For me, the most beautiful place in Colombia, it particularly touches my heart up to the point of thinking about having a house there. It has a population of only 18.000 citizens. It is in the middle of Colombia, in an area called the Coffee Landscape (Eje Cafetero/Coffee axis). Imagine how it is to be surrounded by mountains full of the coffee fruit, only the sounds of birds and colonial houses. Just wonderful. I remember the first day I visited the place; I said I will be back for sure to say goodbye before my year’s experience finished. And it was true. By the end of the year, the town organises such as gorgeous event call The Night of the Candles. Every citizen designs, crafts and decorates their house and the street they live with candles for the rest of the citizens or curious individuals. Then, the major turns off the streetlights for people to enjoy every candle. Then, everyone dances, sings and enjoy the night until the end with fireworks. That event is becoming more and more famous, and now, people from all over the country go every year to light a candle and wish something. It has an extraordinary Christmas feeling; I guess because it is in December.

Inhabitants of Salamina preparing the candles and lighting before the night begins during The Night of the Candles. December 2019. (Salamina, Caldas, Colombia)
Couple kissing around the candles during The Night of the Candles. December 2019. (Salamina, Caldas, Colombia)
People lighting up candles to make a wish. December 2019. (Salamina, Caldas, Colombia)
Citizen of Salamina watching people visit his street. December 2019. (Salamina, Caldas, Colombia)
Two citizens of Salamina watching people visit their street. December 2019. (Salamina, Caldas, Colombia)
Inhabitants of Salamina and tourists in the cemetery praying and lighting candles. December 2019. (Salamina, Caldas, Colombia)
Inhabitants of Salamina and tourists in the cemetery praying and lighting candles. December 2019. (Salamina, Caldas, Colombia)
Inhabitants of Salamina and tourists in the cemetery praying and lighting candles. December 2019. (Salamina, Caldas, Colombia)

Please, people who want to see more material ask me. I will be delighted to show you more, My Instagram profile is cesarmhmedia.


My name is Cesar Moreno Huerta. Fun fact: I have two surnames. I´m from Spain but I was living in the UK for the past six years. However, I was during that time one year in Colombia, working as a lecture. I had study photojournalism at Southampton Solent University and MSc Marketing at Brunel London University. Now, I´m doing a PhD in Business & Economics at Loughborough. About my personal life, easy I love all types of art. I go to the cinema at least five-six time per month, tend to visit museums, I read intensely books (especially Joel Dicker ones), and my main passion is photography. I have been taking pictures and doing exhibitions since I was twelve years old. You can find my work on Instagram: cesarmhmedia. Also, football is my second passion, Real Madrid supporter since I was born.

An interview with Dean's Award for Enterprise scholar, Daniel Jennings

An interview with Dean's Award for Enterprise scholar, Daniel Jennings

November 13, 2020 Loughborough University London

In a recent interview with NimbleFins, current MSc Sport Marketing student and the 2020-21 Dean’s Award for Enterprise scholar, Daniel, spoke about his time so far studying at Loughborough University London.

Continue reading

Londoner's guide to parks and outside spaces

November 10, 2020 Loughborough University London

London is one of the most desirable global cities in the business and fashion world, to name a few. Widely recognized for its economic performance and a place for business or education opportunities the agriculture of the city is not as broadly discussed.

Did you know?

In 2019, the National Park City Foundation confirmed London as the world’s first National Park City? This initiative aims to see more than 50% of London consisting of purely green spaces by 2050. Green spaces are filled with incredible wildlife, beautifully designed gardens and plenty of space for summer picnics and refreshing winter walks in London’s parks. As well as being perfect for relaxing, London’s parks have plenty of outdoor activities on show such as, sports events, open-air theatre, live music concerts and adventure playgrounds for children, not to mention some of the most breath-taking views the city has to offer. This guide ranks some of the best parks the city has to offer although you’ll soon realise London is full of pockets of green spaces.

This guide ranks some of the best parks the city has to offer although you’ll soon realise London is full of pockets of green spaces.

1) Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Lee Valley Velopark; Olympic Park

Home to Loughborough University and the host park of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The park is an iconic space full of wildlife and sporting activities. Recently awarded the Green Flag Award for the 7th year in a row this is easily one of the most popular and frequently visited parks in the capital.

2) Lee Valley Regional Park

Stretching 26 miles along the river Lee, past Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and up to Ware in Hertfordshire, there is plenty of opportunity to spot wildlife, relax, play, or explore in this 10,000 acre linear park. As a cousin to the Olympic Park, it is equally as much a zone of sporting excellence with centres for athletics, horse riding, ice skating, sailing and golf and as if that wasn’t enough, it also has a secret beach! Why not try your luck at discovering it?

3) Regents Park

Host to the London zoo, Regent’s Park is the largest grass area for sports within Central London and offers a wide variety of activities, an Open Air Theatre, gardens and a boating lake.

4) Hyde Park

Hype Park; Central London

Set right in the heart of London, Hyde Park offers both world-class events and concerts together with plenty of quiet places to relax and unwind. This park is also home to ‘Winter Wonderland’ which is a winter attraction consisting of fair rides, an outdoor ice skating rink and delicious festive foods. Additional activities such as tennis, boating and horse riding available – you’re sure to find a fit for all here.

5) Richmond Park

Admire hundreds of free roaming deer, ancient trees and rare wildflower species at this beautiful Royal Park. Covering 2,500 acres, the views from the top of the hill in Richmond Park are stunning and are protected by law.

6) St James’s Park

St James’s Park; City of Westminster, Central London

St James’s Park is one of London’s eight Royal Parks and covers an area of nearly 57 acres of land. The Park includes The Mall and Horse Guards Parade, and is surrounded by landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Whitehall.

7) Victoria Park

Spanning over 213 acres of land, this park is home to many historic artifacts and features and has decorative gardens and wilder natural areas as well as open grass lands. The Park has two cafes, two large playgrounds, as well as sporting facilities and a skatepark. Victoria Park is also commonly used as a concert venue and hosts many festivals each year.

8) Greenwich Park

Greenwich Park; South-east London

Overlooking the River Thames and home to one of London’s most iconic views, Greenwich Park is an amazing mix of 17th century landscape, stunning gardens and a rich history that dates back to Roman times. With over 183 acres of land, Greenwich serves as a perfect day trip – you’re bound to find something for everyone.

9) Hampstead Heath

Hampstead Heath is a large, ancient London heath covering 790 acres. This grassy public space sits astride a sandy ridge, at one of the highest points in London offering beautiful views all year round. It includes Parliament Hill, Golders Hill Park (with a zoo and butterfly house), an open air lido (open 365 days a year), swimming ponds, splash pools, countless sports pitches and facilities, an athletics track, playgrounds and enough green space to feel like you have escaped the city.

10) Crystal Palace Park

Over 200 acres of green land to explore the many ponds, playgrounds, skatepark, farm and boating activities available here. Not to mention a unique dinosaur park and one of the UK’s largest Mazes. Fun for all.


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

Microsoft Endpoint Protection - Windows 10 Staff Deployment

November 9, 2020 Charles Last

Microsoft Endpoint Protection will be rolled out across the Windows 10 Staff Service week commencing Monday 16th of November. Microsoft Endpoint Protection is basically Windows Defender managed by our SCCM system.

The postponable deployment package will:

1-Uninstall Symantec Anti Virus.
2-Reboot the computer.

Once the computer has been restarted Windows Defender will then become the active Anti Virus client on the machine. Windows Defender does not need installing as its already built into the Windows 10 operating system. The deployment package just enables it once Symantec has been removed.

Managed Windows 7 systems will remain on Symantec Anti Virus as Microsoft Endpoint Protection is not supported on this older operating system. Its also worth noting that we are already running Microsoft Endpoint Protection on our Labs service.

TIMESCALE:

The current deployment schedule is as follows:

IT Services – Monday 16th November
Facilities Management and Imago Services – Monday 23rd November
All Support Staff – Monday 30th November
All Staff – Monday 7th December

CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION AND HELP?

For more information goto:
https://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/it/staff/software/staffantivirus/

Please contact our Service Desk at it.services@lboro.ac.uk if you have any issues or concerns.

This Week at Loughborough | 9 November

This Week at Loughborough | 9 November

November 9, 2020 Alex Stephens

Siemens 1:1 Sessions

9 November, 10 – 4pm, Online

This is an exclusive opportunity to have a one to one conversation with a member of staff at Siemens about their Test Engineer 13 month placement. If you are interested in applying for this role at Siemens and want to gain a further insight or have already applied for this role and are seeking some further advice/guidance on their process, then this is your chance.

Book onto the event on the careers page.

Aqua Park Rutland Presentation

9 November, 1 – 2pm, Online

The Aqua Park Rutland is a giant obstacle course on water, where you can climb, slip, smile and splash your way around with friends, family or colleagues. They are looking for Brand Ambassadors, to write blogs, create social media content, and images for their digital platforms. They are also looking for Graduate Leisure Managers, to take operational responsibility for the customer service and Lifeguard teams. If you love the outdoors and want to start your career in a business that makes people smile all day long, come to their presentation and find out more.

Booking information can be found on the event page.

Women’s Engineering Society Careers Fair

10 November, 12 – 4pm, Online

Women’s Engineering Society is hosting a virtual careers event! Hear from engineering companies and learn more about placement, graduate and postgraduate opportunities!

This year companies such as Caterpillar, Dyson, Rolls Royce and many more. Join the event to see presentations, participate in Q&A session and potentially have a chance for 1 to 1 meetings with each of the companies.

Booking information is available on the event page.

Women in Tech Webinar – Life on the Virgin Media Graduate Scheme

10 November, 12 – 1pm, Online

Virgin Media are building connections that really matter. They’re building a place where everyone belongs. Join their Women in Tech Webinar to hear more about how they’re building a diverse workforce, creating a safe working environment where voices are heard and valued and creating belonging across their people, products and society through their Graduate and Internship Schemes. Come and chat to their team to hear more about their diversity initiatives and insight into life as a Virgin Media Graduate and Intern!

Booking information is available on the Careers Network website.

Mock Assessment Centre

10 November, 6 – 7.45pm, Online

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

  • Practise group exercises element of an assessment centre with the Careers Network and real recruiters
  • Hear some top tips
  • Gain feedback from employers

This workshop is for students from all years in all Departments and booking information can be found on the Careers Network page.

Get into Teaching Virtual Pop-Up

11 November, 2 – 2.45pm, Online

Do you want to know more about teaching? And get a £5 Uber Eats voucher? This online event, ran on behalf of the Department for Education, is for anyone considering a career in teaching. Over the 30 minute session we will explore the rewards of teaching, how to choose the right teacher training course for you, what you need to apply, and how to get help and support with your application. As a thank you for attending we will give you a £5 voucher to spend on Uber Eats.

Find out more information and sign up on the event page.

Civil Disobedience Against Authoritarian Populism

11 November, 4 – 5pm, Online

In this presentation Guy Aitchison will examine the potential of civil disobedience and other more militant forms of political law-breaking as a response to authoritarian populism, addressing the distinct ethical questions involved in resisting this threat.

This presentation asks: What forms of political action are justified by way of response to the authoritarian populist threat? Is there still a role for disobedience as a means to promote deliberation under these conditions? Are traditional notions of ‘civility’ in civil disobedience relevant or should they be jettisoned as too restrictive? Is there a justification for constrained political violence or should nonviolence be strictly observed? The presentation will offer an original justification for disobedience as a form of anticipatory self-defence for the democratic process, reflecting on appropriate norms of engagement with populist partisans.

For booking information and further information visit the Populism Research group website.

LU Arts – Fill Your House with Colour, Make a Stained Glass Window

11 November, 7.30 – 8.30pm, Online

The first of LU Arts Diwali workshops. In this workshop with Grace Stones, you will look at the traditions of Diwali, discussing and exploring different design ideas. You will create an imaginative, Diwali inspired paper stain-glass window.

This event is in support of Light Up Loughborough – a joint Loughborough University and Loughborough Students’ Union campaign to celebrate Diwali. Staff, students and the local community are being encouraged to join in by decorating front windows and offices with lights and decorations to help spread positivity and the message of Diwali.

Register to take part and find out what materials are required on the event page.

Communicating the ‘Rules’ of the Acute Hospital Ward to People Living with Dementia

13 November, 1 – 2pm, Online

A talk delivered by Dr Katie Featherstone as part of the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture (CRCC) seminar series.

This paper examines everyday cultures of care in hospital wards and its consequences for people living with dementia and ward staff. It explores ward strategies and staff approaches to the care of this significant patient group at the bedside.

This is drawn from the forthcoming monograph Wandering the Wards. It will explore interactional patterns of talk and work at the bedside to provide ways of uncovering aspects of the social standing and understandings of people living with dementia, and the recognition and attribution of this diagnostic category during an acute admission.

For futher information visit the event page.

LU Arts – Make a Colourful Sun Catcher for Your Window

13 November, 2 – 3pm, Online

Inspired by Diwali, the festival of light, this workshop will allow you to create colourful window decorations to brighten up your windows during these upcoming wintery months.

Using simple paper crafting skills you will aim to leave the workshop with several suncatchers in varying designs. Just like snowflakes each suncatcher will be entirely unique.

This event is in support of Light Up Loughborough – a joint Loughborough University and Loughborough Students’ Union campaign to celebrate Diwali. Staff, students and the local community are being encouraged to join in by decorating front windows and offices with lights and decorations to help spread positivity and the message of Diwali.

Find out more information on the material required and register to participate on the event page.

Wikithon: ‘Old’ and ‘New’ Loughborough

14 November, 12 – 3pm, Online

Part of the Being Human Festival this Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon will help local people to connect with their past, through a well-structured activity that necessitates only basic digital skills.

In the first hour you will hear all about the Open Access movement and learn all about how to edit a Wikipedia entry. In hours two and three you will have the chance to create or edit a page about a figure associated with Loughborough.

We’d like to focus in particular on neglected women in Loughborough’s history. You’ll leave with new skills you can use on subjects, figures, and events of your choosing in the future.

Booking information is available on the event page.

Got something for next week? Contact digital@lboro.ac.uk

Identity designs fashion

Identity designs fashion

November 6, 2020 LU Arts

By Chen Chen

My name is Chen Chen and I was studying Fashion design at University of the Arts London. I have a passion for fashion design and I have an ambition to be an independent designer as my future career. Then I decided to study digital marketing at Loughborough University London last year. I started to set up my brand in 2017, hence when I study at Loughborough, it has been a great opportunity to study academic theory and have a place to practice.

During studying at Loughborough University London, I organised a designer pop up store to collaborate independent designers together to improve brands awareness. It was a big success to attract so many audiences and it was also a great opportunity to practice what digital marketing strategy is. Since I organised many designer pop up stores, I know a lot of independent designers in London. My final year dissertation will be an exploration of the impact of digital marketing on independent fashion brands in the UK. I have my participants directly, and also my dissertation will advise them to do better digital marketing. It’s just like the saying, “killing two birds with one stone”.

In June 2018, my design was selected into a buyer shop call MK2UK in Shoreditch. Because of the small amount of production and all produced by myself, the cost is higher than other designers in the shop. It seems a disadvantage comparing with my competitors, but I think I will keep it even when I can be a full-time independent designer.

During studying at Loughborough University, our idea of group work has been selected to Collaborative Project Show. On the Collaborative Project Show I met a lady who operates a fashion designer public relationship company called Fantasy Inn. Firstly, she comes to us to know our group work idea and she notices the garments I wear which were designed and made by me. Then she said she would like to support my design work to feature on their official website. It is really important to self-promote with confidence. It is a really surprise for me to have a collaborative opportunity for my design work with an unrelated uni project.

The wave collection was inspired by the riverside sunset through my window. For the inspiration calico toile, I cut the shape of building on calico edge and made sunset sight by wool felt to represent the sunset sight. This inspiration toile was selected in the opening exhibition at Trinity Gallery in 2018. For the final garments, I used the shape of wave to make five-piece sleeves to represent the wave shape of river. The final garment was also published by Picton fashion magazine on Feb 2020.

In 2019, I started to be not only inspired by visual arts or sight, but also inspired by thinking and meaning. I started to think what do garments mean to individuals? After writing an essay about fashion and personality for uni, I came to the conclusion that garments are people’s second skin. People choose garments based on their identity, personality and position. On the other hand, designer’s identity is related to their design works too. I think it is a big success if an audience can tell which garment was designed by you from a bunch of designs. That means you should have a specific style for your design, not following any existing brands. I don’t have any specific word to describe my design, but I am devoted to creating special and unusual patterns for garments and with changeable details sometimes. Garment is not just a piece of fabric to cover your body, you can represent your identity and have fun with it.

For the new collection, it is about the idea that everyone has two identities. One identity is what they would like to show, the other identity is what they want to hide. The same idea for the collection, through the movement of body or the different way to wear garment to show different styles. For the jacket, the shape of elbow on sleeve will change when arm is bent. For the trousers, the details of  knee will “open” like a flower or fan when legs are bent. I do enjoy the process when I tell an audience the inspiration story and show them changeable details. I am quite happy with the result, I feel like I have added soul into my design.

In order to reduce the serious environmental harm that fast fashion has generated and encourage more people to get engaged in the action of embracing sustainable fashion, my future design will aim to produce clothing in a sustainable way by adopting recycled materials and hand-cut fabrics, also with creative design idea and high quality which will provide the consumer with longevity. I was invited to a TV show called TV Culture Shock episode 3 to talk about suitable fashion and use garbage from a beach to make a garment in 15 mins. The show also showed how much garbage people leave at the beach, and how it is harmful for the environment. It is important to produce sustainable products as a designer, it is also important to conduct and educate audiences think sustainability when they purchase.

Life is an adventure, I am so lucky to do what I like for my future career with responsibility to produce sustainable garments and “educated” customer sustainability.


You can check out Chen Chen’s work on instagram: @chenchenstudio.

Another lockdown: What can we learn from the first one to protect our physical and mental health this time around?

Another lockdown: What can we learn from the first one to protect our physical and mental health this time around?

November 4, 2020 Sophie Dinnie
Dr Chris McLeod, a University Teacher in Psychology at Loughborough, writes about how we can learn from the last lockdown and how to take healthy habits into the second.
Changing the Tide: The Ocean Plastic Crisis

Changing the Tide: The Ocean Plastic Crisis

November 2, 2020 Elliott Brown

In this blog, Green Pea’s Director of Operations and volunteer writer, Zoe MacBean, speaks about the severity of the plastic crisis we are seeing across our oceans today and why we should care about it.

In recent times, awareness of the vast amount of plastic entering our oceans has increased and become global knowledge. This means that it is now in the forefront of many people’s minds and we must grasp this opportunity to make changes to the amount of plastic we use. If we are to do this, we must understand what actions are being taken. We must understand what we can do on a global and local scale to solve this problem, as each of us has a shared responsibility to help in any way we can. 

Nearly 8 million metric tonnes of plastic enters our oceans each year, which adds to the 150 million metric tonnes that is already circulating in the oceans at present. This is equivalent to around 1.2 million blue whales weighing an average of 125 tonnes each circulating the globe.

So why is it important that we tackle this issue? Plastic can destroy natural habitats such as beaches or coral reefs, by swamping them. It can also kill or harm animals that ingest the rubbish. 

Our impact on the worlds Oceans is undeniable: Source: Passportocean.com

More worryingly, microplastics have begun to bioaccumulate in the food chain as animals cannot excrete or break down plastic; which according to World Wildlife Fund 2020 data means that we humans are now indirectly ingesting an average of five grams of plastic a week, which is the size of a credit card – a shocking statistic. Not only does plastic build up in the food chain but, huge swathes of floating garbage are present in the ocean at the Gyres, the five key areas where the strong ocean currents meet around the globe.

I hope I have given you a series of scary yet truthful facts and that you’re worried. However, there are global brands and governments that are trying to tackle this issue which should also give you hope. A very notable company is 4OCEAN, who have now removed over 10 million pounds of plastic from the ocean. They are turning the plastic into sustainable products such as reusable water bottles, t-shirts and hardcore ziplock bags and trying to educate and encourage people to use long term products. All the while they are promoting sustainable habits and trying to reinforce a widespread message that we should reuse items; breaking our consumer ideal that new and more is better.

As well as companies solely dedicated to tackling the problem directly, there are everyday household brands, such as Apple, making a greater effort to bring about change.  In a press release on 15th September 2020, Apple pledged that they wanted to be 100% carbon neutral by 2030 and are now using recycled wood fibres for packaging instead of plastic. This is so important as Apple products reach millions of consumers right across the world.

In 2015, Adidas launched their ‘Parley for Oceans’ scheme, where they make football shirts, training clothes and trainers using recovered plastic from beach clean-up operations around the world.

*
Real Madrid ‘Parley’ Home Shirt. Source: Adidas.com

Parley’s strategy is based on three ideas: avoiding plastic where possible, intercepting plastic waste and changing how plastic is used. It takes 11 plastic bottles to make a pair of trainers, with other recycled materials making up the rest of the shoe. Big hitters such as Real Madrid have worn full kits made from recycled plastics. These kind of collaborations between clubs and major sports brands are the positive stories that can make a huge impact. Furthermore, Adidas has also committed to using recycled plastic in all its products by 2024.

Global action is also being taken by individual countries and their governments. On 9th January 2018 the UK’s Conservative government banned the use of microbeads, effectively stopping billions of tiny pieces of plastic washing down the drain every year. Another significant contributor to plastic waste is China, who create 28% of the global plastic production total. China have set in law that they are going to ban the production and sale of disposable tableware, straws and plastic cotton swabs by the end of 2020. And, all non-biodegradable plastic bags will be phased out nationwide by 2025. 

It is vital that global brands and governments take these steps to reduce the amount of plastic produced and consumed, as they have the power to make the biggest impact on a large scale with decisive and quick actions.

Whilst mass global reductions are key, the actions of individuals and local communities are equally important in the war on plastic. Each of us can make a major contribution by reducing our own individual plastic footprint. 

Beach clean ups are now a regular site on many beaches across the world. Source: 4Ocean

Globally, local refill shops are popping up enabling people to stop buying new plastic containers and fill old glass or plastic tubs directly from suppliers. Another local initiative is terracycling – the siting of recycling points in schools or shops as points of collection for particularly hard pieces of plastic to recycle. They operate at a local scale but, globally they have over 202 million collectors in 21 countries with the majority of their profits going to charitable organisations.

Ultimately, it will need a collective effort from each and every one of us to reduce the amount of plastic we use by changing our habits, swapping to sustainable practices, choosing to walk or cycle and being environmentally conscious in everything we do. An easy way to start as a student would be to head down to Green Pea, our sustainable shop based in the union, which can help you make eco-friendly choices and start your sustainable journey.

This article first appeared in Label on the 7th October written by Emily Jackson.

How can you do more to help?

  • Recycle more, making sure it is clean and dry
  • Litter less, which is often a cause of plastics entering the environment
  • when buying veg look for plastic free or minimal packaging at big stores like Tesco
  • when doing big orders from places like amazon try to order together to minimise packaging
  • as much as cheap brands e.g. pretty little thing, are appealing on a student budget try to understand how sustainable their practices are before buying
  • to reduce plastic in COVID buy a reusable mask or make one your self
  • the cleaning cupboard in town situated in the enclosed market, sells refillable hand sanitizer so just take your small bottle along and refill it. We as Greenpea in the union are going to be stocking refillable hand sanitizer.
  • refill shops also refill many everyday products such as shampoo this means that overall you will be reducing the amount of plastic bought as you are just reusing old bottles

This article is in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 11/12/14: To read more click here.

This Week at Loughborough | 2 November

This Week at Loughborough | 2 November

November 2, 2020 Alex Stephens

Virtual Postgraduate Open Day

4 November, 12 – 4pm, Online

Thinking about a master’s or a PhD? Come to our next virtual open day to find out more about our postgraduate opportunities.

This is your opportunity to find out more about your options following your undergraduate degree, to further your career or start a new one. You’ll be able to speak with current staff and students from both the Loughborough and London campuses, find out more about our programmes and how they’ll make you more employable, and take virtual tours.

Find out more information and book your place on the event page.

Book Club: Minka Kent – The Stillwater Girls

3 November, 12.30 – 1.30pm, Online

Join LU Arts’ regular Book Club for an online discussion of Minka Kent’s psychological thriller The Stillwater Girls. Two sisters raised in fear are about to find out why in a chilling novel of psychological suspense from the author of The Thinnest Air.

The Book Club is open to all current and former students and staff of Loughborough University. They typically meet every six weeks to discuss a book chosen by our members. These are usually, but not always, novels.

Find out more about the book club and how to join on the event page.

Fellowship Inaugural Lecture: Dr Ana Cristina Suzina – Voice, imagination and action

4 November, 12.30 – 1.30pm, Online

The development of digital technologies creates an illusion of equality of voices, making us believe that anyone can express their views and reach audiences anywhere.

Dr Ana Cristina Suzina argues that digital disruption reveals a deeper level of inequality, highlighting the fundamental question of parity of participation in the search of social justice.

In this presentation, they will expose how their previous research has led them to address voice asymmetries and how they suggest that the quest for appropriating platforms of communication constitutes a struggle around the definition of social meanings

Find out more about Dr Ana Cristina Suzina’s work and book onto the lecture on the event page.

LEN Workshop: Entrepreneurial Mindset

5 November, Afternoon, Online

Presented by the Loughborough Enterprise Network this hour-long workshop will cover the 8 signs that evidence whether you have an entrepreneurial mindset. It will be essential for those students looking to learn whether they have the traits that demonstrate entrepreneurial thinking and to learn about the signs that have been present in some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world.

Book information plus more LEN events can be found on the event page.

Right-wing Populism in the West: The New Nationalism Revisited

6 November, 1 – 2pm, Online

A talk delivered by Professor Daphne Halikiopoulou as part of the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture (CRCC) seminar series.

The term ‘new nationalism’ is often used to describe parties and groups that share a common emphasis on national sovereignty and a pledge to restore it in the name of the people.

This talk will address the dramatic rise (and in some cases decline) of this phenomenon by posing a twofold argument: (1) in terms of demand, nationalism is only a partial explanation, as voters economic concerns remain pivotal within the context of the transnational cleavage; (2) the explanatory power of nationalism is in the supply, ie the ways in which parties use nationalism strategically in an attempt to broaden their electoral appeal.

Booking information is available on the event page.

Postgraduate Digital Showcase

Open until 30 November, Online

This year we present our postgraduate taught students’ work to you in the form of a Digital Showcase. This showcase features images, text and videos from our 2020 graduating year. See work from Graphic Design and Visualisation, Integrated Industrial Design, User Experience Design, and Ergonomics and Human Factors students.

View the digital showcase website.

Announcing the #LboroAppliedAI initiative

October 28, 2020 Cristian Vaccari

#LboroAppliedAI is an interdisciplinary initiative promoted by the Digital Humanities research group DH@Lboro, in partnership with the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture (CRCC).

The series will include four online workshops for an interdisciplinary audience of colleagues who are interested in Applied AI. The online workshops will bring together people in several Schools and Departments to discuss AI and its applications. It will be a good way to see what colleagues are working on, to network and create research synergies. Each online workshop will last one hour, and we will use Microsoft Teams for the meeting.

Programme

To join the mailing list and receive updates on the programme, please contact Dr Lise Jaillant via email. All seminars will take place from 4-5pm.

SpeakerDate
Prof Peter Kawalek (SBE)5 November
Dr Emily Corrigan-Kavanagh & Prof Mark Plumbley (Surrey)12 November
Dr Martin Sykora (SBE)26 November
Dr Val Mitchell (SDCA)2 December

Abstracts and Speakers Biographies

Prof Peter Kawalek

Title: Network Effects, AI and Trillion Dollar Companies

Abstract: As we look at the digital economy, the concept of network effects seems especially useful. Traceable to both Economics and Computer Science, the concept describes the dynamics of value in network industries. The value of a network increases with its adoption, so encouraging oligopolistic or monopolistic outcomes. In tech-speak, the best systems sit on the best pools of data.  Artificial Intelligence exhibits characteristics of network effects as algorithms are trained through massive pools of data. The more training, the better. Hence, oligopolistic or monopolistic outcomes in industries where Artificial Intelligence is significant. In this talk we will debate critically about the rise of trillion-dollar tech firms, the concentration of markets and what it might mean for the future. The automotive sector and the healthcare sector might be instructive examples where AI might lead to the profound reorganization of these sectors. Who wants to buy a family car with the second or third best AI system? Who wants to be diagnosed by the second or third best AI in healthcare?

Biography – Peter Kawalek is Director of the Centre for Information Management at the School of Business & Economics in Loughborough University. He has additional visiting positions at Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Donegal and Deusto Business School, Bilbao. Previously of Manchester Business School, Instituto de Empresa, Warwick Business School and School of Computer Science at Manchester, he also has wide experience working with organizations including Siemens AG., SAP, IBM, Office an Taoiseach (Prime Minister) in Dublin, the Department of Communities and Local Government (London), Leeds City Council, Salford City Council, Lancashire Constabulary, Greater Manchester Police, Manchester City FC., New York City FC. Peter has held and managed over £2m in research grants from government and research councils.

Dr Emily Corrigan-Kavanagh & Prof Mark Plumbley (Surrey)

Title: AI for Sound

Abstract: Imagine you are standing on a street corner in a city. Close your eyes: what do you hear? Perhaps some cars and buses driving on the road, footsteps of people on the pavement, beeps from a pedestrian crossing, and the hubbub of talking shoppers. You can do the same in a kitchen as someone is making breakfast, or as you are travelling in a vehicle. Now, following the success of AI and machine learning technologies for speech and image recognition, we aim to build computer systems to automatically recognise real-world sound scenes and events. This is part of a major new EPSRC-funded fellowship project where we will investigate how to use ‘AI for Sound’ to measure sounds of human activity in the home to help with assisted living, sounds in non-domestic buildings to improve the office and workplace environment, sounds in smart cities to improve the urban environment, and develop sound tools to help producers and consumers of broadcast creative content.

In this talk, we will explore some of the work going on in this rapidly expanding research area and discuss some of the potential applications emerging for sound recognition, from home security and assisted living to environmental noise and sound archives. We will discuss our approach for the research ahead, including participatory approaches to engage with users and stakeholders, bringing “AI for Sound” technology out of the lab. This will be achieved by undertaking this research in context, through a set of real-world use cases in assisted living in the home, smart buildings, smart cities, and the creative sector. We will close with some pointers to more information and publications on this exciting future technology.

Dr Martin Sykora

Title: Social Media and AI: Emotions, Stress and Manipulative Behaviours

Abstract: In this talk I will focus on social media research and the role AI plays in such research and across social media platforms in general. I argue for the need of well-informed interdisciplinary and more holistic approaches to tackling challenging social media research questions. Social Media has been playing an increasingly active role in shaping society, politics, and economics – which has yet to be fully understood, while analysing and understanding the unprecedented volume of unstructured, context-poor big data has proven to be challenging. Nuanced approaches to integrating qualitative insights from traditional methods with large scale big-data based data science insights are needed. I will present some of my most recent social media research on automated analysis of emotions, automated social media bot behaviours, and potential applications across public health and political discourse. The talk will also touch upon manipulation, algorithmic bias, and ethics across social media analytics.

Biography: Dr Martin Sykora is a Senior Lecturer in Information Management, at the Centre for Information Management (CIM). He is a multi-disciplinary scholar at the frontier of computational social media research and sentiment analysis, investigating the role of social media in public health as well as how it shapes our behaviours in relation to communication of emotion and affect, political discourse and civic culture. He has over 50 peer-reviewed publications across this area of research, and has successfully secured over £635,000 (£935,000 with the O3C mini-CDT award as Co-I) in research funding from funding bodies, including EU Horizon 2020, SSHRC, Metropolitan Police (Mayor’s Office, London), EPSRC, UKRI Innovate UK, and DSTL.

Dr Val Mitchell

Title: Designing user experiences at the intersection of AI and design

Abstract: Conversations at the intersection of human centred design and data science have, until recently, focussed predominately on the ethical and policy implications of using AI within services and systems, particularly issues related to trust, privacy and bias.  How to design user experiences with AI and in particular Machine Learning (ML) is however a growing topic of interest for user experience (UX) and Service Design (SD) practitioners, leading to the emergence of new tools, methods and ways of working.

This talk will introduce how UXD design practice is evolving to encompass design with ML and how this presents us with new opportunities and challenges for applied academic research. It will cover from a practitioner point of view how the emergence of ML as a design material impacts on the role of UX designers for key stages of the experience design process. The content is based on ongoing teaching and research collaborations with industry partners working at the intersection of UX and AI.

Biography: Val Mitchell is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Design and Creative Arts and Programme Director for the User Experience Design MA. She has over 20 years interdisciplinary research experience specialising in the development of Human Centred Design (HCD) methodologies, methods and tools. She has been a Co-I on three EPSRC funded research projects, in each case leading design research and facilitating interdisciplinary working. She works closely with industry partners particularly in the sustainable energy sector. She specialises in methodological research at the intersection of disciplines and the development of creative co-design tools and methods for designing future technologies and services. From November 2020 she is undertaking a 40% full time equivalent fractional secondment with the Service Design agency Snook, a leading UK design agency based in London and Glasgow https://wearesnook.com. She has co-authored one book entitled ‘Making Homes: Ethnography and Design’ and over 30 academic journal articles mostly focussed on the development of HCD tools and methods.

Artist stereotypes: which one are you?

Artist stereotypes: which one are you?

October 28, 2020 LU Arts

Written and illustrated by Gemma Shrimpton

Stereotypes… Some may say that we all fit into one or another, others would argue that they are limiting. Artists have been categorised for centuries: the poor, the visionary, the tortured, the self-indulgent artist. In recent years, the difference between the students and their chosen degree has become increasingly noticeable. You can almost always spot an artist amongst other students.

I have observed artists coming and going from Loughborough University and, now that I am in my final year, I have to confess that we are an eclectic bunch. I remember the volunteers showing me around the art studios on an open day. One student had their hair in Sailor Moon buns and bright pink makeup, whilst another had baggy jeans covered in earth-toned paints. Two incredibly talented artists, two very different styles both artistically and aesthetically.

You could say our clothing choices often correlate with what artwork we produce or how we are feeling that day. One day I could walk in wearing a pristine, monochrome outfit, only to walk in the next in an oversized, neon, yellow jumper and joggers. Now, this brings me to the first stereotype I want to mention: the confused artist – often anxious with a hint of existential dread. Art evolves with the artist, and trying out new styles is a key part of experimentation. However, the confused artist frequently doesn’t know quite where to begin. Eventually, they’ll find a theme or an aesthetic but before they do, they will constantly look to friends around them to see what they are creating.

Older or more seasoned artists usually comfort the confused students. Often branded as the “mum of the course”. Their friendly aura and comforting fountain of knowledge alleviates stress… That is until they reminded you of a deadline you had forgotten about the night before it was due. These art students have taken gap years, done an art foundation course, or simply decided to do a degree later in life. Therefore, they know what to focus on and when. As lifesavers to other students, they often get asked far, far too many questions. Questions that were answered in the lecture that morning.

There is a fine line between the environmentally conscious and cottage core artist. ‘Cottage core’ refers to a romanticised agricultural aesthetic. Whilst environmentally conscious artists protest the change in fossil fuel usage, cottage core art students will be making an effort to use as few unnatural products as possible. One wears bright, layered patterns whilst the other wears neutral tones and organic cotton. They either fight for sustainable change or relish in the natural world we have left. These two artists generate elaborate pieces, which display the beauty of the natural world and sad realities of climate change. From an outside perspective, these two types of students can be better identified as “hippy artists”.

You will always find an artist who looks like they’ve been dunked in a pot of paint. The messy artist is expressive, and their workplace truly encapsulates this. At the start of the year, you’ll see them attempt to wear different clothing each day, only for streaks of paint to appear. As the year goes on, they will settle for one outfit to wear on “painting days”… In theory, this should work, however, paint still finds its way either onto their other clothes, shoes or their face. In time, the messy artist will learn that being covered in paint is unavoidable.

As we are all well aware, Loughborough University is home to incredible athletes and known for its sports teams. The AU art student is a force not to be reckoned with. Usually in their club’s stash, the AU artists chatter together in a blinding, bubble of purple as they debate how well their team-mates played last Wednesday. Honestly, are you from Loughborough University if you don’t own something purple? Perhaps slightly competitive, many AU artists thrive on going big or going home. They usually have the largest art pieces in critiques. Juggling their studies and sports is challenging but they all seem to have created a wonderful Loughborough family.

The complete opposite of the last stereotype is the hermit artist. There are several avenues for this generalisation to manifest. Firstly, I’d like to mention the gothic fine artist. Their art consists of multiple layers of black and heaps of dark symbolism. You will never find them without their earphones in and they always sculk off when tutors turn the corner. The second brand of hermit artist is ‘the geek’. Whether they love Star Wars or anime, the geeks are pros with technology. Their workspaces are either filled with elaborate line drawings or a laptop and Wacom Tablet. Quietly producing beautiful artworks that display their incredible imaginations.

Finally, I would like to mention the most mysterious stereotype of them all: the artist who never shows up. Many of us aren’t particularly skilled at timekeeping, but the art student who never shows up will forever remain an enigma. The only time you will see them is when they dive quickly in and out of the studios to put up their final pieces. The lecturers will ask where they are, only for everyone to turn their heads, shrug and wonder who is attached to that name. It’s always lovely bumping into that artist, they constantly have several ideas on the go, but you won’t learn about them until the final exhibition.

Stereotypes are odd, and not one person will fit into a particular category. Every artist is unique and brilliant. I am looking forward to this year’s new talent and final degree show. I would like to leave you with one question: which stereotype do you most identify with, if any?


This Week at Loughborough | 26 October

This Week at Loughborough | 26 October

October 26, 2020 Alex Stephens

Black History Month

Are p-values racist?

26 October, 10 – 11.30am, Online

Join for an exploration of the history of statistics and its close ties to colonialism, eugenics and white supremacy. In this session the origins of statistical methods will be discussed and their legacy in terms of current controversies such as racial bias in social media algorithms.

Find out more information and how to book on the event page.

Empire of Memories: Decolonisation and public opinion in twentieth-century Britain

26 October, 6 – 6.45pm, Online

This talk seeks to discover what the end of empire meant to ordinary people in post-war Britain through investigating half a century of social surveys and opinion polls.

These polls and surveys enable us to assess:

  • Public awareness of decolonisation
  • Attitudes to major events including the Suez Crisis, the Cyprus Emergency, the Rhodesian Unilateral Declaration of Independence and the Falklands War
  • Variation in public support for decolonisation over time and between different social groups
  • The legacy of post-imperialism at the turn of the millennium 
  • How attitudes to decolonisation related to those towards BAME migration and race relations in Britain

Find out more information about this event.

Black Business Showcase: Local and student businesses in Loughborough with LEN

27 October, TBC, Online

LSU’s Ethnic Minorities Network and the Loughborough Enterprise Network are delighted to announce the upcoming release of a video compilation showcasing Black businesses in Loughborough. This will include local businesses as well as student and past student-led businesses. 

This video will include details of each business, as well as show owners showcasing their products and describing their work in more detail.

Booking information is available on the event page.

‘Black History is My History is Your History’: Carol Leeming MBE FRSA

28 October, 11.30 – 12.30pm, Online

This is a short talk on Black History in the USA and its importance currently in the wake of #BlackLivesMatter, as well as its role in re-shaping British History.

It will cover:

  • How Black History Month has been celebrated in the UK since the 1980s
  • How it features in schools and higher education 
  • The increased interest in books and TV programmes that cover Black History
  • The establishment of a national Black Cultural Archives Centre in London 
  • Black History in Loughborough and Leicestershire as a whole

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

African-Caribbean Society’s Black Creatives Event

28 October, 6 – 7.30pm, Online

The Afro-Caribbean Society is arranging an event aimed at discussing creative careers and professions with students in their society and beyond. The panel will discuss getting started in the creative industry, their education and share top tips.

The panellists confirmed so far are:

  • Ashlea Smith and Raina Omar: Alumnae and Co-Hosts of Melanin and Me podcast
  • ItsJohnny: Afro Dancer
  • Henrie Kwushue: Presenter and DJ

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

Café Academique

29 October, 12.30 – 2pm, Online

As part of Café Academique a series of events for Doctoral Researchers to share and discuss their research, three fantastic doctoral researchers that have put themselves forward to take the ‘stage’:

  • Chidinma Okorie – ‘Connecting the dots: Aren’t we all migrants?’ – Social Sciences and Humanities
  • Jedi Tetteh – ‘The relationship between income-generating activities of women, dietary behaviours and feeding practices of infants and young children in urban Ghana’ – School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences.
  • Naomi Howard – School of Science

How to book and more information on how to get involved in future Café Academique events can be found on the event page.

Energy Research Accelerator Webinar Series: Katherine Johnson

29 October, 2 – 2.30pm, Online

In the last of ERA’s Black History Month series, PhD students from the Energy Research Accelerator discuss the importance of Katherine Johnson’s role in science.

Katherine Johnson – worked as a ‘human computer’ for several high profile NASA projects. Her work helped put spacecrafts into orbit, send US astronauts to the moon and (probably to their great relief) bring them back home again.

Find out how to book onto the event on the event page.

Black History Month Walk

30 October, 10am, Rutland and Hazlerigg Fountain

A reflective walk across campus for staff and students to discuss their feelings and experiences of Black History Month, which will be launched at the Rutland-Hazlerigg fountain by the Vice-Chancellor. A visualisation exercise hosted on Microsoft teams will be shared to explore our hopes about what a post-racism world would look like.

Booking information is available on the event page.

Multiplex Construction Europe Live Q&A Session – Ask the Graduate

26 October, 10 – 11am, Online

Are you an engineering finalist? Join this online Q&A with former Loughborough students about what it’s like to work at Multiplex, transitioning from university to full time work, tips for applications process, and anything else you’d like to know.

Register you interest for the Q&A on the careers network page.

Farrans Live Q&A Session – Careers at Farrans Construction

26 October, 1 – 2pm, Online

If you’re a student in the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering then Farrans want to talk to you! Offering Placements and Graduate roles, their staff will be on hand to answer your questions about their opportunities to work on exciting projects throughout the UK & Ireland.

Farrans Construction is a leading figure within the UK construction market, operating across both civil engineering and building divisions. Farrans bring a wealth of construction expertise to a wide range of sectors, including transportation, marine, water & wastewater, renewables, healthcare, education and private development.

Book to attend on the event page.

Happy Mondays: Night Photography Walk

26 October, 7pm, Cognitos – LSU

As the clocks go back, why not make the most of the dark nights by learning how to take cool photos at night?

In the first half of the session you will learn about long-exposures and other photographic techniques that you can use to create amazing images at dusk. In the second half of the session you will put these into practice as we go for a night-time photo walk around campus.

Booking information is available on the event page.

Mock Assessment Centre

27 October, 6 – 7.45pm, Online

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

  • Practise group exercises element of an assessment centre with the Careers Network and real recruiters
  • Hear some top tips
  • Gain feedback from employers

This workshop is for students from all years in all Departments. Limited spaces available, book on Careers Online.

Keyence UK Live Q&A Session

28 October, 2 – 3pm, Online

Listed on Forbes “Top 100 Most Innovative Companies”, KEYENCE is a world leader in Sensors, Vision, Measurement and Microscopes and turns over more than $5 billion global sales per year.

Meet the Recruitment team and learn more about their company and opportunities! You can just drop in anytime between 2 and 3 for a chat, or to ask a quick question. They are really excited to speak to you.

To sign up for this event.

Goal Setting and Planning

29 October, Afternoon, Online

As part of Loughborough Enterprise Network’s workshops series, LEN takes you through how to effectively plan and set goals to succeed in business.

Go to the event page for booking information.

N Brown Live Q&A Session

29 October, 1 – 2pm, Online

Pop in and chat to the friendly staff from N Brown; a top 10 UK clothing, footwear and homeware digital retailer. Their five distinct brands are JD Williams, Simplybe, Jacamo, Ambrose Wilson and Home Essentials.

They are inviting you to answer any questions about their incredible placement opportunities across their Product department. You’ll learn about their wonderful history, culture and get the inside scoop on what a day in the life of being a Product colleague at N Brown is like. It’s a great opportunity for them to get to know you and for you to ask anything and everything about what the world of digital retail has to offer!

To book on this event, click here.

Let’s Talk ‘Dirty’

28 – 30 October, Online

The event brings together a wide range of researchers, practice-researchers and artists, including some of Loughborough’s own staff and postgraduate researchers, united in their study of ‘dirty’ matters.

Spread across three days, there are four panels relating to the following themes:

  • Gender and Sexual Politics
  • Place and the Institution
  • Geographies and Ecologies
  • Materialities

Find out more about the speakers and how to book on the event page.

Drawing Together

Ending 30 October, Martin Hall Exhibition Space

Drawing Together is an exhibition of drawings created between 1970 and 2020 by some of the most influential and important artists working today. This includes two winners of the Turner Prize, Richard Deacon (1987) and Elizabeth Price (2012), each of whom has created a work specifically for this show. Drawing Together also features two impressive drawings by Michael Landy RA, one of the Young British Artists, and Eileen Cooper, the first female Keeper of the Royal Academy Schools.

Opening times and booking information is available on the event page.

Virtual Open Day

31 October, All day, Online

Our virtual open days give prospective students the perfect chance to find out more about our campus, our courses, and the student experience we are famed for. These new events will be open to all subject areas, so everyone is welcome!

Find out what is on offer and book your place!

Got something for next week’s ‘This Week at Loughborough’ email digital@lboro.ac.uk

Doctoral Researcher Presidential Team monthly blog update (October 2020)

October 23, 2020 Dr Katryna Kalawsky

Written by Nathan Ritchie and Callie Merrick

Hi everyone! This is the first of a series of monthly blogs that will keep you updated about what we have been up to. We think as your LSU Presidential Team that we have an obligation to keep you updated. This way you can keep abreast of our activities and see what direction we are taking the role in.  Monthly blogs are just one way this can be achieved.  One of the roles of the School Representatives (discussed below) will be to scrutinise and provide feedback on our activities as Presidential Team. But we are always after feedback from all Doctoral Researchers, so please feel free to reach out to us at any moment, we really value your opinions.


Campus in October- Image by Martyn Edwards

Meetings, Committees, Meetings, Committees

This is the first month in our role so there is a lot to learn and a lot of people to meet. We have scheduled meetings every couple of weeks with the Education Executive Officer, Ana-Maria Bilciu and Academic Representation Coordinator, Chloe Oliver. These are a chance to de-brief and make sure we stay connected with the Loughborough Students Union. It’s also a great way to brainstorm and run through ideas.

The Presidential Team met with Associate Vice Pro-Chancellor of Doctoral College, Liz Peel. We discussed our priorities for the year and Liz has helpfully offered a direct communication link if we ever need any assistance. This is the first step to developing a positive and fruitful relationship with the Doc College. We also met with Postgraduate Research Student Development Officer, DrKatryna Kalawsky, who as always has been extremely supportive and has already been a great sounding board on DR related issues.

The Presidential Team has also had meetings regarding specific issues. We met with Professor Robert Leonard Wilby along with former LSU DR president, Tom Baker. The consultation was for the Climate & Environment Task Group strategies and we discussed waste management, sustainability awareness and ways in which DRs can get involved in climate and waste initiatives. The Presidential Team has also formed their own action points around this consultation. We met Brett Friskney, the Lead Representative for Wolfson, to discuss mental health support and looked at ways we can learn from approaches of different schools at the university. We have also met with Joel Warburton and Theresa Wege to discuss the possibility of establishing a Quantitative PGR led network akin to what has been established already for qualitative researchers in LiQuiD Lab.

We have so far attended two university level meetings. On the 15th September we attended the Research Committee that is chaired by Pro-Vice Chancellor Steve Rothberg and consists of all Associate Deans of Research and other key personnel. The committee is established to discuss research related matters at the university.  In the meeting we discussed the Research Culture report by Tom Baker and Rieman Rudra and the discuss action points to come from the survey. We also attended the Doctoral College Sub Committee chaired by Liz Peel and attended by all Director of Doctoral Programmes and relevant staff. This committee is solely for Doctoral Research related matters. Items discussed were extensions, careers service and mental health support. It is staggering how much work goes on behind the scenes.

Induction

The Presidential Team attended two inductions. One in-person on the 7th October and another virtual induction on the 15th November. It was great to have the opportunity to introduce ourselves to all the news starters and promote the importance of our Representative structure. It was an unusual experience speaking to 80+ people through a laptop screen but we got through it! We are very much looking forward to attending the final induction this semester on the 2nd November.

Representation

Applications to be a representative are about to close. We are eagerly anticipating the opportunity to work with our reps. The Presidential Team really rely on having a solid team of reps in order collect feedback from each school. We are excited to meet likeminded reps who are looking to make a difference in their school and proudly represent the views of their fellow Doctoral Researchers. We have been advertising the opportunity widely, so we hope everyone has the chance to apply! You can apply to be a representative through your schools admin, or to be a Lead Representative apply here

PGR Parents Network

We have established a Facebook group for all those balancing Doctoral Researcher work with childcare responsibilities. We have had a really encouraging start with 30+ parents in the group. We hope this will serve as a space to support one another, share experiences, and develop connections. We will soon be launching our survey to better understand the experience of being a parent and completing a PhD. The aim is to develop action points to better support the community.

PhD SSN events

Your Presidential Team has made a conscious effort to attend SSN events. This is a great way for us to meet fellow researchers and also take our mind off work for a bit! We have especially really appreciated the chance to meet all the new starters and hope to see much more of you over the course of the year. We have attended the Quorn walk and fayre, the running group, walk to Burleigh woods and several PhD SSN virtual lunches. A massive thank you and congratulations to a fantastic SSN committee.

Plans for November

October has been a month of learning. Next month we hope to step up our efforts and this will be helped immensely by the unveiling of our Representatives! On Thursday 12th November, the new Reps will be asked to join a Teams meeting to ‘Meet the Presidential Team’ where we will set out our vision for working together and field any immediate questions or concerns. It will be a great chance to meet our Representatives and get to know each other better. Your Presidential Team will also be present at Loughborough London Campus SSLC meeting to discuss issues relating to the London campus and ways in which we can achieve greater collaboration across campuses this year. The Presidential Team will be attending their first Doctoral College Team Meeting on the 18th, we are excited to be a part of this and meet the whole Doc College team. We will also be attending the second Research Committee meeting on the 24th November.  And of course, most excitingly, we will continue to be regulars at SSN events, so keep posted with all the amazing events they will be putting on in November.

If there is anything you think we should be working on that we have not considered yet or if you have feedback or questions please do not hesitate to contact us at N.Ritchie@lboro.ac.uk and C.Merrick@lboro.ac.uk you can also follow us at @DRPresTeamLboro.

Hong Kong and Ukraine: a comparative study of social protest

Hong Kong and Ukraine: a comparative study of social protest

October 23, 2020 Catherine Armstrong

by Harrison Winter

Personally, I found it quite difficult to commit to a single area of research during the ‘Research Design’ module in second year which prepares students for the realities of planning a dissertation topic as well as the methodological and theoretical grounding needed to foreground any potential research area. However, it was after visiting my flatmate in Hong Kong during the Easter break that I began to formulate some concrete ideas about what I wanted to focus my dissertation on. Following my visit, I started to research more about Hong Kong’s colonial history and how the handover in 1997 had transformed the prospects of the ‘Special Administrative Region’.

Nevertheless, it was not until the outbreak of protests in 2019 when I was able to crystallise my dissertation thesis. I had read several blogs and articles online which drew parallels between the Hong Kong protests and Ukraine’s Euromaidan in 2013 which eventually led me to further podcasts and academic arguments that underlined further comparisons.  I cannot stress enough that for any undergraduate or prospective students struggling to identify a dissertation research topic, the best advice that I could possibly give is to think about topics that excite you and that you possibly have a personal affinity with to stay continuously motivated to work on your project throughout the academic year.

Undoubtedly, it was my personal interest in the Hong Kong protests which made me fascinated with the interconnected relationship between the 2019 protests and Euromaidan.  I selected three theoretical frameworks to draw tangible comparisons between the two social movements, which were primarily chosen to highlight how ordinary people across disconnected moments in time and location can learn from each other and pass on different ideas of social movement learning to emerging protest movements of the future.

After completing a literature review to find a unique and distinguishable position on the Hong Kong protests, I focused in the first chapter on comparing the symbolism and violence across both movements which included the shared experiences of police brutality,  protest anthems, as well as Hong Kong’s colonial past alongside Ukraine’s communist legacy.  Moreover, in chapter two I then continued to draw parallels between the movements as ‘21st Century protests’ which separates them from preceding movements in Hong Kong and Ukraine and furthers the notion of technological innovation in planning protests and avoiding detection.  Finally, the third chapter considered the global ramifications of the protests and how the international community should learn from Euromaidan and its inefficiency in opposing Russian annexation in Crimea when advocating for Hong Kong’s autonomy under the one-country, two-systems framework.

Nonetheless, I could not have achieved the success that I did with my dissertation if it not for the considerate people whom I reached out to interview remotely for the project.  As part of my methodology, I was able to reach out to distinguished journalists, politicians, lawyers, and protestors on social media to gain their insight and useful quotations for the dissertation. As always, reaching out to complete strangers on social media can always return mixed results, but I was surprised by the generosity shown by those with extremely busy schedules to help me with my project. 

Fundamentally, my research topic was concerned with two social movements which were able to interact with one another through the boundaries of time and geography in the pursuit of attaining more just and egalitarian societies.  Even with the ever-changing situation in Hong Kong, it is an area of international relations which continues to intrigue me to this day, and I can contextualise the current climate in Hong Kong with a deep-rooted academic focus.


Bio: My name is Harrison Winter, and I studied History & International Relations at Loughborough. Looking back on the past three years of my studies, I cannot praise highly enough the inspiring and supportive nature of the POLIS department and in particular my dissertation supervisor Hannah-Partis Jennings who made herself available at every opportunity to assist with my research project. Since sixth form I have sought to pursue a career in the legal sector, however; my fascination with modern history and contemporary affairs made Loughborough University stand out from the rest as the foremost destination to complete my undergraduate degree.


Image: Photo by Amine M’Siouri from Pexels

Non-binary 101

October 22, 2020 Stephen Ashurst

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

GLAAD

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

 What is a binary? 

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

What is gender? 

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

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

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

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

What is a social construct?

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

Social constructs vary by location 

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

Social constructs also vary over time 

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

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

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

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

Why have we constructed gender the way we have? 

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

Gender and biological sex 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Models of gender 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gender and sexuality 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gendered toilets, facilities and events 

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

Why do we have gendered toilets? 

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

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

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

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

It’s not just toilets 

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

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

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

Pronouns 

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

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

TheyThemTheirThey are nice
I like them
That is their house 

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

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

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

ZeZirZirsZe are nice
I like zir
That is zirs house 

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

Are non-binary people transgender? 

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

What about genderqueer, genderfluid, agender etc? 

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

That’s all folks!

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

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

Making the right choice for me - Apprenticeship Experience

Making the right choice for me - Apprenticeship Experience

October 21, 2020 Guest Blogger

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

A Londoner's guide: Getting to know Stratford

A Londoner's guide: Getting to know Stratford

October 20, 2020 Loughborough University London

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


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

1. ArcelorMittal Orbit

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

2. Queen Elizabeth park boat tours

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

3. Aquatics centre

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

4. Westfield Stratford City shopping centre

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

5. Canalside

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

6. Theatre Royal

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

7. Lee Valley VeloPark

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

8. The Copperbox arena

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

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

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

10. London Stadium

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


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

Goodbye summer, hello autumn

Goodbye summer, hello autumn

October 20, 2020 Sadie Gration

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

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

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

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

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

Fabrics to keep you warm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 19, 2020 Mike Collett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week at Loughborough | 19 October

October 19, 2020 Alex Stephens

Featured

Black History Month

White Lies? Examining how Academia Reproduces Racism

20 October, 3 – 4.30pm, Online

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

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

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

For more booking details visit the event page.

Early Graduate Stories

21 October, 6 – 7.15pm, Online

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

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

Our speakers are:

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

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

UNISON Reading Challenge Launch

22 October, 12 – 1pm, Online

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

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

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

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

Feel of Africa: Textile Print Workshop

23 October, 2 – 5pm, TBC

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

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

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

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

Stories of Agency in Africa

23 October, 4 – 5.30pm, Online

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

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

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

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

Unite Webinar – Black employees personal experiences working in HE

23 October, 6.30 – 8pm, Online

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

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

Black Culture and Relationships discussion

24 October, 3 – 4.30pm, Online

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

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

Autumn Careers Fair

19 – 23 October, Online

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

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

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

Happy Mondays: Portrait Illustration Workshop

19 October, 7 – 9pm, Cognito – LSU

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

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

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

How to Reshape Your Bones

20 October, 6 – 7pm, Online

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

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

Was Tolstoy a Populist?

21 October, 2 – 3pm, Online

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

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

Booking information is available on the event page.

Dollie Radford’s Lyrics of Modernity

21 October, 4 – 5pm, Online

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

Visit the event page for booking information.

Business Model Canvas and Pitching Your Idea

22 October, Online

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

Book your place and learn more on the event page.

The Clamour of Nationalism: Race, Nation and Leftist Complicities

23 October, 1 – 2pm, Online

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

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

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

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

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

25 October, 4 – 5pm, Online

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

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


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

Hello world!

October 15, 2020 Stephen Ashurst

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

A Londoner's guide: The Top 10 apps

A Londoner's guide: The Top 10 apps

October 15, 2020 Loughborough University London

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

1. City Mapper

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

2. TFL Oyster and Contactless App

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

3. UNiDAYS

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

4. WAZE (For Drivers)

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

5. Uber/ Uber Eats

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

6. Santander Bike

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

7. HiddenLondon

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

8. MET OFFICE Weather 

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

9. Monzo

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

                                               
10. Microsoft Outlook

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


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

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

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

October 14, 2020 LU Arts

By Laura Khamis

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

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

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

Tell me a bit about yourself and your background.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does your artwork allow you to personally express?

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

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

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

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

What has been your favourite collaboration or project and why?

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

What are you working towards for the rest of 2020?

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


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

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

October 12, 2020 Dr Katryna Kalawsky

Written by Callie Merrick and Nathan Ritchie

Callie Merrick:

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

A photo in which I look worryingly like my mother.

A few things about me:

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

What I hope to achieve in the role:

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

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

Nathan Richie:

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


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

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

Five things to know about me:

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

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


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

Five primary Presidential Team duties:

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

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

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

Recharge your batteries with LU Arts’ Self-Care Sundays

Recharge your batteries with LU Arts’ Self-Care Sundays

October 12, 2020 Loughborough University London

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

Continue reading
Scroll to Top